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2017 Holiday Season in Full Swing

Perhaps it was the new Pumpkin Praline Pie that I took along with the pumpkin and mincemeat pies, or maybe it was because I gave too much information in my post about Mincemeat. There was a lot of Mincemeat Pie left over after our Thanksgiving meal. I chose to see the pie pan half full and enjoyed large slices for breakfast on Friday and Saturday.

Yes, beef is listed as an ingredient.

This one is a keeper!

My two sisters handled hosting the most anticipated dinner of the year with style and impressive calmness. When I checked on them three hours before fourteen guests were to arrive, they were playing cards. The family gathering was full of joyful (noisy) conversation, delicious food, and expressed gratefulness.

On Friday morning, my sisters were ready for our annual Black Friday outing. The three of us have made it a priority to drive to a nearby city for shopping and lunch each year. We head out later than most folks and make it home  by dinner time. It’s our day to catch up and enjoy being sisters. More gratefulness.

My husband’s large family gathered at a nephew’s home on Saturday for a celebration of football, food, and family. It was wonderful to see our two sons and our daughter-in-law at both family parties. The three days of Thanksgiving ended, and Dave and I journeyed home to be in church on Sunday morning. Ah, Sunday.

Designated days resumed on Monday, now known as Cyber Monday, a day to make on-line purchases. I took advantage of a 40% off deal on some Love and Respect books and also ordered some items my husband needs. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving became Giving Tuesday in 2012. The worldwide movement encourages support of non-profit organizations with some donations being matched by corporations. On November 28, on-line contributions to good causes totaled at least $177 million. Our donation went to the LIFE TODAY Mission Feeding Program.

Today is Wednesday – just Wednesday as far as I know, except that we are now “officially” in the Christmas season. I’ve been asked if I’ve put up my Christmas tree yet. No, however, I have put away fall decorations and set up our lighted village buildings*.

*Full Disclosure: This is from a previous year. We don’t have the cords strung and little figures in yet.

December will arrive on Friday, and Sunday will mark the beginning of Advent for the Christian Church. It’s time for me to make some choices about more than which gift to purchase. Each day of this season, I hope to do these two things:

  1. Choose to bless, not impress. This has become one of my life goals. Keeping it simple avoids stress   and helps me to use my own gifts and time to bless people without comparing my efforts to what others do. I’ve decided to spend less time on Facebook. I don’t need any more recipes or decorating ideas. Less, I believe, will result in more. More time for my second choice…
  2. Choose to seek and to serve Jesus Christ. As a believer who is saved by grace through faith in Jesus, I worship Him, not as a baby born on Christmas, but as the Lord and Savior who will return for me. He is the Prince of Peace, and I need his peace. I was reminded at a prayer meeting tonight that we can be very busy and fail to accomplish anything worthwhile. My choice is to be still enough during this season to hear God’s voice in prayer and to seek to know Him better through reading the Bible.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

 

 

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Make Mine Mincemeat

Next week, my husband and I will travel to my hometown of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, (not Sandusky) to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. This year’s gathering will be in a new location. My sisters have recently moved into a lovely new home and have offered to set the table for all sixteen of us.

Like all families and family traditions, ours have changed during my lifetime. Life’s circumstances bring in new faces and others are no longer with us. The place where we gather changes, too. The menu, however, remains almost constant so that each person’s favorite is included.  The turkey may be prepared by a new method, and we may or may not have a green salad or Grandma’s Frozen Fruit Salad. We have to have both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as stuffing and rolls. When it comes to dessert, it’s OK to add delicacies, but NEVER to take away Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip or Mincemeat Pie.

I confessed in The Joy of Chocolate Pie and Friendship that I rarely make pie except for baking pumpkin pie for family holiday celebrations. In recent years, I have become the designated deliverer of pies on the fourth Thursday of November. This stems from the fact that I live several hours away from home and can’t make and transport hot dishes easily. So, pies it is. I’m always reminded to make sure I bring a Mincemeat Pie (pumpkin is assumed).

I suspect that our family is in a small minority in America that even knows what Mincemeat Pie is, let alone looks forward to indulging in it on Thanksgiving. During my lifetime, I’ve only celebrated a handful of Thanksgiving Days without the option of Mincemeat Pie. One was in 2011, while my husband was hospitalized. The others took place while we were separated from family in the far away state of North Dakota.

