Monthly Archives: July 2013

Lessons from “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School” #2 (Vegetables)

veggiesI really do like a lot of vegetables but when it comes to cooking them for dinner, I’ve struggled.  90% of the time, I’ll just microwave some frozen ones or steam some fresh ones, then add some butter, salt, and pepper.  BORING.  One of my favorite parts of Kathleen Flinn’s book was the section on vegetables (pages 87- 90).  She taught her students four basic ways to cook vegetables:  Roasting, Steaming, Sauteeing (or Stir Fry), and Grilling.  For instance, she shares where the word “sautee” comes from and how do do it correctly.  I was definitely doing it wrong at too low of a temperature.

On top of that, she also shared some very easy “flavor splashes” that left my butter/salt/pepper combination in the dust!  The flavor splashes are: Asian Ginger Lime, Cajun Oil, Garlic Citrus Butter, Herb-Lemon Oil, and Thai Style.   I’ve even typed up a cheat sheet of the four ways to cook vegetables AND the flavor splashes and have taped it on the inside of one of my cupboards.  I VOW to never having boring vegetables again!  102_3858

Intrigued?  Check out her book yourself for all the details (including recipes for each flavor splash).  I promise, you won’t regret it!

I also loved with her explanation on how to cut an onion the “classic” way.  There’s probably a YouTube video showing this exact way, but I had a hard time finding it.  It’s supposed to decrease the tears, be quick, and impress those who may be watching you cook. 

Here is Flinn’s description of how to cut an onion the “classic” way with my photos to give a visual for those who learn like me:

“Cut the onion in half across the root so that a portion of the root stays intact on both pieces. Then pull the papery skin away from the portion you’re cutting.”
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“Now cut a vertical slit down the middle, but don’t cut through the root.”
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“Make two more slits on either side.  It should look a little like a fan if you pick it up and spread the slits open.  Now just slice it across at the end (I cut it several more times horizontally), the way you might normally slice an onion,”
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“and the cubes of onions tumble onto the cutting board” (71).  
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I love cutting onions this way.  If you try it, let me know what you think.  Well, despite feeling
better about my onion cutting abilities, I’ve also stumbled upon vegetables and fruits I’ve had no
clue how to cut.  For example, one evening Ryan started laughing when he watched me trying to
cut up a mango.  I was trying to twist the fruit from the pit.  He knew exactly what I was trying to
do and said, “Elyse, it’s not the same as an avocado!”  Hmph!

 

Luckily the internet has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the how-tos with vegetables
and fruit.  Here are a few helpful websites I’ve used:

 

And last but not least…

 

How about you?  What’s a vegetable cooking tip you can share?

I’m So Lucky….Or Not…

It is easy to anticipate that this year will be very much like the last
and the one before it, when, in fact, chances are good

it will be altogether different. 

So when events begin to turn, realize that none of it is merely coincidental.

 Remember that.

 Take the word “coincidental” out of your vocabulary, along with “luck.” 

You can trash them both! 

You don’t need them anymore.
Nothing is coincidental.
“Luck” has no place in a Christian’s vocabulary.
                                                                     
By Charles Stanley

I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my dear friends the other night and had the most uplifting conversation.  While we no longer share a hometown, we do share a faith.  So while we really connect, we don’t see each other often.  This friendship is unique because we didn’t hang out a lot before I moved away and yet we can be very transparent with each other and share both our joys and struggles.  God has used this friend many times to speak into my life with a piercing accuracy that astounds me.  Its like she’s been given supernatural insight into who I am, like she’s read the “owners manual” all about me specifically….and because we share a faith, I know the supernatural source of that insight!  But the piercing is not just in the way she challenges me, which she most definitely does, she’s not one for mincing words, but also speaking truth in a way that blesses my life.  She reflects who she sees that God has made me to be—not just who I am currently—but the potential in me, and how God can use me in the future.  She reflects my strengths and my gifts.  She has helped me see who I am while also challenging me to strive to be more like Christ.  He has also used me to challenge her and reflect to her, what I see in her.  It’s a special friendship, not the type I have with many.

One thing she challenged me about last week was my use of the word “lucky.”  I know I use the word “blessed” a lot, but had never really focused on the difference between being blessed and being lucky.  I think in the past I’ve used those interchangeably.  I’m so blessed to….or, boy, I am so lucky that…

For whatever reason that night I kept using the latter word, lucky, instead of the former.  And it got to my friend!  She kept pointing out that it’s not luck when you have a relationship with God.  And she’s right.  When God is involved, there’s no such thing as luck.  Everything comes from His hand.  There are no coincidences.  I don’t know if I’ve used “lucky” to be more p.c. or what, but going forward, I’m going to strive to use blessed. 

