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Practice kindness this holiday season

Last week, I dwelt on how it was better to give than to receive, and this week I am going to dwell on “acts of kindness” to go along with the giving and receiving.

Even the smallest act of kindness can be appreciated, like opening a door for someone, a big smile and hello greeting, helping someone put their groceries in their car, taking them to some appointment they may have and the list goes on and on.

One act of kindness that fascinates me is going across the Belpre Toll Bridge and when I reach to pay, the ticket collector many times will say, “Go ahead, the car before you paid for you also.” Here this person does not know who I am nor can he see me, but still he is doing an act of kindness. Another good example is when you shop at Aldi’s grocery store and when you go to get a cart for your purchases, you find that whoever used the cart before you left the quarter for the next person, which is another act of kindness. Another act of kindness this time of the year is to always put a little something — small or large — into various stores that have the Salvation Army bell ringers.

Sometimes we fail to realize that many people need help and assistance, especially as they grow older and possibly have even developed health problems.

The days, weeks and months have flown by for 2019, so stop and evaluate yourself if it was a good year with acts of kindness on your part. Acts of kindness is a project that has no ending, unless you choose not to participate, but hopefully you will continue doing both large and small acts of kindness whenever possible. Just keep being kind as one of your top priorities, not only during the Christmas season, but all year long.

This time of the year is very active with Christmas programs presented by churches, schools, home tours, Christmas concerts, various Festival of Light exhibits in the area and so on.

One of my personal acts of kindness for the past 25 years is taking part in the Easter Seals Christmas tree auction at the Blennerhassett Hotel where the proceeds go to area children and adults with disabilities. I entered 6 different decorated trees this year, and fortunately one of my trees received the highest bid, one tree received first place in the most original category, plus another received first place in the Victorian-Classic category.

Below are recipes to prepare you for your big Christmas dinner coming up soon.

Till next week!

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Pork Tenderloin and Bourbon-Pecan Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

2 pork tenderloins, approximately 1 1/2-2 pounds

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and poultry seasoning. Brush half of olive-oil mixture on each pork tenderloin. Place tenderloins on the rack of a roasting pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160. This should take approximately 50 minutes. Remove tenderloin from oven and loosely cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while making sauce. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add pecans and salt, cook until light brown, approximately 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove skillet from heat and add bourbon. Return skillet to heat and add heavy cream. Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer until thick and creamy. Slice pork tenderloins into medallions. Drizzle with sauce.

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Sausage Ring with Holiday Scrambled Eggs

1 pound ground pork sausage

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

2 8-ounce cans refrigerated crescent-roll dough

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

12 large eggs

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375. In a large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat until crumbly. Reserve 1 tablespoon sausage grease. Remove sausage from skillet and drain on paper towels. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup cheese and sausage. Set aside. Remove crescent-roll dough from cans. Unroll dough and separate along perforations into 16 triangles. Place dough triangles on a 13-inch diameter baking stone, arranging triangles so that bases overlap and narrow points hang over edge of baking stone. Dough should look like petals on a flower. Press dough to flatten slightly where triangles overlap at bases. Evenly spoon sausage mixture onto bottom half of dough triangles. Fold excess dough over sausage mixture and tuck points of dough under triangle bases to form a ring. Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in the same skillet used for browning sausage, heat reserved 1 tablespoon sausage grease over medium-high heat. Cook onion and chopped peppers in hot grease until tender. Reduce heat to medium. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and black pepper. Beat until well mixed. Add egg mixture to pepper mixture in skillet. Cook until eggs reach desired consistency, stirring frequently. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on hot sausage ring. Spoon scrambled eggs into center of sausage ring. Serve hot.

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Peppered Venison with Brandy Sauce

1 1/2 pounds venison medallions, approximately 1/2-inch thick, cut from top round, sirloin, tenderloin or backstrap

1/2 cup olive oil as needed

sea salt and pepper seasoning blend, to taste

coarsely ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons minced shallot

5 dried juniper berries, slightly crushed

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

3 ounces brandy

3-4 ounces light beef or venison stock

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

Blot excess moisture from whole pieces of venison with paper towels before cutting into medallions. Place venison pieces in a bowl and toss with enough olive oil to moisten. Season with salt and pepper blend. Let meat rest for at least 10 minutes and up to a couple of hours under refrigeration. Preheat a heavy-bottom saute pan, preferably one with a nonstick coating over high heat. Sprinkle venison meat lightly with coarsely ground black pepper. Sear both sides in hot pan, being careful not to overcook. Venison should be served medium-rare to medium. Set aside on a warm plate. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Add shallot and juniper berries. Cook until shallot is softened. Add garlic; cook until aromatic. Move pan off burner to add brandy; return to heat to deglaze pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape browned particles off bottom of pan. Heat until brandy is reduced in volume by half. Add stock and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add cold butter, a few pieces at a time. Swirl, stir or whisk until butter is melted. Taste sauce and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

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Italian Cream Cake

1 1/4 cups shortening

6 tablespoons butter at room temperature

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 large eggs, at room temperature

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/4 cups buttermilk at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

5 egg whites

1 recipe icing

additional pecans for garnish

Preheat oven to 250. Grease and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans; set aside. In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until soft and well combined. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, sift together cake flour, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until batter is well combined and smooth. Add vanilla, chopped pecans and coconut, stirring to combine. Set aside. In another bowl, beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually adding remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Gently fold egg whites into batter. Ladle batter into prepared pans, dividing equally. Shake pans gently to level batter. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of layers comes out clean, approximately 35 minutes. Let cake layers cool for 10 minutes in pans. Invert onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Spread icing evenly between layers and on sides and top of cake. Garnish with pecans.

Icing:

1 1/4 cups butter, softened

20 ounces cream cheese, softened

5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until soft and well combined. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth. Add vanilla, stirring to combine.

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Kiki Angelos is a food columnist for the Pakrersburg News and Sentinel.

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