Thursday, January 31, 2008

Middle of the week baking

Greetings all. Hope everyone is enjoying the last week of January. Can you believe it? Only 330 days to Christmas! That is only 24 pay days for my DH. Now I'm scared !!!

Today I made my awsome Coconut-dat logs. It is a recipe from my Hallellujah Acres cook book called, "Recipes for life...from God's Garden" by Rhonda J. Malkmus. If your not familuar with this lifestyle, it is basicly a 85/15 percentage eating style of mostly raw food. You eat 85% whole, natural, uncooked foods and 15% cooked whole grain and vegetarian foods a day. That breaks down to only eating one cooked meal a day. I don't follow this all the time, but they have great recipes and ideas. So with that in mind this is one delicous and healty snack for the family.

Coconut-Date Logs

2 cups organic dates

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

In a food processor using "S" blade, grind dates until a dough like consistency is reached. Wet your hands, shape into logs, and roll in coconut to cover.

Makes about 1 dozen, 2-inch logs

Yesterday I made my world famous crockpot applesauce. I originated this recipe many moons ago, when my oldest dd (who is now 23 and has a child of her own) would go trick or treating on Halloween and returned home with apples. Being the uptight, controling, nervous nilly I am; I wouldn't let her eat the apples for fear of the dreaded "razor blade" in the apple urban folk lore. So, also being a frugal tight wade (Isn't it great to be multifacited or is that multiple personalites?) I didn't want to waste the apples. So peeling, coring, slicing them and cooking them down was the perfect solution! No way any forgin objects were going to get past my eyes ~ LOL We have long since relocated to a different state and now frequant cake walk friendly Fall Harvest Parties, but the "wickedly amazing"(to quote my ds) recipe lives on for any apples going to turn bad. Getting a visual here of apples wearing bandanas over their faces, holding up banks. Get it, apples gone bad ~ LOL Am I the only one laughing?

Beth's crockpot applesauce

8 apples, cored, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in cooker. Cook on low about 8 hours.

Leave as is for awsome pancake topping or put through food processor "S" blade to desired consistancy after it has cooled.

makes about 2 cups or 4 half cup servings

We don't do the digital camera thing yet or I would include photos for you. But I am picking up a new camera this week end (have them developed onto disk) and as I make things I will take photos and add them to this blog. Better late than never ? Last Saturday I made bagels for the first time and was quit pleased with my results. They were just as yummy as any store bought, maybe even better according to my DH :) Again, a little time consuming but I found a bread machine recipe so the bulk of it was waiting for the dough in the machine. I will deffinetly be making these again. My son is just in love with them and is my best kitchen helper. He always encourages my cooking endevours, best way for mom to make more stuff to eat as he grazes all day every day, totaling about 9 meals a day. Here is the orginal bagel recipe .

Monday, January 28, 2008

God's Smuggler

Another mild overcast day here in middle TN., currently 55 degrees. I am always impressed, delighted and feeling blessed about the weather here.

Well even though it is a new year, we still seem to have our same old struggles and vices. With a family our size money always seems to be an issue. Today I was talking with DH and re-evaluating our budget. He struggles so much with pride and being able to take care of his family. When there is "more month at the end of the money" to quote an old country song, he feels helpless. I can also see how it affects his faith a bit. I seem to be the faith cheerleader in our relationship, which is odd since my religious upbringing was pretty hit and miss; while he is a PK (pastor's kid). Today he made the comment that he just didn't make enough money to meet our needs. That really irked me since we were just finishing a discussion on if we were the best stewards of our own money. I thought we had decided we could do better. So it took me another 15 minutes or so to get him to see that just praying to God for "more money" wasn't going to work as long as we weren't taking care of the money we already had. I tried to make the illustration of a kid not taking care of his bike but asking his father for a car. Think he started to get it then. So we talked about how we always manged. We talked about examples of when "blessings" showed up just in time to keep the lights on or get some gas to make it to work the next day. We even talked about the correlation of tithing and the blessings coming. He finely got it, but it is so hard sometimes to have that faith.

I brought up a book we are almost finished reading with the children for school called "God's Smuggler", written by Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill. In a nut shell it is about a man who smuggled bibles behind the Iron Curtain after the war into communist Europe. It is such a wonderful book on missionary work and most importantly about total faith and dependence on God. Paragraph after paragraph is example oh how God provided everything for this man, from the money for his schooling,finding a wife and the funds for his work. At one point they needed money so bad to print bibles that that they decided that they would sell there own house, even though they and their 3 children had nowhere to go. As soon as they made the decision to make that sacrifice for God's work, the money/blessing came and they kept their house. I could go on and on about this book, but I digress. I reminded my DH that at one point in the book that Brother Andrew while praying for a wife decided to keep a prayer journal. He would recorded the date of his prayer, what he prayed for and any answer he received. I suggested that maybe DH might consider doing the same. It might help him see the trees through the forest so to speak.

