Coaching Kitchen #114 Unexpected Gifts

Have you ever had a gift come unexpectedly and drop into your lap? When, at the time, you had no way of knowing just how important the gift would become? That happened to me four years ago when some children in our neighborhood came knocking at our door.

My husband answered the door to see what the hubbub was, only to find them holding a young cat. “We found this cat on the porch, and our mom won’t let us keep him. Can you keep him for a few days while we look for the owner?” Mark said “yes,” and I knew we had a new cat.

Our old cat had ventured outside one day, which it was prone to do, but disappeared. So, when we were ready, the universe delivered a new one to our front door. And, our little Romeo has been my good buddy ever since • one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

Shortly after he arrived that day, one of the children’s mothers came to our door with cat food, apologizing that she hadn’t wanted to keep the cat because she already had three. Another neighbor across the street brought litter. After a couple of trips to the vet in the next month, we were pretty well settled in with the new addition to our family.

Before Romeo, I hadn’t realized that cats were such creatures of habit. They get into their routines, just like we do. He jumps up onto the bed in the morning about the time that I should be getting up for work, sticking his whiskers in my face if I don’t open my eyes and give him some attention. Many times he•ll hang with me while I’m getting ready. He waits for his goodbye at the back door, and then proceeds down to the basement, (or a sunny spot in the family room if it’s wintertime.)

He watches me from the window when I drive in after work and welcomes me at the door. After getting some attention, he chases me upstairs and waits for me to change clothes, then runs downstairs to the kitchen, knowing it’s “treat time.” During the evening, I seek him out to play chase or “tag” and he comes by the desk or couch to check in. I especially love it when he curls up with me, purring and falling asleep.

I can’t tell you how much joy, laughter, love, amusement, and interest he has brought into our home • it is a constant, every day thing. Mark teases about packing his kitty bags and booting him out, but I’ll have none of that. He is welcome here, as long as he wants to stay. And, I hope that he stays for a very long time.

This week, I was trying to decide what recipe would fit the spirit of this essay, when two perfect recipes dropped into my lap. Yes, another unexpected gift. While out to lunch with a colleague, I asked about her garden and we got to talking about zucchini. The next thing I knew, I had two highly recommended zucchini recipes • thank you, Heather. And right now, it should be very easy to get your hands on some beautiful zucchini from one of the many farmers markets popping up all over.

Coconut Honey Zucchini Bread

3 cups self-rising flour (or substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 • teaspoon baking powder for each cup)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• teaspoon ground nutmeg
I teaspoon salt (I will probably cut this in half)
3 eggs
1 2/3 cup white sugar (I will cut this down to a cup)
• cup vegetable oil
• cup melted butter
• cup honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (Heather recommended squeezing out some of the liquid)
1 cup chopped walnuts (or more!)
• cup flaked coconut (I’ll probably double this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9″ by 5″ loaf pans. Stir together the flour and the next three dry ingredients. Set aside. Whisk eggs, sugar, oil, butter, honey, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Stir in flour mixture, then zucchini, walnuts, and coconut. Divide the batter into the two pans.

Bake about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before loosening the sides of the loaf and removing from pan. Or, you can cut and remove pieces from the pan while still warm, like I do. Coffee breads are always good reheated in the microwave, too. You can wrap and freeze these loafs, for later use.

Zucchini Cornbread Casserole

4 cups shredded zucchini unpeeled
1 onion chopped
2 eggs
1 (8.5 ounce) package dry corn muffin mix (Jiffy was recommended)
• teaspoon salt
• teaspoon ground black pepper 8 ounces (2 cups) cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 2 quart casserole dish. In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, onion, eggs, muffin mix, salt and pepper and half of cheese. Spread in casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes.

Coaching Inquiries: What have been some of your most treasured and unexpected gifts? How did they enrich your life? Did you miss opportunities for gifts by not being open to them? What gifts have you shared that have made a difference in someone’s life?

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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Kate Kriynovich (
LifeTrek Coaching International
Columbus, OH

Telephone: 614-488-4659
Fax: 240-465-5848

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