Friday, February 17, 2017

Encourage, Lift, and Strengthen

This is one of my favorite Mary Engelbreit drawings. Does it not illustrate the essence of the Christian life?  

Day after day, year after year, the teaching of Jesus is validated in my mind as I strive to follow Him, finding deeper and deeper joy as a result.

I am so blessed to be in a church that is fed constantly with life-changing truths from the Bible. We had been studying the book of Romans for over four years. Often in quiet study moments of my day, I will go back over the notes I've taken. This morning I read the following and was so encouraged. 

Romans 13:12 "Cast off the works of darkness, and... put on the armor of light." 
Christ puts everything in perspective that can modify every feeling... Even the loss we feel when someone dies or when we face death. 
Once we fully embrace Jesus and his love for others, we increasingly become aware of our impact on others. 
Do I really care about others? 
My deeds will show if I care for others. 
Look at your tracks. Do you spread misery or joy? 
I can spread misery if I don't discipline and gain control of my feelings. We all affect each other. 
But I can also spread joy! I can be beautiful! I have the potential of unsurpassed beauty. 
Beauty flows from a heart that is pure and holy given to God. 
The greatest beauty known to man is God's grace in us. Grace - the beauty of the Divine manifested in human flesh. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Food and Thought

Now, that's more like it! ;)
My blog is one of the home pages on my desktop computer. Every time I get online thinking I'll try to write a post, I groan as I see the last post - my favorite French toast recipe! I groan, but then I laugh.

At least for the next month or so, I am on a strict diet to try to get my thyroid and liver numbers in line. I have a feeling by the time I have gotten used to not eating inflammatory-type foods including dairy, gluten, tomatoes, refined sugar and starch, my eating habits are going to be permanently altered. My doctor-recommended-eating plan starts with at least 6 to 8 half-cup servings of vegetables every day. Thankfully, I like vegetables! Most often, I sprinkle them with salt and pepper and drizzle a bit of Avocado or Olive oil on them and bake them or pan-fry them. Yum! But, back to my point, I must write a blog post today, if for nothing else, to avoid seeing the French toast picture every time I click on my blog!

On a more serious note, I have spent a lot of time in recent days listening to talk-radio and reading articles online about our political situation. My heart is heavy.

I tend to step back and look at the bigger picture rather than focus on the details of what is happening at the moment. I am convinced that much of what we are facing is a result of denying the nature of man.

Our culture has rejected a Creator to whom we are accountable. By so doing, we have no way to define ourselves. There is no objective standard by which we can guide our thinking or our behavior. We are, as though, ships at sea with no anchor and no navigational plan, tossed about by the waves of our whims, often crashing into one another as those whims bring conflict of wills. And without a framework, we have no way of resolving our differences. It's just a matter of who has the most power at the moment.

We have talked a lot about the nature of evil in our Bible studies at church. We have learned that evil is in the human will. And until each of us surrenders our will back to the God who gave it, seeking to do what He would advise, we will continue to have conflict.

It follows, in my understanding, that much of failed parenting flows from a lack of understanding human nature. Parents don't see evil for what it is. And then of course children grow up with the same philosophy and move into the work world until it is now prevalent thought that people are basically good. How misguided and devastating to a society. (For parenting ideas from a Biblical perspective, check out this link.)

May God help us return to being a nation that is built upon Biblical principles. Unless we do, there is not much hope for our beloved country.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Our Favorite French Toast Recipe

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
A loaf of Wheat French bread  

(We prefer French toast that is not soggy, so a narrow loaf at Walmart, sliced about a half-inch thick, works perfectly for our preference. I forgot to take a picture this morning, but I'll update the picture the next time I make this recipe. This pic shows slices quite a bit bigger than we make and soggier. It's too soggy for us if it collapses in the middle. I guess we are pretty picky about our French toast.)

I use a heavy-duty, nonstick Scanpan that heats evenly and doesn't burn items easily so that I can leave the toast in longer and get a nice carameled edge. 

Heat up your skillet until it's nice and hot. Then turn the heat to medium. 

While it heats, melt butter in microwave, and then combine melted butter, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 glass dish. 

My skillet is big enough for about eight slices, so I put all eight slices in the mixture and soak, turning once, for a total of a minute or two. 

Melt some butter in your skillet and place slices of soaked French bread in the skillet. Cook, turning once, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Serve with warm, maple syrup along with a nice piece of sausage or a couple's strips of bacon. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

British-Style Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Scones

We have had several opportunities to try British scones as we have visited our daughter in England and have so enjoyed scones with clotted cream. Below is a scone recipe using blueberries and white chocolate chips like the scones I normally make but in a more British style. It is hard to find clotted cream in the states, and when I found a bottle it was about six dollars for a tiny amount. I had to drive almost 2 hours to even find a store that carried it. I tried to make it, but that was less than successful. For now, I have decided to save clotted cream for my visits to the UK. Curt recently picked up a jar of blueberry jam at Cracker Barrel, and we have used that along with butter on our scones, but they are lovely with just butter.

We eat one scone per meal, and so I freeze them after the first breakfast. They heat up to taste almost better the second time around! Just take them out of the freezer and pop them frozen into a 300° oven for 15 minutes.

3 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 T. unsalted butter, cut into half inch pieces and softened
1 C. frozen blueberries
1/4 to 1/2 C. white chocolate chips, as desired to taste
1 C. whole milk
2 large eggs

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500°. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor until combined, about 5 pulses. Add butter until fully incorporated and mixture looks like very fine crumbs with no visible butter, about 20 pulses. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in blueberries and white chocolate chips.

2. Whisk milk and eggs together in a second bowl. Set aside 2 tablespoons milk mixture. Add remaining milk mixture to flour mixture and, using rubber spatula, fold together until almost no dried bits of flour remain.

3. Transfer dough to a well-floured counter and gather into ball. With floured hands, need until surface is smooth and free of cracks, 25 to 30 times. Press gently to form disk. Using floured rolling pin, Roland disk into 9-inch round, about 1 inch thick. Using floured to a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, stamp out 8 rounds, recoating cutter with flour if it begins to stick. Arrange scones on prepared sheet. Gather dough scraps, form into ball, and knead gently until surface is smooth. Roll dough to 1-inch thickness and stamp out 4 rounds. Discard remaining dough.

4. Brush tops of scones with reserve milk mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 425° and bake scones until risen and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer scones to wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.