Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: This and That

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

Hmmm, it appears to be Thursday again.  What am I thinking?  I can't even figure out what's on my mind, so let's go for random again.

1. There was a snow day on Monday, and I missed it.  Missed it! I didn't even know it was a snow day until the next day. What fun is that?  To be fair we didn't get any snow, just a lot of rain and ice.

2.  Everything looked like it had been dipped in glass.

3.  Cold winter days call for hot bowls of soup.  Two recipes I'm loving lately are this creamy mushroom soup made with cauliflower and Greek yogurt and this spicy red lentil soup.

4.  After you're warm and cozy from soup you can eat this chocolate-ginger ice cream.  But then you'll need some ginger hot chocolate to warm back up.

5.  Happy February Eve.  Tomorrow is February, just in case you forgot.

6.  I can now say I've disassembled a laptop, cleaned out the fan and put it all back together. Actually my brother did it and I "helped" by keeping track of the screws.  There are a lot of little screws and lots of dust. Thanks again, B, for tolerating my "help" and taking the initiative in the first place.

7.  I'm in need of another good book to read.  Any suggestions?  I just read The Help, it was really good as was the movie.

8.  Do you remember gel candles? And gel pens? I had almost forgotten about the gel candles until I came across an old one I made.  I should dig out all those old gel pens too.  While we're on the gel topic, don't forget jelly shoes.

9.  A good puzzle should suffice until I pick another book to read. I used to do puzzles quite a bit, but I haven't worked on one yet this winter.  Unless you count laptops.

10.  I'm totally loving grapefruit right now.  But why the name grapefruit?  Supposedly it grows in bunches like grapes.  But if you look at pictures of grapefruit trees it doesn't look like clusters of grapes to me.  Besides, grapes grow on vines, not trees.  Bananas grow on clusters in trees, why not call in bananafruit since it's yellow.  Or something completely different that does not involve another fruit plus the word fruit.

11. That is it, carry on.

Food for Thought: "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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Veggie Noodles with Citrusy Dill Dressing

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

I've tried on more than one occasion to convince myself I like spaghetti squash. It's okay sometimes (despite this adventure), but I'm just not that into it.  It certainly doesn't taste like spaghetti, but then again, I've never been into spaghetti either.  I wouldn't eat anything tomato-based growing up, including spaghetti, lasagna or ketchup.  Thank goodness I grew out of that phase.  However, I'm still not a huge pasta eater.   Vegetables, on the other hand, I will gobble up like there's no tomorrow (you know, to balance all the cookies, peanut butter and chocolate).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: English Muffins

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.

If you're ready for a little adventure and a lot of learning then keep reading.  I've never made my own English muffins, probably because I don't eat them all that often.  Every once in a while I'll get a craving for the chewy toasted rounds loaded with nooks and crannies.  These characteristic craters are ideal for holding melted peanut butter.  Trust me.  I decided it was about time to try my hand at English muffins, and I learned quite a bit in the process.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mindful Monday: Free

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.

The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.  -Psalm 25:17

Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. -Psalm 31:4

In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered me by setting me free. -Psalm 118:5

They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed. -Psalm 37:26

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good. -Psalm 54:6

They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. -Psalm 73:5

God will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. -Psalm 112:5

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. -Proverbs  11:24

Freely you have received, freely give. -Matthew 10:8

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -John 8:32

 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. -Acts 2:24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  -Romans 3:23-24

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. -Romans 6:22

Because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. -Romans 8:2

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. -Galatians 5:13

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." -Hebrews 13:5

Still hungry? Check out similar posts on patiencepeacehopetrustwaitingjoy, and truth

Food for Thought: "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." -Ephesians 3:12

Friday, January 25, 2013

Flashback Friday: Soft Molasses Cookies

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

I was hoping to find an old recipe starring peanut butter in honor of National Peanut Butter Day yesterday.  Alas, there seems to be an abundance of old family recipes for ginger and molasses cookies.  I guess peanut butter wasn't exactly a staple in the Scandinavian kitchen.  While I won't turn down a spice cookie, I generally prefer a cookie involving chocolate.  All that being said, I'll do my best to add a little more variety to this series in the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Peanut Butter

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

It's National Peanut Butter Day!  Once I get peanut butter on the brain I can think of little else.  Get ready for some peanut butter randomness.

