Sunday, April 13, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Now that I’ve mastered making it, I feel like a true Northwesterner! I’ve made a few versions, even getting fresh clams at one time, but the one my husband likes best is actually pretty easy. I love how it incorporates four kinds of vegetables. I serve it with fish and fresh bread. Here is the recipe:
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Ready In: 50 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
1 cup minced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups cubed potatoes
*¾ cup butter (I use Smart Balance 50/50)
*¾ cup flour
1 quart half-and-half cream (milk can be used if this is too rich for you)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt (I find this to be a little too much)
ground black pepper to taste
Drain juice from clams into a large skillet over the onions, celery, carrots and potatoes. Add water to cover, and cook over medium heat until tender.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in vegetables and clam juice. Heat through, but do not boil.
Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
* I use ½ cup each of butter and flour, as I find it’s too thick otherwise. The important thing is to use the same amount of fat and flour when making a thickening agent. So, if you cut down the flour, be sure to cut down the butter to the same measurement.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Beginning this week, I will post a scripture every Sunday that I will memorize. When I was a young Christian, I was part of a Discipleship Class in which one of the many requirements was to choose two verses to memorize per week. What a blessing and nourishment to my soul that was! To this day those verses come to mind and that was 25 years ago!
Today I am grateful for:
1. "Luxuries" that our ancestors never knew....my electric stove, indoor plumbing, refrigerator, washer and dryer...they truly make life easier
2. The truth of the old song: "Wonderful, wonderful Jesus is to me, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God is He; Saving me, keeping me from all sin and shame....wonderful is my Redeemer, praise His Name!"
3. A wonderful Sunday sermon...a powerful time of worship with brothers and sisters and a message that I carry through the week
4. The religious freedom that is still ours in this country...I am mindful of the suffering of so many others in other lands
5.The abundance of uplifting, godly music to fill my home as I go about my day
"Your portion is to love, to be silent, to suffer, to sacrifice your inclinations, in order to fulfil the will of God, by moulding yourself to that of others. Happy indeed you are thus to bear a cross laid on you by God's own hands, in the order of His Providence. The discipline which we choose for ourselves does not destroy our self-love like that which God assigns us Himself each day. All we have to do is to give ourselves up to God day by day, without looking further. He carries us in His arms as a loving mother carries her child. In every need let us look with love and trust to our Heavenly Father." FRANCOIS DE LA FENELON (1651-1715)
Your cross may be different than mine, but nevertheless hard to bear. Take courage from these words, and consider how they agree with the words of Scripture:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love." I Peter 1:6-8
"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:" I Peter 4:1a (Emphasis mine)
One more good word from the same page:
"The loving heart which seeks to offer all, even disappointments and vexations which touch the tenderest places, to God, will be more likely to grow in generosity of spirit than one who bears grudgingly what cannot be averted." H. L. SIDNEY LEAR (1824-1896)
I find that this message speaks to me again today...my prayer is that His will be worked in my heart, mind and attitude.
Monday, April 7, 2008
And I have to tell you…after 30 years of homemaking (which covers countless hours of peeling, cutting, chopping, mincing and slicing), these words are true.
When I was a young wife, I “fell prey” to a door-to-door salesman (actually my best friend gave him my name) and bought a couple sets of knives, some cooking utensils and a professional sharpening steel. I don’t remember how much it all cost, but I do remember having a payment plan.
At the time, I didn’t know “Kitchen Knives 101,” nor did I realize how valuable this purchase would turn out to be. You don't need to take out a loan to get a good knife or a good set, but I am grateful that I have these knives. So, without further ado, let me tell you why.
I think the first time I realized how fortunate I was to have a good set of knives was when I was helping a good friend prepare for a graduation open house. My job was to cut carrots…omigosh…after spending a couple of hours and getting very sore hands, I took the carrots home to cut them with my wonderful knives! To this day, I am grateful for a good set of knives. It just makes cooking prep so much easier and enjoyable. Not to mention time-saving.
