Saturday, November 26, 2011

In Gratitude

   It's a beautiful, drizzly day.  The kind of day that makes you want to sip hot chocolate and curl up with a good book.  I've already had my hot chocolate, but have too much to do to allow myself time for one of my favorite luxuries, reading. 
   The first thing on my to do list is to simply post about all the little things in life that I'm thankful for.  I know, this post is late.  But rather late than never, so here goes:
    I'm thankful for all the work I have to do today.  The work isn't fun, but the reason for my work is amazing.  I have work to do because I have family, a home, pets, and clothing.  So I'm thankful for my work.
    I'm grateful to both God and my parents for teaching me to work.  Thanks Mom for teaching me to sew, cook, and clean.  Thanks Dad for teaching me to push through and do my work (especially cleaning) even if the children are going to destroy all evidence of my labor sometime in the next 5 minutes.  At least I know the house is clean underneath  :-)  
    I'm thankful for all the sewing I have to do today.  I have shirts to mend, dresses to make, and a hundred other little things to finish.  When I'm finished with my sewing, I'll have little brothers in nicely mended shirts, happy sisters in brand new dresses, and delighted siblings happily playing with their homemade Christmas gifts.  And I'll be as happy as they, knowing that all my work is being put to good use, and enjoyed!
    I give thanks for all the left overs in the fridge.  When faced with serving them, I almost hate them.  But knowing that we've had plenty of food and still do is definitely something to be thankful for.  Thanks, God!
    I'm thankful for all my friends, those I know as well as I know my family, and those I've only met online.  They add such meaning and happiness to my life.  Thanks for being a friend!
    This post could go on for another mile or so, but it really is time for me to get back to my work.
     May you have many things to be thankful for, this holiday season and always!  Be blessed! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hints, tips, and tricks for Thanksgiving Day meal preparations

1.  If  on Thanksgiving morning you take your turkey from the refrigerator to begin preparing it, and the turkey is still frozen in the middle, turn your turkey on his head (upside down) in the sink.  Open it up as best you can, as if to pull out the giblets and wash the turkey's insides, and run warm water into the body cavity. Keep running warm water into your turkey, until the giblets have thawed and can be removed, and the turkey is thawed but still cold.  Continue washing your turkey with cool water, and proceed as you normally would to prepare it.
2.  For the best stuffing ever, chop a few sticks of Celery and dice an Onion.  Saute the Celery and Onion together in a few Tablespoons of Butter until soft.  Add to your Dry Stuffing mix (or dry, crumbled corn bread), and add liquid.  I recommend using Chicken broth instead of water for a more hearty flavor.  Make your stuffing quite wet, as it will dry out some in the oven. 
   If you are using your own homemade corn bread to make your stuffing, prepare it a few days in advance, cut or crumble it into small pieces,  and dry it on low heat in the oven.  When you are ready to use it on Thanksgiving day, add to your broth or other liquid 1/2 teaspoon ground Sage.  Prepare your Cornbread stuffing as you would any boughten stuffing, using the sauteed onion and celery, and your seasoned chicken broth.  So yummy!
3.  For a delicious twist on Plain Ole' Mashed Potatoes,  add 2 Tblsps. Butter, 1/4 cup Sour Cream, 1/8 tsp. Onion powder, and 1/4 cup milk or half and half (more, if needed) to each quart of potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mash until smooth.  This is not a low calorie option, but it is delicious! You can add more onion powder if you like.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Simply Scrumptious