1. Peanut butter and jelly is always the top sandwich combination, but I've come across a few more interesting combinations over the years.  Some go for peanut butter and pickle sandwiches while others kick it up a notch with jalapenos.  I also know someone who grew up eating peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches.  Another friend of mine ate grilled peanut butter sandwiches (which are amazing), but then she dips them in ketchup.  Other odd pairings include mayonnaise, potato chips, marshmallow creme, tomato, bacon, onions and olives.

2. I put peanut butter on my smores more often than not.

3. Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey's favorite sandwich was "peanut butter, baloney, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise on toasted bread with catsup on the side."

4. It takes roughly 540 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar pf peanut butter and 770 peanuts to make a 16 ounce jar.

5. If you haven't made your own nut butter yet, such as peanut butter, you are seriously missing out.  It's ridiculously easy and obviously addicting.

6. Peanut butter has a super short shelf life in my pantry.  However, while cleaning out my grandma's cupboards I found an open jar of old peanut butter.  It had a consistency similar to beeswax.

7. Peanut butter is often used in mouse traps.  It would totally work to trap me too.  If I were a mouse I'd want to go that way.  Death by peanut butter.

8. The average American eats 3 pounds of peanut butter each year.  What, that's only 3 jars over the course of an entire year!  Clearly I make up for that, and then some.  I don't even want to know how many pounds of peanut butter I go through in a year.

9. A few of the more unusual or unexpected peanut butter flavor combos I've tried here:
Peanut butter, blueberry and chocolate chip
Peanut butter and basil
Peanut butter, basil, banana and chocolate chip (and trial number two)
Peanut butter and chai tea
Peanut butter and nutmeg
Peanut butter and pumpkin
Peanut butter, jalapeno and chocolate chip
For a full list of posts with peanut butter (including some normal ones), click the peanut butter tag on the right side bar.

10. In the early peanut butter days peanut butter was considered a delicacy.   It was served at upscale locations with pimento or watercress.

I could write all day about peanut butter, don't even get me started on my own favorites or things I'm dying to try.  If you're looking for more peanut butter trivia here's some from the National Peanut Board and The Food Timeline.

Happy National Peanut Butter Day.  Enjoy!

Food for Thought: "Everything in moderation...including moderation." -Julia Child 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Mushroom Salsa with Wonton Chips

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

Mushrooms in salsa? I hadn't heard of it either until I saw it on this blog and traced it back to the Muy Bueno Cookbook.  I know it sounds weird, but this is a kind of weird that really works.  Somewhere between seeing this idea and actually making salsa, my mind jumped from jalapeno and lime to the flavors of Asian food.  I'm not even going to try and trace that one back, I must have been on a mushrooms tangent.  So, yes, mushroom salsa with Asian flavors.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: A Twist From Time

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.

I tried really hard to make something for today that wasn't a dessert, really I did. But it just didn't turn out.  Then these cookies sort of happened.  It's like I can't help but make cookies.  You see, there are 1,000's of flavors floating around in my head, ideas to try, combinations to experience.  But I can't eat just cookies, and cookie dough doesn't count for as much variety as I'd like.  Try as I might to bring you something else, cookies just, well, happen.

I can turn just about anything into an excuse to whip up a batch.  My mom found my grandma's old Kitchen Aid mixer and I knew I had to test it out.  It hasn't been used since before I was born.  Would it still work?  I don't have a stand mixer and I've been drooling over a Kitchen Aid of my own for a long time.  Our current mixer is almost worthless, with beater bars that fall out if you don't hold it just right.  Speed and power are not strong points here either.  Last time I attempted to make marshmallows it was a complete disaster ending in an overheated motor and a severed attachment stuck in an unfinished puddle of disappointing marshmallow goo.  That was fun (read sticky, frustrating mess).

