Category Archives: New Recipes

Celebrating the Sweet with the Sour

The Lord supplied our every need in June as we faced some very busy days while helping Grandma prepare for and recover from back surgery. We are thankful for all those who supported us through prayer, and we praise the Lord for His grace to us. I was particularly amazed that I didn’t miss any work and also didn’t get any of my horrible headaches. We were very thankful that my aunt and uncle were here and able to assist Grandma quite a bit. We were also thankful for the many doctors, nurses, aides and others who served Grandma and who continue to serve her in her rehab stage.

So, we made it through June and then my neighbors heard the unfamiliar sounds of my dusting and vacuuming, and a day or so later, our company arrived! We enjoyed a week with Brody’s parents.

Since we had more hands available, I was able to take some photos I usually can’t take on my own. For example, here’s an action shot! 🙂

Our Special Gluten-free breakfast

On one of the mornings, Brody prepared our Pancakes from page 86 of A Recipe for Survival.

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We discovered a gluten-free chicken sausage at Costco recently, so he added that to the special breakfast. On most of the other mornings, we enjoyed Quinoa Cereal from page 87 in A Recipe for Survival. Lately, I’ve been enjoying it with ground flaxseed, rice bran, cinnamon, raisins, chia seeds and goat milk. This morning, I skipped the ground flaxseed since we had run out and I didn’t want to take the time to grind it.

A gluten-free breakfast

One day, we packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed some time at the beach.

Beach time

Brody found some shells to add to his mom’s collection.

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Mom graciously allowed us to use her head as pedestal for the food for this photo of our Crackers, Chicken Broccoli Kale Slaw, and Lemon Cake with Strawberries and Lemon icing. We still have a few paper plates from our wedding reception, so we used them for our picnic.

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Here’s a shot of the first time I made the lemon cake with strawberries some months ago:

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To make the cake, simply follow the directions for Chocolate Cake on page  174 of A Recipe for Survival, but omit the chocolate and substitute hot lemon juice for the hot water. To make the Lemon Icing, put roughly 2 Tbsp of lemon juice in a bowl and then add powdered sugar until it’s the consistency you prefer.

We love the combination of the slightly sweet and slightly sour! It reminds me of June this year for us … we had some difficult days, but the way the Lord gave us all that we needed at every moment added sweetness to the sour moments.

Blessed be the Lord,

Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;

Therefore my heart exults,

And with my song I shall thank Him.

Psalm 28:6-7

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.

April Thanksgiving: Great Things He Has Done

This year, my birthday celebrations included a gift from God… Brody received a promotion at his job! He had been applying to this position in various locations around the country for about 18 months, and finally the position became available here at his own office. He applied again, and this time, received the position. We found out on my birthday! We praise the Lord for His kind provision for us all these years through Brody’s previous position and for His blessing of a new position which Brody loves. It’s a natural fit for his abilities and will give him opportunity to grow in new ways as well.

I immediately thought of Psalm 126 when we found out about his promotion. While this Psalm is specifically about the Israelites’ return from captivity, I can relate to their joy and praise to God for the great things He has done for them as well as for us. This definitely seems like a dream come true; I had even said to Brody 18 months ago that if the position were available at his local office that would be wonderful! So far, he’s enjoying settling into his new office and responsibilities and is very thankful for the support of his coworkers.

One of Brody’s coworkers jokingly mentioned that as the newest arrival in the office, he needed to bring in a cake, and that carrot cake was his favorite. Since we had already developed a carrot cake recipe that works for Brody, he said he would bring it in. Another coworker, overhearing the conversation, asked if the recipe is in our book since he already had purchased a copy of A Recipe for Survival. When Brody mentioned this conversation to me, I decided it was time to post the photo of our Brody-safe carrot cake along with the instructions to modify the Chocolate Cake on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival. So, while he’s busily baking, I’m preparing this post. 🙂 He’ll take the cake to work tomorrow, and we’ll see how the office likes the recipe!

