family, the friends

Gratitude

I am not hosting my large family for Thanksgiving dinner this year and I am grateful.

Grateful to relax, drink coffee, watch the parade and eat cinnamon rolls. The parade – which I’ve been too busy in the kitchen to watch for the last several years – and the cinnamon rolls are Thanksgiving traditions.

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Grateful that I only have to bake my sweet potato rolls – made the dough yesterday – and roast a turkey breast – just in case.

Just in case because my 86 year old mother is a spaz. (No offense, mom.) And after 65 adult years of preparing, planning and eating Thanksgiving dinner she still worries that there won’t be enough.

As a result there is always waay too much.

We’ll call that another Thanksgiving tradition. And I’ll be grateful for the abundance. And for my mom – who is baking pies, making stuffing and roasting yet another extra (8 pound) breast in her own kitchen this morning. God love her.

In addition to the 26 pound bird my sister, the hostess, is roasting.

Like I said, abundance.

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But the thing for which I am giving the most thanks this morning is the good report the beagle and I received.

I took her to the oncologist yesterday afternoon for an acupuncture treatment and a six week follow-up x-ray.

After the x-ray the doc came in with Good News: The tumor has not grown! It is exactly the same size.

That’s a good start. Praying her next x-ray, in 3 months, shows shrinkage.

Considering she was only given 1 – 2 months to live 6 weeks ago, I’m grateful for the hope a 3-month follow-up appointment gives.

Hug your beagle and have a very Happy Thanksgiving all you Americans.

And just a plain great day everyone else.

#foroncemyThanksgivingmorningisnotchaotic

 

 

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faith, family, Food

Kneading Prayers

The sweet potato rolls I make every Thanksgiving require 8 minutes of kneading, which works out perfectly. I knead 1 minute of prayers into the dough for the families of each of my six sisters, a minute for my family and a minute for my mom and her husband.

I’ve been kneading prayers into various doughs ever since Sarah gave me the idea two years ago.

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Tomorrow I’ll spend most of the day making the rolls for a support group that meets weekly at my church.

And though they are strangers, I’ll be kneading 8 minutes of prayers into the dough for them, too.

Friday I get to help serve the Thanksgiving feast.

And meet the eaters of my prayers.

If I have time, I’ll make them a pie, too.

Or maybe these apple blossoms.

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Sweet Potato Rolls

Combine 1/4 c. warm water with 1/4 oz. dry yeast. Let it get foamy.

Scald 1 cup milk in a small saucepan, remove from heat.

Stir in the following:

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Let cool slightly.

Place 2 cups roasted, peeled sweet potatoes in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Combine them with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Beat until smooth.

Then beat in 1 large egg, the milk mixture and the foamed yeast.

Mix in 7 cups of sifted, unbleached all-purpose flour, one cup at a time.

Switch to your dough hook and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled. (approx. an hour)

Punch dough down and knead again with your hands just until smooth.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Using a bench scraper cut the dough into 20 equal pieces. I weigh each piece because I’m a spaz and they bake better if they are uniform. Shape each piece into a roll.

Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheets and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Snip an X in the top of each roll with a pair of kitchen scissors. Brush each one with melted butter.

Bake until tops are brown, about 20 minutes, rotating pans half way through.

Cool on a rack.

I make two batches: a rounder, smaller dinner roll and a larger, slightly flattened roll like the ones in the front of the picture. I use the larger rolls for turkey sandwiches.

You can make the dough the day before, shape it into rolls and put the sheets in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you want to bake them, snip, brush, bake and serve fresh from the oven.

It’s the cardamom that makes them so good.

Bon Appetit.

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The Party’s Over

 

Thanksgiving

My guests are making their way home, packets of leftovers in hand, and after twelve straight hours of dancing my well-choreographed Thanksgiving dance, I can finally sit. My swollen, injured foot up, throbbing.

My hands still smell of butter, rosemary and sage. They smell pretty wonderful.

I danced all day on about five hours of sleep last night, and on five the night before. Needless to say I am spent. And I can hardly think.

Hope you all had a wonderful, delicious, thankful day.

Tomorrow we’ll be up bright and early in pursuit of the perfect frasier fir.

Signing off…

 

 

 

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Little Things

It’s the little things that thrill me and it’s the little things that sometimes bug me.

Yesterday, while making a brine for the turkey, I went out to my garden, brushed aside six inches of snow and snipped a few sprigs of rosemary and a tangled swirl of thyme.

I brushed aside more snow and peaked into the little pop up tent that is protecting the parsley. It is doing just fine. I climbed over a drift and unzipped the cover on the lettuce trug. The lettuce is happy and healthy.

