Side Dishes – Potatoes Au Gratin

 

 

On the Second Day of Christmas

Yuki watched TV!

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I got an animal DVD from the Library, and while I walked on the treadmill, Yuki took in¬†America’s Greatest Animals for at least 10 minutes. ūüôā

Potatoes Au Gratin

This was a perfect accompaniment to our Christmas dinner. In past years, I’ve made Christmas Goose, an interesting if labor-intensive dish.

I’ve decided that turkey and ham are the easiest large meats to serve. Not only are they budget-friendly, but also feed a lot of people. When I make a turkey, I have meat for the meal as well as leftovers for at least a couple more.

Not so with goose. Goose is roughly a similar size to a turkey, but the meat from it feeds maybe 4 people in one meal. The end.

This year I compromised. I made duck and sea scallops. I don’t think I’d ever made scallops before, but I love them and order them often when we’re out. So I didn’t have a good recipe to start from. I found a chili-encrusted lime scallop recipe which I thought sounded good, but came out only meh.

And the duck? Sorta of meh too. It’s a lot of work trying to get the meat off the bird, though it’s easy to roast.

The au gratin potatoes (p. 31), though, worked out perfectly as a side dish. I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and had lightened up versions of the cream of celery and cheese.

IMG_6542Jacob really liked this dish. It’s tasty!

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Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the final product. But trust me it comes out really nice in the end because you put cheese over the top and the potatoes brown up nicely.

Give it a try!

 

 

 

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Main Dishes – Chicken Casserole

Feed My Starving Children

Last Saturday, I took a group of youth and parents to Feed My Starving Children, in Aurora. There were 23 of us from Redeemer, a great number in my estimation. But we weren’t the only ones there.

Along with probably 100-150 other volunteers, we split up around various tables packaging food into “manna packs,” a blend of rice, soy, veggies, and vitamins. These are sent to various places in underdeveloped parts of the world.

In the packaging room, we noticed that some of the groups around us seemed more exuberant, more joyous in their packing than we did. Jacob said, with a wry smile, “Yeah, our youth group is kind of angsty.”¬†Jacob has this wit, this subtle humor that makes me hours or even days later smile a little to myself. He’s right: we are kind of angsty.

And isn’t that okay? We’re Lutherans, for crying out loud. As my friend Sherri said, “We Lutherans repress our feelings and bring a dish to pass at the potluck.”

Chicken Casserole

We Lutherans do love our potlucks, and our casseroles, don’t we? Or rather, those of a previous generation surely did. My mom made a salmon casserole that I remember, sadly, with much disdain. I eat fish at least once a week now, but I’m not wild about any noodle-y, creamy, crunchy additional ingredients.

Anyhow, despite my being down on casseroles, dishes like this make for an easy family meal, as Kathryn found when she cooked this chicken casserole (p. 42) for me! She cut up the chicken before cooking to make it easier to serve. Great idea!

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And here is the finished product:

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Nice one, Kathryn! Thank you for your willingness to help me get through these last few recipes. ūüôā

 

Salads – Lime Jello Mold

Merry Christmas! 

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¬†Therefore this is the chief article, which separates us from all the heathen, that you, O man, may not only learn that Christ, born of the virgin, is the Lord and Savior, but also accept the fact that he is your Lord and Savior, that you may be able to boast in your hear:¬† I hear the Word that sounds from heaven and says:¬† This child who is born of the virgin is not only his mother‚Äôs son.¬† I have more than the mother‚Äôs estate; he is more mine than Mary‚Äôs, for he was born for me, for the angel said, ‚ÄúTo you‚ÄĚ is born the Savior.¬† Then ought you to say, Amen, I thank thee, dear Lord. (From Martin Luther’s sermon on Luke 2)

Lime Jello Mold 

This recipe (p. 12) comes from Donna H., who made several great contributions to the cookbook. It’s a tasty treat! I used sugar free lime jello and boiling water instead of the heavy pear syrup.

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It didn’t take long for it to set up. Delish! Thank you, Donna!

Cookies – Divinity Cookies

Christmas Eve

When all was still and it was midnight

the immortal Word descended from His royal throne…

So begins the introit for Christmas Eve, my favorite of the whole year. It’s so beautifully poetic, isn’t it?

Divinity Cookies

Donna H. submitted this recipe (p. 95) ¬†and then made the cookies the blog as well. Here’s what she shared with me:

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I remember growing up in a multi-generational 2 flat and every Saturday was baking day and the house was filled with the wonderful aromas of fresh breads, coffee cakes etc.  As Christmas approached dozens of different cookies were added.