The dictionary defines “Blessed” as:
1. consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified: the Blessed Sacrament.

2. worthy of adoration, reverence, or worship: the Blessed Trinity.

3. divinely or supremely favored; fortunate: to be blessed with a strong, healthy body; blessed with an ability to find friends.

 4. blissfully happy or contented.

And the quote at the top of this posting?  It showed up in my friend’s devotions two days after we had gotten together? Coincidence?  I don’t think so. : )

Praise the name of the Lord your God, that has dealt wondrously with you Joel 2:26
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Lord,

Thank you for soul mate friends.  Thank you for friends who see the world differently than us, ones who can challenge us to grow, but thank you also for friends who share our faith and can challenge us to go deeper with you.  Lord, I lift up both my kids and pray that you’ll bless them with both types of friends.  Friends who will have had different experiences than them that can challenge their perspective and experiences and friends who share their faith and can draw them closer to you.  May all of their friendship experiences teach them more about You, whether a faith is shared or not.  
May you equip us as parents to speak into their lives in piercingly beautiful ways.  May we reflect not just what we already see in them but also what You’re calling them to…who you are making them to be.  May we speak challenges, truth, but also beautiful, piercing, soul-rejuvenating grace. 
Lord, please bring others into our childrens’ lives who will also speak in this way to them.  May there be many–friends, teachers, youth pastors, grandparents, and other relatives that will have supernatural insight into our childrens’ lives.  That they would hear from others the truth of who you have truly made them to be, foibles and talents, quirks and giftings.  May these words bless them, grow them, and bring life to them.  May they have a supernatural sense of who they are and Who You Are from an early age.   May they know their true identity.  May they never have serious doubts about their overall purpose or their significance in this big world, knowing that ultimately both come from You.  May You reveal the specifics of their purpose and Your plan for them through Your Word—both through Scripture and through the words you give your followers to speak into their lives.  May both of our children learn discernment.  May they know what truth is from You and what to discard.  May hurtful words and ones that are clearly not from You slide off of them.  May it not pierce, may it not impact, may it fall off them.  Help them be receptive to feedback and open to honesty.  
May your Holy Spirit convict us when we say we’re lucky or when we claim that things in our lives are a coincidence.  Remind us to give credit to Whom credit is due: to You!  We are so blessed, may our children know this to their bones.  May they connect all things coming from Your hand.  That we’re not lucky, our lives aren’t full of random coincidences, but that we’re BLESSED… blessed by You!
In Jesus’ Name,

Amen 

I’m So Lucky….Or Not…

It is easy to anticipate that this year will be very much like the last
and the one before it, when, in fact, chances are good

it will be altogether different. 

So when events begin to turn, realize that none of it is merely coincidental.

 Remember that.

 Take the word “coincidental” out of your vocabulary, along with “luck.” 

You can trash them both! 

You don’t need them anymore.
Nothing is coincidental.
“Luck” has no place in a Christian’s vocabulary.
                                                                     
By Charles Stanley

I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my dear friends the other night and had the most uplifting conversation.  While we no longer share a hometown, we do share a faith.  So while we really connect, we don’t see each other often.  This friendship is unique because we didn’t hang out a lot before I moved away and yet we can be very transparent with each other and share both our joys and struggles.  God has used this friend many times to speak into my life with a piercing accuracy that astounds me.  Its like she’s been given supernatural insight into who I am, like she’s read the “owners manual” all about me specifically….and because we share a faith, I know the supernatural source of that insight!  But the piercing is not just in the way she challenges me, which she most definitely does, she’s not one for mincing words, but also speaking truth in a way that blesses my life.  She reflects who she sees that God has made me to be—not just who I am currently—but the potential in me, and how God can use me in the future.  She reflects my strengths and my gifts.  She has helped me see who I am while also challenging me to strive to be more like Christ.  He has also used me to challenge her and reflect to her, what I see in her.  It’s a special friendship, not the type I have with many.

