Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sourdough Bread #TryItTuesday

This easy recipe is from my mother-in-law.  It is a very versatile recipe as you can use it for loaves, rolls, cinnamon bread and it can handle many add-ins.  I like it because I can control the balance of whole wheat four for a happy digestive track.  I like to add in wheat germ to most of my bread recipes for extra fiber.  Feel free to follow the recipe exactly or get creative. I posted pictures for novices: most of my recipes won't have so many pics.  Enjoy!


1 cup of warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 package yeast
3 Tablespoons of instant potato flakes

Mix starter ingredients and let ferment on the counter for two days.  If you have a cool/cold house, wrap the sides of the container in a towel or tea cozy.

  *my house is typical 65' degrees at night, so I must wrap mine


1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons of potato flakes

Combine ingredients and add to the starter.  Let stand on the counter for eight hours,  Refrigerate for three to five days.

 *I label my jar with dates, so in all my busyness, I don't forget


6 cups of bread flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cup of warm water
1 cup of starter

Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  In a separate bowl combine 1 cup of starter, water and oil.  Add to dry ingredients and mix well.  Knead (either by hand on floured surface or with dough hooks) until dough is springy or about five to ten minutes.  Place dough in a oiled bowl, brush top of dough with a little oil, and cover with a wet dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 12 hours.


  *I distribute the oil with a paper towel or pastry brush




Punch dough down and knead out any air bubbles.  Spray or oil two to three loaf pans (depending on how tall you like your loaf) and divide dough evenly between the pans.  Brush tops of bread with a little oil.   Cover loosely and let rise six to eight hours in a warm place. 

Bake at 350' for 25 to 30 minutes or golden brown on top.


The knife pictured above can be purchased here:  http://thebowknife.com/products

*After using starter for bread, only save 1 cup of starter in the refrigerator, discarding excess.  Starter can be fed in another 3-5 days.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Super Bowl? How Clean is Your Toilet?

Think your toilet is fresh and clean?  Get down on your knees and take a peak.  Now, how clean is it?  You may not realize just how dirty your toilet bowl is until that awful moment when you have a stomach bug or food poisoning and your face is close enough to see....as if you weren't sick enough!  Brushing out a toilet bowl with a typical brush, or using one of those bleach discs in your tank just isn't going to cut it, especially if you have hard water.  If you love your family, you're going to have to get on your knees, put on some gloves and scrub.  I am embarrassed to post this, but here's a before picture of our bowl rim.

So, today, I mustered my courage and put on the gloves and spent a few minutes scrubbing with my hands.  I tried using the little brush pictured here in hopes that I wouldn't have to actually stick my hand in the toilet, but it just wouldn't cut it.

After five minutes, my toilet was MUCH cleaner.  Why did I put this off for so many years?  It wasn't that bad at all.  How clean is your toilet?  I hope it's cleaner than mine!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Practically Perfect Parenting

Over 20 years ago, when our daughter was small, I felt a lot of pressure (whether real or perceived) to live by a certain set of standards in order to be a good parent.  I pretty much failed miserably at every bullet point of the Practically Perfect in Everyway Christian Parents' Manifesto.  Do not go looking for this piece of literature propaganda, because not only does it not exist, but each generation develops and attempts to enforce a new, improved creed.  As I look back on my feeble attempts to fit into the mold, not created by God but by fellow sisters in Christ and myself, I chuckle at my failures, grieve over the heartbreak that I allowed myself to feel, and wonder in what ways I have pressured my fellow sisters rather than build them up.  Maybe this is not your story and you have no idea what I'm talking about, or perhaps it is your story and you don't realize it yet.  Let's look at some of the crazy values I believed were necessary to be a good Christian parent.

