No Reproach, Mrs. Bennett, I Beg You! ESPECIALLY on the 4th of July!

There are potatoes to be chopped and bacon to be crisped to go along with everything else already ready for potato salad.  There is a feast to be shared and great and glorious words to be heard this evening at church before the fireworks.

(No, this is not my potato salad, but I thought it looked appetizing.  Mine has potatoes, celery, dill pickles, green and sweet white onions, mustard, mayo, sea salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, and bacon)

As usual, there is much to be done!  But first things first, regardless.  Communing with my Maker in His beautiful Word, in prayer. in praise and thanksgiving.

“Thank you, God, for America.  For freedom.  For bringing me from glory to glory, from freedom to freedom.”  A nation is only as free as its people, and people are only as free as they allow Jesus to indwell them.  Free indeed.

I was free this morning to become upset because my breakfast and git-er-done plans weren’t quite panning out.  The raisin bread was generously spread with organic salted butter, the applesauce in the serving bowl, bacon browning nicely in the oven, coffee in the French press, Rooibos in the teapot, milk in the cow creamer and heavy cream in the pitcher.

And then it was time to whip up the eggs for scrambling.  But alas!  It appears that last night someone ate almost all the remaining eggs in the fridge.  Four eggs to feed five people.  I asked a daughter to go after more eggs (in another fridge in another building) so we could have breakfast before another daughter had to leave for work.

But the speed of molasses was quite fast compared to the movements of my tribe this morning, and early-morning logic told my daughter that she had to look ready for a photo shoot in order to go after eggs.

Temptation to sabotage breakfast with my stress and upset set in.  Temptation to reproach my beloved for scrambling not one, not two, not three, but six eggs last night set in.  Temptation was after me, plaguing me – to vent about “slow and lazy” people, to put labels onto my children they need like a hole in the head.

Who has the hole in the head, anyway?  Why didn’t I simply invite the daughter who’s leaving early to join me on the balcony with baked peanut butter on raisin bread and a lovely cup of French roast with heavy cream in the cool and birdsong-blessed morning?

I plugged the hole with praise and prayer and DETERMINATION not to gripe or complain or in anyway ruin the joy and beauty of the morning for my beloveds, and all of a sudden they appeared, smiling, hugging, thanking me for breakfast, eager to partake (perhaps the power of the wafting smell of bacon?)..

So I scrambled those four eggs, and the going-to-work daughter (who doesn’t care for eggs anyway) happily put peanut butter and honey on her raisin toast, and had thick and crispy bacon slices with applesauce and tea and was happy as could be.  Between the other four of us the eggs were plenty.  Where is it written, I asked myself, that we all have to have two or three eggs every morning?  No wonder I’m a bit sluggish after breakfast sometimes!

SO GLAD I DIDN’T REPROACH JOHN FOR EATING THOSE EGGS LAST NIGHT.  I was less tempted by the lack of eggs, than by my disapproval of late-night eating.  Reproach, I know full well, never changed a husband.  Conviction by the Holy Spirit of our Creator, perhaps put in motion by my faith-filled prayers, has often worked wonders in the lives of my beloveds.

Reproach, not so much.  Reproach is very often also disdain, disapproval, censure, judgment, condemnation, and shaming.  Guilt, in other words.  Guilt, as we all know from experience, doesn’t lead to repentance, to a true turning in a new direction.

“Do not reproach your husband,” has been ringing through my mind for weeks now.  I am coming to see, in my forfeiting my “right” to even the slightest of complaints, that I am setting myself free.  I am placing myself in a right position to be in God’s blessing, and out of God’s way!

“No lace, Mrs. Bennett! No lace, I beg you!”  Mr. Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)vehemently commanded Mrs. Bennett to spare him, but she blithely ignored him.  “Respect, Mrs. Bennett,” was his heart’s cry, and silly and foolish woman that she was, she sought her own amusement at his expense.

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her,” about the Proverbs 31 woman, is a verse of continuing revelation for me. “Lord,” I ask, “Can John safely trust me?” Usually, perhaps because of the following line, “He has no lack of gain,” my thoughts turn to money. “How can I do better in this area?”

But as we pass the years together, I see that more and more what John’s heart needs from mine is simply to love him as he is, even as he changes and grows right along with me, unhindered (I pray) by my interference in his relationship with God.