One thing she challenged me about last week was my use of the word “lucky.”  I know I use the word “blessed” a lot, but had never really focused on the difference between being blessed and being lucky.  I think in the past I’ve used those interchangeably.  I’m so blessed to….or, boy, I am so lucky that…

For whatever reason that night I kept using the latter word, lucky, instead of the former.  And it got to my friend!  She kept pointing out that it’s not luck when you have a relationship with God.  And she’s right.  When God is involved, there’s no such thing as luck.  Everything comes from His hand.  There are no coincidences.  I don’t know if I’ve used “lucky” to be more p.c. or what, but going forward, I’m going to strive to use blessed. 

The dictionary defines “Blessed” as:
1. consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified: the Blessed Sacrament.

2. worthy of adoration, reverence, or worship: the Blessed Trinity.

3. divinely or supremely favored; fortunate: to be blessed with a strong, healthy body; blessed with an ability to find friends.

 4. blissfully happy or contented.

And the quote at the top of this posting?  It showed up in my friend’s devotions two days after we had gotten together? Coincidence?  I don’t think so. : )

Praise the name of the Lord your God, that has dealt wondrously with you Joel 2:26
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Lord,

Thank you for soul mate friends.  Thank you for friends who see the world differently than us, ones who can challenge us to grow, but thank you also for friends who share our faith and can challenge us to go deeper with you.  Lord, I lift up both my kids and pray that you’ll bless them with both types of friends.  Friends who will have had different experiences than them that can challenge their perspective and experiences and friends who share their faith and can draw them closer to you.  May all of their friendship experiences teach them more about You, whether a faith is shared or not.  
May you equip us as parents to speak into their lives in piercingly beautiful ways.  May we reflect not just what we already see in them but also what You’re calling them to…who you are making them to be.  May we speak challenges, truth, but also beautiful, piercing, soul-rejuvenating grace. 
Lord, please bring others into our childrens’ lives who will also speak in this way to them.  May there be many–friends, teachers, youth pastors, grandparents, and other relatives that will have supernatural insight into our childrens’ lives.  That they would hear from others the truth of who you have truly made them to be, foibles and talents, quirks and giftings.  May these words bless them, grow them, and bring life to them.  May they have a supernatural sense of who they are and Who You Are from an early age.   May they know their true identity.  May they never have serious doubts about their overall purpose or their significance in this big world, knowing that ultimately both come from You.  May You reveal the specifics of their purpose and Your plan for them through Your Word—both through Scripture and through the words you give your followers to speak into their lives.  May both of our children learn discernment.  May they know what truth is from You and what to discard.  May hurtful words and ones that are clearly not from You slide off of them.  May it not pierce, may it not impact, may it fall off them.  Help them be receptive to feedback and open to honesty.  
May your Holy Spirit convict us when we say we’re lucky or when we claim that things in our lives are a coincidence.  Remind us to give credit to Whom credit is due: to You!  We are so blessed, may our children know this to their bones.  May they connect all things coming from Your hand.  That we’re not lucky, our lives aren’t full of random coincidences, but that we’re BLESSED… blessed by You!
In Jesus’ Name,

Amen 

Praying For My Children (Prayers #1-17)

So I’ve been posting one prayer a week for my children (and occasionally someone else like my nephews when they were in the NICU) for a few months now.  Some weeks have been easy, just sharing from my heart.  Other weeks have been hard.  It’s made me stop and reflect: What do I sense God may be doing in our family?  What is He doing in my life, my heart that impacts me as a Mom?  What can I pray about that will help me align with God’s will for me, our family, and our children versus praying what I want? 

 

Here’s a recap of the prayer journey so far. 
Prayer #4: NICU Prayer
What prayers have you enjoyed?  What topic or prayer issue do you feel is missing from this list? 

 

A Prayer for My Daughter 2 (Prayer #17)

I can’t believe Makenna turned two last Friday!  It has gone so fast.  She decided that because she is now two that she needed to start showing off some new skills so now she’s walking up the stairs instead of crawling up them and climbing into her high chair by herself.  She decided to do both on the same day.  And here’s what she was up to in the car the other day:

She had managed to get Evan’s goggles on by herself.  She was so proud!  And here’s her loving Home Depot–after all, she is her father’s daughter!

