Category Archives: Food Preparation

“It’s a Keeper” Salad and Psalm 121

We just returned from a trip to the MidWest to surprise my dad for his 70th birthday and to visit friends in the area. I started up our food supply again yesterday by picking up some boneless, skinless chicken breast along with some other groceries. Lately, I have been boiling the chicken breast and then using it in salads or in other dishes. I save the liquid to use as a base in soups.

Last night, I introduced a new set of flavors in our series of light, summery salads, and when Brody finished his serving, he said, “It’s a keeper!” So, here it is for you….

Light, Simple, Summery Salad

It’s a Keeper….Light, Simple, Summery Salad

 

“It’s a Keeper” Salad

Combine and enjoy:

Chopped cabbage, kale and lettuce

Diced carrots and hothouse cucumbers

Raisins and dried cranberries

Almonds and sunflower seeds

Diced chicken breast (fully cooked)

Salt and pepper

Lemon and lime zest

Notes: Since God gave the almonds and sunflower seeds enzyme inhibitors to protect them until they are ready to sprout, you may find it easier to digest them if you first soak and then dehydrate them. I soak and dehydrate these in small batches and then store them in a glass jar in the freezer. Several websites have suggestions for how to do this. Instead of buying a dehydrator, I have chosen to use my gas oven at a very low temperature (mostly the pilot light) to dehydrate the seeds and nuts. I find eating the nuts after treating them this way helps me digest them with less discomfort.

Also, lately I have chosen to buy a few limes and lemons, wash them, and then freeze them whole. When I want some zest, it is easy to zest a whole, frozen fruit. When I want the juice, I simply grate more of the fruit, beyond the zest. This way, I don’t waste any of the fruit, and it is easier to zest them frozen than when they are at room temperature.

After Brody’s comment about the salad, I started thinking about the word, “keeper,” and I was reminded of a thought I had while looking for shade on a hot day. Our trip to the MidWest reminded me of the heat and humidity that allow the land to produce such beautiful green scenery, but I am fairly sensitive to the sun and heat, so I really appreciate the shade. One day, as I was seeking the shade for relief, I remembered Psalm 121, in which the Psalmist compares the Lord to shade. Now that I am sensitive to the sun, I can more easily relate to this metaphor written by someone who knows the heat of the desert.

Psalm 121:5

The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

You can read the entire Psalm at Bible Gateway here. While Brody was using the word, “keeper” to mean that we like the salad and intend to save the recipe for future use, the Psalmist is using the word to mean that the Lord keeps His people from harm… that He is their protector. Our safe, uneventful travels to the MidWest, consisting of two road trips in between two airplane flights, reminded me of the truth that the Lord guards our coming and going. And one day, He will take His people home to Heaven to be with Him forever.

Holmes’ Team Tasty Tomatoes and Involvement in a Local Church

The process of designing a new dish can be so much more fun when shared with some enthusiastic friends. That is how the Holmes’ Team Tasty Tomatoes side dish (page 93 of A Recipe for Survival) came to be. My friends (A. K. A. Junior Advisory Team) were stopping by for a visit on a day when I was planning to find a way to make kale easier for Brody to digest. He had been struggling to break down greens in his mouth, and I was remembering what I had learned in chemistry about getting different substances to dissolve into a solution.

That day, I shared with my Junior Advisory Team my preliminary thoughts on the design of the dish, and they added their suggestions. We worked together to prepare the dish and after tasting the results, we agreed we had a winning combination of flavors and nutrients! The memories of working together with my friends make this dish even more special to me!

Some months ago, I took pictures as I was making the dish. I prepare tomato dishes more frequently in the summer when the price of tomatoes is lowest, but I don’t always have time to prepare a post at the same time that I am cooking. So, here is a dish that reminds us of summer in the middle of winter! See page 93 of A Recipe for Survival for the recipe.

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes in progress

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes

Recipe design can be enhanced with friends’ suggestions and the activity can be made more enjoyable when sharing their company, but it does not actually require the input of others. However, other aspects of life require interaction with fellow human beings.

Now and then, I hear someone say that we believers don’t need to attend church. In some cases, the person who doesn’t want to be a part of a local body of believers has been hurt in a past church experience. While we human beings can be rather unkind to one another, the answer is not to avoid being a part of a local body.

If I chose not to be a part of a local church, then I would miss out on the opportunities to learn to obey all the “one another” commands in the New Testament. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn how to bear with others. I would not have the chance to forgive others if I carefully avoided any situation in which others could hurt me. I would not be able to bear others’ burdens or comfort them if I were not involved in their lives enough to be aware of their burdens or know of their sorrows. I would miss out on so many opportunities for my own spiritual growth if I tried to isolate myself from other  believers.

I also appreciate others’ observations and input into my life. I would miss out on all the benefits of fellow believers’ wisdom and perspective if I chose not to be a part of a church. It’s so easy for us to run off on peculiar tangents of belief; being involved in a church and listening to our leaders provide a safeguard for us not to head too far down any path which may not be Biblical.

I feel sad for those believers who think that building relationships with others in the church is optional. They miss out on precious encouragement from regularly meeting with others who are also learning how to apply God’s Word to their lives. Skipping church means they miss out on the encouragement that comes from hearing others sing God’s praises. Simply seeing my leaders attending church with their families encourages me to continue obeying the Lord in all aspects of my life. Hearing them singing of their love for Christ and knowing that they also are applying God’s Word to their lives throughout the week spurs me on to live my life in a way that honors the Lord.

