Posts tagged ‘children’

June 7, 2011

Black Bean Blender Brownies

Today, we’re testing recipes for Colin’s upcoming birthday party. He’s craving brownies and I just had to try this recipe I found on the Whole Food’s website: Flourless Brownies. I’d seen recipes for black bean brownies and really wanted to try it out. Since Colin is looking for a fudgy rather than a cakey brownie, we made a test pan.

Organic black beans…

All the ingredients are to be mixed in a food processor, but alas my processor died awhile back and has not been replaced. I used the next best thing, my blender…

Super nutritious and taste rich eggs from Ravencroft Farm…

More blender magic…

Blender black bean brownies baked (say this several times fast)…

Cut and ready to try…

The result: A fantastically fudgy brownie enjoyed by all:)

Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Job 12:11

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May 23, 2011

You’re Special Today – Part 1

I really, really love family celebrations!  My mother and sisters and I share this passion so our family events range from very large gatherings (family of 23) to over-the-top themed-parties complete with bouncy castles and fondue fountains.

So, for my immediate family, I like to keep it simple. A birthday box is filled with supplies including a birthday banner, birthday lights, birthday plate and candles which come out for each birthday.  The decorations adorn walls and table the night before (0r just before dawn) in preparation for our morning celebration.  Birthdays begin with a sleepily-sung birthday song, candles to blow out and the traditional cupcakes.  For dinner, the guest of honor chooses a special meal & cake (usually carrot cake or strawberry pound cake) served for them on our traditional “You Are Special Today” plate.

Of course, this is a rough draft and each birthday writes it’s own unique script…

Drake’s 16th

Some more of my birthday presents (aren’t the silicone teacups just plain fun?), slated to be transformed into birthday cupcakes for Drake….

Graeme, my baking companion, doing a little taste testing…

Red Velvet ala Sprinkles!!

Yummy cream cheese frosting…

You Are Special Today and every day in my heart!!

You have a special place in my heart. Philippians 4:17a

February 2, 2011

Doughnut Love

Yeast-raised, homemade doughnuts – what’s not to LOVE?  I’ve grown quite fond of yeast-based recipes that are begun the night before as is the case with these little scrumptious morning treats.  The original recipe is from The Pioneer Woman’s website (the post can be found here).  As I indicated, the dough is made the night before, placed in the fridge to slowly rise, and in the morning Viola! doughnut dough – YEAH, half the battle is won!

A little rolling…  A little cutting…

(I had to improvise a bit since my doughnut cutter has gone missing along with my pastry cutter…  A canning ring & salt shaker lid did the trick!)

A little time for the doughnuts to raise…

Fry the dough & glaze the doughnuts & bar the doors…..  Every time, I turn my back another dozen goes missing (I’m sensing a conspiracy here)…

One time, I only made a single batch.  With four growing boys, we nearly had mutiny here.  Now, I always double this recipe.

If you’ve looking for a special Valentine’s breakfast treat or a gift for someone you LOVE, homemade doughnuts made with love & sprinkled with red and pink confections are a delicious and thoughtful gift:)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.  1 Cor. 13:13

May 8, 2010

Breakfast in Bed: Color Burst

Breakfast in Bed this year should be a BURST of COLOR! Color makes me delirious with happiness. I love the British spelling of colour (a little random, I know). I delight in reading paint-chip colors. I dream in color – brilliant blueberries, vibrant violets to rosy red roses. I stare in child-like wonder at brand new boxes of crayola crayons imagining all the possibilities….

(This fantastically fun photo is from flicker.) Breakfast in Bed Color Burst should include the basic elements: a pretty teacup, cloth napkins, a serving tray, and, of course, breakfast.A full spectrum of pretty teacups from The Teapot Shoppe….a colorful array of red tea options from The Republic of Tea

a rainbow of cloth napkins from Jupiter’s Child….

How about a plateful of technicolor pancakes inspired by Every Food Fits?

Or duplicate this edible masterpiece from Whisk Kid….

Breakfast in Bed wouldn’t be complete without a brightly colored serving tray from Crate and Barrel.

