Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year! Food for the Soul and Body, too.

Thanks to my DVR, I just finished watching the Billy Joel tribute that aired last night, with him receiving the Library of Congress Gershwin award for popular song… what a fantastic evening of music!  And the big surprise was (to me, at least)… the talented Kevin Spacey can play harmonica and sing, as well as being one of my favorite character actors!  This was a real treat… music is food for the soul, with words that tell a story and tunes we can replay in our minds over and over again.  So much of the music today seems just noise to my aging ears… I appreciate the new artists who sing and play melodies that are uplifting instead of depressing or jarring to my senses.  When I was young, artists made appearances all over the country in small venues, and we had 45 rpm records and radio… and occasionally they were seen on television, like the Ed Sullivan Show.  Artists reach millions more listeners now, with the internet and you-tube, but the internet also fosters much misinformation.  It makes me think of how the written word once was considered “gospel”, and we youth were guided to realize that anything can be said and written, but it doesn't necessarily make it truth.  And even if it IS truth for some, it may not be truth for everyone.  I try to keep an open mind, but it saddens me when young adults are drawn into the mind of the masses, which can easily mask the ability to think for themselves.  And it seems to me that we have a need to label everything… from generations called baby boomers to millennials to generation X, Y or Z and illnesses like autism, Asperger’s, and so on.  If someone doesn't relate easily to other people, they might be pointed out as having a mental illness that prevents them from relating.  One of my friends laughingly said her family was dysfunctional by today’s standards, but they didn't know it and were happy anyway!  Life used to be simpler then… without labels, when our interaction was with our friends who had the same parental guidance as we did!  We weren't exposed to too much too soon, and I think that was a good thing.

Christmas is past… I spent weeks wrapping gifts, literally, and boxes for each family lined my dining room wall.  This photo was taken after my oldest son had already taken their boxes from the room at
Thanksgiving.  I have a large family, and I think I have a tendency to overdo things a bit.  Every year I resolve not to do that, but it just seems to happen somewhere midst the holiday spirit!  A new year is beginning… 2015, with new ideas, new music, and new labels.  Our world has become smaller… through my internet quilting lists, I have friends in South Africa, England, France, Australia, and many other countries.  I will most likely never meet them, but we share bits of the fabric of our lives with each other. Instead of mailing a letter and the recipient getting the news days later, we can send an instant e-mail or Skype and see our loved ones as we talk to them, wherever they are.  Although the ease of internet connections brings with it some things to be wary of, I cannot imagine my life without that link to my friends and family.  Long distance telephone calls that used to be expensive and rare, now are free for most people, and my children in other states call me almost daily, as I call my own parents.  It is a good thing, progress, in many ways.  Sometimes I wonder what will come next… I've already seen a lot of changes in my 72 years!   I remember my grandfather telling me that when I was a child, and now I understand what he was saying.  My oldest son said to me about 30 years ago… “Do you realize that these times are MY ‘good old days’?”  This year, three of my children will be in their 50’s.  I wonder where the years have gone…

The holidays were fabulous this year!  It seemed we never stopped having family gatherings, and that is always what I most look forward to.  One of the hits this year was a recipe my internet friend, Sara, told me about, and my family loved it… right down to 4-year old Lucas!  Here’s my version of it.

Cream of Mushroom/Prime Rib Soup:
Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter in a soup pot.
Slice 1 package (8 oz.) Baby Bella mushrooms and sauté in the butter over low heat.
When mushrooms are cooked, add ½ cup flour to the pot to make a rue, leaving the mushrooms and butter in the pot.  Stir to incorporate the flour into the butter.
Add 6 cups of milk, stirring in a little at a time, heating over low heat until the soup thickens a bit.
Add 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder.
Dice 1 nice slice of leftover prime rib and add that to the soup.
Stir in 2 cups of whipping cream
Cover and continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally so it does not scorch.  It can be made ahead and transferred to a slow cooker set on warm, if you prefer.  It’s definitely not low fat, but it is delicious!  If you don’t like mushrooms, it probably isn’t the soup for you, however.  I think it would be wonderful without the prime rib, also.  It only takes a few minutes to make it, and it can be ready to eat in about 15 minutes.  Very good served with a crusty artisan bread or fresh garlic breadsticks.

And in case you are in the mood for a little something sweet to top it off, try this.

Dreamsicle Salad: (but it’s really more like a dessert!)
2 small packages of orange jello, made with 2 cups of boiling water, stirring well until jello is dissolved.
Add 1 cup of ice and stir in.  Chill in the refrigerator until the jello begins to thicken slightly.
Pour jello into a large mixing bowl and beat in 2 small packages of dry vanilla instant pudding mix.  Beat until it is smooth and pudding mix is thoroughly incorporated.  Fold in one large container (16 oz.) of thawed frozen topping, such as Cool Whip, and two 15 oz. cans of mandarin oranges, drained.  Cover and refrigerate.  This is a double batch, but you can halve the ingredients and make a smaller batch, if you don’t have many to feed.  However… it keeps well in the refrigerator for several days and makes a tasty snack.  I think it could easily be put into a graham cracker crust and served as a pie, also, but it’s very good just plain, and is a nice, light treat.

The folding tote bags were a big hit with everyone, and a lot of fun to make.  I think I’ll make a few up to have handy for gifts when I need one in a hurry.  The Advent banners were enjoyed by the grandchildren, as well.  My oldest son laughed as he recounted this story to me:  Charlotte’s 6th birthday was on December 22nd, and they had birthday cake that evening at her family party.  Quentin, age 9, asked Mark if they could still have their Advent candy, since they’d already had an ample supply of sugar.  Ava, age 13, instantly reacted, telling Quentin he should not ask because then they might be told no!  My guess is they still had their Advent candy, along with the birthday cake.  One of the gifts I sent those grandchildren was their own snack mat with matching napkin, assorted hot chocolate mixes, and their very own mug… stuffed with candy!  The gift all three were most excited about and thanked me for first was… the CANDY MUG!  I think it must be in the Grandma’s Rule Book that we are allowed to spoil our grandchildren!  If you haven’t got a grandchild to spoil, see if you can find someone who will share theirs with you.  Happy New Year, my friends and family… may you have your best year yet!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful recipes and it sounds like you had a wonderful holiday season.