Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow, Beautiful Snow!

Snow, snow every where
Snug inside, I haven't a care!

There is just so much snow outside that I am amazed every time I look out at it. My husband has a hard time understanding my awe- "It is January in Ohio you know."

Yes, I know but mounds of the white stuff do not fall every day, even here and if they do, the snow drifts do not often last long.

Grateful we were able to stay in all day.

A big pot of linguine with meat sauce seemed a fitting ending to a cozy day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cub Scout Fun

I had the pleasure of attending Pack meeting with Chase this week and it was fun. Usually Dad goes so this was my first Pack meeting. Once we arrived, Chase was chosen to carry the flag for the opening of the meeting and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, boys received their loops and badges for various projects they had completed including badges for selling popcorn.

We talked about the upcoming Pinewood Derby, camping trip and Blue and Gold Dinner.

Best of all, one of the leaders had his neighbor, a wood carver, come and share about his craft. I found myself very interested in the orderly and methodical ways of creating something beautiful and/or useful from a simple block of wood. He told the boys how the same block of wood could end up in so many different shapes and colors. He should us many examples of his work, a dark brown owl, a black horse on a red rocker, a caramel colored lock all made of the same type of wood. The boys were amazed by this and asked "Is everything really made only of wood?" and "How do you get the wood different colors?".

I found myself thinking of our Master Carver, God the Creator, and how he has formed all of us into wonderfully unique and beautiful creatures, all human, yet each unique.

I just can't help it. I seem to see the hand of God every where.

Soli Deo Gloria! (For the glory of God alone)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grocery Coupons Online

It seems many of us are trying to save money right now. Judicious use of coupons on items that you would normally buy can be a nice cost-saver.

I just came across a grocery coupon site sponsored by Disney Family. Just click on the product and print out the coupon.

Too bad I just went shopping today!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Best Bread Machine Recipe- White Bread

This one of our first favorite bread machine recipes. It is for a basic white bread adapted from the West Bend Bread Machine recipe book recipe for Country White Bread.
This bread is wonderful for sandwiches and picky kids. It tastes like store-bought bread that kids like but without all the additives and preservatives.

Ingredients for a 1 1/2 pound loaf:

1 cup plus 2 TBSP of milk
2 TBSP of butter
3 c bread flour
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast OR 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Add the butter to the milk in a microwave-safe container (I use a glass measuring cup). Heat on high for 30 seconds, stir and heat on high for another 30 seconds. Pour milk mixture into the bread pan. Add sugar and yeast and set aside. The pan mixture will begin to bubble as the yeast activates.

Let the yeast mixture sit for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add flour and salt to bread pan. turn machine on to Basic/Medium Crust setting.

Enjoy the smell of fresh bread in your house until the loaf is ready. Let bread rest for 15 minutes before cutting (we have to set a timer because people around here get a little antsy about fresh-baked bread and will tear into it burning hot!).

Cut with an electric knife and enjoy!

This bread is very flavorful with a smooth, low-crumb texture and the crust is soft. No wonder kids like it so much. Adults do too. This bread machine bread is great for sandwiches (if it lasts that long).

We shop on Amazon for many of our grocery needs for cost-effectiveness and time-savings. We are Amazon Prime members and so get many items shipped for free. Below are some select suggestions from the Amazon site for this recipe. Don't forget to read the reviews on Amazon! Shopping List Suggestions

White Bread Flour, Unbleached, 5 lb.

Bob's Red Mill Active Dry Yeast, 8-Ounce Packages (Pack of 8)

West Bend 41200 Programmable Bread Machine, Stainless

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pork Slow Cooker Recipe: Cherry Cranberry Pork Chops

I modified this recipe from the classic cherry pork chop recipe that uses cherry pie filling.  By using plain, unsweetened, uncolored, unflavored canned cherries, I made the recipe healthier and more appealing for my husband in particular.  Paired with Easy Cranberry Rice, this recipe was a real winner tonight.

Cherry-Cranberry Pork Chops (a 6-quart slow cooker recipe)


1 can of tart cherries packed in water, uncolored (I use Oregon Fruit brand)
3/4 c sugar
1/3 can cranberry sauce, jellied
1/2 c apple juice, unsweetened
6 bone-in pork chops, 1/2 inch thick
2 TBSP vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
Salt for sprinkling
Ground black pepper for sprinkling
3 TBSP corn starch
1 c milk

Combine cherries (with liquid), sugar, apple juice and cranberry sauce in a medium pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Cranberry sauce may not dissolve- that is OK. Set aside.

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat your oil in the largest pan you have. Brown pork chops over medium-high heat in the oil. Brown the chops n batches if necessary.

Place chops in crock then pour mixture over the top.

Cook on high for 3 hours or until chops are tender.

To make the sauce for spooning:

Drain juices out of crock into a medium saucepan, being careful to remove any bones that may have become dislodged from the chops during cooking. I find it easiest to spoon the juices out, leaving the crock and meat in place because they will be very hot. I can get most of the juices out just fine this way.

Next, dissolve the corn starch in the milk. Add the milk mixture to the juices and heat over medium-high setting, stirring often until the juices have thickened. Add salt and pepper to the sauce to taste.

Spoon the juice over each chop as you are serving and spoon some over the Cranberry Rice (see below) as well.

This a tasty tangy and sweet treat that looks nice too.

Rice Cooker Recipe: Cranberry Rice


1 1/2 c brown rice
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
3 c water
1/3 c dried, sweetened cranberries

Place all ingredients in the rice cooker and press start. When finished, fluff the rice with a fork and serve with a rice paddle.

This recipe is so easy yet so good. The little extras like a small amount of butter and salt and added cranberies make accepting brown rice a lot easier for this family! I also served this with Oatmeal Apple Bread, made in the bread machine.