I asked my mom yesterday about how this dessert tradition began. She remembers finishing Thanksgiving meals with Mincemeat Pie as a child visiting her grandmother, as do I. To her recollection, no one in the family ever made mincemeat from scratch. History about mincemeat from the  None Such website confirms that likelihood: Ready-to-use mincemeat, first offered in wooden buckets and crates, is one of the oldest American convenience foods. Mincemeat has been steadily marketed in the U.S. for more than 100 years.”

I don’t think we’ve used the Brandy and Rum type…

So, what is mincemeat? Again from the folks at None Such: Mincemeat is a combination of apples, raisins and citrus peel, blended with sugar and spices to make a delicious cooking and baking ingredient. Mincemeat is derived from old English recipes, and today remains one of the most popular holiday foods in England. The recorded history of mincemeat can be traced to the year 1413, when it was served at the coronation of Henry V of England. In the late 1600’s, mincemeat was served as a meat pie flavored with fruit and spices. These pies, with more fruits and spices and less meat, were served as desserts when mincemeat was brought to Colonial America.” According to Wikipedia, “In the mid to late eighteenth century, mincemeat in Europe had become associated with old fashioned, rural, or homely foods.” While the pie remains a Christmas tradition England, in the northeast United States it is often a part of the Thanksgiving meal. 

The first time I was required to bring a Mincemeat Pie to our gathering, I asked Mom how to make it, thinking it might be complicated. Her instructions were to pour a jar of mincemeat into a pie crust and bake it. I had success on the first attempt! The pie was delicious, however, I will admit that I’ve found it difficult to eat a whole slice after consuming my plateful of turkey and carbs. The richness of the somewhat heavy pie has given me a stomach ache on occasion. So, in 2015, I checked on Allrecipes.com for a different recipe. I was a little nervous to take my first Apple Mincemeat Pie to dinner and held my breath as loved ones tasted it. We all agreed that it was delicious. I’m not sure that it is preferred by the others, but I do like both the preparation and flavor of the pie. You can find the recipe HERE.

My pies from November 2015

I’ve purchased my jar of mincemeat and my apples and will be baking in a few days. This year I was delighted to see my grocery store also carry the condensed mincemeat again. I’ve used it in a delicious Mincemeat Cookies recipe and look forward to baking a batch, maybe for Christmas. If you like raisin cookies, you may want to print out the recipe I use and give them a try!

Mincemeat Cookie Recipe

 

 

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October Garlic Planting – Patience Part 2

I don’t consider myself a gardener, but today I donned my gloves, grabbed a shovel and hoe, and planted eight garlic cloves in the clay beside our house. Tomorrow my husband will mulch some fallen leaves and spread a layer over the tiny garden. Then we will wait for November, December, January, February, March, April, and May to pass, hoping to harvest garlic in June. I have a good bit of confidence that the harvest will come despite the weather’s unpredictability and the various critters who munch on our foliage. Why? Because in the two previous years, I have planted garlic this way and been blessed with success.

My first attempt, though, was a failure. I bought a head of garlic at the grocery store, broke it apart, and planted it in the spring. Some plants came up, but failed to produce garlic heads underground. Then, in the summer of 2015, I met a man who was selling garlic at a festival. He was passionate about his products, and I took a bit of time to ask him some questions about growing garlic. I took some home and followed his instructions, confident that I was starting with better seed and knowledge. I separated the cloves of one head and planted them in the fall. They sprouted in the spring and put on scapes (surprise!). I waited until late June to carefully dig around the plants and found a crop. Seven heads of garlic from one!

I treated myself to that cute little pot to hold the fruits of my labor.

There was satisfaction in growing fresh garlic to add to my recipes. I kept the largest head aside so it could be divided into cloves and planted in the fall. The garlic I planted today is the result of that planting – and waiting.

I expect each of these cloves to produce a head of four or five cloves.