I want to encourage any young wives (or even more experienced ladies) to purchase a good set of knives. Research and learn how to make a good choice and buy one good set that will last your lifetime.
My knives are Arrowhead and a bit expensive…but with some things, you get what you pay for. They came with a 50 year warranty, and I have never needed it. After 30 years, they are as strong and sturdy as they were in 1978. (Oh dear, am I that old??)
I also bought this set of five knives:
The set includes (from the bottom of the photo up) a Ham and Bread Knife, French Chef’s knife, Butcher knife, Sandwich knife and Paring knife. I use every one of them at least once a week, except the Butcher knife. I use that less often than the rest. And the Chef's (French Cook) knife is used every day...sometimes several times a day. These are the types of knives I would recommend.
If you only want or can have one good knife, it would be the Chef’s knife. The Chef’s knife is the one knife that is long enough to carve and slice with, and heavy enough to cut up poultry. You can peel an onion; slice carrots and celery; cut just about anything; chop onions, herbs and other vegetables; mince garlic and more….and do it all with ease.
The next kitchen knife in importance, in my opinion, would be a good paring knife. Sometimes you just need a smaller, easy-to-handle knife for prepping the finer ingredients that go into a dish. After that would be a long thin-bladed knife that you can slice or carve with, sort of a much larger steak knife.
Please spend a few minutes learning how to safely use knives. It is well worth the time to learn simple safety measures. And, it’s important to remember that “a sharp knife is a safe knife.” A dull knife can hurt you badly.
It is also best to know how to choose a quality knife. All expensive ones are not created equal. You want to get what you pay for.
Here is a terrific short video that covers how to choose a good chef’s knife, how to safely use it and how to sharpen your prized possession!
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Today I am thankful for:
Just being a mom is a very busy occupation. Being a single mom homeschooling my son while trying to earn money and make a good home and cook nutritiously and~and~and~and......well, suffice it to say that I never got everything done and there were always things I just couldn't find time to do.
When my son finished high school and entered college, I needed to work full-time, and shortly thereafter, my father came to live with me. He had suffered two strokes, is speech impaired and has several disabilities and medical issues. Life continued to be very busy.
Fast forward 8 years...the end of December brought me a wonderful evening candlelight wedding ceremony at my son's home in Wisconsin (backyard of his home the next day is the main blog photo above) and an awesome man I still can't believe is my husband. After a very special time with our families and a sweet, memorable honeymoon on the coast, I returned to work for one week before my job was eliminated.
My emotions have certainly run the gamut since then, but one thing I am grateful for....time. Besides being able to do so many things that had been neglected before, I've also enjoyed spending time online reading other blogs and learning so many wonderful things. The worldwide web is truly incredible. I told my husband this afternoon that I felt like I had access to the wisdom of the sages! So many forums and threads...there's not a question that can't be answered by "googling it!"
So I have been learning more about nutrition, how to make my own household cleaners, how to live more frugally, and most importantly, how to be a good wife. And so so much more.
And I have time to read again....I used to have to carefully choose and narrow down books...parenting books, teacher's guides, work-related items and such. Now....I am also reading good books that build my faith and encourage my calling as a wife, books that help me grow, and even a novel for enjoyment! Not to say that I never read those types of books before, just that now I can expand that list and read more than ever!
I am gardening...growing herbs and vegetables. I am quilting...trying to finish a quilt for my grandson. And I am praying...more seriously again. I will be posting about that soon. God gives us so many wonderful things to fill our lives.
So many good reasons for not blogging everyday! :) And so many good things to post about! I'll definitely be back.
Monday, March 31, 2008
One fact I was surprised to discover is that although teas may be created equal, but they don't come to our table equal. Although they come from the same botanical source, they are processed differently. Most teas are allowed to oxidize...but green tea leaves are steamed. Black tea and oolong tea (served in chinese restaurants) are made from fermented leaves, which results in the valuable EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) being converted into other compounds. It is this EGCG, as well as other catechin polyphenols (definitions found here) that is so powerful in their antioxidant properties.
Besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, EGCG kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. That's more important than it first sounds when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. There are many more benefits to drinking green tea. It is also known to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, infection, and impaired immune function. It has even been shown to help burn more calories, hence its presence in many diet aids.
For these reasons and more, green tea has become my first hot drink of the morning instead of coffee. I try to have at least two cups per day, with an eye on five...as that is recommended in order to receive all its benefits.
Although making a cup of tea may seem elementary, producing the perfect cup of green tea is a tricky process. If not handled properly, those same polyphenols that provide health benefits can ruin the flavor, making the tea taste "gassy." It's particularly important not to overbrew. While it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions for each variety of green tea, here are some general instructions:
Use one tea bag, or 2 - 4 grams of tea,* per cup.
Fill a kettle with cold water and bring to a boil.
After unplugging the kettle, allow it to stand for up to 3 minutes.
Pour the heated water over the tea bag or tea, and allow it to steep for up to 3 minutes.
If using a tea bag, remove the bag.
Allow the tea to cool for three more minutes.
*One to two teaspoons, depending on the variety of green tea you are brewing.
Of course, just heating the water to boiling and pouring it over my tea bag works too! ;)
Hope some of this info is helpful to you, and perhaps will encourage you to replace a couple of cups of coffee with some good green tea.
Today I am thankful for:
1. having rediscovered the goodness of juicing
2. the beautiful flowering shrubs and trees that are everywhere this time of year (and it is just beginning! :)
3. a great weekend with three nephews
4. beating my husband in Scrabble (finally)!
5. the hope that is always ours in Jesus Christ
Friday, March 28, 2008
2 c. milk
2/3 c. turkey or chicken stock
4 T. butter or Smart Balance 50/50
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper (or black)
4 T. flour
4 c. cooked, diced leftover turkey (include dark meat..it adds good flavor)
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
toasted bread, cut and halved into triangles
In a 3 qt. pot or large no-stick skillet, heat the milk, butter, and stock over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, salt and pepper, whisking constantly, eliminating all lumps. As it comes to a boil, it will thicken...mix in turkey and peas. If it gets too thick, stir in a little more milk. Serve over toast triangles or bisquits. Deeelish!
1 turkey carcass
2 large celery ribs, sliced
2 large carrots, scraped and sliced
2 onions, quartered (do NOT peel)
10 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley (or more, if you wish)
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Try to make the stock the day after the turkey was cooked, but if you have to wait another day or so, that's okay; it'll taste best, though, if you can get to it soon.
Let's get started; first, get out a large pot.
Next, start to strip off any meat clinging to the carcass; put this in a container and set aside; note that this is a hands-on job and you will get a little messy; that's okay, both your hands and your counter wash up easily.
Now wash up and prepare the veggies and parsley; make sure to leave the onion skin ON as it gives your stock a lovely rich colour. (I also add my freezer bag of veggie peels, ends, etc.)
When the stock comes to a boil, add all remaining ingredients and turn heat down to a lightly bubbling simmer, the type where the bubbles barely break the surface.
Now let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every once in a while.
I much prefer letting it reduce down to where I'll only get 7 or 8 cups of stock; I find the flavour much better and stronger, even if I have to add water when making the soup.
If you only let it simmer till you have about 12 cups of stock, it will be ready sooner but the flavour is much weaker.
Once you feel your stock is ready, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl; if your sieve is not fine, line it first with cheesecloth; discard the bones and veggies you used to make the stock, all their goodness is now in your stock.
2. The Champion Juicer that has been in the pantry too long...I remember praying for one for the longest time and finally using a tax return to buy it 9 years ago. What a blessing to be able to make a fresh glass of healthful juice!
3. The magnificence of our physical bodies...what a wonderful Creator!
4. Turkey leftovers...it's so great to be able to make Turkey Stock, Creamed Turkey, Turkey Potpie and more! (I'll post the recipes)
5. My salvation...so rich and free!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thank you Lord...
1. For test results that reveal no present cancer
2. For the knowledge that He hears our prayers...and answers!
3. For family and friends who are faithful in their prayer support
4. For the beauty of the mountains all around us in this incredible Pacific Northwest
5. For the abundance of fruits and vegetables all around us
Monday, March 17, 2008
Whate'r my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate'er He doth,
and follow where He guideth.
