Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Popcorn Cornbread

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 is a good example of what I was talking about yesterday.  Making cornbread once is realistic, but to make it twice in one day just for the purposes of the blog is unrealistic.  Unless you all want to show up at my door and help me eat both pans?  Hmm, that's what I thought.  

Rather than make a second pan I'll use this as an opportunity to share a little bit about my recipe development process.  Let's see, what's the best way to do this? How about bullet points:

- First an idea pops into my head- "hey, you should make bread with ground up popcorn in place of some of the flour...okay... hmmm... how about cornbread so it's a popcorn cornbread with double or triple corn? ....yes, let's go with that for now."

- Once I settle on a basic idea I compare multiple recipes for the base (unless I already have a tried and true base).  In this case I looked at various cornbread recipes, took bits and pieces of what I liked from each one, then wrote out a final recipe in my notebook.  I write everything out in a notebook to keep track of what works and what doesn't.  It's filled with notes and scribbles of chicken scratch (or rather, kitchen scratch) on ideas, improvements and results.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mindful Monday: What's Next?

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.

So, I've been thinking about this a lot over the past month and I still don't have it figured out.  I'm not really sure where I'm going with this whole blogging thing.  I started this blogging adventure just over a year ago and have learned a lot along the way.  There are days I love it to pieces, but there are also times I think, why am I doing this?  With warm weather pulling me outside plus already being in the kitchen all day at work, I'm not sure how much time I want to devote to the posts here.

There's no doubt I'll still be trying all sorts of crazy recipes on my own time.  Some things, however, are not worth the time and effort to test, photograph, type up and edit.  I still want to share what inspires me along with a few odd kitchen adventures.   Because you know I'll still have plenty of those.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is the same thing that applies to the rest of life- balance.  Balance involves change and a shifting of one side to the other.  Rather than a precisely perfect point, balance hovers and includes flexibility and give and take.

 There is no recipe for a perfectly balanced life.  Neither life nor balance are perfect.  Like I keep saying, I'm not sure what that will look like here.  But when time spent behind the computer screen gets in the way of life, something is off balance.  It will take me a while to readjust and find a new balance.  I tend to stick to habit and pattern and am slow to change.  Perhaps this will be a good chance to challenge perfectionistic thinking and practice flexibility.

Will I stop blogging?  No.  Will I stop playing around in the kitchen?  Definitely not!  I've always loved that.  What will likely happen is a little less structure and a little more flexibility.  How's that for vague?  I'll try not to get too random on you though.  Hmmm, I don't really know what else to say.  I guess we'll just leave it at that and see what happens. Thanks for hanging on through whatever adventure is next.

Food for Thought: "It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things." -Donald Miller

Friday, April 26, 2013

Flashback Friday: Great-Aunt Eleanor's Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

Old recipes rarely include detailed instructions for the modern day cook.  What was considered common sense in our great-grandmother's generation was passed on from mother to daughter by hands-on experience and not necessarily written down in recipe format.   Details, tips and tricks of the trade were learned at home, and written recipes were intended as guidelines or reminders, not do-it-yourself, fail-proof tutorials.

This sour cream raisin pie recipe from my great-aunt Eleanor is over 100 years old.  It left me guessing in a few places, causing me to look up some of the details I mentioned yesterday.  It would be interesting to go back and make this recipe with her.  I don't think my meringue turned out as intended, but I've no way of knowing what hers was like in the first place.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Learning Curve

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

When something goes askew in the kitchen I like to read up about it and figure out why.  Understanding the principle behind the problem decreases the likelihood of a repeat episode.  Here's just a taste of what I've been reading up on lately along with a few other bites I'm beginning to chew, swallow and digest.

1. Underbaking a meringue pie results in weeping, a layer of liquid between the meringue and filling.  This can be prevented by spreading the meringue on the pie while the pie is still hot.  However, the pie should not be too hot or the filling may not have set up enough to hold the meringue.

