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Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I love cheesecake and make it all the time. I usually stick with vanilla cheesecake with a fruit topping and graham cracker crust or my triple chocolate cheesecake with whipped cream or strawberries or both. It is not often that I make any other variation on cheesecake. This was a great opportunity to break out of that shell.

I was strongly tempted to make this one into a savory cheesecake by removing the sugar and adding some crushed garlic to the filling, making the crust out of pine nuts, using vermouth instead of liqueur and topping with an artichoke heart and hatch chile type dip. Rich thought I should do that, too, but I didn't really have any place to serve it and I don't think we could have eaten it all. Dessert, on the other hand, we could eat through the week after dinner. So, sweet it is.

If you try my savory idea, let me know how it turns out. I will try it when we have a party to attend and are asked to bring something. I would also cook it in a larger than normal pan as well, so the savory cheesecake isn't too thick to eat on bread or too rich to finish.

So anyway, I have strong feelings about how to cook cheesecakes after many years of making them. I don't do the water baths. I've never had it work as it is supposed to and, instead, end up with a soggy crust. So, I baked this for a little longer at a lower temperature, 300 degrees, then cooled in the oven as per the instructions.

I wanted to make a mango ginger topping, I thought it would look really beautiful and taste lovely, but our mangoes didn't taste all that nice, so they are being diced into a tropical fruit salad for dinner later this week. Rich thought I should still do it, just because it would be a nice thing to look at, but I could not compromise the flavor for appearance. So, I made a bananas foster type topping with muscovado sugar, loads of butter, Grand Marnier and Rum. Besides, I was able to flambe, and that is always impressive.

This is the only photo that really showed any flame at all. I ended up redoing it twice to try to get the photo, but we couldn't get a good one. So just take my word on this.

I made an almond crust rather than a standard cookie or graham cracker crust. We were given a choice on what liqueur to use and, as I was using Grand Marnier in the topping, I chose to use Grand Marnier in the filling to repeat that flavor (the recipe for this and the almond crust are included below). I like orange and banana together.

I still think I prefer my old cheesecake ways. Perhaps I am getting old and crotchety. This was a nice distraction from vanilla or chocolate with berries, though, and tasted great. Next time, I think I would reduce the flour in the crust and replace it with more almond meal.

Nut Crust

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons almonds, finely chopped
12 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter and stir to combine. Press into the bottom and sides of a springform pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is slightly browned. Set aside to cool on a rack until ready to fill.

Banana Topping

1/2 cup butter
1 cup muscovado sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
4 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup dark rum

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the Grand Marnier, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, spoon the topping over the cheesecake and serve immediately.

Thank you Jenny for this fun challenge! It forced me out of my cheesecake rut and gave me even more ideas to play with another time.

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Menu Plan Monday: April 27

I'm still trying to cook predominately out of our freezer and pantry. We have a whole lot of food here, so this is a good way for us to save money. Though I spent a whole lot of money this past week stocking up on things like beans, rice, cereals like rolled oats and steel cut oats, sugars and salt. I'm trying to stock the pantry with things that store well for a long time and empty out our freezer as much as I can for the present.

We will likely know by tomorrow if our big changes are coming. Please continue to pray with us for direction and clarity.
If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can.
What is on your menu this week?

I think that Carrie isn't doing the freezer and pantry clean out challenge any more, but it is kind of fun to see what we are using up that we didn't have to buy. Anything from the freezer, pantry or fridge that was not bought specifically for this meal or this past week will be included in my lists.

