Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Taste of Summer & Weekly Menu

It is the height of summer down here in S.E. Texas. Our fruit trees are full of some, oh! so good!, fruit. Our fig tree is producing well and we've already harvested enough figs to make 2 fresh fig cakes.

Our peach tree is only 5 years old and this is the first year it's really produced anything to speak of. Mmmmmm, our tree ripened peaches are sweet and drip down your arm juicy. We've collected about 30 lbs. so far this summer, resulting in a reduction in the grocery bill. I've made a peach cobbler and we've been eating several peaches a day.
Peach Cobbler

4 lb. sliced, pitted and peeled peaches
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. sugar
3 Tbls. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
In a medium bowl combine the peaches and lemon juice, mixing well. In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir sugar mixture into the peaches. Pour into a greased 8"x8" baking pan. Set aside.
3 Tbls. shortening
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbls. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. milk
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Cut shortening into flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk until just moistened. Drop by spoonfuls onto peach mixture.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Serve warm and if desired, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream.
6-8 servings
Fresh Fig Cake w/ Caramel Icing OR Cream Cheese Frosting
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
1 c. sour milk (add 1 tsp. lemon juice to sweet milk and let sit until curdled, about 20 min.)
1 c. pecans, chopped
1 c. fresh figs, chopped
Grease and flour a 9"x13" baking pan. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, beat until mixture is almost white. Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended. In a medium bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and sour milk to butter mixture, beating well. Remove bowl from electric mixer and using a rubber spatula fold in chopped figs and pecans.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 300 degrees for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting with Caramel Icing or Cream Cheese Frosting (below). Note: This recipe can be halved and baked in an 8"x8" baking pan, just remember to also cut in half the icing or frosting.
Caramel Icing
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
In a large saucepan mix together butter, sugar, milk and baking soda. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is melted. Cook without stirring until mixture turns brown. Remove from heat and pour into a heat proof small bowl. Beat until mixture thickens to spreading consistency. Very quickly spread icing onto the cooled cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbls. milk
Beat cream cheese, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 c. at a time, until smooth and of spreading consistency. Refrigerate leftover cake.

On This Week's Menu:
scrambled eggs, toast, fruit
muffins, fruit
birds on nest, fruit
brown sugar & pecan oatmeal, toast
fried eggs, hash browns, toast
honey grits, fruit

Dinner (for you city folk, lunch)
macaroni & cheese, buttered bread, grapes
meatloaf sandwiches, fruit
grilled cheese sandwiches, salad
various leftovers
tamale pie, salad
cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice, black beans
meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots
pinto beans & rice, cornbread, salad
elk burgers, macaroni salad (for a July 4th potluck)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Frugal Food Finds ...

Earlier today I saw the article, 50 Healthy Foods for Under $1 a Pound, by Jeff Yeager, The Daily Green ( http://shine.yahoo.com/event/green/50-healthy-foods-for-under-1-a-pound-1677000/ ). Since I think it is always important for Christians to be good stewards of God's provision, I thought I'd share it with you. Not only can the tips from this article stretch your pocketbooks, they may also help improve your health.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy? Father's Day

Mr. B and OG ready to ride an "up in the air, turning all around sort of ride", at the 2009 North Dakota State Fair in Minot, North Dakota. OG was afraid to ride alone, but she knew if her daddy rode with her she'd be safe.

Deuteronomy 5:16, one of the Ten Commandments, says, "Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (NKJV)

When Father's Day, or Mother's Day, comes around how is a child whose suffered abuse or neglect under the hands of his parents supposed to show honor? Is he supposed to portray a lie and display admirable words of affection through sentimental cards?
Is he to reward an abusive and neglectful parent with gifts of abundance? Is he simply supposed to forget the horrors he suffered or pretend they never happened?

I do not have any answers as to how one forgets the horrors of an abusive and or neglectful childhood. I do, however, offer a step toward healing one's broken heart and spirit, that has been beneficial, not only to me, but also to others.

Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrations have always been very difficult for me. They are not days I "celebrate" very well. When I became a parent these two holidays, grew increasingly more difficult. I love, cherish and appreciate the gifts, cards, flowers, words of blessing and admiration my own children bestow upon me. But, from the view out my window, these holidays are not about me, but like my children, I view them as holidays to celebrate and honor my own parents.

It is very sad to admit, but I do not have any "good" memories of my mother. I am sure she loved me in her own way and I am also sure there were some good times and there should be some good memories of her. But, the bad days and the bad times were so wounding to my heart and mind, no matter how hard I try, I can not recall them. In her youth, my mother was a phenomenal beauty and she had a smile that would light up the darkest of nights. People tell me she sang quite well. I've also been told that she not only loved to dance, but no one was as light on her feet as my mother. But that's what people say, I have no memories of my mother dancing or singing. No, the memories I have of my mother are very dark memories indeed.

Like my mother, I struggle to find "good" childhood memories of my father. Now days, he tells me quite often that he loves me and, like my mother, I am sure in his own way this is true. In his youth, at more than 6 feet tall and nearly 200 lbs. of solid muscle, like my mother, he was something to gaze upon. I have all the old photos. But what I don't have are memories of his provision or his protection.

My parents divorced and, I suppose that in some sense my father also divorced me. I'd go months, sometimes years without hearing from him or visiting him. It was not of my doing, I was only a girl. No, it was his. He was busy pursuing happiness. He used to tell me, "I can't make anyone else happy until I am happy myself". During high school, I lived with my mother's brother and sister-in-law. They were/are good people. But, my father had a very deep seeded dislike for my mother's brother - as a matter of fact there aren't many people he dislikes more. I do not know, nor do I want to know, the details as to why my father dislikes my uncle. But I have often wondered, why would a father allow a man he hates to raise his daughter? What was wrong with me that I didn't bring him any happiness? My father raised my brother, who was only 13 months younger than I. Why was I not as important as my brother? My father knew of my mother's hatred and abuse toward me, why did he ignore it? Did he, too, think I deserved it?