 

Oh, Father, I thank you for your patience with me, and for growing patience in me. And I thank you for this wonderful child of yours, John, whose heart you have entrusted to my care.  May I be ever more skillful in that sacred trust.  Amen.

 

Hooray!  Freedom!  Especially on the 4th of July.

 

The Home Artiste and Mother’s Day

LAST WEEK THE RAIN AND FOG AND THE CHILL CAME IN – AND THE BARELY GREEN ASPEN TREES WERE SHROUDED IN CLOUD.  MY DAUGHTER REBEKAH RIGHTLY DISCERNED IT WAS THE PERFECT TIME FOR A TEA PARTY AND SOME GOOD CONVERSATION, WITH SOME LOVELY MUSIC.  I HAD BEEN PLANNING TO DO SOME PAINT PREPPING, BUT IT WOULD KEEP.

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WEDNESDAY MORNING WAS MUCH THE SAME AND WHEN I ASKED JOHN IF HE WAS STILL SURE HE WANTED A SMOOTHIE FOR BREAKFAST IN THE INTEREST OF TIME, HE WASN’T SO SURE.

SO HERE’S WHAT WENT DOWN:

I PUT SPROUTED AND BUTTERED BREAD IN THE OVEN ON LOW, AND THE SERVING BOWLS AS WELL – PUT COLD BOWLS INTO THE OVEN BEFORE TURNING IT ON, NOT AFTER IT’S HOT. (IF I HAD BEEN GOING TO SERVE FRIED EGGS, I WOULD HAVE ALSO HEATED THE PLATES – FOR FOUR PEOPLE I HEAT SIX PLATES, THEN I HAVE ONE EXTRA ON TOP AND ON BOTTOM, AND WRAP IN DISH TOWELS WHEN I TAKE THEM OUT AND THERE’S NO STRESS ABOUT THE HORROR COLD EGGS!).

THEN THERE’S ALSO A PLATE TO PUT THE EGGS ON AS THEY’RE FINISHED FRYING, WITH A LID OR COVERING OF SOME SORT TO KEEP THEM WARM UNTIL SERVING.  WE CALL THESE EGGS “DIPPIES”, AS YOU HAVE DONE WHITES, BUT YOLKS NICELY RUNNY AND GOLDEN FOR DIPPING TOAST INTO!  (I LEARNED TO CALL THEM “DIPPIES” FROM JANE BROCKET IN “THE GENTLE ART OF DOMESTICITY – EXCELLENT, JANE IS!)

I DUMPED HALF A JAR OF CHUNKY CINNAMON APPLESAUCE INTO A PAN AND ADDED WALNUTS AND RAISINS AND BEGAN HEATING. THE TEA KETTLE WAS FILLED AND HEATING AS REBEKAH SET THE TABLE WITH MILK IN A CREAM PITCHER, HONEY, ETC.

I HEATED THE TEAPOT WITH HOT WATER THEN EMPTIED IT AND SET IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STOVE ON THE WARMING ZONE, ADDED FOUR BAGS OF ROOIBOS TEA AND COVERED IT WITH A TEA COZY ( I WOULD MUCH PREFER A NICE ENGLISH BLACK TEA, ACTUALLY) – ALL READY FOR BREWING. ANOTHER THING I WOULD HAVE DONE IF IT WERE REALLY A COLD DAY IS USE STURDY THICK MUGS AND RUN HOT WATER INTO THEM FOR A BIT BEFORE SERVING TIME.

A PACKAGE OF THIN PORK CHOPS CAME OUT OF THE FREEZER AND WENT INTO A SKILLET WITH WATER TO BEGIN STEAMING APART AND COOKING (I COOKED THEM UNTIL THEY CARMELIZED AND MADE LOVELY BROWN GRAVY, OR AU JUS).

WE HAD LEFTOVER MASHED POTATOES SO I MADE THEM INTO BALLS AND PUT THEM IN THAT SAME SKILLET AFTER REMOVING THE PORK CHOPS INTO A SMALL SKILLET AND PUTTING ON A BACK BURNER ON LOW. ONCE THE POTATO BALLS WERE BROWN ON BOTH SIDES, I PLACED THE PAN ATOP THE PORK CHOP PAN AND PUT A LID ON TOP.

