Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1. Behold me here, in grief draw near,
Pleading at Thy throne oh King.
To Thee each tear, each trembling fear,
Jesus Son of Man I bring.
Let me find Thee, Let me find Thee.
Let me find Thee,
Lord of mercy King of grace.

2. Look down in love, and from above,
With Thy Spirit satisfy.
Thou hast sought me, Thou hast bought me,
And thy purchase Lord am I.
Let me find Thee, Let me find Thee.
Let me find Thee,
Here on earth and then on high. 

3. Hear the broken, scarcely spoken, 
Longings of my heart to thee 
All the crying, all the sighing, 
Of Thy child accepted be. 
Let me find Thee, Let me find Thee. 
Let me find Thee, 
Wounded healer, suffering Lord

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Upon A Life I Did Not Live

So,I this is one of my new favorite songs from igrace.  Okay, so end up having between 50 - 75% of each cd as my favorite songs. ha ha. I really like the simplicity of this song.  I am grateful to igrace for highlighting old hymns that are rarely sung.  

Upon A Life I Did Not Live 
Horatius Bonar 

1. Upon a Life I have not lived, 
 Upon a Death I did not die, 
 Another’s Life; Another’s Death, 
 I stake my whole eternity. 

2. Not on the tears which I have shed, 
Not on the sorrows I have known, 
 Another’s tears; Another’s griefs, 
 On these I rest, on these alone. 

 Chorus: O Jesus, Son of God, I build on what Thy cross has done for me; There both my death and life I read, my guilt, and pardon there I see. 

3. Lord, I believe; O deal with me, 
 As one who has Thy Word believed! 
 I take the gift, Lord, look on me, 
 As one who has Thy gift received. 

©2012 Kevin Twit Music (ASCAP)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

~This recipe is based on several recipes that I have combined and tweaked over the years to create a simple, easy, but delicious cornbread recipe.  The real revelation came when I started making my own corn totillas (and bought corn masa – which is simply corn flour). I thought, why not replace the flour with corn flour? I guess this is also gluten free...

¾ c. cornmeal
¾ c. corn masa
2-1/2 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp NaCl
1 14oz can of creamed corn
2 eggs
3 T grease

1.                  Preheat over to 400 degrees F.
2.                  Place either a cast iron skillet or a square glass baking dish in the oven with the grease. Let the grease melt and become hot.
3.                  Mix together dry ingredients.
4.                  Pour in creamed corn and eggs. Mix gently until just combined. Pour about half the hot grease in the batter and mix a 10 – 15 times (batter should make a sizzling sound if the grease is hot enough, it will still turn out even if it doesn't sizzle – I usually have it hot enough 50% of the time).
5.                  Pour into hot skillet or pan.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes. Outer edges should be brown and the middle should not jiggle when the pan is slide back and forth.
6.                  Turn out on plate and serve immediately.

I like the cornbread plain, however, if you would like it to be sweeter, try eating a piece with honey or molassas poured over the top.  Yum!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I journey forth rejoicing
From this dark vale of tears,
To heavenly joy and freedom,
From earthly bonds and fears;
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!
Why thus so sadly weeping,
Beloved ones of my heart?
The Lord is good and gracious,
Though now He bids us part.
Oft have we met in gladness.
And we shall meet again,
All sorrow left behind us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!
I go to see His glory,
Whom we have loved below:
I go, the blessed angels,
The holy saints to know.
Our lovely ones departed,
I go to find again,
And wait for you to join us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!
I hear the Savior calling,
The joyful hour has come:
The angel guards are ready
To guide me to our home,
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Written by Matthew Smith (based on an old German hymn). 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding
(A really quick and delicious) dessert
I always keep vanilla wafers and bananas around for this simple recipe (and because I enjoy snaking on both of them).  Sometimes, when I am craving pudding, I whip the pudding part of this recipe together and eat it.
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
dash salt
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

