The Beauty of Order

I love the elegant beauty of simple shapes repeating, forming a pattern. My favorite Christmas light display each year is located a few blocks from our home where, year by year, one gentleman has recruited more and more neighbors to hang simple spheres of lights in their very tall trees which line a couple of blocks. Each year, more trees sport these simple lights sparkling high in the dark, night sky. I love the display since it is simple, elegant, and repeats the same theme, block by block in all four directions now.

Whenever I see a beautiful, orderly design, I am reminded that there is a designer who carefully planned this work of art, which may also have a useful function. When I see a beautiful piece of jewelry, or a watch, or a pineapple, I appreciate the thoughtful, careful work that went into the design. The simple repetition of a theme is beautiful.

My friend, Merri, grew up in Vietnam and some years ago, taught me an efficient way to process fresh pineapple. She had learned this technique from her family’s house helper in Vietnam. In case it’s helpful to you, here are the simple steps to remove those eyes of the pineapple which are so pleasing to the eye in their repeating pattern on the fruit, but aren’t so pleasing to the mouth. 🙂

First, choose a pineapple that is ready to be purchased. A fellow shopper told me that if I could pull one of the leaves out, the pineapple was ready. So, when my local Sprouts has the pineapple available for 99 cents each, I like to pick one up and if I can pull one leaf out, I choose that fruit.

 My brother’s in-laws taught us that turning the pineapple upside down for 24 hours before cutting it would allow the tasty juices to distribute evenly throughout the whole fruit rather than being concentrated in the bottom portion of the fruit. So, I usually remember to do that. Look at the beautiful pattern of the eyes on the pineapple!

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 Next, cut the top and the bottom off of the pineapple.

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 Then, turn the pineapple right side up and cut strips of the skin off the fruit in a downward motion.

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 After all the strips have been cut off, you’ll just have the tasty fruit and the eyes.

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 To efficiently remove the eyes without loosing too much of the fruit, cut a little wedge out of the pineapple following the natural diagonal path connecting 2-3 eyes.

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With each cut, you can usually remove 2-3 eyes, depending on the length of your knife. I have found the most useful knife for me is my serrated utility knife, and I use a sawing motion for each cut.

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 After you’ve removed the eyes following their natural diagonal path, you’ll be left with a tasty piece of fruit with a beautiful, swirling pattern.

 At this point, I usually turn the pineapple back to its side and cut off slices. We eat some pineapple as a sweet treat, but most of the time, if I pick up some pineapple, it’s going to be used for pizza.

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 A friend once asked me if I wrote about my mistakes in the kitchen. I thought for a moment and then answered that my book, A Recipe for Survival, does contain some “Lessons Learned” sections explaining how I arrived at some of my techniques after a disaster or two in my learning process. Her question made me think that perhaps others would find encouragement in knowing that my recipes don’t generally reach their final state on the first try.

 So, in case it’s encouraging to you, here are some pictures of one of my disasters in experimenting with a new technique for making pizza, without using any gluten, corn, potatoes, or onions. Although it looked horrible, it tasted wonderful, and I’m glad that Brody is easy-going and encouraging regarding my experiments. I don’t think I’ll follow the same procedure that produced this again! I will continue to experiment until I find the right recipe for pizza for Brody.DSCF0107

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I’m glad that God, the Designer of all things, from the pattern on pineapples to the permitted problems in my life, is the only Being who is totally free. He is NOT experimenting, NOR discovering! He has had a plan since eternity past, and He has been working it out in everyone’s life throughout these thousands of years from Adam to Zibiah (mother of Joash) and from Athaliah to Zechariah. He is at work now, even in the moments of your life that are “prickly” and His plan will prevail.

Thinking of the difficult months when we didn’t know why Brody kept becoming ill from food, I remember thinking that I would never have chosen those challenges. During those difficult times, remembering the Gospel encouraged me to keep trusting that God IS loving, even when I was experiencing suffering. Now, I see that God was at work for both of us to grow spiritually. It’s still hard to say it, but I am thankful for the hardships that were used by God to show me areas of sin in my life and to increase my trust in Him.

I imagine that you, too, can look back on your life and see His hand at work. Perhaps at the time, you didn’t have the perspective that you do now, but now you can see great beauty in His purposeful, orderly design of your life.

 Psalm 33:10-11

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;

He frustrates the plans of the peoples.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever,

The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

 

Psalm 135:6

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does,

In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

A Flavorful Five Years!

DSCF0141Tomorrow marks our 5th anniversary! The little rubber ducks were a gift from the innkeeper at the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed for our honeymoon. They’re so cute, I couldn’t resist taking their photo to share with you! 🙂 Earlier this week, Brody knew I could use a little encouragement and so he picked up five beautiful roses for me to find when I got home from a long day. We’ve been enjoying them all week! The little box in the shape of a treasure chest was a gift from my Matron of Honor at a wedding shower. She shared a devotional at the shower and gave me a little gift to match each of the points of her encouragement to me. The chest was to remind me that part of being a homemaker was to treasure the good memories of the life God gives us.