2. Beads on top of a meringue are the result of overbaking.

3. To prevent a meringue from shrinking and tearing, be sure to attach and seal it to the crust before baking.  Adding certain starches to the meringue also helps.

4. Soft meringue, hard meringue, Swiss meringue, Italian meringue, cooked, uncooked, added starch, ratio of sugar, type of sugar, temperature, beating time, underbaked, overbaked, acidity, humidity....so much to consider.

Pie Crust
1.Overworking a pie crust stretches out the dough which causes shrinking while baking.

2.  A large gap between an upper crust and filling (such as apple) is due to a slow release of steam.  Thick apple slices release steam slowly, but thinner apple slices cook faster, allowing a quicker release of steam.  Thinner apple slices (along with cutting proper slits) prevent the crust from puffing up and leaving a large space.

Eggs in Custard
 1. Stirred custards without starch are heated over a double boiler and require constant stirring.  The eggs thicken anywhere between 160 and 180 degrees F.  The eggs can begin to thicken just one degree before turning to a scrambled curdled mess.  Rate of heat, milk to egg yolk ratio and sugar all influence curdling and thickening of stirred custards.

2. Baked custards without starch need a water bath.  The water for the water bath needs to be extremely hot.

3. Stirred custards with starch can be made over direct heat as opposed to a double boiler. Similarly, baked custards containing starch do not need water baths.

Consomme (just pretend the e has an accent over it)
1. This stock is clarified with egg whites.  As the stock simmers the egg whites coagulate and trap impurities.

2.  The egg and impurity mixture floats to the top forming what is called a raft.  An acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or tomatoes aids in forming a stable raft.

Food for Thought: "Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have." -Louis E. Boone 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Pickled Dill-Caraway Carrots

I should probably warn you now that I'm on a pickling spree.  Those pickled grapes made me conjure up a whole list of odd things to pickle.  But let's make carrots first, I don't want to get too crazy on you quite yet.

Our pickling possibilities are endless.  In addition to various vegetables, a few fruits and some other odds and ends, we can mix and match our herbs and spices.  There's also a variety of vinegars to experiment with.  For once I can't seem to work in peanut butter, popcorn or cookies.  I'll have to work on that.

Oh, I also managed to pickle the bottom shelf of the refrigerator followed by the produce drawer and kitchen floor as I spilled pickling brine all over.  On three separate occasions.  Three.  All I can say is, use a container that has a tight fitting lid, not a random disposable container with a mismatched almost-fitting lid.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Easier Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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.

Stuffing and rolling something like a tortilla is one thing, but the extra step of boiling an entire head of cabbage just to get the outer leaves doesn't rate very high on my to-do list.  In fact, it rates so low that I've never actually made cabbage rolls by this method.  Instead of boiling a huge pot of water I tried a hassle-free freezer method.  Freezing and then thawing the leaves makes them soft enough for rolling.  (Please note I'm resisting the urge to explain the science principles at work here. You're welcome.)

You can pop the entire head of cabbage into the freezer, or if this weather keeps up just leave the grocery bag in your car.  (Kidding, but ugh I am so ready for spring...)  If you want to use the center of the head in another recipe then just freeze the outer leaves.  Allow a longer freezing and thawing time if using the entire head.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mindful Monday: Receive

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.

For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. -Proverbs 8:35

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. -Proverbs 28:27

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. -Matthew 7:8

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

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

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. -Mark 11:24

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. -James 4:3

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. -John 1:11-12

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. -John 1:16

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. -Romans 8:15

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. -1 Corinthians 2:12

The God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any troubles with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. -2 Corinthians 1:3-4

For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. -2 Corinthians 5:10

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. -Ephesians 4:1

So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him. -Colossians 2:6

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,  so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. -Hebrews 4:16

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. -Hebrews 6:15

Still hungry? Check out similar posts on these words patiencepeacehopetrustfreejoywaittruthself-controllovewisdommindgentlegrace

