Category Archives: Unordinary

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.

 

Gratitude: the Answer to Every Question

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Gratitude: Counting my Blessings

Today’s the day … the final gratitude challenge question day. However, this is not the answer to just one question … Gratitude is the answer to every question. In times of stress and darkness being grateful for the smallest things turns on the light. Focusing on the light rather than the darkness lifted my spirit and gave me hope.  In times of happiness and joy gratitude multiplied my joy with contentment and peace. In my times of uncertainty giving thanks for the solid things I do know increased my faith and patience.

Taking this 30 day gratitude challenge has again opened my mind and heart and soul to the abundance in and around me. The opportunity to ponder the huge things and the small gratitudes day by day has given me such a lightness of heart and I’ve been happier, even when the crazies happen. I fear less and hope more. My eyes looked up from the paths of my feet; looked up at the light, and left the darkness behind (even if just for a short time).

My thought for the day is this: I will wrap gratitude around every thought,  in every blessing and through every trial and every pain, and I will see the abundance of blessings overflow in my heart and in my life.   I found gratitude in all times & places.  I encourage you to seek out the gratitude in your life.  And like one of my favorite hymns “Count your many blessings name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done”.

Milk Snorts

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Sweetie, Peter, Tessa, Ali & Mala

We have a large family … spread over a couple of few states … we have friends and acquaintances around the world; could I pick one to say they are whom I am grateful for today? Nope. Can’t do it.  Can’t make me pick one. They all make our world spin perfectly on its axis, make everyday special to us just knowing they are happy and are strong of spirit and heart. When things start to spin out of control for one of them or us someone steps up and adds a steadying hand, a thoughtful prayer, a laugh in the darkness.  I have to say we do find the oddest things funny, and often at the most inappropriate times (guess that’s when they’re the funniest). We’ve had a lot of milk snorts around our tables.

Well, I said I couldn’t pick just one person for which I am grateful today … but I lied.  Today it’s Tessa’s birthday! So I can say that I am grateful for her today and grateful to have her in my life.  I love her smile. Love her sense of adventure. Love her sense of style.  Happy Birthday Tessa!  Love You 🙂

Small Things … Huge Impacts

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Middle Sister, Mom, Little Sister

For what small thing that happened today am I grateful? We often say it’s the little things that count. A kindness toward another you may think of as an insignificant action, but it may mean the world to someone else. Look people in the eye and say hello … it may be the first kind word they’ve heard today. Look people in the eye and say hello … it may be the first time they’ve been ‘seen’ today or for a long time. Send that email, or text. Make a call and let someone know they are important to you.

The small thing that happened to me today for which I am grateful was the conversation I had with my sisters. I may be the oldest, but I live a state away and they carry my part of being around for our mother. The conversation was short & small, but their loving care and example of selfless service is huge. They are the best sisters EVER!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Challenge – The Great Wall

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Bottom of the Great Wall

Today’s thought provoking question is: For What Challenge am I Grateful? And the Million Dollar ball dropped onto … Starting a climb to the top of the Great Wall in China and making it to the top.

My traveling partner Faye, a much younger and much fitter friend (think wildland firefighter fit) and I started up the steps, casually at first along with hundred of other tourists. Every so often there would be a landing as the stairs changed direction … think a very steep road of continuous switch-backs, though without any easy grade change. It was always straight up hill.

You’re asking so what’s so difficult about climbing some stairs? These stairs aren’t standard measurements, like climbing the Eiffel Tower, but are ever changing heights and depths; 6 inches, 9 inches, 15 inches, 4 inches and depths were like 10 inches, 26 inches, 8 inches … each one smooth, slick, and worn deep from millions of feet over thousands of years.  You can’t get into a climbing rhythm with changes like that. Add into the mix the count down clock given us by our tour guide; you have 1 hour here before we leave for the tea plantation.

From the top of the Great Wall

My thought was to climb a bit then stop for a photo op and return. That was not Faye’s thought, no, not at all. I’ve not come all the way to China to climb up this wall and stop part way.  Up we continued, at first I tried to keep pace with Faye’s running feet, but she soon out paced me. She would run up to the next landing, look down toward me and urge me on. Me? I fell into a trudge, a stair at a time, huffing and puffing as I tried to keep up with her.  Every now and again, I’d say, I’ve had it, this is it, I’m not going any farther. And Faye, friend that she is, would yell back at me, you can do this and if you don’t I’ll tell everyone at work that you whimped out.  I wouldn’t let that happen, so I continued plodding up the stairs, pushing on my knees at times to keep them from shaking out from under me as I stretched for those extra tall steps.

Finally I could see the watch tower 100 steps above me and Faye’s face leaning over the path ledge urging me on, encouraging me to make that final grade, that final push.  As I gasped for air leaning against the base of the tower, Faye said, we can go inside and to the top of the tower … what? more stairs? She said, “I waited for you so we could go up together”.

Faye & Me at the Top of the Tower at the Top of the Great Wall

How grateful I am for Faye’s laughter and encouragement that helped me reach that pinnacle in the sky. If it weren’t for her shouting and calling and walking next to me I would not have made it to the top of the tower. Isn’t that how we reach success most often in our lives? We don’t really do things ‘ourselves’. We have cheerleaders, we have mentors, we have parents and friends, we have teachers and coaches guiding us, encouraging us to reach higher than we think we can. Encouraging us to see ourselves from the top of the tower and so we might feel the sweetness of success.

Like standing next to my friend looking down at the throngs of people at the base of the stairs at the bottom of the mountain, and saw them rather rapidly thin out as the climb steepened and sheer stamina alone couldn’t pull them up … like the 8 of us standing at the top of that tower, 4 pair of friends each standing in awe at what we had accomplished together.

That awe lasted just a few minutes then we ran sliding and slipping downward to meet our bus … we were the last ones on of course, but the only ones to reach the summit. (Yes, they had to wait longer than an hour, but not by much.)

Turn on Light – Give Joy

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Looks kind of like my first radio.

Okay, I admit it, I’m not an audiophile.  I haven’t ‘crushed’ on a song probably since Jr. High School, where I would listen to the radio for hours with my cassette tape recorder at the ready to capture ‘that song’.  However, there is music that is the sound track of my life, or periods of my life. Like a smell caught on a breeze that opens memories, music does that too. I will tell you that I am emphatic about this statement …. I despise “classic rock”. Mostly music from my High School years … tell me, just how many times can a person hear The Who’s Tommy, the Lovin’ Spoonfuls I Believe in Magic, or the Beatles Yellow Submarine, and others ad nauseum? It gives me the creeps.

That said I do listen to different radio & satellite stations while I’m driving and I have tried to keep up with music trends; so I can at least be semi-aware and have some common ground with my family & friends who are music lovers.   I don’t do that much anymore. I’ve found I’ve become more aware of the lyrics, even if there is a catchy melody, and for the most part I don’t hear much that gives me joy. What I hear is ugliness against others, about others. I find it degrading to people, women in particular. It degrades love and I feel a lot of it sends negativity into the world and is the antithesis of light, joy, and happiness.

You can tell that pondering today’s blog thought took me afield from for what song am I most grateful. With all of my griping about old music here is a handful of music that always makes me smile and turns light on in my heart and gives me joy.

Louie Armstrong: What a Wonderful World

Lee Ann Womack: I Hope You Dance

Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus

W.W. Phelps: The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning

 

*All music links are via published YouTube links.