Sunday, September 30, 2012

A FOREVER FEAST, OUT OF KILTER


I have often used the phrase, 'out of kilter', as a description
of something askew.  The thought occurred to me that
I did not know the dictionary meaning of the word 'kilter'.
And that led me to question whether it is a real word or just
slang.  I searched and found the phrase is authentic and means,
'out of proper condition'.  Like the row of trees in my picture.


At the front of my house is a tree that presents problems
on many fronts. It is far from an ideal shape and form. 


Branches jut out in an unbalanced configuration which
bothers me.  The birds don't mind.
But I see that it needs major carving to mold it into a
symmetrical proportioned beauty.


Years have taken their toll on the trunk leaving it marred
and scarred by the ravishes of wind and weather.
It is an object and a picture of the disfigurement
and rugged scraggy terrain of my life's journey.


Leafy branches attest to the fact that life is present ...
segments are sculpted precisely so to provide
shade and shelter under the boughs.


Do I have it cut down or can it be saved?
Can I live without the shade it provides?
Many years ago the wind split the trunk and I thought
it was going to die ... but the foliage continued to grow.
The roots are very old and very deep.
In a way it is a part of me and I love it ..  flaws and all!


 God allows suffering and pain, heartache and deep valleys
in peoples lives.  Some of us have been buffeted and tested
beyond what we ever could have imagined or desired.
And just like my tree, we were empowered to withstand storms and
earthquakes.  Our roots determined whether the 'out of kilter' experiences
would mold us into pillars of faith and strength. 
God loved me .. even when I was 'out of kilter'.

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits -
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103:1 - 5



Thursday, September 27, 2012

STRAWBERRY BANANA DRINK


I will tell you right up front, this is a low-calorie drink,
which is very desirable if you are into maintaining a
certain weight level.  And I can also tell you that
it is very delicious .. just the right amount of tang to
satisfy one's thirst.


Thanks to my niece for sharing this weight-watcher,
zero-point-drink with me.

STRAWBERRY BANANA LOW-CAL DRINK

1 cup fresh strawberries
(or use frozen, thaw slightly)
1 banana, cut into chunks
1 cup ice cubes
½ cup diet 7-Up

Place strawberries, banana, ice cubes and 7-Up  into blender.
Pulse until mixture is blended and smooth.
2 servings

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BAKED OATMEAL


Texture .. texture .. texture .. that has been a lifelong struggle
for me.  Porridge falls into that troublesome category so
imagine the delight when I discovered baked oatmeal!
Not served with milk but rather some luscious fruit!


It is very simple to make .. gather the ingredients and
mix them all up.


Spoon into prepared pan and smooth with a fork.


Bake to a golden brown and there you have it ... a nice
barely moist cereal square.
 It is not necessary to line the baking
pan with parchment.  I like to do it because it is easy to lift
out of the pan and cut into pieces.  I wrap some to freeze
for future breakfasts.


The sign said that this was the second to the last trip
for the fruit truck coming from the Okanagan Valley in BC.
That was all I needed to convince me to buy some fresh peaches.
That and the fact they were large and a vibrant color.


My father always thought that a peach that was dark red around
the stone had a more intense flavor .. I think he was right.


Besides loading my slice of baked oatmeal with freshly
sliced peaches, I drizzled it with chokecherry syrup for added
flavor.  Chokecherries grow wild in the coulees of southern Alberta. 
They are intensely bitter until they are fully ripe or have been bitten
by a frost.  My niece picked some for me when she was out
riding and I turned them into something very delicious.

BAKED OATMEAL

3/4 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter and eggs; beat together
thoroughly.  Add milk, baking powder, vanilla and salt; mix well.
Stir in oats until well blended.
Pour into parchment-lined or greased 9 x 9 - inch baking pan
or 1½ - quart casserole.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven
for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
Serve with fresh fruit  .... or
serve warm with milk.
Yield: 6 servings

Monday, September 24, 2012

CHICKEN MILLET CHOWDER


To add more whole grains to my diet I made this creamy
vegetable and chicken chowder with millet.