Food for Thought:  You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. -Revelation 4:11

Friday, April 19, 2013

Flashback Friday: Kettle Corn

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

This weekend marks the annual festival at Iowa State University know as VEISHEA.  Students and alumni flock to campus for all sorts of events and entertainment.  The celebration began in 1922 and has since developed many traditions.  During my time at ISU I helped start a new VEISHEA tradition with the Culinary Science Club.  Each year they now make and sell several varieties of gourmet popcorn.  It was fun to be on the initial committee and watch how the tradition has grown and stabilized.  While I won't make it back this year I decided to celebrate on my own with a little popcorn action.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Unpictured Randomness

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

So, I was planning to show you some pictures from this past weekend.  My phone, however, does not agree with this plan and wants to keep the pictures to itself.  That or I'm just no good with technology.  Yeah, probably that.  I can do random though.  Let's do random.

1. Mangoes were on sale for 39 cents again.  Now, the last mangoes I bought were fairly flavorless. They sure looked like mangoes, but they must have been in disguise for under cover work.  This incident made me hesitate to buy more, but at 39 cents a piece there's not much to lose.  Into my cart they went.  Thankfully, this batch is super juicy and tastes just like mangoes should.  Yum.

2. No matter how many puddles you avoid, it only takes one wrong step to soak your shoes.  At least I avoided soggy socks until the last few blocks.

3.  I'll take puddles, wet socks, and warmish weather over freezing rain and snow.

4.  Okay, I won't really take them.  Where would I take them?  And if I could take them somewhere, how would I carry them?  In my pocket?  I'm not so sure about soggy pockets.

5.  I should probably get a little more sleep so there's a little less nonsense here, huh?

6.  Somehow I seem to think of (and find energy for) 50 things I don't really need to do about an hour after I should already be asleep.  Did you follow that?  Yeah me neither, but it's not important enough to repeat.

7.  Some of those animal crackers sure don't look like specific animals.  The camel, elephant and cow are fairly distinguishable, but I'm a little hesitant on some others.  Also, it's a good thing animal crackers don't taste like their corresponding animal.

8.  I don't know about you, but I'm losing interest in this conversation quickly.  It also seems rather one sided, don't you think?  Let's just call it a day.

9.  Unless you know how to get the pictures from my phone to magically appear here?  Because the last 8 distractions haven't exactly helped me figure that out.  Okay, goodbye.

Food for Thought: "The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances." -Aristotle 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Sweet Potato Dal

Overkill can kind of ruin a thing for you.  For example, I don't think I'll ever eat another orange-pineapple sandwich cookie in my life.  We must have had those every single day on a family camping trip.  Don't get me wrong, I was obsessed with them at first, but after a 2-3 week road trip I'd had my fill of orange-pineapple sandwich cookies for life.

I almost did the same thing with this lentil and sweet potato dish.  The first time I ate a bowlful I knew I wanted the recipe.  When I was back in my own kitchen I made it so many times over the next few months that I thought I'd never swallow another spoonful.  Wrong.  It's been several years, so I decided to pull out the recipe again.  Nope, definitely not sick of this anymore.  I'm not quite as obsessed with it as I was the first go-round, but it sure hit the spot.  Fragrant and filling, a warm bowlful will leave you feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed.  Sometimes I get so lost in all things chocolate, peanut butter and baked that I forget how much I enjoy something savory from the stove-top.

Tuesday's Twist: Eggless Banana 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.

Let's say you've made, I don't know, 4 or 5 batches of muffins over the past few weeks but still find yourself in a 'let's bake with bananas' mood.  Because, obviously, 'let's bake with bananas' is a mood.  If that happens to be the case then banana bread is what you get.  This version is unintentionally eggless, vegan and fat-free...and may or may not have been baked alongside insanely fudgey brownies that were everything but fat-free, vegan and eggless.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mindful Monday: Seasons

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.

