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All posts in July, 2013

My friend Amy writes daily devotionals and has faithfully done so for many years. In today’s devotional, Amy spoke of the fruits of the Spirit. I guess I’ll probably turn to the Holy Trinity as my source as long as I live, since that is where my training is, but I believe that God has spoken to people in many ways throughout space and time–and continues to do so.  As I’ve reflected upon all of this, it seems to me that the fruits of the Spirit truly are universal, regardless of religious orientation or even complete rejection of spirituality. It seems to me that speaking of the fruits of the Spirit is to speak of how our actions shape not only ourselves and our lives, but the world around us in significant ways.

Let’s take a look at these fruits as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 and see what we find in a direct translation to modern English as found in the NRSV:

… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

This is a pretty familiar list to most Christians who’ve read much of the Bible or spent much time in church. Is this simply a Christian message? I don’t think so. The fruits of the Spirit seem, to me, to reflect the maturity with which one responds to life’s challenges and embraces the driving human need to love and to make life better for others. Does everyone mature as they grow older? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Does everyone feel or respond to that need to love and make life better? That doesn’t seem to be so, either. I do believe that it’s present in everyone when we’re young, but a combination of temperament and life choices guide us to maturity and giving and opening and blooming, or rotting away wrapped in our own misery. In a way, it seems almost a return to the innocence of childhood, when anything was possible, before people and society insisted upon teaching us that life is not only hard but, at times, brutal … and that we are helpless.

Helpless? Hardly! My friends, we are powerful to the extent that we embrace Love as the source of all that is, even to our very breath. We have the power to choose life ever-growing, or death as we rot away while still breathing hope and possibility but turn them away. Are we challenged, sometimes seemingly at every turn? You bet! Giving up and giving in to the rot–otherwise known as entropy–would oftentimes be the easier choice, but who wants to live like that?

What would be the opposite of the fruits of the Spirit/Love/maturity? Are they characteristics we’d choose to bear if we considered them? Is this how we’d like to be remembered when we’re gone? Do we truly want to live without protest in a world where this has become the norm?

  • not only hate, but apathy and indifference to others and to self
  • agony, regardless of our circumstances
  • strife neverending
  • an immediacy that means having no history and no future
  • meanness, destructiveness
  • selfish grasping with no satisfaction
  • cheating, being unpredictably untrustworthy
  • roughness with no regard for the fragility of life
  • being controlled by, abdicating responsibility to … other people, society, and institutions

Truthfully, I’ve met very few people, if any, who fulfill either list consistently, in entirety. We’re all on this journey together. Knowing where our choices are taking us is, I think, an important consideration with each step we take. It’s easy to make excuses, and not so easy to change sometimes, but in my “mussings” today …

I choose Love in an indifferent world. I choose Joy in the midst of pain. I choose Peace while the storm rages about me. I choose Patience while history is ignored and the future seems dim. I choose Kindness in the face of blaming the victim. I choose Generosity while corporations try to patent life for profit. I choose Gentleness in a dog-eat-dog culture. I choose to accept the responsibility of Self-Control over the chaos of media and cultural controls.

I choose to live MY life in the face of my own personal history and an unknowable future, believing with all of my heart that I am changing the world, one way or the other, one choice at a time. I believe that this truly is free will. I choose to be thankful in the face of adversity.

Love to all,

Deborah

Another of my original recipes, which I made up as I went today. Do I ever make the same thing twice? Not often … at least I can, now that I’m writing them down!

I used a free-range chicken and didn’t want to overwhelm that young chicken flavor, and this worked well. The chicken was enhanced with mere hints of ginger, lemon, and garlic that made this a very nice meal along with grilled veggies. Remember, all measurements are approximate–I did NOT pull out my measuring spoons for this.

Ingredients:

  • grated rind and juice from one lemon
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground mixed peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • One cut-up chicken, 3.25 pounds

Wash chicken and place in gallon-sized freezer bag or other container. Mix together remaining ingreients in a small bowl, then pour into bag with chicken. Remove as much air as possible and moosh around so that chicken is coated in marinade. Refrigerate one hour, then let warm up a bit for 1/2 hour before grilling. If you’d like, you can bring what’s left of the marinade to a boil and use it to baste the chicken while it cooks, but we didn’t find that necessary.

I hope that you enjoy it as we have.

I thought about making muffins for breakfast this morning, but it was already so warm that I didn’t want to turn on the oven! Do you know, the only real difference between muffins and pancakes is the amount of liquid, and the way that they’re cooked? And do you know how EASY both are? I challenge you to quit buying mixes for both. You really and truly don’t need them.