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
wherefore to Him I leave it all.
Whate'r my God ordains is right: He never will deceive me:
He leads me by the proper path; I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent; His hand can turn my griefs away,
and patiently I wait His day.
Whate'r my God ordains is right: though now this cup, in drinking,
may bitter seem to my faint heart, I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
and pain and sorrow shall depart.
Whate'r my God ordains is right: here shall my stand be taken; though sorrow, need, or death be mine, yet am I not forsaken. My Father's care is round me there; He holds me that I shall not fall: and so to Him I leave it all.I say it again..."My Father's care is round me here; He holds me that I shall not fall: and so to Him I leave it all. Amen."
1. That now-familiar sound of a picture message coming over my cell phone... of my delightful grandson... instantly brightens my day!
2. Finally, a new DVD player to watch good movies on
3. Leftovers, for a take-it-easy kind of day
4. The timely message of an old hymn...so rich for the soul
5. My considerate husband, who is always so willing to lend a hand with the dishes...I am blessed.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
No, in fact that is the very reason I am doing it. I am making a conscious effort to turn my focus and thinking to the good, the eternal, the positive. The very exercise of "having to think about it" is so valuable. I am training a new habit in myself.
We all have so much to be thankful for. Here are the gifts in my life today:
- The simple happiness in making my husband a cup of tea when he is sick
- The fulfillment of praying together
- The riches of having an abundance of books in the house, and having had the education to be able to read and understand them
- The incredible amount of help and information that is available through the worldwide web
- For the comfort and instruction of God's Word in our moments of need
Kimi Harris, a dear young lady who has a couple of very good blogs, Womanly Pursuits and The Nourishing Gourmet, has posted a natural remedy that I tried and was pleasantly surprised to find tasted very good! Getting Terry to try my natural or herbal remedies is always a challenge, so if it doesn't taste good, forget it!
Don't be put off by all the garlic...I used 8 good sized cloves and it turned out great. Also, add honey a little at a time...you don't need much...in fact, I think this tea is so good with just the garlic and lemon that I could drink it without any sweetening. But go ahead and add some honey...it's good for you.
Honey, Garlic and Lemon Tea
8 cloves of crushed garlic, simmered in two cups of water for 20 minutes.
Strain. Add into the strained water...
The juice from one fresh lemon and honey to taste.
Sip slowly throughout the day, or drink a half cup every hour
This works best at the onset of a cold, before the symptoms are full-blown. Really, though, it is beneficial anytime...before a cold or when exposed to someone with a cold, it would be a great immune-booster...and in the middle of a cold when the illness is at its worst, it will help build your good health. Try it....you'll like it!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
1 I will confess and praise You [O God] with my whole heart; before the gods will I sing praises to You.
2 I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness; for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!
3 In the day when I called, You answered me; and You strengthened me with strength (might and inflexibility) in my inner self.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. PSALM 138
Friday, March 14, 2008
"Every trouble is an opportunity to win the grace of strength. Whatever else trouble is in the world for, it is here for this good purpose: to develop strength. For a trouble is a moral and spiritual task. It is something which is hard to do. And it is in the spiritual world as in the physical, strength is increased by encounter with the difficult. A world without any trouble in it would be, to people of our kind, a place of spiritual enervation and moral laziness. Fortunately, every day is crowded with care. Every day to every one of us brings its questions, its worries, and its tasks, brings its sufficiency of trouble. Thus we get our daily spiritual exercise. Every day we are blessed with new opportunities for the development of strength of soul." REV. GEORGE HODGES b.1856
- 1. Giving my Dad another 10 years with us when we thought we'd lost him after his two strokes
- 2. Our wonderful pets...Journey, my gentle black lab/greyhound mix who has brought me joy for over 11 years ~ Zeke, who, although brings some challenges is a very loving and affectionate golden who gets better everyday ~ and Elizabeth, our "diva cat" who actually answers to her name and is beautiful and loving.
