Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Nutty Orange Harvest Soup

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

This orange soup has such a smattering of weird ingredients I wasn't sure if I wanted to post it.  I debated back and forth, snapped a few pictures just in case and finally decided to just go with it.  I've seen orange fall soups popping up everywhere on the blogosphere lately and decided this might not be way too wired after all.  And even if it is, that's exactly what Weird Recipe Wednesday is all about. Since it's Halloween, it seems like as good a time as any for a slightly strange bowl or orange liquid.  Annnnd now that I've hesitated and stalled a little longer I suppose we can get to the soup.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Roasted Squash Skewers

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Today's twist is less of a recipe and more of a concept you can put your own spin on.  After seeing sweet potato skewers I was hooked on the idea.  I also wanted to try a recipe I saw for for roasted butternut squash seasoned with Chinese five-spice powder.  (I've tried multiple times to link these sources of inspiration, but each time my web browser crashes.)  Blending the two ideas together I decided to go with roasted butternut squash dusted with Chinese five-spice powder, skewered on a stick and drizzled with honey and sea salt.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mindful Monday: A Lesson on Squash

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

What I've learned lately:

1. Sometimes spaghetti squash rots from the inside out. 

2. If you decide to microwave a spaghetti squash whole, you won't discover it's rotten inside until after you've made plans utilizing said squash, waited for it to cook and cool and finally slice into it.

3. Or, you may discover this dilemma approximately 1-3 minutes sooner when the spaghetti squash explodes in your microwave.  That's if you're lucky. 

4. If you happen to press the minutes on your microwave and then walk away while cooking, you could very well come back to an even bigger mess.  While you were completing a task in another room your squash explosively decorated your microwave ceiling and walls. Before you returned it sat in the microwave a good 15 minutes and leaked a cloudy, warm puddle all over the turntable. Yum.  

5. Between exploding and rotting from the middle, only half a spaghetti squash remains.

6. After salvaging what you can, you are no longer in the mood for stringy yellow fibers that taste like pale squash.  

 7. On the plus side, the microwave is a little cleaner, and the strands are fun to twirl on your fork.  Well, what's left of them. 

8. If you're fed up with the mess and put what's left in the fridge for later it might be gone by the time you return and actually do want to eat some.

9. Spaghetti squash may not tint your skin quite as orange as other varieties because a) it's pale yellow or b) after rotting and exploding you don't actually have much to eat.

10. In place of the expected frustration, you find the situation quite entertaining and laugh to yourself.  When you realize you've been writing out a play by play dialog in your head the entire time, you're not sure whether to smile harder or freak out.  After a moment to ponder, you shrug your shoulders, laugh harder at the situation and continue the dialog in your head as if you're writing a blog post. 

11. If you're feeling extra mindful you can make an analogy between squash and people. Both can appear fine from the outside but still rot from the center.  Under enough heat and pressure, an explosion may occur, especially if issues are left unattended.  With a smile on your face and a different mindset, you learn from the mess and move on.  

Food for Thought: "To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fermented Friday: Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation.

I really shouldn't buy uncommon ingredients unless I have a specific recipe in mind.  But a good deal will get me every time.  Enter pomegranates.  I bought two of them and both have been sitting in the fruit basket for over a week.  Last fall I made this Butternut Squash Salsa with pomegranates and it was a hit.  I'll probably end up making it next week, but I wanted to use pomegranate a little differently here.  Well, that and I sorta said I would try not to overwhelm you with squash and pumpkin recipes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Intentional Joy

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

Here I go thinking out loud again, bare with me as these thoughts are more than a little scattered.  My mind has been going nonstop lately and it's not until I stop to write that I realize how jumbled and tangled my train of thoughts really is.  So yeah, real life.  Where to start?  I'll just pick a thought string and we can start to untangle it a little.  Ready?

 The past few days I've noticed myself plodding through day to day tasks without much energy.  Along with a more regular sleep pattern, it's time for an attitude adjustment.  My joy has been missing, but I won't find it unless I look for it.  If I'm not intentional I miss what's right in front of my nose.  Will I move from task to task just trying to get through the day, or will I view each task as an opportunity and a challenge?  A sense of excitement, wonder and curiosity adds a fresh burst of energy to pick up the pace.

