Monthly Archives: February 2013

What I Had for Dinner

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There are a myriad of things simmering on my mind.

Honestly, it’s taking a while to process some of what God has been showing me, slowly pulling me through the looking glass {or the back of the wardrobe, if you will} … I don’t know if my heart is quite ready to put words to my thoughts and feelings… and when I’m finally sitting down sans children for the first time since 7am (it’s 11:45pm here now) – well, this cup of coffee can hardly get the cerebral juices flowing… 

So I’ll leave the deep end alone for now…

There’s a lot of heavy things going on in the world and sometimes I just miss the Food Network, if I may be honest.  Those days when I could just spend two hours sitting on the couch and watching Rachel Ray whip up something in half an hour – and with the enthusiasm of used car salesman holding a Chihuahua. (Do the math- that’s 3 episodes back-to-back with commercials.)

I cut my culinary teeth watching Rach and Paula and Alton and Giada.  I would cozy up to a bowl of chilled apple slices and a mound of real peanut butter while I watched… and learned.

How to use a santoku.  How to clean my wooden cutting board.  How to use a GB (garbage bowl) – and what EVOO was… What spices to use on fish, and how to smash garlic.

This was my world.  Oh how I loved it.

The world where I could {read: before.having.lots.of.children} experiment with new ingredients and enjoy spending an {uninterrupted} hour in the kitchen pouring love and effort into a beautiful dish.  

These days?  Unless I’ve planned ahead to throw something frugal, simple and in-bulk into the crockpot, then 4pm becomes the mad witching hour, where paces and pencils and various art projects are still spread all over the table and lunch dishes are still stacked up on the counter and children are cranky and hungry and my shoulders are laid low while at least one child is literally wrapped around one leg. 

No, really.

My dear friend told me today that I should start blogging about what’s for dinner, and I cringe to think that anyone would come lookin’ round these parts for inspiration!  Ha!

If you’re a family of 4.5 and love the Food Network, you’ll probably find nothing of value nosin’ around my kitchen…

But if you’re a tired, busy mama with a bunch of littles (who are growing and eating surprisingly more and more) and living on a budget?  Well, then maybe you’re still reading….

Without further adieu, I give you…. What I Had for Dinner (and all the other meals today as well.)…

Breakfast: Oven-Scrambled Eggs & Homemade Bread (from my Mama)
I have given up the skillet for this!!  We eat a LOT of eggs.  They are inexpensive and full of protein and nutrition  – and they’re so versatile.  BUT, I seriously dreaded the mess of the skillet, and trying to scramble 6-10 eggs in one pan, depending on how many people I’m feeding.  So now I do the oven-scramble method, and we love these:

– Whisk up eggs + a splash of milk in a bowl
– Add anything you like (we often throw in shredded cheese, frozen shredded potatoes, leftover ground beef or turkey, salsa – just about anything)
– Season with salt & pepper
– Pour into a buttered glass pan (I use 8×8)
– Place in 300 degree oven
– Check every 5 minutes or so and stir around egg mixture with a spoon, remove before overcooked

Lunch: Apple Slices & Peanut Butter with Granola Bars
This is pretty self explanatory.  Right now I can find organic apples by the bag at Walmart for a good price so I stock up and keep them in the refrigerator.  An awesome friend gave me an apple slicer/corer and it has changed my life.  Seriously.  I slice/core up 4-5 apples in a minute or less.  Cores are thrown in a bowl for the chickens and slices are divided up between kiddos and myself.  We only eat ‘real’ peanut butter, which has nothing but peanuts and salt.  (I don’t splurge on organic, and I always buy it in a glass jar, which I then re-use to freeze chicken stock or things like that.)  We sometimes make our own granola bars, but we had some store-bought ones this time that my Mom had given us – yippee!

Snack: Homemade Yogurt with Sliced Strawberries and Cereal
Another dear friend (God has blessed me with some amazing people) recently brought us a LOT of fresh, raw milk, so yesterday I used some to make yogurt, and then added honey and cinnamon.  Yum!  My crew (and myself included) can go through almost a quart of this in one sitting, so sliced strawberries makes it stretch a bit, and by just sprinkling some almond cereal on top, that box of cereal can last quite a while.  Homemade yogurt is runny (at least mine is), so we drink it in pretty tea cups (I mean, cool mugs for the boys) and call it Ukrainian style yogurt, because it’s exactly like what we ate, er uh, drank there.  The kids love it!

Supper: Tater Tot Casserole
Yep.  It’s not gourmet or necessarily healthy, although we are blessed with good, grass-fed beef (and venison from my Dad.)  But often it’s just a matter of getting an affordable, easy dinner on the table.  This is one of the easiest meals ever.  And my family loves it.  We had to leave the house almost as soon as Jeff got home this evening to go to choral practice, so this was an easy dinner to get us fed and out the door.  Want the recipe?