I remember an expression I heard a long time ago… “We are like bananas; if we get separated from the bunch, we will be skinned!” Perhaps a better reminder comes from the Roman soldiers’ shields.

A few years ago, I heard in a sermon that the shields were built to be interlocking. A quick Google search on the design of their shields confirmed that for me. The sermon I heard was from a series by Pastor Scott Bashoor on the Christian spiritual armor as described by Paul in Ephesians. Paul spent a lot of time with Roman soldiers since he was a prisoner for his faith for years. So, he likely had a visual reminder of armor right beside him as he wrote this passage on the armor of God. The sermon and description of the interlocking shields gave me an encouraging image. Three soldiers could team up together… even if the one in the middle were quaking in his sandals, the two on either side could link their shields to his, and together, the other two could help the one in the middle to stand his ground. There are times in all of our lives that we need fellow believers to help us to persevere. What a loss for those who choose not to interact with and build relationships with others in a local church!

Psalm 35:18 from www.BibleGateway.com

I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.

Hebrews 10:23-25 from www.BibleGateway.com

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Ephesians 6:10-20 from www.BibleGateway.com

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore,having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 [b]in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 [c]With all prayer and petition [d]pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, [e]be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in [f]chains; that [g]in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Thanksgiving/Christmas Recipe Collection

Over the past 2 years, I’ve posted some new recipes and photos of our book recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In order to ease your preparations for the end-of-the-year celebrations, I thought I’d collect all of these into one post for reference. For the recipes from A Recipe for Survival, I’ve listed the page from the book.  For the recipes I developed after we published the book, I’ve included the link so that you can read the original post. As always, let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like a recipe I haven’t included.

Gluten-free Thanksgiving Meal

The Main AttractionThe (un)Basted Bird

In 2012, I had the best results ever in preparing the turkey, and based on the post above, I suppose the success may be due to the simple approach I took that year. I couldn’t find any details about that year in my collections of scratch notes on recipe experiments, so I’m guessing what I wrote in that post is the most reliable account of what I did to achieve that beautiful and tasty result pictured above. I think the spices and herbs I used would have been some nutmeg, black pepper and salt along with the rosemary, sage and thyme which came as a potted trio from my local Sprouts. I’ve been able to keep some of the plants alive for the following years, but it may be time to update my thyme along with the rosemary.  🙂

Candy's Dressing

The Delicious Dressing (A.K.A. Candy’s Dressing)

We LOVE this dish!!!! Save yourself some stress later in the season by using the Crusty Dinner Rolls recipe to make a loaf of bread in advance. Wrap and freeze the bread for use later in the dressing recipe. Here are some tips for wrapping and freezing breads.

Gluten-free Thanksgiving with side dishes

The Enticing Ensemble of Side Dishes

The Savory Sweet Potatoes …. or are these Garnet Yams? I know there’s a difference, but whatever name they go by in the store, I buy them, fix them and we eat them! Simple, yet delicious, the results of following these directions pleased our palates and our insides!

The Grand Green Beans (A.K.A.  Grandma’s Green Beans, pictured above with the Savory Sweet Potatoes) We enjoy this recipe from time to time throughout the year, and it’s on page 91 of A Recipe for Survival.

Gluten-free, corn-free Crusty Dinner Rolls 2

The Delicious Dinner Rolls (A.K.A. Crusty Dinner Rolls)

This has become my favorite recipe for bread. Besides making rolls with it, I’ve used it to make loaves of bread which I can then use for making sandwiches or for any recipe calling for bread crumbs.

The Cranberry Sauce

The Slightly Sweet Cranberry Sauce is pictured above with the rest of the side dishes, and you can find the recipe here.

The Decadent Desserts

Gluten-free Almond Christmas Carol Cookies

Almond Christmas Carol Cookies

This recipe is in our book, A Recipe for Survival, on page 162, and it’s a sample recipe on this site.

Gluten-free Aunt Nellie's Pumpkin Pie

Aunt Nellie’s Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is on page 163 of A Recipe for Survival, and it’s also available as a sample recipe on this website. You can click on the photo of the sample recipe in order to increase the size of the font. It’s pretty hard to read if you don’t click on it first to zoom in on the text.

Gluten-free chocolate cake

Chocolate Cake

This recipe is on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival; and the photo above does not do it justice! This has been well-received at church gatherings…. even by those who don’t have to eat a gluten-free diet! The creamy chocolate frosting (page 175 of A Recipe for Survival) adds an exceptional extra tasty finish.

Gluten-free Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

These are perfect! Here’s the recipe!

Gluten-free sweet rolls

Sweet Rolls

These have been called “amazing!” The recipe is on pages 178-179 of A Recipe for Survival, and check this post and this post for tips on how to prepare them.

Enjoy your special foods for this special time of year when we remember all for which we are thankful to God… especially His gift of salvation! How wonderful that His kindness is everlasting!

Psalm 106:1 (NASB)

Praise the Lord!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Sweet Rolls and the Sweet Exchange

Gluten-free Sweet Rolls

A few months before we decided to publish our book, a friend on a very strict gluten-free diet asked me to develop a sweet roll recipe she could enjoy. Usually, something unique has to occur for me to invest time, energy and ingredients in experimenting with a dessert. For example, both of the cakes I developed were for receptions for friends who were either getting married or renewing their vows. In this case, since my friend was craving the sweet rolls, I decided to work on the project.

