Then Sings My Soul…

I have always loved to sing. Even though I have a quiet personality, my vocal persona is loud. Just sit in front of me in church. You will know what I am talking about.

I grew up in a family where everyone likes to sing. My parents have great voices, and so do my siblings. When I was in 5th grade, my Dad started teaching me to sing the alto part. The first song I remember learning to sing harmony to is “Mansion over the Hilltop”. It had that easy 3rd below the melody all the way through. Once I learned to read music, I found myself always giving the harmony a try. Eventually, I could hear it, as easy as the melody.

My best friend, across the street, also loved to sing. From late grade school until graduation, we sang many duets together at church. During these years, there was always a place to sing. School choirs and special groups, church choirs and youth groups, I loved being a part of it all. I even started my college career wanting to be a choir director. (Although my secret ambition was to be a backup singer — a “doo-wop” girl).

Opportunities continued in adulthood. In school and college, out in the community, living at a camp and at church. Especially at church. Loving to sing and express worship to God is such a wonderful blessing.

When my kids were older I ventured back in to the workforce. I found myself in a career doing shift work, having no set schedule and where weekend work is requirement of the job. I could no longer be counted on, for practice or even performance due to my crazy schedule.

So, where does a person, who loves to sing, sing, besides the shower? Strangely, I have found my voice in exercise! Exercising has given me a place to open up and sing loudly (hopefully without driving my family too crazy.) A favorite CD, with great harmony and a closed door is all I needed. I even read that if you sing standing up and belt it out for an hour, you will burn 140 calories. And even more so if you move while doing so. And yes, at times I run out of breath doing it all. Performance grade, it is not. But, it rejuvenates both my body and soul.

And someday, maybe when I retire….My voice will still be in good enough “shape” to once again join with others in harmony. Until then, I think someone needs to add a decibel meter to my “FitBit” so I get credit, not only for my steps, but for my song as well.

 

 

Not a Frosting Type of Kid

My youngest never really appreciated the frosting on cake. When his birthday would come each year it was always a challenge to come up with a treat that was special, but still was “birthday cake”. Eventually this recipe became the winner. It is a delicious, rich chocolate cupcake that everyone enjoys.

Surprise Chocolate Cupcakes (A birthday favorite)

For the cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cold coffee
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Prepare 30 cupcake tins by spraying with non stick spray or by using cupcake papers.

Prepare the filling first. Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the egg and sugar and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.

For the cake: Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in the coffee, oil and vanilla until smooth. Add the vinegar and fold into the batter. You should see the batter lightly foam as the vinegar and baking soda react together.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Fill cupcake tin (or paper) to 2/3 full. On top of the batter for each cupcake spoon approximately one teaspoon of filling.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick place into cake portion come out clean. Cool.

 

English Muffin Bread

My Dad’s favorite “store bought” bread is the Muffin or Toasting bread. When on sale, he  stocks up the freezer with it. It is also a favorite of ours. I wanted to come up with a version that was every bit as good or even better. After reading multiple recipes and a few bakes, this is the recipe I have come up with. And Dad, I have one in the freezer, for our next visit!

English Muffin Toasting Bread (using bread maker dough cycle)

Makes 2 loaves

Add ingredients in order:

  • 1 cup warmed milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (for Bread Machine)
  • Cornmeal (optional)

Set bread maker on dough cycle. Start machine. Check to make sure all ingredients have incorporated nicely and that dough is not too dry. It should be just a bit sticky.

After dough cycle is complete, gently turn dough out onto a cutting board. Remove paddle from dough, punch down to remove air and shape into two loaves. Place each loaf into a greased, 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pan. Set, covered, in a warm place to proof until dough has doubled in sized (about an hour). Bake at 400 for 18 – 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn out onto rack to cool before slicing.

 

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