An interesting final conclusion here. Minutes after coming downstairs from our talk, we checked the mail and there was a "blessing" in it. Two hours later DH got a call on a car job also for this week, insuring that the gas bill would be paid in time and that we would have gas money and enough for milk and diapers as well! God is so amazing!!!!

Blessings, Beth Ann

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cooking for the upcoming week

Here it is Friday already - no wonder I am tired :) I always have started my new week on Saturday, and it runs through Friday. Picked up the habit when I worked for 12 years in a major retail chain in northern MI., that is how our work schedules ran. So tomorrow is a brand new week for me. Here is my dinner menu line up......

Sat.: Home made pizza w/tossed salad

Sun.: Beef stroganoff on whole wheat noodles and green beans.

Mon.:(Mexican) Chicken burritos w/salad

Tue.:(Crock pot) Pork chops and home made baked beans w/veggie sticks

Wed.: Church (aka/mom's night off) we're Baptist, so we eat at church every week - LOL

Thur.:(Soup) Sirloin stew w/ home made bread

Fri.: (Pasta) Seafood Alfredo w/broccoli over whole wheat noodles

Other baking for the week will include but is not limited to: Home made ranch salad dressing, peppermint mocha coffee creamer , home made granola, whole wheat bagels, coconut date logs and other misc. items that pop up as we need them.

Yes, making just about everything from scratch is very time consuming and some days overwhelming. But my family is worth it and I gain a sense of gratification from knowing that I am cooking closer to how God would want me to, and not lining the pockets of the government by spending our hard earned money on chemically enhanced food that will increase our chances of illness; necessitating a doctor/medican, once again lining the governments pockets with our money. Now with that said, I am not above appreciating some modern convinces, such as my dish washer - Amen! LOL

Another modern connivance I adore is my bread machine. Here is a great pizza dough recipe for almost any bread machine:

Bread machine pizza dough

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 TB. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
4 1/4 cups flour (I use half unbleached white/half whole wheat)
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. yeast or one pack

Add ingredients to machine in order given and set on the "dough" cycle. When done, remove to a floured board if using immediately. Or, place in a bowl greased with olive oil, turn dough over to coat it, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

This will make two pounds, enough for a large cookie/jelly roll pan, or two round pizza's.

I simply just roll my dough out in the pan. Spread tomato sauce on top. Add any toppings we desire and bake 20 minutes in a 350 oven that was pre heated while rolling the dough.

We do this every Saturday, pizza and board games. The kids love it, and will let us know if we try to incorporate something else. LOL

I truly know and believe that all children and most adults thrive on schedules. In this busy chaotic world, we all crave stability. The bigger picture is God, and that is what I am striving to teach as a parent. Since He can't be with us physically all the time, He created parents. So in my stewardship I build up my children's trust, one pizza Sat. at a time. Even my DH finds certain comfort in knowing that if it is Sat. it must be pizza night on the old home stead. Even the nights he isn't home for dinner, he can picture us in our routine and derive comfort from that. And I too claim comfort in knowing that no matter how my day/week is going, I have at least one meal nailed! LOL

Blessings, Beth Ann

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Middle of the month meditations

Well we all knew that winter would come sooner or later. It has been a cool week in middle TN. Currently it is 30 and sunny, but earlier this week we saw freezing rain. Still better than MI, northern MI. I talked to my oldest dd last night and it was 2 in our home town, with ten new inches of snow. I really need to work on her mother in-law, if she moves down here; so will my dd.

It has been a very busy month for birthdays in our family. First, my grandson had his 1st. birthday! Then my oldest ds turned 15, and started looking at cars to fix up with his dad. Then my DH turned the big 40! It was a quiet affair, as was his request; even though his big sister thought we should have black balloons - LOL There were several other extended family b-days as well. You may all draw your own conclusions as to why there is a huge Jan. birthday phenomenon.