A couple of years ago, I posted some tips for following the recipe in our book. You may want to refer to that post before beginning your sweet roll preparation.

In the event that you would like to try preparing the recipe on pages 178-179 of A Recipe for Survival,  I took some video to show how I work with the dough. I prefer to add the water in the recipe so that the dough rises better. It’s a very moist dough.

Gluten-free sweet roll preparation

It starts out as a small amount of dough,

Gluten-free sweet roll dough ready to rise

but then after an hour or so in my oven with the pilot light on, it rises very well.

Our gluten-free dough has risen!

But that means that I need to add more tapioca and/or rice flour just before and while rolling out the dough in order to make it workable.

This was the first time that I tried recording videos, so the results are not stellar as far as lighting and technical quality go, but I didn’t want to invest another day in making sweet rolls and videoing the process. Brody is good at editing videos and cleaning up the rough start I make to video projects; however in this case, he could not do anything with the footage due to how I saved the files off the camera onto the computer. So, here they are, in unedited form. To give credit where it is due, the CD you will hear in the background of the videos is Acoustic Hymns 20 Favorites Featuring Jack Jezzro produced by greentree records. It is one of my favorites to play while I’m at home, cooking.

YouTube Videos

Tea with gluten-free sweet rolls

Based on some conversations with my gluten-free friends, I suspect they dream of a stack of sweet rolls with a cascade of icing!

Gluten-free Sweet Rolls with Icing

A person who craves sweet rolls which don’t make him/her ill may consider this recipe and the results precious.  In fact, one person recently described these rolls as “amazing.” However, even more precious and amazing is the judicial transaction referred to as “The Sweet Exchange” in a 2nd century letter to Diognetus from Mathetes. You can find a helpful background for this letter and the English translation of the original letter at www.earlychristianwritings.com. The letter has been divided into chapters and verses for ease of reference. Chapter 9, verse 5 is the verse which has inspired sermons and songs mentioning “The Sweet Exchange.”

Even sweeter than the tastiest food here on earth is the knowledge that Christ took on my sin and God gave me Christ’s righteousness. Only through Jesus Christ is God both just and merciful. I see His justice in His punishment of my sin in Christ. He shows His mercy by not giving me the punishment I deserve.

All my daily pain, difficulties and disappointments fade into the background as I meditate on the kindness of God to give me Christ’s righteousness and take away my sin. God’s Word calls my good works apart from Christ “filthy rags.” Remembering those verses in Isaiah adds depth to my understanding of a new song, “His Robes for Mine,” our church learned a couple of years ago. This rendition of His Robes for Mine is particularly inspiring and encouraging to me. While preparing this post, I played this over and over. I discovered that I craved it just as I used to crave chocolate! The lyrics for the song can be found here.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy making these “amazing” gluten-free sweet rolls, but more importantly, I pray that you will be encouraged in your difficulties as you meditate on God’s truly amazing grace toward helpless sinners.

Romans 5:6 (NASB) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Pumpkins and Poetry

My great-grandma, Dixie Lee Gabbard, enjoyed writing poetry throughout her life. Many years ago, my grandma worked with others in the family to publish a collection of her poems in a little booklet, “By-Paths By Dixie Foot-log and Other Poems.” Before these were published in this booklet, some of the poems were read on a radio program on KGRH in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and one of them was published in a newspaper in California.

A couple of years ago, when I was processing a pumpkin for freezing the pulp for pies and pumpkin bread throughout the year, I decided I’d try planting some of the seeds since some had already begun to sprout inside the pumpkin.

I was disappointed when nothing sprouted after about 7 days and I stopped watering and checking the seeds. But around the 2 week mark, I visited my little plot of dirt and was astonished to see a great number of little seedlings pushing up the earth. I couldn’t bear to throw away any little plants, so I transplanted them, and took many little seedlings to church to share with my friends.

My little pumpkin seedlings ready to share

I kept a couple plants for myself, but they soon became too big for the area I had to work with and I had to give up on them. But, my friend shared her seedlings with her grandchildren, and they enjoyed great success with their plants.

A proud pumpkin-grower

The children were thrilled with the results of their efforts when the time came to process their pumpkins.

Processing the Pumpkin Pulp

Many, many pies could be made with all the pumpkin they produced. They also had fun carving some.

More Pumpkin Fun

I became known to the children as “Grandma’s Pumpkin Friend.”

This experience of multiplied fun with pumpkins reminded me of one of my great-grandma’s poems, “Growing.”

GROWING

Last fall, a neighbor gave to us
A pumpkin from his field
When he had gathered in his crop
And counted up his yield.

Now when I cooked that pumpkin
I tossed both peel and seeds
Quite thoughtlessly and carelessly
Into a patch of weeds.

We gave the shell to children
To enjoy on Hallow e’en
And shared the pulp with neighbors
For tasty cuisine.

And so this fall imagine
Our delight and great surprise
To find three nice ripe pumpkins there
And each of ample size.

Here’s proof a friendly gesture,
Kind word, or even food
Can grow, produce and multiply
And do a world of good!

