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January 1, 2021

January 1, 2021

We made it! At 12:01 am on Jan 1, for the first time ever, Hindsight will actually be 2020.  Hindsight means it is easier to evaluate situations when we are looking back at them, and with perfect vision (20/20). 

2020 was a year filled with isolation, fear, skepticism, loneliness, tragedy, depression, addiction, brain fog, strife, injustice, sacrifice, and much more. We learned so much about ourselves and the tremendous strength and perseverance we hold in times of difficulty.

Turning the calendar to 2021 doesn’t change everything, but what it gives us HOPE.  Hope, by definition, is a feeling of expectation and desire for certain things to happen.

Which brings me to my favorite bible verse from childhood, Hebrews 11:1 (KJV), memorized in the southeast Sunday school room of our church in rural central Iowa, the Carlton Brethren Church

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It’s as if this verse was ingrained in my mind for hope then and for this very moment. As we begin this year, my wish and prayers for 2021 are:

  • To experience peace
  • To be gentle with ourselves
  • To be kind and gentle with others
  • To be grateful for all we have
  • To breathe
  • To see the beauty around us
  • To stay connected
  • To remember what matters most in our lives
  • To experience rest and joy
  • To have good health and an end to the pandemic
  • To continue to see humor in the everyday things

Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with many blessings!

Family · Holidays

Christmas 2020

One year ago, we were all hustling and bustling without a virus care in the world.  Stress was high because we put so many expectations on ourselves for the perfect Christmas experience.

Photo by @davidsonluna

Fast forward to Christmas 2021 and our lives are vastly different.  It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but for a moment, I’ll focus on the positives of the COVID experience and a sheltered Christmas.

  • My family and I are COVID free.  Every day I take the time to reflect on this blessing and pray for good health for all.
  • My family and I have shelter and food.  We have the opportunity to help others in need.
  • We are blessed with doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel who are working tirelessly to provide services during this challenging time. They have my complete gratitude for going above and beyond on a daily basis.
  • Vaccinations are on the way giving us hope of control of Coronavirus for the future.
  • Family and friends are even more precious. I love and appreciate each and every one of you!
  • Handwashing and mask wearing are second nature.  When I watch a television show or movie where people are in close proximity, and not wearing masks, I get a little anxious.  Do you?  Wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing is the least I can do for the good of our country.
  • Home has never felt so good.  I’ve always enjoyed being home but I’ve found peace and comfort in my own space.
  • Christmas ornaments are full of memories.  Each year, I think of the moment or the year I acquired each ornament.  Decorating the tree in 2020 was a reflection on a blessed life.
  • Christmas magic abounds with young children. My four young grandchildren are filled with wonder and awe for the holidays .
  • My hair is gray.  If you haven’t seen me in a picture or on Zoom, you may not know that I have gone totally gray.  Gray hair symbolizes the accomplishments and stress that I have lived.  It has given me new found freedom.
  • I’m cooking more.  Cooking has always been a passion and with more time at home, I can experiment.  Curbside pickup of groceries is a new service offered that reduces my risk of exposure to COVID and makes quick work of shopping.
  • I’m posting again on Fork-Lore.  I’m cooking; therefore I’m posting.
  • Technology allows me to catch up with family and friends to stay connected and enjoy social interaction.  Our ancestors didn’t have this luxury during other lockdowns, such as the Spanish (ie., Kansas) flu.
  • Journaling this COVID experience for future reflection started in March and goes on to this day.  Truly, I thought I would only be journaling for 3 or 4 months…Silly me!
  • Podcasts, audio books and long walks are saving me. My favorite podcast list has more than doubled and the number of books read in 2021 is far beyond any previous year.
  • Humor sustains me.  There is nothing more humorous than reflecting on the silly things I do and see each and every day.

This Christmas let us find joy, peace, and good health.  Sending virtual love and hugs to all!

Cathy

Holidays

Cranberry Orange Bread with Orange Glaze

Cranberry and Orange are a culinary match made in heaven.  The combination in this wonderful quick bread is divine, especially with the addition of Orange Glaze.

The bread is great with a cup of coffee or tea or can be served as a dessert.  

CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD WITH ORANGE GLAZE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries

For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Rub together with your fingers until fragrant. Whisk into the flour mixture. Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. If your loaf starts to get too brown drape a piece of foil over the top to finish baking. I did this during the last 10 minutes of the baking time.
  • Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife. Carefully remove loaf from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
  • While the bread is cooling, make the orange glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the bread. Cut and serve.
  • Note-The bread is best eaten within 2-3 days or freeze.

Recipe from twopeasandtheirpod.com 

Family Favorites · Holidays

Smoked Salmon Dip

Dips and appetizers are a staple for the holidays.  In 2020, we will not be having the large holiday parties and gatherings, but we can still enjoy our favorite foods and traditions in our homes.

Ina Garten’s Smoked Salmon Dip is an easy, delicious dip that last well in the refrigerator for a day or two.   Smoked Salmon is a favorite of mine, anytime of year, but dip time is holiday time!

SMOKED SALMON DIP

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

  • Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth.
  • Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix.
  • Add the smoked salmon and mix well.
  • Chill and serve with crudites and/or crackers.

RECIPE FROM INA GARTEN 

Holidays · New Favorite

Skinny Peppermint Mocha

Peppermint Mocha is my favorite coffee drink of the year but I rarely order it at Starbucks because it’s loaded with empty calories.  After several years of using COFFEE-MATE Peppermint Mocha Sugar Free Coffee Creamer, I decided to try making my own Peppermint Mocha with the help of the internet.  This was a great recipe that I’ll make again and again!

The second recipe is for a Pepper Mocha Creamer which is also good, but the first recipe is my favorite.  For the creamer, I added a packet of Stevia to my coffee before using the creamer.  The creamer is a little strong for my taste, but still good!

SKINNY PEPPERMINT MOCHA

2/3 cup black coffee brewed, medium roast or coffee of choice
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 packet stevia or sweetener of choice (I used 2 packets)
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

Toppings (optional)

Reddiwhip use coconut for dairy free
Cacao bites or sprinkles

  • Brew coffee, I used leftover coffee that I stored overnight in the refrigerator and warmed in the microwave.
  • In a small pot, combine milk, cocoa, stevia and peppermint extract.
  • Bring to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until cocoa powder dissolves and liquid becomes bubbly.
  • Pour into a large coffee cup with the coffee then use a handheld foamer to blend until it becomes frothy and foamy. Add additional toppings as desired and enjoy.
  • OR I heated all ingredients together and then poured in a coffee mug and topped with Coconut Reddiwhip.  YUMMY!

Recipe slightly adapted from Skinnyfitalicious

Skinny Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/4 tsp chocolate extract
  • Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process on high until the ingredients are fully combined.
  • Transfer to a glass container and store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks to add to brewed coffee or baked goods.

Recipe from Skinnyfitalicious