Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Canning Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of the recipes I cook on a regular basis for our family is Chicken Tortilla Soup.  In fact it was my Dad's favorite meal for me to prepare when he visited.  Usually I throw all my ingredients in the crock pot on low and then come home and voila, dinner is served! 

My goal today was to have family size servings of our favorite soup that could be heated and served.  The biggest hold up in having the soup is all the chopping.  So while Abigail and Frankie worked on school work I got to work.  

My brilliant idea was to lay the soup in my quart jars like a beautiful sand art project.  To each Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars I layered: 

1 cup roasted chicken
½ cup diced tomatoes (drained)
½ cup black beans (drained)
½ cup corn (drained)
1/3 cup diced green peppers
1/3 cup onions
¼ cup diced banana peppers
1 T Green chilies
1 T jalapenos
 2 T sliced black olives (drained)

Aren't the jars beautiful! I mean seriously that's a pretty picture on top.  The ingredients I had on hand were enough to fill six quart jars and all my extras I put in the crock pot for lunch!  Next I made my broth to top off each jar: 

12 cups water  *  4T chicken bullion   *   4T taco seasoning

The taco seasoning in the broth gave the jar a little bit of an orange tint, but it's still pretty.  Because there is meat in each jar they have to be processed in a Pressure Canner at 10lbs pressure for 90 minutes.   

To serve, I can heat up a jar in the Crock Pot or stove along with 2 cups of chicken broth.  Be sure to add on the toppings: tortilla chips, sour cream, onions, avocado, cheese, or fresh cilantro!  Not too shabby, next time we're hungry for warm soup we can heat and eat yummy homemade goodness! 

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”  Genesis 25:29-30

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Canning Pink Grapefruit

Did you know that a girl can get excited about a sale on grapefruit? It's true, you see I enjoy grapefruit a couple of mornings a week.  Now to make it easy on myself I buy the prepackaged fruit cups so I don't have to peel and I can have a healthy snack on the go.   The only down side is that the prepackaged snacks are four servings for $5. 

So when I found whole grapefruit on sale four for $1 I knew what I would be doing today.  A quick Pinterest search revealed that really all there is to preserving grapefruit is peeling, removing as much white pith as possible, packing in a light syrup and water bath canning to seal.  

To make a light syrup. I used 2 cups sugar to 5 cups water, heat your syrup and keep it hot and ladle it over your fruit.  Place lids on the jars, place in a water bath.  Bring to a rolling boil and maintain boil for 10 minutes for pints.  So for $3 I packed twelve Ball Pint Jars of grapefruit, saving millions!  Well, if you don't count the $13 for the jars, the sugar, the time spent.  But it was a simple task and now I know how to can grapefruit. 

While we were peeling the grapefruit, I saved the rinds to make Candied Pink Grapefruit.  This time of year you find many recipes that call for candied fruits. I use them in cookies, in a chocolate ginger biscotti, or rum cookies. The process for candying the citrus peels is to boil the strips for 10 minutes, rinse and repeat four times, that softens the peels and removes any bitterness. Next we cooked the peels in sugar water until almost all of the water has boiled out and the peels are infused with sugar. We laid the peels out to dry for 24 hours and then rolled them in sugar and packaged them up.  They make a sweet yet tart treat.  

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24

Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy Sweet 16, Sarah!

My catcher girl helped her favorite pitcher celebrate her sixteenth birthday tonight.  Sarah and Abigail have played ball in recreation, select and high school leagues together.  

Sarah is home schooled and plays on the CHANT Chargers team.  The girls had a great evening hanging out in Sarah's barn.  Her dad Slim set up a screen projection for the girls to watch movies and hang out.  

Again pizza and cake pops was the delicacy of the evening!  The girls had a great evening and the weather cooperated for the festivities!  Happy birthday, sweet girl! 

They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 145:7

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gilmore Girls Watch Party

A quick history lesson for the grandparents who don't have teen girls. Gilmore Girls was a fast-paced television show filmed on Warner Brother Studios lot from 2001-2007.  