My great-grandma’s poem reminds me of these verses:

Galatians 6:9-10, NASB

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

This year, I’m trying to prepare for the busy cooking time of the year in advance. I noticed that my sister-in-law, Amy, from whom I received the original gluten-filled pumpkin bread recipe, often freezes breads in advance to make meal preparation easier during busy times. I’ve frozen our pumpkin bread recipe before, too, and was satisfied with the results, so this year, I’m beginning to prepare now for the busy months ahead. For the recipe for Amy’s Pumpkin Bread, see page 108 of A Recipe for Survival.

The bread remains moist even after freezing as long as very little air is in the packaging with the bread.

Our favorite gluten-free pumpkin bread

I started with my full-sized loaves and cut them into smaller portions that would work for a 1-2 day supply for Brody’s lunches.

Wrapping up tasty pumpkin bread

I wrapped the bread in BPA-free press ‘n’ seal and then aluminum foil, and then sealed it in a zip-loc bag to ensure that the foil would not be unwrapped due to the shuffling that occurs in our freezer as we rummage for different items.

Ready for freezing pumpkin bread!

Now we can enjoy fresh-tasting bread over a longer period of time!

What’s in a Name? And Queen Mary’s Salmon

For our 5th wedding anniversary, we enjoyed a couple of nights aboard the Queen Mary. Below is the photo I took of the booklet the hotel provided for our room keys.

Our room key holder

For one of our meals, I enjoyed the maple-flavored salmon dish.

Our 5th Wedding AnniversaryWhen we returned home, I decided to replicate it. Here’s the photo of my version, along with my recipe. 🙂 Brody likes to add black beans as a side dish to any meal, and the steamed broccoli and rice are often seen in a supporting role since for time’s sake, we like to prepare a large batch to keep in the fridge for snacks and sides.

Queen Mary's Salmon

Queen Mary’s Salmon

butter

1 pound of salmon

salt

black pepper

thyme

dill weed

1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup (The last time I made this, I used so little, I think it’s actually negligible… unless you have an extreme sweet tooth, you’ll like the dish just fine with very little or no maple syrup.)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Cut the salmon into serving-sized pieces.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet.

3. Sprinkle the fillets with the herbs.

4. Cook the salmon on medium heat for about 3 minutes.

5. Flip over the fillets and add the syrup and lemon juice.

6. Cook for approximately 3 more minutes. The salmon is done when the meat pulls apart easily, the meat is opaque and the juices are milky.

7. The skin comes off very easily after cooking, so I stopped removing the skin before cooking it. Now we just remove it as we eat. Here is a resource of tips for grilling seafood – some of these ideas translate well into pan-cooking, too. For additional tips, here is another site.

So, what’s in a name? I named the above dish based on our good memories of our 5th wedding anniversary trip. I’ve wondered from time to time how some items for sale in grocery stores came to be called “food.” This is especially interesting to me when I consider the conversations I’ve had with various people.

Some quote I Timothy 4:1-5 as reason to eat anything and everything.  True, these verses reinforce what Jesus taught in Matthew 15; that is, eating certain things does not defile us. Rather, the evil that comes from our hearts and proceeds out of our mouths defiles us. Based on these and other passages throughout the New Testament, we know that we do not need to apply to ourselves the dietary restrictions from the Old Covenant between God and the nation of Israel.

But, I do not think that I Timothy 4:1-5 extends God’s blessing to anything that someone has called “food.” For example, I could blend cardboard with water and spread the resulting mush on a cookie sheet and sprinkle sand on it. Simply labeling it “food,” does not mean that the concoction is nourishing. And I do not believe that such a mixture is included in the endorsement of I Timothy 4:4.

So, what to do? It’s biblical not to pass judgment on anyone for what he eats or doesn’t eat. While the topic is slightly different, we can find some principles to guide our thinking in Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8.

Romans 14 specifically is addressing a situation in which believers had differing views on eating meat which had been sacrificed to idols. Some believers could not eat meat without thinking about the pagan rituals and sacrifices which they had renounced. For them, their conscience was bothered by eating meat. So, for them, it was better not to eat meat. Other believers could eat meat without being uncomfortable at all since they no longer made the connection between eating meat and the idol sacrifices.

The Apostle Paul addressed this topic in I Corinthians 8 as well. He concluded both passages in the same way… if a person’s conscience is bothered by eating meat which was sacrificed to an idol, he should not eat meat. And if a person’s conscience is not bothered by eating meat sacrificed to an idol, then he can enjoy eating meat. But, he should be careful not to eat meat in front of others who may follow his example and then feel as if they had partaken of idol worship by eating the meat of the sacrifice. And neither the meat-eaters nor the non-meat-eaters should pass judgement on the other group.

So based on these principles, no one should pass judgment on others for what they eat or don’t eat. One of the verses my college Sunday School class memorized was Romans 14:17 “… for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So, I am aware that I should not evaluate someone’s life as being sinful based on what he or she eats.

But, I wonder if some of our Christian brothers and sisters would benefit from considering why they eat what they eat. For example, there have been times in my life that I have eaten for emotional comfort. The result of this, coupled with a lack of self-control, led to a significant gain in weight for me. If I struggle with a lack of self-control, I can ask God for help in overcoming that sin. And I can take comfort in the knowledge that Christ has already conquered that sin along with all other sins I struggle with.

If I eat for emotional comfort, I wonder why I’m turning to food instead of to God’s Word in times of sorrow or disappointment. According to Psalm 19, God’s Word is sweeter than honey, so why not pick up the Bible when I feel as if I need encouragement?

