Tag Archives: cooking

Thanksgiving Chores and Preparations

Recently the world has erupted in anger, chaos and violence. Mostly I have been distracted and saddened, deeply saddened by the hatred and anger simmering under the surface. In the midst of all, though, I, can not always think about these terrorist attacks and refugees and all things that are wrong and unjust.

In fact, with the Thanksgiving holiday just a week away, I am juggling work and how to get ready to have our family home. The past two days, I have begun the preparations. Certain chores I don’t mind and others are not so much fun.

Cooking gives me joy. I love all the preparation for baking and cooking. Grocery shopping makes me happy. I actually enjoy ironing the tablecloths and napkins and polishing the silver. I am not so fond of all the dusting and mopping and vacuuming.

Today, all the napkins have been ironed. I have worked on organizing the third floor where the grandchildren will be sleeping. Much more work will need to be done in order for everything to ready.

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Wednesday night at the church I serve, I taught a “stress free holiday cooking” class. It was great fun and my prayer is that it was helpful. For those who want some recipes that would make Thanksgiving easier, I offer these three that are tasty, fast and make the preparations a little easier.

CranApple Sauce

5 apples (granny smith, gala, Jonathon or your favorite)

peeled and chunked

½ cup sweetened dried cranberries

1 cup concentrated cranberry apple juice

Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and cook about 10 minutes until it becomes a chunky sauce. Can be served warm or cold

cranberryapple-complete

Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes (Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes)

5 pounds russet potatoes

8 ounces cream cheese

8 ounces sour cream

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt  and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

  1. Peel and cook potatoes.
  2. Drain well and mash until smooth.
  3. Add cream cheese, sour cream, seasonings and butter.
  4. Beat with hand mixer until smooth and fluffy.
  5. Place in lightly greased casserole dish.
  6. Dot with more butter.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
  8. Bake at 350 until heated through (about 30-45 min.)

Creamy-Oven-Baked-Mashed-Potatoes

Spicy Sweet Potato Mash

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon butter

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 ½ tablespoons real maple syrup

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot smoked paprika or to taste

Wash the outside of the sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a fork and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large, microwave-safe bowl. Add the butter and mix well.

Crush the thyme in with your fingers and add the pumpkin, syrup, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Using a potato masher or a large folk, mash the potatoes until smooth. Place the potato mash back into the microwave and heat for 1 minute or two.

The potatoes can be baked in the oven and the mash itself can be placed in the oven to heat. If you want to fancy it up, you could sprinkle chopped pecans over the top, or chopped spicy pecans over the top.

However you celebrate, may your preparations not be too taxing, your anticipation delicious and in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of our world, may you gratitude be a gift of grace and love.

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Thanksgiving in view

This week’s Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals was all about Thanksgiving. You can read the prompt in the above link. This Thanksgiving, like last years is different. Last year, my family gathered to celebrate my mother’s life. Our hope had been that she would live that long and as much of her family as was possible would gather, as we had not for years to have Thanksgiving together. Instead, on Tuesday of that week, we had her memorial service and then cooked up a storm and ate together and shared together.

This year, like last is much different. For the the first time none of my children will be home for Thanksgiving. Life and circumstances often change celebrations. I am used to having more anywhere from ten to twentyfive for dinner. This year, there will be three, my husband, my husbands mother and myself. I am not sure how to “cook” Thanksgiving dinner for three, but am sure I will try and figure it out!

The prompt for today asked what is the cure for “mulleygrubs?” Aunt Bert says to “bake a cake” and there was a time when I would bake to cure any “mulleygrubs.” Sometimes I had dozens of cookies in the freezer from dealing with life. Today, though, I tend to “cook” rather than bake. When life piles up, I get myself into the kitchen and cook dinner. It feeds body and soul.

I will be home for Thanksgiving, menu yet to be decided and am deeply grateful to be home. I will miss the family that will not be here this year. I will deeply miss cooking with others. Last year for the first time my brothers and I cooked together. It was a deep joy to me to be in the kitchen with my brothers who are amazing cooks. I will miss cooking with my grandsons, just learning how to cook and enjoying the hustle-bustle of the kitchen.

Yet, I am grateful to have my mother in law, 94 years old to cook for and celebrate this Thanksgiving. No promise is given as to how many holidays any of us get to share, so each one is a gift of love. So I am thankful for family near and far, grateful I can cook and share what I create and deeply grateful to have people I love and who love me in return. I am graced to serve.

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Food, Glorious Food

I love food. I love shopping for it, planting seeds and harvesting the results. I love cooking food and eating it.
As the autumn evolves into the winter, the garden is just about done. I planted some late summer seeds in order to have some vegetables in the late autumn. The radishes have been harvested, but I still have some lettuce.
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Some very cold weather is coming later this week, so the lettuce will be cut and left in the raised bed to see if it will come back again. If not, I have two planter boxes on the front porch with seedlings coming along nicely.

I have also planted garlic.
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You plant it in the early fall, and mid summer there will be many bulbs to harvest to use for the rest of the year. Planting, harvesting and cooking my own food is such a joy to me. Not only my own fruits and vegetables, but I love searching out the best at the farmer’s markets and getting to know all those who enjoy food as much as I do.

Tonight I cooked dinner. The salad was made from tomatoes, radishes and lettuce from the garden. The roasted vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, red peppers from the the garden and brussel sprouts and onions from the market.

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Dinner was served with little prep, but glorious color and freshness.

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I was raised that food should look pretty on the plate, but not fussed over really. The table was important, for conversation, for relationship building and yes for eating and feeding others. But the deep enjoyment that I have for food was somewhat suspect.

I realize that part of my enjoyment of cooking and of food is that when I cook and when it tastes good, people smile. People enjoy themselves. I am in a profession where sometimes it is hard to figure out whether or not I am making a difference. In cooking, it is immediately obvious.

Food feeds creativity. The colors, the tastes, the smells, the ability to find ways to combine ingredients and create wonderful dishes is a way of being in touch with life itself. Everyone has to eat. Food is a way of bringing people together.

Every time, every place, every culture has its own food experience. While one can pick up food anywhere, food that is well prepared and surrounded with love has it’s own place in life.

I love food. I love preparing it, harvesting it, selecting it and cooking it and serving meals to people I love. It puts me in touch with what is real, what is good and what matters: family, friends, food and a table surrounded with love.

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Day off

Today is my scheduled “day off.” Has been for most of my ministry. I hesitate to call it sabbath because I am not always very good about actually delighting in the day.

Like many people, my days off consists of doing work that is not paid or not my “job” but needs to be done. There is laundry to done, grocery shopping, picking up, cleaning and other chores.

Today, I went to the YMCA. My husband and I started going in February of last year. During the summer, we didn’t go often because we were often on our bicycles or walking outside. The weather is changing, so this week we have been there four days out of five.

While I was there, I was thinking about all the things I needed to get done. I was tempted to cut short our time there in order to “get things done.” I literally had to “talk” to myself and give myself permission to just be there and enjoy (as much as I can enjoy exercise) my time there and be present to the moment.

I still had things to do today. I went to the grocery store, worked on the fall decorations and cooked dinner. There were many things I didn’t get done.

This evening, though, I cooked dinner, my husband and I watched a movie. It was nice to be doing something other than things that “had to be done.” The purpose of a day off is to live into a different rhythm, to relax and to enjoy the gift of time that God has given. While I certainly do not take time off “well” I continue to remind myself that work is a gift and rest and time off is a gift. When I can take time off and rest, then I have more energy and passion to live out the calling I have been give. When I am rested, I can certainly experience and know that I am, graced to serve.

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