The show follows single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, also named Lorelai but who prefers to be called Rory, living in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. The town is filled with colorful characters and is located approximately 30 minutes from Hartford.  

Since the show was cancelled, fans have eagerly awaited a reunion show or something to bring closure for the fans.   Netflix released four episode of the miniseries is set in Stars Hollow this weekend!

The Bailey hosted a watch party today for the girls and moms for the reunion episodes!  The Gilmore girls are known for their love of junk food and lots of it.  So in keeping with the show we had a spread of pizza, tacos, Chinese, pop tarts, mini donuts, Red Vines, tater tots and more! Lorelai and Rory would have been so proud! 

Frankie, Hannah, Gracie, Ella and Abigail watched with great delight as their favorite characters were brought back to life.  All of the old favorites from Rory's old boyfriends to the colorful residence of Stars Hollow made appearances.  There were a few life choice this Christian mom wishes that Hollywood didn't have to bring into the mix.  But I thoroughly enjoyed the time with friends, the warm hospitality and an evening with the girls! 

"Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10

On the Road Again

In the blink of an eye the Thanksgiving break is over!  Time for the boy to make the five to six hour drive back to Lubbock.  He still had two major projects on his plate that are due later this week.  But he made a valiant effort to knock out his assignments and we did our best to let him have the time he needed to work. 

We enjoyed Sunday worship as a family.  Quite a few of Caleb's friends were home so he was thrilled to get to see the kids he grew up with that are now all off to different colleges. It does seems strange to see them all as mostly grown ups. 

After services and Bible class Caleb stopped by my Texas Bible Bowl class to say hello and encourage the kids.  They are always excited to see him.  We hugged him good bye and he headed on the road.  It's always bitter sweet to tell him good bye but I know he got some work done, managed to get caught up on much needed rest, and we filled him with good food.  He left with a full tank of gas, a clean car, clean laundry, snack food and a little cash for the road!  Then Jon and I turned our attention to our great group of kids and the book of Acts. 

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Fun

Black Friday brings up images of door breaking deals and Christmas shopping.  But the day after Thanksgiving when I was growing up always meant a movie.  

Caleb has so much school work, he's spent most of the weekend on his exegesis over Revelation 13:1-10 identifying who or what is the beast.  His paper is a minimum of 3,500 words.  I can't even imagine that many words based on ten verses.  But I digress! 

My favorite part of having the boy home is that right after breakfast the kids know that we read the Bible together as a family, every day.  It was wonderful to have them all in there comfy spots, laid back and taking turns reading.  Each daily reading is four to five pages and we each read a full page beginning with Jon and then the kids youngest to oldest. 

Most of the day was spent with the girls and I getting out Christmas decorations while Caleb worked on school work.  Later in the evening we took in the latest Harry Potter movie, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.'  I wish the boy had more time but it is just part of this stage in life.  I tried to soak up every minute I could get with him know he won't be home next year. 

People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” Revelation 13:4

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to All

After six hours of driving the boy made it home for Thanksgiving.  He still had to take an online test yesterday to get class credit, but he's home.  His work load is heavy this time of year as papers and projects are due beginning next week because finals begin the following week.  

We squeezed in all the time together that we could.  Some of that time meant he was busy with homework while we kept him fed and starred longingly at him!  Because that's not creepy! 

Since it was just the five of us, the kids voted for a ham for Thanksgiving dinner. I was able to heat it up in the roaster, freeing up my oven for other yummy goodness.
For breakfast it was our traditional healthy holiday breakfast with sausage balls and chocolate donuts! Lunch was all of our favorites including sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, yeast rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy.  It was a carb lovers dream come true!  This mom was thankful to have all of her babies home and to be able to spoil them with a leisurely day filled with their favorite foods and good conversation.   