6 to 8 ripe bananas
3 dozen vanilla wafers
4 egg whites
6 T sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a saucepan, mix sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks, and milk.  Mix well.  Cook until mixture thickens.  Stir frequently (if you are not going to stir frequently, I suggest using a double boiler, I find it takes longer and is more work to clean).  Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat and add vanilla.
In a loaf pan, make layers of cooked custard, sliced bananas, and finally vanilla wafers.  Create three layers of each or more if your pan and ingredients permit (I have done 2 layers before when I was low on vanilla wafers).
Beat egg whites until frothy and then add the cream of tartar.  Beat until the whites stand in soft peaks that fall over when the beater is removed.  Continue to beat the egg whites, added one T of sugar at a time (I just measure each tablespoon and throw it in, I don't wait between scoops). Lastly, add the vanilla.

Spread the meringue over the pudding.  Make sure to cover the edges of the pan.  Bake for 15 minute or until meringue is slightly brown.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Blessed be wisdom and the power
the justice and the grace
that joined in cousel to restore
and save our ruined race

Our father Adam ate the fruit
and from his glory fell
and we his children then were brought
to death and near to hell

praise be to God that sent his son
to take on flesh and blood
he gave his life a sacrifice
to make our peace with God

He honored all his father's laws
which we had disobeyed
he bore our sins apon the cross
for us the randsom paid

He rose victorious from the grave
and now he lives on high
he plead his merits there to save
transgressors doomed to die

There on a glorious throne he pleads
and by his power divine
redeems us from the slavish chains
of satan and of sin

Some day the Lord will come to judge
and with a soverign voice
shall call the dead from every grave
while living saints rejoice

Oh then may I with joy appear
before the judge's face
and with the saints forever know
sing his redeeming grace

If you have children, listen to Judy Rogers.  If you do not have children yet, listen to Judy Rogers.  If you never plan to have children, list to Judy Rogers.  Her songs are so rich and they stick in your head. My Mom gave me two Judy Rogers cds while I was pregnant (Why Can't I See God & Go To The Ant).  Martin and I listen to them quite often now.

Here are some of our favorites music:
Judy Rogers
G.T. And the Halo Express
Seeds (I actually do not own any of these yet, but I want to)
Indelible Grace (I own all but the lastest one)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Caramel Corn

Note: The original recipe called for 16 cups of popped popcorn. I used 30 or 32 cups because the popcorn looked way too sugary when I started to make it. If you like your popcorn super drenched in syrup, then cut the popcorn back to the original 16 cups. It will be amazing either way.

Other note: Fisher's popcorn has the corn syrup listed higher in the ingredient list than the butter. I am guessing they use more corn syrup and bring the sugar mixture to a hard ball stage. This would eliminate the need to bake it. However, I like how the baking step of this recipe dries the popcorn out further and gives it an extra crunch.

30 cups popped popcorn (1-1/2 cups unpopped corn)
1 c. butter (2 sticks)
1-2/3 cups brown sugar, packed (is there ever a recipe that calls for unpacked brown sugar?)
½ cup corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Vanilla
peanuts (optional)

* Pop popcorn. I have an old air popper that my parents were going to throw away that I saved for my children to enjoy someday (I remember being so amazed as a child watching the popcorn pop). Martin wasn't quite as excited as I had hoped, but he still has some time to appreciate how cool it is.

* Grease two rimmed baking sheets (13x9 baking pans would work in a pinch and might be easier to stir). I used fake PAM, but you could easily use butter or fake crisco.

* Melt butter in pan. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to boil over medium-high heat (this is for an electric over, for gas I would cook at a lower temperature). Stop stirring when it comes to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. I boiled mine a bit longer because I was testing to see what stage the sugar was. It seemed to be about soft ball or a bit before.

* Take off the heat and add in the baking soda and vanilla.

* I had a super large bowl that held all the popped popcorn and a regular large bowl that I stirred small batches of the popcorn around in. I poured in about 5 cups of popcorn and 1/6th of the sugary mixture into the bowl. I stired it until it was well coated and then dumped it onto the cookie sheets.