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Now it lives on with my children and grandchildren.  My daughter also continues to do it with her children and grandchildren in Minnesota. Some men are even joining in. Different times, new traditions.  Love it!!

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This cookie was one from a special aunt of mine and the reason I added it to our cookbook.

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Here’s the mixture with a thermometer, making sure the temp is just right.

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And the cookies on the pan:

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P.S.¬† You can always try switching extracts and nuts.¬† Ex:¬† almond extract with almonds. Or try orange extract with orange peel.¬† Be creative and Have Fun!!!¬† That’s what baking is all about.

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What a beautiful platter of deliciousness! Thanks, Donna!

Breakfast Main Dishes – Blueberry Pancakes

It seems as though Christmas memories are at least in part associated with stories, movies, and shows that we’ve learned to love over the years. Some of my favorites:

1. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. I remember seeing a play based on this classic story years ago. It’s a beautiful example of giving and irony.

2. Martin Luther’s Christmas Book. This little volume is a collection of Martin Luther’s sermons or talks on the Christmas texts from Luke 2 and Matthew 1. It’s a treasure!

3. A Christmas Story. It’s a goofy Christmas tradition. Here’s a link to the real Christmas Story house.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life. The classic Frank Capra movie I can’t seem to enjoy Christmas without!

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5. The Bishop’s Wife. Although this classic with David Niven from 1947 is not too much about Christmas, I love it.

6. Home Alone. Love this funny Christmas movie and how the kid outsmarts the crooks.

What are your faves?

Blueberry Pancakes

The Murphys made this recipe (p. 35) in the cookbook for me. Thank you, Murphs! The recipe makes quite a few.

Here they laid out the ingredients:

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And the mixture:

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On the griddle:

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And the final product:
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Main Dishes – Turkey Turnovers

The Real Work
I love this poem by Wendell Berry.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Turkey Turnovers
I made a turkey breast on Friday and decided to turn the leftovers into turnovers. I adjusted the recipe because I couldn’t find a gluten-free pie crust, and though I had every good intention, I just ran out of time to make my own. Instead I used gluten-free bisquick, which worked well. It was all gluten-free, and overall, tasted pretty good. I’m not sure I’m a fan of the gluten-free bisquick. Wheat just works so perfectly. I feel badly for those who don’t have an option, but there are a lot of better products these days

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Desserts – Hasty Pudding

The End
After combing through the entire vol. 3 of Palate Pleasers from Redeemer Lutheran Church, we’ve come to the end.

Over 250 recipes shopped for, cooked, cleaned up from, and written about. A year in the life. It’s a little microcosm of our corner of the world, tucked in the suburbs of Chicago.

My idea way back over a year ago has now come to its end, and I think about all of the people who have cooked, shopped, and cleaned to help out. What a lot of you there are!

Kelly, my blogging partner, not only cooked a bunch of recipes, learned how to run WordPress, and then wrote about her adventures. She even went so far as to purchase a big load of the cookbooks for Christmas gifts–and that purchase helped the youth group get closer to¬†our fundraising goal for the year.

Other cooks included Nancy, Karen, Cher, my mom, Barbara, Kathryn, Rhonda, Naomi, Fran and Ann, Michelle, Barb and McKay, and probably others that I’m forgetting. That’s quite a list!

I must say it’s a bit of a relief to be done. At the end, I wasn’t even admitting to my family whether a recipe came from the book. They’d just sigh, and plunge their forks into whatever was set before them. Not only will I avoid moans and groans, but my grocery shopping will get easier too. No more going to 3-4 stores each week to gather supplies.

But I will miss connecting with all of you. Your emails, your comments, and your funny tidbits along the way have created a conversation, one that I’m hesitant to end.

My brother David may have come up with the most brilliant idea of all, for me to write for adults, recipes about life.

I’m reading Anne Lamott’s new book Small Victories, and wondering if maybe her style of writing can inspire my own. I’ve begun a new blog, on which I’ll stumble my way onto some sort of project. I invite you all to take a gander and follow my new posts, dedicated to my meanderings through my spiritual journey.

Hasty Pudding
In the meantime, we have one more recipe to try. This recipe (p. 80) is really anything but hasty, especially compared to instant pudding mixes that take exactly two steps: 1. put milk in a bowl, 2. add pudding mix. 3. Stir, 4. wait five minutes and eat. Okay, that was four steps, but they’re all easy.

This one cooks the maple syrup and flour on the stove, then transfers the mixture to the oven for 40 minutes. See what I mean? Not hasty. But good!

I figured out this is actually more of a bread pudding than a pudding pudding, so even though I made the recipe, I still haven’t made real live cook-and-serve pudding.