WHEN THINGS LOOKED TO BE NEARLY READY, I DUMPED LEFTOVER HOMEMADE SOURCREAM DIP AND A CUP OF LEFTOVER CHOPPED ONIONS AND SAUTEED THEM GENTLY IN A MIXTURE OF BUTTER AND OLIVE AND COCONUT OILS.

I WHIPPED UP SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH PEPPER AND SEA SALT, POURED THE STEAMING WATER INTO THE TEA POT.

NOTE:  I HAVE A SAUCER READY TO DUMP THE TEA BAGS ONTO BEFORE SERVING, AND A SAUCER OR POT HOLDER TO PLACE THE TEA POT ONTO FOR TABLE PROTECTION (THIS IS ALSO A POSSIBLE ISSUE WITH HOT PLATES, IN WHICH CASE THE TABLE SETTER PUTS A NAPKIN OR A PLACEMAT AT EACH SETTING.

YOU MAY THINK THIS SOUNDS COMPLICATED, BUT IT’S SIMPLY A MATTER OF DOING THINGS IN ORDER, AND GETTING INTO GOOD HABITS.

HAVING A LITTLE HELP IS NICE, TOO. IF YOU DON’T HAVE HELP, THOUGH, YOU JUST PREP AHEAD OF TIME AND THINK THINGS THROUGH.  SET THE TABLE, FILL THE CREAM PITCHER, PUT THE HONEY AND STRAWBERRY JAM ON THE TABLE (NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IN THAT JAM!), WHIP YOUR EGGS AHEAD OF TIME, AND THAW THAT MEAT AHEAD OF TIME!

WHEN IT LOOKS LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IS READY OR JUST ABOUT, POUR THE EGGS IN TO SCRAMBLE AND WHEN THEY’RE NEARLY DONE RING THE BREAKFAST BELL (YES, I DO HAVE ONE!)

OH, AND IF YOUR LOVELY DAUGHTER PUT ON MUSIC FOR YOU, AS DID REBEKAH WITH COLD PLAY’S “SOMETHING LIKE THIS” BE SURE TO DANCE ABOUT AND SING A BIT. WHAT A GIFT TO YOUR FAMILY:  A HOT, DELICOUS BREAKFAST WITH A DANCING, SINGING, SMILING MUM.

HMMM.  MIGHT THIS BEAR PONDERING WITH REGARD TO MOTHER’S DAY, AND ALL MY FAMILY’S SO HOPING I LIKE THIER GIFTS, AND THAT MY DAY IS TRULY SPECIAL?  COULD IT BE THAT I SHOULD SIMPLY FOCUS ON REJOICING IN GOD FOR MOTHER’S DAY AND ALL IT MEANS?

I AM INCAPABLE OF PUTTING WORDS TO WHAT’S IN MY HEART, BUT I ASK GOD DAILY TO CLEANSE IT FROM ALL SELFISHNESS, SO THAT IT MAY BE FULL OF PRAISE AND SONG.  YES, THAT’S IT, OR AT LEAST A GLIMMER – I WANT MY FAMILY TO HAVE EVEN THE SLIGHTEST INKLING OF THEIR WORTH AND VALUE TO ME.  AND I WANT THEM TO SEE ME SMILE.  AND HEAR ME SING.  AND DANCE WITH ME.

THIS MOTHER’S DAY DON’T LAMENT A SINGLE THING. JUST ENJOY, AND GIVE, AND RECEIVE!

Putting the Fun Back in Food

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Overthinking meals takes all the fun out of food.  Trying to cook in a drab kitchen takes all the fun out of it.  A messy kitchen is frightening and anything but fun.  Buying in bulk takes the fun out of it.  Trying to buy enough for two weeks (I live a long way from the store) is not fun.  Buying produce picked from a vine six weeks ago in a foreign country that is basically tasteless is not anyone’s idea of fun.  Extreme carb consideration is SO boring and un-fun.  And not buying any “fun” food takes – you guessed it – the fun out of food.

