Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

What’s in a Word?

As we welcome November and the promise of cooler weather, turkey leftovers, and family gatherings, we also enter the official spokes-month for gratitude.  A time when we take a personal inventory of all that we are grateful for – from people to things, jobs to homes, children to critters.  All of us have something to be thankful for, even in our darkest moments, and for many of us we can swell up with a feeling of being blessed.

But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this word blessed.  No doubt it’s trending right now – you can find it on everything from dish towels to picture frames.  And it’s a perfectly good word.  But it’s also a word that I think we sometimes get mixed up with grateful.

You see, blessed is a passive word, whereas grateful is an active word.  Someone gives you a blessing, but you have to take an action to be grateful.  Being grateful is a decision.  We are fond of saying that God has blessed us.  And trust me, I wholeheartedly believe He has, but maybe just not in the way we think.

Now if you feel like I’m on the edge of blasphemy here, please stick with me. I promise this will turn out okay.  

Let’s say you have a beautiful home and a good job.  It’s easy to say, “I’m so blessed.”  But here’s the flip side.  Is the person who lost their job not blessed?  The person who is working two jobs just to make ends meet less blessed?  

Or think about how often you’ve heard the phrase, “I’m blessed with good health.”  Great, but does that mean the person who has cancer is not blessed?  That they somehow incurred wrath from somewhere?

I can hear you thinking, “No way.  That’s not what I meant at all.”  

And I’m with you.  What we really mean is that we are grateful for our homes, our jobs, our health.  And we would never want our gratitude to be confused for the belief that we have somehow received divine preference over our neighbors.

Blessings are something that we, the collective humanity, share.  Nature and life itself are blessings.  Things we can all enjoy.  I, personally, don’t believe they are doled out to a few, and I don’t believe they always look like we would expect them to.

And while this may seem like a game of semantics, words really do matter. (Yes, I was an English major, so humor me with this one for moment.)  Think about someone whose world is falling apart.  If you are busy talking about your blessings, things that are received, where does that leave them?  It leaves them feeling like they are walking around under a dark cloud, out of sorts, out of favor.

Rather, share your gratitude.  Your zest to acknowledge all that is beautiful, from the smallest to the greatest moments.  Trust me, I am a recovering blessing user myself.  I used to liberally smatter blessings here, there, and everywhere.  But after reading an article about the importance of our words, I realized I was truly filled with gratitude.  I wanted to wish people a beautiful day, a day with at least one moment of happy, and leave blessings to the big guy.

So as you start to make your plans for family dinners, school activities, and get togethers with friends, I encourage you to think about those words that are most meaningful for you and those you love.  How will they impact others?  How can you share your gratitude?  

P.S. A version of this post was published in the Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Farmtastic Recipes

Farmtastic Recipe – Trude’s Stuffin’ Muffins

In honor of my Gram’s birthday this week and with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought I’d share one of her recipes, which is probably our family’s absolute favorite.  When it comes to stuffing, we all know the debate of in or out of the turkey, well Gram solved  the debate in the best way possible – stuffing muffins.  She whips up her famous stuffing and then bakes them in individual muffin cups.  Why is this so amazing?  Because it gets crunchy on the outside while staying fluffy and perfect on the inside.  Who doesn’t love that?

Gram has now passed the torch of stuffin’ muffins over to me, and Cowboy and I are expected to show up at the holidays pans in hands.  Even Cowboy’s sister is a convert.

The Recipe: Trude’s Stuffin Muffins (makes 12)

The Source: My Farmtastic Life

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of white bread
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp. water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Recipe Photo - Ingredients for stuffin' muffins
Ingredients for the perfect Thanksgiving side dish.

Directions:

  1. The night before, lay bread out on cookie sheets for it to get stale and crusty over night.  (If you have cats who aren’t supposed to get on the counter, but let’s be honest we all know the truth, cover the cookie sheets with clean dish towels. No judgement here!)

    Recipe Photo - Bread prepping
    Bread all laid out and getting its crunch on.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Cut bread into half-inch cubes.  Place into a large bowl for mixing.  I use a large pot.

    Recipe Photo - Bread cut into cubes
    Cut bread into cubes. This is when that bread knife comes in super handy!
  4. Add in bell pepper, celery, onion, salt and pepper.  Gently toss together.  This is where the fluctuations in measurements start to come in, as it really is by feel and what you like.
  5. Add about half of the butter and water.  You won’t want to add it all just yet.  Using your hands start blending it together, like your are working dough.  Keep working it and add the remaining butter and water if needed, until the mixture can be formed into muffin sized balls that will hold together.

    Recipe Photo - Butter pouring over  stuff in' muffin ingredients
    Pouring in the butter. Who doesn’t love butter? And for the holidays, we’re sure it’s calorie free.
  6. Place stuffin’ muffins into a muffin pan.  You should have 12 muffins, perfect for one pan.  You won’t need to grease the pan, due to the butter in the muffins.
  7. Cover with tinfoil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for five minutes.  Spoon each muffin out of the pan and serve with your favorite gravy.

Farmtastic Notes:

  • We usually double this recipe for family gatherings.  We plan on at least 2 muffin per guests.  Of course you can always make more as they are great as leftovers.
  • If you have leftovers, wrap muffins in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds.

I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe, so give it a try and share your thoughts.