Category Archives: Traditions

18th Century Christmas Recipe Meets 21st Century Tech

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The Recipe!!

I have this recipe I collected from the mother of my mother-in-law twice-removed. When I was a very young mother, with very small children, my cooking repertoire was limited to easy, and then easier. This recipe kind of intimidated me.  It intimidated me  because it was a ‘steamed pudding’. Which is a yummy, slightly sticky cakey-like Christmas treat. I’ve only once eaten it at said mother-in-law, twice-removed, mother’s home … I loved it. Great-Grandma Mitchell served it warm, with a slightly caramelly sauce.  This card has been picked up time and again, carefully looked at every time I’ve opened my old recipe box for my raisin oatmeal cookie recipe, and then just as carefully placed back into the old recipe box.

Looking at the card you might think I made it all the time. It has turned brown with age, and has oily spots on it. The ingredients aren’t difficult to gather together; grated carrots, potato, and apples mixed with flour, sugar, nuts and spices. Very Christmasy. The hidden terror to my neophyte young mother’s brain was first it was cooked in a coffee can (which I never managed to save) and then the cooking method wasn’t baked, but steamed for two and one-half hours!

That cooking method and time required just totally overwhelmed me … so its yummy stickiness stayed just a memory and a maybe I’ll make that … some time, until this past week. I had the thought to make my favorite mother-in-law’s (twice-removed), Christmas memories for her Christmas gift.  The first memory was date-filled sugar cookies, and the second, of course, Grandma Mitchell’s Steamed Pudding & Dip (Sauce). The cookies took two tries to get them to look and taste as I remembered them. Then out came the daunting steamed pudding recipe. Since I still had no coffee tin (does coffee even come in a can), I opted for a large size vegetable tin (tomatoes or pumpkin pie filling sized). I mixed it up (fingers crossed since I had never seen it in its raw form) and then it was steam time.

My new best cooking friend! (Thanks Angie De)

Online I found many ways to steam foods, including puddings, but they all took the same time … lots of time. THEN I HAD THE ANSWER!! I’ll use my brand-new, only used once for ham & beans, Crockpot Pressure Cooker (which has a steam option!!). I had to read some other blogs and looked for cooking tips to figure how to adjust a 19th century recipe to a 21st century appliance.  After much sorting and hemming and hawing I decided 60% of the approximate 2 1/2 hours should do it.

I followed the steaming instructions from the how-to booklet, popped the can of pudding mix into the pot, twisted on the lid, pressed steam … set the time and pressed start. While it was doing its thing I cleaned up my kitchen … I am not a neat, nor terribly organized cook. I always have grand intentions to keep things tidy … then something happens and I’m  sweeping flour from the counter and floor. What is that sticky stuff?

The Results! Steamed Pudding via Crockpot Instant Cooker

Ding, time’s up. The cooker slowly cooled. Anticipation. When it was no longer steaming I timidly twisted the lid off and watched steamy water drops drip from the lid onto the pudding … not a good thing (hint to myself … put a foil cover on the can next time).  Using a hot pad I picked the can up, set it on a rack and let it cool a long time. It seemed like about 4 hours before it was cool enough to tip it from its tin.  Nothing happened. The pudding was stuck, even though the can was greased and floured. I tapped it, I shook it … nope. Stuck. Then I thought, it’s suction! I found a church key (can opener) and popped a tiny hole in the bottom. Voila! The pudding slid out and there it was standing on the cooling rack just like I imagined it might. I made an additional tiny pudding from the left-over mixture that wouldn’t fit in the cooking tin … it was as yummy as I remembered.

My first 19th century recipe, cooked, cooled, wrapped and dropped at FedEx for an overnight delivery. Hope she loves her box of memories.  Now that’s what I call a Christmas wrap!

Just so you know: (Great)- Grandma Mitchell passed at the age of 99 and some months (and that was like 20+ years ago) … the recipe was her mother’s if I remember the story right.

 

Create, Explore, Bring New into the World

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For what form of expression am I most grateful? Well, the answer to that interesting question would be Words. The written word and worlds that they create are my favorite form of expression.  I love to write … especially if I can keep the fierce critic in my head quiet. It’s always lurking, always judging, always comparing ready to offer its negativity to encourage me to stop trying.    I’ve named it Shrew and often yell at it as did Smeagol to his Gollum looking into his mirrored reflection … “Leave and Never come back”!

It does come back, but now that I’ve named it, and imagined its form as small and weak and powerless though it keeps trying to live by sucking life off of me … sort of like Voldemort’s weak succubus fed off of poor professor Quirrell … it is easier to dismiss, and make it be quiet.

Like any negative thought once exposed to the light the darkness flees.  So whatever or whoever your inner critic is,  kick it out of it power place, and let yourself go free to express your art, music, dance, design, cook, garden, or like me, write … Just let go, create, and send it out to the universe.  You know we are meant to create, to explore and to bring new into the world.