Italian Sausage
Roasting Chicken
Chicken Breasts

Cheddar Cheese

All Herbs & Spices
Dried Pasilla Chiles
Egg Noodles
Brown Rice
Vialone Nano Rice
Cellini Beans
Vallarta Beans
Olive Oil
Bread Flour
Bread Crumbs
Whole Wheat Flour
Corn Meal
Canned Tomatoes
Mandarin Oranges

Oregano from the herb garden
Thyme from the herb garden

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

25 Songs Contest Winner

Okay folks. I only had three entries in my song contest. I will have to publicize my contests better in the future. Or listen to music more people know. But, there is a winner! Celeste identified 11 songs, eight of those were correct. Two were almost right, one which was the correct artist, but not the right name of the song (though I knew what she meant) and one which was the correct band, but not the correct song. One had the wrong number, but it was close enough. Either way, she is definitely the winner. I tried to e-mail you Celeste, but the message bounced, please e-mail me using the link in the sidebar. I evidently listen to obscure and unknown music.

I did not pay much attention to the musician part because there are so many versions of these songs. So, only where there was one version of the song did I insist on the right artist.

1. Love makes me treat you the way that I do - Gee, Baby Ain't I Good to You (Susan Boyd)
2. She's leavin' and folks are feeling so low - The Gal from Joe's (Simone)
3. Everybody needs a little time away - Hard to Say I'm Sorry (Chicago)
4. I guess I thought you'd be here forever - Hard Habit to Break (Chicago)
5. Know, don't you wanna know, don't you wanna know - Who's That Man? (Xscape)
6. Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky - Stormy Weather (Etta James)
7. At last my love has come along - At Last (Ella Fitzgerald)
8. Well I was walking down a rutted road - Where You Been (Mark Alan)
9. Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa men have named you - Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole)
10. I hear you say your heart is aching - Let Us Pray (Stephen Curtis Chapman)
11. Pack up all my cares and woes - Bye Bye Blackbird (Joe Cocker)
12. When you feel the sunlight fade into the cold night - I Will Be Here for You (Michael W. Smith)
13. It's not the pale moon that excites me - All or Nothing at All (Harry James)
14. You say you want a revolution - Revolution #1 (Beatles)
15. I know a girl who was schooled in Manhattan - Seize the Day (Carolyn Arends)
16. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman - Stand by Your Man (Tammy Wynette)
17. When the sun is high in the afternoon sky - Wee Small Hours (Carly Simon)
18. Oh baby, do you know what that's worth - Heaven Is a Place on Earth (Belinda Carlisle)
19. I know you don't love me no more - I Know (Marisela)
20. So many people gonna say that they want you - In Love with a Girl (Gavin DeGraw)
21. Sexy Sadie, what have you done? - Sexy Sadie (Beatles)
22. I got chills, they're multiplying - You're the One that I Want (Grease Soundtrack - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John)
23. Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging - Hallelujah (Brenton Brown)
24. He's a real nowhere man - Nowhere Man (Beatles)
25. Mom and dad, I am fine, how are you? - Reality (Newsboys)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Frugality (Part XI): Buying in Bulk

I've talked about how we buy certain things in bulk and shown you how we store those purchases. Bulk quantities for you may be smaller than they are for our family of eight. If you can buy from bulk bins at a good price, it is a good way to get what you need for little cost. You do not have to buy gigantic boxes or bags of food if that is not what you wish to do.

However, things like beans, whole grains, rice, dried corn (for popping or milling), rolled oats, steel cut oats, sugar and salt are all good things to buy in large quantities. These are things that we can store long term without freezing, they last for a long time so long as you keep them dry and they are inexpensive. 25 pounds of beans makes 150 cups of cooked beans. Since we eat beans at least once or twice a week, this is an inexpensive way for us to feed the family tasty and nutritious food.

It costs me about $0.23 to make the same amount of refried beans as is found in a can, including the cost of the onion, bacon drippings, salt & pepper, when I start from dry beans. The cans go on sale for a dollar and are full of junk fats, way more salt than we would use and other junk that we don't need. It takes me 10 minutes to turn leftover beans in the bean broth into refried beans. So, we're not talking a huge time commitment either. Cooking beans from dry saves you money right from the start, as even the least expensive, store brand, semi-mushy canned beans we find generally run around $0.50 a can, which can be made from dry for the same quantity for about $0.16.