The soup begins with vegetables sauteed
in a Dutch oven.


Millet ... there is no shortage of praise heaped on it at the grocery store.
 It is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most easily
digestible of all grains.  It does not contain gluten, is high in
B-complex vitamins and is the most well balanced in
essential amino acids among all grains.
No wonder I want to incorporate it into my food.


Chicken broth, added to the vegetables, is brought to a boil and
the millet is added.  It is cooked as you would rice.


Chowders are not the most colorful soups but
the taste makes up for what it lacks in glow.


The millet adds a nutty flavor that is unexpected
but very pleasant.  I will be making it again.

CHICKEN MILLET CHOWDER

1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 cup diced carrot
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, saute vegetables in oil over
medium heat.  Cook and stir for about 5 minutes.

½ cup chopped red pepper
bay leaf
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. pepper
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup millet

Add red pepper, bay leaf, salt and pepper; continue to cook
 and stir for about 2 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil.
Stir in millet. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

2 cups milk
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 cup cooked corn

In a jar with tight fitting lid, shake milk and flour together until
mixed.  Pour into a saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring until
mixture is smooth and bubbly.
Gradually add to broth mixture, stirring constantly.
Add chicken and corn; bring to a boil.
Discard bay leaf.
Yield: about 8 cups


Sunday, September 23, 2012

A FOREVER FEAST, SECURITY


I have read that children thrive on structure or a definite pattern
of organization.  It makes them feel secure and safe.
Is that also true of me as an adult?
We live in an orderly world that follows a pattern year
after year.  The season of Summer is just past and
the beauty is Fall is ushered in.


The final cut of hay is baled and stacked.


The harvest is complete ...


The machines are now stilled ... and prepared for storage.


Moderately warm days and cooler nights are ideal for
the last of the sweetly scented sweet peas.


Mild frosts have not yet put the begonias to sleep.


Vibrant and colorful, they are still beautiful to see.


Flaxen bales of straw are plentiful and ready for winter use.


This time of year the rocky mountains are like an artistic
cutout pasted against the horizon.
I have watched this unchanging guard and certain formation
all the years of my life.


Sometimes the sun sets without much fanfare but on this day
it was a glorious sight.
A few straggling trees stake their imprint on the horizon.
 I wish they could have been a row of camels.


Days and nights .... summer and fall .... sunrise and sunset ...
God promised they will continue.

"As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease."
Genesis 8: 22

Jesus Christ
the same yesterday,
and today,
and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Thursday, September 20, 2012

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS


I knew I had to try this recipe when I saw that the fritters
are baked rather than fried.  The flavor was not compromised
in this healthier version.  My choice was to top them
with a bit of ranch dressing.  Another option is
marinara sauce on the side.


Shred the zucchini and squeeze out any excess moisture by
placing inside a tea towel.


Add cornmeal, flour, egg and seasonings;  stir it all up.


Drop mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten.


Bake and broil  .... enjoy!



ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

2 cups grated zucchini squash
1/3 cup cornmeal
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 egg, slightly beaten
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. parsley flakes
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Shred zucchini and place inside a tea towel; squeeze out excess moisture.
Turn zucchini into a mixing bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix until thoroughly
combined.  Divide mixture into 6 mounds on a
parchment -lined baking sheet.  Flatten with a spoon to
about 4-inch rounds.
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes
until bottoms are a deep golden brown.
Turn oven to broil and place on second highest rack.
Broil for a few minutes to brown and crisp up.
Watch carefully so they do not scorch.
Serve with ranch dressing or marinara sauce.
Yield: 6 fritters

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BRAIDED SPAGHETTI LOAF


How would you like to be a combine driver and have a freshly-made
warm lunch brought to you each noon?
This is what my niece took to her husband and the rest of
the crew out in the field. 
What is in this gorgeous slice ... spaghetti and cheese!
Who came up with that great idea?


This recipe can be made with frozen bread dough but
my niece chose to make her own dough.
If you ever need a warm place for dough to rise, you can set up
this proofer station.  Set a rack on a bowl of hot water; place
bowl of dough on top and cover with plastic wrap.