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  2 Corinthians 9:11

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Practically Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is getting ever closer and we're trying to get as much baking done as possible so that we can spend time with Caleb when he gets home.  Remember last week when baked and created our own jars of pumpkin puree?  Well, today we used those jars to make pies.

Each pint contains two cups of puree, which is the perfect amount for one pie!  Simply add to the puree eggs, milk, sugar and spices!  The house is filled with smell of fall baked goodness! 

Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys.  1 Samuel 25:18

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Canning Sloppy Joes

While making the grocery store run for last minute Thanksgiving dinner items, I found an excellent sale on hamburger meat.  The meat is a prepackaged mixture of hamburger and sausage meat and was high quality meat.  Fortunately our Thanksgiving dinner is just the five of us, and most of my prep work is done, so I have time for one more quick project.  

On days that we volunteer at the food pantry I like to have quick and easy lunch meals available.  Sloppy Joes are one of those simple meals.  

I had six pounds of meat, so I fried it up in two pound batches for easier processing.  

2lbs Ground Beef (cook and drain)
1 C Chopped Onion
1 1/2 C Ketchup (Use Heinz or Hunt, or make sure your brand has no thickeners added)
2 T Brown Sugar
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
3 T Heinz Chili Sauce
3 t Worcestershire Sauce
2 t Yellow Mustard
1/4 C Water

As I finished each batch I added it to an eight quart stock pot.  When everything was cooked I heated up the mixture to a boil and added began to fill my sterilized Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars.  The sloppy joe mixture is processed in a pressure cooker at 10lbs for 75 minutes for pint, and 90 minutes for quarts. Remember, you can’t fit much more than a half a cup of meat onto one hamburger bun. That’s four servings per pint and eight servings per quart. (Pints hold about 1 lb of meat; quarts hold approximately 2 lbs.) 

Next time we need a quick and easy lunch I can open a jar and heat up the meat on the stove, serve on hamburger buns with homemade pickles or banana peppers! Again, not really what I had planned to do just days before Thanksgiving but it's all good. It kept me busy while I wait for the boy to come home!    

The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered;
 they must leave none of it till morning.  Leviticus 7:15

Monday, November 21, 2016

Vocal Variety

Our PEACH Jr. Toastmasters club met this evening.  Their sponsor Ms. Vogel, works at Pepsico, so tonight they met in a conference room in a business setting.  The kids were delighted to see that Pepsico allows their employees all the carbonated beverages they can drink for free.  

Abigail presented her vocal variety speech tonight by comparing the poetic nature of other languages compared to the more mundane English languages. 

a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
Ecclesiastes 3:7

Healing Hands International

The family spent the morning packing MAGI Boxes bound for Honduras and South Texas at the Healing Hands International warehouse in Carrollton. Healing Hands is a work sponsored by congregations Church of Christ.  

The M.A.G.I. boxes is an acronym that stands for “Making a Godly Impact” and it brings joy to many of God’s children. Each year, hundreds of Christians across the U.S. prepare thousands of M.A.G.I. gift boxes to be delivered to needy children.

The boxes we packed today are bound for Mexico and Zambia. There is plenty of work for all ages from packing boxes, bagging soaps and toiletries, writing cards and even coloring pictures to include with each box of goodies.

In their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:14-15

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Canning Yellow Squash

Yesterday I exchanged some banana peppers with our neighbor for yellow squash.  Our pepper plants keep producing and she said they have more squash than they can eat!  So we broke out the canner again.  

It couldn't have been any simpler, wash the veggies, slice them up and then boil them for 2-3 minutes. Pack the jars and process in the Pressure Canner with salted water, with 10lbs of pressure.  Pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes. 

The squash can be patted dry and and fried or it they can be used in a casserole. Yum! 

Edited note:  The squash came out softer than I'd prefer.  Next time I'll try a small batch with a little Pickle Crisp.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.

 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.  Ecclesiastes 2:4-5

Sunday Selfie

Every Sunday morning our family texts Caleb a ‘Sunday Selfie.’ Usually we snap our selfie in the car on the way to the church building.  Caleb texts us back a picture from class at the Sunset Church of Christ. 

