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Archive for July, 2014

Although garden vegetables are available all year, there are some recipes that are simply reserved for when the vegetables are fresh from the garden … and this one is best when the vegetables are taken from the garden and made up the same day.

Now there are different varieties of this recipe. Some have vegetables that would never have been added to the Hodge Podge recipe that we would have enjoyed. Such as turnips or carrots.

Now to start this recipe get your big pot (the one you make spaghetti in), and place it on the stove top. Put about two inches of water into the pot to boil (depending on how many vegetables you use).

While waiting for the water to boil, wash the vegetables. Since they are fresh, and their outer layer is thin, there is no need to peel them (this helps to make this recipe easie peasie).

Once the water is boiling, add enough fresh from the garden baby potatoes to cover the bottom of the pot. Then add an equal amount of fresh from the garden green beans, and fresh from the garden peas (in or out of the shells … I prefer in, but it was always made without shells, at home). Boil until the vegetables are just starting to get softer.

Now, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and add cream. You can add cereal cream, coffee cream or milk. I prefer half and half, as it still gives a creamy, rich flavor, but is not quite so heavy, and unhealthy as heavy cream (do not use skim milk … the final product will not be appealing at all). Simmer until the vegetables are all softened.

Then add about 2Tbsp of butter (margarine should not be used … yucky). Once the butter is melted, and warmed, the meal is done, and ready to be enjoyed.

Season with salt and pepper … especially the pepper 🙂 . This recipe is cheap, quick, easy, and terribly nutritious.

The taste of hodge podge is the taste of freshness!

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It is summer and the cooking MUST be easy!

Today’s yummy summer recipe is called CAFE MOCHA

I found this recipe for Cafe Mocha, years ago, in a local newspaper. The paper had a contest to find the best summer recipes, and this was the winning dessert recipe. It is a recipe that I have often referred to as quick and easy Tiramisu. It is divine!

Pros …

EASY!

Contains whipping cream

Can be made the day before it is needed

No cooking!

Cons …

Contains whipping cream (this is only a ‘con’ if you look at the nutritional information on the carton)

Can be made the day before it is needed (it is not still going to be there tomorrow … once it is made, NOT eating it is impossible)

Not enough chocolate (this is not a problem if you are making it 🙂 )

So, here it goes …

Cafe Mocha

Make yourself the stiffest drink … of coffee that you can imagine. Set it aside.

Layer lady finger cookies (you will need about two packages of them) on the bottom of a 13X9 glass or ceramic pan (or a metal one lined with parchment to prevent rusty whipping cream … YES! This recipe has whipping cream 🙂 )

Now, take a spoon and drizzle (oh, how I love the word ‘drizzle’) your strong brew over the ladyfingers, until they are all saturated with caffeine (or decaf. if that is what you must do … but, seriously, 1 tsp. is only going to be a problem if you are planning to indulge in the entire recipe … come to think of it, maybe decaf. is a more sensible choice). Set aside.

Haul your electric mixer out of mothballs. Into it pour:

2 Cups whipping cream (you could use that low fat, oil product, or frozen stuff, but seriously, it’s summer! Don’t deprive your taste buds … use the good ol’ fashioned whole fat, found on the dairy aisle, whipping cream).

3/4 Cup powdered sugar (sometimes known as snow, icing sugar or simply that stuff that seems to melt in your mouth … or so I have been told …).

1 tsp instant coffee grounds (this is an ingredient that I ONLY recommend using for this recipe … coffee should NEVER be instant or powdered).

1 tsp pure vanilla (okay cheapo’s out there, imitation vanilla is just that … an imitation! Go pure or go to the dessert aisle of your local grocery store and just buy a ready-made dessert … gramma never used imitation!).

Now, whip the life into this weird and wonderful concoction of ingredients, until it has been whipped firm like my thighs …

Once the mixture has been whipped and creamed into culinary submission, spoon half of it onto the soaking ladyfingers. Then top with another layer of lady finger cookies. And, finally (unless your ‘just a taste’ of the creamy mixture has resulted in an empty bowl … not that that would ever happen to me), spread remaining whipped mixture, over cookies.

Then, sift cocoa (I am not providing an amount here, use at your own discretion) all over the top of it!

Then, the most difficult part of the recipe … chill at least six hours before serving (if there is anything left to serve after your family of five has been taste testing when you haven’t been looking).