Gluten-free, Corn-free, Potato-free Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Follow the recipe on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival for Chocolate Cake and make these modifications:

A Recipe for Survival Modifications for Carrot Cake

If you have any questions on the modifications, just ask for clarification! Enjoy! And remember to thank the Lord and praise Him publicly for the great things He has done for you.

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, 

We were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter

And our tongue with joyful shouting;

Then they said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us;

We are glad.    Psalm 126:1-3 NASB

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!

 

Discernment and a New Family Favorite

About a year ago, I posted this photo when I was linking up with Deep Roots at Home. I had cooked this meal of broccoli, rice, and pork with pomegranate juice since someone had given us a couple of pomegranates.

This was my first time to process a pomegranate and I enjoyed a quiet time of removing the undesirable parts from the beautiful and tasty portion.

 

We exercise discernment when we put things into our mouths; shouldn't we also exercise discernment regarding what we take into our minds and hearts?

We exercise discernment when we put things into our mouths; shouldn’t we also exercise discernment regarding what we take into our minds and hearts?

I selected a couple of sermons which Brody had downloaded from the Grace To You website and benefited from listening to John MacArthur’s sermons on discernment.

Principles for Discernment Part 1

Principles for Discernment Part 2

Principles for Discernment Part 3

As I was making a physical distinction between the savory and unsavory parts of the pomegranates, I was listening to these sermons on the importance of distinguishing between truth and half-truth…. and I wondered:

How often each day do we exercise discernment regarding what we put into mouths…? Well, maybe not as often as we should! Right?

But, I suspect that we exercise even less discernment regarding what we accept into our thinking, or into our hearts.

May God lead us in His truth and teach us each day!  Psalm 25:4-6

Last year, when I ground up the pomegranate seeds and separated the seeds from the juice, I developed a new recipe to use the seeds. Brody liked it so well that I decided to share it with my brother’s extended family at Thanksgiving this past fall.

Once again, the desire not to waste anything that could be useful produced a companion recipe that was a real favorite among our family members! Enjoy!

 

Everywhere we look, we can see God's handiwork in His beautiful and orderly creation!

Everywhere we look, we can see God’s handiwork in His beautiful and orderly creation!

Family Favorite Appetizers

1. Prepare a batch of Crackers (See page 111 in A Recipe for Survival, or see the Sample Recipes tab on this site). Remember that you can omit the xanthan gum with perfectly acceptable results. You can opt for the variation that uses coconut oil, chia seeds and sunflower seeds. If you’d like to add the additional fun of shapes, use cookie cutters to shape the cracker dough before baking.

2. Exercise discernment 🙂 and separate the pomegranate seeds from the rest of the fruit. Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation! Brody always comments that the seeds remind him of my wedding set. 🙂 He chose rubies because I had memorized Proverbs 31 in the New International Version when I was in college. (Note verse 10.)

Rubies remind us of Proverbs 31 in the NIV.

Rubies remind us of Proverbs 31 in the NIV.

3. Grind up the seeds in a blender or Vitamix.

4. Strain out the seeds. The juice can be enjoyed as a tasty drink or as a marinade for pork.

5. Press a clove or two of garlic and combine with 1 stick of butter. Add a 1″ piece of fresh ginger root, minced.

6. Spread the crackers with the garlic-ginger-butter. Top with the pomegranate seeds, share with your family and watch them disappear! These were a hit among our family at Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Big Bro

I developed this recipe in order to use up the pomegranate seeds that were left after grinding them up and straining them out of the juice for a marinade.

I developed this recipe in order to use up the pomegranate seeds that were left after grinding them up and straining them out of the juice for a marinade.

 

 

Grace and Jury Duty, Part 3 (and Chicken Tortilla Soup!)

The second day of Jury Duty concluded with a vote at 5 p.m. in the deliberation room. Since the votes were not unanimous, we knew that we would have to return for at least one more day. I think it’s safe to say that many in the room were disappointed that we had to return for another day.