In general I like the beginning of a season, but by the end I'm ready for the next season to begin.  I grumble about the long winter but then wish it weren't so hot and humid in the summer (but seriously, stop with the snow, it's mid April).  Being indecisive, I can never pick a favorite season, but I often joke that my pessimist's favorite season is "the opposite of whatever season we're in now."

I was pondering the other day if I do the same thing with the seasons of life.  Am I always wishing I were just one stage ahead in life or am I content and enjoying life just where it is?  Sometimes I think I'm 'tired' of a stage of life and see 20/20 only in hindsight.  Spring, summer, fall and winter come again each year, but I can't go back and repeat a stage of life.  Rather than rush to the next season or hurry up and wait, I can enjoy life right where it's at.

Whether it's everyday life of the weather itself, I need to learn to slow down and smell the flowers, take time to crunch through the leaves, splash in a puddle or catch a snowflake on my tongue (I mean...nose and eyelashes...or do I?).  Instead of feeling like I have a million things to do and not enough time, I can choose to enjoy the task for what it is.  Rather than think, 'I'll be happy when x, y and z are all lined up,' I'll remember that colors are just as bright outside the lines.

I really do enjoy aspects of each season, and I'm glad I live in a region with 4 seasons.  However, I can't say I'd complain if Spring came in full force.  Then again, I guess this weather will give me a chance to be content and enjoy conditions just as they are; an attitude I'd be wise to apply to the rest of life as well.

Food for thought: "The earth laughs in flowers." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flashback Friday: Apple Kakka

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

My family's version of this traditional Scandinavian dessert is rather nontraditional.  Though apple kakka translates to apple cake, I certainly wouldn't call this a cake.  Think of it more like a layered apple crisp.

I remember eating this dessert but had never looked at the recipe itself.  My younger self was more concerned with who got more marshmallow topping than details of the recipe.  Underneath that coveted, crunchy yet gooey toasted marshmallow layer I remember layers of graham cracker crumbs and applesauce.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Thankful List Continued

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

In the hustle of day to day life I often get my priorities mixed up and neglect to make time for what's most important.  Once again, I'm going to use this space as a means to slow down and reflect on what I'm thankful for.

loud thunder storms
cracks of lightening
the patter of rain on the windows
windshield wipers
friends as close as family
lessons learned by experience
crawling into bed after a long day
straws in drinks
good deals
curling up in a comfy chair
clean dishes
new perspectives
old examples
structured time
ample time
a good laugh
books to read
running water
a day to sleep in
footprints in the snow

Food for Thought: "When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator." -Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Garlic-Dill Soda Bread

About a month ago I tried a whole slew of Irish soda bread recipes.  The first recipe claimed to be a traditional family recipe handed down from someone's grandma.  It was so salty and bitter I almost had to spit it out.  The next version I tried resulted in a dense, dry and rather bland bread with a baking soda aftertaste.  I called it quits until a few weeks later when I discovered several cups of sour milk in my fridge.  Rather than dumping said milk down the drain, I decided to give soda bread another go. This time around I baked the loaf in a covered casserole dish.  Bingo.  Except that I then proceeded to eat nearly half the loaf while standing over the stove.

Baking the loaf in a covered casserole dish traps steam and prevents the bread from drying out.  It also produces a loaf with a crisp crust but a soft, light interior.  I was pleasantly surprised with how fluffy the texture is even though the loaf has no yeast.  Better yet it takes only a few minutes to come together and requires no rising time.  It takes just 45 minutes from flour canister to mouth, and apparently only a few minutes more before it's half gone.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Pickled Grapes

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.

Pickled grapes?  Yep, that's right.  Pickled grapes.  Stop giving me those strange looks.  Why would a girl who doesn't even like pickles make pickled grapes?  Oh wait, now I get why you're giving me those odd looks.  