Growing things takes time and patience. Garlic is really easy. After it’s in the ground and covered for the winter, I don’t do anything but wait. I find wonder in the way a plant grows from a seed. The resulting homegrown ingredient is a blessing, but not a necessity for us. The gentleman who sold me the garlic depends on having a product to sell. A family who grows and preserves their own food knows the stress of waiting and hoping conditions are right for a good harvest. The farmer’s patience is held up as an example in the Bible. James says to Christians who are being persecuted, “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You, too, be patient and stand firm, for the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7,8)

My last writing was called Waiting for the Sun – Patience Part 1. I had begun a post about patience before and put it aside, waiting until inspiration came with the Morning Star. Today, as I completed little tasks and thought about patience, many seeds began to sprout on the topic. Mustering some discipline, I’ve been jotting them down today – putting them in the ground, so to speak. My faithful Father God gave inspiration again, this time through garlic planting. I’m not putting a limit on this series about patience. It may be continued for weeks. I may insert something else and later come back to it. The topic is relevant in my life and, I believe, in the lives of the people around me.

How about you? Is patience something you would like to cultivate?

My little Oregano and Garlic garden. Planting while the sun shines!

 

 

 

 

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My Cringe-worthy County Fair Memory

Born and raised in Ohio, my husband and I both looked forward to our respective county fairs.  One of my earliest memories from my family’s trips to the fair is picking out a souvenir as we were leaving. I managed to find an e-bay picture of one that I chose, a furry monkey attached to a stick with elastic – creepy.

Image result for 1960s carnival prize monkey

I remember riding the pony ride and the Ferris wheel  and gobbling up fair food, particularly the sweet, crispy waffles – tasty.

Image result for fair waffles

The fair in Wyandot County ( Where I Come From) is held in mid-September. I remember it being really hot on some days and pretty darn chilly on others. Whether it was hot or cold, rainy or dry, the fair was the place to be, especially for those of us in 4-H clubs.  I focused on sewing, photography, and crafts and have often appreciated learning to mend and sew. Here’s one of my sewing projects from the 70s – bright.

I remember helping my 4-H advisor decorate our fair booth. My right hand blistered and ached from cutting out corrugated cardboard four-leaf clovers – painful.

Image result for cardboard 4-H clover

Four leaves for Head, Hands, Heart, and Health.

I remember going to the fair with my girlfriends and walking around with the hope of seeing certain boys.  It was usually pretty fun. But one night I got myself into quite a predicament – cringe-worthy.

In thinking about what happened that night, two song lyrics come to mind – “I am fifteen going on sixteen.” and “Why must I be a teenager in love?”

It was county fair time during September of my junior year of high school. I was still desperately wanting to reunite with the guy I had dated in the spring. He was moving on. I needed to get his attention.

I happened to be at the fair on the evening when 4-H lambs were being judged, and was hanging out with a girlfriend who had lambs. We were in the sheep barn talking about personal stuff before her time to show her lambs for judging. Realizing that a certain guy might also be in the vicinity, a plan was hatched. I have a hard time thinking that it was my idea, so it must have been hers.

As I mentioned, I took sewing 4-H projects, never animals. My only experience with sheep had been adoring the tiny bottle-fed lambs at my grandma’s house and occasionally touching a sheep at a petting zoo. Still, my fifteen-year-old mind, prompted by my broken teenage heart, agreed to TAKE ONE OF HER LAMBS INTO THE ARENA FOR JUDGING. She made it sound easy. It was not.

I guess I assumed that the sheep would know what to do. It either did not, or it somehow realized that I was not its shepherd.  When a 95 lb. girl tries to control an 80 lb. lamb in front of judges and an audience that possibly contains a certain guy, she finds herself wanting to disappear. Hope arose when I spotted another guy from my church youth group helping with the judging. I can’t even imagine what he thought when I begged him to help me. There wasn’t much he could do. I either managed to stay on my feet and fake some semblance of doing what the judge asked or have blocked out an incident of being dragged around by a lamb. I don’t remember how we got out of the ring. I also did not see the faces of anyone in the stands.

Later, when I asked my friend what her project score was, she told me that she expected that pen of lambs to get a B anyway. She’s a good friend. No one else ever mentioned the incident to me.

So why would I tell  you about it? It just seemed good to keep my post light this week. There are still a lot of serious thoughts rolling around in my head, thoughts that may be collected and shared soon. But for now, you can laugh a little and know that while at that time I felt certain that the two of should be reunited, God had a wonderful plan for me to meet and marry my husband.

And there’s another song lyric. “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.” He’s a much better shepherd than I am.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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