Enjoy.

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This is definitely an easy please recipe!

So, as I write this I am in the midst of summer vacation, and the only thing I have cooked (?) is wieners in the microwave for my sons lunch (and do not go getting all nutritionally righteous on me … he likes it, and they are simple, which makes HIS life more healthy … because it is so easy to prepare for him, I do not get stressed and then uptight and grumpy … ever heard the old adage … if momma ain’t happy? Oh, how I can digress …).

Obviously, I am not an expert cook! But, it is summer, and I bet that even the best chefs grill hot dogs (just maybe not in the microwave) in the summer.

The recipe today is even easier than hot dogs. And, in case you cannot figure out my unique style of recipe writing, just check out Kraft Recipes where you can find a more traditional style of recipe, in the place where I first found it.

So, guess what is the first ingredient? You got it … meatballs! NO, you do not have to hand form them! Go to your local frozen foods section of your grocery store, and pick up a bag (whatever size floats your boat) of preformed, frozen meatballs (any variety … heck, even the faux meat ones work). These babies need to thaw, in your refrigerator. So, take them out in the morning, go to the beach all day, and then they are ready for you when you get home with a rumbly in your tumbly (in the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh).

Now, when you place your frozen meat product in the refrigerator, remember to place your kabob sticks/skewers in a dish of water, if they are wooden. This keeps ‘burnt offerings’ out of your skewers … aka, it prevents your skewers from burning up. By the end of the day, they will be more wet than your lawn in the Northwest from October to June! For those of you a bit on the slow side … this is NOT necessary for those using metal skewers … enough said.

If you want to be really prepared (and people to call you Martha … Stewart), cut up a red pepper, and a green pepper (and maybe a yellow pepper),  into about 1″ square pieces, also in the morning. That way everything is ready when you get home (and if you are smart, you will just stop at the store and purchase a ready made green salad, and maybe a potato salad, and maybe a nice french loaf too, on your way home too).

Now, when it is show time, you need to mix equal amounts of apricot jam and barbecue sauce, in a bowl, and nuke it ’til it bubbles. Then skewer your meaty (or not so meaty) balls and peppers (in whatever creative manner you choose). Now, place skewers onto hot barbecue grill, and heat until warmed all the way through (somewhere around ten minutes). When they are almost done, brush with delightful saucy stuff. Grill ’til caramelized. And enjoy.

And, if you want to make it look like you put far more effort into dinner than you really did, make sure you rub a bit of the sauce on your cheek before serving 😉

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Way back (in the dark ages) when I was a kid, having hamburgers for dinner, or a party, or a BBQ, or a picnic was not as easy peasie as it is today. Today we go to the store, pick up a package of frozen hamburger patties, or go to the deli, where someone has pre-formed them for you, and purchase them. As a kid, I remember mixing ingredients (with my hands), shaping the patties, and then cooking them.

A while back, I had a ‘hankering’ for a REAL hamburger! Usually, when my family has burgers we get them from the freezer, and we  are eating within half an hour. And, truly, I usually choose to have a veggie or salmon burger, because the frozen patties just do not impress me. So, this particular day, I had fresh ground beef, and thought I would introduce our kids to real burgers.

Well, I had no idea that the treat I made would become such a hit! They LOVED them! And they now ask … very regularly (like every second night) if we are having real burgers for dinner.

So, I thought I would share, this recipe from my childhood (and maybe yours too), that is quickly becoming my families favorite summertime dinner.

Old Fashioned Hamburgers

Grab that really big mixing bowl out of your cupboard … you know, the one you really only ever use for popcorn …

In the bowl drop 1-2lbs of lean ground beef. Lean is really best … less fat … that means you can eat more! It also means that there will be less flame in your BBQ, because there is less grease to drip on the coals.

Add to the bowl 1-2 eggs … this is easy to figure out … if you use 1lb of beef, add 1 egg, and if you use 2lb of beef, add 2 eggs … even a blond male can figure this one out!

You need to add a ‘filler’, not like how mass food producers add fillers, but this filler is there to absorb any fat that is in the beef. So, add to the bowl 1/4C  of either cracker or bread crumbs for every pound of beef used (and for the blond males out there that means 1/4C for 1lb of beef, and 1/2C for 2lb of beef). I like my crumbs ground to the consistency of powdered sugar! So that I do not have to see it in my burger.