Today I asked our Bible Bowl kids to participate in our selfie. Aren't they sweet! 

With whom, then, will you compare God?

    To what image will you liken him?
Isaiah 40:18

Saturday, November 19, 2016

In a Jam

When we were at the farmers market picking up sugar pumpkins we saw these beautiful baskets of blackberries.  We picked up several pints to bring home.  I've never made blackberry jam but when we began looking up recipes I was surprised to find out the jam is equal portions of berries and sugar, what's not to like about that! The only other addition is a little lemon juice and pectin.  

We found several recipes, some include straining out seeds others include leaving in the seeds.  We went with straining out some seeds, but I think the seeds add to the texture of blackberry jam.  

If you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket. Deuteronomy 23:24

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Puree

Thanksgiving is getting closer and we're working on getting some of the prep work ready! Today we picked up two small sugar pumpkins at the farmers market, hollowed them out and baked them.  Once they were baked I ran the meaty portion through the blender and packed them into two cup servings of puree'. Each serving will make one scrumptious pumpkin pie.

Abigail and I took the seeds and roasted them for snacks over the holiday. While we were baking, I told the girls about the Youth Advisory Council in high school scooping out pumpkins to roast seeds in the cafeteria on the last day of school before Thanksgiving break. 

These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family,

 and in every province and in every city.  Esther 9:28

Friday, November 18, 2016

Italian Style Pickled Eggplant

In the early days of our dating relationship, Jon and I would go out to the fancy restaurants in Tulsa.  You know the time period, no kids, dual income, trying to impress each other, etc.  'Our spot' turned out to be a restaurant called Angelo's around 31st and Harvard.

It was an amazing Italian restaurant, the pasta and cannoli, yum!  Everything was divine.  It's the place we celebrated our engagement and where we celebrated with family when Jon graduated the University of Tulsa.  

If you know Jon very well, he's not a salad guy!  He likes meat and potatoes for most meals.  He loves chocolate donuts and Dr. Pepper for breakfast.  But at Angelo's they always served a salad, much like Olive Garden, that Jon and I loved.  

What made the salad so tasty was the savory topping of pickled eggplant along with the onions, olives, and tomatoes on a bed of leafy greens. So today I put up a few half pints of the garnish to have on hand.  You can buy the stuff at gourmet shops for close to $15 per bottle, but why do that when it's fall and eggplant is on sale. 

It's a very simplistic recipe, the vegetables are washed then cut into about 1/4" strips, anything thinner and they will fall apart in the canning process.  To keep the eggplant from being bitter, soak the strips in a water, lemon juice, and salt bath. The eggplant likes to float so I place a couple of plates on top to hold the eggplant under water.  Let it soak for about 2 hours, then rinse well.  

In each jar I packed the strips of eggplant and topped with 5 peppercorns, 2 cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of fresh basil.  Next fill the jars with a simple brine of 2-1/4 Tbsp kosher/sea salt, 3 cups red wine vinegar and 1 cup water, boiled.  Seal the jars and water bath for 10 minutes.  Now the next time we have spaghetti or pasta I can kick up the side salad a notch with my Angelo's inspired pickled eggplant fit for any celebration!  

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. Luke 14:12

Thursday, November 17, 2016

PEACH Presents . . .

It that time of year for our PEACH annual recital, the time when the kids dust off their hidden talents.  Some are budding musicians on the piano, violin or mandolin.  Others are up and coming comedians and orators.  

This is the first year Abigail hasn't performed, but I think everyone knows she can play the piano and sing.  She's much more comfortable cheering on others. Several of our church friends entered the bake contest.  She was on hand to take plenty of photos for the PEACH yearbook.  

Abigail put her artistic skills to work creating materials to promote yearbook sales.  The yearbook club did perform a skit promoting yearbook sales and saving memories.  