One at a time, beginning with overthinking it.  “We can’t have spaghetti because:  too many carbs; don’t have parmesan; out of basil, need Italian sausage to go with the beef, have to have salad with it, and only have two leaves of romaine left and no dressing . . .”  Forget about carbs and think more about not eating like a horse.  There is absolutely no law that says you must have parmesan (except the one in your kids’ heads).  No basil is a thing, but you can use other herbs – do some research.  If you must, turn this idea into a kid-friendly dish, which usually means fewer herbs.  You can turn any ground meat into an Italian sausage of sorts with the addition of Italian herbs, or just use whatever sausage you have on hand and see what happens!  As for salad, it’s nice, but the main thing is a happy atmosphere, and spaghetti of any kind lends itself nicely thereto.  Or, take those two romaine leaves and add whatever you have – a few grapes, radishes, the last carrot, a bit of cauliflower, fresh herbs, scallions, and just have a salad small in size but large in taste.  The easy and delicious dressing for this salad is simply olive oil and either vinegar or lemon juice, with a bit of sea salt, pepper, and a touch of honey.  It’s all fun!

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The Drab KitchenI have noticed that the more sophisticated, granite-laden, ultra-modern and clean a kitchen is, the less the cooking going on.  The more brown, beige, and blah, the more drab and dull, the more the cook stays away.  Paint that baby!  Go garage and estate sale-ing, antique store browsing, and best of all, go looking into your own closets and cupboards and see what’s right under your nose to brighten things up.  You can get 10 daffodil stems for less than $1.50 at Trader Joe’s right now.  Instant bright cheer!

The Messy Kitchen. I have entirely changed my mind about tackling a messy kitchen.  Rather, I look at it as one of the best time investments ever.  That is, there is a huge return on satisfaction for not that much time and effort.  And one of the ways I’ve changed my attitude is by doing lots of dishes by hand.  Get an organic dish soap (or not, as you like) which smells lovely, and splash away!  Fill the sink up nice and hot with plenty of soap and stack as many dishes as possible to be soaking as you’re doing other things – clearing the counters, washing the stove top, perhaps putting those daffodils right under your nose, or on the breakfast table.

Once I get going (and my fingers do fly when I do dishes by hand), I pause long enough to put something in the crock pot and something in the clay pot.  I got my clay pot at an estate sale and it’s one of my favorite cooking utensils.  Everything I’ve ever cooked in it has been wonderful (do some research on this if this intrigues you).  If the kitchen is especially messy, with lots of dirty dishes (I use the dishwasher as well in such times) I let out the dirty water and run nice, clean, hot and sudsy water so I can soak and clean as I cook.  I could go on about cooking in one afternoon enough for an army for a week, when it looked like there wasn’t that much to work with, but let’s stay with formulating fun.

Buying in BulkBuying in bulk is only fun, and only works if:  it’s groceries that don’t go bad; if you don’t eat much more than normal because, again, it may go bad, or simply because it’s there; you really are getting a great deal buying things you would buy and use regardless.  If it’s fun for you go have enough Pace Picante Sauce to feed your teenage boys for the next six months (that actually sounds wonderful to me) and the bulk prices were worth finding the storage for the Pace, then by all means, buy in bulk.  I’m just saying, believe it or not, grocery shopping can be fun, and buying in bulk is usually not.

Shopping so you don’t have to go back to the store for two weeks is also not my favorite fun thing, and not really cost-effective.  It’s better to buy only two or three organic on-sale red bell peppers, and just run out and do without for the second week, than to try to buy enough for any and all eventualities, ignoring that certainty that they’re not likely to last two full weeks.  A stuffed-to-the-gills fridge, with crispers crammed to the max is a recipe for stress – there’s the rush to cook things and the regret over wasting and the inability to even see what’s available.

It’s much more fun to have a few truly delicious, in-season and hopefully even locally grown items in the fridge, just waiting to be creatively combined into something wonderful.

The Low-Carb DragIf your something wonderful happens to also be low-carb, so much the better.  But always focusing on carbs can really be a drag.  Better to focus on simply cooking something nutritious and delicious, and perhaps, if needed, to cut back on carbs, rather than totally trying to eliminate them.

For example, for breakfast have omelets and sliced tomatoes, or a protein shake some days, and on other days make pumpkin/walnut pancakes, sausages, scrambled eggs with cream cheese and a nice pot or two of tea.  Then let that be the end of the bread and sugar for the day.

No Fun Foods, No Fun.  And then for not ever buying fun foods – bad idea for me.  I’ll just end up eating out because I’m bored to death.  Fun foods include spices, especially those we grind at home.  There is such a lovely difference in freshly ground nutmeg and black pepper, both in taste and in health, from the pre-ground versions.  Having some good seasonings, such as a dried veggie soup mix (no MSG or MSG equivalents needed for great soup), or a taco blend, or simply buying everything in the blend plus some variations of chili powders makes it fun to put together a deliciously seasoned meal.