Pancakes, like muffins, are pretty versatile. The main difference for me is that in muffins, I’ll put the fruit in with the batter, while with pancakes, you CAN do that, but I prefer to mix the fruit with real maple syrup, some butter, and some cream, then simmer that on the back burner while I cook the pancakes. It stretches that maple syrup and gives a flavorful, less-sweet topping for the pancakes.

For the two of us, I made enough batter for two breakfasts with …

  • 1 cup flour (today I used about half all-purpose and half whole-wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Whisk that all together in a small bowl

  • 1 large egg (if you want eggier pancakes, you can use 2)
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted if it’s cool enough to be solid)

In a separate bowl or 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk the egg, whisk in the buttermilk & vanilla, whisk in the fat, then whisk it all into the dry ingredients. If you like a thinner battter, add a bit more milk or water. I usually do!

Heat your griddle or frying pan on medium-low until a drop of water skittles around. Spread a dab of butter on there, then pour enough batter for the size pancakes you’d like. You don’t need to butter the pan for each pancake, since there is fat in the batter. Let cook until bubbly all over, flip, and cook about a minute or so, until the edge starts to brown and the pancakes are cooked through. I only cooked half of the batter today. I simply covered the rest and put it in the refrigerator, ready to cook tomorrow!

For today’s topping, I put about 1/2 cup raspberries in my small saucepan and poured in about 1/4 cup of real maple syrup, about 1/4 cup heavy cream, and about a tablespoon of butter. I simmered that together while I cooked the pancakes. Yum!

Options:

Flour–any kind you like, though I’ve found that regular all-purpose (AP) flour works best as at least some of it. For oatmeal pancakes, I use 1/4 cup AP flour and soak 3/4 cup oatmeal in the chosen liquid for a little while before adding the egg & fat, then add to the dry mixture. It’d probably be good to do the same with whole wheat flour, as well. You can add flax, spelt, or rice flour, or use your favorite gluten-free mix. You’re going to be eating them, so use what you like!

Sweetening–these are pancakes or muffins, not the cupcakes that are sold and called muffins, so they shouldn’t be overly sweet. You can use sugar, honey, maple syrup, or molasses, but 1 tablespoon per cup of flour really is plenty.

Liquid–I’ve found that I prefer buttermilk most of the time, but your preference may be different! You can use regular “sweet” milk, but if you do, you’ll need to substitute 1 teaspoon baking powder instead of the 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. You can “sour” sweet milk and use it like buttermilk by putting 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in your measuring cup, then add sweet milk to the one-cup mark and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using. You can add or substitute a fruit juice of your choice–orange juice works well, and so does pineapple juice. You can use yogurt or kefir or sour cream or cottage cheese, but if you use any of those other than the kefir, you WILL need to add milk or water to thin it down, or use less flour. In a pinch, you CAN use plain water, but do treat it as sweet milk–either use baking powder, or add an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Using water or juice will reduce the nutritional content a bit, but will still be filling.

Fat–You can use butter, ghee, coconut oil, bacon grease, lard, palm shortening, whatever you like. I don’t recommend any liquid oils because they’re simply not healthy to consume, period, except for olive oil, and I don’t think that would go well in pancakes!

Nuts–not mentioned above, but you can add chopped nuts to the batter or sprinkle on top of each pancake. They’re best if toasted first. If you prefer, you can grind nuts before mixing them in, or use a nut butter.

Topping–any berry works well. but you can also use chopped bigger fruits like apples, pears, peaches, apricots, etc. If using a harder fruit than a berry, you may want to start it simmering before you begin mixing up your batter, so it has a chance to cook & soften. You certainly may use honey if you prefer, but I use raw local honey and don’t want to kill off the good stuff with heat. You could simmer everything together except the honey, let it cool a bit and then stir it in.

To make MUFFINS instead, when you don’t mind heating up the house, simply reduce the liquid to 1 cup and add 1/4 cup of the fruit of your choice if you’d like. Grease ONLY the bottoms of your muffin cups and spoon the batter in to about 3/4 full.  Bake at 375f for approximately 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Enjoy!

Love to all,

Deborah

 

I know, it sounds weird, doesn’t it? But I got this idea in my head and took off with it. Eric gave me his standard questioning look and voice with “Sauteed cabbage? Ooookaaay … ” He trusts me. He tried it. He liked it!

First, I fried up 1/2 pound of sausage patties in my cast iron frying pan.

After removing the sausage patties, I tossed in about a tablespoon of butter and about 3 cups of coarsely chopped cabbage. I added freshly ground salt & pepper, tossed it all around a bit, added a spoonful of water, then covered and cooked on medium-low for 10 minutes.

I took off the cover and let the little bit of excess moisture cook off while I beat a few eggs with milk, salt and pepper.

I removed the cabbage to the plates, scrambled the eggs, and added them to the plates along with a slice of toast.