I must pause and look for God in the little things.  If I'm not intentional about this, it is all too easily lost, buried in my heaping tangle of thoughts.  I can't expect life-altering, earth-shattering moments each day, but I can choose to search out and look for God's presence in the simple day to day.  I know it's there, but if I want to see it I need to open my eyes and look, not just glance and gloss over life as if skimming a lengthy textbook.  So what are some specific examples I can see today, right now?

Today, I woke up with more health than sickness, a statement many people can not make.  I hear the clock ticking or see the numbers all to rapidly creeping forward, yet I have the eyes to see those tiny numbers and ears to hear the quiet tick.  Waking up means I have slept, I've slept in a warm bed full of blankets, not huddled in a box under a bridge.  I have a post to write, but I also have a computer, fingers that type and a brain quite capable of thinking.  I have lists to do, but they have been written with a hand that knows how to write and eyes that know how to read.  They are scribbled on cute paper given by a thoughtful friend.  The tasks on my list are not really tasks, but items of opportunity.  How will I look for God in each moment?  Will I adjust my attitude to one of thanks and joy, praising him for every opportunity, or will I be buried in piles, lists and anxious thoughts?  My plodding turns to prancing when I choose to open my eyes, to pause and be intentional with my perspective.

Food for Thought: "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are my God and Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." -Psalm 25:5

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Pumpkin-Chai-Peanut Butter Bars

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

You already know about my crazy obsession with peanut butter.  I suppose it's about time to clue you in on pumpkin too.  Let's just throw pumpkin, squash and carrots together on this one. They're all orange and apparently I eat enough of them to tint my skin a weird orangey-yellow. I've cut back on carrots lately, but only because I've been eating so much squash and pumpkin. Like, ummm, eating so much of them I may have even had squash for breakfast. What can I say, the fact that they're in season is the perfect excuse to feed my obsession. I want to put pumpkin in everything, but I'll try not to overload you with pumpkin recipes. Maybe. Okay, probably not, but I won't give you enough to turn you orange.

After discovering how well peanut butter and nutmeg get along, I couldn't wait to try peanut butter and chai.  About two seconds later pumpkin-chai popped into my head.  Before I could even finish that thought I knew something with pumpkin, chai and peanut butter needed to happen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Peanut Butter-Nutmeg Caramel Corn

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Pairing peanut butter and nutmeg may not be your first instinct, but you'll be pleasantly surprised with this cozy combination.  You know that extra flavor peanut butter gets when it's all warm and melty?  Nutmeg seems to capture and enhance that extra toasty warm peanut flavor. In return, the nuttiness of the peanut butter mellows and softens the spice of the nutmeg.  Pairing nutmeg with peanut butter highlights the nuttiness while drawing out the warm, delicate side of this often overused spice. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mindful Monday: Random and Probably Useless Facts

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

I haven't done one of these completely random fact posts for a while, so here goes.  Below are  some random tidbits that have come up in conversations lately or things that have wandered across my mind.  It's highly doubtful you will ever need to know this information, but it can't hurt.  Besides, you should learn at least one new thing each day. 

1. On Friday I commented on how freezers can burn but not bake. Ironically, I soon learned about a new type of freezer burn.  Apparently ice makers have a heating element that gets hot enough to burn unsuspecting hands reaching in to fix the ice machine.  Why a heating coil in an ice maker?  Good question. The heating coil kicks in after the cubes have been frozen.  A little water is melted in order to loosen the frozen cubes from the molds.  

2. When staining wood it used to be popular to include a layer of speckled paint.  This was supposed to give the piece an antique look.  I think it makes the kitchen table look like it was stained and then speckled with paint.  At least it's in a dark color so one doesn't notice it unless they space out and stare at the table. Not that that would ever happen.  

3. I haven't done the limbo for a long time.  I have no idea why that came to mind earlier, but it did.  Interestingly enough, the limbo bar used to be raised higher each round rather than lower. 

4.  A whole egg, shell and all, used to be used when making coffee.  My grandma claims it makes the best coffee you've ever had.  The egg does something to improve clarity and bitterness.  I'll have to look into this and maybe try it out for myself.  I guess I've tried weirder things, and I eat cookie dough with raw eggs.  Yet somehow the idea of an egg in with the coffee grounds just doesn't have appeal. 

5. Some people dream in black and white but the dream I had the other night was in the most vivid colors ever.  Unfortunately, that's all I can remember about it.  I love it when I wake up from a super crazy dream and try to piece the story back together.  Wouldn't it be strange if we could record our dreams and  replay them when we woke up?

