Tag Archives: Gluten-free cookbook

The Beauty of Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Psalm 33:10-11

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;

He frustrates the plans of the peoples.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever,

The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

 

Psalm 135:6

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does,

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

A Flavorful Five Years!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Permeating Flavors

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Herb/Garlic Crock Pot Chicken

 ¼ cup water

2 lbs chicken breasts

2 tsp dried parsley

3 large sage leaves

a sprinkling of dried thyme

4” fresh rosemary

1/8 tsp ground cloves

a sprinkling of ground nutmeg

salt

black pepper

10” fresh oregano

2 garlic cloves

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

Thanksgiving, Part V: Thankful for Family Recipes

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

 Candy’s Dressing

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

 Crusty Dinner Rolls (find the recipe here)

2 Tbsp butter

Roughly 2 cups diced celery

1 clove garlic, diced

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

Pan drippings from cooking turkey, roughly 2 cups

1 egg,  beaten

thyme, nutmeg, black pepper, salt to taste

3 large sage leaves

3” fresh rosemary

additional butter to oil the cast iron skillet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Aguantar Turkey Livers

 1 turkey liver

1-2 Tbsp butter

1 garlic clove

salt, black pepper to taste

paprika (a few sprinkles)

tapioca flour (roughly ¼ cup)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Slightly Sweet Cranberry Sauce

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

1 cup water

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

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

2. Wash and rinse the cranberries.

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

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

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

No Debt; No Doubt!

When I bought my first house in Kansas, I carefully figured out my monthly budget and how much I could pay each month after making the down payment. Other than owing my dad about a thousand dollars after I finished college, I had never owed money to anyone before deciding to buy the house. Since I viewed the home as an appreciating asset, I thought it was a good investment, but taking on a big debt was still a major life change for me.

 Roughly six weeks after buying the home, I began to wonder where I was supposed to send the monthly mortgage payment. I had thought it was a monthly payment, so surely I should have been sending a check somewhere, just as I did when I had paid rent at the beginning of each month for my first apartment. I asked a friend what she thought; her response was a question, “Didn’t the mortgage company give you a little booklet with payment slips to mail in each month?” No… I hadn’t received that…. “Didn’t the mortgage company send you a bill for the beginning of the month?” No… I hadn’t received anything from them in the mail…. And so I began to dig around among all the papers in my mortgage file, found a phone number and dialed it.

 The phone number was to the automated account information system. I keyed in my account number, and to my astonishment, I heard the message, “Your debt is paid in full. No more payments are due.”

 Wow – what a feeling to have a home with a large yard paid for, when I had expected to continue paying on the mortgage for a long time! I was amazed and really couldn’t believe it. I asked my mentor at work, and he asked if I perhaps had a relative or former school teacher who wanted to anonymously give me a wonderful gift. But, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could have discovered where my account was in order to pay off my debt without my knowledge. For a few days, I was elated to have received such a gift – a home with no debt… but, I still had some doubts – some questions as to how or why this came about. I decided to write a letter to my real estate agent since I needed to thank him for his house-warming gift anyway.

 Through that, one discovery led to another… and yes, I still had a debt for my home. The sellers had used the same mortgage company to buy their new home, and the staff mistakenly assigned to me the credit due to the sellers, instead of crediting that value to them toward their new down payment. “Well,” I thought, “I did experience the wonderful feeling of having a debt canceled while receiving an exceptional gift….”

 And that reminded me of an even greater debt of mine that had been paid in full by my Savior. However, I can immediately think of two big differences between my spiritual debt and my house mortgage. The first difference is collateral – in the case of my financial debt, I had a house as collateral that I could sell to finish paying the debt. In the case of my spiritual debt, I had absolutely nothing in my account to pay the debt I owed God due to my sin. Even my “good deeds” were as filthy rags in His sight.

