Sweet Forgiveness

I thought I was done with Brody’s haircut last night and had begun putting away the trimmer and guards when I saw a little area near the swirl of hair at the very top of his head that I thought I’d touch up. So, I took the trimmer and dove in… only to discover that I had forgotten that I didn’t have the guard on the trimmer! So, I essentially shaved a 4”by 2” swath through his crown right after I had done a good job of carefully cutting his hair – it looked as if he’d had some kind of head surgery! The only way to fix my mistake was to trim his whole head with the #1 guard … I was aghast at my mistake, but he was very gracious and forgiving. He said it was only hair and it’d grow back – I am not sure I’d have been as easy-going if he had made a mistake cutting my hair 48 hours before our church’s annual Christmas Concert! I’m thankful he’s a forgiving husband. He portrays that aspect of Christ’s relationship with the church very well! I offered to buzz my hair, too, in solidarity with him, but he said that wasn’t necessary. 🙂 

 Below is a picture of the Almond Christmas Carol Cookies (a Sample Recipe on this site). They definitely make our taste buds sing! May this time of celebrating our Savior’s birth be very sweet for you…. and may you enjoy frequent reminders of our Savior’s kindness all throughout the year – I know that every time Brody or another person shows me grace for my mistakes and sins, I am reminded of God’s grace through Jesus’ life and death.DSCF0053

Permeating Flavors

DSCF0037Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer (available on amazon.com) continues to influence my daily thoughts. In the Foreword of A Gospel Primer, Mike Bullmore compares the writing and reading of Vincent’s book to preparing and enjoying a tasty meal from a slow cooker. He makes a good point; a wise reader will not speed-read this book. Instead, just as time is needed for flavors to mix well in a crock pot meal, time will be necessary for the Gospel truths Vincent shares to permeate your thinking.

Here is an example of how Vincent’s book has helped me in my spiritual growth with respect to my view of trials in life. In the past, I struggled more often than I do now with the temptation to find someone to blame for every challenge that I face. Having spent some time reviewing A Gospel Primer, I more often find myself wondering how the Gospel relates to the details of a particular challenge instead of figuring out who is culpable. Sometimes my challenge is simply a difficult circumstance involving no other human being. Other situations involve another person. In these and various other situations, I have been helped tremendously by the principles which Vincent helps his reader consider.

For example, some mornings, I awake with a stiffness or pain in my neck or back that makes the beginning of the day rather slow for me. Other times, I am clearly reminded of my physical limitations when I cannot maintain a pattern of mixing rest times in with periods of working or socializing. It seems that I can’t participate in as many activities as “normal” people can without reaching the point of complete exhaustion or a debilitating headache after a couple of days. These kinds of challenges are simply due to my living in a decaying body in a world that is cursed from sin; no particular person is to blame.

In other cases, I may need to speak with someone to work out a misunderstanding or to address a hurt between us. That is uncomfortable for me, but maintaining any relationship will, at some time, require this difficult work of reconciliation. When someone has hurt me, I tend to be quick to anger; I also have struggled for years to obey the command not to keep an account of the wrongs others have inflicted on me. Sometimes I wonder, “Why do I even have to face this? I wish I didn’t have to address this difficulty with this person!” Vincent’s Gospel Primer has helped me to switch my thinking more quickly to, “What might God be teaching me about the Gospel in this situation? Or, is this an opportunity for me to grow spiritually by exercising faith in His promises as I obey His commands?”

Whether my trials involve other people or not, I am reminded from the Gospel that God is at work in the difficulty, molding me into the image of His Son. When I am firmly convinced that God is for me, then I truly can exult in my tribulations and count my trials all joy since I know that God is deliberately designing my circumstances for the purpose of changing me spiritually to be more and more like His Son.

One day recently, I wanted to try a new way to cook chicken for Brody, and he suggested a garlic/herb combination. Starting with ideas from about.com in the Frugal Living and Southern Food categories, I came up with this recipe. We put some of the chicken on a plate with our usual black beans, rice and broccoli just for the “photo op” one evening, so it does look like a lot of chicken for one serving! 🙂 We liked the taste of the crock pot chicken, even if it doesn’t look as pretty as our chicken taco meal does! At times, our work schedules and my need for rest make the crock pot a very attractive option for meal preparation. We’re beginning to experiment more often using the crock pot with the recipes we already developed in A Recipe for Survival.