For me fun foods include raiding not only the bulk spices, teas, and seasonings, but also the bulk foods.  It’s so much fun to have three colors of lentils, wild rice, black eye peas, chick peas (don’t buy someone else’s hummus!) Anasazi, black, pinto and navy beans, split peas, giant golden raisins, dried apricots, pecans (apricot/pecan scones and a tea party, anyone?), macadamias (white chocolate macadamia cookies, perhaps, to go with the mango black tea I found in the bulk teas?).  Cooking with homemade vanilla (beans found in the bulk spice section) is more than fun, it’s fabulous.

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I want to make homemade mustards, too, because I have never met a mustard I didn’t like.  But until then, having a variety of mustards on hand is a cheap and real thrill.  Fun food, already done.  Trader Joe’s is my favorite place for these kinds of foods.  Mocha Joe Joe’s, Almond Windmill Cookies, Truffle Pizza, SO good bacon ends and pieces, Virgil’s Root Beer, Rooibos and Honeybush Tea, and Cherry Cider are among our family favorite fun foods from Trader Joe’s, and here’s the thing:  all of these are remarkably inexpensive.  Fun atop fun!

This fun quest is not frivolity.  My hope is that these ideas will spark more ideas for you, the goal being we make the most of the gift of cooking at home, where the real fun begins.

 

 

 

It’s Saturday – Butter Your Brownies!

Duncan Hines chewy fudge brownie mixes were speaking to me.  “You need a treat,” John encouraged me as we shopped together Friday evening.  But I didn’t need a treat before bedtime.  What I needed was a good night’s sleep followed by an early morning brownie and coffee party with whatever beloved (all my housemates are my beloveds) might be awake, or with myself, also a beloved of mine.

“Why,” Hannah queried this morning as we licked the bowl, “Do these taste better than homemade?”

“Probably because we don’t have the right recipe,” I said.  And probably because, as good as Duncan does with his brownies, I doctor them to make them even better.  I butter my brownies.

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Hannah and I chatted as I mixed the mix, and I consequently used the recommended oil instead of my usual butter/peanut butter improvement.  Easily remedied.  I would butter them when they were finished, all nice and warm.

I did remember to add coconut and walnuts (normally I add vanilla and a bit of salt as well) and watched them carefully, being sure to take them out of the oven when they were barely, or even not quite, done.  Later, for elevenses perhaps, we would have a “real” breakfast – sausages, scrambled eggs with cream cheese, cinnamon toast with peaches, and tea.

But for now chocolate would be the proper way to begin a Saturday.

Hannah and I buttered our brownies, and Hannah added peanut butter to her saucer as well.  We drank our coffee and talked, wondering when the wafting scent of brownies would “wake the dead” as is usual.  Sure enough, Benjamin soon joined us, rubbing his hands together, and asking as though it was too good be true, “Brownies for breakfast?”

These put him in the mood to write, and off he went.  Next up was Rebekah who simply broke into laughter at the sight and scent of brownies.  John wouldn’t be all that enthusiastic, I reasoned, but Seth would think he’d died in his sleep and was having breakfast in Heaven if I were to take him brownies and coffee in bed.

I did so, and Seth opened his eyes only slightly, but his smile was clear and bright as Colorado winter sunshine.  “Thanks,  Mom.  You’re the best.”

Buttered brownies to start the day.  Who knows what might follow?

 

Do Try This at Home

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I don’t usually say much about money, because I don’t have the II Corinthians 9:8 “enough for all my needs and an abundance to give to every good work” bank balance.  So, I figure I’m not really qualified to give financial advice.

But then, I look at people who earn more money than we do in our single-income, many-membered home, and who live without many of the luxuries that for me definitely qualify as “needs.”  A fire in the fireplace in wintertime is a need and a luxury, and one I never intend to do without, so help me, God.  Making my own chemical-free skincare is a need (especially in the high and dry Rocky Mountains) and a luxury.  Having money to do a little traveling, and more importantly the time and presence of mind to enjoy it, is a need and luxury (N&L).