Sweet Awareness of Eternity

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For what moment this week am I most grateful is the sweet awareness of eternity  I had thinking of this question.  On Thanksgiving day, after a taste-bud popping dinner I stood snuggin’ with my youngest grand-grandson Konrad (1 month old) as his mother hovered next to me and then I looked toward my mom, the matriarch of our family. I saw in that moment a family line as long as men and women have been on the earth. Awesome!

Konrad … 1 month old

One month ago Konrad was in the spirit world anxious to arrive and begin his journey in mortality. My mother is 87, she occasionally says she’s ready to continue back through the veil to be reunited with my dad, her eternal companion, with her parents and family and friends who’ve gone ahead. And I’m on the other side of the middle watching the lines of my posterity spread before me and I envision all the generations to come and I also can feel the eyes and hearts of the generations that came before.

Kyiv Ukraine Temple Sealing Room (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

How grateful I am for the wisdom and love of our Heavenly Father and his plan for us to gain mortal bodies and experiences. Grateful for my agency that throughout my life I may choose Him, choose keep His commandments, and know Him. That through the divine atonement of his son, Jesus Christ, through His grace we may be saved and gain eternal life.

How grateful I am for the sealing power of the restored priesthood and for my knowledge that Families Can Be Together Forever. That we may be married in God’s temples for not only time, but for all eternity; with our families sealed together generations beyond generations … as part of the eternal family of God.

What an extraordinary moment.

 

Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are dedicated to the Lord. Each temple carries the inscription House of the Lord * Holiness to the Lord and most are topped with a golden Angel Moroni heralding the restoration and preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the last time in this the last dispensation before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall: sweetness of summer & gateway to winter

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Fall Hike with Mala

For what season am I most grateful? Fall. Fall … all of it and in Fall I include late summer and later Indian summer and no snow early winter. I think that covers the stretch.

Fall … Fall Harvest. The mid-morning sun that beckons me out for the final garden day.  It’s that day, that day to pull on my favorite garden gloves and pick and dig up the final products of summer.  Then I grab those plants by their tenacious roots; tug and twist until the root ball pops out into the air hanging tightly to the soil. I shake the dirt briskly off into the garden and then toss the now limp and wilted plants in the compost pile (or trash).

Fall … Fall Hikes … with air just cool enough for a jacket, not cold enough for boots. Leaves and twigs littering the ground and branches newly bared standing majestic in their bones. Fall sun … rosier, softer and more intimate having shed its blazing summer intensity.

Fall Bike Ride … Visions

Fall … Fall Smells … soup on the stove, fruit bubbling into jam, spices added to pies and cookies, dusty leaves crackling to broken bits as they’re kicked up the sidewalk a step at a time.

Fall … Fall Sounds … laughs that float a bit more clearly across the street, wind skittering leaves across the lawn, zippers before the door opens, geese exploding in clouds from disturbed fields chased by smiling bird dogs.

I sometimes feel like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, when I stop and think of my favorite things and the list goes on and on. Fall is my favorite time because it still holds the sweetness of summer and is the quiet gateway to winter; trees, and bushes, and plants and sometimes the sky bursting into blazing color and smells like the explosion of fireworks on the 4th of July. It is the downshift from summer that is why Fall is the season I love the best. 

Say Fromaggio!

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Again today’s question for what sight am I grateful is almost a no-brainer for me … a smile on the face of my Sweetie when either he walks in the door toward me or when I walk into the room; especially when we’ve spent a few days apart. Or the smiles on the faces of my family when I walk through their doors after months apart.  The sight of opening arms for that long embrace when some times I can’t really see ’cause my eyes are filled with water.

If you’ve not figured it yet, family and friends are my greatest blessings and I am anticipating “that smile” when Sweetie pulls into the drive Friday night after a week of elk hunting 600 miles away. And anticipating Thanksgiving day when blooming smiles surround our tables with plates piled with, of course, family favorites.

An aside … I’m grateful to sit here and think about the smiles on the faces of those I love. It has put a smile on my face …

Daughter 2 & Daughter 1 Together after a almost a decade

That’s right! That’s the gaggle 🙂 or part of it at least

Grandson weekend … still smiling from that trip

Making this mama’s heart sing … my kids, minus 1.

 

Feed my Body & my Soul

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This morning began in earnest the planning and divvying up of food assignments for Thanksgiving. Spread it out over 15 people and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming when you’re hosting (not me, I’m just showing up with my stuffing and pies). I’m so grateful for the traditions of Thanksgiving; the food is “just like this” and if it isn’t well the fam has No Problem letting the offender know they’ve breached protocol trying something new. (The finger is pointed directly at me folks – message sent — message received).

