Let’s Cook: Weaving Gratitude

We recently set up our Christmas tree in our living room. It is something that I look forward to each year. Placing cherished ornaments on the pine branches is a recipe for reflection and memories. Like many of you, we have a collection of ornaments that helps us recall the precious and unforgettable times with our grandparents, family and friends. There are a number of ornaments that relate to places we have traveled. It is, however, the family ornaments that always catch my eye and bring a flood of cherished memories.

The red paper bird reminds me of my Grandparents; it was made at their home 45 years ago. The little tree elf reminds me of Underwood and how we would purchase our real tree at Outlaw Trading, the grocery store. Hand painted ornaments done by my mom keeps her and my dad close in my heart. The mini Lenox teacup in the Holiday pattern from Jan reminds me that whenever china is involved, it is bound to be a grand time. There is a macaroni angel–so well done that it almost looks like porcelain–a gift from a neighbor for Lydia’s first Christmas. She was 9 months old, starting to walk in cute black patent Mary Jane’s while wearing a fluid layer of soft rose crepe de chine. Love this memory!

This is a year that many fervently wish could just go away. I get it. We are all tired of the pandemic. It is for this reason that I choose not to focus on the negative elements of COVID but the generous giving that I have witnessed in our society:

nursing homes and assisted living places worked to protect our elderly

hospitals and their entire staff when racked with Covid pressed on.

teachers adapted to online learning and the struggles it brought.

clergy worked to comfort the grieving.

grocery store staff and other store clerks dealt with facing the public day to day.

leaders guide us during a pandemic with so many unknowns.

These are merely a few of the people who in 2021 have gone beyond the desire to help. Thank you! Your iridescent spirit keeps our lights of hope burning.

Artists are another group of people that have been bringing comfort during the pandemic and need to thanked. Being home more has allowed me to appreciate the artwork in our home. I say thank you to Floyd Fairweather for his lovely farm scene complete with grain bins. Margaret Braaten for her bowl of bright yellow daisies, Glory Monson for a basket of apples done in watercolor, Walter Piehl for Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Ida Chapman for Coastal scene in watercolor, Eva Hartman for a still life of sunflowers, Agnes Berg for a farm scene done on gold leaf and Caroline Doucette for garden flowers with the title “A Day Like This.” Your inspirational works continue to promote extraordinary cheer and pleasure.

More time at home has also allowed for yard and flower garden enjoyment. How does one say thank you for the birds that sing, for the birds that flutter and splash in our birdbath, for the warmth of sun on colorful zinnias and for coral gladiolus and their tuxedo ruffles with swords of green?

Having time at home has reminded me that I have been slack in saying “Thank you” for the rain that has come to thirsty earth. It will refresh farm fields and pasture lands. And when the lilacs bloom, they too have gained.

I give thanks for being able to share time with Jan and Lydia and often forget to tell them this. More time at home with them has allowed for additional popcorn and popovers. It also has given us time to wallpaper our bathroom in a lovely English Ivy paper that we all agree is quite lovely and cozy!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas.

In the past year I have been asked for this recipe several times (it most often happens after someone has just enjoyed a serving) I learned to make this from Amelia Grueneich, who I worked with in the kitchen at the Prairieview Nursing Home in Underwood. She enjoyed cooking and her food showed it. So, when a 17-year-old kid asked her for the recipe, she not only gave it to me, but actually showed me how to make it. It has been a favorite in our home for many years.

Baked Rice by Amelia Grueneich

Bring two cups of water to a boil.


1 cup rice

¾ cup raisins (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

Reduce heat and cook until soft.

To this mixture add:

3 eggs that have been whisked well

2 cups of milk

1 cup sugar

1 can of evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Bake in a 9×13 pan that has been buttered. Dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Delicious served warm with a splash of cream.


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