* Bake at 250 degrees F for 60 minutes. Stir at the 30, 45, and 60 minute marks. I left my batches on the trays to cool on wire racks. The original recipe says to pour on parchment paper and let cool. As my brother says, “whatever is clever”.

Last note: If you want to add peanuts, I found that dumping the sugary mixture directly on top of them helped stick them to the popcorn a little bit better. However, still most of the peanuts fell to the bottom. I haven't solved this problem yet. If any of you have suggestions or find a way to make them stick better, let me know!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hebrews 12

Esther and Mary's Bible Study starts in a few weeks; this year we are studying Hebrews.  I am so happy and blessed to be a part of their study again this year. I have been reading Hebrews to get ahead on my studying (in case Martin starts crawling around soon and I have to chase him instead of reading as many books).  I have learned to read the verses in several versions. Pastor Shelton recommended The Message as a paraphase (not a literal translation). I enjoy the different perspective that it gives.  I usually read the ESV, NKJV, and The Message. 

Once in a while, The Message says that makes me think differently about a passage that I have read many times. I have always loved Hebrews 12: 1 – 2.  It might have something to do with listening to G.T. And the Halo Express and singing the first 2 verses over and over and over again. Below I have listed how the Message phrases these verses.

Hebrews 12: 1 – 4 (From the Message)
This passage follows the chapter about faith and how Abraham, Joseph, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, and many more acted in faith and believed the promises of God and were able to do great things.

“Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we'd better get on with it.  Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parastic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headedthat exhilarating finish in and with Godhe could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now he's there, in the place of honor, right along side God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over the story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

What sections of the Bible are you studying right now? Has any passage stuck out even though you have read it many times?   

Monday, September 16, 2013

Whole Wheat Oatmeal (Banana and/or Peach) Pancakes

I do not remember where I first found the recipes that I based this recipe on.  The orignial recipe calls for oil and white flour and is a plain and boring recipe for oatmeal pancakes.  I use the original recipe as a base for much goodness for Jared and my (and someday Mr. Baby's) breakfasts. 

I started by replacing the oil with applesauce. One day my bananas were going bad (anything past yellow is bad for me) and so I mashed them up and added them instead of the applesauce.  A warning, the first time I added way too many bananas and the dough never really cooked and stayed slimy in the middle. Also, the banana needed another egg (or two) to stabilize the dough and support the banana chunks.

Often I sprinkle on chocolate chips or blueberries once I have poured on the batter (chocolate chips find their way into way more pancakes than blueberries). Last week I didn't have enough bananas for a full recipe, but I had some peaches that needed to be used up, so I smashed the peaches up and added them with the 1 banana I had to the recipe.  That was Jared and my favorite so far.  I have also added vanilla, cinnamon, and pecans sometimes to the recipe.  There are all sorts of wonderful combinations and I would love to hear about any improvements or new flavor combinations you try. It might become my new favorite.

For now, I just give you my sort-of-recipe for the banana pancakes.      

Group 1
* 1-1/2 c. old fashion or quick oats (blended to a corse flour)
* 1-1/2 c. flour (I use whole wheat)
* 2 tsp. Baking soda
* 1 tsp. Baking powder
* ½ tsp. Salt
* 1/3 c. sugar (I use 1 – 2 T. sometimes... I put syrup on them, so they don't need to be super sweet and the bananas make them more sweet).

Group 2
* 1-1/2 c. buttermilk (confession, I have never made this recipe with buttermilk.  I always use milk and add lemon juice (see note below) and let it sit on my counter while I mix the dry ingredients. I bet buttermilk would make these pancakes even more incredible).
* 1 c. milk
* ¼ c. applesauce (or 2 – 3 bananas – I use 2.5 or 3)
* 1 egg (or 2 – 3 if using bananas – I use 2 or 3 depending on the size of the bananas)
1. Mix group one together in a medium bowl. Wisk to combine.

2. Mash banana. Mix until the chunks of banana are the size you want. Add the eggs, milk, and buttermilk.

3. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix to combine.

4. Sometimes I butter the pan. Most of the time they don't stick without butter. It depends on the pan I use.  Cook 2 – 4 minutes per side.  Make sure to spread the batter out after you have poured it in the pan!!

