Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A poem, predestined to be in my inbox when I needed it to be.

Christina Rossetti
Weary and weak,--accept my weariness;
Weary and weak and downcast in my soul,
With hope growing less and less,
And with the goal
Distant and dim,--accept my sore distress.
I thought to reach the goal so long ago,
At outset of the race I dreamed of rest,
Not knowing what now I know
Of breathless haste,
Of long-drawn straining effort across the waste.

One only thing I knew, Thy love of me;
One only thing I know, Thy sacred same
Love of me full and free,
A craving flame
Of selfless love of me which burns in Thee.
How can I think of thee, and yet grow chill;
Of Thee, and yet grow cold and nigh to death?
Re-energize my will,
Rebuild my faith;
I will arise and run, Thou giving me breath.

I will arise, repenting and in pain;
I will arise, and smite upon my breast
And turn to Thee again;
Thou choosest best,
Lead me along the road Thou makest plain.
Lead me a little way, and carry me
A little way, and listen to my sighs,
And store my tears with Thee,
And deign replies
To feeble prayers;--O Lord, I will arise.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

I tend to love the traditional quilts, but this one was my absolute favorite! I wish you could see all of the embroidery stitches on it. This is definitely a happy quilt!

More Later!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another "I knew that!" article

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills
by Alix Spiegel

"Clearly the way that children spend their time has changed. Here's the issue: A growing number of psychologists believe that these changes in what children do has also changed kids' cognitive and emotional development."

Read the article here. Thank you to Julia for the heads up on this article.

We've tried really hard to raise children who weren't all about "things". But of course, we struggle with materialism ourselves. It is very hard to live a middle-class life in America and not accumulate tons of unecessary stuff. It has been easier to not accumulate lots of toys one of the reasons being that we have understood that the best kind of play is the play a child makes himself.

So, I was thinking, in the reality of modern life in America, which toys have we had around for all of our children and just wouldn't like to do without? Books, though not toys, comes to mind, first. We like building materials of some sort...the ones which have stayed and continue to be played with are the Duplos - the large sized legos that even a grown-up will get down on the floor and build with. Dolls, especially dollhouse sized ones are also great. Though we do have a collection of lightsabers which keep little boys immensly entertained outside, that is about it for the toys that we have always had and wouldn't like to do without. So, what are the necessary toys in your home?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner

I didn't take pictures this year. I just didn't get to do much decorating, though the children hung up hearts all over the house.

Our menu was good and the main dish is definitely a keeper! Here are a couple of recipes.

Palermo Pork Loin en Croute
2 1/4 pounds bonelss pork loin roast
4 thick slices of day old bread, crusts removed
2 Tbs. minced fresh herbs, rosemary, sage, etc.
2 Tbs. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 lg. egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
2 Tbs. salted butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbs. thinly sliced garlic
1 14oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim away any visible fat from the meat.
2. Place bread, herbs, cheese, bacon, garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add egg, and 1 Tbs. of olive oil; mix well. Encase meat with the mixture, pressing firmly.
3. Put meat in a baking dish with remaining oil, chicken broth and vinegar. Roast for 90 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove to a cutting board.
4. To prepare sauce, deglaze the roasting pan with wine over medium-high heat. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook butter, onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add meat dripping/wine and remaining sauce ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until reduced by a third.
5. Slice meat, pour sauce on a platter, arrange meat on top. Makes 6-8 servings.

This was an easy recipe and very delicious. I substituted dried herbs (about half as much) for the fresh because my market's fresh were nasty looking!

Shayna and I served this with red potatoes cooked with garlic and tossed with butter and parsley, roasted red onion slices, homemade applesauce and a salad of hearts of romaine with oranges and bleu cheese.

For dessert we had caramel custards with chocolate cookies. The recipe I used for the custard came from Arnaud's a restaraunt in New Orleans. I've been wanting to have custard ever since I tried a version of Creme Brulee which was curdled and dry...I thought, "This isn't the custard I remember." I learned to make just a regular custard and then sprinkle the brown sugar on top and put it under the broiler...watch it closely and THAT my friends is Creme Brulee the way you would find it in New Orleans.

For last night I chose to make caramel custard, you unmold the custard and the caramel syrup pools around it on the plate. Yum!