The memory of the righteous is a blessing
Proverbs 10:7

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Nine years ago Ms. Donna began our tradition of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  Our church friends get together and for lunch.  Everyone brings food including Snoopy's favorites: buttered toast, jellybeans, pretzel sticks, and popcorn. 

The kid gather around the television to eat their feast while watching the holiday feature. Just like the movie, we begin our feast by saying grace.  Following our luncheon and viewing pleasure there are crafts and games.  And of course we pull out the Thanksgiving Quiz so we can call it an educational experience! 

With the Gungan's move to Oklahoma, the Hunt's have taken up the mantel of hosting our traditional holiday celebration.  It was a wonderful afternoon of fun! 

Here is a look back at previous celebrations: 

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Ephesians 5:20

Monday, November 14, 2016

Glorious Gardens

We spent the day hanging out at the Fort Worth Japanese Garden in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.  The garden was built in 1973 and many of the plants and construction materials were donated by Fort Worth's sister city Nagaoka, Japan.

This was our first visit and was the first time our PEACH group visited the gardens. The docents offer various tours spotlighting science or botany. 

There are multiple koi ponds flowing from the Trinity River.  The master gardener was on hand to give us his inspiration on the gardens.  

I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.  I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. Ecclesiastes 2:4-6

Sunday, November 13, 2016

All Fun and Games

Not all of our Sunday studies are hard work, some of it is fun and games!  Usually after my lesson we break up into smaller groups and play games to reinforce our learning.  They work on chapter headings and sequencing events.  On most of the review games the kids are allowed to use their Bible so that they have the practice of locating information.  Anything that gets the kids going back to their Bibles to search for answers is a win! 

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
    and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
Proverbs 18:15

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Aloha Sweetness

While we were at Aldi's taking advantage of their fabulous sale on Fuji apples, Jon noticed that the pineapples were also on sale for $0.79 each.  

Abigail struck up a conversation with another shopper about how to distinguish when a pineapple is ripe.  The lady explained that her husband was military and they had been stationed in the islands.  She told Abigail that these had been picked while they were still pretty green but to look for the bottoms of the fruit to be yellow.  

Armed with this advice and a little approval from her new Polynesian fruit friend, Abigail selected three pineapples.  

While our applesauce cooked down I cut, peeled and cored the pineapple.  To make it easy I simply cut them, packed them in jars with a light syrup and put them in a water bath to seal them.  Seriously, less than 45 minutes and 20 of that was boiling water and processing the jars sitting in the boiling water.  Three pineapples yielded six pints of diced fruit. 

For the syrup, I mixed 1 1/4 cup sugar with 5 1/2 cup water and brought to a boil. I then quickly brought the temperature to simmer at medium low. You don’t want the syrup to reduce. For pint-sized jars, they process in boiling water for 15 minutes. I see a cake in our future this week, minus the tin can after taste! 

a golden little bell, and a pineapple; with which the bishop went adorned, when he was set in service, as the Lord commanded to Moses. (a little gold bell, and a pomegranate, and another little gold bell, and a pomegranate, and so on, all around the hem; with which the High Priest went adorned, when he was ministering, as the Lord commanded to Moses.) Exodus 39:26-29 Wycliffe Bible

Feeling a Little Saucy!

A couple of weeks ago the girls and I made applesauce.  We started with a small batch to decide if we liked the recipe.   We tweeked the original Pioneer Womans recipe.  This batch we used a darker brown sugar and added a splash of vanilla.  

Jon and Abigail peeled and cored fifteen pounds of Fuji apples! We finished out with fourteen pints of applesauce.  It's so yummy, it doesn't even compare to the store bought prepackaged stuff!
Who knew it really is fairly simple to make and it's something we can do together away from a computer, cell phone, or television screen!  The great news is that it is also cost effective, the apples cost $1.29 per 3lb bag, so the total cost was $6.45.  The biggest expense is the jars, which are almost $1 per jar, but if you save them and re-use them, just be sure to use new seals each time.    But the taste!!! YUM! 

