Retreat: Reflection & a Recipe!

If you didn’t make it to the Mennonite Women of Virginia annual retreat this year, then you can get the benefit of some reflections that various women will be writing in the next few weeks. Lucky you! (for Gloria’s Butternut Squash and Cranberry Bread recipe skip to the end!)

One of the things I’ve been pondering was a point Deb Horst made in the first session. She was talking about the “root of our identity” as being created in the God-image. We were enlivened with the very breath of God and placed in a gorgeously abundant garden to flourish. And yet.

We all know what happened, how Eve was overcome by the human propensity to desire the one forbidden thing. And I admit I find that same problem in my own life, dwelling on all the “what-I-haven’t-got’s” instead of the abundant goodness God has created. So my question for myself is: how can I turn that around and really focus in on the lavish provision of God that perfectly satisfies my needs?

Fittingly, some of us visited the lovely Maymont Gardens in downtown Richmond on Saturday afternoon where I shot this photo on my camera, an image to meditate on perhaps:

A lovely Japanese maple tree's red leaves against the backdrop of a waterfall
The Japanese Garden at Maymont

Speaking of abundance, Gloria Lehman brought a delicious butternut squash cranberry bread to share at our snacks/visiting time on Friday night, and she has graciously shared the recipe with us here! Thanks, Gloria!

Butternut Cranberry Bread

  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups pureed butternut squash OR 1 (16-oz.) can pumpkin
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ – 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ cup dried or fresh cranberries (chopped, if fresh or frozen), or plumped raisins*
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (or omit if there is concern about allergies)
  • if desired 1 cup chocolate chips may also be added (Gloria did not use them)

In a large bowl, cream the oil and sugar until fluffy. Blend in eggs, then butternut or pumpkin puree and water.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into wet mixture. Stir in cranberries or raisins and nuts or chocolate chips as desired.

Pour batter into two greased 9 x 5” loaf pans OR into eight 6 x 3” loaf pans (great for gift-giving).

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes for large pans; 25-30 minutes for small loaves. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick into center of loaves. If pick comes out clean, bread is finished baking. If it doesn’t, continue baking 3-5 minutes more, then test again. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow to cool completely.

If you want to add a finishing touch for gift-giving, drizzle a thin glaze over the top.

*To plump raisins or dried cranberries, heat about a cup of water in the microwave. Then put dried raisins or cranberries in, stir, and let stand about 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly before adding to the recipe.

Adapted from “Fix-It and Enjoy–It Potluck Heaven” cookbook, Phyllis Pellman Good Prepared for MWV retreat by Gloria Lehman

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If you have a special take-away from the annual retreat, we’d love to hear about it! Post in the comments below or e-mail us!

with love, Anita

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