- The blessing of a home computer to accomplish many things that would be much more complex if we had to do it manually
- A home that allows me to gaze at the gorgeous Cascade Mountain Range through my huge front window as often as I desire
- Teaching me how to be my husband's helpmate
Thursday, March 13, 2008
13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age: they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].
15 [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. PSALM 92:12-15 Amplified
On this particular day, having had a biopsy done and being diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer, I receive this wonderful word from the Lord with renewed hope, peace and faith. Knowing that He is sovereign, and can be trusted, I rest in Him and rejoice in His Word. He is my Rock.
My recent marriage has brought a renewed sense of importance to my menu-planning and cooking. Although Terry does not have any known medical issues, at the age of 46, it is important for him to eat right as well. It is wonderful to read so many blogs from young women who have a strong sense of responsibility in this area for their family...the health of their husbands and children will bring their reward for years to come.
I, however, have stumbled through this part of my life's journey for many years. When my son was small, and showed signs of hyperactivity, I read and researched and fed him appropriately...and saw amazing results. I continued to struggle personally with my eating habits and was never quite able to make it stick for a lifetime.
While I won't waste time lamenting this, it is important to remember that it is never too late to make healthy changes. My body carries some health consequences from bad choices, but God has given us such an incredibly amazing physical body...and I know that that there is great potential for improvement and even reversal. At some point I will delve into that whole subject, but for now will leave it there.
The health habit I want to share today is the importance of getting the right healthy fats into our diets. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least twice per week. Note: It is advised that pregnant women and mothers, nursing mothers, young children, and women who might become pregnant not eat several types of fish, including swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. These individuals should also limit consumption of other fish, including albacore tuna, salmon, and herring. They can take omega-3 fatty acids in quality dietary supplements that are certified mercury-free by a reputable third-party lab.
I happen to really love fish....certain kinds of fish, that is. Unfortunately, it is not the kind of fish that will provide me with the valuable omega-3 fatty acids that we all need. I found that the fish that are important to eat twice a week are: mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon. Hmmmmm.....the only one on this list I like is tuna!
However, I am committed. I've decided to do whatever it takes to get it into our diets twice a week and find ways to prepare it that are good and healthful. I have learned that the secret to enjoying fish is in the freshness and the recipe. I am in the process of learning how to get the freshest fish (without a high amount of mercury....another topic for another day ;) for a reasonable price. I am also in learning mode for recipes and preparation.
So, albacore tuna will be on our menu each week, and right now, I am focusing on salmon, trout and mackerel for the other meal.
In my quest to find healthy, tasty recipes that both me and my husband will enjoy, I found a salmon dish that was easy to prepare, not too high in calories, and there was none left! The only thing I did different was to add the rice to the fish for the last 15 minutes of its baking time (instead of at the beginning) to avoid the rice becoming over-crispy, since it was already cooked. I read some reviews where you can also use pineapple tidbits in place of the mango, using the juice as part of your rice cooking liquid. I may try that next time...yes, there will be a next time. It really was delicious considering that neither one of us are salmon fans...yet!!
I would love some feedback on other good recipes for those of us who are cultivating our taste buds in this way!!
For more good information on Omega 3's, click here and here
Today I’m thankful for:
- For God-given doctors and medical research...I am grateful for treatment that is available for life-threatening illnesses
- For the wisdom and support of my husband in the care of my elderly father
- The wonderful grandson God has given me
- For a car that gets good gas mileage in these days of $3.30+ per gallon gas
- For God’s provision even while unemployed
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I have begun listing five things I can be thankful for each day (most days at least! ;) In this way, I have purposed to look at the good, at the eternal, at the good gifts God has given. This is where I will list them.
- A steaming cup of delicious herbal tea
- For a man who brought my heart to life after 20 years
- For 7 nephews who bring joy and delight to my heart
- For another day, another chance to honor God with my thoughts, body, and behaviors
- For my little kitchen with dishes that need to be washed because of the food that is available for us to enjoy each day