It does require some pre-planning and prep work. You can minimize that by cooking two or three times as much as you need and freezing the rest for later use. This allows you the convenience of canned beans with the frugality of dry beans. Because we buy our grains for milling and flours that we don't mill ourselves for our bread and other baking needs, even artisan type breads that would normally cost around $5.00 a loaf cost us about $0.25-0.40. Using the bread machine for sandwich breads and some dough preparation cuts down on the time we spend and keeping a large bowl of wet dough in the fridge to rise slowly cuts down on the work for artisan type breads quite a bit as well.

I have found that I have a hard time spending even a dollar for bread at the store, because I know how poor the quality is compared to homemade, that we use better ingredients at home and it still costs us less than a dollar for twice the amount of bread.

Even buying a 10 pound bag over a five pound bag will save you money for the most part. We are fortunate to have grocery stores which sell out of bulk bins at a fraction of a cost for the store brand of flours, grains, pastas, beans, cereals, salt, sugars and more. We use our own storage bins and save a bundle. You would be surprised at how well you can stack and store the containers if you give it a little thought.

When we were first married, we lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment, for instance, which was low on cabinets, drawers and counter space and had no pantry. We had a microwave stand that we kept just outside our kitchen with the microwave on it (shocking!). However, this created a space underneath that we used to stack cans and jars of food, creating a small, makeshift pantry. I know some people who use an extra closet or the space under their beds with those rubbermaid type storage bins in which to keep canned and boxed goods.

Remember, though, the smaller container of whatever you buy (with some rare exceptions, always take the time to check the unit price), will cost you to cover the packaging, convenience and labeling. If you can get it in a larger container or from a bulk bin, it will almost always save you money and trips to the store. The hidden savings in buying this way is fewer extra trips to the store and the gas cost attendant with it.

My next frugality post will address something other than food and household goods. I know, it is exciting. I'm going to talk about family entertainment for less. We have a very low budget for entertainment and still manage to entertain all eight of us. So far, nobody feels deprived or bored. I hope to help with ideas for your family as well.

Previous Posts:
Make it at Home
Grocery Shopping
Waste Not, Want Not
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Use What You Have
Combining Trips
Storing Bulk Purchases
Turn It Off
Grow Your Own

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Finished Object Friday: April 24

My new plan is to set these to post weeks in advance, editing them to add anything I may have finished. This is so I can get back into the habit of posting this weekly, so others can count on it being here. So, new policy is that something will be posted by 12:00 a.m. Fridays, even if it is only Mr. Linky for people to link.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: April 20

We are back to our normal meal planning and schedules here. It is always a little difficult to go to feasting after a significant fast. We just cannot eat as much or tolerate rich foods quite as easily. So, it is kind of nice to get into a regular eating pattern, not the stricter dietary rules, but not a whole lot of extra either.

There are a couple things from last week that I never made, as we moved things around and had tons of leftovers from some of the food. So, this week they are reappearing. I haven't had to do much in the way of grocery shopping this past week, so our budget is taking the Easter feasting pretty well. My bill for last week went from around $93 to $66 after my short cuts, printed coupons, store coupons, sales and the discount for using my own bags. I'm still trying to cut our grocery budget as much as possible.

I have a goal of getting another frugality post done this week, as well as starting the pictures from Elijah's birthday surprise. Wish me luck. Also, I wanted to remind people, yet again, of my song contest. You have until late Thursday night to enter.

Please be praying for Rich and us on Wednesday, as we have some important stuff going on then.
If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can.
What is on your menu this week?

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Plans for Today

Well, I only have one real entry to my song contest, so I am extending the entry period until April 24th at 12:01 a.m. PDT. Please give it a shot. I know that some of the songs are pretty obscure, but there are quite a few easy ones and several that play on my playlist here on the site.

