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Let’s Cook: Moments to Savor

A year ago, who would have thought that our lives would be dramatically changed in the first quarter of 2020? As I sit down to write this column on the Eve of the Winter Solstice, I think of the long, long year we all have endured. There is a long list of the many things we miss doing due to the COVID pandemic.

We missed the North Dakota Class B Basketball Tournament, many spring music concerts, high school and college graduations, the North Dakota State Fair, several county fairs, weddings, anniversary celebrations, Minot State Summer Theater and the list could go for several pages. Each of us has an event that tugs at our heart because it could not be held. For me, it has been the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. This long-standing tradition has been held at Minot State University in the Ann Nicole Auditorium for several years. The chorus is comprised of students from Minot State, singers from the Heritage Singers, Voices of Note, Chamber Chorale, several church choirs, and people who enjoy singing. It is a social event where singing souls gather.

For our family, this is the event that unfolds the start of Christmas in our home. It is in a sense our singing Advent and puts us in the mind set to prepare for Christmas. This year we have listened to performances of the Messiah on TV, radio, and even on vinyl. They are nice; however, we still find ourselves missing the complete experience offered at Minot State. Such things as seeing the Christmas tree in the entrance, deep green pine boughs and red poinsettias elegantly set upon the stage, ladies with their Christmas scarfs and sparkles, the violins, harpsichord and the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

The pandemic did take away the 2020 performance of the Messiah; however, we still have our memories of several performances which flood our minds and conversation warmly. Do I dare say that something good had come from the pandemic? I believe that it has taught us how very important it is to savor not only the very special moments in life but our daily routines. What a gift it was to go freely shopping and not worry about wearing a mask every minute. What a joy to take an airplane, or train trip without concerns about catching a virus. The happiness is everywhere when we are attending a hometown football or basketball games without social distancing. These are just some of the moments that we have taken for granted. We expect them and not realizing that these are gifts.

For some time, I have wanted a large kitchen. I figured that since I am a halfway decent cook and baker, I deserve it – right? I have gone as far as dreaming about having a deluxe Viking Stove in a lovely shade of aqua, plus a couple of wall unit ovens-and let me tell you I have had designs on how to store my extensive collection of glassware! This pandemic has made me aware that even though our kitchen is compact, it is a blessing. Yes, a large kitchen would be nice but that would in time cause me to want a larger garage, perhaps then a living room and the list can go on and on. Exercising the content muscle can bring much happiness and peace. Letting it be idle brings discontent and endless search on the road of “if I only had.”

My wish for you this Christmas and New Year is to take time to savor the regular moments. Take time to write someone a letter or send card rather than text. When we take time to write, it forces us to become an improved thinker and the same is true of reading. Try to remember the anniversary of family and friends, send your classmates a birthday card, walk and take in the beauty of a park. Become more interested in the arts, and Minot has ample. Think about a tree you would like to plant come spring, call a shut in, show a family member how to make a favorite recipe. The list of savoring is endless, and when we take time for these moments and realize the many daily gifts bestowed upon us, there comes contentment that money or items cannot compete with.

Spending time in the kitchen with my mom was something I enjoyed from a very early age. She understood the value in letting me in and showing me how to cook and bake. The other day her memory was with me as I baked the featured bread in this column. This proves that savored memories can reconnect us with another time period that greatly influenced who we became today. What a gift.

Merry Christmas, readers to you and your families. Thank you for interest in Let’s Cook and allowing me to write about things I relish in this world.

Esther’s Orange-Glazed Bread

This recipe comes from the late Esther McClintock of Rugby. She was a neighbor and one who took delight in baking and sharing it.

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking power

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup raisins

1 cup peeled and grated apple

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

1 cup milk

2 tablespoon butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

Glaze:

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/3 cup powered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mix bowl stir together, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in raisins and grated apple and set aside. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine milk, butter, and egg; whisk until well blended. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and stir until blended. Pour batter into one greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cook 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, corn syrup, orange rind and powdered sugar until well blended. Insert holes in bread with skewer and pour glaze over bread. Makes 1 loaf.

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