Saturday, February 27, 2010

Recipe of the week: Lemon Bars

My kids have wondered why lemons are ripe in the winter and yet lemonade is something you usually drink in the summer...things that make you go hmmm. The secret to making fabulous lemon bars is home grown lemons, if you can get them. I've been lucky enough to have lemon trees at a couple of my houses. And sure enough, they're always ripe in December, just in time to make lemon bars for Christmas and if I'm feeling ambitious goodie plates for my friends. A Vorte Sante

Lemon Bars

1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar (granulated or raw)
1 cup unbleached flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (granulated or raw)
2 Tbsp unbleached flour
2 tea finely shredded lemon peel
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 baking powder

In a medium bowl beat butter and sugar until combined. Add 1 cup flour until crumbly. Press mixture into the bottom of a 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 oven for 15-17 minutes (or until just golden).

In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs 3/4 cup sugar 2 Tbsp flour, lemon peel, lemon juice and baking powder. Beat 2 minutes or until combined.

Pour filling over baked layer. Bake another 20 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges.

Sift powdered sugar over the top, cut into squares.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fatally Flawed

John Foreman from Switchfoot wrote a song called 'A Mirror is Harder to Hold", here's part of the lyrics.

A mirror is so much harder to hold
I could try and point the finger
But the glass points in my direction
Sure you've got your sharp edges
But my wounds are for my own reflection
You've got nothing I could ever hold against you
I've got fatal flaws to call my own

Sometimes I'm acutely aware of my fatal flaws, others not so much. There's a great story about being flawed that I wanted to share.

The Cracked Pot Story

A water bearer in India had two large pots,
one hung on each end of a pole which he carried
across his neck. One of the pots had a crack
in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always
delivered a full portion of water at the end
of the long walk from the stream to the
master's house. The cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it
spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

Why?" asked the bearer.

"What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house.

Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.

But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?

That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers
to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

The moral of the story is that we're all flawed and yet we all have so much beauty to offer.

I pray you're having a beauty-filled day.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Recipe of the week: Chicken and vegetable gumbo

We don't eat pork or seafood so finding a recipe that didn't have either was difficult. I like lots of vegetables, including okra and tomatoes in my gumbo....this is what I came up with. A Votre Sante!

Chicken and vegetable gumbo

1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp oil (half olive oil half canola oil)
1/4 cup unbleached flour
2 cups onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 small green bell pepper chopped
1 cup okra chopped
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 lb chicken Cajun sausage or other chicken sausage
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
fresh ground pepper to taste
red pepper to taste
Louisiana hot sauce

In a dutch oven or large pot combine the oil and the flour over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly at first then occasionally for 35 to 45 minutes, to make a dark brown roux, you want it to be somewhere between the color of carmel and chocolate. (I cooked mine for about 40 minutes). Meanwhile, chop all your vegetables. Brown the sausage in another pan, then slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Cut chicken breasts into small pieces and brown in sausage grease, season with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.

Once your roux is the desired color add the chopped onion, celery and bell pepper stirring until the vegetables are slightly tender. Add the sausage, chicken, okra, bay leaf. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, chicken broth and water, bring to a boil. (Taste and adjust pepper, red pepper and Cajun seasoning.) Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for one hour. Discard bay leaves. Serve with rice and Louisiana hot sauce. Enjoy! (Serves 4-6)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recipe of the week: Scones

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd post a recipe for something chocolate. These scones are very easy to make and very yummy. If you don't like chocolate you can use cranberries or blueberries or you can even make them plain. I've tried this recipe several different ways and they've all been good. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!


2 cups unbleached flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar plus 2/3 Tbsp
1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup half and half
3 Tbsp unsalted melted butter

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large bowl mix together: flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup sugar. Toss with fork. Mix in 3/4 cup chocolate chips. Pour in half and half and mix with fork. The dough will be fairly sticky. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Knead dough 10 times, drop onto cookie sheet - brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 2/3 Tbsp sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15-17 minutes (until the tops are golden brown). Makes about 12.

Melt the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and drizzle over the top. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sometimes you have to offend the mind to expose the heart

This is probably a little out of character for me but I thought I'd share with you some of my inner ramblings. I'm a little tired of people talking about community. Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe in community but what I'm tired of is the hypocrisy. I hear things like "let's be the church for the world" and "we're all in this together, shoulder to shoulder". Or my favorite, "I've got your back".

In reality what I see right now is most people fending for themselves. In this economy I see people hoarding instead of living open handedly. How can we ever "be the church for the world" if we can't be the church for our neighbor? I'm pretty sure Jesus meant it when he said "love your neighbor as yourself."

In my opinion, there will never be revival in America because of this attitude. It takes a natural disaster or something like 9/11 for American's to wake up and not be so selfish, independent and entitled. I mean really, look at what's going on in Haiti right now. The world comes together when there's an earthquake, but not when we have 10 million people unemployed.

Silence is a lousy communicator. I have a friend whose father recently died, and most people she knows have said nothing..."Not how ya doin?," "how can I help?"... nothing. It used to be that people would show up at your door-step with food or flowers, just to say "I'm sorry for your loss" or "can I sit with you while you grieve?" Not anymore.

I'm sure I sound judgmental. Hopefully this comes across as less than an accusation, and more of an observation. I'm the first to admit that I'm a little self-righteous in all this because I have done the hard thing. We lived in community with another family for over a year, and it was hard. We had our moments of good, bad and sometimes ugly. We can laugh about it now, mostly.

Sara Groves has a song called Every Minute, here's part of the lyrics:

And I can think of time when families all lived together • Four generations in one house • And the table was full of good food • And friends and neighbors • That's not how we like it now • Cause if you sit at home you're a loser • Couldn't you find anything better to do •

(she sings that as sort of a question, and the answer is this...)

• Well no I couldn't think of one thing • I would rather waste my time on than sitting here with you •

I'd like to challenge us to do the hard thing, to reach out when you don't have the energy. Forgive when you don't feel like it. Choose love, choose community. Maybe doing the hard thing is asking for help when you're in need. So ask.

Mother Teresa said "Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work."

Thanks for reading my ramblings/rant.

Have a beauty-filled day.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Recipe of the week: Cherry Smoothie

I love smoothies. They're an easy way to get your fruit intake for the day. For some reason its easier for me to eat vegetables than fruit so I try to make smoothies a couple of times a week. I usually put keifr in mine to make it more substantial. (Keifr is a drinkable yogurt, available at most health food stores, Trader Joes and some grocery stores carry a brand call Glen Oaks drinkable yogurt.) Flax seeds are a nutritional powerhouse full of fiber, antioxidants and rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. You can add any kind of fruit you like, this just happens to be my favorite combination. A Votre Sante!

Cherry Smoothie

4 oz Cherry Cider
4 oz keifr, flavor of choice
1/4 cup pineapple, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup frozen cherries
1/2 cup berries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp flax seeds
1 scoop protein powder, your choice

Pour keifr and juice into the blender, add frozen fruit and flax seeds, blend until smooth. (Add a little water if its too thick) Add protein powder at the end and blend until mixed. Serves one. Enjoy!