I am still busy uploading photos from our trip east of the mountains. I realized that even culling a lot of the photos that were taken, we still have a ton. So, I think that my post about our trip and Elijah's surprise will be in three or four parts. Just so the photos on a single post don't overload anyone.

Also, on a more serious note. We have a lot going on here to pray about, which is part of the reason that blogging has been so light. We've been busy with Lent and Pascha, but also with something that's been looming for a while now. It seems to be speeding up now and it looks like we are in the final few weeks of uncertainty, but it also looks like a major shift, that none of us really wants, nor are any of us happy with how it is coming about, is on the way. The change won't be to something bad, but it is a hard one and it will mean leaving behind a lot of good.

This past year has been one of growing pains and loss and tough decisions. We are hoping against hope that this is not another tearing apart, praying that our will is God's will, but we continue to pray the prayer that never fails: Not my own, but Thy will be done. Please pray with us for discernment, favor and the good of our family.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Bright Week

This week is Bright Week, there is no fasting at all this week. After over a month of abstinence and fasting, though, it is hard to go too crazy. We are finding that we just can't eat as much as we want. We will be having great leftovers tonight from our feast Sunday. I have a ham to cook and we have a freezer full of desserts that we haven't touched that will be pulled out as well.

I have always had this fantasy that we can pull out nice plates for the holiday that are pretty and decorative, but we always end up with paper plates and plastic ware. Easy clean up wins each time. It is a good thing, too, because it took three dishwasher loads to clean up from our party yesterday - and that was with us using disposable plates, cups and utensils. We threw away most of the garbage last night, the children and I went over the place again today. It was a great time, with tons of amazing food. I intended to take a picture of the laden tables, but forgot. So, imagine coolers full of drinks, a bar with ice, cups and wine and three tables with food and dessert on them. I forgot to bring out the laban bi chiyar, I think I did this a couple years ago, too.

I still have pictures from our trips in February and March and stories to tell, but life is crazy here right now.
If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can.
What is on your menu this week?

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christ is Risen!

The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

I won't be posting a finished object Friday today. The only thing finished that I wish to highlight this week is the work of Christ who uttered, "It is finished!" and gave up His body and spirit for all mankind.

Our old testament reading today was from Genesis, Abraham taking Isaac to sacrifice him. Much like Jesus, Isaac carries the wood for the sacrifice up to the altar, much like Jesus, he is a willing victim. Isaac could have easily stopped his elderly father from strapping him to the altar, but he was obedient, even unto death. Abraham's declaration that God would provide himself the ram is a reminder that only God took on the responsibility for the old covenant (only God walked the bloody path of the covenant cutting, Abraham did not) and a foreshadowing of what was to come much, much later in history.

Our morning gospel reading was from John, with Jesus before Pilate. He tells Pilate:

For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.

The entire purpose of the Incarnation is the crucifixion and resurrection. That day, that moment was the reason Jesus was born. It is humbling. It makes me want to serve Him better. The person of the Son was directed toward this end from before the foundations of the world.

One of our prayers said this morning:

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross;

He was content to be betrayed, given to wicked men and suffer for us. That is how great the love of God is for His creation; He was willing to make His Son into the once for all sacrifice for sin.

Tonight, our church family will be walking the Via Dolorosa with Jesus in the Stations of the Cross. The weather is drab and grey, after a sunny day yesterday, which is appropriate. I bid you all a blessed Triduum.

I wish to leave you with another prayer and one of my favorite hymns for Holy Week.

O Merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown.
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve thy place:
Look on me with thy favor, and grant to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be,
Lord let me never, never outlive my love to thee.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again

It is Holy Week, a time when millions and millions of Christians of all stripes around the world are preparing their hearts and homes for the resurrection of Jesus by remembering and meditating on the events of the Passion and crucifixion. So, what is the secular world doing? The same thing they do every year: Putting out stories about how false Christianity is and how dumb Christians are!