* Always spread the batter out in the pan.  If the batter is especially thick, spread the batter out a lot.  Otherwise, the middle will puff up and not cook and the middle of you pancake will be soupy.  It is gross. Avoid this problem and spread the batter out with a spoon or the edge of your measuring cup, when you dump the batter in the pan. The batter will thicken as it sits because the oatmeal absorbs some of the liquid.

** Jared and I make the entire recipe (or a double batch) and refrigerate or freeze the extras.  I try to undercook slightly the ones that I freeze.  That way they don't brown too much when I warm them up.  I put my pancakes in the toaster for a few minutes. While I was pregnant, I would warm up four pancakes and put them and syrup in a tupperware container and eat them on my way to work.  They were delicious.

*** I normally sprinkle the chocolate chips on after I have poured the batter in the pan.  That way I have all my chocolate chips evenly spread out and well balanced between pancakes. 

**** I buy a large container of quick oats (or old fashion oats – I have used both) and grind the entire container in my blender.  I have a plastic container with a lid that I store my oatmeal flour in.  When it is almost gone, I grind up another container.  I find it is easier to do it all at once and have it around.  It makes me make pancakes more often because the hardest step is finished.  :)

***** I sometimes throw my bananas in the kitchen-aid, with the wisk attachment, and let it mash up the bananas for me.  Often I buy bananas on sale at Harris Market and freeze them already mashed in quantities for pancakes and banana bread.

****** Don't just use milk.  You have to use buttermilk or the buttermilk substitution.  The acidity in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to help the batter rise.

******* 1 c. buttermilk = 1.c milk + 1 T. lemon juice
Let the mixture sit on the counter for a few minutes until it is sort of lumpy

Friday, September 13, 2013

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

When I had to give up dairy, because Martin is allergic to the protien in it, I started drinking Almond Milk.  I buy the unsweetened kind because the ingredient list is much shorter.  Sometimes they are out of the plain almond milk and instead I purchase almond & coconut milk.  It is great on my homemade granola (LINK TO RECIPE). However, every once in a while, usually when I come home from the gym, I want a glass of milk. Since I am used to creamy, delicious cow's milk, almond milk just lacks that omph when it is consumed plain. Thus, why I remember and started to make this simple recipe.  I keep a jar in my refrigerator almost all the time.

Chocolate Syrup
Makes 1 pint (I half the recipe for me and keep it in a jelly jar)
½ cup cocoa (often I add more or add some of the dark chocolate cocoa)
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt (I never measure, I just throw some in)
¼ tsp vanilla (again, I never measure, I just splash some in)

Heat everything, but the vanilla, on the stove.  Bring to a boil. Whisk every so often. Boil 3 – 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla.  Pour into a jar. Keeps several months in the frig.

***Note: to be especially frugal, after pouring the syrup in the jar, pour some milk in the pan to use up all remaining chocolate that is stuck to the sides.  Warm up and drink as hot chocolate. Yum.   

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie

The history behind this pie … a few months ago, back in the late fall or early winter, one of Jared's co-worker's wife had a birthday.  Her husband (who works with Jared) asked me to make her a chocolate pecan pie for her birthday.  Since I had never made one before, I printed off several different recipes from online and scoured my cookbooks. I halved or quartered each recipe and then made mini pies (one of my favorite kitchen tools – whenever you have extra pie filling you can use these to make an extra pie or two so that you can try your creation before you bring it somewhere). I tried some goofy recipes.  One of the recipes called for chocolate chips to be sprinkled over the top.  That one tasted like a pecan pie with chocolate chips sprinkled over the top. Some recipes called for as little as one cup of pecans and you couldn't even taste the pecans.  The worst recipes were ones that called for over 1 cup of sugar.  BLEH.  They were way too sweet.  I would send samples with Jared to work and they would tell me which recipes they liked and why.