And if a believer is experiencing food-related health challenges, and refuses to change what or how much he/she eats, perhaps eating certain things or eating in a certain way has become a god to that person. That brother or sister in the Lord may benefit spiritually from praying for wisdom regarding his/her views of food. And making some changes in how he/she eats may result in some physical benefits as well.

Cravings and Cleansings

Refreshing Veggie Smoothie

Back in December 2013, I mentioned a veggie smoothie pictured with our Thanksgiving meal. I promised to share the recipe eventually and now I finally will! We have a friend who works full time, and has special dietary restrictions that are different from her husband’s specific dietary restrictions. This means that preparing food that will work for them takes a lot of her limited time.

Sometime ago, she had shared with us how she was enjoying a veggie smoothie every morning. Her goal was to get some good nutrients into her diet early each day in case she became so busy that she couldn’t eat a nutritious midday salad. I listened to her basic recipe and then added some other ideas of mine.

Later, when shopping at our local Mother’s Market and Kitchen, I received a flier about Spring Cleaning (Daily Detox) which was based on an article from Delicious Living Magazine. Now my current recipe includes some of my friend’s ideas as well as some ideas from the Delicious Living Magazine article which was summarized by Mother’s on their flier.

The first time I made this smoothie, I was not at all sure I could convince Brody that it was edible. Many of our friends initially have wondered if it could be tolerable, and I admit that it sounds and looks weird, but actually it is tasty and we think it’s helping us! At the least, it is a refreshing snack that does not give me the sugar crash and cravings that a sweet drink (popular among most of the population) may give me on a hot day. Sometimes, eating a small serving of veggie smoothie is a great way to finish a meal instead of eating a dessert and other times, we start a meal with veggie smoothie as an appetizer.

Whether or not a person likes a specific food may be more dependent on how he/she views food rather than on whether or not the food actually tastes or feels a certain way. For example, some people eat in order to live and some people live for the pleasure of the next snack or meal. Many live somewhere in between the two extremes. From my experience, I can focus on eating in order to function the best I can or I can eat because I want the pleasure of a certain taste or texture. I sometimes ask myself if I am craving something merely for the pleasure of the taste or if the dish or snack reasonably can be expected to nourish, and not harm, my body.

Interestingly, when I eat fewer of the foods that do not help me, for example, fast food or sugary snacks or drinks, my taste buds adjust and more healthful food tastes better than before. After this adjustment, I can taste the fillers, additives and preservatives which I couldn’t taste before in the processed, packaged foods, and simple fresh fruit tastes sweet enough to be dessert.

Initially, you may think this smoothie tastes weird, but if you continue to eat it and also decrease your intake of sodas, sugars, processed, packaged foods and fast foods, likely, you will experience a change in your taste buds and actually begin to enjoy the smoothie. If you have been struggling with your health in some way, you may also enjoy some healthier days if you are willing to develop some new tastes and choose to cut back or give up the items you currently love which may or may not deserve the title “food!” 🙂

So, here’s the current recipe for our veggie smoothie….

Veggie Smoothie Ingredients

The only two items I currently use which I forgot to include in the photo are apple cider vinegar and daikon radish. The Daikon radish is white and has a peppery taste.

Veggie Smoothie

1 bunch of kale, without the woody, end portions of the stems or a head of lettuce or a bunch of spinach

1 bunch of celery

2-3 carrots, skinned

2-3 cloves of garlic

a chunk of a small beet, perhaps 1/4 of the beet

roughly 4″ of Daikon radish

1 small apple, seeds included

1-2 cucumbers

a splash of apple cider vinegar (I think this lengthens the life of the smoothie in our refrigerator)

a splash of water to help the smoothie out of the Vitamix

Sometimes, I’ll include some cabbage and/or Brussels Sprouts

Sometimes, I remember to include parsley from my very determined little plant! It survives even though I neglect my potted herbs on a regular basis.

I often prepare the smoothie in two steps since my Vitamix can’t hold all of the ingredients. Hence the two colors!

DSCF2055

I use a spoon for the final mixing in the container. Many friends and relatives have remarked that this tastes better than they had anticipated!

As I was writing this, I remembered some other analogies I’ve heard drawn between our physical appetites and our spiritual appetites. When I have become “too busy” to read my Bible on a daily basis, my appetite for reading it diminishes over time. This reflects the physical world… I have heard that if a person stops eating, eventually, he will lose his appetite. That’s an extreme scenario which I have not tested, but intentionally making changes in what I eat has changed my tastes as I’ve detailed above.

That also happens with my spiritual tastes. If I neglect my Bible reading, I lose my spiritual appetite for my spiritual food. As I pick it back up and continue reading and memorizing Scripture, my appreciation of the Bible increases and my desire to read and memorize it grows.

Here’s a Bible reading program I’ve enjoyed for a few years now. I like it because I can keep the Old and New Testaments fresh in my mind. When I used to read from Genesis to Revelation, I would go for months without reading some portions of the Bible.

Prof. G Horner's Bible Reading System

The other benefit of Prof. G Horner’s reading program is that I enjoy reading the account of something in the Old Testament on the same day that I read a Psalm about that account and possibly read an allusion to it in Acts or one of the epistles.

