As I was reading this rainy Saturday morning, I came upon this line from Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate,
We plan our days, but we don’t control them.
The sentence seemed to strike right at the moment in which we, and the whole wide world find ourselves in this moment of time.
We had so many plans for the coming weeks. I teach a children’s nature study at a local conservation area. We just had our first spring class…maybe our last for a while.
I was excited about attending training early in April to become a Xerces Ambassador and help educate citizens about the importance of saving our pollinators. That training has been postponed until at least June.
We were planning on traveling to Texas to see a bucket list item…Texas Bluebonnets. That trip has been put on hold.
Meetings, church services, get-togethers among friends have been cancelled.
And Jim and I find ourselves in that vulnerable over 60 crowd. So what to do?
The simple answer is…go outside! There is no virus in the woods, nor on the prairie, or by a stream. So we go out and look for the reassurance that a new season is coming. We find those signs for which we are searching, and it lifts our spirits, clears our minds, drives away despair, puts smiles on our faces…and tires us out for a good night’s sleep!
We begin in our own backyard…
But the very best find in the yard, one rainy afternoon is our first daffodils…
Late in the evening, the full moon out our back porch shone through the thickening clouds long enough for me to get a picture with my camera’s moon setting…
We traveled to a local state park where we could see green coming back with almost every step we took…
Just before we were all told to stay away from places where we might encounter large groups of people, we visited one of our favorite places, Shaw Nature Reserve, near St. Louis.
It was a very cold and very gray day, but we enjoyed every single second of our time outside. We were very lucky to have made the decision to visit on Sunday, because on Monday the reserve was closed until further notice to protect its workers as well as its many visitors. We had the park nearly to ourselves, and what a joy!
We saw signs of things to come, even tough it was so very cold…
I was really excited by finding our real reason for visiting. Each year, Shaw has literally thousands of daffodils that bloom throughout the park. The daffodils come up in the fields, they bloom on the hillsides, and they sneak out from within thick brush.They are amazing when in full bloom, and we caught them just as their bloom was beginning. The even more amazing thing this spring is that the park conducted a controlled burn. Yet, the daffodils came up…and they are blooming, even those that were temporarily damaged by the burn. Yup, there is always hope for better things to come!
The world is in crisis mode, I know, but going outside, smelling the fresh air, seeing new life, makes me sure we will weather this storm just as we have so many others.
Baking While Home-centric!
Being at home, with only parks and woods, forests and streams to visit gives one a lot of time to finish projects that have been on the shelf, sometimes, for years. It gives me time to clean…well, if I want to. And it gives me time to play with a new kitchen tool I got for Valentine’s Day and search out some new recipes in cookbooks I have wanted to explore for a long time.
I checked the apples that we picked last fall, and found the few we have left to still be in very good shape. So I checked for a good, new apple recipe. I found the perfect one in a book I bought from our church group some thirty years ago. The book is called Heritage of Cooking: A Collection of Recipes from East Perry County, Missouri. That is a long name given to a cookbook of favorite recipes from a group of Lutheran churches in east central Missouri. They are good old German recipes, from old German Lutheran families, like mine. This apple pudding is absolutely delicious!
Going with the theme of the present moment to do with what you have, I used some coconut sugar (not sure why I had that!) for the sauce in place of the brown sugar which I did not have, adding a half tablespoon of molasses. I am not sure if that is what gave it its deep brown color, but it was really delicious.
- 2 c. apples, peeled and cored
- 1 c. sugar
- 1c. flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (Missouri is famous for its black walnuts)
For the sauce:
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. white sugar
- 1 c. water
- 1/4 c. butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Allow sugar and apples to stand until sugar is dissolved. Add egg and beat. Stir dry ingredients together and mix with apples and sugar. Add walnuts. Bake in greased 9″x 9″ pan for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Note: You can double the amount of apples to make the pudding more moist. I used about 3 cups of apples.
For the sauce, bring sugars, flour, and water to a slow boil until it is slightly thickened and glossy (about 10 minutes). Add butter and vanilla and stir until smooth.
Stay safe, and enjoy!