After a few tries, we ended up settling on a recipe from my southern cookbook, with the addition of unsweetened chocolate squares and removing some of the sugar (both ideas from other recipes).  It was also one of the only recipes that called for vanilla, which I thought added to the flavor. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as Jared and his co-workers.  Oh, and the wife said this was one of the best birthday presents she had ever received.  :)

4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar (recipe calls for 1 cup)
1 cup corn syrup
1-1/2 tsp flour
tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
cup (½ stick) butter
2 cup pecans (I buy the broken pieces at Sams because they are cheaper than the whole ones and that way I don't have to chop them up for cookies, pies, or oatmeal)
1 pie crust (uncooked)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs until foamy (2 – 4 minutes on med or high speed).
Mix sugar, corn syrup, flour, salt, and vanilla.
Melt butter and chocolate (I melt it in the microwave in a Pyrex measuring cup). Mix into rest of ingredients.
Stir in pecans.
Pour into pie crust.
Bake 40 – 60 minutes until filling is just soft in the middle when the pie is shaken and the crust is golden brown.

Cool on wire rack or chill.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

First, to those of you who have given us Amazon gift cards over the past few years, I am about to use some of them to buy the rest of C.S. Lewis's books for our collection.  If I am going to have a son named for him, I should probably have all the books in my house.  There are a few of his books that I know I have read and own, but I cannot find them.  The last time I remember reading them is in college. Although, college seems not so long ago, it has been five years and who knows where they could be. Really? I graduated with my undergraduate degree five years ago? Wow. Time sure flies by.

I am re-reading Mere Christianity, which I was able to find (I am also reading the Chronicles of Narnia to Martin lately). Recently, I finished the chapter on Christian Marriage. I would quote the whole chapter here, but I believe that would be against the copyrights of the book. So I have just put some particularly great quotes below.  You will have to read the whole chapter, and maybe even the book, to grasp the full, awesome writing of Mr. Lewis.

“But, as I said before, 'the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs'. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it.  You cannot make it the basis of a while life.  It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even last at all.  Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go.”

“People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on 'being in love' for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change – not realizing that, when the have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one.”

“That is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do.  Let the thrill go – let it die away – go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follows – and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decided to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life.  It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them.  It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.”

“Another notion we get from novels and plays is that 'falling in love' is something quite irresistable; something that just happens to one, like measles.  And because they believe this, some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance.”

“No doubt, if our minds are fill of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol, we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love; just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into that rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blueBut that will be our own fault.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


During my grad school, I either could be a TA (teaching assistant) or a RA (research assistant).  I chose the easier of the two routes (because I had heard so many of my grad student friends complaining about being slaves to the professor that they were RAs for).  The class that I was assigned to was circuits 1, which was one of my favorite classes.  I loved running the lab and grading the exams for that class.  I also was able to lecture a bit in each of the lab sessions on material that the professor had not had a chance to cover. It was great fun.  During that year, I fell in love with teaching.  Both my parents are teachers and the profession never had appealed to me until grad school.  

After Jared and I were married, the first job that I found was teaching a lab at SU.  Teaching a lower level lab is completely different than teaching a senior level lab.  The students actually want to learn in a senior level lab because it is part of their major. At SU, after dealing with students who were just there because they needed a lab science and had heard that this lab was the easiest, I quickly thought, maybe I do not enjoy teaching as much as I thought.

However, tonight I have decided that I do really enjoy teaching others (and it especially helps if you have good students who want to learn). I started teaching a circuits class again and I LOVE IT!! I miss Martin a little bit, but I love love love teaching this class. I am actually teaching the entire class, which is a first.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Annadrew Quilt

I saw a red and white quilt in a magazine, but I was too cheap to buy the magazine.  So I just started sewing red and white triangles together.  Then I turned them into squares. I borrowed a lot of reds from Cindy because I wanted a lot of different reds. I immediately planned to make this quilt for Anna (before she even started dating Andrew) because I knew she loved reds. 

I couldn't decide how I wanted to lay them all out, so I sketched up a few different patterns.  All that engineering graph paper comes to great use when quilting.  I am glad I have several pads of it left.