 Herb/Garlic Crock Pot Chicken

 ¼ cup water

2 lbs chicken breasts

2 tsp dried parsley

3 large sage leaves

a sprinkling of dried thyme

4” fresh rosemary

1/8 tsp ground cloves

a sprinkling of ground nutmeg

salt

black pepper

10” fresh oregano

2 garlic cloves

Add everything to a crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Enjoy!Crockpot Chicken 1

Thanksgiving, Part V: Thankful for Family Recipes

A couple of posts ago, I shared the recipe I developed to use up the one turkey liver I inadvertently buy when I purchase a turkey at this time of year. The rest of the giblets found a good use in another dish I successfully developed this year, Candy’s Dressing. Candy was a sweet addition to our family about 11 years after my mom passed away from cancer. She has brought my dad and the rest of us much joy! Candy worked in a catering job before she became a nurse, so she has (in her head) a wonderful dressing recipe for about 60 people. She eloquently described to me over the phone exactly how the recipe should look at each stage. I converted it to a Brody-safe version and also scaled it down to fit into my cast iron skillet. My grandma generally baked her dressing in a cast iron skillet to get that wonderful crust we loved. Here is the result of merging the family traditions and my hubby’s food needs:

 Candy’s Dressing

Each time I make this, I adjust the spices and herbs a little for fun to try to find the “perfect ratios of each.” No matter what I make, Brody lovingly tells me every time that it’s wonderful. He’s very easy to please as long as the ingredients please his intestines.

 Crusty Dinner Rolls (find the recipe here)

2 Tbsp butter

Roughly 2 cups diced celery

1 clove garlic, diced

Cooked and diced turkey giblets, neck meat, wing meat, other bits and pieces of meat from cooking the turkey, roughly 2 cups total

Pan drippings from cooking turkey, roughly 2 cups

1 egg,  beaten

thyme, nutmeg, black pepper, salt to taste

3 large sage leaves

3” fresh rosemary

additional butter to oil the cast iron skillet

 1. Break up enough Crusty Dinner Rolls to make roughly 2 cups of crumbs.

2. Toast the crumbs in the broiler until they are the color of brown you like.

3. Add the butter, celery and garlic to a saucepan and cook until the celery is done.

4. Add the giblets and meat, followed by the pan drippings from cooking the turkey. Add enough drippings to make the mixture “juicy.” When I wanted to make more dressing, even after using all the giblets up, I used water in place of the pan drippings since the pan drippings only lasted for the first two experimental batches of dressing. Water doesn’t give the extra flavor the pan drippings do, but it will work.

5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the egg; mix well.

6. Add the thyme, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, sage and rosemary.

7. Gradually add the toasted bread crumbs until the texture of the mixture resembles a loose pudding. It should “slosh” when you shake it from side to side; it should not be as thin as gravy.

8. Heat enough butter in the cast iron skillet to cover the bottom and sides well.

9. Pour the dressing mixture into the hot cast iron skillet. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until the dressing is set in the middle.

 Candy’s Dressing was one of our family recipes we enjoyed this year at Thanksgiving… another recipe we enjoyed during Thanksgiving week was my dad’s barbecued chicken, using Klumpps’ Lomalinda Barbecue Sauce, on page 152 of A Recipe for Survival. Here’s a photo of it! I used our broiler instead of going to a park to use a barbecue pit. We really enjoyed the result, and I think it would be even better if we had used a real campfire. So tasty!

We feel as if we are eating like royalty now that we’ve had some time to develop recipes that 1) work for Brody, 2) are economical 3) are nutritious and 4) taste good! Our pleased taste buds remind us to praise the Lord for His kind provision of tasty, nutritious food and our capacity to enjoy it. His grace to His creation is evident every day… I simply have to slow down and cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving for these daily blessings.

 

 

Thanksgiving, Part IV: Thankful for Family, Near and Far

This Thanksgiving, Brody and I have been thankful for our family! We are thankful for how our parents and siblings have faithfully prayed for us and encouraged us through our various adventures with health challenges and the related issues that arise.

We are also thankful for our extended spiritual family through Christ. Milton Vincent reminds his readers in A Gospel Primer that we believers are given by God as gifts to one another. The beginning of his book consists of 31 “Reasons to Rehearse the Gospel Daily.” Today, I’m thinking of Reason #12: “My Inheritance in the Saints,” on page 23. Vincent shares with his readers how remembering the truths of the Gospel encourages believers to value the part other believers play in their spiritual growth in Christ. One way we participate in one another’s spiritual walk is to encourage one another with our testimonies of how the Lord sustains and guides us through difficult times. This reminds me of the Psalmist speaking of his joy in declaring God’s goodness in the assembly of God’s people. (Psalm 22:22-27.) 

I am encouraged when I remember the faith and perseverance of someone in the Bible – Romans 15:4  explains that we can have hope through perseverance and from the encouragement of the Scriptures. I also am greatly encouraged in my own faith when I hear a contemporary believer’s public testimony of God’s enduring love and faithful care of His people.

 May this example also encourage your heart as it encouraged mine!

