Gratitude Day 211 – A Souper Supper

Tues., Feb. 5, 2019

Acts 20:7 – On the first day of the week, as we gathered together for a meal, Paul was holding a discussion with them. Since he was leaving the next day, he continued talking until midnight.

In the winter, one of my favorite foods to make is soup. Hubby Rick works nights and I try to have something for his dinner. Soup is easy for him to heat up, warm up and fuel up.

One reason I love to make soup? It usually tastes better the next day after the flavors have melded together.

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Two weeks ago, I made a big pot of chili. Here’s the last of the chili, in a container with oyster crackers (Rick’s favorite) ready to go into his lunch cooler.

When the artic vortex arrived a day or two later, I wanted some good soup to send with Rick. This time, I made Chicken Dumpling Soup.

How do I decide what kind of soup to make? I open the fridge and see what is hanging out inside. I seldom follow recipe. I may look at a recipe for inspiration, but really, I just wing it. Most often, I use what I have on hand, what’s in the fridge that needs to be used quickly or what sounds good.

This particular day, there was uncooked chicken breast in the fridge. I contemplated making Chicken Noodle, but I wanted something a little more stout.

I didn’t think about sharing this soup-making experience until after the soup was made. Since it turned out SO GOOD, I thought you might enjoy making a pot similar to what I made. It was quite easy and so yummy. In about 45 minutes, I had a nice big pot of Chicken Dumpling Soup:

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  1. Place thawed boneless chicken breasts in a large pot. I used three, which makes a nice amount of soup. Cover the meat with broth, water or a combination. I used what broth I had in the fridge and added water until there 1” of liquid above the meat.
  2. Bring liquid to boil, then simmer. Cut-up the veggies you plan to use. I sliced about 3 cups of carrots, 2 cups of celery and diced a full onion. Add the veggies into the pot as they are cut up. Add a small bag of frozen peas. (Of course, you can use whatever veggies you desire.) There was cilantro in the fridge, so I added ¼ cup finely cut up cilantro. Use parsley if you have it. Add 1-2 tsp salt, 1-2 tsp pepper, some general pasta seasoning and added 1-2 tsp thyme. Let this simmer about 15 minutes.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, removed and cut into small cubes. Return to the pot. Add a container of creamed corn if you want a creamier texture. Mix ¼ c flour with 1 c milk well. Add to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower temperature and let simmer about 10 minutes.
  4. Make the dumplings. Mix together 1 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp dill and/or parsley. Add 1/3 c milk and 2 TBSP oil. Mix until ingredients are incorporated. Drop tablespoons of dough into the soup. Cover and let simmer on low for 10 minutes. Do not remove the cover until the dumplings are cook.
  5. Enjoy!!

Rick and I both enjoyed this soup. We had a bowl together before he left for work. And it also went into his lunch cooler. Rick said I can make it again. This is his code language for telling me he like something that I made.

Lots of good things happen when people eat a meal together. They nourish themselves physically and emotionally. They catch-up and make future plans. They spend time together. In the winter, we often do this over a bowl of soup. It’s a wonderful way to nourish our bodies and souls.

For nourishment that fills our bodies, I am grateful.

Lord God – While we often think of mealtime as the moments when we physically feed our bodies, it is also a great time to emotionally, mentally and spiritually feed our bodies as well.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 207 – What I learned in January 2019

Thurs., Jan. 31, 2019

Proverbs 24:32 – I observed this and took it to heart; I saw it and learned a lesson.

On this last day of January, I pulled out my calendar and thought about what are some life lessons that I’ve discovered or rediscovered this month. Personally, I find this exercise helpful. Why? It’s so easy to let time go by without any evaluation. Each time I take a few minutes and do this, I discover a lesson that I want to take to heart.

So, what are some lessons I learned this past month? Thanks for asking!

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  1. In the central upper Midwest, we’ve ended the month with record-breaking cold weather. An Artic Vortex came screaming into Wisconsin and has hung around for a while. It has been officially colder in Wisconsin than at Mount Everest and Antarctica this week. The cold was preceded by two snow events. In the last two weeks, most schools in Wisconsin have canceled classes and events for six days!! Wednesday and Thursday – no mail delivery!

Many folks have stayed home or changed plans to stay out of the ridiculously cold temps. But some people can’t. As a chaplain with the local police department, I ride with the officers every so often. I had a scheduled ride-along one night during the blistering cold temps. Yes, I could have canceled. But if Officer Scott was working, why shouldn’t I join him? It’s more than police officers who work no matter what. It’s fire fighters, EMT’s, and other rescue personal. It’s farmers and ranchers, carrying for their animals. Its people helping those who have problems because of the cold. It’s the homeless. It’s the fragile folks.