But the piece de resistance would be brilliantly painted artwork made with LOVE for Mommy!

Happy Mother’s Day to my gorgeous and colorful Mom. As I age, I hope to be as generous and confident and creative as you (and pretty, too). You live with your arms open wider than anyone I know. To my spectacular sisters, each a dramatic and independent color, you remind me of our mother with your humongous hearts and bold beauty – you inspire me like no one else. To my mother-in-law, a veritable rainbow, you have loved me as your own – I’m truly blessed. And, to my jazzy friends, who are incredible mums and exceptional women, you encourage me and teach me and challenge me. Wishing you all a full-spectrum of blessings and joy on Mother’s Day and beyond!!

April 16, 2010

Le Fort Cafe Follow-Up: 1 and 1

Just a follow-up from Le Fort Cafe and the mad multi-tasking that goes on in a day. Okay, I’m 1 and 1. Here’s the breakdown (living in a sports-driven household, I speak with statistics – a language they can really understand!):

  • The Cherry Cobbler = Amazing! +1
  • The Ham Hock = RIP! -1

Moving on, then, from the Ham Hock Horror

For the cobbler recipe, I reworked my classic dumpling recipe which I use for both beef and chicken stews. If you’d like to recreate this heavenly delight….

  • Prepare cherries (or use the can variety)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Fill 9X13 pan with cherry filling
  • In food processor: add 2 cups flour, 1 T sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 T baking power
  • Place cover and while it’s running add 1 frozen stick of butter (1/2 C butter) *
  • Mix until combined – should be crumbly in texture
  • Add 1/2 C of heavy cream while running processor
  • Should have the consistency of pie dough
  • Pat dough into about 9 pieces to top cherry filling
  • Sprinkle with sugar
  • Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes (depending on your oven)
  • Serve hot with REAL vanilla ice cream

Note: Before I had a food processor, I cut the frozen butter by hand using a pastry dough cutter (my sister actually uses a 2 knife method). In the long run, it probably is a faster method with less clean-up:)

EnJOY!

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3

July 30, 2009

The Cherry Orchard

P1010018All Russia is our orchard. The earth is so wide, so beautiful, so full of wonderful places. [Pause]. Just think, Anya. Your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all your ancestors owned serfs, they owned human souls. Don’t you see that from every cherry-tree in the orchard, from every leaf and every trunk, men and women are gazing at you? if we’re to start living in the present isn’t it abundantly clear that we’ve first got to redeem our past and make a clean break with it? And we can only redeem it by suffering and getting down to real work for a change. ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

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It’s a beautiful thing when literature and life collide! When you leave your every day routine, step into the unfamiliar and purpose to experience the moment, life enlarges and expands.

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Last week, I found an ad for one weekend only of pick your own cherries (and currants) at a local orchard, and was determined to wedge it into our scheduled weekend. One of my favorite books is French Woman Don’t Get Fat.  In her book Mireille Guiliano reveals the beauty of the French culture.  She writes about her childhood home and various types of fruit her family grew, harvested and preserved. Food is respected and fruit is treasured in French homes and hearts. Her book has inspired me to get in touch with my French-side (yes, I’m part French). Now, I make my own bread, yogurt and have preserved fruits and veggies for years.

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My lovely mother joined us for this adventure in the cherry orchard. I love to pick fruit on so many levels. With so many references to fruit, the Bible literally comes alive. The fruit itself has a unique beauty that inspires the artist in me. The joy of watching generations of people experience the same child-like wonder fills my heart.  And the thoughts of cherry pies sans metal cans and high fructose corn syrup, spurs me on despite the occasion cloud burst.

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For me the most amazing part was what I alluded to earlier, the literary experience.  The majority of the people who had travelled for miles and miles to pluck buckets of cherries were Russian immigrants.  They brought everyone from Grandpas to little tots and in between – beautiful teen girls and polite young men in their twenties and thirties.  Every generation joined in the effort to provide their family with the cherries that culture so delights in. For me, it was like I stepped into the backdrop of the Russian play, The Cherry Orchard. I’m a huge fan of Russian literature and just inhaled the moment so precious and lovely.  The beautiful morning, the melodious sound of Russian spoke by natives, the joy in their eyes, the little old man who climbed the cherry tree to get the ones just out of reach – I captured it all in my mind’s eye and treasured it all my heart.