I am grateful for the tradition and time we take at Thanksgiving to be aware of all of our temporal blessings. When food and each other and all the blessings we receive from God are the only thing we have to concentrate on. Blessings beyond measure.

Mary at the open tomb of our resurrected Lord & Savior Jesus Christ

Then the other side of my For what holiday am I most grateful is Easter. The celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His supernal gift of forgiveness and eternal life. He lived, he died for us, and was resurrected the third day, and He Lives! Easter represents the greatest of spiritual blessings that turn our hearts toward eternity and away from the world. Gifts and blessings to our spirits to fill us with hope and faith and turn our hearts to Him.

For what holiday(s) am I most grateful?  Thanksgiving & Easter; they feed my body and feed my soul.

Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done.
(Chorus from Count Your Blessings

 

 

Gratitude: Family and Far Enough

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“Far Enough”

For what place am I most grateful? At one time I would have said “Far Enough” … the cabin in Lemon Springs Canyon on the rim of Zion’s National Park. My dad and mom sacrificed to be my bank so I could buy “Far Enough”, I needed an escape from the insane world my life had become. It was my refuge. A place of silence and healing sorely needed by my wounded heart and soul. After the healing came I loved that once in a year I could entice some of my kids and grandkids to take that journey south.  BTW “Far Enough” was named by my mother, “It’s far enough you don’t want to drive a mile farther and far enough people don’t just drop in”.  LOL

Now the place for which I am most grateful is anywhere my Sweetie & our families are … our home or theirs, inside or out, laughing or crying.

Abundance of Love & Laughter & Sadness & Anticipation … Family is The Place for which I am Most Grateful.

 

 

The Shooting of Len Nielson

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If you’ve been reading Wanderingkeri for a while you may remember Chills, a Nudge, and Footsteps when I talked about starting an unknown journey to learn the stories of my great-grandparents and by extension their family. That nudge has become an obsession to learn and tell their stories because we need to see how much their trials and experiences may teach us, lead us, and guide us in the days of our lives.  The following story is about my grandfather Tom Murdoch Nicol.  What stories are hiding in your family?

 

(Tom, Upper Right)Written on the back of the this picture is the following: “This is the Children’s play tent they have a good time. Tom is always making something. I wish you could see it. The boy standing by Tom with his hat on one side, the little girl and the boy by her are neighbor’s children also the one just back of John with the paper in his hand. The rest are mine. Can you tell them by their looks? All well hope you are. Don’t think that house is ours. Ours is a little bigger than that. I wish I could see you all but don’t know when that will be.” Love to all Tressa

The Shooting of Len Nielson

Heat mirages wafted across the desert ahead of them, dust softly puffed from beneath their horse’s hoofs as the boys rode south and back north, east then west looking for cattle strayed from their ranch. The air carried the occasional morning meadow lark song and the two boys kept an eye out for rattlesnakes that may stretch out or worse coil up beneath the sagebrush or in the rock filled outcrops throughout the ranch.

Tom, the oldest, had his pistol holstered at his side. He prized his pistol and was proud of it and proud of his ability to hit what he aimed at almost all the time. Hyrum, his father, had taught him to shoot at an early age as he had taught each of his boys to use weapons for protection, especially riding the ranch; rattlesnakes weren’t the only varmints that would and could injure a man or animal.  When his parent’s first came to the desert country to homestead, Tom was only two and Chase, riding next to him now, was just an infant. They’d moved onto the “Rez” when it was first opened to white settlement in 1906, and though Duchesne had grown the Nicol’s ranch was about 15 miles from town and was as desolate an area as when the Indians were first confined to the newly designated Uintah Valley Reservation in 1863.

Stopping on the top of a hard packed sandy hill searching for tell-tale signs of the wandering cattle, Tom lifted his hat and wiped his forehead wet from the persistent sun pounding down. He pulled his pistol out and shot at a rock a fair piece away; the dust popping just below the target, his steady black mare not twitching when the pistol fired. We haven’t seen a track of those cows Chase. Let’s take a break, why don’t we ride over to Len’s and see if he’s seen any strays out his way. It’s been a while since we’ve been over. Besides, the horses could use some rest and water before we move on.

Spotting Len out in his yard, Tom and Chase hallo’d as they trotted their horses next to the barn, and climbed down from their thirsty mounts. Might we water our horses Len, Chase asked? Sure boys, help yourselves.  What are you doing this far out in this heat? Searching for some cattle that wandered away from the herd. You haven’t seen any strays up this way have you Len?  Not up here, but I haven’t been out in the back acres for a while, they could be up there, but it’s pretty dried out, not much water over that way.

While the horses drank, the boys and Len leaned against the barn in the shade. That’s a nice pistol you’ve got there Tom, can I see it? Tom reached down and pulled the pistol from its holster, flipping it over to hand the butt of the gun to Len when the pistol fired mid-flip and it was pointed right at Len! As if in slow motion Tom saw where the bullet entered in the front and exited the back of Len’s neck and then watched as Len dropped to the ground.