  This is a somewhat strange post, but in my mind it's absolutely necessary.
  I've been feeling rather burdened for those that have not been gifted with a natural cooking talent.  I remember the first time I met someone that truly was not a "cook", and the feeling of amazement I had upon learning that they did every thing "by the (cook)book".  I was even more surprised when I found that most people do use a cookbook when preparing a dish.  My mother almost never used a cookbook, and I will be forever grateful to her for teaching me to "just throw things together".
  I do enjoy seeing what others create in the kitchen, and have recently started writing down basic measurements for some of my recipes, so that they can be shared with others.  My siblings started this habit, as they have demanded that I record my recipes (previously written or not) and print out a book for each of them.  Eventually my cookbook will be finished, Lord willing!
  Now, back to my reason for writing this post.
  I was reading an article on Yahoo Shine about "How to Make the Perfect Turkey".  They recommend using a wet or dry salt brine, and that just sounded like way too much work for one bird (in my opinion, anyway).
  So, here's the super simple way we prepare turkeys at my house (and they're good!).
  You'll need:
 1 thawed Turkey
 1/4 cup or so Salt
 About 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil (we use Light Olive)
 A stick of Butter - you'll use it melted for basting
 A very large Roasting Pan
 Some Aluminum Foil (or the lid of your roasting pan, if it fits over your turkey)
 Enough prepared stuffing for your turkey, optional (if you want to bake it with stuffing)
          Take your thawed Turkey to the kitchen sink (we'll just hope it fits!) and unwrap it.  Remove the bag of giblets that usually comes tucked inside, as well as the neck.  You can use these for gravy, if you like, but I don't like to use them at all.
  Now wash that turkey.  Use cool water, so you don't freeze your fingers, and scrub that bird inside and out.  When you're sure it's clean, internally and externally, turn it upside down and let it drain for a few minutes.
  While your turkey is draining, oil the inside of your Roasting Pan.
  Find a helper, if you can.  A child is perfect for this next part!
  Give the Oil to your helper.  Now, have them pour some oil into your hands, and start rubbing it over your turkey.  Oil your turkey inside and out.  Repeat with the Salt, being sure to get it thoroughly salted.
  If you want to bake your turkey with Stuffing, fill it now with your prepared stuffing mix.  If not, just use a few metal skewers to pull the skin shut at both ends of your turkey. We always stuff our turkeys, so these baking instructions are for a stuffed turkey.
  Place your turkey into the Roasting Pan, Breast side down, and cover with foil.  Bake @ 350 for 15 minutes per lb of turkey ( for a 16 lb turkey, bake for 4 hours).  When your turkey is half baked, pull it out of the oven and very carefully flip it over in the pan (for a big bird, this takes two people with big forks and/or wooden spatulas).  Baste it with that stick of melted butter, and return to oven, uncovered.  Baste with drippings every 15 - 20 minutes to keep it moist.
    If your turkey came with a Pop-up indicator to let you know when the turkey is thoroughly cooked, you can just go by that to know when it's done.  If not, the turkey is done when thermometer inserted into deepest part of thigh reads  165F - 180F, and all juices run clear.  Your turkey should also be a beautiful brown.
   Remove your turkey from oven, and let cool 10 - 20 minutes or so before attempting to cut (carve) it.
   Serve with gravy (store bought or made with drippings from pan), and Enjoy!
   Sorry there are so many words in this post.  The whole process is really easy, and the results are always amazing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Life Construction

           I haven't had much to say in the past few weeks.  Life has been very busy, with a weekend of Christian Youth Meetings and a lot of general construction on the house being the top two things that have kept us on our toes. The meetings were very good, and quite worthwhile.  And I'm sure the work on the house will be worth all the effort in the long run, although I can't appreciate it very much just now.
           I have realized that it's easy for me to get discouraged while looking at my life from a day by day perspective.  When you look at each day, and can't see a significant change in any one, it can be depressing!
           I taught school for 1 year while on the mission field in Bolivia, South America. Looking back, I can see that the 1 full year made a big difference for all the students I taught.  Yet while I was teaching it was difficult to see any good in all that work.  When I had to teach my students the ABC's time and again, and show the older students over and over how to divide a number, it could become frustrating.  I'd lose sight of the "big picture", and just feel bad, and as though it were all my fault my students weren't learning faster.
          Is this the way it is for you?  Please don't lose sight of "the big picture".  Your life is a canvas, each thing you do is a stroke of color, blending or contrasting with the rest to create a work of art.  When the work drags on and on, the house never stays clean, and there's always something you've forgotten to do, don't get discouraged.  Remember;  Every little thing you do will be important in the finished masterpiece of your life.
           Keep your chin up!  YOU are important!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To be Kind

  I may not know how it is to live someone else' life, or what yours is like, but I have found for myself that one of the most difficult things to do is to be kind at all times.  When my brother steps on my toes, my sister makes a mess in my room, and my mom tells me to do something I'd rather not do at all, well, it's hard to stay pleasant.  At times like this I feel like yelling at my brother, slapping my sister, and talking to my mother in a very disrespectful manner.  Yes, I know, that's just nasty.  But it is what my natural reaction would be, without training, thought, and God's help (I am so thankful for God's help!).  Thankfully, I can usually refrain from acting upon my emotions at times like this (notice I do say "usually"). 
  Here's a little saying that has helped me many times to be kind, and stay pleasant:    
       A word of kindness is hardly ever spoken in vain, while witty sayings are as easily lost as the pearls slipping from a broken string.
   And another:
        Keep your words sweet.  You may have to eat them someday!
                      Have a "sweet" day!  Blessings!