So what you do with this recipe is you make the batter, which is sort of like a cake batter, and then pour boiling maple syrup over it. Bake it in the oven, and after eating, soak the dish in water in your sink for several days to get the¬†caramelized¬†sugar out of it!¬†It was soo tasty though!¬†Here’s the batter with the syrup poured over:

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And here is the last photo of the blog, with our three spoons in salute to all of you who have stuck with me all year! Bon appetit!

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Breads and Rolls – Cheese Biscuits Deluxe

Cats and Their Toys
I find it interesting that our kitties each have their own preferences as they play. It’s remarkable, isn’t it, that God made these little critters with their own likes and dislikes.

Kenji, for example, loves straws. He is playful, good-natured, and innocent, and loves to play with string. But he also loves straws. And have you ever noticed that the straws from McDonalds are just a tad bit wider than a straw you can buy at the store? Kenji likes those most of all.

Dewey loves jingle balls and little cloth balls he can kick around. Jacob brought home a winter hat with a pom pom on the top at Thanksgiving, and by the end of the weekend, Dewey had taken it off the hat. It’s been his favorite toy ever since. He kicks it around and chases it throws it up the air.

Yuki, well, he’s a bit lazy. He likes to watch the games mostly. He’ll chase a string or rope if I walk around the house with it. Otherwise, he’s perfectly happy dilly dallying, watching the others as they play.

I don’t know if we’ll see cats or dogs in heaven, as was commented on heavily in the last week, but I do know this: God made these little creatures unique with their little personalities. And I’m sure glad He did!

Cheese Biscuits Deluxe

This was another fabulous offering (p. 67) that Nancy O. made for book club. This one, from Cheryl D. uses refrigerated biscuits as the base, and then adds blue cheese and herbs. Delish! And Nancy said it was also quite simple to make.

Here it is laid out on the cookie sheet:

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Side Dishes – Flavored Rice

Advent Preparation

From my husband’s sermon on Sunday, he shared with us some Advent themes:¬†preparation, waiting for the Messiah, repentance.

He admonished us to stop trying to fill the empty places in our lives with things that never satisfy–possessions, money, success, and instead turn in repentance to the Lord:

All praise, eternal Son to Thee whose Advent sets Thy people free.

This line comes from one of my favorite hymns in Advent, “On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry” (LSB 344).

Flavored Rice
This dish submitted by Lynda M. accompanied our tacos at youth group this past Sunday. It’s very simple–rice boiled in chicken stock with onion added. The kids ate it all up at youth group, and I even got one, “That rice was really good!” The chicken stock and onions even add a little nutrition to it!

Here it is, boiling away.

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And the finished product:

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Desserts – Eclair Bubble Ring

What’s making me happy this week

On NPR’s Pop Culture hour, they do a roundtable at the end of each podcast called “What’s Making Me Happy.” So in honor of their feature, I’ll do my own version:

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1. Dannon’s Greek Light & Fit Toasted Coconut Vanilla yogurt. For a price of 80 calories, you’ll feel ready to swim in a vat of the stuff.

2. A finished manuscript. I successfully prepared Draft #2 of my novel in verse and sent it off to my agent this week. I call it a “draft” because I know it’s just that–one step in a long writing process. But it’s a creative work of fiction that topped 13,000 words, a stunning achievement for this writer. My “Cheep Cheep” book numbered only 7 words. Perhaps I’m developing. ūüôā

3. Handmade cards and gift tags. One of the many things I love about working at the library is the celebration of creativity in that environment. We’re adopting a “makerspace” culture, in which patrons come to the library to do their own creating. As part of that, I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in programs that allow me to play, create, and make something to give away.

4. Lark Rise to Candleford. If you’re sick of hearing about my obsession with British TV, you can tune out now. My mom got me onto Doc Martin and Lark Rise to Candleford, the latter of which is based on a book about a hamlet in Oxfordshire around the 1880s.

5.¬†Swedish hymns. I love the lilting, happy melodies of Swedish hymns, much more than the heavy plodding Germanic ones. I love my German Lutheran roots, but¬†these Swedish hymns like “Children of the Heavenly Father,” are making me happy this week.

Eclair Bubble Ring

This is an interesting recipe (p.100)–from the name to the giant-ness of it all! My supervisor at work Cher put together this multi-step recipe to help me with the cookbook project. Thank you, Cher!

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She made the pastry, which is not really sweet. It’s sort of bread-y.

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Then she sliced the dough lengthwise for a custard filling.

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Finally, a chocolate topping was added to the top.

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Voila! Giant donut!

Thank you, Cher, for helping me with this project!