  • You must breastfeed your child.  This is indeed a good value, but not breastfeeding your little one does not make you a bad parent.  For some women, it's just not possible.  For me, I had Strep B at delivery and I am highly allergic to almost all antibiotics.  By the time I finally was cleared of the infection that nearly claimed both our lives and finished with the antibiotics, it was too late.  Did that make me a bad mom? No, but nonetheless I still felt guilt and remorse because I had failed before I had even begun.
  • You must use cloth diapers.  Again, it is a good value, but not doing so does not mean you hope the environment, your budget, and your baby's bum go to Hell perdition in a hand basket.  Yes, it is more economical, environmentally friendly, and healthful, but circumstances do not always allow this to happen.  It had been my goal to use only cloth diapers, but real life happened.
  • You must homeschool your child.  Nailed this one!  After all, I was one of the pioneer homeschool kids in the late 70's and early 80's.  Oh, wait! You have to be a "relaxed" homeschooler and let them learn naturally.  No, wait! You have to use a twaddle-free classical approach and study logic and Latin.  Oh, no!  You have to focus on only homemaking skills.  Stop the madness!!!! Each child is different and there is no one size fits all approach to education, home or government schooled.  While homeschooling is great and I loved every minute of it, I do not believe it is for everyone.
  • You must sew your & your child's clothing.  I am a LOUSY seamstress!  Don't believe me?  Ask our daughter about a few of the homemade dresses she was forced to wear.  I do believe everyone should know how to sew on a button and hem a pair of pants because you never know when an "emergency" will pop up, but in all honesty, the ability to sew beautifully does not make you a good parent.
I could make a list a mile long and I could apply this concept to all of life....including being a good wife and what constitutes a healthy diet, but don't EVEN get me started...these little tick points are not evil things, but they are not what constitutes "good." 

When our daughter was an infant, a well-meaning woman in our congregation politely informed me that if I kept shoes and socks on our baby (who was only in socks at the time) at all times, she would never suffer an ear infection.  She also let me know that by making our daughter's baby food instead of using jarred commercially produced food, that I was depriving our baby of important nutrients.  Ummmm, no?  My husband reassured me that those little things are not what makes a good parent, but rather my relationship with Christ and who I am as a person is what makes a good parent.  What about you?  Are you unknowingly pressuring yourself or others to fit into a mold that, while good, is not spelled out in Scripture?  Let us be careful to never add to or take away from God's Word.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Garlic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes #TryitTuesday

2 pounds of fingerling potatoes
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil or rosemary infused oil
2 Tablespoons of dried rosemary
1 teaspoon of Himalayan pink sea salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon of pepper
Preheat oven to 375'  and line baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Wash potatoes and half or quarter, depending on the size of the potato.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl and add the potatoes, tossing to coat.  Spread the potatoes onto the lined baking sheet and bake for one hour (a little longer if potatoes pieces are larger), turning several times during cooking time. 
I made these potatoes with fresh green beans over Christmas and they were marvelous!  They don't hold up as well as I would like reheating later, but they still have that wonderful flavor.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Pinterest Panic, Fakebook, and Twiddling

I've been thinking a lot lately about the pressures on people today and how we interact with each other.  Before the internet (which sounds like the dawn of time but was really not too long ago), our pressure group  peer group came from our neighborhoods, churches, schools, and/or workplaces.   Within in those groups there was usually a good deal of commonality.  We generally were from the same socio-economic backgrounds, held the same beliefs, and in many cases, the same friends.  It wasn't so hard to keep up with the Jones' 50 years ago, because the Jones' were experiencing similar circumstances.  We could also see people a little more clearly, their dirty laundry literally being hung out on the other side of our fences.  Air conditioning was a bit of a luxury, so often our windows were open for outsiders to peer in or listen (sometimes it was difficult to not listen).  There were no video games or cable TV, enabling (not forcing, enabling) us to play with our friends.  No cell phones or texting made genuine communication commonplace.

The same technological advances designed to make life easier, to be used as tools rather than objects of devotion, have become a source of peer pressure and stress that is impossible to live up to or quench. In May 2013, TODAY Parents stated that close to half of moms are stressed by sites such as Pinterest. The same holds true, I'm sure, for single and childless women as well.  Oh, the stresses caused by friends updating their relationship statuses!  Social media sites often only share successes and celebrate accomplishments.  What you don't see is how many failures occurred before those crowning achievements so proudly snapped and posted.  Granted, there are those of us who are at the other end of the spectrum, always whining and complaining about how miserable their lives are, not realizing that their situation is more common than they realize....but let's not get off topic.