Actually, I think I'm starting to like pickles.  Well, sort of.  So far I like some things that are pickled, but I'm not huge on pickles themselves.  I know, weird.  But since this new pickling trend has popped up I've tried pickled asparagus and pickled carrots.  I was quite surprised at how much I like them.  So surprised in fact, that I decided to try a few kinds of "pickle" pickles again as wells as pickled beets.  Nope, still don't like either of those.  At least not yet.  But what about grapes?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mindful Monday: Grace

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.

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. -John 1:16

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, 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

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace. -Acts 20:24

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

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. -Romans 5:1-2

And if by grace, then it can not be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. -Romans 11:6

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. -1 Corinthians 15:10

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. -2 Corinthians 8:9

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. -Ephesians 2:4-5

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

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. -Ephesians 4:7

Let us then approach the throne of God's grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. -Hebrews 4:16

Still hungry? Check out similar posts on these words patiencepeacehopetrustfreejoywaittruthself-controllovewisdommindgentle

Food for Thought: "Your worst days are never so bad that you're beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you're beyond the need of God's grace." -Jerry Bridges 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Flashback Friday: Great-Grandma's Chewy Ginger Cookies

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

I wasn't lying when I said there was an abundance of old molasses cookie recipes in the family.  This one comes from my great-grandma on my mom's side.  Around age 20 she came over from Norway and got her first job as a cook for a doctor's family.  The family lived in St. Paul but brought her with to cook when they stayed at their resort home in Maine.  She also accompanied them as first cook aboard ship on the Great Lakes.  The details have been lost to time, but I still have some of her recipes like these ginger cookies.

 I've made more than my fair share of molasses cookies, yet I've never seen one utilizing a crisscross fork pattern.  Flattening with a fork is usually reserved for peanut butter cookies, but I was pleasantly surprised by its use here.  Many molasses cookie recipes call for chilling the dough, but these cookies can be baked immediately.  I'm generally not a fan of cloves and was hesitant to add a whole teaspoon.  Once again I was pleasantly surprised and found the blend of spices to be just right.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Spring Flowers

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

Last year at this time I was outside taking pictures of all the spring flowers.  I can hardly wait to give it another shot this year.  Though a decent portion of the snow is gone, the flowers aren't exactly in full bloom yet, are they?  That doesn't mean we can't enjoy some spring colors right now.  Below are some of my favorites from last year.  I have a few hung around the house until this year's blossoms open.


 I used these two on the coasters I made for Christmas.  I'm afraid I'll ruin them if I actually use them as coasters, so they're hanging on the wall like tiles.  Whatever, it works.

This planter was an Easter gift, also from last year. 

This tree is right outside our kitchen window.  Quite the view for washing dishes. 

Ahhh, I can almost smell the flowering crab blossoms now.  That has got to be one of my favorite scents, along with lilacs.   Even better than freshly baked cookies, don't you think? 

Food for Thought: "What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable." -Joseph Addison

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Butterfly Pretzels

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely ready for spring.  The sun and chirping birds have caught on, but somehow the temperature missed the memo.  Perhaps we can make some spring treats as an extra hint.  Dear weather, dipped pretzels are not just for Christmas.  Please join us in a delightful celebration called spring.  We'll provide treats, all you need to bring are warmer temperatures.

Don't worry I'm not (that) crazy, I actually made these butterfly dipped pretzels to go along with our Easter evening snack spread.  They're simple to make, though a bit time consuming.  I was already flitting from project to project in the kitchen so why not throw in one more, right?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Easter Leftovers

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 have countless recipes to share with you, but every last inch of our fridge is packed with Easter leftovers.  It would be slightly ridiculous for me to make more food for you today.  I mean, I like you and all, but you're going to get leftovers.  Actually, sharing leftovers means you're practically family.  I'm not even going disguise these leftovers by turning them into something new.  We're just going to reheat and eat.  Or maybe we'll just eat them cold.  I don't know, what do you feel like?  I'm kind of thinking cold, but I suppose you can pick since I've already had them a few times.