 Secondly, in the case of a house mortgage, the payments were based on my budget – had I continued at the rate I was going, the house would have been paid for in 12 years. However, my spiritual debt was insurmountable. My sin against an infinitely holy God meant I owed an infinite debt. Only He could pay the debt I owed Him, and He graciously chose to. He kindly chose to remove my hard heart and give me a heart that is soft towards Him, and He showed unbelievable grace in paying my debt to Him. As my pastor has reminded us, God absorbed within the Trinity His own wrath against my sin.

 There’s a similarity in these experiences, too – a credit was applied to my account. In the case of my house mortgage, the staff mistakenly credited my account, thereby canceling my debt. But in the case of my spiritual debt, God intentionally credited my account. He gave me the perfect record of Jesus, who lived a truly human life while perfectly keeping all of God’s moral law. Knowing that my spiritual debt is paid is even better than hearing that my house mortgage has disappeared…. And I have a better and lasting home in Heaven due to God’s grace to me! I truly have no debt with God AND I have a home of my own, and this time, there’s no doubt!

 Pictured is my Yummy Hummus recipe. Yummy Hummus is my favorite way to eat garbanzo beans, and crackers are my favorite addition to hummus. The crackers are from the cookbook and are one of the Sample Recipes on this site. I have discovered since we printed the book that the xanthan gum is not necessary, so I now omit it. I made the darker crackers using roasted quinoa and tapioca flour and the lighter ones from rice flour and tapioca flour. For the Yummy Hummus recipe, I started with the recipe from VitaMix in their Whole Food Recipes Copyright 2010, page 102. I made some changes to fit with my way of cooking and the ingredients I have on hand, and here’s the result:

 

Yummy Hummus

 1 cup dry garbanzo beans

2 Tbsp ground flax seed

3 Tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

salt, black pepper to taste

fresh oregano (optional)

 

1. Rinse and then soak the garbanzo beans overnight.

2. Cook the beans until they are tender enough to pierce them with a fork.

3. Add the beans and 1 cup of the liquid from the beans to the Vitamix along with the flax seed, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin.

4. Starting on low and then switching to high speed, blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

5. Add salt and black pepper to achieve the taste you like.

6. Add fresh oregano if you like.

Making Level Paths or Watching Our Ways

Our experience with food often reminds us of a spiritual truth. In my case, I know that I show very little restraint once I start eating chocolate candies. This reminds me of what I used to tell my Sunday School students before we settled in for the lesson portion of the morning. I suggested that they choose not to sit next to someone they would be tempted to talk with. I gave the class a little time to choose seats that would be most helpful for them to listen well. Some of my students chose to sit in the far corner of the room with my helper since that was the least distracting place for them. I encouraged my students to make it easy for themselves to follow the rules of the classroom. 

With chocolate, I choose to make it easy for myself to avoid overindulging simply by not buying much chocolate in the first place. I stop my overindulgence at the point of purchase in the store. If I had more self-control in this realm, I could stop my overindulgence at the point of serving myself chocolate in our home. I know that eating too much chocolate will make it difficult to accomplish what I need to each day, so I prefer to avoid too much of it. For Brody, he knows that he feels and functions best if he completely avoids the ingredients that really affect him negatively and also does not overindulge in the food we make. Even food that is designed to avoid his problems will cause him difficulties if he overindulges. These weaknesses of ours may not be your weaknesses, but you can substitute your example from your life.

The very real physical ramifications of our food choices serve as reminders for us in other areas of our life. There are times I struggle more with complaining that God has not blessed me the way I want to be blessed in my life. If I continue down the path of self-pity, I know I won’t be able to function well since a lack of joy quickly corresponds to a lack of physical energy for me. Either too much chocolate or focusing on self-pitying thoughts will hinder my ability to serve God throughout the day. So, when the first thoughts of self-pity begin, I can choose to change my focus through meditating on the Bible verse I’m memorizing or by praying for others facing challenging times.

