A Dozen Simple Pleasures

Welcome  I talk a lot on the blog about gratitude.  I’ve learned a lot about gratitude over the past couple years, and not just with the big stuff either.  Oh, it’s easy to be grateful when we’re getting exactly what we want, when we want it.  But what about those moments in life where nothing seems to be going right and it feels that the world is falling apart around us?  I’ll admit, there have been days, even seasons, in my life when I have found it hard to find something to be grateful for.  But I’m ashamed and sad to reflect on those days because I now know THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR!

In my gratitude journal, there was a prompt about being grateful for SIMPLE PLEASURES in life.  Not only did I make my “Simple Pleasures” list, but I reflected on the fact that even when I’m angry or frustrated about things I want or think I need in life, but do not have or experience, I can still find blessings in the simple things of life.

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Food For Thought  If you have ever visited a Caribbean or Central American country, and ventured past the tourist-driven coastlines, you will be quick to notice two things.  First, you are likely to see that many of the natural citizens of these nations are very poor.  And I mean a level of poor that is hard for MOST any North Americans to fully comprehend.  The second thing I hope you would notice is, these people are happy and content.  It’s been a puzzle to many, myself included, how people living in such extreme poverty can be so cheerful, charitable, and content.

Now, I’m not saying these folks wouldn’t appreciate some financial help or a home that wouldn’t blow away in the next tropical storm like a newspaper.  Yet they smile and they laugh and they care for one another.  In general, they experience less stress-related illnesses, depression, and anxiety (livescience.com; psychcentral.com; cnn.com/health).  In one article, it discussed that they may not necessarily be satisfied with their life circumstances, but they consider their lives meaningful.

So, even if we are not completely satisfied with what we have or where we are at the moment, we can live a full, meaningful life.  Sometimes that looks like enjoyment in the simple pleasures of life.  I can’t take that big vacation right now.  I can’t remodel my kitchen right now.  I can’t buy that new car right now.  I can’t remove that challenging person from my daily interactions.  But just like there’s always something to be thankful for, there is also something we can enjoy in our every day life.  I’m going to share my “Simple Pleasures” list today.  You may find some of your favorites here, too.  But don’t forget to write your own “Simple Pleasures” list and keep it in a handy place.  When you have a day that feels like nothing is going well or it’s hard to “find a blessing in the messing,” pick one of your simple pleasures to bring a little joy to your day.

Today’s Scripture  As always, I encourage you to read the full verse, in context, but I love the opening sentence in this verse from Zechariah.  A great reminder that small things matter!

Today’s Recipe  EVERYTHING about homemade bread is such a simple pleasure to me…the smell of the yeast, kneading and punching down the dough, the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven, and that first bite of a hot slice with rich, melty butter running down the side!  So, of course I wanted to share a bread recipe with you today.

I found an interesting sounding recipe on Pinterest for a “1-hour” white bread loaf.  Fresh, homemade bread in an hour?  Yes, please!  Well, let me tell you something…it didn’t turn out and it took over an hour!  The bread, which made two large loaves, rose beautifully and smelled wonderful.  But baking it?  It took much longer than the suggested 25 minutes because the loaves were so big.  Then, cutting into the bread, it was dense and chewy, not light and airy at all.  It tasted okay, but I’m going back to my tried-and-true bread recipes.  So today, I give you these two “throwback” recipes for my favorite bread recipes.

Honey Wheat Bread

 

Honey Wheat Bread

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

In a small bowl, combine water and honey; sprinkle yeast on water; let stand for 10 minutes.  In large bowl, sift together flours and salt.  Using stand mixer with dough hook (or food processor if dough hook is not available) mix flours with yeast mixture until dough ball forms.  Continue to knead until dough is no longer sticky.  Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough bowl, covering with damp towel and placing in warm location, like top of oven.  Allow to rise until dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour.  Punch down the dough and place on lightly floured surface, patting into large rectangle.  Fold dough into thirds and tuck ends to form an 8-inch loaf.  Spray loaf pan with cooking spray and place loaf in, seam-side down.  Cover with damp towel and allow to rise in warm, draft-free location one more hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake on center rack of oven 45-55 minutes.

 

My Momma’s Rapid-Rise Yeast Rolls (makes 1 dozen)

  • 2-2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg. yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBS. butter

 

Mix 3/4 cup flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in large mixing bowl.

Heat milk, water, and butter in microwave safe bowl for one minute.  Stir until butter is melted.

Gradually add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl with the mixer set at medium speed.  Ideally, use the hook attachment for the Kitchen Aid Classic Stand Mixer.  Continue to mix for two minutes.

Add another 1/4 cup flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes.  Continue to add flour until it pulls together into a soft dough.

Flour a board or work space and turn dough out onto prepared area.  Knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into balls.  Place dough balls into a greased 9×13 pan.  Cover with a large dish towel.

Place the pan in a COLD oven.  Pour boiling water into a separate 9×13 pan and place on the oven rack below the roll pan.  Close oven door and let roll dough rise for 30-40 minutes.

Remove towel from rolls and take out the pan of water from the oven.  Turn oven to 375 degrees and bake rolls for 25 minutes.  Remove hot rolls from oven and brush tops with melted butter.  Fresh, hot bread rolls in about 90 minutes!

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