Most of us have experienced Pinterest fail, trying to duplicate a craft or recipe or rehab and failing hopelessly.  The same is true for the idealistic lives most of us portray on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  Most of us show only what we would want others to know about us.  I'm not suggesting that we tell all our dirty secrets and use social media as a confessional.  I'm not even suggesting that we all post photos of our dust bunnies or dirty cookie sheets.  I'm also not suggesting that we stop using these sites.  They each hold a certain amount of value and usefulness for this generation.

I love Pinterest in particular.  It's like tearing out magazine pages with recipes and ideas, but you can actually find them when you need them because they are neatly organized without taking up extra room in my already crowded house.  It would be easy for me to develop an inferior complex looking at some of these pins, but I know that I am not particularly gifted with my hands and I know that my worth is based in Christ and not in anything I can do or say.  I also know that most of my friends who have tried what they have seen on Pinterest have frequently found their end results to pale in comparison.  So, while I love the site and visit it often, I realize that what I see there ain't necessarily so...

I also am friends with Facebook.  It is a great way to keep up with family on the other side of the country and reconnect with friends from grade school.  I am not aware of a single person, however, that has been able to escape being hurt or felt slighted in some way as a result of what someone else said on the site.  I also both celebrate and cringe when I see people update their relationship status, knowing that each time it brings joy, heartache, and gossip simultaneously.  Be careful just how much you share of your relationships, not just because of the stress it causes others, but also because there are some things people just don't need to know.  I also know of people who use Facebook purely for stalking information gathering, this too, is inappropriate. 

As far as my Facebook is concerned, I do my best to avoid political statements, not because I do not have or am ashamed of my positions, but in deference to my friends who do not hold similar positions.  Remember the day when it was impolite to discuss politics and religion in public?  Imagine you're in a room with all your friends.  Most of your friends in the room love Neil Diamond, but a few of them can't stand him.  You're still friends with those people because you have other shared interests.  Now imagine that you get up in front of all those said friends in the room, some of which you cannot see or forgot they were there, and you state that anyone who doesn't like Neil Diamond is just dumb.  I realize this is a silly comparison, but you get the point.  Facebook really should be a more "polite society."  We have to be careful about potentially inflammatory statements, and about sharing too much of ourselves. 

So what's my point?  These sites are great as long as we realize they are not "real" and often not even ideal.  If you find yourself being stressed by these social sites, take a short technology sabbatical and open your eyes to the real world.  Sit on a park bench or a bench in the mall .... or even Wal-Mart....and take a good look at people.  Those are real people.  See them for who they really are.  Look into their eyes (figuratively, or you could wind up with a black eye) and see the pain in their lives and their brokenness.  Take time to actually talk with a friend over coffee.  Yes, I know this is difficult.  Do it anyway.  Look past all the glitz and phoniness of internet sites, and see and relate to people on a deeper level.  You'll be much happier if you do.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Spicy Sausage Pasta

Last night, I tried Kevin and Amanda's Spicy Sausage Pasta, and I was NOT disappointed!   The original recipe link can be found HERE.  I tweaked the recipe a little because I'm not a huge fan of onions and I was too lazy to broil it at the end, but the results were still a two thumbs up!  I'm posting the tweaked version here along with photos because: 1. I'm not a photographer (these were taken with my phone) and things I try never look like they do on Pinterest.  2. I'm not a fabulous chef; and if I can do it, so can you! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1/2 cups diced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz  pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

 1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in cheese.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Granola #TryitTuesday

In the years before I worked outside of our home, I frequently made granola during the Winter months.  It has long been one of my husband's favorites, and he will be excited to see it's return.  It's easy to make, tastes better than store bought versions, and is cheaper than the store bought versions.

3/4  Cup of brown sugar
1/2  Cup of honey (I always try to purchase raw, local honey, but this can get pricey)
1/3  Cup oil (I used a canola/olive blend)
5     Cups of oats, preferably old fashioned as opposed to quick, but either will do
1/2  Cup of powdered milk
2   Tablespoons of wheat germ (optional)
3/4  teaspoon of cinnamon
pinch of salt (I used Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, but table salt works)
cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit to be added after baking

Preheat oven to 375'
In a saucepan, combine the honey, oil and brown sugar and heat until the sugars are dissolved.