While these leftovers taste great, they look a little, well, leftover.  I didn't bother with pictures on Easter so I'll just give you a recap of the recipes and events of the day.

* This Lemon Orzo with Asparagus is the only thing that looks, what shall we say, not-quite-as-leftoverish?  What's not to love about a dish that's flavorful, simple and comes together quickly?  I guess I can dig out the camera, but only for this one or we'll never empty out that fridge.

* These hot cross buns were one of the first things I ever made with candied ginger.  Needless to say I've been hooked (and slightly obsessed) with it ever since.  Candied ginger, golden raisins and dried cranberries are kneaded into a whole wheat dough flavored with spices and orange and lemon zest.  But you should have some of the leftover plain white rolls, I don't really want to share these.

*Save room for red potatoes roasted with rosemary and a touch of honey.  Sorry, no recipe here, I just chopped, tossed and roasted.

* The same goes for the salad, minus the roasting of course.  Chopped romaine layered with sweet peas, crunchy celery, radish slivers, green onion and a sprinkle of cashews, lightly dressed with a dill vinaigrette.

* I also threw together a quick fruit platter with strawberries, red and green grape clusters, fresh pineapple and oranges.

* Oh yeah, I almost forgot, ham.  Just help yourself.

* I'll even get you a clean plate for dessert, Grasshopper (mint) pie.  Well, sort of.  The crust was too hard and the filling didn't really set up, not a recipe I'd use again.  But if you throw the leftovers in the freezer it's just about right.  Actually, forget the plate, let's just eat it right out of the pan.

My mom's coworker brought us this fresh herb pot, ahhh so fragrant.  Rosemary and oregano have poked through so far, but the label has quite a few others listed.  Let's hope I can keep it alive long enough to see what else comes up.

After dinner we spent the afternoon viewing old family slides from the 60's and 70's.  My aunt and uncle have been diligently sorting boxes and boxes of slides from my grandma's house.  It was fun to see pictures of my dad's side of the family and hear the stories that went along with them.  After a few hours of that we got out the munchies like this Cranberry Orange Party Mix.

Food for Thought: "If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come." -C.S. Lewis

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mindful Monday: Thoughts from Easter

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.

Each time you see or hear something familiar there is a chance to to gain new perspective and insight.  This weekend several things stuck out to me regarding Easter.  Though I've heard them all before, I hadn't really stopped to reflect or ponder their significance.  Below is the shortened version of a few things that made my wheels start turning.  I'd like to spend more personal time digging deeper and applying these thoughts to my my own life.

1. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, yet he still chose him as a disciple.  I have to wonder how this influenced their interactions.  If I knew someone would ultimately betray me I would always keep them at an arms length.  Yet I suspect Jesus showed Judas just as much love and respect as he did to the other disciples.

2. I've been having a hard time lately making my quite time a priority.  I use the excuse of being too tired or not having 'enough' time.  At the Good Friday service I couldn't help but notice the words Jesus spoke to the disciples in the garden.
"Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?' he asked Peter. 'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' " (Matthew 26:40-41) 
 I am no different. How many times have I struggled to stay awake during a service?  How many times do I fall asleep praying or stay in bed just a few more minutes instead of making morning quiet time a priority?

3. It's hard to comprehend the extreme physical pain Christ went through during the crucifixion.  While this bodily torment was excruciating, the mental and spiritual anguish he went through as he took on the guilt, shame and punishment of all mankind was even more intense.  Even more intense. (plus it happened at the same time as the physical torture)

Food for Thought: "If the cross was the end of the story, we would have no hope. But the cross isn't the end. Jesus didn't escape from death; he conquered it and opened the way to heaven for all who will dare to believe. The truth of this moment, if we let it sweep over us, is stunning." -Steven James