The list goes on:  green coffee beans for home roasting; homemade Dijon mustard and money to buy books such as The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, wherein such recipes are found; and Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks. 

Melissa Gilbert’s My Prairie Cookbook was a gift, and having the time as well as the beautiful stamps and stationery at the ready to send a prompt and heartfelt thank-you note is, of course, both N&L.  And the time to peruse this book and suggest my daughter use it to bake sweet-tart apple muffins, to the delight of all participating parties, is the epitome of N&L.

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The time.  So often people say they don’t have time for such shenanigans as enjoying the making and partaking of muffins with their daughters.  They don’t have time for this or that.  For what are they working?

I’ve been there and done that – the endless, mindless, thankless grind, and the eating out and on the fly of non-food substances; the bounced checks and astronomical service charges because I didn’t have the presence of mind that “taking the time” gives us.

We all have the same 24 hours, and we can either use time as a tool, or it can be our enemy.  We deceive ourselves when we think we don’t have time to cook from scratch, to balance a checkbook, to write a friend a thank-you note.

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Most people think the goal of time management is to get more done.  I say the goal of time management is freedom from enslavement to the clock.  Rather than getting more “things” done, how about getting more people loved and enjoyed?

And how does all this tie into money?  First of all, it leads to peace and satisfaction, something that we so often try to buy.  A great example is a breadmaker.  I used my breadmaker plenty until it went kaput, and now that I know the satisfaction of making the boule for artisan bread, now that I’ve tasted my child’s authentic French bread, I will never again clutter my kitchen counter with a breadmaker.

New tools are great for my husband’s shop (yes, I do have and love some kitchen tools, but there are limits).  My kitchen is a place where romance reigns, where money is saved and even made.  I am, in effect, making money, learning a new and fun skill, impressing other people (I’d like to say this isn’t important to me, but alas . . . ) and making an amazing treat when I make pear butter from the pears that have been too long in the window sill.  Said pear butter demands the making of super flaky biscuits for brunch, to which we invite the neighbors, adding eggs scrambled with cream cheese and a delicious homemade and homegrown turkey sausage (Christmas gift from same neighbors) and serving it all with a giant pot of delicious tea (giant and lovely teapot another gift which merited the sending of a thank-you note).

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When I roast my own organic coffee beans nice and dark and aromatic, and convince my mostly non-coffee drinking family to share a small cup as we talk about what we’re writing, plotting, or planning, I am living in the rhythms of grace not often observed by today’s families.

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I first heard of roasting green coffee beans at home from financial advice guru Mary Hunt, who convinced me there’s no comparison between brew-ready and home roasted coffees.  Mary Hunt also echoes wisdom I once received after praying about finances:  You can have anything you want if you stop eating out.

We are back to taking and making and managing time so that we can be creative and artisitic in the kitchen.  A functioning and active kitchen is at the top of the N&L list.  Let’s make a list, asking the question, “What do we gain when we cook and eat at home?”

  1.  Money!
  2. Skills
  3. Nutrition
  4. Joys of creativity
  5. Better tasting food (after a little learning in some cases)
  6. Family fun
  7. Self esteem
  8. Real mealtimes
  9. House that smells like a home
  10. __________________________________________ (your turn)

So here’s my money advice in a nutshell:  If at all possible, do it at home.  In many cases you will find what’s done in your kitchen is much more satisfactory than that made to exist on a shelf for six months, and often less expensive.

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But money management isn’t about what’s the least expensive, it’s about what satisfies the most, what’s really worth it, what is both N&L.  You may think chocolate covered peanuts are both N&L, but I say make them at home from quality ingredients (real butter for starters) and you’ll have more of your needs met (we NEED to create) with more luxury to boot.

Enjoy them over conversation with home roasted coffee, or perhaps while watching Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in Pride and Prejudice.  At home, where all good things begin and end, anyway.

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P.S.  For more inspiration and ideas, join me Fridays at 2:00 Mountain Time, on 1360 AM radio, The Lion, in Johnstown, CO.

The Church of Homemade Apple Pie

For my son’s birthday (Nov. 3) I made apple pie.

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(I failed to take a picture, so I made use of this picture made by someone whose baking skills exceed mine.)

Three kinds of apples, three healthy sweeteners, lemon juice, spices, a little flour for thickening, then marinating in the fridge overnight.

