Archive for February, 2010

Reinforcing the Pillars on Which Your Life is Built

  PLAN AHEAD!  Not just for tomorrow, but until the time comes to enter the place which God has prepared for you.  By this I mean, place Christ where He belongs – at the center of your life.  As the days and years go by, you will realize more fully that unless you have this kind of foundation, all else will have no true meaning.  (47)

             Husbands and fathers, be responsible to establish and maintain daily table prayers at meals (also at restaurants), and have regular evening home devotions with bible reading, hymns, and prayers.  (27)

             “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33.  These words have guided me personally through confirmation and childhood; through the tough teens, dating, and marriage; through child rearing; and now through interacting with our adult children.  These words sum up the bible:  First search the scriptures and live your life in God’s Grace, the rest will come as He wills.  It is so simple – people make it difficult.  (37)

            In everything that you do, consider first what the Lord would want you to do.  If you’ve been raised in a Christian home, you usually know what the proper decision is, it’s a matter of having the strength to choose it.  (33)

            Above all, take up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation.  And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all the perseverance and supplication for all saints.  Ephesians 6:16-18  (39)

            Remember your priorities, in your efforts to be the best that you can be.  Life is about faith in God, family, and cherished friends.  (9)

            Read the kings James Bible and believe that you are blessed to be children of God.  (45)

February 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm Leave a comment

Failing to Fluff the Couscous and Other Kitchen Confessions

   I agree with Betty Macomber, whose cover flap text for the Cedar Cove Cookbook describes the preparation and serving of a meal as “probably the ultimate expression of hospitality and friendship, comfort and love.”  I convey nurturing best through the investment of labor and time in a from-scratch meal prepared for people I care about.  

Last weekend it was a “thank-you” dinner for friends who volunteer to dog-sit whenever we are out of town.  I did a simple beef tenderloin stir-fry (meat marinated in soy sauce, a dab of olive oil, a bit of crushed garlic; broccoli, yellow and red peppers, scallions, Chinese pea pods, celery, water chestnuts) with dry-roasted peanuts for sprinkling, a big bowl of cubed fresh fruit, biscuits hot from the oven, and whole-wheat couscous in place of rice.  For dessert, marble cheesecake.  

Fine and dandy, until I got too many things going at once – which is my major flaw as a cook.  The couscous – stirred into boiling broth, removed from the heat, and left briefly to absorb the liquid – got ignored for 12 minutes instead of five, without the requisite fluffing to separate the grains.  The result?  Clumpy couscous, which I blame for some uncharacteristic indigestion I experienced later in the evening.  I had been hoping for “heart-warming,” not “heartburn.”  

My second big flaw as a cook is closely related:  over- cooking/baking/roasting one dish while waiting for other items to get done.  I am improving, but for extra insurance I sometimes go for a foolproof (I must stop calling myself names) main dish that can bear a little extra time on the heat while everything else is being readied.  For example, this menu of Baked Chicken Legs in Hoisin Lemon Sauce, Roasted Potatoes, Corn Pudding, Warm Tomatillo  Salsa, and Applesauce Bran Muffins.  If your oven situation is tight – i.e., you don’t have a commercial kitchen – you can prepare the muffins and corn pudding (which bake at a lower temperature) earlier in the day.  With any luck, you won’t have to be serving up apologies along with your dessert.  (more…)

February 19, 2010 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

Make Your Faith Your Foundation

  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6  Get your head out of the clouds and put your feet on the ground.  Set your sights on Jesus and walk with Him by following His directives.  He is our future.  Enjoy the new creation he will create in those who place their trust in Him.  (21)

           Practice your faith and live it.  If your children take a break in their faith journey, lead by example.  Always let them know its importance in your life.  The only constant in your life is God; our earthly family is His gift to sustain us in the here and now.  (22)

            We need to live as God would have us live, not as the World lives.  His word should be our guide in all things, with a Christ-centered family life and parents setting a Godly example for their children to follow.  (24)

            Read and study the bible every day.  It presents the pure Christian faith, which produces a desire for Christ-like living in thoughts, desires, words, and deeds.  Just as the triune God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that we now enjoy peace with Him and a home reserved for us in heaven, Strive to have sincere, self-sacrificing concern for the welfare and needs of others.  (27)

February 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm Leave a comment

Banishing Mid-Winter Blahs

   Ever suffered from the post-Christmas blues?  I generally cope by drawing up a list of the old year’s accomplishments and the new year’s goals, listening to upbeat music, and tweaking my diet and fitness routines to compensate for holiday excesses.  (Snow-shoeing, anyone?)  Planning a future social event can be helpful, too.  

