Thursday, December 15, 2011

God has my back

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? I Cor. 6:7


Believers can be unbelievably ugly to one another. That is the enemy's way dear friends. Destroy it from the inside. Recently, I was on the receiving end of ugliness. Someone was telling lies about me. I wasn't there to defend myself but God, my Defender, was there. My Defender came to my rescue even before I knew I was being wronged. God made sure the lie was later heard by someone who absolutely knew the truth. She spoke the truth out and set it straight. I am so thankful for those friends that defend you when you aren't around. My friend called me and told me about the lie. My first reaction was that the truth needed to be told and the person set straight. I called a friend and asked her to pray with me about the right way to handle this with the other party. She had been there when the lie was told and she was already praying about it. I sought God's wisdom through His Word and He gave me I Cor. 6:7. Really? Let it go? I'm in the legal profession and I long for justice. God showed me that He had already taken care of it even before I knew there was an issue. He didn't "let it go". He handled it. He didn't need me to take care of it further. I am so thankful to my ever-present Defender!


"The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment." Proverbs 12:19

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cooking for people with allergies

Several years ago, members of our homeschool group joined together to form a group called the "Real Meal Blessing Team". We divide our group into two teams. Each team takes a turn to cook for anyone in our homeschool group that might need it because of illness, new baby or other life interruptions. We utilize a very cool free tool called the "Care Calendar" Our members can easily sign up for whichever date works best for them. To make it even easier, our members are not responsible for a whole meal (unless they want to). They only sign up for a portion of the meal like the dessert, vegetable and bread, meat, or side dish. It keeps it budget friendly and easy for our team members. 


To serve our member in need best, we have only the team leader make the drop off of all the food. This keeps our dear friend from having too many feet tromping through her house during a time when privacy is most needed. We have been very blessed to serve many of our members over the years. Some that have received have even joined our group and gotten to return the blessing! They are very special members indeed!

On occasion, we run into a family with food allergies or other diet requirements. We do our very best to accommodate them. Recently, we learned of a family in our group that is gluten free. That seemed a little intimidating to me. I didn't know much about it, so I did some research. I even did a test run of the diet myself for a few weeks just to see if I could cook for them using my regular recipes. I was excited to find many of my favorite recipes that were gluten free. I did a lot of label reading in my pantry. Since rice is considered gluten free, I had lots and lots of Cajun recipes that fit the bill. I also did some internet research and found websites to help me. Allrecipes.com has a great section with lots of gluten free recipes here. The recipes on this website look wonderful  http://glutenfreegirl.com/ Gourmet pictures too! I really liked the challenge of trying to cook gluten free. There really is so much help out there, that it probably wasn't much of a challenge.

Don't be intimidated when you are cooking for someone with food allergies or special diet requirements. First, ask them what you can cook. Also, ask if there is a restaurant they frequent and what they eat there. They know their diet better than anyone. They can give you some quick tips and hints, brands and where to get them. If you are still intimidated, you could give them a gift card or offer to deliver their preferred meal from their restaurant. Do a little internet research. Websites like allrecipes.com allow you to search for recipes "without" certain ingredients. Check it out here.

Funny but awful story... I have a dear friend who is allergic to bananas. I have known this for years and never managed to poison my sweet friend. I raved on and on about a recipe for hummingbird cake that I tried. One evening she came over for supper and I was so excited to serve her a piece of this delicious cake. As she took her second bite, it suddenly dawned on me that there were bananas in the recipe. Too late. Thankfully, her allergy isn't life threatening. I was absolutely horrified that I made a mistake like that but she just laughed it off and complemented me on the delicious cake. It's a wonder she still eats at my house. Argggg!

I have another friend who is allergic to onions and garlic. Now that allergy intimidates me! As a Cajun, cooking without those two ingredients in near impossible. I have one, count it one, main meal recipe that does not contain either of  those ingredients. Guess she'll be eating a lot of Paninis if I ever have to cook for her! Thankfully, she loves them!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Taco Soup - a delicious soup sure to please everyone

Tis the season for soup! It can simmer while you wrap gifts or cut out cookies. This soup even pleases my picky eater!

TACO SOUP

Yellow Onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 Tbl. Olive Oil or corn oil
1 can of Muir Glen Roasted Tomatoes
Kosher salt to taste (start with 1 Tbl.)
black pepper to taste (start with 1/4 tsp.)
a dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. of  Cholula hot sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup of wheat flour mixed with 3/4 cup water in a small bowl (to thicken the soup) Pour in slowly.
2 small bunches of cilantro
1 small bunch of fresh oregano
1 tsp. of dried oregano
6 cups chicken stock
1 pound of lean ground meat
1 can of pinto beans
1/2 cup frozen corn

Garnishes for finished soup:
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream

In a heavy black pot, saute garlic and onions in olive (or corn) oil. Add this mixture, roasted tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro and oregano in a blender and mix well. Brown ground meat very well. The darker, the more flavor your soup will have (but please don't burn it). A heavy black pot is the best for browning meat.  Then add the rest of the ingredients including the mixture in the blender (except the cheese). I also add an additional bunch of cilantro to further flavor the soup and then remove it before I serve. Simmer for 30 minutes. You could also toss this in your slow cooker and return to a delicious meal. Serve with grated sharp cheddar cheese sprinkled on the top and/or Tortilla chips and/or a dab of sour cream.