These kinds of choices remind me of Proverbs 4:25-26 – if you haven’t read these verses lately, they may also help you as they have helped me. Consider your ways – make level paths for your feet! Make it easy for yourself to turn away from temptation! Of course whether or not I’ve “done well” today to avoid my besetting sins has zero impact on whether God loves and accepts me today. His love and acceptance of me are based completely on His choice to give me the perfect record of Jesus of Nazareth and to credit me with Jesus’ payment for my sin. I simply want to serve Him well out of love for what He’s done for me; I’m not earning His favor or smile today.

When we went to Montana in July, we were thankful that Brody’s dad had set up appointments for us to visit with 3 stores who were willing to display our book! For those of you who are near Lewistown, MT, you can still find a few copies available at The Pantry and Keystone Christian Supply, both on Main Street and also at Albertsons. We heard from The Pantry yesterday that they would like more copies! So we are thankful to partner with them and looking forward to fulfilling that request. To celebrate the good news that they need more copies, Brody and I made one of our favorites from A Recipe for Survival: Chicken Tacos (page 123) with Sister’s Salsa (page 155) and fresh Tortillas (page 115). Since this is one of our favorites, I asked Brody if he wanted me to put away the leftovers before we finished our first serving. (We had learned on previous occasions that we regret a second helping even though we really enjoy the taste and texture of the food.) Brody said yes, so we made it easier for ourselves to eat what we needed and instead of eating simply for pleasure – I put away the leftovers before we ate our tacos… and the result was satisfaction without the pain of overeating! 🙂  And of course that also meant… leftovers for tonight so there is less work for today’s meals!

 

 

Physical and Spiritual Nourishment

I’ve enjoyed some experimentation with new recipes and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you when I have finished tweaking them. In the meantime, here’s a picture of our Meatless Minestrone (page 131). I’ve been surprised with how satisfying this meal is! A bowl of this soup, along with some almonds and fresh fruit gives me energy for many hours. Since I’m very interested in lowering my cholesterol numbers, I’m busily researching meals that contain less meat, but still are satisfying. Brody needs more meat than I do, so in a given meal, he might eat a larger serving of Chicken Italiano than I do, and I will eat more Meatless Minestrone than he does. The dish that is a small side dish for one is the main course for the other person and vice versa. I make all the recipes safe for him (no gluten, oats, corn, potatoes or onions) so everything is an option for both of us – we just choose different amounts based on our specific needs. I am glad I’m not making 6 meals per day as I was in the beginning of our marriage when I was trying to figure out why he got sick from everything I served!

On the subject of spiritual nourishment, my friend, Mindy, has a wonderful tool for parents or for those who would like to make a gift for their friends’ children. Her Internet site is having a promotion Sept 24-25! Check out Mindy’s site for the details.  Click on the button below to transfer to her site.

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5 Years and Counting…..Chicken Pot Pie to Celebrate!

This past weekend, Brody and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary of our engagement! He brought home two dozen beautiful roses – you can see one in the photo that I cut short to wear in my hair one day and then I set it in the cup of water to revive it a little. I made Chicken Pot Pie (page 120-121) tonight and we enjoyed the texture and flavor all over again. When I made this recipe for one of my taste-testers a few moths ago, she was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out! I really like the crust – it’s tender, but still sturdy enough to hold up and not become soggy. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the pressures we feel in this life. When I remember that the pressures are from a gentle Potter’s Hands as He molds me into the image of His Son, the difficulties feel less burdensome. When I focus on His wisdom in designing each of my trials, I am amazed at how He works in my life. He brings the trial and provides a kindness to help me bear up under the pressure. For example, years ago, my headaches did not cause me as much pain as they do now, but, in recent years, Brody has rediscovered the piano and has eased my suffering many times by playing songs that minister to me. On the other hand, he suffered from digestive challenges for years and when these difficulties became severe, God also helped me to figure out some recipes that would not make him sick, would provide him with nourishment, taste good, and have an acceptable texture. We are thankful for how God has provided for both of us in our marriage. May you also see God’s kindnesses to you today!