Though I've wanted to try this cookie recipe for quite some time, I vowed not to try it with our sorry excuse for a mixer.  I envisioned whipping up these cookies on a brand new mixer, but then this old mixer appeared and I needed to umm, test it out.  Look at that attachment, it's like a combination of a whip and a beater bar.  Or at least I think it is.  It should work to whip egg whites, right?  Only one way to find out.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mindful Monday: Continuing Thanks

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 was going pretty strong with my thankful lists and mindset, but somehow I got a little off track over the past few days.  I can't believe how much better my day goes when I am mindful of all I have to be thankful for.  The simple act of pausing to give thanks is so calming and uplifting.  In the spirit of getting back on track, I thought I'd list a few things here again.

thick walls to keep out the icy cold wind
colorful wool socks
hot chocolate
curling up in a sun spot with a good book
working computers
the people who fix or replace broken computers
drifting clouds
a good movie
geese flying in patterns
sleeping in
waking up at that perfectly cozy temperature and feeling rested
patient and understanding family members
familiar handwriting
emails sharing day to day life
old silverware patterns
persistent prayer
opportunity to grow and learn
roasted winter squash
gentle responses
the sparkle of ice crystals on the windshield
stripes and patterns
fingernail moons
the fragrance of freshly peeled citrus fruits
thoughtful actions of a family member

Food for Thought: "The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common." -Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Flashback Friday: Pfeffernusse

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

Though I never tasted my great-grandmother's pfeffernusse, I've heard about them from my dad and uncles.  I'll never know her exact recipe, but we have a tattered copy of the recipe she may have used.  Her name printed across the top is the only clue I have towards these small, hard cookies her grandsons so fondly remember.

Last September I told you about the aprons we found at my grandma's farm.  Just for fun I decided to make these cookies while wearing the blue flowered apron I like to think belonged to my great-grandma.  I couldn't resist stirring them up in the blue bowl she likely used.

And when I say stir, I do mean stir.  No electric mixers to cream the butter and sugar here, a bowl and wooden spoon will do the trick.  The recipe is a little vague in some areas, "Flour enough so you can roll the dough like a rope."  "Flour enough" ended up being just over 4 cups of flour, and that was for half a batch.  It would take a trusty wooden spoon to stir in 8 cups of flour without a mixer.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Truth

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

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

Do not withhold you mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your truth always protects me. -Psalm 40:11

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me. -Psalm 43:3

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. -Psalm 86:11

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. -Psalm 145:18

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. -Proverbs 12:22

Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. -Proverbs 23:23

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. -Mark 10:15

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:14

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. -John 1:17

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it my be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. -John 3:21

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. -John 5:24

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. -John 6:47

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -John 8:32

Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -John 14:6

This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. -1 Timothy  2:3-4

Let us not love with words and tongue, but with actions and in truth. -1 John 3:18

Still hungry? Check out similar posts on patiencepeacehopetrustwaiting, and joy

Food for Thought: "Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." -Albert Einstein

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake

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

Sauerkraut in bread is one thing, but sauerkraut in cake?  Once again my curiosity kicked in full force and put up a good fight.  I don't remember when or where I first saw a chocolate sauerkraut cake recipe, but the concept has been nagging me ever since.  I told you not to raise your eyebrows yesterday, but I give you full permission to do so today.

So, with eyebrows raised, let's begin.  The theory behind the cake is that the sauerkraut adds moisture, much like the respective vegetables in a carrot cake or zucchini cake.  The sauerkraut is rinsed before it's added to the batter so as to remove most of the sour, fermented flavor.  It's also chopped finely to avoid any stringy surprises.  Of all the recipes and reviews I read (and there were many), most tasters could not detect the sauerkraut.  If noticed at all they picked up on texture and thought it was shreds of coconut.   Of course I still had to try it out for myself, though in my defense I did forgo the cake recipe calling for sauerkraut, mayonnaise and cherry coke.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Caraway Rye Bread

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.

Several summers ago I temporarily became a morning person.  Well, sort of.  It turns out the aromas of freshly baked bread wake me up even more than coffee.  Waking up before the sun to work at the bakery wasn't hard once I got used to it.  Of course it helps that everything about making bread just makes me come to life.  You know it has to be fun if it puts a smile on my face before I'm awake enough to even think of coffee. 

Along with the enticing aromas of freshly baked bread we handed out thick, generous sample slices to potential customers.  My favorite sample to hand out was the rye bread.  One bite and the loaf was sold. Try as I might I could not keep the twinkle out of my eyes as I watched the customers enjoy their slices.  Only then would I tell them the 'secret' ingredient, sauerkraut.  

 Yes, sauerkraut.  It adds just the right amount of tang to the loaf to make the flavors pop.  I see you raising that eyebrow, but trust me I watched enough customers to know it converts even the skeptics.  Think of it like sourdough if you must.   I could not get enough of the version they made with caraway, delicious. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mindful Monday: Unexpected Reminders

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.