For example, I may read Genesis 12 on the same day that I read Acts 7. Or I may read Numbers 11 on the same day that I read I Corinthians 10. Or, on one day, I may read Psalm 34 and I Samuel 21. Psalm 34 is the song David composed after he pretended to be mad in order to be set free from his captors. Since I don’t always read all 10 chapters each day, I don’t have the same exact reading plan as shown at Bible Study Tools. But, I like to continually progress through 10 different sections of the Bible regularly.

If you are on Facebook, you may try searching for Prof. G Horner’s Bible Reading System. When Brody accessed it there a few years ago, he was able to print out 10 book marks showing which books of the Bible were in each of the 10 lists.

Just as our smoothie is designed to nourish our bodies and cleanse us from toxins, reading my Bible nourishes and cleanses me spiritually.

Are you willing to try the veggie smoothie? I’d be curious to know if anyone takes the challenge and experiences a change in his/her tastebuds just as Brody and I have.

How about starting a Bible reading program (if that is new to you)? Maybe you’ll experience a change in tastes there, too!

One of Prof. G Horner's 10 Lists

Mother’s Day Musings and Cinco de Mayo Salad

Recently, I heard a pastor say that a Mother’s Day sermon was the hardest one for him to preach. Then he explained why.

First, he said he realized that many in his congregation were men, and therefore, would not ever be mothers, and he wanted his sermon to be applicable to all of his congregation. That is a great point.

Second, the pastor said that he recognized that many women in the congregation were unmarried and still were honoring the Lord in their lives even if they were not mothers. That is another great point.

Third, the pastor mentioned that some married women were not mothers for a variety of reasons, and that some women may experience grief for not having children. He said he realized that women are sensitive and he indicated that he wanted to be careful not to add to anyone’s pain. That’s another wonderful point.

Those are all excellent observations. However, I think there’s a more important reason a pastor (and other church leaders) should seriously reconsider their tradition of celebrating a secular holiday as part of Sunday morning services. The Scripture teaches that the purpose of the church is to evangelize the lost and equip the saved to worship the Lord. In other words, the main reason believers participate in the life of the church is to grow in their sanctification as they more frequently choose to obey Scripture rather than choose their own sinful desires. Whenever the church loses focus on helping believers to mature in their walk with the Lord, stagnation is at hand, and those church leaders have abdicated their responsibility as shepherds who will give an account for the souls of the people they are leading and guiding.

Whenever church leaders choose to celebrate a secular holiday on Sunday, they are demonstrating that the American culture has influenced the church. The reverse should be true: the church should be salt and light in the culture. Sadly, this is only one example that I’ve observed as I’ve watched the American culture creep into the church.

In my experience, the most striking example of the culture influencing the church is the elevation of entertainment throughout the entire morning service. In some churches, the desire to lead the congregation in laughter during announcements, throughout the sermon, and before the collection of the offering takes precedence over the desire to lead the congregation in revering and worshipping the Almighty. Or, those leading the music behave as if they were rock stars performing at a live concert.

Back to the specific question of church leaders celebrating Mother’s Day at church, I wonder how often the leaders consider what message they are sending to the rest of the congregation who are not mothers? If a church devotes an entire Sunday morning to addressing mothers, how is the church fulfilling its obligation to minister to all the believers in the congregation that morning? Some ladies who wanted to be mothers are not moms due to circumstances beyond their control. Is it reasonable to expect such women to return to church next year if they learned this year that the entire service was focused on how to be a better mother?

I used to think that only women might be hurt by Mother’s Day celebrations at church, but recently, a gentleman mentioned to me that he had skipped church on Father’s Day some years because he had felt inferior at church for not being a father. I hadn’t realized that men could be hurt, too, by how church leaders allow the secular culture to dictate the agenda for Sunday morning worship.

Honoring our parents is good and right. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. However, on Sunday morning at church, nothing should preempt the preaching of the Word for the edification of the entire congregation. Anything that distracts from that should be avoided.

I think that fathers should lead their children to honor their mothers in their family setting and mothers should lead in honoring the father in the family. I don’t think it’s the role of the church leaders to set aside valuable time for edifying the entire congregation on Sunday morning in order to do something the parents should be doing in their homes.

If a pastor feels absolutely compelled to preach something about mothers on the second Sunday of May, perhaps he should draw the congregation’s attention to the example of the Proverbs 31 Wife’s Children in verse 28. If the pastor spoke to the offspring in the congregation, he would be addressing 100% of his audience since everyone has a mom. Even if a person’s mom has passed away, a person can thank God for the one who gave him life and praise God for the one who shared Christ with him. If a person’s mom did not lead an exemplary life, a person could still thank God that He graciously protected him even in the midst of the trials he endured at the hand of his mom. And we can all recognize that others have influenced us as well and we can bless them for their impact in our lives. A sermon directed to children (whatever our ages) will include the entire congregation since we are all someone’s child.

With that as food for thought, let me share a recipe that Brody and I enjoyed on another day we like to celebrate in May… Cinco de Mayo!!!! We really enjoy Mexican food, so one day, I decided to imitate a green sauce we really liked. Friends of ours had drawn our attention to it, and while it was gluten-free, it still had other ingredients Brody prefers to avoid, so I developed my own Brody-safe version.

Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce

10 tomatillos without the paper-thin skins, washed, and cut into quarters

1 jalapeno pepper, without the stem, and washed

roughly ½ cup chopped cilantro

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp crushed dried red peppers if you want more heat

1. Add all the ingredients to your Vitamix or other blender and process them until well-blended.

2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce is the thickness you like.