Here is the finished product. I love the way that it turned out.  Funny thing, Annadrew has blue walls in their bedroom that go with the blue trim that I picked out. I had no idea at the time I made this.  Also, our walls in our bedroom are also blue now.  They look so much better than these plain white walls.  I will have to take an updated picture.  Actually, you can see one here. They look so much better in blue!!!!

 This is one of my favorite quilts... probably because it took so long to make.  I worked on it for over 15 months... off and on. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

A baby quilt for Ivy

 Most quilts start out as sketches. I usually spend time trying to figure out how to have the smallest amount of waste.

Here are the blocks sewn together. 
 Here I am playing with concepts. 

Here my concepts are starting to take shape. I thought the white space was too blank, so I added birds. 

Finished product. I really like the way it turned out.  It is great when ideas turn out better than you imagined.  Yay. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


 I made this runner for a relative of Mrs. Bailey's.

I threw this together from some scraps that I had.  It was a pattern in a book that I wanted to try.  I need to make some other ones now that I am retired.  ha ha. I have two books of patterns that I have only made two or three out of.  I will have to pull those out again. 

This was one of my first runners that I made. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I have decided to start documenting all of my past quilts (and eventually my future quilts too).  This quilt was made for Sarah and Josh's wedding.  It is called Shadowbox.  Cindy bought me the pattern while she was visiting North Dakota. 

My Dad has apple trees, but there is one problem.  They produce really ugly apples. They are speckled black and have many indentations.  We have tried making applesauce out of them a few years, but it is a lot of work.  Most years they just go to waste. This year came up with a new scheme to use them. I want to make apple cider.  My Dad and I have been talking about going in on a press for a while. If we bought a working press, I have calculated that we would make our money back in 5 years at the latest (that is only assuming 5 or 6 gallons each year).  

Well, today when I was online at my parents, I found this tutorial for making a press out of a mud bucket for about $20. I think I should do a trial run before apple season rolls around. If it works, hooray and if it fails, then I will have time to buy a real apple press. My brother came up with the great idea to adapt it to our picnic table so that we wouldn't have to use as much wood. We will see if it works... if it does, I might blog about it. And if it is a huge failure, I might blog about it, as well.  Hopefully, we are able to make some really good apple cider.  :) 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Martin Lewis

A few pictures:
Anna said I needed some pregnancy pictures...  Pregnancy is not easy, but it does lead to a baby, which is worth it. 

Martin is so worth it.  Even right after labor, I told Jared that it wasn't that bad and we could have several more children.  ha. 

 I love seeing Martin interact with his Grandparents.  I love my Mom and Dad. 

Martin loves my phone.  We take a lot of pictures because it is calming to him. 

We also walk around the zoo a lot. I made his hat for his first beach day.  It is a super easy pattern.  Cindy lent it to me.  I will have to post the pattern make and number later. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Best Strawberry Pie

Well, since it has been a while, I thought I would start off with a few recipes that I have been making recently.  The first is adapted from America's Test Kitchen.  I just watched this episode about Strawberry Pie a few weeks ago and I jotted the recipe down while nursing.  I made it on June 10th for the first time for a co-worker of Jared's that is moving on to another job!! I also made a Chocolate Pecan Pie, which will be my next recipe.  Their recipe calls for things in ozs and lbs.  However, I do not own a scale and have never seen the need for one (and I am slightly afraid that if I start using one that I will never go back to using measuring cups and I don't have room for it in my kitchen).  So, I have put the rough estimates of what I used.  Also, I do not own a food processor, so I simply mashed up my strawberries with my potato masher.

This recipe is super easy and tastes INCREDIBLE!!  If I had more strawberries, I would make a bowl of this filling to eat with a spoon.  It is so delicious.  It definitely does taste better than the trusty old Jello recipe.  When ATK said that on the show, I thought, “Come on! The Jello recipe is classic! I don't think anything can beat it.” Well, I was wrong.  My favorite pie is now even more amazing thanks to ATK. 

First, bake a pie crust until light brown. I make my own when I have time, but a store bought crust would work as well.  The filling is what matters in this recipe.