Disappointment, failure, mistakes, rejection, all of these are a natural part of life.  As I mentioned in this post, I'm trying to be mindful of gratitude.  We are instructed to, "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  I recently had a series of letdowns, but having just read One Thousand Gifts I was challenged to find a way to be thankful for the disappointments. 

Before I spent too much time wallowing in self-pity and doubt (though I admit there was some of that too), I chose to be thankful for these situations.  That doesn't necessarily mean I feel good about the circumstances, but I am thankful for the lessons they hold.  

This series of not-so-pleasant-happenings lead me to realize I was trying to please others and looking for their approval (insert broken record).  In addition to the opinion of others I was also seeking satisfaction from my own achievements.  None of these things will ultimately satisfy.  These letdowns were reminders that I was seeking the wrong thing.  I'm thankful for the circumstances because they served to point me back to Truth.  My worth and value are not tied to accomplishments or the opinions of others.  God loves me just as I am.  Only He will satisfy.  Only He will never disappoint.  I am thankful for these reminders, regardless of the circumstance.

Food for Thought: "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?" Galatians 1:10

Friday, January 11, 2013

Flashback Friday: Grandma's Old-Fashioned Caramel Corn

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

I know what you're thinking, another popcorn recipe?  Yep.  I bet I have enough popcorn flavors for an entire series on popcorn, perhaps we'll start that in the future.  For now we'll continue with our new Flashback Friday theme by taking a look at my grandma's caramel corn recipe.

My grandma always stirred up huge batches of her caramel corn for our Christmas Eve celebration.  She served it in one of her many antique red glass bowls.  I was able to make it with her during some of the last years she made it.  We filled huge metal pots with freshly popped popcorn.  These pots were big enough to wash a baby in.  I didn't inquire about their original use, but it wouldn't surprise me if something other than food frequented those pots in years past.  Armed with a heavy saucepan and a candy thermometer we set out to boil the sugar into caramel.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Random Food Words

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

It's time to learn some more random food words. And no, I did not make up that first one, it sure made me laugh though.

1. beefalo- a cross between cattle and bison (buffalo).  The meat is dark red with a slightly stronger flavor than beef.

2. opah- also known as a moonfish, this marine water fish can reach 200 pounds.

3. natto- soybeans that have been steamed, mashed, and fermented. With a cheeselike flavor and glutinous texture, it is a popular condiment in Japan where it is served over rice for breakfast.

4. isinglass- a form of gelatin derived from the air bladders of certain fish. While rarely used today, it was commonly used 100 years ago to clarify wine and thicken jelly.

5. fleuron- a tiny piece of puff pastry in the shape of a crescent that is used as a garnish.

6. flummery- a pudding made of stewed fruit and thickened with cornstarch.

7. ceriman- also known as the monstera this fruit resembles a narrow, foot-long pine cone. The scales pop off as the fruit ripens. Smooth and creamy like a firm custard, this fruit has hints of pineapple and banana.

8. ayran- a non-sweetened yogurt drink popular in the Middle East. While generally a blend of plain yogurt, water, and salt, some variations include garlic or mint.

source: Food Lover's Companion

Food for Thought: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast." -Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Onion Flowers

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

Instead of Weird Recipe Wednesday let's pretend it's Way Too Many Onions Wednesday.  I bought another bag of onions without double checking how many I had on hand.  And now I have, well, way too many.

In other words, it's the perfect time to try out the onion flowers I first saw here.  These flowers require almost zero effort, just a few slices with a knife.  Thanks to the inherent layers in an onion, the petals open up all on their own in the heat of the oven.

As the bulb blooms into a flower the natural sugars in the onion caramelize.  Strong and crunchy gives way to sweet and soft, talk about a transformation.  If you happen to have way too many onions, you can find the recipe and instructions as they appeared in LCBO's Food & Drink magazine here.

Food for Thought: "Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

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.

Eating black-eyed peas is a long-standing tradition for New Year's Day.  Some trace the good luck tradition all the way back to 500 A.D. and the Jewish New Year.  Others attribute the tradition to the Civil War era. (source)  I wasn't alive for either, so I guess I missed the memo.  I picked up a can at the store, imagining this might be the year I might participate in the tradition.  A new year and new foods.  How have I never eaten black-eyed peas?