Walking back into the house with my handful of herbs, two rosy cheeks, joy in my heart and a smile on my face, I felt kinda’ like a pioneer woman braving the cold and snow to collect Thanksgiving herbs from the good earth.

Instead of the suburbanite that I am.

It just doesn’t seem right when EVERY ingredient comes from the supermarket.

So that little thing made me happy.

Knowing that there is a whole turkey and a turkey breast brining in the downstairs refrigerator makes me happy, too.

The hub is cleaning the whole house today while I cook. That’s a BIG thing.

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The little beagle woke me up at 6:45 am. “Where’s dad,” I asked. Her harness was on so I knew she had already been outside. I followed her downstairs. The friends had been fed, the percolator was plugged in but there was no sign of the hub.

A smile dawned on me.

I settled onto the sofa with my good friend Joe, the little beagle pressed against me, and took the first glorious sip. Soon the back door opened and in came the hub.

“That’s a beautiful box you’re carrying.”

It was a plain white cardboard box. One that I recognized fondly.

Anyone who knows anything about me and doughnuts knows that the little things in that box made me very happy.

But sometimes little things bug me, too.

As I was doing the dishes this morning, I was thinking, for about the fourth time this week, about a little thing that happened in Bible study last Thursday. As I was saying goodbye to the ladies I said, “I have to get home and clean out my refrigerator to make room for my Thanksgiving groceries.”

One of the women said, under her breath, “I wish I had that problem.”

I walked to my car puzzled. She wishes she had what problem? A fridge full of half empty jars of expired condiments?

I really don’t think she was lamenting an empty fridge. There are a couple of ladies in that class who are on a tight budget, but she is not one of them.  Most of the women in that group have a second home in Naples and a third home up North, I’m not one of them. She might be. She comes every Thursday perfectly coiffed in expensive clothes. I usually show up in jeans and a sweatshirt.

Was she trying to tell me that she hates me? I shrugged it off.

But it kept coming up like cud. And then this morning it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t a lack of food she was lamenting, perhaps it was a lack of company.

And I wished that I had asked her what she meant. So she could share her tale of woe and I could sympathize.

I don’t know whether she hates me or whether she was just trying to unload her heart, but I’m going with door number two.

Because little adjustments in my perspective always make me happy.

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It’s Not To Me, It’s From Me

“When people come up and give me a compliment–‘Corrie, that was a good talk,’ or ‘Corrie, you were so brave,’ I gather each remark as if it were a flower. At the end of each day I lift up the bouquet of flowers I have gathered throughout the day and say, ‘Here you are, Lord, it is all Yours.’” – Corrie ten Boom

When I was young, I felt shy and uncomfortable receiving compliments.

But now, when people come up to praise me after a talk, like Corrie I just gather their kind words up like flowers into a bouquet. I put my focus on the kindness of the giver of the compliment rather than on my self-conscious self.  I pause a moment to breathe the sweet aroma and I offer back a warm and grateful smile.

This morning The Daily Post’s writing prompt asked: “You return home to discover a huge flower bouquet waiting for you, no card attached. Who is it from — and why did they send it to you?”

That bouquet is not to me, it’s from me.  It’s all the praise I’ve received and all the joyful exhilaration I’ve experienced, arranged in a turkey basket of Thanksgiving, waiting to be offered up to the Author and Perfecter of everything.

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November 1

Today ushers in the season of gratitude, and I am grateful for you dear bloggers.  As an introvert, I really don’t like to talk on the phone. A ringing phone disturbs my peace, even when I really like the person on the other end.  Probably because it usually rings when I’m in the middle of doing something or thinking something.

But you, dear bloggers, never disturb my peace.  You just wait silently until I have a minute. Until I’ve poured my morning coffee or my evening tea and settled in – cozily curled up in the corner of the couch under an afghan.

Even if I’m too busy to check in for a few days, I know you will still be there. Tonight I have some catching up to do, and I’m grateful that I can.

So, thank you God for inventing blogging.

Oh, and the hub and I visited a new church today.  We were surprised to run into a variety of old friends and acquaintances there – people I worked with years ago at the pregnancy center, or attended BSF with here and there.  I even ran into a woman I knew 30 years ago, when we were both young and single.  She said I was still beautiful, God bless her.  She hasn’t changed a  bit.

The hub ran into a ormer co-worker and a couple of men from his BSF past.   It was a little taste of the massive heavenly reunions that awaits.

Blessed are the ties that bind…

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family, life

Spent & Satisfied

After standing on my kitchen’s hard ceramic floor for most of the last 48 hours, my dogs are definitely barking.  It feels really good to relax.

It has been a wonderful day:

Dinner was delicious – thanks to a family of talented cooks.

Everyone was in a festive mood.