6. I just realized that quesadilla contains the word queso, the Spanish word for cheese.  That would make sense seeing as a quesadilla is a tortilla filled with queso.  How on earth did I just notice that for the first time?

7.  That reminds me of the time a college roommate of mine said she had trouble remembering which way was horizontal and which was was vertical. I then pointed out that horizontal is the same direction as the horizon and it totally clicked for her.  Funny how the things become so familiar we can look right past them.

8. Does anyone want to come over for egg coffee and discuss pieces of our dreams while sitting at a speckled wood table eating quesadillas made with cheese melted by an ice maker? We can do the limbo under the horizon if the cheese won't melt.

9. You should probably stop reading and go do something more productive.  Bonus points if you can incorporate any of this stuff into real life, especially on a Monday morning. 

Food for Thought: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." -Henry Ford

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fermented Friday: Soup Flop and Vinegar Pie Crust

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation.

So...I had a the kitchen yesterday.  Apparently cooking split peas in wine is not the greatest way to use either your wine or your split peas.  On the first attempt I replaced about 1/3 of the liquid with white wine and set the pot to simmer over the stove.  After the appropriate boiling time the peas were still quite hard.  I continued boiling away but the peas just wouldn't soften.  Had I needed firm split peas for a salad, I'm quite sure they would have turned to mush in half the time.  It was just one of those days.  The wine added a nice depth of flavor, but my split pea "soup" was nowhere near soup consistency.  Continued boiling and plenty of extra liquid were of little help.

With a little problem solving I decided to go for a second attempt. Perhaps the bag of split peas I used was old (though I'm pretty sure they weren't).  I almost always use a slow cooker when making split pea soup so I decided to do just that on this second batch.  In theory cooking in a slow cooker should also help prevent the peas from drying out as the lid traps any evaporating moisture.  Lifting the lid of your slow cooker while cooking  can add hours to the cooking time.  Knowing this, I resisted the urge to check on or stir the soup, I didn't even peek.  When it was finally time to lift the lid I was in for a surprise.  The soup had boiled dry.  Once again I was left with hard dry split peas, only this time they were also nicely burnt to the side of the slow cooker.  Apparently it is possible to boil soup dry.  Yes, soup....boiled a slow cooker.  Yikes.  

With no time or desire for a third batch I attempted a desperate rescue.  More liquid and cooking resulted in slightly softer split peas still a far cry from their usual texture.  I finally gave up and figured I throw them in the blender anyway.  If soup can boil dry maybe blenders can cook miracles.  (A freezer can burn, but can it bake?) I had to add quite a bit more liquid to puree those ugly little peas.  Since a few of them were rather close to burnt, the final color was even more unappetizing.  And the texture?  Well, let's just say I don't have a miracle cooking blender.  Nope, it tasted just like what it was, dry overcooked split peas.  Wouldn't you know that's exactly what I woke up craving this morning?  Except not.  If you woke up this morning craving dry overcooked split peas then please come over for lunch, it's on me.  Thank goodness the blender didn't explode or it really would be on me.

Apparently my brain turned to mush instead of the peas. I did the next logical thing and tried a new pie recipe.  Pie crust tends to frustrate me and I'm still looking for a fail-proof recipe.  I'm fairly certain it's my technique that needs more help than the recipe.  When cutting in the butter I never quite know when to stop and usually end up going too far.  Using just the right amount of ice water so that the dough sticks together with without being crumbly or wet is also key.  I over worked the pie crust I made earlier this week, resulting in too much gluten formation and thus a tough dough.

Practice makes perfect, the perfect excuse to try a new recipe.. This time around everything was going fairly well.  The recipe included vinegar, which helps prevent too much gluten formation. The dough was very pliable and I had no issues with it cracking and tearing or sticking to the counter or rolling pin.  The bottom crust rolled out beautifully and eased into the pan with little effort.  Then in went the filling; pears, apples and candied ginger. The top crust looked even better.  I laid it over the filling and began to crimp and flute the edges. After firmly sealing and shaping I turned around and realized I forgot to dot the top with butter before placing the top crust over the filling.  Now this isn't a huge deal, in fact I forget to do this more often than not.  But this time I had specifically thought to myself, I will not forget that butter! I had it all ready and waiting, determined not to leave it out.  For a brief second I considered an attempt to remove the carefully sealed top crust and add that solitary tablespoon of hard, pale-yellow cream sitting on my counter.  I knew that was asking for disaster and wasn't willing to risk it.  Apparently I hadn't sealed the crust as well as I thought.  After an hour in the oven the hot bubbling fruit had boiled right out of the pie.  Luckily I had the pie on a baking sheet and only have a sticky pan to clean not an entire oven.

