Candid Reflections

March 31, 2008

Buttery Soft Pretzels

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 8:51 am

My bunch loved ’em!  I found this recipe in a cookbook put together by Sonlight Curriculum.  It was submitted by a home-schooling mom named Melanie, the same gal whose cinnamon roll recipe I posted here.      

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Buttery Soft Pretzels

4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon white sugar

1¼ cups warm water (110º F)

5 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup white sugar

1½ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½cup baking soda

4 cups hot water

¼ cup kosher salt, for topping

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, ½ cup sugar, and salt.  Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture.  Mix and form into a dough.  If the mixture is dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water.  Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. 

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Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough into the bowl, turn to coat with oil.  4210blog.jpg

  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about one hour. 

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Preheat oven to 450º.  In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.  

When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a thin rope and twist into a pretzel shape (I didn’t roll mine out very thin so my pretzels required a couple more minutes of baking time.)  Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda water and place onto a greased baking sheet.  Sprinkle with kosher salt. 

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Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.  If you made your pretzels fat and chunky like I did, you’ll want to lay a piece of foil on top of them after the first 8 minutes and bake them an additional 2 minutes so they are not doughy in the center. 

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Gobble them up…they are best eaten on the same day!

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March 29, 2008

Yikes!

Filed under: Everything Else — candid reflections @ 7:27 am

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The snow is melted, the sun is out, and the gas prices are up! 

I was going to sew all seven of us some play clothes this morning and suggest we go on a bike ride along our country road this afternoon (to save on fuel prices of chorse,) but… our curtains are SHEER! 

Name that 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

March 26, 2008

Motherhood

Filed under: Everything Else — candid reflections @ 8:13 am

The dutiful little mama: 

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Such dedication.

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Such delight.

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I could take lessons from her.  I’ve got my notepad handy for when she decides it’s time to potty-train her little baby with the beauty-shop hairdo.  I could use some insight… and she could use a good hair-brushing.  Like I said, she’s a dedicated little mama – putting the comfort and appearance of her sweet baby above her own.  Role models…I sure know how to pick ’em.

March 25, 2008

Little China Dolls – Photo Session

Filed under: Photo Sessions, Photography — candid reflections @ 8:53 am

I had a photo session with these little cuties last week…and I suffered from dress envy.     

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March 23, 2008

What am I celebrating today?

Filed under: Mindful Reflections — candid reflections @ 3:19 pm

Sometimes I get caught up in the happenings of the day and become distracted from the things that truly matter. 

Take today for instance…Is it really about the goodies and baskets…traditions created by man – or about the One who created all things for a purpose?    Should my focus of this day be the Easter attire and our “Sunday best” – or should it be to the One who looks past the outer appearance and into the heart?  Should the majority of my time be spent preparing feasts and filling my mouth, or preparing my heart to be filled with His unconditional and undying love? 

Something about understanding what Jesus did for me helps put everything into perspective.  His voluntary suffering and death on a cross provided the sacrifice that covered my sin, something I couldn’t do for myself no matter how good I tried to be.  He made a way for me to live eternally with Him.  Knowing that I am loved in this way brings such enjoyment to a day like today.  Remembering the gift that God gave in the sacrifice of His only son Jesus, and then His triumph over death make this a day of celebration.  I look forward to the day when I will be with Him forever! 

Examining my heart and motives isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it results as the most liberating thing to do.  The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, and putting my trust in Him brings the freedom that I can find nowhere else. 

There’s nothing like a little perspective eye opener.  I love this summary written by Carole over at Thoughts of Home, of a lecture given by a New York pastor named Tim Keller.

Here’s what she wrote:

The following are notes that I took while listening to a lecture on “Reaching the 21st Century For Christ.” Some of it is word for word and some is paraphrased:

We all know the difference between the Gospel and irreligion (where you just go off and do your own thing), but most of us don’t see a difference between the Gospel and religion. This is critical to understand. Unless you distinguish the Gospel from both religion and relativism in your church, from both traditional moralism and liberal relativism, newcomers in your services will automatically think when you are telling them to come to Christ that you are calling them to be religious.

Religion: I obey therefore I’m accepted.

The Gospel: I’m accepted therefore I obey.
That means the motivation of a religious person is based on fear and insecurity, whereas in the Gospel motivation is based on grateful joy.

Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.

The Gospel: I obey God in order to get God. I want to delight in Him, I want to resemble Him, I want to be close to Him…

Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong I am angry at God or I am angry at myself since I believe that anyone who’s good deserves a comfortable life. “If I live a good life then I deserve a good life.” When suffering comes it’s either “I hate Thee or I hate me.” I either beat God up or beat myself up.

The Gospel: When circumstances in my life go wrong I struggle, but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while He may allow suffering for my training He will exercise His Fatherly love within my trial. I am deeply aware that Jesus lived a perfect life and He didn’t get a good life. What makes me think I deserve a better life than Jesus?

Religion: When I am criticized I am devastated because my whole self image is based on the idea of being a good person. When criticism comes either I am incredibly furious or I am devastated.

