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 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
yields 9 muffins

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

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

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

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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Turn (and Radnor Lake)

I almost started another blog last week.  It was to serve as a log of non-food thoughts and photos for myself and perhaps an interested passer-by.  But then I thought more about the option of combining these things into this one site.  It feels potentially cluttered.  Maybe most folks would prefer only to see a post about a great muffin, not read about my recent thoughts on gardening or see a picture of my husband making a goofy face.  But then I remember that this little space is my own and that I most certainly can develop it into whatever I would like.

So, I'm taking a little turn.  Here's what will be different about this site from now on: 1) I don't want to write so much about food.  Reading back, I don't know how I thought of so many things to say about one cookie or salad.  A bit much, no?  Expect to see more recipes, plain and simple.  2) Photos.  I love taking pictures.  It is one of my most beloved pastimes.  You can also expect to see more of these--the day-to-day.  3) Words.  Occasionally there are times when I think things and really want to write them down.  And then I feel this bit of urging inside me to share those things.  So, you may also come across a post here and there of miscellaneous musings.  Pardon them as they will likely be scattered and circuitous.

Finally, I am admittedly flaky.  I'm learning and dislike this about myself.  I'm much better at the dreaming up than I am the follow-through.  But I'm also learning that life is a process of growth. Writing and cooking and photography are each particular ways through which I feel a bit more alive.  So I'm inclined to press more into them.  Even though there is the chance I will be inconsistent here, I'm realizing, again, that is no reason not to proceed.  So, bear with me as I keep trying at this.  Maybe you can celebrate with me when I post more than once a month?  Bottom-line:  I don't live to impress man.  So, this truly can be whatever it comes out to be.  And that will be perfectly fine.  :)

And, to start?  A few shots from a chilly walk at Radnor last week.  I love, love a good cold day.  I need something to wake up this drowsy brain!