Okay, here is where the directions get … hum, well they remind me of my grandmothers (who never used a cookbook) cooking directions. If you like garlic (fresh, not that dehydrated garbage … FRESH), add it. If you like onions … chop them up small (or else they will make your burgers come apart at the seams), and maybe even pan fry them ’til softened (in BUTTER, of course), and add them. Use the amount of these that you desire (watch out vampires!).

Then there’s the spices … I love Montreal Steak Spice … it is marvelous! And the quantity … in the words of my grandmother, ‘well, as much as looks right.’ You can mess with the spices you desire, maybe cayenne pepper for a spicy burger, or Italian spices for a savory flavor.

My mouth is starting to water, and I am writing this at 6:30am!

You must add BBQ sauce (about 1/4C/lb of beef), of your choice of flavor. It really does add such wonderful experience for your taste buds!

Then, I like to add grated cheddar or parmesan cheese … again about 1/4C/lb of beef. This is easier than trying to melt it on top (without causing the fire department to come to your BBQ’s rescue). Also, by adding it ‘into’ the patty, you still get the flavor with less cheese … therefore less fat! Try other cheeses … Monterey Jack or Feta would be amazing!

Now, wash those hands, dry them and get ready to get dirty!

This is the part I think that your kids and hubby should do for you … I mean finding all those ingredients, and adding them to the ‘popcorn’ bowl is hard work! So, use your hands to combine all the ingredients. Then, start forming the patties. The size of the patty is up to you. I aim for about 1/4lb patties, and if you have a scale, you can make it happen without the guess-work!

Then grill to perfection! My hubby is king at this … in a previous life he was king of the regularly served ‘burnt offerings’, but he’s come a long way, baby!

Place your patties on buns, and voila … dinner is served!

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My son and I were discussing last evening, summer break is about to reach it’s midsection. With that realization, we both started expressing what still needed to be done, enjoyed and experienced so as to squeeze everything out of this summer. I could feel my heart quicken as my mental ‘to do’ list was growing. Then I remembered that summer was not just about recreation but relaxation as well.

Last summer was a bust for me. The moment I began to rest, my body decided to stop. It was as though all the energy reserves dried up and I was physically lifeless. So I vowed that this summer would be different. I had check-ups and blood tests. I have been eating well, getting ample sleep, and taking my vitamins. I also have been staying busy with home renovations, painting furniture, working in the garden. I have not really sat still yet, with little TV or movie watching, a book barely started, and only a handful of walks out in nature. This summer has been delightfully productive … but, not restful.

Then twice last week I said, out loud that we would not be going to our favorite west coast beach this summer, and twice I sobbed. You see for years our return to that beach meant stepping onto the sand, facing the horizon, and an immediate exhaling of all of the stresses of the year. Our week there was rest and refreshment for our dry and weary souls.

This year, we will need to find a new source of refreshment and rest. This will not be easy for me, as I struggle to stop when I can see work that needs to be done … I struggle with not being productive. I struggle with a fear that being still will cause my energy to dry up and leave me lifeless.

The following guest post, by Anna Rendell, at (in)courage, called On Blinking Cursors and New Pathways, spoke to the need to be still, and what might be found in the desert places of our lives.

“My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.

I have no next move. I’m totally empty, utterly spent, not a word to be found in my brain or heart or fingers.

But the cursor doesn’t know that, and demands to march on. I half-heartedly clack away at the keys, flailing wildly for any thought that might make sense outside of my own head. I am sure none of them do. This heart that has always penned its feelings is dry, chalkboard dust all that remains of words. There’s been no great catastrophe, nothing life-altering to make my heart shrivel. I’m simply weary with the daily, the diapers and too-fast days and spilled juice, meetings and deadlines and full squares on the calendar.

There’s no room to just be and I am drying up.

Feeling dried up scares me. How am I supposed to teach my children, write blog posts, lead a devotion in my MOPS group, if I am running on fumes myself? A re-fueling of my heart seems impossible because there’s no time to go sit in a quiet sanctuary, on a dock at a lake, in a field of wildflowers. The perfect setting is fleeting. This is real life, people, and real life is messy and full of blinking cursors. Real life is loud, and I think I’m afraid that if I stop and be still, underneath the chatter, there won’t be anything worth saying. I forget that He calls us to stillness, to a deep sense of calm. That He speaks most clearly when I am most quiet. That even in my dryness, He shines clear.

