31 October 2009

one year.


Today marks one year since mom's passing.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the love and support that you have shown Dad and I.  When I think of what community is, this is it. It's just people who you say "hi" to, or folks who live near you. It is the group that gathers around you during the hard times and lifts you up. it's the group that calls you to ask to you eat with them, and checks on you in little ways, just to make sure you're doing alright.

Thanks for being that community for Dad and I.

Here is a prayer from the UM Book of Worship. I thought I'd share it with all of you.


Everliving God,
    this day revives in us memories of loved ones who are no more.
What happiness we shared when the walked among us.
What joy, when, loving and being loved, we lived our lives together.
Their memory is a blessing for ever.

Months or years may have passed, and still we feel near to them.
Our hearts yearn for them.
Though the bitter grief has softened, a duller pain abides;
    for the place where once they stood is empty now.
The links of life are broken, but the links of love and longing cannot break.
Their souls are bound up in ours for ever.

We see them now with the eye of memory,
    their faults forgiven, their virtues grown larger.
So does goodness live, and weakness fade from sight.
We remember them with gratitude and bless their names.
Their memory is a blessing for ever.

And we remember as well the members
    who but yesterday were part of our congregation and community.
To all who cared for us and labored for all people, we pay tribute.
May we prove worthy of carrying on the tradition of our faith,
    for now the task is our.
Their souls are bound up in ours for ever.

We give you thanks that they now live and reign with you.
As a great crowd of witnesses,
    they surround us with their blessings,
    and offer you hymns of praise and thanksgiving.
They are alive for ever more. Amen.

27 October 2009

Curry Chicken Salad

It is a rare occasion that I make it to Whole Foods. This is mostly because, as a graduate student, my dollar goes further at other places.  But, it is fun to go look and pretend that one day there will be money to spend on the finer foods of life.

One thing that I really love about Whole Foods, however, is their deli section that seems to have a little bit of everything--most of which has a gourmet flair. One of my favorites is their curry chicken salad.  Here is my version.

The best part of this is that it is super easy to adapt to your taste. I've included what I used along with some other suggestions.

Curry Chicken Salad (for two)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled and chunked
  • 3 heaping tablespoonfuls of mayo and sour cream (I used fat free for both of these. If you don't like one or the other, then take it out and compensate accordingly)
  • 2 tablespoons (or to taste) good tasting curry powder
  • 2 prunes, diced (trust me on this, it is delicious)
  • crunchy type things (I used carrots and onions. You might like to use shallots and celery)
  • salt and pepper, garlic powder to taste
Mix chicken chunks with remaining ingredients. Chill for at least an hour (to help the flavors meld). Serve.

25 October 2009

Halloween Cat Cookies (Peanut Butter and Chocolate)

My mother, who died last October 31, was a baker. Every holiday had some baked good(s) associated with it.  She loved the fall, so Halloween had a couple of favorites. Here is one of her most beloved holiday cookies. The best part is that they are super easy to make and lend themselves to the creativity of children.

Halloween Cat Cookies

  • chocolate cake mix, one box
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c. (or so) of water
  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • candy corn
  • red hots
  • sugar

Preheat to 350 degrees.

Beat wet ingredients together. Slowly add cake mix. (It is helpful to use a mixer of some sort--this can get pretty sticky and stiff!)

Roll dough into 1.5" balls and place on a baking sheet.  Top balls with sugar, then press flat with the bottom of a glass. Pinch ears onto cookies; press fork for whiskers.

Bake for 7-12 minutes, depending on your oven and the thickness of the cookies. Cooking too long can dry these out pretty quickly.

Decorate with candy corn eyes and a red hot nose!

20 October 2009

Spicy Beef Stir-Fry with Basil

Last Christmas, I decided that it was time to start improving my collection of cookware.  The previous Christmas (2 years ago), I discovered the joy of being adult a.k.a getting major kitchen instead of fun things for all major gift giving holidays.

So, last year, I decided to use this to my advantage. The majority of my cookware had been inherited from my two aunts from my Dad's side of the family.  Essentially, it was a collection of sturdy pots and pans and dated china.

I asked for new pots and pans.  Apparently, this set of a cooking shopping spree and Christmas morning, I awoke to not only some pots and pans but an apron, cook books, and yes, a recipe calendar.

This is one of the recipes (that I've adapted) from that calendar and one that, I have to say, I  really enjoy.  Add more red pepper flakes if you like to make it extra spicy, and keep the extra half of the lime around if you need to tone anything down (just in case, you know, by total accident, you know, you add way to much, you know, spice--not cause that happened or anything).

It is super easy and quick, once all the ingredients are prepared. Be sure to get everything ready before hand (even the rice, if you want to eat it with that. I might also suggest tofu noodles, like these).  Once you're cooking, you're cooking.

 Here's what you need to serve 2:
  • 3/4lb steak (flank or sirloin will be the most tender, round works too)
  • 1/2 c. loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp. good tasting olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp - 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce + 1 tbsp of fish sauce (or 2 of either)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • [opt] 1/2 bag of broccoli slaw (in the produce aisle, pre-made)

To cook:
Slice the beef as thinly as possible (across the grain).  Cut these slices into bite-sized pieces.

Wash and dry the basil; chop them coarsely.  [If you have time, toss the beef with the basil and touch of olive oil and marinate for an hour--if not, don't worry!]

Preheat wok or large skillet over high heat until it smokes (3-4 minutes)

Lower the heat, add oil. 
Quickly add garlic, stirring once or twice. Once it begins to color (which is pretty quickly), return to high heat and add the beef/basil mixture.

Stir quickly, add red pepper flakes.

Stir regularly, but not constantly until meat looses its redness (maybe a minute or two longer)

Add the sauces (soy/fish/both) and lime juice).  Add in broccoli slaw for extra crunch and veggies (opt). 

Stir. Serve.


18 October 2009

Delicious Pumpkin Muffins

I've realized over the past months that this blog has been neglected. Partly, this is due to lack of time. Partly it is due to all the theological conversation I get at school. That and, you know, tests and papers and presentations. Such academic joys as those. The other week, I stumbled on an old acquaintance's blog of recipes and fun. She inspired me to offer my own blog a face lift of sorts. Perhaps a little more fun and fancy.

So, to start: Delicious Pumpkin Muffins.

The base of these muffins is Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix (but I suspect any similar mix will work). They don't pile over the top in traditional muffin fashion, but the brown sugar/pecan mixture makes them some of the tastiest fall treats I've had in a long, long time.
Thanks to my friend, Mariah, for the idea!

Here is the recipe:

dry ingredients:
1c. pumpkin pancake and waffle mix
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

wet ingredients:
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. milk (I used skim)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
(opt) 1 tsp. sugar-free hazelnut syrup (here's the kind I like)

Brown Sugar/Pecan mixture:
1/4c. brown sugar
1/4c. pecan pieces broken up
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Toss dry ingredients together. Mix all wet ingredients into the mix (except egg--we don't want the hot butter to scramble the egg!) After all ingredients are combined, add in the egg.

Pour batter into muffin tin.

Top with brown sugar/ pecan mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

makes 8. (easy to double)

If you use the brown sugar/pecan mixture, it will sink into the muffin. It's a sweet surprise to a tasty fall treat!