Archive for April, 2010

Parents as Role Models

   Every parent has experienced it.  Your child does or says something outrageous and embarrassing, and then it dawns on you:  they learned that from me!  From eating habits to ways of relating to others, children consciously observe – and unconsciously absorb – even more of what goes on around them than many parents realize.

It’s hard enough to self-monitor when we’re just trying to be our personal best in general, but it’s a weighty responsibility indeed when the molding of our children’s characters is figured into the equation.  Again, a return to basics helps clarify and give direction, and those basics are reliably found in God’s Word. 

How do we, as adults, set a good example within the context of marriage and family?  Ephesians offers several helpful directives, starting with the admonition that Christians should demonstrate mutual respect.  (Chapter 5, verse 21, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”)  Observing their parents resolve disagreements or misunderstandings without resorting to contemptuous language equips children with the tools for resolving their own disputes in a mature manner.  

Having described the ideal, it bears saying that – should human passions lead to a more heated exchange – children who witness their parents working through an emotionally intense dispute to a calm, loving resolution can also benefit from that example. (more…)

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April 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

Discovery of the Month

If you are looking for something tantalizing, I have discovered a wonderful website with exquisite photography:  www.cookingforseven.com

April 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Old Saws and New Ways

   There may be truth to the adage “there’s no accounting for tastes,” but I remain fascinated with the influences that lead people to their individual food preferences.  For example, my mother-in-law’s long history of allergies and sensitivities has left her understandably wary of many foods, and my husband’s juvenile-onset type I diabetes informed his logic early on:  Why waste your carbohydrate allowance on a half-cup of peas when you can have one-and-a-half cups of garden-fresh green beans instead? 

Among those attitudes I’ll never figure out fall my dog, who will reject a nice plate of kibble topped with meat drippings only to go crazy over some unknown bit of garbage she digs up out in the yard, and people who are resolutely convinced that “healthy diet” translates to “dreary, restrictive, pleasureless regimen.” 

I figure, high-end restaurants don’t serve my personal pre-teen favorite, battered, deep-fried onion rings and pork tenderloin sandwiches on gummy white buns, for a very good reason:  quality food is fresh and minimally processed, by definition.  I mean, isn’t a sweet, juicy slice of ice-cold watermelon one of life’s greater gastronomic delights? 

I would argue, then, that while eating shouldn’t be all about nutrition without regard for taste, neither should it be all about taste, with no regard for nutrition.  Tying into all of the above is a meal built around breaded pork chops – but these, my dear, are not your mother’s breaded pork chops. 

To start, Pretzel-Crusted Pork Chops, a platter of Roasted Root Vegetables, and a Spinach Salad with Avocado, Red Onion, Bleu Cheese, and Walnuts.  And to prove that dessert doesn’t have to be a choice between nutrition-free or bor-ing, my version of Pineapple Upside Down Gingerbread, inspired by the Reader’s Digest Live Longer Cookbook.©   (more…)

April 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

Just Desserts: Two Naughty and Too Nice

   I am working on our income tax return and fending off hysterics over the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice.  An early evening dog walk is just the break I need, so off we three trot – the pup, my husband, and I – into the cool pre-thunderstorm air.  We return home to find two ducks perched on the peak of our roof, taking their own break from the equally arduous task of flying back north for the summer.   

So, you could say that I have all my ducks in a row as I head back in to finish up the 1040.  Well, maybe you couldn’t, but I just did.  And with all that number-crunching eating up my day, I don’t have time to develop a menu worthy of writing about here.  However, Easter dinner gave me the perfect excuse to whip up a few decadent desserts, and the inspiration for a sweets-exclusive posting this week. 

The Fudgy Chocolate Cake is adapted from the recipe on the box for Baker’s® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Squares, and the Lemon Cream Cake with Strawberry Filling and Creamy Cheese Frosting is my take on several different recipes, combining the best from each – in my humble opinion.  Let me know if you agree. 

The third is a recipe for the not-ready-for-dietary-crime-time crowd, who would still like some nutritional redemption with their occasional splurge.  It falls into a category my husband has dubbed Duodenal Daredevils, for their heavy dose of fiber.  I call them Kitchen Sink cookies, for their lengthy ingredient list.  Gentlebakers, start your ovens.  (more…)

April 12, 2010 at 9:36 pm Leave a comment

In Defense of Discipline

   Discipline seems to be a difficult area for many parents, and there is much encouragement in worldly society to let children be “free spirits,” unencumbered by their parents’ imposed expectations.  Further confusing the issue are arguments over spanking, and some dictionary definitions emphasize training, teaching, and instruction in obeying rules while others refer to punishing in order to gain control, enforce obedience, or  impose order.  

Let’s start with some basics.  Experience and common sense tell us that a child’s selfish impulses cry out for restraint (“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”  Proverbs 22:15); direct observation reveals that failing to correct bad behavior leaves a child feeling uncared for, and eventually confused and rebellious (“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”  Proverbs 29:15); and logic demonstrates that a child who learns to respect his parents’ authority has the groundwork laid for accepting God’s authority (“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”  Proverbs 29:15, 17).  

As mixed as society’s messages are, the believer can know that God offers concrete guidance for parents in this area, (more…)

April 9, 2010 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

Yes, We Have No More Snow Flakes

   How’s this for a fitting Good Friday opening:  Will miracles never cease?  The answer, of course, is “no,” and that seems to apply to Minnesota weather as well as to events much more significant and awe-inspiring. 

That’s my long-winded way of saying that we made it through March with no snow storms.  To my further wonderment, the first day of April was more like June, offering temps in the 80s and a summer-bright, sunny sky.  How hot was it?  Hot enough that my little pup got overheated and asked to be carried for the last half of our walk.  This phenomenon compels some observers to admonish me, “She’s not getting much of a walk, is she?”  I may have to prepare a little sign to wear on my back explaining, “It’s her idea, not mine.” 

But back to April 2nd, as slate-gray skies promise a much-needed rain but leave me a little less energetic than usual.  Something relatively (no pun intended) easy for my in-law dinner tonight, I think.  Broiled Tenderloin Steaks, Sour Cream Potato Casserole, and Sunshine Salad.  And from the freezer, Japanese Vegetable Blend and Ciabatta Rolls.  Then, to make up for my laziness, Fudge Pie, in all its resplendent gooiness, from the pages of my 1946 edition of The Joy of Cooking.   (more…)

April 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment


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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

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