    6 oz puree strawberries (or roughly 1 cup mashed)
    ¾ cup sugar
    1-1/2 tsp low or no sugar pectin (pink box)
    2 T cornstarch
    2 T lemon juice
    2 lb strawberries (8 - 12 cups)

1.                  Combine first 4 ingredients (in a sauce pan, I mashed my strawberries in the saucepan before placing it on the stove) and bring to a boil.
2.                  Boil 2 minutes. Mix in lemon juice.  Mix in strawberries. 
3.                  Pour into crust. Chill 2 hours.
4.                  (optional, but recommended) Scrape out the bowl and eat extra filling with a spoon.  :)

*** Note: ATK suggested not cutting your strawberries because it will release the juice and make the pie soupy.  I had already cut my strawberries and it didn't seem to affect the pie.  I will make it with uncut strawberries next time to see if it turns out differently.

**** Update: I add a bit more cornstarch and pectin, not a rounded teaspoon or tablespoon, but a bit more. When you cook the sauce on the stove it should reach a thickish, jelly like consistency. I have found it is better to be too thick than too thin. Some of the juice from the strawberries will loosen it up, but then it will also thicken a bit more in the frig. If you are using cold strawberries, it usually thickens once you mix them into the sauce and doesn't get much thicker. Anyhow, lean towards a thicker sauce. 
Also, I have been using a 1/2 cup of sugar because I like a more tart pie. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A New Quilt

I was trying to clean out my sewing room and use up all the scraps that I had been holding on to for the past four years.  I started out by trimming everything to a 5" by 5" square and then I trimmed everything else to 3" pieces of various widths. I sewed all the 3" pieces (sorted by color) together and then trimmed them into rows. 

I just finished quilting and I am working on the binding now.  I was discussing with Cindy if the binding is my favorite part because it is the last step and it makes it look finished or because I find the hand stitching calming. It is probably a combination of the two. I decided to do a scrappy boarder to match the scrappy nature of the quilt.  It looks pretty awesome.  I will post a picture when I am finished.  

Blueberry Boy Bait

From America's Test Kitchen Cookbook 2008 Season based on a recipe that won second place in the 1954 Pillsbury Grand National Baking Contest.

This year I am in charge of snack for VBS.  After two years of co-directing VBS, it is a nice little break.  As a bonus, I love cooking and baking and running a kitchen.  I have great helpers this year, who are making my job very easy.  They have cheerfully been prepping everything that I need and cleaning before I even ask them. It has been a joy to serve with them.  Also, it has been amazing to see all of the wonderful donations and snacks that people have brought in.  God does more than we can ask or expect.  I have not had to spend any money from the VBS budget and have had extra donations left over for a breakfast tomorrow morning.  I was also able to buy more fresh fruit for the children!  Yay! God is so very good.

I made this recipe for Monday morning at VBS and several people asked for the recipe.  It is super easy.  All my blueberries sank to the bottom and made a layer of blueberry jam. I either didn't measure the flour perfectly or stirred the blueberries too much when I folded them in (or I may have added more than the recipe called for...). 

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
16 T (2 sticks) butter
¾ c. brown sugar
½ c. sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2%, they called for whole)
1 tsp flour
½ c. blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen, do not thaw)

Topping Ingredients:
½ c. blueberries
¼ c. sugar
½ tsp. Cinnamon (I added another ¼ tsp. because I thought it needed more)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (and flour, if you are planning on removing it to a serving platter – I made it in a pretty pan so that I could leave it in the pan) a 13 x 9 pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes).  I find that I have to scrap down the sides of my kitchen-aid several times. The consistancy of the butter should be no longer grainy.  I just learned how to cream my butter and sugar together.  I never beat it enough before. It looks completely different if you beat it for a longer period of time.

3. Whisk flour, baking powered, and salt in a small bowl.

4. Add the eggs and beat until smooth.

5. Add one third of the flour mixture. Stir until smooth.  Add half the milk stir until smooth.  Add half the remaining flour. Stir. Add the rest of the milk. Stir.  Add the remaining flour. Stir.