If you feel the need to use something fermented this Friday, go with vinegar in your pie crust, not wine in your split pea soup.

Food for thought: "Learn form the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Slow Down

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

I hear that still small voice again, whispering to slow down and listen.  Yet everything around me screams to hurry up, do more, be more, get more done, go, go, go.  Just one more thing before you slow down to listen.  Speed up so you can slow down?  That can't be right.  I must slow down and listen first.

Be still and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:10

Do not merely listen to the word and deceive yourselves. Do what it says. -James 1:22

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. -James 3:17

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. -James 4:7-8

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. -Psalm 37:7

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? -Psalm 8:3-4

Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.-Psalm 100:3

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. -Proverbs 18:15

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:21-23

Food for Thought: The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. -Lamentations 3:24

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Pumpkin Wild Rice Salad

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

This warm autumn salad is packed with fall flavors.  Loaded with healthy ingredients this cozy side boasts a delicate balance between sweet and savory.  Caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower blend with the nuttiness of wild rice.  Sweet, delicate pumpkin notes mingle with crisp apples, soft raisins and a subtle hint of warm cinnamon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Unsloppy Joe Bowls

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

This fun twist makes your traditional sloppy joe twice as nice.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mindful Monday: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

Over the past month I've had two opportunities to serve meals to others less fortunate than myself.  One meal consisted of leftover food donated by local grocery stores and restaurants and was available to anyone who wanted a free meal.  The other meal was for families staying  at the Ronald McDonald House and consisted of food made by volunteers.  I signed up to bring desserts, then hemmed and hawed over which recipe to make.  I have so many recipes to try I wasn't sure where to start.  It couldn't be too weird, like the recipes I often try here.  But, I also didn't want it to be plain and boring.  If I have the opportunity to bake, I might as well learn something along the way.

My brain was going far too many directions when I realized the irony of the situation. Once again, I was lost in the details and missing the big picture.  I was worried over what to make instead of being thankful for the ability and supplies needed to bake in the first place.  I had hundreds of choices and possibilities, while the people I was preparing the food for had neither the resources nor health to do so.  How could I be so ungrateful, so wrapped up in my own little world?

In my indecision I ended up making 3 different things.  Two of the desserts were chocolate chip cookie recipes I've had my eye on.  I've realized the recipe I used growing up is a little lacking and set out on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  The first recipe resulted in flat, slightly greasy cookies.  The second recipe brought my search to a screeching halt.  Seriously, you have to try these cookies over at Espresso and Cream.  I think the key here is whipping the butter before creaming in the sugars.  I was a little wary of the amount of chocolate chips but went with it anyway.  Yes, it seems like way too much chocolate (is that even possible?), but it totally works.

These cookies were so incredible I found myself feeling sick from too much 'taste testing'.  I was frustrated with myself for eating so many cookies and once again realized I needed to shift my perspective.  I was bringing these cookies to families of sick children.  Feeling sick from too many cookies is nothing in comparison to being sick from chemo.  I bet some of those kids would give anything to feel well enough to eat a cookie, let alone make and compare various recipes.  Once again, I find myself blessed beyond measure.

Food for Thought: "In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life can not be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Fun: Birthday Cake

It's the weekend to celebrate birthdays around here.  Birthday cakes are not meant to be measured, tested and photographed, they just happen.  In our house carrot cake is a family tradition for my dad's birthday.   I made his cake before leaving on my trip and thought I'd share a little with you.

The faded, old recipe comes out each year, but is rarely followed.

Stains and spots are always indicators of well-loved recipes. 

A heap of carrots follows the whole can of pineapple.  The memories and stories from years past prove that recipes made with love turn out just as well as those with precise measurements.

A palmful or two of cinnamon and mounded spoonfuls of nutmeg and allspice join the party. 

The old wooden spoon and same yellow mixing bowl are used year after year.  

Beater bars and that timeless spoon are set aside. 

Waiting to be licked clean. 