I have mostly been busy just cooking and searching out local food co-ops for the best deals. I bit the bullet and decided to pay exuberant amount of money for dried cherries. They have been much anticipated by all in the family. I use them in place of raisins in my granola, oatmeal cereal bars and biscotti to name a few. But found out that they didn't come in on the truck! My son is going to be soooo disappointed. But my big 25lb. bag of oatmeal came - LOL We shop shop every two weeks, last week and next week. I found many great marked down meat deals last week. I never pay full price for meat anymore. I was able to get five pounds of marked down burger at the pig, which my son made into jerky for my DH (a birthday request). It was so yummy! The key is to get to the store pretty early in the a.m. for the meat. I feel it is one of the few things I can do as all other grocery prices just keep going up. The shredded cheese I buy went up 30 cents last week and the veg. oil went up 51 cents! Guess what, my DH wages stayed the same! Where will it end?

"My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work" - John 4:34

Blessings, Beth Ann

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New and old things

Greetings all, another awsome day in Cannon County, TN. Yesterday is was 71 here! That sounds wonderful, but if it is in the seventies the first week of January, what will it be in June? Hmmmmmmmm

Well my trip to Costco and Wild Oats wasn't very productive, except for the fellowship of my best friend sans kids. I found that even most food at Wild Oats had either MSG or one of it's first cousins. Then at Costco I found there was nothing there I couldn't get at Wal-mart, to justify the cost of the trip up to Nashville. So I will just try to pick a few things here and there at the local organic food co-op. I got some organic vegetable broth last time and made my own "Roman Noodles" for the kids. I bought whole wheat spagehti noodles and packaged in 3oz. servings with a tablespoon of broth. My dd who was hooked on "Roman" thought they were just as good! Cost wise it did cost me about 5 cents more a package than "Roman", but more than worth it to ditch the MSG and get the healthy whole grains. Score one for the mom team!!!!

Something else I decided to implement is cloth napkins. I figured I spent about $120 - $150 a year on paper plates, napkins, plastic silverwear, ect. So I am doing away with them. I will just use regular plates and silverwear (unless camping - even mom deserves a break), and will make my own cloth napkins with leftover fabric I already had. This exercise has had a two fold benifit. First the cost issue, and second the kids got involved. As soon as I hauled out my sewing machine and set up shop, both my 11 and 15 year old wanted to make some too. Now it is a home ec. project for school! LOL Can't tell you how many folks are impressed that my 15 year old son can cook, clean, work on cars, fix stuff around the house, change diapers and sew! Since I am braging... He is also quiet the scholar and budding thealogin as well as working at the local animal clinic in his chosen field. I know many men and women who are three times his age and can't meet half these claims! Once the sewing machine was out, my 11 dd decided to design and make her own cell phone case. The first one turned out so well she has made several more for friends and to give as gifts. Another school lesson in this craft. And all this from items I already had. What a blessing. Sometimes the best ideas and family memories come from simple problem solving around the house.

Blessings from Beth Ann

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Year

Happy New Year to all! We had a quiet holiday season here in middle TN. First time in over five years, and boy was it nice! But with the coming of a new year we all want to "do better" at many things. First on my list is our family budget. The bane of my existence is the grocery/catch all shopping. This seems to be the only place to cut back despite it also being the place where every expense that is not a "bill/utility" comes from. So I have been diligently working at finding cheaper ways to eat, while still mostly eating healthy. For us this means trying to avoid corn syrup and msg. The first is easier than the second. Matter fact, the more I find out about msg, the more I am convinced there is no way to avoid it 100% with out moving to a self supporting farm and eating only things that I have grown - cattle and veggies! Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to share with you this new menu planning technique I came up with. I wrote down seven lunches, and that is what we have every week. Example, every Monday we have grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. Every Tuesday we have pancakes with applesauce, ect... Then I wrote down 30 different dinners and broke them up into catagories such as : soup, crockpot, pasta, mexican, ect... Then I made up a menu that looks like this, every Monday - Pasta, every Tuesday - Soup, every Wendesday - Crockpot, ect......... I could not believe how fast this made menu planning and how easy it was to add and subtract any special meals (birthdays) or items in house that need to be used up. I compared this to other meal planning ideas I have used and felt this had even saved me money, as after each dinner I add to my list, I then totaled the cost of each meal. Example: Chicken alfredo with brocolli and garlic bread - $5
Crockpot french dip sandwiches with salad - $7
Creamed Tuna on rice with steamed veg. - $2

Hope this isn't to confusing and gives you some of your own ideas to help beat the stress of meal planning and helps you keep better tract of what your family is eating. Let me know if you have any questions. Tomorrow I am going shopping with my friend to Wild Oats then to Costco, in the eternal seach for healthy and cheap food. I will keep you posted on any great finds I make. Until then........
Blessings from Beth Ann