See below a listing of shopping list suggestions and ingredients and equipment I use. Click on the link to find reviews, prices and ordering information. We belong to Amazon Prime which gives us free shipping (on items shipped directly from Amazon only). Also, receiving items in bulk by mail saves me much grocery shopping time. Shopping List
Oregon Fruit Pitted Red Tart Cherries in Water, 14.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 8)

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar, 16-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12)

Grown Right Organic Jellied Cranberry Sauce, 16-Ounce Can (Pack of 6)

Morton Iodized Kosher Table Salt - 4lb. box

Tone's Spices Restaurant Black Pepper (18 oz) - Large Restaurant / Food Service Size Shaker Container - Best Value per Ounce

Free Range Grass Fed Organic Pork Chops - 4 Pounds - Fresh (Not Smoked)

Corn Starch, 1 lb.

RiceSelect Organic Texmati Brown Rice, 36-Ounce Jars (Pack of 4)

Ocean Spray Craisins, Sweetened Dried Cranberries, 48-Ounce Units (Pack of 2)

Panasonic SR-G06FG 3.3-Cup Rice Cooker/Steamer

Hamilton Beach 33967 Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

West Bend 41200 Programmable Bread Machine, Stainless

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Slow Cooker Saved My Life

Okay, so maybe not exactly.  But it will help me to keep my sanity.  My MIL graciously got me the Hamilton Beach digital, programmable, 6-quart slow cooker with the meat probe.  This is truly the most useful kitchen appliance I own.

I first used it to roast an entire chicken and then a rump roast.  Amazing!  These are jobs that my old slow cooker definitely could not do!  Since then, I have been crafting so many wonderful recipes.  I do almost all of my cooking in the morning now, leaving with more time for homeschooling, writing and of course to wage war in my never-ending battle with clutter.

I have been reading dozens of cookbooks and blogs and I am having much fun adapting recipes for my family.  The biggest challenges with recipe-finding have been:

1.  Finding recipes for large (5-quart or 6-quart) slow cookers
2. Finding recipes that avoid ready-made components with certain ingredients we are trying to minimize (corn syrup, MSG, artificial flavors and colorings).
 I am going to be featuring some recipes here that I have adapted from other sources.

Tonight's recipe, for instance, was Cherry Pork Chops made with canned cherries and sugar instead of canned cherry pie filling.  I served it with Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Rice (made with the rice cooker) and Oatmeal Apple Bread (made with the bread machine).  My family was very pleased so I am happy.

I will post the recipe next time.

God And The Bread Machine

God can truly work in mysterious ways, even through an unsuspecting bread machine.

As my faithful readers know, I have long struggled and asked God and other moms to help me with my home management skills to make me a good steward of all that He has given me.  As I have felt the Lord calling me to write and share more of my Bible studies in the past few weeks, I began to pray that our Lord will help me to find the time that I need without neglecting my important duties as manager of our home, homeschool mom and wife.

His answers to me have come in ways that I never could have predicted.

First, my wonderful friend and sister-in-Christ, Elizabeth gave me a bread maker machine.  When she first offered it to me I was fairly unenthusiastic.  "I don't really need a bread machine- I can make my own bread plus I have enough clutter around this house anyway." is what I thought to myself.  "I'll think about it." is what I actually said, hoping that she would forget about it.

Well, one day she came over so the kids could play and what do you think she was carrying as she got out of her van? That's right, a bread machine!  I said "Thank you" as politely as I could and tried to figure out what I would say when she asked had I used it and I had not.

I never could figure out what I would say so I decided to go on and begrudgingly "try" to use the bread machine.  As I opened it to begin to examine it and see exactly how I was to use the contraption to make bread, I saw an unopened jar of bread machine yeast.

My heart melted and I felt so ashamed of myself!  The Lord had blessed me with a friend who would not only give me a bread machine but she even equipped me to use it!  How ungrateful I had been but from that moment I had only gratitude that God is a forgiving God and that he cares enough to point out my sins of selfishness, grumbling and ingratitude.  I also then remembered that Elizabeth had e-mailed me her favorite recipe to get me started.

And so it happened that I made my first loaf of bread machine bread.  I then made another and another and another and now I can not seem to stop!  The fresh-baked smell, the lack of preservatives, the ability to make fancy loaves of bread for a fraction of bakery prices and most of all, the happy looks on the faces of my husband and kids has kept me going.

I know this bread machine saga may not seem like much to some of you.  Trust me though- when you are struggling with not having enough time yet you need to save money and be frugal, the addition of a bread machine to our family's meal times has been a tremendous help.

Little did I know that the bread machine saga, answering a prayer that I had not even prayed, would lead to even more kitchen appliance blessings.  Once my heart was turned more fully to my home and my family, I began to see that I needed serious help in the areas of meal planning and meal preparation.

When will I learn to fully trust God and lean not on my own understanding?  God is interested in the smallest details of my life so that I may glorify him in all that I do at all times.  I  count myself blessed to have such kind and understanding Father, Redeemer and King. Soli Deo Gloria! (For the glory of God alone).

Stay tuned to find out how a kitchen appliance saved my life (or at least my sanity and that is just as important.

Look for bread machine recipes to follow in the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Looking For A New Year's Resolution for Your Soul?

How about a Bible reading plan? My Bible reading plan will involve reading whole books of the Bible at a time, a practice I felt led to try but have had little practice with so far.

Via Emmaus has a useful list of 2009 Bible Reading Plans to get you started.  Choose the one that seems best and go for it!  As the post states, it is more important to read the Bible, regardless of the plan you choose.

I had been using the Bible reading list from because it does not tie you to a schedule.  Instead, it records all the reading that you complete each day.