You can mark your calendar by it, come Holy Week or Advent there will be, in the media, stories about how the virgin birth is a lie (not just false or mistaken, a lie), stories of these Christian experts (usually dissenters who are either excommunicated, discredited or far outside the mainstream of any branch of Christianity, but they don't mention that - and hey, they're wearing that funny collar so they must be legitimate!) who tell you that Christians are really wrong about the person of Jesus and His miracles and the entirety of Church history, scripture and tradition, stories about how the resurrection is a great hoax, etc. Occasionally, you see this treatment of faithful Jews around Passover, even rarer around Channukah. Usually, the target is orthodox Christianity, though. You'll notice a conspicuous absence of a third monotheistic religion in these exposes, however, which shows exactly how cowardly these "brave, outspoken, truth tellers" are. It is much easier to attack someone who has been commanded to turn the other cheek and then congratulate yourself on how courageous you are to stand up to them than to actually stand up to tyrants who are intent on killing you.

I linked to a commentary on the article, because I didn't want to give the article any hits, but you can see the original article from the link I posted. I love how the author can't even get basic facts of Christianity correct. He says, in the first sentence, that Paul was the first Christian. That would be an interesting bit of information to Paul (and the established Church he was sent to visit). This makes me doubt either his credentials of having grown up a Baptist minister's son or his true knowledge or understanding of anything that was taught him.

One of the comments on Mark's blog really struck me:

But when such faith is lost, as in my case, what am I left with? I'm left with the teachings of Jesus...

Why? If you've obviously concluded that Jesus was a liar about a number of important things (son of man raised from the dead, temple destroyed and rebuilt in three days, etc.), then why listen to anything else? And if you're sure that the Christian account of history is so very wrong about the thing that matters most to it, why should it be trusted on the lesser issues?

Why indeed? It always amazes me that these purveyors of the "true" Christianity put any stock in any of the claims of Jesus or the Church or the Bible. If they believe the Church, the apostles, Jesus to be such liars, why would they believe anything else they taught? It is no wonder that the heterodox churches are the churches that have clergy shortages and dwindling membership. Why would anyone join an organization that required getting up early on a Sunday morning, time commitments, financial support and that carried a stigma in the West (of being one of those religious types) for something that you can get from NPR, CNN and Hollywood? Why would men sacrifice money, freedom and (in the case of Roman Catholic priests and Orthodox bishops) marriage for the same old political clap-trap that can be found in the world with a bigger paycheck and fewer demands? There are two directions for the people in these churches: orthodoxy or atheism. Both of which lead them out of those churches. Sure, the atheists will still identify as Christian (usually in the brand they knew, Episcopal, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, etc), but they don't actually attend church, believe the bible, believe Church teaching, have any regard for the Church or her members, they are shocked, shocked I tell you!, when the Church stands firm in her beliefs and rules, even more shocked that the Pope is Catholic and in many cases (like a woman who called herself Catholic once told me) identify more with pagan and nature based religions than Christianity.

You might ask why they would call themselves Christian at all, rather than coming up with their own religion. I think it comes from a desire to still have a connection to a community and a realization, somewhere in them, that there is a legitimacy conferred by a major religion that cannot be found in one's own made up faith or an attachment to a fringe religion. Mind you, even the "spiritual" people, who claim to follow Native American religion or "Eastern" religions don't actually adhere to their beliefs, practices or teachings, it's simply a way to appear avant garde without requiring anything of the "believer," more like visiting a quilt show than being a quilter. As for those who are taking over churches in the West, I think it is far more sinister than that. I think they think of each communion as a brand of Christianity that they can use to destroy from within, leaving it a shell that is decayed and empty, which can then help to, finally, kill Christianity, as the secular prophets have been prophesying for many centuries (it flummoxes them as to why believers - in any god - persist in believing in this imaginary God of theirs). It's not as if people in the west are unable to create their own religion, but they would rather use the money, buildings, vestments and credibility of established faith traditions.