As I drove home that night, I felt angry when I considered the possibility that the final outcome would be a hung jury. This presented an opportunity for me to recognize my pride from a new angle. True, I cared about justice being served.

 

However, after a little thinking, I realized that I also was angry about the possibility of a hung jury because I felt as if I would be part of a failing effort if we didn’t reach a verdict. I didn’t want to be a part of “losing” team.

Since I couldn’t discuss the topic with anyone outside the jury until after the case closed, I reasoned with myself. (Yes, I talk to myself under other circumstances, too. 🙂 Don’t you?)

 

Anyway, just as I had meditated on God’s Word on Day 1 of Jury Duty to counteract my anxious feelings arising from fretful thinking, I reminded myself of the truth to assist in addressing my anger. The truth was that I was only responsible for my own decisions, not the decisions of other human beings. I was only responsible to God for how I voted based on the evidence presented in court and the judge’s instructions to the jury. How the other jurors voted was their responsibility. I was being prideful in thinking that I should be in control of, and responsible for, the final vote of the jury.

The possibility of a hung jury also cast in a new light my prideful feelings that I deserve always to be on a “winning” or “successful” team. My feelings of shame at the thought of being a part of a “failing” effort were evidence that I was prideful. I needed to repent of my sin of pride. In the event that we never reached a verdict, I needed to be prepared not to feel shame for having served on a hung jury.

 

As far as the more noble reason for my anger, that of justice being served, I made myself remember that God is the ultimate Judge.

I reminded myself that even if a human being “gets away” with breaking laws during his life here on earth, God sees everything and each of us will give an account to Him one day. Hebrews 4:12-13

 

Furthermore, God may graciously choose to grant even the “vilest offender” repentance of his sins here on earth, and that sinner, like me, will praise Him for His grace in saving us. All of us humans are sinners before God, and our only hope for a relationship with God and eternal life with Him is in God’s mercy and grace.

 

At the end of the 3rd day, we jurors concluded that further deliberation was not going to change the outcome. We took a final vote and informed the judge that we had been unable to reach a verdict. Shortly after that, we were all done with our responsibilities as jurors and were free to go our separate ways. One of the attorneys still remembered that the court had changed the schedule to allow me to take our trip, and wished me “Happy Anniversary!” as we parted. 🙂

 

Brody and I were able to take our trip as planned for our 5th anniversary. I was sick before the trip and afterwards, too, but during the trip, I was headache-and-respiratory-infection-free! God was gracious to give us that special time to reflect on the gift of 5 years of life together. We really enjoyed our stay aboard the Queen Mary, even with the excitement of a fire alarm at 7 a.m. the last morning we were there. We’ve returned a couple of times to visit the Queen Mary, and we are always pleased with how the restaurants on board the ship work with us to accommodate Brody’s dietary restrictions. Here’s a picture from our stay on the ship:

Our 5th Anniversary Aboard the Queen Mary

Looking back on those 3 days of Jury Duty, I am now thankful for the experience.

  • Now I’m glad that God didn’t give me my first choice of reading a good book in the jury assembly room for a day and then being sent home since I wasn’t needed to serve on any cases. Had I missed out on the experience of being on the jury, I would have missed out on all the ways that God showed His understanding of my physical limitations.
  • I am glad that I had practice in using Scripture to take control of my growing anxiety – anxiety that was making me physically ill!
  • I am thankful for another view of my sin of pride so that I could become aware of it and repent. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit is working in my life, gradually using the truth of Scripture and the circumstances of my life to mold me into the image of God’s Son, Jesus.
  • I am thankful that one of the jurors purchased a copy of A Recipe for Survival! 🙂
  • Finally, I am thankful for the courtroom experience giving me a fresh view of God’s grace in His redemptive plan. I’ll write more about that soon!

 

I hope I remember for a long time how anxious I had been on Day 1 of Jury Duty in contrast with how God showed me through the next few days that He’s at work for my good. And while He’s at work for my good, He’s lovingly making it possible for me to endure the troubles and grow in my relationship with Him.