Caramel Custard
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for the caramel
1 Tbs. water
3 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk, scalded
1/2 tsp. best quality pure vanilla
Preaheat oven to 275 degrees.
In a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, put the 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbs. water, cover and heat for 30 seconds. Uncover, stir and swirl the pan until the sugar is melted and turns a light caramel color.
Divide the caramel among six-4oz. custard cups and let stand until cooled.
Beat the eggs with the 1/4 cup sugar and add scalded milk, slowly, while stirring. Add the vanilla and strain carefully into the prepared cups, to avoid disturbing the caramel.
Place cups in a pan of hot water. The water should come almost to the top of the cups. Cover with foil. Bake slowly for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the water and cool to room temperature. Chill until serving time.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of the custard and invert the cup onto a small plate.

So, to make Creme Brulee, omit the caramel on the bottom and sprinkle the cooked, cooled custard with brown sugar. Put under the broiler until the sugar is melted, but not scorched. Serve in the custard cups.

It was a delicious dinner and I had a pork loin twice the size I needed, so I just baked the other half up with some herbs on top. I'm going to be making fried rice with it and sharing it with friends tonight.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A delicious new recipe

Two weeks ago we studied about Ancient China. We had a chinese feast.

This was the best of the recipes we tried:
Five-Spice Shrimp with Walnuts

1 pound of medium or large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined.
1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. dry sherry
1 tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large red bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips
1/2 cup walnut halves or quarters
Hot cooked rice
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1. Toss shrimp with the five-spice powder and garlic in small bowl.
2. Blend broth, soy sauce and sherry into cornstarch in a cup until smooth.
3. Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, heat until hot. Add shrimp mixture, bell pepper and walnuts; stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes until shrimp are opaque and bell pepper is crisp-tender.
4. Stir broth mixture and add to wok. Stir fry 1 minute until sauce boils and thickens. Serve over rice and garnish with onions.
Note: Watch those bell peppers, don't let them over cook! The next time I make this, I will add a handful of snow peas.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Blind Squirrels

The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle, a book review

My husband often says that “Even a blind squirrel can find a few nuts”. He means that even when a person has all of the wrong philosophies or theologies, because of God’s good grace, they can unwittingly land on good ideas or practices.

This, I have found true in Laura Doyle’s book, The Surrendered Wife. Laura Doyle claims to be a feminist and is definitely writing from a non-complementarian point of view. She also only believes in a “higher power” who fits in to her imagined parameter. In spite of these obvious errors, Mrs. Doyle found some golden nuts.

First, her test: “How Intimate is Your Marriage?” Answer “rarely”, “sometimes” and “frequently”.

Do you:
1. Feel superior to your husband?
2. Nag your husband?
3. Commiserate with other wives about your husband?
4. Hear yourself say, “I told my husband…”?
5. Think that everything would be fine if your husband would do what you tell him to do?
6. Eavesdrop on your husband’s conversations?
7. Feel like the only adult in the family?
8. Feel overburdened in parenting your children?
9. Do things for your husband that he is capable of doing for himself?
10. Have recurring anxiety and depression?
11. Feel exhausted?
12. Find either of you are disinterested in “the marriage bed”?
13. Feel resentful or jealous about your husband’s victories in life?
14. Reject or criticize his gifts?
15. Fantasize about divorce of life with a man who would better match you?
16. Discount the reasons you chose your husband in the first place?
17. Feel hopeless about your marriage because your needs have gone unmet for so long?
18. Have a hard time trusting you husband even in small matters?
19. Find yourself trying to control your husband?
20. Get angry with your husband when he makes a poor decision?

I realized that just in these first pages that I have some work to do. I scored middle of the range in this test and the reason is that I have learned to not verbalize my disrespect, but it is still there, playing over in my mind. And I’m fooling myself if I think that my family doesn’t notice my attitude. Ouch!

The author does a very good job explaining how we women try so much to control what is going on…that old garden curse! She tells us that we only end up destroying trust in our marriages.
I’m a conservative, complementarian Christian, who believes that God’s Word in the Bible is infallible. So saying, I did find some of the things that she says offensive. I also found some of the things she says surprising knowing that she would consider me a “fanatic fundamentalist”.

I definitely think that this author over all, has found some good principles that God in His grace helped her to find. And I think I have some homework to do!