One blog tip I stumbled upon the other day articulated the importance of keeping each posting shorter.  Forgive me that some of my entries have been so long! : )  So I’m going to try to apply that recommendation.  I decided to break up one of my longer postings from before into two.  So here’s the second part to “A Prayer for My Daughter.”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Lord, Reveal to her who You have made her to be.  May she know how much You delight in her and may this always be the framework through which she looks at herself—her strengths, her weaknesses, her quirks, and her purpose.  May her strengths shine brightly and may she be able to look at her weaknesses and mistakes with grace, seeing them as You do…merely more opportunities to lean on You and to trust that You can redeem anything. 
As a precious daughter of the King, may she treasure her sexual purity.  Despite what her boyfriends, friends, and peers want, may she value herself and You enough to save those experiences for marriage.  May she desire to share herself emotionally and physically only with those who are worthy of her—those who honor and respect who You have made her to be.  Give her wisdom and discernment about who to “do life” with, both her close girl friends and boyfriends. 
Teach her to value character, integrity, and intelligence more than external beauty.  May her life be full of joy and laughter. May she not take herself too seriously!  From a young age, may she feel good in her body, in her own skin.  Help her to rightly assess the messages our culture sends her way about beauty.  May they hold no power over her.  And may she have a healthy relationship with food.
 
Lord, cultivate a heart in her for Your Word.  May Your Words nourish and sustain her.  May she always hunger to know You more through Your Word.  May she also love reading in general!  Through books, music, and movies, may she gain insight into others’ perspectives, learn through others’ painful mistakes, and may it teach her much about You.  May she seek out new experiences in order to grow.  Keep her safe from harm.  Help her to listen to Your still small voice and her gut. 
It is already so evident how much she is loved by her Daddy.  May you bless that relationship.  May he speak into her life in a way that no other man can.  May the love she sees shining in his eyes for her remind her of how special You’ve made her to be.  Thank you for giving her a father to protect her, equip her, and love her.
May she trust Your timing.  If she must wait, help her to use that time wisely.  Cultivate patience and hope in her during those times.  Wherever she goes, whatever she does, may she bring beauty, grace, hope, and peace to all those around her. 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

___________________________________

For the first Daughter prayer, check out this link: Prayer for My Daughter Part One.
How about you?  What have you prayed for your daughter(s)?  If you’re a grandparent, aunt, or friend, what do you pray for young girls that you know?

Lessons from “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School” #1

One of the books I’ve just finished reading is called: “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School —How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks” by Kathleen Flinn.  I don’t even remember where I first heard of this book, but I’m really glad I did.  I started by listening to it on CD, but midway through, I just had to return to the library to snag the hardcopy too because it made it easier to write down the tips and recipes I had started to use. 

This book has so much to offer, from educating the reader on basic cooking techniques to the overall general philosophy of cooking/eating in America, I learned so much in a fun and non-threatening way.  By just reading this book, I have made a new pasta sauce that was delicious, cooked an omelet for the first time, and have become a better vegetable cutter!  Because I’ve learned so much from this book, I’m going to share about it in several posts, not just in this one…

Let’s get started… 

To understand the context of the book, the author, Kathleen Flinn first found nine volunteers (all women) who wanted to become better cooks.  She then invited them to join her informal “cooking school” to learn not only basic cooking skills but also ground them in a solid cooking philosophy.  Before the classes started, Kathleen visited each woman’s kitchen and saw for herself what they cooked and how they cooked.  She also explored what past experiences had impacted their cooking.  While this was a small segment of the book, it really impacted me.  I had never really thought about that before.  Have you?  

Many of us cook in a similar way as our family-of-origin. 
Others intentionally cook differently than our family-of-origin. 
Some cook in a certain way to accommodate the preferences of our spouse or children.
Others have been “forced” to adapt the food they prepare for health reasons—their own health issues or those they love. 
Why take a step back and think about all of this?  Well, once you know where you are, then you can figure out how to get where you want to go. 
How would you describe your cooking style?  I consider my style comfort food while still trying to make it healthy…or healthier.  I’m not a gourmet or fancy cook, but I enjoy cooking.
What has impacted it?  What was eating or cooking like in your family-of-origin?  I was raised in a big Midwestern family where casseroles and home-cooking (rather than eating out) was the norm.  Cooking was connected to love and fun.  And I had the freedom to be silly, creative, and messy when helping cook.  Green mashed potatoes anyone? 

My dairy issues and Evan’s eating issues have both forced me to learn to adapt recipes to suit our needs and spending a lot of time in the kitchen prepping food using a variety of kitchen tools.

How would you like to describe your cooking style and skills in a year?  I want to be more comfortable with cooking meat.  Make fancier desserts.  Making more things from scratch.  Do more creative things with vegetable side dishes.  Consistently throwing out less food, especially produce.  And get my kids involved in the cooking process as much as possible, even if it means a mess!
How about you?  

The B-I-B-L-E, Yes That’s The Book For Me…(Prayer #16)

“Praying for your children to know, love, and use God’s Word is one of the most effective ways to pray for their spiritual protection.” 