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 16:24

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Night Football

The girl attended her first Friday Night Lights football game.  Jon and I grew up on Friday night football games.  Jon played in the band and I hung out in the stands with friends.  My Dad even had season tickets to my hometown football team almost a decade after I graduated high school. 

We both have so many great memories of Friday night football memories that we've said several times that the down side of homeschooling is no football experience.  Yes, there is a home school football team but they don't have a stadium, with the band, and concession stand experience. 

Tonight Abigail went with her buddy, Gracie to the Allen Eagles football game.  The Eagle Stadium is the fifth largest high school stadium in Texas, with a capacity for 18,000 spectators, that cost a little over $60 million to build.  The girls had a wonderful time hanging out taking in the whole experience. Abigail came home saying that football was a lot more exciting in person than on television! I would say that's a great Friday night lights experience. 

There is gold and abundance of costly stones,

    but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
Proverbs 20:15

Homeschool Cafeteria

Another lunch in our favorite school cafeteria, CiCi's Pizza.  The second Friday of the month we meet up with other PEACH friends for pizza. The kids ate and played some spades while the mom's visited. 

It's a great break in our week just to hang out, nothing educational, just friendship. 

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[a] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?  Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Firm Foundation

Twice a month our PEACH teens get together for a Bible study.  They are continuing through the Answers in Genesis DVD Bible Study.  Tonight's study was a look at when life begins.  They looked at biological evidences and comparing that to scripture.  It was an especially timely lesson in light of the recent elections. 

After their study the kids usually hang out and play Spoons and other card games. I love that Garner's open their home up for the kids and have made them feel so welcomed in their home. 

Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. Titus 1:8

Touring the Federal Court House

Today we toured the Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse, in the Government District of downtown Dallas, Texas.  The 16+ floors are home to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit, the U.S. Marshals Service and other federal agencies.  

The kids and I were here in 2006 touring with our PEACH group and were able to go behind the scenes in Judge Sidney Fitzwater's chambers.  Today our group were given a behind the scenes interview with the head of the US Marshall Service, and the head of Judicial Services. 

After wards we headed into a case of fraud being heard by Judge Sam Lindsay.  Judge Linsay was a Clinton appointee, he spent time with the kids answering their question.  It was very interesting to hear about the process of becoming a federal judge. We were able to set in on a couple of hours of testimony and litigation.  It was a great experience for the kids and very eyeopening to watch the process. 

You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great,
 but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.  Leviticus 19:15

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Stove Top Stuffing Knock-Off

The girls and I were doing a little cooking in between school work and more election coverage. Today we were putting together some 'Stove Top Stuffing' packets.  

I diced half an onion with a stalk of celery packed into freezer bags. Next, Frankie measured out the season packets to be added to the bread crumbs.  Below is my recipe: 

In Gallon Freezer bag:
3-1/2 cups unseasoned dried bread cubes

Spice Mix: 
1/2 tablespoon dried celery flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon sage 
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme

Sauté for 5 minutes:
3 tablespoons butter
1 small chopped yellow onion
1 stalk chopped celery

To cook: 
Add 1 1/4 cup of water to sauteed vegetable and bring to a boil:

Add bag of bread crumbs, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss with a fork before serving.

We remember the food we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, 
the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.  Numbers 11:5

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Presidential Election

The alarm went off at 4:45 this morning!  Abigail and I had to be at the polling place at six o'clock to connect and daisy chain the electronic booths. Last night we set up the paper ballot stations and tables but all electronic equipment remained sealed and closed until this morning. 

Once we opened up all the equipment and got set up, we ran reports to verify that no ballots had been cast.  At this precinct we had ten paper stations and two electronic stations.  In Denton county approximately 50% of the registered voters participated in early voting. So despite this being a big election day across the country, today could still be light.  