Tweaks and changes are made as the years progress, but one thing remains, the peanut butter frosting.

 Yes, peanut butter frosting on carrot cake.  It's a family tradition that started before I was born.  The love and memories that go into the frosting are as immeasurable as the ingredients themselves.  I'm not usually a big frosting fan, but this frosting makes the cake.  Memories made with love (and peanut butter) make the frosting everyone's favorite part.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Food for Thought: "No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally - and often far more - worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond." -C.S. Lewis

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Perspective

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

I'm on the road for the next few days and found myself without internet access.  I checked into the hotel early yesterday, looking forward to some distraction-free time to work on a post for today and tomorrow. Instead, I spent an hour and a half on the phone with an IT guy who couldn't figure out the wireless problems.  I started to get a little frustrated that my plans were blown to the wind before taking a step back for a new perspective.

Instead of dwelling on the internet situation I reminded myself how great it was that I had a hotel room in the first place.  I'm not living on the streets or in my car, and I have a computer (even if doesn't feel like cooperating).  On top of all that, I didn't even have to pay for the hotel room and I had a full day of interviews today.  I have so many blessings to be thankful for.

Food for Thought: "When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds or a thousand wishes." -unknown 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Peanut Butter-Jalapeno-Chocolate Chip Bars

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Remember those candied jalapenos I made a few weeks back?  I finally got around to using them in a weird recipe.  But let me back up just a little.  I haven't lost it completely (that or I'm in denial).  If I lay out the tracks, you might be able to follow my train of thought on this one.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Twisted Pumpkin Spice Cake

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

This cake has a few more twists than meet the eye.  I've always wanted to make a rolled pumpkin cake and Tuesday's Twist seemed like the perfect excuse.  Of course, just having a twisty spiral appearance wasn't enough of a twist for me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mindful Monday: Whisper

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

Continuing the thoughts I alluded to last Thursday .....While I haven't been tuned into every detail of others' lives, I have been more in tune with the details of my surroundings.  I find myself thinking "hey, that would make a great picture, look how the light is shining through the leaves...that angle gives a great perspective...that color really pops with that background....I never noticed that before....I wish I had my camera!...just appreciate the beauty around you, a mental snapshot will suffice."

I don't know what it is about this fall, but I'm seeing everything from a new perspective.  Instead of mourning the end of summer while bracing for winter, I'm enjoying the rich beauty that only comes with autumn.  I don't see green plants dying, they're changing, preparing for the next season of life.  Breathtaking colors appear out of nowhere.  Deep red, bright orange, vibrant green and golden yellow paint the trees.  Majestic purple flowers stand out among dried weeds.  Silky, soft milkweed seeds float slowly in the breeze, shining in the sunlight. Plumes of tall grass sway gently in the breeze, their feathery tops brushing back and forth like an artist's paintbrush.

Wind blowing through tree tops is familiar, but the rustle of corn husks is like nothing I've ever heard.  I actually had to stop and listen before I realized just what I was hearing.  Imagine standing near an entire field of dried out corn stalks.  As the breeze moves, each leaf crackles and rattles as it rubs against neighboring husks.  I can't quite find the right words to describe it, but somehow it seems more intentional and encompassing than the fluttering of the wind in the trees, like a carefully orchestrated symphony.

Lately, words have been pouring into my head like waves crashing across the shore.  But just like waves, the words are elusive, impossible to capture in stiff black letters.  Perhaps if I took a journal outside I could capture the beauty of the moment instead of attempting to recreate it while sitting at the computer. When I'm outside everything comes alive.  I find myself pausing, drinking in the vivid detail around me and wondering where this new found sense of mindfulness is coming from.  All of a sudden I feel joy, a sense of peace.  Like contagious laughter I can't help but spread a smile across my face.  Golden sunbeams stream across my cheeks, penetrating deeper than skin and warming me to the core.  Pure, deep blue skies seem to engrave new facets and shades of blue into my already blue eyes.  Cool, crisp air refreshes my body with each  fresh breath.

Is this what it feels like to hear the whisper of God?  When I pause and listen, I hear him in the quiet, I see him in the detail.  The engulfing peace and beauty removes all doubt and I know he is speaking. The descriptive words flowing into my head sound nothing like my usual thought pattern.  The negative self-criticism track typically playing in my head is overwhelmed by quiet delight and utter reassurance.  If only to capture this moment.

