Twenty five years ago, our community collaborated on a cookbook called Recipes that Bear Repeating, which is still one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes are tried and true, many of which have served our guests and retreatants over the years. One of our founders, Mother Cay, liked to remind us that Jesus loves to meet us in the little jobs that make up everyday life. “Life with Jesus,” she would say, “is in the mundane!” And we have found over and over again that He cares very much about the small things that concern us — what to have for dinner, how to celebrate our holidays, and so on through our daily life.
As we walk through Lent, we are reminded of these words, and pray that you also will meet Jesus in the kitchen, doing the laundry, cleaning the house or whatever your “mundane” might be.
My mother used to make the best molasses spice cookies. They were thin and somewhat crispy, buttery and spicy. Many years ago she gave me the recipe, but unfortunately I don’t remember what special place I put it in to save it! But I came across this recipe a couple of years ago. They don’t resemble my mom’s cookies, but I must say the flavor evokes those buttery crispy spicy cookies she used to make.
Today I am looking out on a winter wonderland! We are in the midst of a blizzard that has dumped an amazing amount of snow as far as the eye can see. One of those days to sit by the fire with a hot cup of tea and a slice of warm Apple cranberry bread.
We still have apples in the refrigerator from our fall harvest which are in surprisingly good shape – the one I munched on while making this bread wasn’t fresh from the tree, but still crisp and sweet. We also were given a large quantity of cranberries from a local bog, so it seemed like a good use of the two to put them together in a quick bread. We are always looking for different morning snack ideas to serve at our community work time break. I tried a couple of different recipes and actually left the peels on the Apple’s to give the breads a little more texture. Here is one variety that I thought the most flavorful and moist.
Today was a beautiful day – it was warm and smelled like spring – do you know what I mean? The daffodils in the orchard had opened up, along with the grape hyacinths. Lots of buds on the apple, peach, pear, plum and nectarine trees. I just love all that new life waiting to burst forth!
There is nothing like a good cookie, don’t you agree? We serve a lot of them here – for tours and receptions, coffee hours, lunch desserts, to name a few; so I have found the recipes that work well in quantity and that I really like. And actually a lot of other people really like them, too. I have a weakness for white chocolate. I love other chocolate, too, but I really like white chocolate – and yes I know it’s not really even chocolate, but I do really like it! Anyway, I thought that it would be a great companion to cranberries – which are so Cape Cod – and pecans, so I started experimenting with recipes that would stand up to that threesome. Here is the result:
Friday morning is muffin day at the convent. Walking back from church to the refectory for breakfast I try to guess what kind it will be today. Our muffin baking sisters excel at so many varieties it is hard to predict which type will be next. Last week they surprised us with the best banana nut muffins I have ever tasted. We haven’t had their poppy seed or those wholesome raisin bran ones in a while, both of which are big favorites so we could be having one of those today. But as I open the convent door and get a whiff of fragrant spices I know it is neither of the above. I’ll have to guess again!
We like to do a lot of seasonal decorating in and around the convent, mainly using what is produced on our grounds and in our gardens. Oktoberfest and Thanksgiving always feature an abundance of pumpkins — but now that fall is behind us and it’s decor has been remembered, we have started decorating for Advent. What is going to happen to the leftover pumpkins, many of which were still very robust and healthy? They have been sitting in the back stairwell of the convent kitchen waiting there to find out. Well yesterday some kitchen sisters chopped, cooked and mashed them up to be frozen for future use.
Aha! Is that what I smell? Have these pumpkins been turned into a heart warming breakfast for us this morning? Yes! Indeed they have. Our resourceful muffin baking sisters have just created a prize winner. Let’s name it “The Spicy Pumpkin Streusel Muffin” — absolutely delicious! Those chubby pumpkins could not have had a happier ending.Apple Streusel Pumpkin Muffins
It’s a cool crisp October day. The kind of day that is perfect for a piping-hot cup of afternoon tea and a nice warm freshly baked piece of tea bread or coffee cake. Not just any kind of coffee cake. No, this is a day for my favorite spicy nutmeg cake.
What makes this cake so special to me? Well, to begin with, I love nutmeg and this is a nutmeg lover’s cake. The other thing is that while many coffee cakes have crumb toppings this cake has its “crumbs” on the bottom! Surprising but so delicious. Moist on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the bottom and nutty and golden on the top.
If you love nutmeg, you will love this cake. If you are not a nutmeg lover, you just may become one after trying it!