 

Recently I thought about Chicken Tortilla Soup and decided it’d be fun to try making a version that would work for Brody. I reviewed this recipe to get a starting point for making the soup.

Then I considered the recipes I already had been using for Brody that could serve as building blocks for this tasty meal. In time, I came up with two different ways to achieve this final state of yumminess.

 

The first way helps me use up some leftovers from a Chicken Taco meal. Often, cooking the chicken in the skillet as described in A Recipe for Survival (page 123) results in some very flavorful drippings that would soak the tortillas too much to use in the tacos. We use a slotted spoon to serve the chicken on the tacos, leaving behind the drippings. Instead of throwing away all that good flavor, I now use those drippings, along with the leftover Sister’s Salsa (page 155) to be the base of my Tortilla Soup. I add some water, if needed, to make the final product “soupy” enough along with some cooked chicken and bring the mixture to a boil. The leftover tortillas from the Chicken Taco meal are an excellent chewy side to enjoy with the soup. Or if I have time, I enjoy frying up those leftover tortillas in some grape seed oil to make our own chips.

 

The second way I make this soup is to cook some chicken in the crockpot, along with salt, pepper, minced garlic cloves and water. I save the liquid from the crockpot and use that as the chicken broth for the base of the soup. If I don’t have leftover salsa, I simply add some frozen or fresh tomatoes along with the seasonings from the Sister’s Salsa and Chicken Taco recipes, along with some cooked chicken and bring the mixture to a boil. If I don’t have leftover tortillas, I can prepare a batch of Tortillas (page 115 in A Recipe for Survival) and then instead of cooking them on a griddle, I roll out the dough and then cut it into strips and fry them up in a little grape seed oil. The resulting chips are fantastic!

Either way, we enjoy topping our soup with cheese, fresh cilantro, and avocado. We munch on the chips as a side to the meal instead of placing them at the bottom of the soup bowl since we don’t want soggy chips.

 

One day I wanted to prepare a photogenic bowl of our tasty soup to have on file for whenever I got around to posting the recipe. I specifically bought avocados and carefully sliced them for the presentation. Then I prepared the bowl of soup and took several photos so I could select the best one. I thought I was done, and then turned around and noticed the avocados hadn’t made the photo shoot!

A tasty way to use up leftovers from a Chicken Taco meal!

A tasty way to use up leftovers from a Chicken Taco meal!

By then, the soup was cooling off and I wanted to eat, so I tossed them on the soup in a most unceremonious fashion, took one more shot and then joined Brody for our meal. That’s why the avocados are not posing as well as they perhaps could, but I am sure that they were smiling for the camera as well as any inanimate portion of food can. 🙂 This Chicken Tortilla Soup is now one of our favorite meals!

Avocados make anything taste better! :)

Avocados make anything taste better! 🙂

Jury Duty and Grace, Part 2 (and some ideas for a luncheon or tea!)

The day before I reported for Jury Duty, I spent the entire day in bed due to the pain of a really bad headache. I had suffered a face/neck injury 5 years earlier when I collided with another person while playing a game of “Capture the Flag” as a counselor at a youth camp. At the time of my jury duty, I still had not wanted to spend the money on physical therapy for my neck.

The old injury seemed to plague me whenever I bumped my head even slightly, or when I pushed myself physically, not taking time to rest and stretch my neck and back muscles throughout the day. So, I was anxious that I would develop a “shutdown headache.” That’s the kind of headache that sends me to bed, curled up in a ball of pain, unable even to open my eyes.

So, as Day Two of Jury Duty unfolded, I was still really hoping that I wouldn’t be chosen for the jury due to my concerns about my neck/head pain as well as wanting to keep our anniversary trip plans. As part of the selection process, our judge asked if any of us would endure “severe economic hardship” by serving on the case, or if we had a medical reason to be excused such as “dialysis required” or “heart surgery scheduled.” I knew that my worries didn’t fall into those categories, so I decided not to attempt to present my “needs” to get out of serving on the case. I knew that I would be extremely nervous to speak in front of the whole court and 50-some prospective jurors, presenting my case, so I decided to just accept whatever came.