Food for Thought: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." -Psalm 19:1-2

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fermented Friday: Beer Apple Crisp

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation.

Apple crisp is a longstanding tradition at our house.  I remember helping my mom turn the crank on the peeler, watching the bright red peels squiggle off onto a heap on the table. The sweet, pale yellow slices were then haphazardly piled into a nearby glass baking dish.  After a quick dusting of cinnamon, we attempted to pack a generous mound of oat topping over a dish already overflowing with crisp apple slices.  It wasn't long before warm, cozy aromas of apple and cinnamon wafted out of the oven and filled the house.  With all those enticing aromas one could hardly wait for the first bite.  I remember sneaking little clumps and clusters of the golden brown topping while waiting for the bubbling juices to cool.  Oh wait, I still do that.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Outside the Screen

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

Wow, it is so refreshing to spend less time on the computer.  What's even more invigorating is this fall weather, but we'll get to that in a bit.  I didn't realize the impact of time spent online until I had a few weeks where I was too busy and too tired to spend much time on the computer. While computer time can be draining, fresh air and sunlight makes me come alive.

When you turn on the computer its sucks you in.  Ever go to send a quick email and end up spending 30 minutes responding to other emails, then forget to write that first email?  Or maybe you're on one site and click on a link to another interesting and semi-related subject, which leads to another page  and another.  Before long your time is spent and there's no getting it back.

I used to check Facebook every day, even multiple times a day.  It often provided the illusion of relationship and staying in touch with people.  In reality it can be very one sided.  I was reading status updates and posts that popped up on my news feed, but not actually talking with the people who wrote them.  You can feel like your involved, and may genuinely be interested, but if you provide no feedback or indication that you're reading, then you're not really communicating.  Sometimes you end up just sitting behind a screen comparing yourself to others.  And by you, I mean me.

I thought I would be missing out by not checking Facebook as often as usual.  Instead, I find it freeing to not know every little detail and update.  My brain is scattered enough as it is without throwing in a million other unimportant factoids. I don't miss what I'm not seeing and randomly scrolling down the news feed really isn't all that helpful.  Lately, I've noticed that when I do go on Facebook out of boredom I end up feeling more down or isolated afterwords.  This doesn't happen all the time, and I'm not saying Facebook is bad. (Settle down, I'm just thinking out loud here.)  As with most things in life, there are good aspects and bad, two sides (at least) to every story.  If you're intentional you can find a healthy middle ground.  For me, Facebook works better if I only go on it with a specific task in mind, such as responding to a message or event or if I have a predetermined need to communicate with a specific person. I'm not saying it will always be that way, or that everyone should do that, it's just an observation.  Okay, I'll hop off that soap box for now, I just needed to process that out loud, you know?

I started this post with the intention of writing about this gorgeous fall weather, not Facebook and computer time.  When I'm outside in nature, everything comes alive, including me.  If I launch into all of that right now this will be too long, so I'll save that topic for next week.  Besides, it would be better for both of us to go outside and experience it rather than write or read it from a screen.

Food for Thought: "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Peanut Butter-Banana Soft Serve with Basil and Chocolate Chips

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

After their last get together, peanut butter, banana, chocolate chip and basil decided to give it another try.  Okay fine, I made them go, but sometimes you just need that extra push out the door.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Roasted Butternut Squash with Pears and Blue Cheese

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Most of the time I'm trying out new recipes, but there are some dishes I go back to again and again.  This warming side captures the colors, textures and flavors of the harvest, making it perfect for those chilly autumn days.  After a trip to the orchard for squash and apples, this was the first thing in my oven (followed immediately by apple crisp, of course).

Before tasting this dish my mom wouldn't get near blue cheese, even sharp cheddar was too strong on her radar.  It only took a few bites to convince her that blue cheese compliments this dish far beyond imagination.  Unfortunately for me, that means I actually have to share this.  But, on the plus side, she is much more willing to try 'new' ingredients or unique combinations. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mindful Monday: Pause

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

Let's pause before we jump into the week and readjust our perspective.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. -Psalm 46:1

Be still and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:10

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. -Psalm 51:10

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19:14

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long. -Psalm 25:4-5

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18

In him, and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. -Ephesians 3:20

But when the kindness and love of God our savior appeared, he saved us, not because righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. -Titus 3:4-5

Food for Thought: He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly comes to ruin. -Proverbs 13:3