Thursday, January 15, 2015

Christmas in Jacksonville | Afternoon at the Beach











Warm enough for shorts and t-shirts (by my standards), windy, noisy with people, freezing water, splashing, Lila hyper and terrified, M. pulled down the beach, lots of laughing: a quick ocean visit but such sweet memories for a December 28 in Florida.


Friday, December 12, 2014

When We're Sad



I've been sad today. We have some dear friends who are moving to the North Carolina tomorrow. It's in these times I'm reminded I don't like this kind of change. I don't mind rearranging bedroom furniture 3 times in a week (that kind of change I thrive on), but I don't like the way friends come and go. It's a natural flow and I trust there's a proper rhythm to it. But it sure makes me ache inside. Our pastor prayed over this family on Sunday, sending them off on their way, and he spoke of how this sort of goodbye makes him long for heaven, where goodbyes and tears will be no more. I've been thinking about those words this week and how they seem to join the refrain I'm hearing of late: the one echoing the reminder that every good thing we enjoy on earth will fade. It's a sad, true tune. The minute I grasp one good, happy, longed-for thing (i.e., marriage, job satisfaction, a growing friendship, that rug I've been wishing for, ____), I'm abruptly reminded that it won't last. As a baby grows up and is no longer dependent on her parents, as each flower blooms and falls to the ground, as every good day ends with the night...so will each good thing pass away from us. 

But (thank God there's more) then I hear things like, "The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8), and, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), and I make out that voice again, the blessed reminder that there is one Good who will not fade. One who will not shift like the shadows (James 1:17). He will never move away. And he is able to fill in and ease all these cracked, achy places, able to satisfy our every longing. 

In this season especially, I'm reminded and I'm thankful, so thankful, that Jesus came. God knew, of course, that we would be weary and struggling in our own darkness and sinful muck. He knew well this fleeting world and the lost creatures in it. And so he broke in. He put on flesh and came to us. He took his immortal, universe-creating power and pressed it into a tiny human embryo that would be born like us and die like us. This to show us that he loves us. Do you know how much? We simply cannot get it into our heads. It's far too great. But I want to believe it more. So, I pray we will. And that we will be encouraged by the truth that when everything, everything is changing and ending and leaving us achy and sad, there is One who will not, cannot change or leave us wanting. And he is for us, with us, and abounding in love for us. 

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; 
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, 
on them has light shined."
Isaiah 9:2

"Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee."





Sunday, December 07, 2014

A Pumpkin Muffin (of the gluten-free variety)


This is a modest muffin. It has little to offer by way of looks, but it boasts a healthy ingredient list and is totally satisfying, gluten-free as it is. I went on a sort of hiatus from sweets after making myself sick Thanksgiving week (moderation is hard) but was already, pathetically hunting for something in the cabinets a few days ago. I came across this recipe online and was intrigued to see how a muffin would taste minus flour, butter, sugar...and it's actually totally OK---great even. Subtly sweet, dense, moist, nutty, not overwhelmingly pumpkiny. I made a few tweaks, but this is pretty much the original version. If you're not already over everything pumpkin, give it a try. ;)

A Pumpkin Muffin
adapted from www.runningwithspoons.com
yields 9 muffins

ingredients:
1/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
6 T honey*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground**
2 T ground flaxseed**
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips, plus a handful to sprinkle on top (regular or mini)
handful of turbinado/raw sugar

directions:
Preheat oven to 375F and spray muffin pan for 9 muffins. In large bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips, mixing together with spatula or wooden spoon until well-combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips.

Distribute batter into muffin tins (to about 3/4 full) and sprinkle tops with remaining chocolate chips and several pinches of turbinado. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted mid-muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing.

*Tip: If you spray a measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring out something sticky like honey, it will pour out more easily.
**I dumped 1/2 cup of oats into our Magic Bullet and ground it up till fine. I did the same with the whole flaxseeds we had on hand. A regular blender or food processor would work just as well. 
Ps: I loved these best the 2nd day.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quick (Vegetarian) Tikka Masala

This has become a mutually-enjoyed main dish at our table.  M and I don't typically ogle (can you use this word in relation to food?) over the same meals, but this is one we both really love.  50% of my liking lies in its ease of preparation.  This little dish takes under 20 minutes to make.  The sauce is one of several Indian-inspired "simmer sauces" at Kroger.  And these particular grains (half pastas, really: couscous and orzo, some baby garbanzo beans and a little quinoa) are on the shelf at Trader Joe's.  The heat in the sauce is just enough to suit M's fancy, but not too overwhelming for my taste.  And the texture of the grains is delightfully al dente.  Totally yummy.  Give it a try when you're short on time!

Quick (Vegetarian) Tikka Masala
serves 3 large portions

ingredients:
1 jar Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce
1/2 bag Harvest Grains Blend
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 red bell pepper, largely diced
1 onion, sliced
several mushrooms, sliced
salt to taste

directions: 
Cook grains according to package instructions.  While grains are cooking, sauté olive oil, onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms in a medium pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are transparent.  Pour sauce over veggies, stir, and let simmer for a couple minutes more.  Serve sauce atop grain mix.

Here is a shot of what to look for.  The sauce is near the pasta sauces at Kroger (Private Selection brand; I had to fish ours out of the garbage as M had tossed it out---hence its haphazard state. Of note, how does one convince a husband to recycle?) and the Harvest Grains Blend is right in there with the rice at Trader Joe's.