When I was called into the box to be Juror #11, I knew that I likely would not be “thanked and excused” by the attorneys. As much as I really didn’t want to be sitting in my seat, I realized there was another seat I was REALLY thankful I wasn’t sitting in – the defendant’s seat.

Late that morning, the 12 jurors plus 1 alternate were chosen, and the rest of the prospective jurors were excused. In one sense I was relieved – at least I knew that I would be serving on the case, and I no longer was wondering what would happen.

Then the judge turned to us and said, “Now, before I swear you in, I just want to make sure you’re all going to be okay with our schedule for the trial; for example, none of you has plane tickets to Sweden for this weekend…”

Since the judge seemed much less severe – even friendly and relaxed – in his tone and demeanor and because the audience was much smaller – 13 jurors instead of more than 50 prospective jurors, I felt comfortable to speak up. I explained that we had made arrangements for our 5th anniversary which would create a schedule conflict if the trial continued into the following week as planned. I realized that it wasn’t as big a deal as plane tickets to Sweden, but for us, our trip was a big deal. We had made arrangements for it, and a one-hour road trip to stay aboard the Queen Mary was a big deal to us since our health challenges made longer trips seem impossibly difficult. I shared that Brody and I would be okay if it didn’t work out for us to take our trip as planned. We had already considered that possibility when we chose not to ask for an extension on my Jury Duty six weeks earlier when I received my summons after having made the arrangements for our trip.

The judge made a quick phone call and met with the attorneys for a minute or two, and then announced that the schedule for the trial would change to accommodate my trip! I am still amazed at how God worked out the details for us to take that trip. I am also thankful that the whole court was willing to accommodate my preferences. I really appreciated that the court demonstrated a reasonable attitude. As it turned out, the gentleman sitting next to me in the jury box was relieved for the schedule change, too, since he was leading a meeting with several coworkers the next week. All those coworkers would have had to cancel their plane and hotel arrangements, causing a great financial cost to his business.

I did not expect to come away from Jury Duty with a renewed sense of gratitude for God’s grace… we don’t usually associate grace with the courtroom. But that second day of Jury Duty is still fresh in my mind as a wonderful example of God’s kind working in my life.

That evening, I came home and experienced another example of God’s care. Our chiropractor, Dr. Kevin Joe of Joe Family Chiropractic, called to check in and see how we both were doing! He graciously offered us an appointment that evening to follow up after our adjustments from two days earlier. Dr. Kevin Joe has been a true blessing to us as we’ve been improving from various back and neck injuries over the years. The call from our chiropractor that evening was a clear demonstration of God’s sustaining grace to me in the midst of my difficult times. Whenever I find myself worrying about whether or not I can bear up under the strain of a difficulty without sinning, I remember this day. God faithfully provided what I needed to endure the difficulties of Jury Duty! I Corinthians 10:13 He truly bears our burdens! Psalm 68:19

 I’ll write Part 3 about my jury duty experience later.

 For now, here’s an example of how I used the Chicken-Broccoli-Kale Slaw as a tasty protein for a luncheon. The blueberry coffee cake is my gluten-free conversion of Any-Fruit Coffee Cake from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1989 Edition. If you’re interested in my recipe, just let me know! I arrived at my recipe by using the conversion technique described in  A Recipe for Survival. Since I developed the recipe around the time that God graciously provided for us to pay off our Seminary loan, we call this “Out-of-Debt Coffee Cake!” God is so good!

Chicken-Broccoli-Kale Slaw and Out of Debt Coffee Cake!

Chicken-Broccoli-Kale Slaw and Out-of-Debt Coffee Cake!

Thankful!