In a large cake pan, combine and mix the dry ingredients (except for the dried fruit!)
Pour the dissolved sugars over the dry ingredients and mix well.
Bake at 375' for 10 minutes.  Add the dried fruit of your choice and let cool.


Monday, January 05, 2015

Try it Tuesdays for 2015

I am currently comprising an ongoing list of food dishes that are on my cooking "bucket list."  At least once monthly, I want to try cook something I have never made before but always wanted to try.  27 years ago, I promised my husband that I would learn to make corn husk tamales.  Given that I hate tamales, I have yet to make them.  This year, I plan to make good on my promise.  Not everything on my Try it Tuesdays list will be official bucket list, but it will always be a recipe that I have tried.  Here is my buck list thus far:

  • Corn Husk Tamales
  • Enchiladas
  • Meatballs....fortunately, a dear friend bought me a meatball cook book :)
  • Prime Rib
  • Roast Chicken
  • Tandoori Chicken
I know that as I progress, my list will grow.  I hope to post on this topic frequently and would love to hear your suggestions.  Post a comment here or on Facebook. See you on Tuesdays!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Bumps in the Road and Course Corrections

In the past, I have learned that I need to embrace my weakness so that God's strength can be made perfect and see those weakness as a means towards peace in my life.  I have long struggled with chronic pain and, at times, with anxiety.  This past fall I had a traumatic experience at work that made room for both anxiety and pain to fester and flourish in my life.  I am now gradually beginning to realize the power of allowing the presence of these in my life and continuing on towards my goals.

Imagine, if you will, that my goal (whatever goal that might be; it applies to all) is a bolt of white satin laid out before me in a straight line.  My way is clear and logical.  There are, however, on that path, boulders, trash, and other obstacles that I must navigate around or over.  These difficulties can be ones that others have placed on my path or that I have placed there or are there through no fault of anyone, they simply exist.  They can be physical, emotional, or spiritual in the form of pain, anxiety, anger, pressure from peers, etc.  This is normal, and everyone has a similar road.  The problem arises when you or I become focused on those roadblocks rather than the road and find ourselves immobilized or traveling in circles.  That doesn't mean that we should tell ourselves that these boulders do not exist, but rather we need to acknowledge them and be at peace with the fact that they are there, that these hindrances cannot hurt us, and that we must keep our focus on the ultimate goal or value, moving towards that goal.

Think for a moment about your own life.  What are you struggling with in your own life; what are you wanting to accomplish but just can't seem to succeed; what grips you with fear?  With that in mind, please watch this short video (skip any ads): 



Sometimes, we seem to be traveling life's path rather smoothly and we feel that we are navigating our course fairly well when, quite unexpectedly, the unthinkable happens.  It is easy to panic and fall back into bad patterns, be they behavioral or thought, and get stalled on the path.  The unforeseen happens to everyone.  It is part of everyone's experience.  I can be symptom free for months, when I am blindsided with a fibromyalgia flare and it can be easy for me to despair.  The following video can help you be proactively prepared for such events:


Perhaps you have a goal or life calling that you were working towards, and worry or criticism from others or sin in your life have halted you.  Perhaps it's a goal as simple as losing weight or regaining health, but we keep following back into old patterns.  It may even be that we find ourselves completely on a different road from which we or God originally intended.  It is possible to get back on track, but we must learn to live with things that hold us back and press on.  This video helps us to get back to where we need to be:



Perhaps the point of all these videos in my own life is not that my circumstances need to change, those bumps, demons, and cranky passengers will always be there, but that I need to change.  I need to get back on course and keep my eyes on the final destination.  Those other things can only hurt me or keep me from what I value most if I let them and give them power.  What about you?  Is your life on track or are you traveling in circles, bogged down in a life of pain, fear, or regret?  I hope these ideas have been helpful for you, and I hope you and I remember them as we undoubtedly will encounter many demons in our lives.  It's a new year; let's get further down the path.