While the dough is rising, brown the ground beef and
cook the spaghetti.


After the dough is risen, roll it out on a lightly floured surface.
Place the spaghetti and meat down the center.


Top with mozzarella cheese.  Cut dough into strips along
each side.


Braid into a loaf and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.


Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with Parmesan,
parsley and garlic powder.


Bake until it is a lovely golden brown.


Now that looks good enough to eat!!


BRAIDED SPAGHETTI LOAF

1 pkg. dry yeast (1 tbsp.)
½ cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water

1 cup warm milk
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
3½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, stir together yeast, milk, oil, salt, sugar
and 2½ cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.
Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until elastic.
Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.
Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about an hour.

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped

Cook and stir ground beef and onion until meat is brown and onion
is tender.  Drain off fat.

10 oz. spaghetti
2 cup thick spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
Parmesan cheese
parsley flakes
garlic powder

Cook spaghetti according to pkg. directions.  Drain and let
cool slightly.  Mix with 1 cup of spaghetti sauce.
When dough is risen, divide dough in half.  Roll each half out on lightly
 floured surface, approx. 12 x 16 -inch rectangles.
Place spaghetti lengthwise in a 4-inch strip down center of dough.
Mix remaining spaghetti sauce with ground beef and
layer on top of spaghetti.
Top with mozzarella cheese.
Cut the exposed dough on each side into 1½ inch strips to
within ½-inch of filling.  Fold each side alternately
over the top to produce a braided effect.
Fold ends up and seal to prevent leaking.
Carefully lift onto parchment -lined baking sheets.
Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with
Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes and garlic powder.
Bake in preheated 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until
golden brown.
Cool slightly before cutting into slices.
Yield: 2 loaves







Sunday, September 16, 2012

A FOREVER FEAST, NOT YOUR OWN


Who owns the birds?
Do birds think?  Did this beautiful hawk wonder as he gazed
down at me?  He tolerated me coming so far but no farther until
he took off.


 I had to point my camera through the window to get a picture
 of this elegant brown thrasher.  The instinct is to leave rather than be
in harms way ... but he couldn't see me on the other side of the glass.


My window is a perfect shield ... the birds are not aware
that I am there ... and I can watch and enjoy.
This chipping sparrow is sweet!


Ready for action ... and what a busy time for this
robin who has some pressing needs to take care of.


Here in this small tree and not far off the ground is the perfectly
camouflaged family that kept the parents hopping.


One of my favorite birds is the fearless eastern kingbird who
will attack a much bigger bird that threatens its young.


Feeding time for little kingbirds was a noisy affair ..
their demands were loud and constant.
There was no guessing as to their location on the yard.


I had to look twice at a meadow lark perched on one leg.
Was he resting one leg or is one leg missing?


Is this shorebird out of its comfort zone?  Intent on taking
the picture of the bird on a post rather than by the lake,
 I have not identified it.


A showy visitor ..the northern flicker ..
listening intently as I tried to sneak up on it.
In recent days a loud rapid bird call alerted me to their presence.
I had not heard the sound all summer and perhaps they
are just passing through.  At any rate I have loved the sightings
and spent a while trying to capture the beautiful marking on this bird.


It moves so fast as it bobs up and down in the grass stopping
only to listen for intruders.


Trying to stay perfectly still beside a large tree, I got to observe
 the varied designs on the feathers of this beautiful woodpecker.


I like to look into their eyes ... what are they watching for?
I would like to convey that I would not hurt them in any way.


This unique species is marked by special colors and design ..
 contour and shape ...  habits and behavior ...
and yet they have to abide by an inner sense that
governs every movement and their very existence.
In a way I could say they are not their own.
They owe their lives to another being much greater than themselves.
Is that also true of myself?
I was blessed by a recent sermon titled, 'Not Your Own'.
I belong to GOD!  How awesome is that!

Do you not know that your body is a
temple of the Holy spirit,
who is in you,
whom you have received from God?
You are NOT YOUR OWN;
you were bought with a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Cor. 6: 19 - 20 NIV