Okay; got through January.  But it’s February, and now a case of the mid-winter blahs threatens.  Add low barometric pressures to overcast skies and early sunsets, and it can feel like you have ten-pound weights strapped to each limb.  My energy reserves depleted, a few nights ago I came dangerously close to crawling into the cocoon of my quilt-laden bed  at 8:30,  clutching a large bag of Sun Chips® left over from the holidays. 

It was a close one, but common sense, the dog’s need for a tinkle-trot, and my resolve not to succumb to destructive old habits finally won out.  I did a brisk 5-minute Tae-Bo session, bundled myself and the pup for a brief stroll under the street lights, brewed a nice cup of tea, and dished up some cubed fresh pears topped with vanilla yogurt, crumbled walnuts, and a generous dose of nutmeg.  A crunchily comforting snack, and I didn’t hate myself the next morning. 

As an added benefit, while munching I came up with the inspiration for the next night’s menu:  Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce, a whole grain take on Cheesey “Risotto” with Tomatoes and Olives, Fresh Baked Rustic Italian Focaccia, and a simple stir-fry of Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Onion.  The pear combo mentioned above would be a nice finish.  Mid-winter blahs, begone!  (more…)

February 11, 2010 at 6:21 pm Leave a comment

Tough Truths of Parenting

   Train your children to develop – and learn to trust – their own good judgment.  We enfeeble our children by protecting them from the consequences of their actions and making all of their decisions for them; guiding them to become self-sufficient should be one of the primary goals of parenting.    (Note:  One excellent source of practical guidelines is the original edition of Children:  The Challenge by Rudolf Dreikurs.)  (54)  

        Never allow your children to take selfish advantage of one parent over the other.  Always present yourself as part of a God-given united front, following His directive that children are a gift from God and are to be taught to love, serve, and obey Him, and honor Him and their parents with love and esteem.  (47) 

        You can’t expect of your children that which you haven’t modeled for them.  If you are turning a blind eye to things you need to change in yourself – sleeping and health habits, self-indulgence over self-discipline, unconditional honesty – your children will suffer under your poor example.  (54) 

        Slow down enough to live life, to do and enjoy things with your children and grandchildren.  These are life’s most important relationships.  (53)

February 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

Southern Connections and Northern Casseroles

   We recently returned from a five-day trip to Texas, courtesy of a dear friend who gave us the gift of airline passes.  What a joy to see – and gain a new appreciation for – children and grandchildren we hadn’t visited for several years; to spend hours on end chatting, catching up, and stepping into each other’s everyday lives; to take long walks in shirtsleeve weather, and share precious moments with the “little ones at home” before they become “big ones, fully grown.”   

While there, I supplemented those long walks with several YMCA workouts to balance the effects of too much good hospitality and the luncheon specials at Molinas Mexican restaurant.  When we returned home to the shock of wind chill factors and icy sidewalks, easing back into a more intense regular daily exercise routine helped me decompress from the emotional withdrawal pains and sleep-loss fatigue we toted back up north with us along with our carry-on luggage. 

What also helps is immersing myself in winter menu planning, and the comfort of a hearty pot of Gingered Beef with White Beans and Apricots, adapted from the Reader’s Digest Live Longer Cookbook©.  Along with it, a classic Spinach Salad, a loaf of Grapenuts Bread, and a homey dessert of Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding sprinkled with coarsely chopped pecans and garnished with a few dried cranberries.

My first step is to make a loaf of whole grain quick bread, which complements the stew and the salad beautifully.  I’ve had this recipe in my files for years.  Along the way, it’s been tweaked more often than Joan Rivers’ jowls, but this incarnation is my all-time favorite:  (more…)

February 2, 2010 at 11:24 pm Leave a comment

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