My oldest sister brought a “guest” – a gentleman that no one knew she has been dating for the last 11 months.  So that was fun – to have someone new at the table.

My niece brought her dog and her brand new soft, tiny, fluffy sweet, sweet, sweet puppy.  My dogs had cousins to chase.  It was a good day for them, too.

I had a good hair day, which is a Thanksgiving miracle.  It still looks good.  I almost don’t want to go to bed lest it end.

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I love conversations between the older generation and the younger generation.  Overheard today:

Older:  “So how’s your love life?”

Younger:  “Well, it’s non-existent right now. I had the opportunity to go on a couple of dates over the past few weeks, but I canceled them. I’m honestly not happy with my life right now. I don’t like my job, I’m not in a good place, and I don’t believe in inviting someone else into that. I think I should be happy on my own before I try to date anyone.”

Older (with a second older chiming in and agreeing):  “Wow. That is incredibly wise and mature. I wish I had thought like that at your age. I used to go chasing after men precisely when I wasn’t happy, thinking that they could fill a void in my life and it never worked. I don’t know anyone your age, or under the age of 50 for that matter, who has your mindset. Especially a woman. You need to be working with other young women and you need to teach them this. It’s spiritual work, you know.”

Family is what it’s about.  The older generation affirming and encouraging the younger generation.  Cousins conferring, sisters laughing.  I was so blessed and thankful to see my cancer battling sister looking bright and happy and thoroughly enjoying the day, enjoying as many Thanksgivings as the Lord gives her.

It was a good day and I am spent.  And satisfied.

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And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

I just moved the turkeys from their salt baths to their dry chill and now I’m taking a break from the cooking marathon to fulfill my NaBloPoMo pledge.  Things didn’t go exactly as planned today.  The hub came home from work Monday evening saying, “I feel kind of achy.”  Then he stayed home Tuesday and slept eighteen hours.  Stomach flu.

He rejoined the land of the living this morning but he was still feeling a bit weak.  So when he asked me if I wanted to watch “Life of Pi” with him, I couldn’t say no.  So there we sat, watching a movie and drinking coffee when I had a million things to do.  But the hub is more important than a million things to do.  And the movie was interesting.  I am Thankful that he is much better tonight and should be good as new by tomorrow.

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At 5:00 – rush hour – I realized that I hadn’t assigned a relish tray to anyone.  So my daughter and I rushed over to Whole Foods to grab relishes and cheeses for a cheese tray.  Oh, and I better make scotch-a-roos for the gluten sensitive sisters.  Since they can’t have pie.  Scotch-a-roos.  A total blast from the past might be fun.

Everyone at Whole Foods was well behaved – in the parking lot and in the store.  But since they don’t sell butterscotch chips, we had to make another stop.  At a store close to home.  In my ambitious/aggressive town where people are not well-behaved.  We ran in for the chips and when we came out we heard a car honking, and then another, and then a chorus of horns tooting and blaring.  Must have been a jam up at the other end of the parking lot.  I am Thankful that one day we will retire to a quieter, gentler place.

I don’t want to sit too long or I might not get back up.  And those scotch-a-roos aren’t going to make themselves.  Then there are the tables to set…

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!

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NaBloPoNoMo?

This is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where we separate the NaBloPoMo from the NaBloPoNoMo. It’s Thanksgiving week and the challenge is starting to get hard.  Last night I barely squeezed in a 10:30 post.  Today (it’s 12:01 a.m.) I’m going to post before I go to bed, before the full out madness begins.

As I type, I have an 8 pound organic turkey breast soaking in a bath of wonderful smelling brine in the downstairs fridge.  Next to it is a second brining bag prepped with diced onion, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary, sage and bay leaves.  At 8 am I will make the one hour drive over the river and through the woods to pick up my 17 pound turkey.  The farm opens for pick up at 9 am.  I will be there at 8:59.  Then I’ll race home and add the bird to the bag, along with kosher salt, sugar, a quart of apple cider and 7 quarts of water.

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

While the turkey is chilling in a salt bath, I’ll be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  Then prepping.  Then decorating.

Wednesday there will be baking, baking, baking.  And then before bed I’ll set the tables.

Thursday will be a wonderful whirlwind of amazing aromas, hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls in front of the t.v. parade, turkeys in the oven, guests arriving and just enough champagne to toast the day.  I’m thankful for it all.

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But it leaves little time for writing.

And almost no time for reading.

Which is a bummer, because scrolling through my reader I see that you have had things to say.

I could stay up too late and read just a few, but that would be crazy foolish.  I’ll catch up on Friday.

Call me legalistic, but I will post every day.  Even if today is posted before yesterday has ended.

Good night.

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