3. The sauce can be used to cook chicken or simply to add flavor to a Mexican chicken dish.

Sometimes we cook the chicken in the sauce….

 Chicken in our Gluten-Free Green Sauce

But I like the taste of the sauce better when we simply pour it over cooked chicken in our Mexican concoction:

 Our Gluten-Free Cinco de Mayo

To simplify our meal preparation, we usually maintain a supply of cooked rice, beans and chicken in the fridge and then flavor them in different ways throughout the week.

One of the yummy ways we combine the chicken, beans and rice is to rewarm the ingredients and then:

1. Spread a thin layer of cooked rice on a plate.

2. Add some black beans.

3. Add some cooked chicken and the Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce.

4. Sprinkle on some cheese.

5. Add some Taco Sauce (page 159 from A Recipe for Survival) or Sister’s Salsa (page 155 from A Recipe for Survival.)

6. Add some fresh, chopped cilantro and lettuce, along with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

7. Sometimes, we include a batch of chips, made from the Tortilla recipe on page 115 of A Recipe for Survival.

Family Memories in February and Best Brussels Sprouts

This year, February marked a time of meditating on my family’s heritage. Brody and I reached the point of being willing to part with a fairly large electronic device from the 1960’s which I had purchased in an estate sale while living in Kansas. The beautiful and (still working) record player by Magnavox was actually two good-sized pieces of furniture since the second speaker was detached from the playing unit and also served as storage for records.

We didn’t take a picture of the player and speaker since a local electronics dealer was willing to buy them sight unseen. Housed in lovely wooden cabinets, the player and speaker were both beautiful to behold and useful for playing the old records I had received from both of my grandmas. However, Brody and I thought it wise to sell it while still in working condition. We did not want to spend time trying to find the parts for the old electrical tube-style components when the time came to fix it.

I had a set of records from the collection I received from my dad’s mom which I still had not listened to. I wanted to hear this particular set before we sold the record player since this set of records played an important role in my family’s heritage:

Record Set

As a teenager, my dad was often tasked with watching out for his younger brother. Uncle Phil really enjoyed listening to this account of how God used the lives and deaths of Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian to reach a group of people in Ecuador who had not yet heard the Gospel. Both my dad and Uncle Phil remember listening to this account over and over. Both of them became missionaries, due in part, to the examples of these five men. I had heard from my dad and Uncle Phil about this record set and the impact it had on their lives, but I had never taken the time to listen to it until just recently. When I think of how God used my experiences as a missionary kid to shape me, I am thankful for the impact God allowed this record set to have in my dad’s life.

Now and then, I search Google for “Elliot” or “Saint” to check on how the widow of Jim Elliot is doing and how the son of Nate Saint is faring. Recently, I found an interesting blog, ClearingCustoms, with a little update on both. This blog documents very well the sources used in writing the article, in case readers are interested in learning more about the lives and ministries of the Saint and Elliot families.

The above blog refers to Shadow of the Almighty The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, by Elisabeth Elliot. In early February, we discovered Brody’s copy of this in a box in our garage, so I finally read it.

I was challenged by the lives and devotion of all the missionaries mentioned both on the record set and in Shadow of the Almighty. I also was encouraged by the epilogues quoted in the above-mentioned Clearing Customs blog.

My parents served the Piapoco tribe in Colombia as linguists and translators for most of the years in which they lived in Colombia. My parents’ main focus was to translate the New Testament into Piapoco and teach them to read and write. Early in my childhood, my family would travel to the Piapoco village two to three times per year and live with our Piapoco friends for four to six weeks at a time.

Living in their village during these times helped me know from a young age how simple life can be. When we stayed in the village, we lived as much like the Piapocos as possible. For example, we lived in a house made of mud and palm leaves,

Our Little House on the Colombian Prairie

my parents cooked over a wood fire,

Our Simple Kitchen

and we washed our clothes in a bucket with a toilet plunger to provide the agitation. Using the stove above was easier on my parents’ backs than using a fire on the ground level, and the bucket and toilet plunger system was easier than hauling our clothes down to the creek and back.

Clothes Washing Brigade

Washing Clothes in the Kitchen

My Piapoco friends had very, very few material possessions and few comforts that are so common in the the U.S. But, they still found joy in life.

Fun Times with Friends

Now and then, when I find myself tempted to complain about my life, I remember how difficult life is for most of the people of the world.

Dish Washing Time

Simply having clean, running water in my kitchen so I can cook and wash dishes is an unheard of luxury for the majority of the world.

And now for the connection to February! My parents recognized that living in the Piapoco village meant my brother and I would leave some of our luxuries behind at the missions center for those weeks. So, they instituted some traditions during our stays in the village so that, along with the difficulties unique to the visit, we also had some special, fun traditions unique to our time in the village.

Perhaps my favorite special tradition was to celebrate Valentine’s Day every other Sunday while we were in the village. All four of us made Valentine’s Day cards to exchange. My mom reused two heart-shaped cardboard candy boxes, one red, and one pink, both from Russell Stover, each “Valentine’s Sunday” to deliver a special candy bar to my brother and me. So, my brother and I grew up with multiple Valentine’s celebrations throughout the year. Perhaps that’s why both he and I still enjoy celebrating special days multiple times! Since he and his wife were matched on eharmony on the 17th of April in 2007, my brother celebrated the 17th of every month after that by giving her a gift!