Gluten/Dairy Free Option:

TACO SOUP


Yellow Onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 Tbl. Olive Oil or corn oil
1 can of Muir Glen Roasted Tomatoes
Kosher salt to taste (start with 1 Tbl.)
black pepper to taste (start with 1/4 tsp.)
a dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. of  Cholula hot sauce (it is gluten free)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup of Argo corn starch mixed with 3/4 cup cold water in a small bowl (to thicken the soup) Pour in slowly.
2 small bunches of cilantro
1 small bunch of fresh oregano
1 tsp. of dried oregano
6 cups  CENTRAL MARKET ORGANICS FREE RANGE CHICKEN BROTH (at HEB)
1 pound of lean ground meat
1 can of pinto beans
1/2 cup frozen corn


Garnish for finished soup:
Corn Tortilla chips


In a heavy black pot, saute garlic and onions in olive (or corn) oil. Add this mixture, roasted tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro and oregano in a blender and mix well. Brown ground meat very well. The darker, the more flavor your soup will have (but please don't burn it). A heavy black pot is the best for browning meat.  Then add the rest of the ingredients including the mixture in the blender. I also add an additional bunch of cilantro to further flavor the soup and then remove it before I serve. Simmer for 30 minutes. You could also toss this in your slow cooker and return to a delicious meal. Serve Tortilla chips sprinkled on top.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas is for the birds!

Continuing on my efforts to incorporate more of a natural theme into my decorating, I've used more birds this year in my decoration theme of "Enchanted Forest Christmas".

Found this beauty this year.
A blinged out bird is just perfect for my tree!




A little decoration for the post
and a happy greeting when you enter

This little baby cardinal is tucked away from the cold

My favorite large owl gets a little sparkle

A new baby owl on the mantle!
I've gone a little overboard in my table decorations, but if you are going to do it, you might as well overdo it.






My collection of acorns. A delight on the table.
My Hutch is all decorated for Christmas. I try to have large and small detail. The large detail draws someone in and the small detail gives them a delight when they get close.









My kitchen theme is sweets and coffee. Of course!

My new favorite, a blueberry pie. 

Chocolate cake! Now I'm hungry!






The Mantle has a new look this year!
This year's wrapping gets a touch of nature too!
A new tree this year. A slender one doesn't hold all my ornaments but fits nicely in the corner.

Santa and his sleigh decorate the top.
The Christmas skirt was handmade with love by my Mamon.
It takes an honored spot here every year.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fall Harvest

I am truly convinced that square foot gardening is the way to go for me. I cannot believe how healthy, beautiful and plentiful my fall garden is. I made a few mistakes along the way.

-First, two of my beds are now in the shade because of the movement of the sun in the fall season. Most of my plants are still flourishing despite the fact that they don't get any direct sunlight. Some of my bean plants didn't like it and I pulled them out. The lack of sunlight also caused the soil to stay moister than the bed that gets direct sunlight. That caused a bit of a gnat infestation. They apparently like the moist soil. The gnats aren't causing any problems, they are just bothersome. I've adjusted my watering of those beds and the plants seem to be doing just fine.

-Second, I put up a climbing net on two sides of a bed. I am having difficulty being able to get to the plants in that corner. I can still access them from behind, it just isn't as easy as it should be. I'll move one of the nets to one of the new beds we plant in the spring.

My beds looks more crowded than I am used to with my old garden. In fact, everything is doing just fine because of the mixture they are growing in is extremely rich.

I am currently growing more in this garden than I ever have before. It takes up less space and grows more. I use less water (but water more often) and there are no weeds. I am currently growing cucumber, sweet peas, green beans, cabbage, kale, tomato (4 varieties), green onions, parsley, celery, cilantro, oregano, lettuce (3 varieties), broccoli (2 varieties), cauliflower, and decorative mums and jeruselum cherry. Leftover from Spring and doing well are patio tomato, bellpepper, jalapeno and banana pepper. I've already picked cucumber, green beans and tomatoes.

Garden three is thriving!

Gardens 1 and 2 that are now in the shade :(

Juliette tomatoes


Start of my broccoli

Healthy and beautiful. The worms got a few bites before I got them.

As beautiful as any flower!

sweet pea flower - come on sweet peas!

great crop of Louisiana Satsumas this year despite the drought

Covered all my gardens when we had a bit of cold night. Thanks to my son Lucas for making these covers!

Louisiana satsuma ripening in the sun

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeding my obsession

Is there anything more fun than getting a package in the mail? Even better, this was an unexpected gift from my dear friend Melissa. I was thrilled to open a package to find this:

Product [image]
Nordic Ware Acorn Cakelet Pan

Product [image]
Finished product!
 As a Nordic Ware fanatic, I squealed when I opened the package. This cute little cakelets will be the star of my next tea party! I think I want to decorate the top of each acorn with sparkly sugar.

Thank you Melissa! You know the way to my baker's heart!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Morning Walk in the Fall Garden


Dew on the edge of a cucumber plant. Look at the beautiful curl.


I love to walk in the garden in the morning. There is no diamond necklace as beautiful as the dew drops on the edge of a leaf. Take a walk with me and enjoy.


Dew dappled cauliflower leaf


loving the way the light works in this picture of a cucumber leaf


two baby bell peppers covered in dew


the fingers of the sweet pea plant reaching for the lattice


Double headed cabbage with amazing purple veins


Broccoli is well on its way


Rosemary loving this spot


An overall view of gardens 1 and 2


An overall view of garden 3


Juliette tomatoes starting to produce


Patio tomatoes from spring getting their second wind in fall


cucumber taking advantage of the lattice


Carrots loving this pot


Only the rich soil of a square foot garden could support this amount of plants so close
  

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