Category Archives: Recipe Tips

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.

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.

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

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.

 

 

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!

The Beauty of Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSCF0075

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Psalm 33:10-11

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;

He frustrates the plans of the peoples.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever,

The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

 

Psalm 135:6

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does,

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

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Permeating Flavors

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Herb/Garlic Crock Pot Chicken

 ¼ cup water

2 lbs chicken breasts

2 tsp dried parsley

3 large sage leaves

a sprinkling of dried thyme

4” fresh rosemary

1/8 tsp ground cloves

a sprinkling of ground nutmeg

salt

black pepper

10” fresh oregano

2 garlic cloves

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