We opened the doors up at seven to a line of eager voters. We ran steady all day long, but not too busy.  Twelve hours after opening the doors, the sheriff closed out doors.  He stayed with us until the equipment was locked up and sealed.  He then escorted our precinct judge back to the county chair for final tabulation and we headed home to watch the returns! 

Solomon counted all the resident aliens who were in the land of Israel, after the census of them that David his father had taken 2 Chronicles 2:17

Monday, November 7, 2016

Precinct Polling Place

Tomorrow is election day!  The girls and I spent the morning at Metro Relief volunteering and then we headed home to squeeze in some schooling, hard to believe I know! At three o'clock Frankie and I headed over a nearby elementary school to meet with the precinct chairman to set up the polling site for tomorrow. 

There are seven precincts in our city.  We will be working in a precinct adjacent to ours.  Last week I attended a four hour training class at the Denton County Voter Registration office. Abigail will be able to help out tomorrow as a volunteer even though she is only fifteen.  

Tomorrow will be up bright and early, it will be a long day, but hopefully by the end of the day we can put all the election ugliness behind us!   

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
    rising early in the morning,
    will be counted as cursing.
Proverbs 27:14

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Southern Sweet Potatoes

A holiday tradition from my childhood was that special meals usually included my mom's sweet potato casserole. It was more of a dessert than a side dish.  Her recipe used canned sweet potatoes but when I found 3 lb bags of sweet potatoes for $0.99 I couldn't resist.  

I began by throwing six pounds of potatoes into a stainless steel pot covered in water, bring it to a boil and boiling for 20 minutes.  When they finished boiling, I dipped them out of the water to cool.  When they were cool enough to touch, Jon peeled and cubed the sweet potatoes. 

I packed the cubes into sterilized quart jars. Next, I covered the sweet potatoes with the syrup from my mom's recipe: 

2 1/4 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

I proceessed them in the preassure canner at 10 pounds for 90 minutes.  They can stay fresh this way for a couple of years, but these won't last past the holiday season! 

To make the holiday casserole, it will be a simple task to open a quart jar, mash the potatoes, add 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 stick butter. Place all ingredients in a greased casserole 9" x 9" dish. 

And if that wasn't sweet enough, mom always topped it with a crumble topping of 3/4 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup chopped pecans, and 1/2 stick butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes! Yum! Tastes like Christmas dinner! 

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.  Romans 14:2-3


Today I learned something new, it takes two pounds of apples to make one pint of applesauce!  Between the peeling, coring and cooking process it took about nine pouds of apples to yield four pints of delicious homemade applesauce.

I used the recipe on the Pioneer Woman's  recipe, and then the Ball canning instructions for canning in a water bath. It's funny because when you starting looking up recipes one will read, "always sweeten with brown sugar for a rich carmel color."  While another recipe will read, 'always use white sugar to sweeten, brown sugar will cause an unsighly coloring to your applesauce."  

Other recipes will say "add btter for a rich flavor" and another will say, "never add butter it alters the taste."  I go with flavors I like and if I don't like the final result, I can always alter the next batch.  And yes I used brown sugar and butter! 

6 pounds Apples, Peeled, Cored, and Cut
1 cup Apple Juice
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
a pinch of Nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. 

Carefully puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Sterilize pint jars, fill and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. 

My son, keep my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you;
keep my commandments and live;
    keep my teaching as the apple of your eye.
Proverbs 7:1-2

Added to Their Number Daily

What a class full of scholars!  Do you see those sweet smiles, it is a definite highlight of my week every Sunday.  The kids attend Sunday worship and Bible class and then after two and a half hours of 'church' they willingly stay for another hour and a half of  Texas Bible Bowl.

We are studying the book of Acts and today we covered chapter 8.  I  find it fascinating that in Acts 2:38 we're given instructions by Peter to 'repent and be baptized' then in Acts 8:38 we are given the example of the Ethiopian eunuch seeing water and desiring to be baptized.  