When we are most dried up, He is able to do some of His finest work.

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
– Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

Those verses make me shiver with anticipation. Real life forces us to be still and know despite the dryness we feel. Our hearts may be covered in a thick coating of dust. We may be scared – to speak, to write, to be still. We may not see the new works, the new pathways, the rivers flowing. We may see nothing but wasteland from the horizon to horizon of our lives.

Even then, He is at work creating. In us and for us, He is working. And in spite of the blinking cursor and volume of our real life noise, we can be still and know that to be truth.”

 

 

 

 

 

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We’ve come a long way baby!

That is what was going through my mind, sitting at a football game … while two (very young … maybe 20 years) of the cheerleaders were walking up the stairs peddling their calendar (not one of the football team, but one of the cheerleaders).

We’ve come a long way baby!

That line, a selling tag to women, for Virginia Slims cigarettes, in the 1970’s, still hangs on in our society. But, more frequently it has been used in reference to how far the rights and freedoms of women have come since before the feminist revolt in the days of Gloria Steinem.

So, how far have we come … baby?

Well, in Canada, women were allowed to vote, in 1918/1919 (except in Quebec, where it wasn’t until 1940!).

And AFTER that, on October 18, 1929, women were declared to be (legally) ‘persons’. Hey, at least those women from Quebec, who could not yet vote, were considered non-voting ‘people’.

In 1960 women in Canada had full rights to run in any election.

In 1928, women are given permission to compete in Olympic games.

In 1955 the Canadian army and navy began recruiting women.

In 1974,the first female RCMP recruits were accepted.

In 1977 the Human Rights Act promised “equal pay for work of equal value”.

In 1985, women cannot be discriminated upon in the right to divorce or child custody.

In 1992, Canada sent it’s first female astronaut into space.

In 1993, Canada had it’s first female Prime Minister (for less than five months).

Wow! We really have come a long way! And what I included was only pertaining to Canada, and only a few of the many advances in the rights of women.

Oh, but I forgot a couple …

In 1923, the first woman to sit on the ‘floor’ of any Canadian parliament (the New Brunswick legislature) was also the winner of the first ‘Miss Canadapageant.

In 1915, the highest paid woman in the WORLD was, Canadian, Mary Pickford (at $4000/week … 96 years ago … I am in the wrong field).

Hum … so Miss Canada, a pageant winner (her achievements then, I might presume, were her beauty, her body, and her charm) was the first woman to sit on the floor of any Canadian parliament … what exactly qualified her over … say, a woman with interest in the running of a province or country?

And Ms. Pickford (her successes were as a silent actress and she is most noted as a ‘pin-up girl’ of WW1 …), an actress made more money, 96 years ago, than many hard working people make today!

Sounds like, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or maybe it’s one step forward, two steps back?

I recognize that with freedoms, comes choice. And I recognize that my choices are not necessarily the choices of others. But, seriously … please do not call ‘post-teenage’ girls ‘dancers’ simply because they are moving together, in sync with the music. When they are wearing the equivalent of a string bikini, what they are doing is not dancing, but ‘entertaining’. And the entertaining they are performing, is usually (thankfully) reserved for seedy bars, clubs and motels.

And worse, was watching the men watching them. I recognize that the visual interest that was provided only naturally makes for opportunity for men to view … that is natural. But when men my dad’s age (65+) are looking at young women (my daughter’s ages) in a predatory way … that is NOT natural … that is ugly! And why is it okay when men, in their twenties and thirties are watching, pointing, whistling and gesturing to those scantily clad girls on the field, and it is okay, but, in their workplace, in their schools and universities, and on the streets, they could be arrested for their actions?

Oh wait, it is even worse than that … I was sitting beside my, young teenage son! My desire was to share a football game with him … not have him view an example of what I have, and will continue to teach my one and only son … that women are not objects, to be used, but treasures to be treated with honor and respect and dignity.

I left that football game, wondering so much. I wondered what thoughts were going home with the men in the crowd … thoughts of the game, and the exciting last five minutes, or other thoughts? I wondered what those young ladies, who could be my daughter, thought of themselves, when they were alone with their thoughts? I wondered what their dads and brothers (and moms) thought, when they came to see a game?

“We haven’t come a long way, we’ve come a short way.

