If you’re like me you enjoy a great many things, but I wonder if you’ve cultivated some of those favorite things into full-blown passions. It’s great to enjoy a subject, but it’s quite another thing to make that subject your own by developing rituals around it so it becomes more . Once a subject becomes a passion it offers us so much more delight.
I love to discuss my passions with friends. Why? It’s because sharing doubles the joy. One of my passions easily shared in letters is my passion for food – cooking, baking and entertaining with food. Is food one of your passions too? Even if you don’t enjoy working with food yourself you probably enjoy eating it, so reading food stories or recipes in letters just may make your mouth water and keep you entertained. And if the subject of food delights and amuses you as it does me then finding like-minded pen friends will make your day.
I have a number of such like-minded, food-loving, happy cooker/baker-type pen friends. There’s Shari, a gal I met through a friendship book many years ago. Shari lives in Wisconsin. And I’ve met a number of wonderful foodies through The Letter Exchange: Amelia in Minnesota, Maureen in Massachusetts and Tracy in England just to name a few. These gals share their favorite recipes with me as I share mine with them.
Shari loves salads on hot Summer days: Pizza Pasta Salad, Guacamole Chicken Salad, Cranberry Salad and Chicken Noodle Salad. What? You only ever heard of Chicken Noodle Soup? Well, live and learn.
Recently Amelia sent me a recipe for Spicy Roasted Brussel Sprouts. Yum! All you need for this recipe is olive oil to coat the sprouts, a few pinches of kosher salt, red pepper flakes to taste, a little bit of honey, and of course, brussel sprouts. Mix ingredients together, place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes and the sprouts will become soft, caramelized and delicious!
Tracy, my English pen friend, loves tea and tea treats as you might expect. Sharing doubles her joy as well as mine. She offers me little escapes regularly as she describes the charming tea houses she visits in villages in and around Guildford, England. Recently Tracy sent me a recipe for Seed Cake. I can’t wait to try the recipe. I remember watching one of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple films where Seed Cake was discussed. The characters were saying they hadn’t had Seed Cake for ages and they were thrilled to see it on the menu. Soon Seed Cake will be on the menu at the Sharing Teas I host regularly and I’ll be using an authentic English Seed Cake recipe too. This makes an afternoon tea lover like me quite excited.
I have a feeling my pen friend Maureen was named for the famous Irish actress, Maureen O’Hara. I say that because Maureen’s mother was born in Ireland and her father was first generation Irish-American from South Boston (Southie as Bostonians call it). Back in the days of Maureen’s father’s youth, living in South Boston was just like living in Ireland – at least that’s what Maureen tells me. Her parents met on Saint Patrick’s Day in Southie. Is it any wonder Maureen sent me a delicious and wonderful recipe for Irish Soda Bread? I must share it with you so next Saint Patrick’s Day you can make this tea time treat and dazzle all your friends. You can tell them the recipe is “pure Irish” for Maureen said she couldn’t be more Irish if she were a leprechaun.
Maureen’s Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients: 4 cups of all purpose flour, 3T. sugar, 1 T. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, 6 T. butter, 1 1/2 cups raisins, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
Process: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart round casserole dish. 2. In a large bowl mix first 5 ingredients with a pastry blender, or by hand. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 3. Turn dough onto well-floured surface, with floured hands knead 8-10 strokes mixing thoroughly. Shape dough into a ball and place in casserole. In center of ball cut a 4 inch cross about 1/4 inch deep. 4. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes (check after an hour) or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. 5. Cool in casserole pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.
Though every personal letter is special, having pen friends who share one or more of your passions makes letters even better. Any letter received from these soul mates will be extra special and great fun. Don’t take my word for it. Reach out and you’ll be sure to find kindred spirits who will make the Art of Sharing in letters one of your very favorite things. Sharing may even become a passion in its own right.