Hubby Rick is a night truck driver and has worked every night since Sunday. Yes, he dresses accordingly, but yikes, it’s been cold! When he crawled into bed after a long shift, he asked when we are moving to Belize. He might have packed his bags right then, had I agreed.

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Today’s sun is deceiving. But doesn’t it look pretty?

 

  1. Recently, I dusted off an old hobby – sewing. For years, I sewed lots of things. Then, life happened. At Thanksgiving, I decided to make quilts for our youngest three grandchildren for Christmas. It was a bit of a push, but worth it. After they opened them, granddaughter Ellie wanted to be wrapped in her quilt like a burrito. Of course, her brothers followed suit. It was fun to watch them enjoy their quilts. And made the effort so worth it.

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  1. One of my new mantras for the year is 20-minutes. I’ve picked things important to me and dedicate 20-minutes a day to them. I use this concept with exercise and my devotional life. We often think we don’t have time to do something. Maybe, we really only need 20-minutes. This plan helps me focus on things important to me, if only for a short period every day. Best of all: it’s working!

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  1. A challenge that I’m still struggling with? Working on the most important things everyday and not just the urgent. I’m not sure I’ll ever get this fine-tuned. But naming the struggle is step one in dealing with it.

As you get ready to flip the calendar to February tomorrow, first pause. Think about the things that have been most meaningful to you in the last four weeks. What was something that you’ve been struggling with and would love to make progress? Ponder these things in your heart. Learn a lesson from the first month of 2019. Take it to heart and grow from this lesson.

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For learned and relearned life lessons, I am grateful.

Lord God – too often, we think lessons must be big and important life revelations. More often, you speak to us in a still, quiet voice of everyday life. I pray we see your hands touching our lives in these small and important daily lessons. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 156 –  Something Warm for the Cold

snow

Fri., Nov. 16, 2018

Psalm 147:17 – God sends down hailstones like chips of rocks. Who can stand the cold?

Winter-like weather has arrived in Wisconsin. It’s mid-February … and already I have heard multiple times from Hubby Rick, “When can we move to Belize??” We visited Belize a couple years ago. Rick feels this would be the ideal climate for us to retire. But that is a post for another day.

Today’s words: how to keep warm inside when it’s cold outside.

I love coffee. I drink coffee every day. For years, I have been a traditionalist when it comes to coffee: black only. The last few years, sometimes I find myself putting cream or flavored creamer in my coffee. Why? My Dad drank lots of coffee with lots of milk and sugar. It wasn’t really coffee. It was more what I would call “candy coffee.” I have refrained from adding sugar to coffee. But sometimes I enjoy a little milk. Just makes me feel like I’m having coffee with my Dad.

 

In the 20181030_164533winter, I sometimes want something more like hot chocolate but with some coffee flavor as well. So, I came up with what I call mocha coffee that I make at home. I’m sure I could google this and come up with a fancy recipe. My recipe is super easy, super simple and ready in three minutes. It has coffee, chocolate and is made in one cup.

I begin by filling a cup about halfway with coffee. Cold is just fine. Then, I fill it near the top with some milk. When I make hot chocolate with a mix, I make it with milk. If you have never had it with milk, make it this way. You may not go back to making it with water.

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Once I have the cup mostly filled with coffee and milk, I microwave it for about 2 minutes. Don’t let it boil. Take it out of the microwave and add a packet of hot chocolate mix. Stir in as much as you can. Microwave for another minute. Mix well … and you have my easy, cheap and fairly decent version of mocha coffee. If you want to get all fancy, put some whipped topping on top and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Close your eyes while you drink it and maybe, you’ll think you got it from a fancy coffee shop. I know it’s not the same … but it also didn’t cost $5. Often, I buy the low sugar hot chocolate mix, as I really have cut back the amount of sugar I eat. When you use milk to make this, the missing sugar really isn’t much of a factor.

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That’s it. A simple mocha coffee that is a great afternoon pick-me-up on a cold winter day. Or a treat after being outside for a while. It’s a nice variation from regular coffee/hot chocolate mix.

Nearly every time Rick mentions about moving to Belize, I remind him that we simply have to find fun ways to enjoy winter in Wisconsin. He’s not convinced the cold weather is necessary after Christmas. For me, this little mocha coffee is a fun drink for the winter months.

What is your favorite winter drink?

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For special treats on cold winter days, I am grateful.

Lord God – some of us enjoy the change of seasons more than others. No matter what, I pray we appreciate the way you have designed this world. Thanks for special ways to enjoy the cold! Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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