Now that I’m married to Brody, we have the additional celebration of his birthday on Valentine’s Day. The first year that we were married, I didn’t want Valentine’s Day to overshadow his birthday. So, taking strips of paper and my calligraphy pen, I wrote out 25 reasons I loved him and then hid them, with a little bit of candy, all over the house and the car over the course of several days leading up to his birthday. His enthusiasm over finding the notes showed me that I had stumbled onto a great yearly tradition for us. Since then, I’ve planned the 14 Days of Birthday Celebrations from February 1 through the 14th each year.

Birthday and Valentine's Celebrations

As his diet has changed, I’ve had to prepare different goodies for him instead of buying him candy. One year, I developed the Birthday Danish recipe (page 164 in A Recipe for Survival.) At some point, I’ll take pictures of this recipe and post them; for now, here’s a much more healthful recipe….  🙂

BEST Brussels Sprouts

BEST Brussels Sprouts

Your taste buds will rave!

1) Wash and halve the sprouts.

2) Melt enough coconut oil in a metal pie plate or something similar to coat both the sprouts and the pan.

3) Add the sprouts to the pan; stir to coat them in the oil. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 Tbsp lime juice.

4) Broil the sprouts until they are the desired color, stirring and turning them from time to time for even browning.

5) Enjoy the BEST Brussels Sprouts!

 

Our Short Lifespans and “Shorties”

Gluten-free Portable Shorties

Recently, Brody read The Conviction to Lead, by Albert Mohler. He read parts of it aloud to me and very few of Mohler’s points impacted me as much as his reminder of our short lifespans.  He shared in this book that he keeps a replica of a human skull on his writing desk to remind himself of the passing of time. What a great reminder! Our short time on earth will soon be over. I was challenged to consider what I’m doing with the rest of my time before eternity begins for me.

This year, I’ll turn 39, and since my mom passed away before she was 49, I recently wondered if I, too, had entered my last decade. In reality, any one of us could enter eternity at any moment as a strong earthquake reminded me a couple of weeks ago. Just as I can’t control the shaking of the earth, so also I do not have any control over the length of my life. I’m glad that the One who does control all things is good and righteous, and therefore, can be trusted.

So teach us to number our days
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

May I live more wisely each day, with the Lord’s help, applying His Word to my life.

Some years ago, I visited a friend in Asia. While there, I loved sampling the local cuisine. My favorite item was a snack, often served with tea, or carried on a day trip as a bite of on-the-go nourishment. I tasted a few different varieties, but they all had three things in common:

1) a filling of spicy meat

2) a breading holding it all together

3) a very cute appearance, either little cylinders, roughly 2″ in length or little cakes, roughly 2″ in diameter.

The tasty treats were either baked or fried and I still remember them fondly these 8 years later!

One day toward the end of my visit, my friend’s friend invited us to stop by for tea. I honestly thought I knew what these treats had been called in previous days. But, when my friend heard me say for the second or third time, “Please pass the shorties,” she whispered in my ear, “They’re called “Short Eats.” I was a little embarrassed, but not too much since I thought “Shorties” were an appropriate name – perhaps more fitting – due to the cute factor of the tasty treats’ appearances.

Recently, I had fun making my own version of Shorties, and thought I’d share the results with you.

I started with my Chicken Curry recipe, and then used my Tortilla recipe (page 115 in A Recipe for Survival) or Naan recipe to enclose the meat. The lighting in this photo didn’t show the deep color from the turmeric very well; I’m still figuring out the best ways to photograph the yummy food. It always tastes better than it looks!

Gluten-free Chicken Curry

The first time I made the Shorties, I melted some coconut oil in a frying pan and then tried to roll out my tortilla recipe.

Gluten-free Tortilla Dough

But, since I experimented with coconut oil as a replacement for some of the butter in the dough, the tortillas fell apart much more quickly due to the lower melting point of the coconut oil.

Tortilla preparation

Rolling out Tortillas

I also tried rolling out a rectangular shape of the dough in order to slice the long Shorty into many small Shorties.

Shorties Prep

That didn’t work out really well, so I tried making a little rectangle and making the Shorties individually.

Wrapping up Shorties

After a few attempts, I found the fastest way was to follow the basic pattern I used when making Birthday Danish (pages 164-166 in A Recipe for Survival.) I rolled out one circle of dough, added a little filling and then placed another round bit of dough on top of it, pinched the edges together and eased the Shorty off the counter and into the hot oil.

Filling Shorties

Frying Little Shorties

Frying More Little Shorties

I quickly gave up my attempts to make the Shorties super cute for a tea, and chose to make larger ones that still tasted great and took less time to create.Frying Larger Shorties

My neighbor answered my call for help to photograph my progress for the blog so I wouldn’t smear tortilla dough and chicken curry all over my camera. She suggested that some fresh cilantro would taste yummy with the Shorties; we tried it and loved it! Thanks to my friend and also to Brody for their help in the photography!

A few days later, I used the Naan recipe to make a different version of Shorties.

Shorties in Abundance

The bottom of anything made with the Naan recipe browns very nicely compared to the top.

Baked Shorties

Some tasty tea, cashew nuts and fresh fruit rounded out our mini meal of Shorties. My friend and I enjoyed the fruit of our labors and then shared them with our hubbies.

Shorties and Tea - a Great Mini Meal

These portable and nourishing snacks have a very short lifespan in our home!