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Not only do my jars of currant jam for tea and scones and cherries frozen for Valentine’s Day pies represent “getting down to real work,” they will be a tasty reminder of my morning in The Cherry Orchard.

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And then we’d send the dried cherries off in carts to Moscow and Kharkov. And money! And the dried cherries were soft, juicy, sweet, and nicely scented. . . They knew the way. . . . ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

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Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:17

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June 28, 2009

65th Wedding Anniversary

My grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this week at a nursing home in rural Wisconsin. The guests were primarily staff and residents with the addition of my mother, my younger sister, me and my three sons (son #1 of 4 is on his way to Belfast, Ireland, via Merritt Island , Florida). Cake was served with some cheese and crackers. Balloons adorned the table and a few cards were given. It was bittersweet.P1010096

Five years ago, we celebrated their 60th at the Courtyard by Marriot in downtown Springfield, Ohio. My sisters with their families and I with my three sons (at the time I was carrying #4) all made the well-traveled journey to Ohio. Along with cousins and aunts and uncles and family friends, we honored my dear Nana and Papa on their special day. The event was catered much like a wedding reception and included a wedding cake, sit-down dinner, floral arrangements and a memorable slideshow of new and old family photographs.

P1010089Much has changed in 5 years.

Now, my Papa doesn’t know who I am. He smiles the kind of smile you might give a stranger – warm yet distant. Absent is the sparkle in his eye filled with affection which has always warmed my heart and made me feel adored. For a moment, there was a sense that he is trying to remember me, but he just remained confused. It’s so strange to loose someone before you’ve really lost them.Inn1972pic1Much has changed in 5 years.

Nana and Papa came to live with my parents not long after their 60th wedding anniversary when it became apparent they couldn’t live on their own any longer. Our annual visits to Ohio have abruptly ceased, and I find myself homesick for the familiar sights and people who shaped my life from early childhood. I love Springfield with its amazing architecture and history. Even though I never grew up in Ohio, my roots are there.800px-Springfield_Ohio_c1900Much has changed in 5 years.

I knew the experience would be bittersweet. What a beautiful and rare thing to witness a 65th wedding anniversary! Yet, it was painful watching my Papa being lead around like a child, being spoon-fed and not fully comprehending the monumental event. He was the one who held my hand to lead, who bought me treats for the long airline flights home to Minneapolis, and who absolutely delighted in seeing me. Everything in me wanted to cry out, “This is not right!” I wanted the beautiful catered-meal, the wedding cake, the floral center-pieces, the crowds of relatives and the slideshow of memories. 

800px-Wittenberg_Ward_St_En_11-23-08Much has changed in 5 years.

Life is ever changing. I know the cliches, but sometimes you just have to protest. Five years ago, I bought a simple chocolate-colored dress for the party. The style of summer dress which could be dressed up or dressed down with the proper accessories. As silly as it may be, I wore that old brown dress to the 65th party this week. It was my silent protest against change, but it was also my way of connecting and making sense of 2 dramatically different events. 

Much has changed in 5 years.P1010100

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

June 17, 2009

Another Irish Prayer

May your day be filled with blessings
Like the sun that lights the sky,
And may you always have the courage
To spread your wings and fly!

Celtic Cross

Our oldest son, Drake, will soon be leaving for a summer long missions trip to Northern Ireland with Teen Mission International (TMI). The fact I can write those words means that I’m not completely in denial – it is literally 3 days away!

His journey will take him first to Merrit Island, Florida, for Bootcamp. This primitive 2 week training includes team building with an early morning obstacle course run, brick laying and other construction training, and evangelism courses. He will be living in a tent, hand-washing his clothes, and doing physical labor. The purpose is to train teens for missionary work around the world.

Next, he and his team will depart for Dublin, Ireland, via Canada. They will then bus to Northern Ireland where the remainder of the summer will be spent in dormitories, and working with a local youth missionary organization. He will not only be evangelizing and partnering with Fringe Youth Works, but also doing light physical labor.