Last weekend, Brody and I enjoyed a few days in Tucson for my 20th year High School reunion. We’re thankful for safe travels, a wonderful time with my brother and his family as well as my aunt and uncle, and a fun time reconnecting with my classmates at the reunion. The reunion committee, Kami, Bryan, Adan, Angel, Mischelle, and Julie, pulled together a very special evening for my classmates. The buffet was excellent, and they were right – they certainly thought of everyone as they chose food options that would work for people with various diet restrictions. Brody was able to choose a delicious meal from the options. Thank you to the committee for all your hard work these past several months! You did a great job and included so many thoughtful details! I was especially thankful that we all had name tags and the name tags even had our Senior photos. I wish I could have visited more with our classmates, but we had to leave before the party was over since we had an early morning the next day.

This trip made me thankful again for my thoughtful hubby. He was a great sport to spend his time off work making sure I was able to attend the reunion and spend time with my family, too. I probably would not have driven on my own, and so I’m thankful for his willingness to help me get there. Brody and I love road trips and this one was no exception. We listened to most of J. I. Packer’s “Knowing God” on audio along with some other sermons Brody had selected for us. The weekend was a real treat for which we are thankful.

On the subject of road trips, here’s a new favorite for us:

 

Our favorite for road trips!

Our favorite for road trips!

The hummus is the same as I posted here, except I’ve added a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil since I first posted the recipe. The crackers are the same as in A Recipe for Survival (page 111), except for a healthier oil option, I’ve substituted coconut oil for the butter. For additional nutrition, I’ve added chia seeds and sunflower seeds. We love these crackers and hummus on road trips!

International Tour of Brody’s World ~ A Wedding Reception

I’m so thankful that in many ways, we’ve moved beyond simply surviving! Now that we have a little more time and energy, we’ve enjoyed the challenge of preparing gluten-free, corn-free, and potato-free food suitable for special occasions in addition to daily needs.

In 2009, when our family gathered to celebrate Christmas, I was just getting a handle on Brody’s food needs. I took some food Brody could eat along with some additional servings to share. I wanted to give our family members the opportunity to try out some of our new recipes. My brother motioned to the portion of his plate with the samples and said, “This is my taste of Brody’s World.” That moniker came to mind as I was considering what to serve our guests when we were celebrating our neighbors’ wedding a couple of months ago.

 Since I wanted to be sure Brody could safely enjoy the food at the reception, I thought through what I could serve that would be “Brody-safe” and also worthy of being served at a wedding reception. I decided on a menu of hearty appetizers and tasty desserts. Based on various recipes I had collected throughout the years of meeting people from all over the world, I came up with the following menu:

 

 

Gluten-free, Corn-free Menu for our Neighbors' Wedding Reception

Gluten-free, Corn-free Menu for our Neighbors’ Wedding Reception

 

If you click on the photo of the menu above, you’ll get to see a larger (and legible!) view. We chose a day for the reception which worked for the bride and groom and which was a day off work for both Brody and me. Brody and I had a wonderful time working together to set up our apartment and preparing the food. We really enjoy working on projects together.

We like to listen to a Gaither music video while working in our apartment

We like to listen to a Gaither music video while working in our apartment

 

Almost all ready!

Almost all ready!

 

The other guests helped by bringing some of the food items and special dinnerware needed to make the reception a success! We squeezed 7 adults into our little apartment, and everyone was a good sport with trying my experiments with the recipes.

 Since the lighting in our apartment doesn’t lend itself well to taking photos after sunset, only a few of these photos are from the reception itself. I took most of the photos on subsequent days when I made the recipes for us to enjoy again. Some of the recipes are in our book, A Recipe for Survival, and other recipes were designed specifically for this reception. If you’re interested in the recipes for the dishes shown from our book, may I suggest ordering our book? 🙂 If you would like any of the new recipes, just let me know!

The Mini Quinoa Cakes were the dish representing South America in our International Tour

The Mini Quinoa Cakes (page 95 in A Recipe for Survival) were the dish representing South America in our International Tour.