In neither example was a class or additional studying required.  It was instructed that if you believe in the 'Good News', the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, then immediate action is required.  We then almost simulate what we have believed: we die to self; are buried leaving our sin; and are resurrection as new creations in Christ.  

It is so beautiful that the scriptures give us instructions, like Acts 2:38, and then give us practical application of what that looks like, Acts 8:38, so that we can have a completed understanding of what God is calling us to do. Are we called to add to that faith, absolutely those instructions are given in 2 Peter 1:5-15.  But we do not have to know everything to be baptized into the blood of Christ!  

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 2:47

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Baguettes and Bowls

The other day I bought a bag of yellow onions on sale so today I looked up ideas for five pounds of onions.  French Onion Soup was the winner!  It was always one of my favorite dishes that my mom would serve.  

With onions sauteed, packed in jars and then covered with beef broth.  The soup is processed in the pressure cooker. The 5 pounds of onions yielded 6 pints of soup.  Now all we need is some baguettes and mozzarella cheese!  

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.  Numbers 11:5

Grape Jelly Goodness

We just may be ready for the coming apocalypse, with all the canning I've been doing!  Today the girl was taking the SAT so I looked around for something to can.  It needed to be something simple, and something that we would actually use. 

The first winner was grape jelly.  Who doesn't like a PB&J, especially if it's made with homemade jelly.  Grape jelly is probably the easiest jelly to make. With only three ingredients:  grape juice, sugar and pectin.  It's eye opening when you realize that jelly is 3 cups of juice and 5 cups of sugar! 

For I have become
as when the summer fruit has been gathered,
as when the grapes have been gleaned
Micah 7:1

Friday, November 4, 2016

Thrive Ministry

This afternoon we spent with our church family packaging up fruits and vegetables for the families in areas that are referred to as food deserts.  A food desert is a geographic area where affordable and nutritious food is alleged to be hard to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile,  

In a study on urban food environments, participants described the lack of supermarkets as both a practical impediment to healthful food purchase and a symbol of their neighborhoods’ social and economic struggles. Within cities, there are more than three times as many supermarkets in wealthier neighborhoods compared with poorer areas. Residents in low-income urban areas are often forced to depend on small stores with limited selections of foods at substantially higher prices.  

Fruits and vegetables are items that require frequent trips to the grocery store and in areas like the section of McKinney where we visit, it simply isn't always economically possible to make trips to the store. Today we served 70+ adults and 50+ children, we ran out of bags of food so we will prepare more next month.  Our McDermott family serves this area the first Friday of each month.  

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Luke 6:21

Driving Ms. Abigail

Our Friday food pick ups took on a new level of excitement today, with Abigail driving!  She did a great job driving us to the Tom Thumb in Frisco, the Starbucks in The Colony, the Papa John's in The Colony, and the Papa John's in Plano. 

We picked up quite a few pizzas, breads and desserts for Monday's pantry.  Our pantry is still low on canned goods, breakfast items and soup but donations should start coming in next week.   The breads and desserts are great additions to our guest but they are a far cry from the nutritional needs of our guests.  

For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Psalm 107:9

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pre-Election Coverage with Glenn Beck

With only a week until the Presidential election, we spent the afternoon at Mercury Studios for a taping of the Glenn Beck television show.  His TV show is now available on most cable providers, and can be streamed from his website. 

Tonight was an open forum to ask Glenn any questions.  Questions ranged from election predictions to the failure of the health care system.  I really enjoy going to the studio for the tapings and I'm blown away at how gracious Glenn is to his guests. 

Following the taping Glenn gave audience members a tour of the Oval Office set where they will tape the election coverage.  He also took us through the new set for The Vault series.  Security is super tight and you are not permitted to take cameras or cell phone on the premises, so the only photos I have at the screen shots from streaming the show.  Abigail is sitting behind Jon and I, next to Frankie. 

It will be fascinating to see how next weeks plays out! 

Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them.  Nehemiah 9:34