To say my emotions are mixed is an understatement. I’m so proud and excited for him, yet my heart is breaking! As a former TMI team member (Glasgow, Scotland), I know first-hand what a live-changing experience it is – he will never be the same! While I’ve had months to prepare myself to let go, I’m finding it difficult to let go.

My niece, Ashley, is also going on her first TMI trip (following in her mother’s footsteps). Her summer will be spent in Malawi, Africa, washing the feet of AIDS orphans. Sweetie, I‘m completely enviously and totally proud of you, too!

This Irish prayer is my prayer for Drake and his companions as they prepare and leave for the Emerald Isle. It is also reminiscent of a poignant song about a parent singing over a child especially the lines, “It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky. I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer as you fly.Godspeed, my dear one!

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June 14, 2009

Prophets and Strawberries and Wisdom

bible

Proverbs: Daily wisdom

As a young mother, my heart’s cry was to obtain wisdom. Parenting is a monumental task and I felt grossly ill-prepared. Eagerly I sought knowledge and wisdom in parenting magazines, articles and books. Somewhere along the way, I gleaned some tips from Ruth Graham’s life. She too was desperately seeking wisdom as a mother. Her response, I learned, was to read one chapter of Proverbs every single day.

“Hmm, sounds simple enough.” 

Because Proverbs consists of 31 chapters (one chapter for each day of the month), I could easily adopt that pattern. Since then, I’ve read the book of Proverbs well over 100 times, and it’s become part of my motherly meditation and language. A verse I tend to repeat often to rally and motivate my troops is: “All hard work brings a profit…” (Proverbs 14:23)

800px-Strawberries

Strawberries

One early morning last summer my two eldest sons and I were working in the strawberry patch. As we crawled through the muddy straw slapping mosquitoes, I attempted to encourage them with the “hard work” verse. Drake finally broke down laughing and he confessed his issue with Solomon’s timeless wisdom. Apparently whenever I recited this sparkling gem of truth, for years he thought it read Prophet (not Profit). We had a good laugh that morning, but now I can’t read that passage anymore without a smile and a little chuckling.

Can you imagine how reluctant you’d be to work diligently if every time you put in a hard day’s work a Prophet showed up at your door?

“YIKES – I sorted and treated and washed and dried and folded and put away all the laundry and I’m utterly exhausted – do I have to hear another fire and brimstone message today? And do I need to serve honey and bugs again?…”

“GREAT! Just shampooed the carpet – will that Prophet show up again in those dirty, smelly sandals? Guess it’s another foot-washing…

Prophets at my door again?

Prophets at my door again?

Be at peace – it’s Profit not Prophet! The promise and wisdom here is for your encouragement (not to frightfully alarm) – your diligence is always, always, always rewarded! Watch for the reward because it will be there. And as your eyes are opened, your heart will overflow with thanksgiving and joy. Perhaps then, you may smile and chuckle a bit too.

And if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:3-5

June 13, 2009

Frugal Friday: Chocolate Cake

You're Special Today!

You're Special Today!

Over the years, our family has developed special birthday traditions and rituals. And each year, the boys get to decide what their special birthday meal will be and flavor of their cake. Earlier this week, we celebrated Colin’s 12th birthday and his cake of choice was this year was (drum roll please): CHOCOLATE! 

My personal definition of frugal living encompasses living inexpensively with an emphasis on nutrition and nurturing:

Frugal Living is an art form and a skill I wish to cultivate in my life and home. It’s not just about saving money, conserving resources and being green.  What makes it an art is combining frugal standards while creating a nurturing and pampering environment. In other words, your family feels spoiled and loved not neglected and deprived.

Hershey recipe

Click for recipe

Chocolate cake made from scratch may cost a bit more than a box of cake-mix (frankly I’ve never done the calculations) and it may take a little more time to prepare, but it is the ultimate in yumminess and pampering. Our family favorite recipe comes from Hershey Chocolate. This cake is decadently moist and the frosting is fudgy-good!

Happy Frugal Friday!

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

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