Jodie Berndt 

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a voracious reader.  Yep, I used the word “voracious”.  I would probably mispronounce it, but I know what it means and can spell it so I’m gonna use it! J  Anyway, I hope my love of reading is contagious to my children.  I hope they love reading as much as I do. 

Not only do I hope they love reading in general, but I also hope they love reading the Bible.  Over the years, there have been many times where I have loved being in the Word and have experienced it as the “living” Word.  It has been like water to my parched soul.  Then there have been moments where it’s been dry and hard for me to understand.  And other times when I’m just apathetic and don’t even open the book.  I wish it wasn’t true, but, hey, I’m human.  So often, when I finally return and am self-disciplined, I’m saddened that it took me so long to get back to this habit because it changes me.  It changes my perspective.  It helps me hear from God.  Who doesn’t want that?  All that to say, I know people can experience the Bible in so many different ways.  And it’s important.

It’s important because I believe that the Bible is God’s Word to us.  Besides Jesus, it is His biggest message to us….revealing Who He Is and What He’s About.  And I believe that the Word transforms.  I want my children to love the Bible.  To know it inside and out.  To enjoy it.  To be transformed by it.  And I believe all of this is a supernatural request. 

It’s funny because while the Bible is important to our family, we never bought Evan one. 

Why? 

Because we were given 4 – 6 of them!  

We got some as gifts.  

Others were ones someone had gotten for free and wanted them to go to good use.  

Then there was the small, leather bound one.  Light blue.  Tiny print.  Seemed like an heirloom. A beautiful one.   

These are just three of Evan’s Bibles…what I found
after looking for 30 seconds in his room….
Several geared towards toddlers with rhyming words and fun pictures.  One even had a handle
so Evan could carry it around if he wanted to. 
Another one is geared toward preschoolers on up. 
Initially I thought I’d “spread the love” and pass some of them on, but when I’d set aside one or two to give away, Evan would get upset.  He loves his Bibles.  All of them!  He regularly asks for us to read from them…each of them at various times.  Honestly, he probably asks for it more than I initiate it.  And that Bible with a handle?  Yep, he LOVED it.  When he was two, he went through a phase where he carried it all the time. 
I was excited when we received the girl’s version of the handle Bible for Makenna.  How awesome it was going to read about the different women in the Bible, ones who loved passionately, risked much, and changed history.  Then I opened it and found that it was the same Bible as the little boy version, it just had more pink!  I was so bummed.  Not that little girls can’t learn from the guys of the Bible, but I want Makenna to hear about strong, vibrant women of faith.  It became my mission.  And I found one. 
It’s called “My Princess Bible” by Andy Holmes.  I know, funny that it’s likely written by a guy, but I love it because it talks about Sarah, Rahab, Deborah, Esther, Hannah, Abigail, and many others.  And I’m not a huge “princess” person, but this book takes the princess theme and then goes deeper.  It highlights a truth from each woman’s story such as “A princess thanks God for His surprises” (Sarah), “A princess keeps her promises” (Hannah), and “A princess shows other people how happy she is to know Jesus” (woman at the well).  I’m excited to see if Makenna likes it…I guess if she doesn’t, I could always keep it for myself. J  (We found ours through the Focus on the Family Bookstore.  Here’s the link for this specific book: Toddler Princess Bible.  It was cheaper through this site than through Amazon.  Check it out!)
All this to say, it is a prayer of mine that my children love Scripture and that that love and interest start at an early age.  How about you?  What are some ways that you have introduced your children to the Bible?  Have you found any particular versions that your children especially resonate with? 

____________________________________________

Lord,

Thank you for my son’s desire to read the stories from Your Word.  May this be just the beginning of his love and hunger for spending time in Your Word.  Please also put a heart for Your Word in our daughter’s heart too.  May she love her Princess Bible and through it learn so much about what it means to be a little girl of faith.
Lord, please hide Your word in both their hearts.  May Your Word bring wisdom, guidance, protection, and blessing.  May they see through Your Word that You cherish and use flawed, broken people to achieve Your purposes.  Guide them with Your Word.  May they experience it as a light to their path. 
And thank you for reminding us in Isaiah 55:11 that “just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom…so will the words that come out of My mouth not come back empty-handed.  They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
And Lord, if it’s Your Will, please help both kids be skilled readers.  Readers who love getting lost in a book and ones that retain what they read.  Reading is such a great gift. 
Amen