So, back to our "authentic" Christian. He's ignorant of the (basic) teachings of the Church, thinks Jesus is a liar at least part of the time on some pretty important things, thinks that the Church is a fraud, but he has somehow discovered the truth out of their web of deceit. How again is he a Christian at all, let alone a "true" Christian?

It reminds me of the brou-haha over Dan Brown's book. Here was a work of fiction parading itself as secret truth which got such basic facts about Church history so wrong that all it would take is an outdated encyclopedia to correct him, and yet people, and sadly people who called themselves Christian (a woman I know who was a so-called Catholic was amazed at the secrets uncovered in this book), bought it as a work of legitimate research.

The self-loathing evident in these people is much like the self-loathing many in the West have about our culture. You will not find this self-hatred among other cultures. You should not find it in theirs or in ours. How can anyone truly appreciate another culture if they cannot first appreciate the good in his own?

The year before we were married, we attended a cathedral in Seattle for Sunday morning church. It was a waste of time. They mentioned the name of Jesus right at the beginning, to get it out of the way I imagine, and then went on a political stump (you know, the kind that is allowed, not anything that is socially conservative or endorsing a libertarian candidate, the other kind) about taxes and a particular local candidate. It was still the Christmas season, and they were preaching that what baby Jesus really would have wanted is more taxes. We could have slept in and had a more spiritual morning. The cathedral wasn't even a beautiful building, so we could lift our eyes and spirits to the beauty of God and His creation by reading the salvation story in the images and art work. It was built in the 70s, I think, when people forgot that God commanded the Israelites to use their best for the house of God and evidently decided that the scratch and dent concrete and metal they could get to make this monstrosity was the best God deserved. They preach the gospel of Barney and expect it to be life changing (the feeding of the 5000 men wasn't a miracle, no, it was an exercise in sharing!), then wonder why their churches are emptying out. I fear their churches are emptier than the tomb on resurrection Sunday, but without the hope of rebirth.

We can only hope that these "true" Christians will spare everyone the Easter sermons on bovine flatulence.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Real Food Wednesday: Preserving Summer's Bounty

I was asked many moons ago to join in on Real Food Wednesdays and just never quite had the time or the right kind of post ideas. However, this time, I do!

Those of us who try to eat seasonally and don't buy summer produce in the winter still sometimes have a hankering after spring and summer fruit and vegetables. For instance, we freeze our berries along with making jams, jellies and preserves, so we can use them when the mood strikes us without paying the prices in winter or worrying about the questionable farming practices and the distance required to bring them to us and therefore the quality of the fruit and its flavor.

You are supposed to lay them out in a single layer on jelly roll pans and then put them into airtight containers in the freezer. We are lazier than this and we freeze a LOT of berries, so this method is hugely time consuming for us, as we don't have enough jelly roll pans to do this in one or two batches. Instead, we make sure the berries are quite dry (don't wash them first - I am against washing berries anyway, as it waters down the flavors, buy or raise them without pesticides and don't roll them in the dirt and you'll be fine) and freeze them in the little pint baskets (also has anyone else noticed stores and even fruit stands trying to pass off half pint baskets as pints? We don't buy their "pints" and instead seek out people who sell full pints as full pints and half pints as half pints) and dump the whole thing into freezer bags with as little air in them as possible. We use those double walled freezer bags as well.

Another short cut in freezing (as I am terrified of pressure canning and I am too lazy to do the whole blanch in boiling water and put immediately into ice water routine) vegetables like green beans is to freeze them in water. They come out almost as though they were picked that day and take no extra time. Drain out the water and cook as you wish. This way you are not at the mercy of agribusiness or the high cost of organic frozen vegetables during the rest of the year. You won't have to eat those awful canned green beans which look and taste olive drab and are questionable as to what else is in there with them. You can use your home grown green beans or locally grown or organics that you get during the summer.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

25 Songs - Contest

It's time for a music meme and contest. I love all the music memes that go around the web. I think they are a fun peek at what people listen to, even the embarrassing or silly songs. I haven't had a contest around here for a while, so I will make this into a contest.

