Celebrating Sweetness

When grapes went on sale at Sprouts’ Farmers Market in my area recently, I bought some to make Sweet and Sour Sauce from Scratch (pages 156-157.) This particular batch of grapes was so sweet that I didn’t need to add any honey in Step 6. I was pleased that Sprouts’ also had chicken tenders on sale that week, so Brody and I enjoyed some meals of Fried Chicken (page 125), with the Sweet and Sour Sauce. Brody likes to dip the nuggets in the sauce, and I like to pour the sauce over the nuggets on rice. However you arrange them, they taste GREAT! Also, the nuggets re-crisp nicely as leftovers!

You are probably noticing the frequent appearance made by the black beans and broccoli; often they are cast in a supporting role with whatever the star of the menu may be in our household. This is due to their high marks in my scoring system: no history of making Brody sick, high in nutrients, low cost in dollars, and minimal preparation required. You may think that unseasoned black beans and broccoli may be uninteresting, but if you take a long enough break from processed, packaged or fast foods (A.K.A. the Average American Diet) your taste buds adjust, and you may find yourself appreciating the actual taste of the FOOD, instead of the powdered cheese, preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients (as examples) which are added to so many packaged items. You may, in time, discover how wonderful real food tastes!

 In the last year, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with calligraphy in addition to my kitchen experiments. My next calligraphy project will be writing out Romans 5 for Brody to enjoy on his breaks at work. He recently was drawn to that chapter after reading Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer for Christians Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love. The sweetness of God’s love for His people, demonstrated in the gift of salvation, is even better to “chew” on throughout the day – it lifts our spirit better than a sweet snack of any kind, even the Sweet and Sour Sauce with Fried Chicken!

No Debt; No Doubt!

When I bought my first house in Kansas, I carefully figured out my monthly budget and how much I could pay each month after making the down payment. Other than owing my dad about a thousand dollars after I finished college, I had never owed money to anyone before deciding to buy the house. Since I viewed the home as an appreciating asset, I thought it was a good investment, but taking on a big debt was still a major life change for me.

 Roughly six weeks after buying the home, I began to wonder where I was supposed to send the monthly mortgage payment. I had thought it was a monthly payment, so surely I should have been sending a check somewhere, just as I did when I had paid rent at the beginning of each month for my first apartment. I asked a friend what she thought; her response was a question, “Didn’t the mortgage company give you a little booklet with payment slips to mail in each month?” No… I hadn’t received that…. “Didn’t the mortgage company send you a bill for the beginning of the month?” No… I hadn’t received anything from them in the mail…. And so I began to dig around among all the papers in my mortgage file, found a phone number and dialed it.

 The phone number was to the automated account information system. I keyed in my account number, and to my astonishment, I heard the message, “Your debt is paid in full. No more payments are due.”

 Wow – what a feeling to have a home with a large yard paid for, when I had expected to continue paying on the mortgage for a long time! I was amazed and really couldn’t believe it. I asked my mentor at work, and he asked if I perhaps had a relative or former school teacher who wanted to anonymously give me a wonderful gift. But, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could have discovered where my account was in order to pay off my debt without my knowledge. For a few days, I was elated to have received such a gift – a home with no debt… but, I still had some doubts – some questions as to how or why this came about. I decided to write a letter to my real estate agent since I needed to thank him for his house-warming gift anyway.

 Through that, one discovery led to another… and yes, I still had a debt for my home. The sellers had used the same mortgage company to buy their new home, and the staff mistakenly assigned to me the credit due to the sellers, instead of crediting that value to them toward their new down payment. “Well,” I thought, “I did experience the wonderful feeling of having a debt canceled while receiving an exceptional gift….”

 And that reminded me of an even greater debt of mine that had been paid in full by my Savior. However, I can immediately think of two big differences between my spiritual debt and my house mortgage. The first difference is collateral – in the case of my financial debt, I had a house as collateral that I could sell to finish paying the debt. In the case of my spiritual debt, I had absolutely nothing in my account to pay the debt I owed God due to my sin. Even my “good deeds” were as filthy rags in His sight.