 Thatcher (my brother) and his wife, Amy, created a CaringBridge site when they learned that their son, James Daniel, had a syndrome called Hypoplastic Left Heart. Reading their journal entries at this site will encourage you to also hold tightly to the Lord through your challenges. Take the 8 minutes to watch the video of them giving public testimony to the Lord’s sustaining grace. The video was made for their church’s Thanksgiving service and the link to it has been added to the Caring Bridge site for James Daniel. You’ll have to create a Caring Bridge site password to access the site, but it’s well worth the effort. Whatever you are facing in your life, you will have renewed faith in our God when you see how He carried them through a very difficult, good time. May His Name be praised!

 On the subject of our family connections, both spiritual and physical, here’s a photo of Mom’s Meatloaf, (page 132 of A Recipe for Survival). I derived this from a recipe Brody’s mom gave me. I usually make the recipe into two loaves, but for fun, I sometimes use the muffin tins to make Meatloaf Muffins. They’re fun to serve as appetizers!

Thanksgiving, Part III “Later, Liver!” and Cranberry Sauce

This year, I was excited to find a way to prepare the turkey liver in such a way that I could at least tolerate eating it. I strongly dislike wasting anything, and since the liver came with the turkey, I wanted to find a way to use it up! During my childhood in Colombia, I remember my mom would fry up chicken livers for us the day that we would butcher chickens. I remember her highly dramatic response to the snapping and splattering of the giblets in the frying pan. For fun, she often would overreact to the splattering grease with a loud, “Deliver me from livers!” I really enjoyed eating those livers, and was surprised to hear that other people didn’t enjoy the dish. My dad said the difference was due to the freshness of the giblet – other people weren’t eating it as fresh as we were. I wish I knew what my mom used to make them taste so good, but I suspect the only ingredients were salt and butter.

Anyway, I wanted to see if I could find a way to use ALL the giblets from our turkey this year and not be wasteful. A couple of years ago, I tried making a stuffing for the turkey using all the giblets, and unfortunately, the flavors clashed with one another, and I think the liver flavor was the worst culprit. So, this year, I looked for recipes for the liver by itself.

 I found a recipe for liver at http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Pan-Fried-Turkey-Livers-with-Bacon-and-Onions and made the changes needed to make the recipe Brody-safe. 🙂 The result was very tasty, but I had some trouble tolerating the texture of the liver. Since I have heard that liver has such good nutrients for us, (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/816/2) I wanted to find a way to get the liver down. Brody tolerated a bite or two but was not as enthusiastic as I was for making sure the liver didn’t go to waste. So, that meant more for me! I admit that eating this did take some getting used to, but with our Crackers (page 111 from A Recipe for Survival and also a Sample Recipe on this site), I was able to eat all the liver and almost enjoy it. Considering its cholesterol values and that I still had to make an effort to eat it, I am not adding Turkey Liver to my weekly shopping list! But at least now, I have a way to use the one liver that comes with my turkey at this time of year.

 Here is the result of my tweaking the recipe found at www.saveur.com:

 I couldn’t think of the word “to endure” in English as quickly as the Spanish word came to my mind, so I’m using the Spanish word for “to endure” or “aguantar” to name this dish since I made this recipe in order to endure the taste and texture of the liver and not see it go to waste.

 Aguantar Turkey Livers

 1 turkey liver

1-2 Tbsp butter

1 garlic clove

salt, black pepper to taste

paprika (a few sprinkles)

tapioca flour (roughly ¼ cup)

1. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Heat the garlic in the butter while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

 2. Rinse off the liver and then slice it thinly.

 3. In a bowl, combine the salt, pepper, paprika and tapioca flour.

 4. Coat the liver slices in the flour and spice mixture and fry them in the butter and garlic.

 5. Crackers really help me eat this dish and make the liver disappear! “Later, Liver!”

 I am sorry I didn’t take a picture of the liver experiment! That was the day that I was stumbling about with a headache and not thinking clearly.

 Here is the cranberry sauce recipe… I started with the recipe on the package of cranberries. These were the Fresh 1 Brand, available at my local Sprouts Farmers’ Market.

 Slightly Sweet Cranberry Sauce

 ¼ cup raw cane sugar or choose how much you’d like of your favorite substitute for sweetening

1 cup water

1 package (12 oz) cranberries (or 3 ½ cups whole cranberries)

 1. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Wash and rinse the cranberries.

3. Add the cranberries to the water and sugar and boil until the berries’ skins split.

4. Remove from the stove. Store in the refrigerator – the taste improves in 24 hours!

The next time I make this, I may try honey instead of the raw cane sugar. One benefit from using the honey is that the sauce will be thicker after chilling it since the honey thickens up when it’s cold. I’ve also heard that it’s slightly better for our health to use honey instead of  raw cane sugar… but then I’ve also heard that honey is just as bad for us!  I don’t think I’ll be able to talk Brody into never ever having dessert or anything with sugar or honey, so I’ll be happy for the compromise of limiting our intake of sugar by reducing the amount I use in each dish and making sweet dishes less often. I’ll post more about our Thanksgiving dishes in the coming days. If you are looking for ideas for your Christmas meal, you can start experimenting with these recipes now!