What should they do? They were just boys, he didn’t want to go to jail, it was an accident; all these thoughts raced through Tom’s mind as he  grabbed his horse, flew into the saddle and galloped away leaving Chase staring down at Len. Pushing his horse as fast as she could run through the miles between Len’s cabin and theirs Tom was certain Len was dying or even dead and what was he to do?

His litttle black horse was lathered and on her knees when Tom jumped from her back and ran to his mother,  he blurted out “I by accident shot Len Nielson”! Being the mother of seven boys Isabella had developed nerves of steel where the actions of her boys were concerned, but at this pronouncement she collapsed to the ground.  Tom was breathing hard and tears dry on his face, the twins Alva and Alma were yelling Tom’s going to jail, pandemonium had broken loose for a minute and just as suddenly stopped when Isabella said, Stop yelling.  Let’s kneel down here and say a prayer. Isabella turned to one of the youngest boys, John Murray and said, John you say the prayer please.  As they knelt there in the yard, John prayed harder than he had ever said a prayer before. Please bless Len to be alright. Please bless that Tom won’t go to jail. Amen.

After the prayer, Isabella turned and said, Kenneth, take care of Tom’s horse.  I hope you didn’t ride her to death Tom, she said, as she and Tom hitched the wagon and then whipped the horses into a cantor as they turned back up the road to Len’s cabin.

Stretched out on the ground Len closed his eyes and knew he was going to die. Chase, yelled Len! Len! What should I do? But Len was clutching at his neck blood oozing between his fingers, slowly dripping to puddles beneath his head. At once Chase knew what to do! He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket; stuffed one end in the front bullet hole and the other end into the back bullet hole and held on tight. Slowly the blood stopped running out onto the dirt, but Chase was also afraid Len was going to die.

Looking toward home Chase saw a rolling cloud of dust and knew help was on the way.   Isabella and Tom were off the wagon seat hardly before the horses had stopped. Bending over Isabella said a prayer of thanks that Len was yet alive, and that Chase had known what to do to stop the bleeding.   It was a miracle that the track of the bullet missed all of Len’s major arteries, missed his larynx and missed his spine and major muscles.  If Chase hadn’t stuffed his handkerchief into the holes he would probably have died from blood loss.

Over the next weeks life on the ranch returned to normal; Tom’s horse didn’t die, John Murray at age five was certain that it was his prayer that saved Len’s life, and Tom and Chase found the stray cattle.  Stopping over to check on Len the boys were grateful that Len didn’t hold any hard feelings; him saying it was an accident, but he was glad he wasn’t dead and he supposed that with that kind of thing between them that they’d always be friends.[i]

 

[i] Author’s Note: This fictionalized story of the shooting of Len Nielson is based upon the true experiences of Thomas M. Nicol (age about 14) and H. Chase Nicol (age about 12) as told to Tom’s son Keith Nicol and recounted in the James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family History.  Additional facts of the prayer given by John Murray Nicol (age 85) given to author Keri Nicol Vest-Vergari (Tom’s oldest granddaughter). As to who actually went to Len’s aid is unknown from family lore, but taking author’s license, as a mother I could not imagine that Isabella would stay at home waiting, but rather go as quickly as possible to offer aid to what may have become a tragedy.

 

Today’s Tribute is to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion

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Christmas holiday company left 45 minutes ago … though they’re out the door the ions, electrons, neutrons, atoms, & quarks are still spinning all around and bombarding me. There is definitely active energy excitement going on here.  Even the silence feels like it has weight.  My mind doesn’t want to generate thought, my body doesn’t want to do much but remain stopped. The past week(s) we’ve proven Newton’s 1st law of motion: that a body in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Well my body wants to work on the other half of Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia that an object at rest stays at rest until acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Charlie; our foster dog … he misses his real momma

Was I being mean or what?

The 4500 miles, a new dog member to our family, then our annual 5 course plus dessert Christmas Eve dinner (carb overload) and wonderful friends, Christmas dinner and more wonderful friends (less carbs), Sweetie’s daughter & husband spent a few days successfully getting us onto the X-C ski tracks around McCall for the first time this year (like we’ve had nooooo snow to speak of) and so now the biggest unbalanced force that will be acting upon me will be the combined efforts of the dogs at my feet for a walk … later … much later.

And with that statement I am closing up the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Seventeen with a sigh of contentment, a heart full of gratitude for uncountable blessings, and a prayer of thanksgiving in my heart for all the days of this year. All the days of love, days of friendship, days of pain, days of sorrow, days of hope, days of joy, days of tears, days of failure, days of success, days of shadow and days of sunshine.

Thank you for joining me on this year’s journey around the sun. I’ve loved every minute of it I hope you have too!

 

Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalms 106