– 1 lb. ground beef (or venison or turkey)
–  1 can cream of chicken soup
– 1 can cream of mushroom soup (for my friends allergic to mushrooms use another can of cream of chicken or cream of celery)
– splash (1/2 to 3/4 cup?) milk
– 30 oz bag frozen tater tots

Brown the meat on the stove ( I season with salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder and dried onions).
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 glass baking dish.
Pour cooked meat in bottom of dish, pour frozen tater tots on top of the meat.
In a large measuring cup or bowl, mix together the soups and milk, and pour over the meat and tater tots.
Cook at 350 for 30+ minutes, until tater tots are done and the dish is looking a little browned on top.
This recipe feeds my whole crew with enough left for Jeff’s lunch the next day… but I think we will be moving to two batches in the next few years! :)

So, that’s what I had for dinner – how about you?

Woman of Valor: Teesa

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Okay, confession.  When I was growing up I didn’t have many girl friends.  I think it was partially because I had no brothers, and partially because I was so much a tomboy.   And there was only one girl my age who lived on Aime Street.  I did, of course, have girls in my class at school, but – except for a very few trusted female souls, I wasn’t really part of a big group of girl friends.

Girls did a lot of chatting and fussing about things and wondering who’s class ring they were going to wear…  I did a lot of climbing trees and digging in the dirt and learning how to put a proper spin on a football, and scheming about being Mr. Miyagi’s next protoge’….

So yeah, not a lot of girlfriends.

In the years that followed, God was so kind to me. He began to really weave some wonderful, godly women into my life.  I didn’t even know at the time I was sorely missing out on something.  But through the years that followed some of those young women helped shape me and refine me in ways I couldn’t even imagine that I needed.

It’s such a blessing to have kindred spirits in your life – ones you know God put there.  For better and worse.  In my case, mostly worse.  I had a lot of refining to do.

So, in some upcoming posts, I’d really like to honor some of these gals.

And – completely out of chronological order, I’ll start with this one.


This is Teesa (and her Hubby, Bill).

We met overseas in southeast Asia, and were members of the same team.  We grew into pretty good friends while we lived over there together – I think she quickly spotted that my personality was very similar to hers and she began offering tidbits of advice on marriage, since I was soon to be heading back to the States to marry Jeffrey.  At the time, I thought I knew myself pretty well and was prepared for what married life would bring.  But you know… in the words of an old, loveable Japanese man, ‘someone always know more’.

 

It wasn’t really until Teesa and Bill and their newborn son Sam returned to the States that we really began to be closer friends. She is fun, a fantastic cook.  She is sharp and quick-witted and loves to laugh.  She is loyal.  And she’s one of those friends who will straight-up tell you like it is.

Whether we’re discussing our faith-walk or recipes… or potty-training… or how our babies won’t sleep… We have ‘been there’ through a myriad of ups and downs.  When her son had life-threatening issues (more on that in a bit) and when I had a miscarriage…

And when they were going through the adoption of their daughter from China, I felt like I was living it with her.  I even gave up Coca-Cola as a fast until they finally had their daughter on US soil.

That’s serious friendship, ya’ll. (wink)

Now we have emailed on an almost daily basis the past 6 years – we’re talking – literally – thousands of emails back and forth.  Seriously.  Someone buy us some plane tickets, okay?

I daydream that when we co-write our book together, we’ll be brought on the Oprah show (oh, right, she doesn’t have a show anymore, huh?… well, the Today Show) and we’ll have this big glorious reunion there live, on the air… two friends from across the nation… who haven’t seen each other since their firstborns were babies… get the tissues ready; this is going to be glorious

Teesa and I recently had a conversation about her name, which is pretty unique.  As a result, I decided to do a little research and found ‘Teesa; is a variant of “Theresa”-  it could be derived from the Greek “theros” meaning “summer”, or from the Greek  “therizo”, meaning “harvest“.

I love this, because if you know Teesa, you know that she is just radiant.  Not only does she have that beautiful Haley Mills blonde hair and fair skin, and that fabulous smile, but she just really shines with love for Jesus.  She loves sharing Jesus with others.  She loves discipling others. So of course, her name means ‘harvest’.  It totally fits her.

Through the years, I’ve watched her go through various trials and come out clutching more tightly to Jesus and more grateful for His mercies.  And six years ago, when they came upon some serious issues with their son, I watched her place herself in God’s mighty hand once again.

She wrote her story recently on another blog, and you can read it here.  Go read it!

What a loving Father-God I have for putting such fabulous women in my life. I’m so grateful that life is about relationships.  Learning from others… leaning on others… encouraging others…  because in this life, one thing is true: ‘first learn stand; then learn fly’.