 Secondly, in the case of a house mortgage, the payments were based on my budget – had I continued at the rate I was going, the house would have been paid for in 12 years. However, my spiritual debt was insurmountable. My sin against an infinitely holy God meant I owed an infinite debt. Only He could pay the debt I owed Him, and He graciously chose to. He kindly chose to remove my hard heart and give me a heart that is soft towards Him, and He showed unbelievable grace in paying my debt to Him. As my pastor has reminded us, God absorbed within the Trinity His own wrath against my sin.

 There’s a similarity in these experiences, too – a credit was applied to my account. In the case of my house mortgage, the staff mistakenly credited my account, thereby canceling my debt. But in the case of my spiritual debt, God intentionally credited my account. He gave me the perfect record of Jesus, who lived a truly human life while perfectly keeping all of God’s moral law. Knowing that my spiritual debt is paid is even better than hearing that my house mortgage has disappeared…. And I have a better and lasting home in Heaven due to God’s grace to me! I truly have no debt with God AND I have a home of my own, and this time, there’s no doubt!

 Pictured is my Yummy Hummus recipe. Yummy Hummus is my favorite way to eat garbanzo beans, and crackers are my favorite addition to hummus. The crackers are from the cookbook and are one of the Sample Recipes on this site. I have discovered since we printed the book that the xanthan gum is not necessary, so I now omit it. I made the darker crackers using roasted quinoa and tapioca flour and the lighter ones from rice flour and tapioca flour. For the Yummy Hummus recipe, I started with the recipe from VitaMix in their Whole Food Recipes Copyright 2010, page 102. I made some changes to fit with my way of cooking and the ingredients I have on hand, and here’s the result:

 

Yummy Hummus

 1 cup dry garbanzo beans

2 Tbsp ground flax seed

3 Tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

salt, black pepper to taste

fresh oregano (optional)

 

1. Rinse and then soak the garbanzo beans overnight.

2. Cook the beans until they are tender enough to pierce them with a fork.

3. Add the beans and 1 cup of the liquid from the beans to the Vitamix along with the flax seed, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin.

4. Starting on low and then switching to high speed, blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

5. Add salt and black pepper to achieve the taste you like.

6. Add fresh oregano if you like.

Our First Book Review and Book Giveaway!

Welcome to our first book review and book giveaway! Trisha from http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com was gracious to agree to review a copy of our cookbook and post the review on her blog page.  You can read the review at http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com.  Trisha is also offering a giveaway of one of our cookbooks and has listed the rules at the end of the book review.  Feel free to enter the giveaway if you would like a chance to win a copy that you can keep for yourself or give to someone else.  The giveaway will end on Friday, October 12th.  Otherwise, we would be glad to see you on our website checking out different aspects of the cookbook, such as the table of contents, sample recipes, testimonials, pictures of recipes we have made, etc.  You can also enjoy getting to know Trisha and her family on her blog page after reading the review and checking out the giveaway.

My Favorite Kind of Snack!

Recently, I remembered my friend Sandy had shared a quote with us from a Puritan writer about how our souls need nourishment regularly just as our bodies also need meals and snacks. Since I tend to tire quite easily if I do not have a nourishing snack every couple of hours, I am reminded frequently of the quote she shared with us. But, I only remembered the gist of the quote and not the exact wording nor the name of the writer, so I’ll look into that eventually. For now, here is an article by another well-known writer, Arthur Pink. I enjoyed the parallels he drew between our physical consumption of food and our spiritual meals and snacks.

http://www.eternallifeministries.org/awp_nourish.htm

Pictured here is the kind of snack I enjoy. A sugary, dessert type snack does not produce the energy and clear thinking I desire out of the food I prepare and eat. I value food that produces energy for me to function. 🙂 Brody also appreciates nourishing snacks – these keep him working efficiently at work and playing piano, too! The bread is Amy’s Pumpkin Bread from our book. The recipe also includes Amy’s original recipe and a detailed explanation for how I converted it to be gluten-free, safe for Brody and packed with nutrients. The heart-shaped crackers pictured are from our book as well – Grandma gave her approval today when she tasted them! The hummus with fresh oregano is a recipe I’m still perfecting… I’ll post it when it’s ready!