This was a surprisingly good supper! Good enough that we got it gone before pictures could be taken, and I only got one pan dirty to do it! Well, along with a cutting board, strainer, mixing bowl, whisk, and spatula. And two plates & forks for eating.

Let this be a reminder to all of us: Cook boldly. If you get an idea, try it, even if it sounds crazy! You never know when you’ll come up with a new favorite dish. Will those ideas always work out well? Of course not. But you’ll never know if you don’t try.


This is a Deborah original recipe.

I know, tomato soup is no big deal and comes out of a red & white can.  But not today! It came out nicely balanced–flavorful but not overwhelmingly strong flavor, which went well with grilled Monterrey Jack & Swiss on Pumpernickel with a dill pickle on the side.

The soup simmered while I made the sandwiches, so the only “extra” time it took was in chopping the vegetables. I’ll attempt to recreate it here for you, since I tossed it together. We both really enjoyed it and hope that you will, as well. This made two coffee mug sized servings with a little left.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter (approximately)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 small rib celery, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (approximately)
  • 1 pint beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • freshly ground celtic sea salt & mixed peppercorns, to taste
  • 1/2 cup liebfraumilch
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (approximately)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a medium-sized saucepan, saute the onions & celery in the butter over medium-low heat, then add garlic & saute for another minute or so. Add tomato paste and tomato sauce, stir it all up and pour in the beef broth. Toss in the bay leaf and salt & pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf and stir in the basil. Pour in the heavy cream and raise heat to medium-low for a few minutes to bring soup to serving temperature.


Once again, I was chatting with a friend on Facebook and it gave rise to a chain of thought which I want to share. The following is both excerpt and expansion of that chat. Thank you, Ellen Marie, for taking time with me this morning. You are a blessing.

ONE job should be enough to make ends meet, but it isn’t anymore for a lot of people.
ONE job should be enough to make ends meet for TWO people, honestly, but it’s not.
Our country (USA) has been falling apart for a long time now. Something has got to change.

So many people fought so hard over 100 years ago to make it so that one person working 40 hours/week with breaks could support a family. They’d be weeping at today’s result
So many people fought so hard over 200 years ago for representative government. They’d be weeping at today’s result.

Life needs to be lived like there is a tomorrow
I pray healing of the scars that cage love inside people & institutions, to set it free … but realistically, healing takes time and some simply will not be healed. Some like the cage. It feels safe. So safe that they’re afraid of freedom.

What does healing mean?

In my humble opinion, healing means letting love free to empower, washing away greed and fear and all icons, energizing and bringing a dynamic homeostasis in which all people and creation can grow to their potential.

It’s a crazy idea, I know. You can laugh now, if you’d like

But what does that mean on a national/international scale?

It means that politicians serve the people, as leaders are intended to do, without corporate input and with generosity in listening & evaluating the intent of other peoples.

I’d like to think that it could mean eliminating the need for military other than as humanitarian assistance in times of disaster.

It means realizing that differing political styles may well suit different cultures, without necessarily needing to understand all there is to know about it and how it works for them.

It means that nations need to understand that hungry people become violent people who are unable to contribute, and that controlling the food supply thus becomes counterproductive and untenable.

It means a radical shift in thinking about the way that nations work with and against one another, if the good of the entire world is held as the one true goal.

How I’d love to sit them all down together and help them to listen … to one another, and to just a few of the many people with vision beyond yesterday’s offenses and into the beauty that can be tomorrow; to help them to look not at what currently is, but at what can be and to brainstorm on how to get there.

Our world already holds the keys to healthy work for everyone, adequate shelter for everyone, enough nutrition for everyone, personal fulfillment for everyone. Why do we insist on living in a mindset of scarcity and conflict, while we live in the midst of abundance wasted?

Healing is needed. Let loose and fly, love!

I send my love to all of you,

Deborah

Tropical Traditions was kind enough to send me a quart-sized jar of their signature product, Organic Gold-Label Virgin Coconut Oil for review, with absolutely no obligation to review it at all, and not even a request for a positive review! This jar came to me as a gift with no strings attached, just to let me try their product. I was shocked at the speed with which it arrived! Within two days of my application to review it, I had that jar in my kitchen! When I opened the jar, I was further surprised.

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer.