How am I to honor my father on this holiday? How do I honor my late mother on Mother's Days? I forgive them. Forgiveness does not dry the tears I've shed. It does not excuse the abuse, neglect or abandonment I've suffered.

However, forgiveness does do the following:

1. Forgiveness provides me with freedom from the bondage of victimization.

2. Forgiveness erases the pain associated with my childhood memories.

3. Forgiveness graces my children with better parents than what I had.

4. Forgiveness blesses my children and my family's future generations with VICTORY.

If Father's Day and Mother's Day celebrations are less than perfect for you and your family, today, I encourage you to honor to your parents with a decision to forgive them. I recently heard a pastor say, that the Law of the Old Testament gives us the ability to recognize our sins. The Grace of the New Testament provides us with forgiveness for those sins. God's Grace enables me to forgive.

What A Blessing!!

Last week I arrived home from errands to find the UPS man had left a box on my front gate. It contained an abundant stash of fabric remnants sent to me by a very sweet and dear lady. Wahooooo! I am already contemplating several sewing projects!
To my special, secret pal - THANK YOU for this wonderful blessing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Comparison Shopping

Almost two weeks ago I had a "medical procedure", aka heart ablation surgery to correct supra ventricle tachycardia (SVT), which was promptly followed by a terrible "cold?" ... stuffy head, achy joints, fever ... (words are not enough to express my gratitude to Mrs.A and Mrs.P for helping me through my recovery period). Any how, while recovering from both, I watched quite a bit of television or should I say more than a few television commercials ... where has all the television programing gone? 50 minutes of "movie" spliced into 70 minutes of commercials? .... Well, judging from the number of television commercials, it appears our local H.E. B. and Kroger grocers are having price wars.
With all the television competition these two seem have with each other, I decided that I would do a little comparison grocery shopping today. These two particular stores are located in the same town, with in half a mile of each other. Below are my personal findings ...
Store Atmosphere (scale 1-5; 1 being the worst):
2 - VERY loud (I had a headache by the time I left); very crowded; not very clean
3.5 - busy but not crowded; much cleaner than H.E.B., but not as clean as other local grocer's
Cashier (scale 1-5; 1 being the worst):
4 - cashier was friendly and receipt total was correct
1 - cashier made me feel very rushed and I was charged for 21 ears of corn, which I didn't notice this until I arrived home and was comparing my receipts.
Price Comparison (I bought the exact same items at each grocer)
.34 1 bunch cilantro
.67 2 ears yellow corn
.98 HEB 1 lb. kidney beans
.33 2 bananas
1.64 2 anjou pears
1.38 1 lb. strawberries
1.68 1 head green leaf lettuce
.36 2 roma tomatoes
.48 1 cucumber
1.50 1 lg. avocado
1.01 1 lb. red seedless grapes
H.E.B. total $10.37
.50 1 bunch cilantro
.20 2 ears yellow corn (If I had been charged the correct amount)
.99 1 lb. Kroger kidney beans
.39 2 bananas
1.43 2 anjou pears
2.00 1 lb. strawberries
.88 1 bunch green leaf lettuce
.41 2 roma tomatoes
.55 1 cucumber
1.59 1 large avocado
1.95 1 lb. red seedless grapes
Kroger total $10.89
Hmmm ... a difference of $0.52 ... I think these two grocers should reduce their advertising budgets and pass those savings onto the consumer ... What are your thoughts?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer 2009 "Nature Trail"

When we returned home to S.E. Texas last fall, I promised y'all I'd post photos of the sites we saw while traveling with Mr. B last summer. For those of you who don't know, Mr. B's career requires quite a bit of travel. Occasionally, we are blessed with the opportunity to travel with him. On such trips he usually has to work or attend meetings, but the children and I leave the hotel and take in as many sites and local flavors as possible.

Today, I have posted photos of some of the beautiful natural landscapes our nation offers. When out hiking and exploring in places like these, I often find myself wondering, "If places in our world are this beautiful after being ravaged and scarred by sin, how much more breathtaking was our planet earth before the fall of Adam?" Seeing how I find many of the sites in our sin cursed world phenomenal, my mind can not grasp the concept of how spectacular the sites of heaven must be.

I hope y'all enjoy these few photos from our 2009 "Nature Trail" adventures. (Just click the image for a larger view of the photo).

Tamarac Mountain, Montana

A morning mist.

Clark Fork River which flows at the base of the Mountain.


Flathead Lake, Montana

My photography just doesn't do this view justice.

Clearest water I've ever scene.

Going for a swim.

Wind River Mountains, Wyoming

Wind River
EJ and OG stretching their legs.

I wish I were a better photographer so I could share the true splendor with y'all.

Flaming Gorge, Utah

The firey red rock is a spectacular site when viewed in person.

All the views are simply breath taking.

The Flaming Gorge river.

We were very excited to see this young moose cow.

Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

An up-close look at a buffalo cow - look under her belly and you'll see her calf.

The end of the trail ... what a view!

We almost stepped on this little rattler.

What a scenic hike!

A view of the river.

Makoshika State Park, Montana

Vantage point - half way up.

Natural stone bridge carved out by water and erosion.

A high vatage point looking down into the valley.

Seasonal River Bed

Our scenic picnic site.

Northwest North Dakota

We love all the wide open spaces.

The weather was trying to brew up a tornado!