 

While it’s hard to see the crackers in this picture from the reception night, they were heart-shaped! 🙂

It's hard to see the heart-shaped crackers, but they tasted great with the hummus, representing the Mediterranean region of the world.

The crackers (page 111 in A Recipe for Survival) tasted great with the hummus, representing the Mediterranean region of the world.

You can see another view of the hummus and crackers from a previous post on this website.

For the hearty appetizers, we started with Danuta’s Snitzel. When I was thinking about making an appetizer like meatballs for the reception, I remembered a recipe given to me by Cindy during our college days. Cindy is a friend whom I met at the beginning of our junior year of high school in Tucson, AZ. We have wonderful memories from high school and college, and I’m thankful for her ongoing, albeit long-distance, friendship now. Some of our good memories center around yummy food, and her mom, Danuta Kemp, is an excellent cook! I decided this reception was the time to convert Danuta’s Snitzel recipe into a Brody-safe version.

 

How fun to convert friends' tasty recipes into versions safe for Brody!

How fun to convert friends’ tasty recipes into versions safe for Brody!

To represent Asia in our tour, I decided to prepare the Indian Style Lentils (page 94 in A Recipe for Survival) along with a new recipe, Naan. No matter which country’s cuisine I’m tasting, I seldom have met a bread I didn’t like! I have great memories of the pillowy Naan at an Indian restaurant in Kansas, so I wanted to try making a version that would work for Brody. I read some recipes online for Naan, and decided on a recipe and method that would work for the reception night. Have you heard the saying, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”? That saying was true for me in this case. I chose to bake the Naan instead of using a pan or griddle since I wanted to sit with our guests at the table for the reception and not be in the kitchen, preparing the next course. Sometimes, my very first attempt at a recipe turns out marvelously, and I was so thankful that this was the case for  the Naan experiment, since I wanted to serve it to the bride and groom and our guests that night! I followed the technique described in A Recipe for Survival to convert the recipes I found for Naan on the internet into a Brody-safe version, and everyone loved the taste and texture of the result. We have enjoyed the Naan and lentils several times since; here is a photo from a recent day:

 

We love the texture and taste of the naan, and lentils are so tasty when prepared this way!

We love the texture and taste of the naan, and lentils (page 94 from A Recipe for Survival) are so tasty when prepared this way!

For the desserts, we served Angel Food Cake with Lemon Curd and raspberries and Brenda’s Birthday Brownies with ice cream. In September last year, I began developing the brownie recipe in honor of my friend, Brenda…. and Brody has since perfected the recipe! Now that Brody is so much healthier than our dark days in 2009 and 2010, he takes an active role in improving the recipes I start. Additionally, I’m so thankful for his partnership in the daily food preparation.

More than simply surviving... we are glad we can enjoy some desserts that are yummy by others' standards, too!

More than simply surviving… we are glad we can enjoy some desserts that are yummy by others’ standards, too!

I enjoyed developing a gluten-free Angel Food Cake for this reception by converting a recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The Lemon Curd was a natural partner to the cake since I designed the curd recipe to use up all the egg yolks left over from separating the egg whites for the cake. Below is a picture of the cake from another day. Tea from my friends in Sri Lanka rounded out the dessert phase of our meal.

A tasty treat with tea... Angel Food Cake, lemon curd with raspberries and mint leaves with almonds!

A tasty treat with tea… almonds, Angel Food Cake with lemon curd, raspberries and mint leaves!

 

Finally, the reception gave me an excuse to freeze ice cubes containing raspberries and mint leaves for the lemonade. 🙂

 

I enjoyed the excuse to use my punch bowl!

I enjoyed the excuse to use my punch bowl!

If you are still struggling to find food that works for your loved one, I hope you are encouraged by our experience…. in time, and with practice, you’ll not only find foods for daily survival, you’ll find ways to thrive and really enjoy life again… you’ll just be living in a different world than you used to live in!