I anticipated a strong coconut aroma, which quite honestly could have interfered with the array of uses I may consider for coconut oil. After all, most foods that I prepare don’t really need coconut added to their flavor bouquet. What I experienced was a very mild coconut aroma, and a taste off of a spoon echoed that mildly sweet flavor, with just a hint of an acidy, balancing note. Aha! I thought. This, I can use with a fairly free hand! So I did.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been using the 5-Minute-a-Day bread dough a lot lately, and it was time to make a new batch. The recipe calls for “neutral-flavored oil.” This is neutral enough to work well, so in it went! I made a London Broil one day, and used Gold Label in the marinade. I used it as half of the oil in a pesto. With some of the leftovers, I made Beef Stroganoff. I used this coconut oil to sweat/saute the onions, garlic, and mushrooms–then added an approximately equal amount of grass-fed butter to fry the flour-coated meat, pulling the veggies & coconut oil back in from the edges after the first minute or so. I found that using straight coconut oil for frying/sauteeing isn’t exactly sticky, but it doesn’t lubricate as well as butter, lard, or bacon grease, so in future I’ll go no further than half coconut oil for that particular use in future.

Now that I’ve tried it in most of my “normal” uses, though I haven’t yet used it for anything salad or dressing, I got the bug to try that luscious-sounding coconut chocolate, with a twist! No-cook fudge will fill the bill nicely! Since it IS the height of summer and I WOULD like to share some taste-testing with others, I didn’t want to use the freezer recipe. By the time I’d transport it, I’d have a melted, gloppy mess. I did discover, purely by accident, that sunflower seed butter mixed with honey and a touch of salt becomes pretty doggone solid, like the middle of a peanut butter cup–and I just happened to have some on hand! I imagine that peanut butter or any nut butter would work, as well. Mixing all of those ingredients together with coconut oil and cocoa should give a fudgy texture that travels better in the heat, right? Soooooo … I mixed up a test batch.

  • 1/2 cup Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Celtic Sea Salt

I first whisked together the coconut oil and the honey, then whisked in the sunflower seed butter until smooth. In cooler weather, you’d need to add a bit of heat so that the coconut oil liquefies. I then whisked in the honey, and finally the salt. The resulting mixture wasn’t as solid as I would have liked, so I put it in a 9×9 cake pan lined with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for a while before cutting. We were helping our daughter and son-in-law with fireworks sales for their organization, so I brought some of this fudge along in a little cooler along with drinks. After all, a test batch requires testers, right? It came out softer than I would have liked, but it tastes good and it’s nutritious! And if you melt just a little in maple chocolate sauce and pour over vanilla ice cream, it’s heaven in a bowl! I’ll experiment more and see what I can come up with that’s less melty …

Oh, I almost forgot! Coconut oils isn’t just for your insides! I mixed it with my bentonite clay & baking soda for toothpaste, and it left my mouth feeling cleaner than ever! The next morning, it occurred to me that these were also deodorant ingredients … and I had mixed it pretty thin … so I spread just a little bit under one arm to check it out. It completely disappeared, and it works. How cool is that–three ingredients making two personal care products in one!  Coconut oil also moisturizes my skin without leaving a greasy residue–it sinks in pretty fast!

Overall, I like this oil a lot. I’ve read plenty of information on the health benefits, and you can find that online as well as I could tell you. I like the oil itself. I like the way the coconuts are raised. I like the way it’s processed. I like the way the people who raise the coconuts and the people who produce the oil are treated. I like it, and I can recommend it without reservation.

Traditionally, they say that an optimist sees a glass as half full and that a pessimist sees it as half empty. What about the realist? Well, you can find lots of memes about that online these days. I don’t know what label I’d wear, if there even is one. I see the glass completely full! It’s half full of present reality, and half full of potential! Does that make me a super-optimist? A dreamer? An utopian philosopher? I imagine that the labels stuck on me by others could make me look like an old-time steamer trunk that’s been around the world … but as far as I’m concerned, the labels can all fall off. Labels are for those who choose to stop thinking once the category is chosen and the label has been applied.

You see, my darling husband and I were having a conversation, and it got a bit heated due to our differing viewpoints. We’ve batted around the idea of looking for a younger couple to join us on the farm as working partners in an LLC, as our previous partnership plans may not come to fruition. I was honestly shocked at the controversy we wound up in–we simply don’t argue much at all. When we disagree, we can normally talk it out and come to a mutually satisfying resolution. Not this time. Not at all! Yet.

I believe quite strongly that people tend to behave as we expect them to behave; that most people will live up or down to our basic opinion of who they are; that we shape our world by not only our physical actions, but equally by our invisible mental and spiritual actions. He believes that people are generally selfish and lazy, and will give no more than is absolutely required of them in any given situation. This puts us in quite the quandary. He says that I’m trying to live in an utopian universe that doesn’t exist and am looking for disastrous disappointment. It seems to me that he’s planning for failure and since that’s his plan, he’ll be rewarded by being right. Quite the pair we are, huh?

I believe that love powers and empowers all that is. I believe that our cooperation in and with love makes a difference. I believe that my honey is just feeling frustrated right now and will come around. After all, he’s the most loving man I’ve ever known! Waiting is hard, especially for a man of action, and waiting is really all we can do right now. Thank you for sharing the wait with us.