 Well, that can of black-spotted beans sat in the pantry, paying no regard to my good intentions.  Apparently those little black eyes couldn't see that the calender read January 1st.  Probably because the new calendar wasn't up yet, details, details.  Anyway, a week later I got around to using these lucky beans.  I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them, but eventually decided to stir up some salsa to munch on.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mindful Monday: Accountability, Memorization and Truth

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.

Accountability is always helpful for me.  In efforts to get more scripture in my head (and heart), I'm participating in a group focused on scripture memory.  Twice a month we pick out a verse we want to commit to memory and email it to the group leader.  She then emails out the verses each person has chosen. It should be neat to see what verses everyone picks and encourage each other along the way.

The first verse I chose is one I am already quite familiar with but would still like to dwell on more.  Sometimes I'm so familiar with a verse I think I have it memorized, but I  really don't.  On this one I always get the order mixed up or leave some parts out all together.

Philippians 4:8-9 "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned, or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

I want to keep these things forefront in my mind and repetition is key.  So much of life seems to come down to a mind game and focusing my mind on the Truth is the solution.

Speaking of Truth, you should check out the She Reads Truth movement for another great option to add in more Truth to your life. It's never to late to start.

Food for Thought: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." -John 8:32

Friday, January 4, 2013

Flashback Friday: Ginger Creams

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

We're going to change things up a little around here and try out a new theme for Fridays.  Flashback Fridays will feature a recipe somehow connected to ages past.  I love paging through old cookbooks, looking at the stained pages and reading handwritten notes left in the margins.  This might include anything from my great grandma's recipes to a childhood tradition to a well-worn recipe card I've found floating around.  In the age of computers and blogs it's easy to overlook the picture-less pages tucked inside an old cookbook.  I will always enjoy new, out-of-the-box ideas, but there is something to be said for the stories inside each recipe box as well.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Thanks

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

I finally started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The book reveals her life-altering challenge to write a list of 1000 things she loves.  As she writes her list she realizes it is a list of things she is thankful for, blessings in her day to day life.  The practice of writing down these things, these gifts, is a simple concept with profound effects.

 As I mentioned last November, I've been writing down two things each night.  The first is something I learned that day and the second is something I'm thankful for.  Let me tell you, some days are much easier than others.  But practice and repetition are key.  There is always something to be thankful for, it's a choice, an attitude, a frame of mind.  I'm aiming for a stronger focus on gratitude and thought this first Thursday of the year would be the perfect place to share. What would you include on your list?

the soft glow of the snow from reflecting lights
the sparkle of snow in sunlight
knitted wool socks
old aprons
polka dots
food processors
soft, warm blankets
the clean smell of shampoo
hot water
quenching lotion on cracked hands
colored straws in drinks
bubble lights on the Christmas tree
fun dishes
caring friends
thoughtful coworkers
cozy turtlenecks
hooded sweatshirts
fresh fruit in the winter
handwritten recipes
a cheerful whistle
the sound of a family member playing piano
a new, working garbage disposal
patient fixers to install the garbage disposal
an unflickering light bulb in the oven
clean flannel sheets
sleeping in
a patterned pillow case made by a friend

Food for Thought: "Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude." -Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Sweet Potato Polenta with Cinnamon and Smoked Paprika

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

I'll risk sounding like a broken record here and remind you how much I like to combine little bits and pieces of random recipes.  Stick with me though, you just might learn something in the process, like how my mind wanders from grits to potatoes to soup to cookies and back...with a sprinkle of cinnamon and smoked paprika.

I've eaten grits once, maybe twice, but we're not too familiar with them this far north.  After spotting Jenna's recipe for Sweet Potato Grits I figured it was time to give grits another whirl.  I didn't do my homework and used the cornmeal in the cupboard as opposed to grits.  Grits are made from hominy, which is corn soaked in lye.  If hominy isn't involved you just have cornmeal, which makes polenta.  Now I know for next time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Gingerbread-Spiced Granola

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.

Happy New Year! I've been eating Christmas treats for a month straight so I thought we'd start the year off with some lightened-up granola.  After Gingerbread PopcornLemon and Gingerbread Cake and Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies, you would think I'd be sick of gingerbread.  But I'm not, so I packed all spicy bite of gingerbread into a healthy granola.  While its lightened-up in the sense of carbs and fat, it has quite the flavor kick.  Three kinds of ginger give this crunchy granola a spicy bite.