The first person to get all of these right will win a $10 gift certificate for iTunes. If nobody gets all of them, then I'll pick the first person to get the most correct.

This is truly random, I had the entirety of my music choices on shuffle. Some of these are gimmes, some are more obscure. I also skipped any instrumental pieces, you know, so I could avoid trying to spell out the rhythm of the notes.

I will leave the contest open until 12:01 PDT tomorrow night Sunday night April 24th (to give me a chance to get more entries and actually check the answers), so there won't be any crossing out of the lyrics until after that. To enter, leave your guesses in the comments with a way to contact you, e-mail or blog. Have fun!

Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 3: Strike through the songs when someone guesses both the artist/movie/musical/whatever and song title correctly (there are a couple on here that I will be lenient about artist).
Step 4: No cheating. No google, yahoo, asking a friend, etc.
Step 5: If you like the game, post your own list!

1. Love makes me treat you the way that I do
2. She's leavin' and folks are feeling so low
3. Everybody needs a little time away
4. I guess I thought you'd be here forever
5. Know, don't you wanna know, don't you wanna know
6. Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky
7. At last my love has come along
8. Well I was walking down a rutted road
9. Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa men have named you
10. I hear you say your heart is aching
11. Pack up all my cares and woes
12. When you feel the sunlight fade into the cold night
13. It's not the pale moon that excites me
14. You say you want a revolution
15. I know a girl who was schooled in Manhattan
16. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman
17. When the sun is high in the afternoon sky
18. Oh baby, do you know what that's worth
19. I know you don't love me no more
20. So many people gonna say that they want you
21. Sexy Sadie, what have you done?
22. I got chills, they're multiplying
23. Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging
24. He's a real nowhere man
25. Mom and dad, I am fine, how are you?

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Holy Week

I still have a post in the drafts file about our trip and Elijah's birthday surprise. There is also a Finished Object Friday post that never made it out. I'd like to say these will get done this week, but with all of the Holy Week preparations, I cannot make that promise.

There are more meat fast days this week and a strict fast for Good Friday, which only Rich will be observing. This is the pinnacle of the Church year that we are approaching and we are excited and awed, even now, even after years of celebrating and meditating on the passion and suffering of our Lord and the joy and hope of His resurrection.

In the meantime, we are going through a tough time during this Holy Week as well. It is nothing I can discuss at the moment, but if you would be praying for our whole family, I would appreciate it. In fact, please pray for everyone involved, which extends beyond our family. We have some tough decisions down the pike, coming sooner than we expected, and there are circumstances that might push us one way or the other out of frustration or reaction rather than prayer and discernment.

This past week's meals were shifted all around because we had some things going on during the week that we didn't expect as well as something I'd forgotten.
If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can.
What is on your menu this week?

I will post my pantry and fridge clean out items sometime tomorrow, when I post the recipe links. Thank you for your patience.

Here are my Fridge and Pantry Clean Out lists. Again, these are only for dinners and will not include anything bought specifically for the meals or within the last week.

Chicken Thighs
Legs of Lamb
Ground Lamb
Pine Nuts
Garbanzo Beans
Pie Crusts (I made these a bit back, and will use them for the quiche)

Pepper Jack Cheese
Homemade Mayonnaise

All Dried Herbs
All Spices
Potatoes (from our garden last summer)
Elbow Macaroni
Black Beans
Diced Tomatoes
Tortilla Chips
Olive Oil
Soy Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
Red Wine

Fresh Basil from a Pot
Fresh Rosemary from the Herb Garden
Fresh Thyme from the Herb Garden
Fresh Mint from the Herb Garden

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