A crust with two kinds of flour, salt, butter, coconut oil.  Should have had some vodka (keeps it tender) but it was, as are most of my pies, a creative endeavor making use of the materials at hand.

We (daughter and I) peeled enough for two pies, sliced them thinly and smashed and piled them into one pie.  I asked the birthday boy if I could add raisins (no!), and how about doing a crisp top crust made up of oats, butter, sugars, salt, and chopped walnuts?  “No, Mom, just plain, traditional apple pie.”

I don’t really do “plain, traditional” but I came close enough.  The pie was a big pie and a big hit, and it didn’t hurt that I whipped heavy cream with a pinch of salt, a bit of almond flavoring, and a tablespoon or so of honey to liberally pile atop each slice.

The pie was enjoyed with laughter, candlelight, and song.  I was chastised by my wondering children for starting “Happy Birthday” before the candles were lit (we are all in agreement that a large three-wick candle in the midst of the table works just fine for every birthday, and eliminates the cringing we all do when someone spits on the candles, and thereby the pie).

As a student of economics and government, I thought about pie slice sizes, and how my professors talked so often about scarcity, and pieces of the pie.  I thought of the socialist idea that there is only so much pie to go around, and that we must all share and share alike, our tiny sliver of a sliver.

I thought of the apple pie served to the masses – storebought, from old and tired and flavorless apples, with bleached GMO white sugar, thinly layered into a nasty, off-tasting crust.  Said pies are not, as was mine, baked at home in a large red pie dish.  Rather, they are each merely one of hundreds, baked in throw-away aluminum via industrial ovens.  For the masses.  Those of whom there are too many, supposedly creating scarcity.

I am here to submit that God’s way is a very large and luscious and multi-nuanced, soul-nourishing pie.  God’s way is more people to plant more apple trees, to get creative and try new varieties of apples, cooked with various kinds of sweeteners, in pies, cakes, tarts, ciders, juices, sauces, and anything else the unendingly creative human mind can dream up.

God’s way is more pie.  Enough for you and whoever He puts on your heart to invite into your home and partake.

God’s way is a variety (for every individual taste, because He is not the God of stereotypes, of groups – He is the God of each and every precious individual, unique-in-all-the-world human being) of coffees and teas to go with the pie, and the giving of thanks that He is the Blesser, the Giver, the Abundant One.

The Church of Apple Pie.  Try that thought on for size.  Your have a choice:  The Church of Slivers and Scarcity vs. The Church of Apple Pie.

It begins with each of us, looking in the mirror, being Apple Pie to those at home – not stingy in anything at all.  Partakers of His bounty, that we might pass it on.

We live in a world physically and spiritually starving for big, spicy, delicious slices of apple pie.  And since we’re all different, some of us want raisins, some want rum sauce atop our whipped cream.  Some want plain, traditional apple pie.  Some, unbelievably and inconceivably, don’t want apple pie at all, ever.  They want pumpkin, or peanut butter chocolate.  But I think it’s safe to say, whatever pie we prefer, we want more than a sliver, about which we have to feel we’re stealing from someone else.

Let’s do away with the lack mentality.  Like storebought pie, it’s from Hell.

 

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Burdens vs. Rewards

I want to talk specifically about turning kitchen burdens to rewards.

The first step is to see cooking as a creative means to a lovely reward. An attitude adjustment is what’s needed, beginning with yours truly.

I came to realize some years ago that if all Hell’s attacks on a thing were an indicator of its importance, then my cooking healthy and delicious meals and enjoying them with my family, must be extremely important.

stew

So, when I started that mental whine about not wanting to cook, not feeling like cooking, being tired of cooking, not having anything to cook, I just said, “Whoa there, Girly. You are blessed beyond most of humanity in that you have a kitchen complete with running water, modern appliances, and get this – FOOD!”

You’re not a two-year-old, so get up and do the kitchen dance.  Sing a song to your fridge, shake your booty at your stove, sing opera to your pantry, turn on the beautifully running water and soap up your hands and splash, both before and after you take out the trash.”

There are some people who don’ t have enough to fill a kitchen trash can.

Burdens to rewards, that’s the attitude change we’re talking about. Satan is the author of burdens and God is the author of rewards.  I didn’t earn many of the rewards in my kitchen – they are blessings and the fruit of labors of those gone before.  But perhaps I maintain them by appreciating and making use of them.