If we hadn’t come a short way,

no one would be calling us ‘baby’.”

Elizabeth Janeway (American social critic)

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*Though written three years ago, Momma Guilt continues for this Momma … I bet it does for us all … and continues to the end of our Earthly lives.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was growing up. And this little girl had dreams, aspirations, hopes and goals for her future. She dreamed of one day getting married, having babies, and doing it all just like she has seen on TV.

Unfortunately, she was born in 1969, and the TV moms who she  had modeled for her … were perfect!

There was June Cleaver, who, other than the obscure name her son Beaver had … was perfect.

Then there was Marion Cunnigham, who was ALWAYS making homemade goodies, not only for HER kids, but for all their friends!

Then there was Clair Huxtable, she made the concept of working mom look so easy! And she even had her, always loving, obstetrician hubby, who did most of the cleaning and cooking!

Ah, and then Caroline Ingalls … that woman could fix a fence, mend a sock, and chase Laura all over the prairies, and still get an enormous homemade dinner on the table, with enough to feed the weary traveler!

And, finally, Jane Jetson … even in space-time animation June Cleaver lives … and in size 8 (I have worn size 8, by the way … it just had a ‘1’ in front of the ‘8’).

All of these women had the same things in common …

– they were all slim … I am green with envy

– they were all pretty … so much to aim for

– they all were perfectly accessorized … this is where my love of my (faux) pearls originated

– they always made their hubbys happy … sigh

– their kids always loved and appreciated them … momma guilt!

The other day, I found myself deep in the mires of MOMMA GUILT … ever been there, ladies?

It had been a busy week, with another busy week to come (and so on, and so on, and so on …). So, Saturday was full with a To Do list that had no hope of getting done.

While hubby was finishing up his sermon (because he had spent the week dealing with ‘immediate’ stuff), and hoping to get some yard work done, I was to take our son to a birthday party, and get a few errands completed.

I got very few of those errands done, as I decided to throw in ‘dress shopping’ … grrr! I had hoped that the few ounces I’ve lost would make that a more enjoyable process … NOT! I think what I would need to lose is the whole, freaking, left side of my body! But, I digress!

Then it was time to pick my son up from the party … and I was scrambling … because I was late … again!

When I got there I was pounced upon by son … ‘mom can so-and-so and I get together today?’ Now, I admit, I hate lack of planning, on a good day, but, when my To Do list is long, my brain cells cannot even begin to think about adding more to it! So, I said … ‘NO.’

And this is where momma guilt began … Not really, of course, because that is with me ALL the time! You see, I have this dream in my mind of getting the ‘Mom of the Year’ award … and I have had that annual award … on January 1, until 12:01am, when I blow it. But, I digress … again.

Lets just say the ride home was very quiet … and I felt it! When I did try to converse and soothe, I was met with ‘but Mom …’ And, my momma guilt let me feel the full weight of his sorrow. Not because his present sorrow was so valid, but because my momma guilt is so close to the surface for me when it comes to my son.

– I was home fully with my daughters … I started back to work before my son entered kindergarten.

– I taught my daughters how to cook, to sew, to read … my son, not so much.

– He is eleven, and I still haven’t taught him how to ride a bike 😦

– I have rarely gone on school field trips with him … his sisters … many!

– I rarely play any ball sports with him.

Wow! Can I wallow, or what? Suffice it to say, that on this particular day, EVERY violation, every failure, every fault I have ever made, in the life of my son, I remembered and felt. Also, suffice it to say, I threw my own pity party, lasting most of the entire day! And, my To Do list … not so much got done.

Once I had shed my guilt-ridden tears, went out on my own (that is the key … on my own) to get groceries, had a good dinner (thanks to the grocery store providing fresh bread and roast chicken), talked to my mom on the phone (I don’t need to tell her whats happening … just hearing her voice makes me feel better), and played a very neck-and-neck game of chess with my son … the day was seeming brighter.

It’s amazing how taking the time to see how his video game system works, and playing a game with him seems to help us to reconnect once again.

I know I will never get that elusive ‘Mom of the Year’ award, but the good night hug (that just about asphyxiated me), along with an eye to eye, ‘Mom, I love you so much,’ from my boy made my momma guilt fade …

Take that June Cleaver, Marion Cunningham, Caroline Ingalls, Clair Huxtable and yes, even you Jane Jetson!

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