DSCF0133 Brody and I have had some difficult times in these 5 years, but as my sister-in-law says, “hard” times do not equal “bad” times. She and my brother held their son for 4 hours and 11 minutes after his birth and watched him pass peacefully from their arms to the arms of our Lord. They, my Matron of Honor, Brody and I, all say from experience that the most difficult times are often the sweetest as we grow closer to our godly spouses and closer to our Savior.

 I originally designed the 1000 Day Marinade for our 1000th day of marriage, October 1, 2010. That day, I also gave Brody a journal with the title, “So Many Reasons I’m Glad I Married You!” I wanted to write down 1000 reasons, but the idea came to me on Day #990 and so I found it a little difficult to write down 100 reasons each day for those 10 days when Brody wasn’t watching! I ended up with nearly 300 reasons written down when I surprised him with the journal, and I periodically add some more.

 DSCF0172Here’s a photo of our 1000 Day Marinade, a Sample Recipe on this site from A Recipe for Survival (pages 144-145). I really enjoy this marinade – it’s filled with a full spectrum of flavor – salty, sour, sweet, spicy…. Kind of like the first 5 years of marriage! 🙂 Actually, I have found that life is full of flavor whether I am married or unmarried… either way, my closest relationship will always be with my Savior, and marriage is simply a part of that relationship. Knowing that my husband loves God first and loves me second is the best part of being married to Brody!

 

 

DSCF0142Other yummy dishes rounded out the special meal I prepared to celebrate our 5th year of marriage. The Buttery Biscuits, a Sample Recipe on this site from A Recipe for Survival (page 110), came in the shape of hearts this time, and I enjoy them with Strawberry Topping (page 177). Brody prefers them with butter and honey. I forgot to cook the rice in time for the photo, so it’s not in the picture—the ice cream on the Blueberry Crisp (page 167) was melting and the sun (my favorite source of light for photography) was setting, so I finished the photo shoot without the rice.

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The chopped up cauliflower was my failed attempt at making “faux-tatoes” according to the recipe in the book Dr. Pompa has for sale. Brody had successfully made this recipe before, but I didn’t cook the cauliflower long enough. The airborne bits of cauliflower landing around my feet and flying behind the counter when I was trying to use the hand mixer to combine the ingredients indicated that I should have cooked the veggie longer. Next time, I will. But, the green salad with a little chopped tomato and shredded fresh broccoli stalk, topped with our Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (page 154) was tasty. Lightly steamed broccoli always is a welcome part of our meals! Brody was a happy husband when he came home to this meal! Here’s a paraphrase of something Martin Luther said: A husband should live in such a way that his wife is sorry to see him leave in the morning, and she should live in such way that he is glad to come home in the evening! Even with the difficulties we’ve faced together, we are thankful for these 5 years! God’s grace has sustained us through every challenge.

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II Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Happy New Year!

raspberryvinaigrette“Good health is a crown visible only to the sick.” Years ago, Kristi’s mom quoted that to her and Kristi (a former roommate) shared it with me… and now I know (better than I used to) the meaning of the proverb! I definitely am more thankful than I used to be for any hour in which my head or neck doesn’t hurt!

I am thankful for many things… and one thing today is that I’ve had some hours in the last few days without much pain in my head or neck. Also, I am thankful that Brody now is healthier than I am. I appreciate that he helps me on my difficult days. His piano-playing is a true pain reliever for me, and he’s quite a good cook, too. What a blessing!

I am also thankful that the cold I got on Christmas didn’t develop into a lung infection (the usual route my body takes when I get a cold in December)! God was gracious to me. Ultimately, He always gets the credit for our bodies fighting off any disease, but I think I will remember this lesson learned: it’s best to go to bed and rest when I get a cold. 🙂 Extra rest and liquids certainly give my body a fighting chance.

Besides the rest and liquids, I thought I’d consider some additional remedies. Our friend, Bill, had just told me that Cold-EEZE had worked well for him this year, so I gave that a try. I had also heard that garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties, so I decided I’d test out the theory. I bit into a clove of garlic and quickly decided eating raw garlic would be an acquired taste. I nibbled along on the first clove over the course of many hours. By the second clove, I had acquired the taste… but I am still surprised at how much raw garlic resembles flaming red hot peppers for its ability to burn my mouth! Perhaps eating raw garlic will have a new application: pain relief for headaches. Or maybe it’s not so much a pain-reliever as it is a distraction… the pain from the blisters forming in my mouth distracts from the pain of my headache. Whether or not the garlic did help me fight off the cold, I don’t know for sure, but I can vouch for its amazing decongestant properties!

In order not to chase Brody or others off with my horrible breath, and also to save the garlic for recipes, I didn’t continue eating the garlic. I use it in so many recipes – from soups and appetizers to main dishes and salad dressings! Pictured here is Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing from A Recipe for Survival (page 154). We enjoy adding a green salad with this dressing to many snacks and meals. The soup pictured below is the Meatless Minestrone (page 131) made with quinoa instead of rice pasta.raspberryvinaigrattesnack