The Gospel: When I am criticized I struggle but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a good person. Ultimately my identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me. So not only can I take criticism – it’s how I became a Christian! What does it mean to be “born again”? It’s to take criticism. However, a lot of people don’t see it that way. A lot of people think “I gave my life to Christ” means, “I’m going to try really hard to live according to Christian principles.” They don’t see that it’s a complete change in the way that I build my identity not on performance but on Grace.

Religion: Prayer consists largely of petition and only heats up when I’m in trouble because my main purpose in prayer is controlling the environment.

The Gospel: Prayer consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration because my main purpose is Him, getting God.

Religion: My self view swings back and forth between two poles. When I am living up to my standards I feel confident, but I am prone to be unsympathetic to failing people. When I am not living up to standards I feel humble and I’m very sympathetic to other people but then I feel like a failure. I can be bold but not humble or humble but not bold.

The Gospel: My self view is not based on myself as a moral achiever. In Christ I am simultaneously sinful and lost and yet completely loved by Christ. I’m so bad He had to die for me, I’m so loved He was glad to die for me – at the same time! This leads to deeper humility and deeper confidence at the same time.

Religion: My identity and self worth are based mainly on how hard I work or how moral I am and therefore I have to look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.

The Gospel: My identity and self worth are centered on the One who died for His enemies who was excluded from the city for me. I’m saved by sheer grace so how can I look down on those who believe or practice something different from me? I have no inner need to win the arguments.

March 22, 2008

Apple Strudel

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 9:57 am

You should make this for breakfast tomorrow morning, it’s wholesome and not too sweet – a perfect breakfast for a day you know’ll be filled with feasting and treats.  

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Apple Povatiesta (Yugoslavian Strudel)

crust: 

1 egg

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup lukewarm water

½ cup melted butter

filling:

4-5 granny smith apples

1 cup raisins

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup softened butter

For crust: Mix the egg with flour and salt in a bowl.  Gradually add water and ½ cup melted butter to the dry mixture.  Knead until smooth, keeping dough as soft as possible.  Grease dough ball and place in a covered bowl for 20 minutes or more.  (I just added the crust ingredients into my bread machine and selected dough cycle.) 

Place the dough ball on a large surface covered in flour or a cloth.  Roll out as thin as possible with a rolling pin.  Then gently pull dough from all sides, stretching it until dough is tissue-thin.  Patience and gentle pulling does it.  If the dough tears, mend it by pinching together and keep going..  Spread entire dough with the ½ cup softened butter, then spread alond one long edge with the mixture of sliced apples, raisins, sugar, and cinnamon.3757blog.jpg

Roll into a jelly roll shape, pinching ends closed, and then into a circle or coil.  Brush with melted butter. 3759blog.jpg

Bake in a greased pan at 350° for 60-80 minutes, or until flaky and golden.3761blog1.jpg

Top individual servings with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

Chill a medium mixing bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer.  In chilled bowl, beat whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Now, go make it and bake it…then sit back and revert back to the warm summer mornings of sitting in your grandma’s kitchen, sinking your teeth into the creations that your dad sunk his teeth into decades before you.  Then think to yourself what a fine fellow he was for bringing you into this world, after all…what use is good cookin’ if there’s no one around to enjoy it!

March 21, 2008

Which bird are you?

Filed under: Photography — candid reflections @ 8:16 am

Love birds know that the sun sets in the west… Early birds know that the moon sets in the west!

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March 20, 2008

Spring is here!

Filed under: Everything Else — candid reflections @ 7:29 am

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 It’s time to decide if we want to plant another one of these:

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And if so, place a rush order with one of these:  Cooks Garden, Renees Garden, or Seeds of Change

Child labor…aint it great?  How did I finagle two of my nieces, as well as my own brood, to help with the weeding and planting?  I probably promised them some future, wholesome vegetables to snack on at their leisure…either that, or I baked some yummy chocolate chip cookies! 😉

March 19, 2008

Beats Per Minute

Filed under: Everything Else — candid reflections @ 7:41 am

So this morning I thought I’d get a work-out in…raise my heart-rate a bit and burn a few calories.  I hopped on the stationary bike and selected my program – Climb a Hill.  It wasn’t long before I was jotting down a mental sticky note…Climb a Hill = Climb Mt. Everest.  Next time I decide to “Climb a Hill,”  I’ll make sure I’m prepared for a change in elevation and my legs to turn to jello.  Yeah, my heart rate definitely increased…but then I’m not sure that the bike was entirely responsible for my heightened BPM…

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…could it have been partly due to the frequent glances I threw in this direction?   mmhmmm.

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There’s just something quite gratifying in watching my man break a sweat!

March 18, 2008

The cattle are grazing.

Filed under: Photography — candid reflections @ 8:00 am

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               WRITTEN IN MARCH 

               ~William Wordsworth

The cock is crowing,

The stream is flowing,

The small birds twitter,

The lake doth glitter,

The green field sleeps in the sun;

The oldest and youngest

Are at work with the strongest;

The cattle are grazing,

Their heads never raising;

There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated

The snow hath retreated,

And now doth fare ill

On the top of the bare hill;

The ploughboy is whooping-anon-anon-

There’s joy in the mountains;

There’s life in the fountains;

Small clouds are sailing,

Blue sky prevailing;

The rain is over and gone!

I want to go where the rain is over and gone!

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