6. Mix blueberries with 1 teaspoon of flour. Fold in with spatula (I may have mixed mine too much, the blueberries all sank to the bottom).

7. Spread batter into pan.

8. Sprinkle remaining half cup of blueberries over the top of the batter.

9. Stir sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the blueberries & batter.

10. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (about 45 – 50 minutes – I baked mine for an extra 10 – 15 minutes).

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Cooking Brown Rice Revolutionized

The other day, I was reading Cook's Illustrated and I stumbled on a recipe for brown rice.  I thought, Now how exciting and new can a recipe for brown rice be? However, this recipe has changed the way I think about brown rice.  

What is the trick?  Boil the rice and drain it, just like pasta. That is it. It takes half the cooking time.

I thought that it sounded crazy, but I tried it and then I tasted the rice and it changed my mind.  The rice was perfectly cooked and or sticky.  The science behind it is that the rice is able to absorb water from all sides, which makes it cook in half the time and creates a more consistant consistancy throughout the rice.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 17th

This weekend was extremely busy.  Travelling and attending events with a baby is exhausting (and takes planning ahead).  However, I delight in being a mother; it is a big puzzle. It is more facisinating that I imagined. Martin is a wonderful baby. 

Thursday we had dinner with good friends that we had not seen since Annadrew's wedding.  Annadrew treated us to delicious burgers, chicken, fruit salad, and other goodies (I love this time of year, fresh fruit salads are so tasty).  It was pretty relaxing, but still a change Martin's schedule. Jared and I watched the first half of the Spurs game when we came home, while I was nursing Martin. 

Friday we spent finishing a wedding and baby shower gift (three burp clothes, a skirt, and a toy  bear blanket – Cindy gave me a book of different quilting patterns for Christmas and I have been trying out different patterns on burp clothes.  They are good practice. The toy bear was one of three that Martin received.  He loves them, but he does not need three.  I added ribbons to the edge of the blanket part and apliqued flannel shapes to the top surface and then embroydered the shapes to make them even more fun to touch and see). Friday afternoon and evening was the wedding. Martin was watched by Aunt Hope in the venue with other children.  Martin was a little overwhelmed by being around so many people.  I nursed him for his last feeding and usually he falls asleep by himself, if he is especially fussy I will rock him to sleep. Hope walked him around for over 1.5 hours and he was wide awake (he was not crying, just gazing straight ahead).  He was completely overwhelmed. After crying for about twenty minutes on the way home, he fell asleep (2 hours after his normal bedtime).

Saturday Martin and I went blueberry picking with Aunt Hope (and visited Uncle Luke). Hope watched Martin again, this time while I picked a bucket and a half of blueberries.  My total came to $12.34.  I wish I had taken a picture.  We rushed home, showered, and changed before headed off to a baby shower for one of my old co-workers.  It was nice to see everyone again.  They loved Martin.  I miss spending time with them somedays, however, Martin more than makes up for the loss. I hope they invite me to other baby showers in the future. Saturday night Jared and I packed for our trip to DC and then crashed and watched 12 Anger Men.  What a great old movie. 

Sunday I had nursery in the morning.  Then we quickly changed and headed up to Silver Spring. We arrived around two and spent time with the Grandis and about 40 of their relatives and friends.  I showed Martin where I lived during college.  He loved all the trees in the backyard.  He stayed awake the whole 3 hours that we were there (most of the time I carried him around in a front carrier, thinking he would fall asleep that way).  By the end of our visit he was so tired. It was so funny.  He was so tired that he would nod off, while looking around. His eyes would close and he head would lay down on my shoulder, but then he would remember there were new surroundings to take in and he would wake himself back up.  His head would bob up and he would gaze around again, just to fall asleep in a few seconds and then wake back up. It was highly entertaining. He slept on the way to Michelle's house and woke up to spend some time with her. We left there around 6:30p.m and arrived home around 8:30p.m. Thankfully, Martin was so tired out that I simply fed him, placed him in his crib, and he fell asleep.