Monthly Archives: March 2012

New Toys

          

Don’t you just love getting new toys?  These are my most recent additions to my kitchen:  Three stainless steel bowls, a potato masher, and a pastry maker.  I’ve already been using the bowls and am so excited to get to use the other two!  I have been wanting all of these items for some time, but have just not gotten them up till now.  A friend of mine gave me the bowls, and I found the other two in the clearance isle at Wal-Mart just the other day.  Playing in the kitchen with the best toys!  🙂

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The Tree

I had intended to post this poem yesterday, but I was having to edit it before I posted it.  Needless to say, that took a bit longer than I anticipated.  Editing anything can be difficult, and poetry seems to rank among the highest on the difficult scale.  I originally wrote this poem in 2004, just a couple of months before high school graduation.  When I pulled it out of my poem folder yesterday, I really liked the ideas going through it, but I knew it was going to need some help.  I just didn’t realize that about half-way through, the poem would cease to cooperate with me.  However, today is a new day, and I was able to complete it.

As I said in an earlier post, I really enjoy Easter.  As a Christian, it is the single most important day in history and the most worthy of celebrating.  It even surpasses the birth of Christ, which I realize that He could not have died had He never been born, but His dying on the cross for no fault of His own, to bring sinners (as we all are) salvation…Nothing can top that.  I’m not trying to downplay His death and ressurrection, either.  It was an act of infinite grace (for which I am eternally grateful) and unsurpassed glory.

I hope that this poem speaks to your heart (very clearly, considering it’s recent metamorphosis).  And I  hope that it will remind you of the sacrifice that Jesus made on Golgotha’s hill all those years ago.

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“The Tree”

There stood a tall tree,

Humiliated and bare.

Only two stark branches

Stretched out on each side.

Splintered and raw,

Stained crimson red,

Perched high on the hill

Where criminals died.

He was “King of the Jews”

Is what the sign said

And he had hung on that tree

Till he breathed his last breath.

Six hours of torture,

“It is finished,” he said.

He gave up the ghost.

He was gone; he was dead.

The scars on his hands

And the scars on his feet

From being nailed on that tree:

Proof of the grace

He bestowed upon us.

Though its duty is done,

The mark the tree left

Will never fade from

The memory of time.

He had died on that tree

But death could not keep him.

For again he lives!

Rejoice! 

Rejoice! 

Hallelujah!

To God alone be the glory!

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power forever and ever!  Amen.” –Revelation 1:5b-6 (NIV)

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are easily my favorite kind of cookie, and I’m sure if I took the time to look it up, I would find that chocolate chip cookies top the list a good portion of people, possibly even the majority of people.  I did some thinking and figuring not too long ago, and I realized that I have been making these cookies since about 1996.  If my memory serves me correctly, they were the first recipe I cooked on my own.  I have always been helping in the kitchen, but I think that these were my first solo project.

This recipe is so very simple.  The ingredients are easy to come by; you probably even have them in your kitchen right now.  What is even better is that you can take out the chocolate chips and have a basic cookie recipe.  By changing the chips for oatmeal and raisins, you get oatmeal raisin cookies.  You can make oatmeal cookies, macadamia nut cookies, and so many other possibilities.  Last Thanksgiving I made oatmeal craisin-raisin cookies.  For a Christmas party one time I made oatmeal cinnamon cookies.  Just have fun with it!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter flavored shortening
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cream shortening, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla together in a large bowl using a mixer.
  2. Beat in eggs.
  3. Add flour, salt, and baking soda.  Mix until well blended.
  4. Add chocolate chips.  Stir in with a spoon.
  5. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet.  (About 1-2 tbsp. per cookie)
  6. Bake in a 300-325 degree oven for about 10 minutes until cookies are golden brown.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

Okay, a few days ago I wrote a post entitled “The Pop Tarts That Didn’t Happen.”  I mentioned trying to use a chocolate pie crust for the tart pastry, but it not working.  Well, that left me with a whole pie crust to use in some way.  I think you can see what happened to it.  🙂

This was a whole new creation for me.  I had never had a chocolate pastry pie crust on a pie before, so I wasn’t exactly sure what would be the best way to use it.  I went to Kroger in search of an idea.  I had thought that strawberries would probably be good.  (Chocolate covered strawberries, anyone?)  I just wasn’t sure how to make it into a pie.  I wanted something simple, that wouldn’t cause me to have to buy a lot of ingredients.  Well, I already needed some apple filling (Yes, I cheated.), so I went to get some.  And wouldn’t you know it, there was a whole space dedicated to strawberry pie filling!  It was the first time I had ever seen it in a can!  Amazing!  Well, I had to buy it, too.  Then I got home, and the experiment was on.

This recipe consists of about three recipes.  Now, I’ve been doing some thinking, and I think that at least one of them could be ommitted if you wish.  It can also be switched for something else.  I’m talking about the topping.  I used a babka bread filling recipe, but I think it could be switched out for chocolate ribbons, cookie crumbles, caramel, anything you want on the pie!  I will post the recipe for the topping in this picture, though, if you want to use that.  Also, I mixed the strawberry filling and cream cheese together, but I bet it would be just as good (and probably prettier) if you did them in layers.  It works either way, though.

Now, may I introduce the recipe!

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 can strawberry pie filling
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.), at room temp.
  • Sprinkle of powdered sugar (about 1 tbsp.  I mostly put it in there for the fun of it.)
  • Chocolate pie crust, cooked (see recipe below)
  • Chocolate topping for drizzling (see recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Beat cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  2. Mix in powdered sugar.
  3. Fold in strawberry filling.
  4. Pour filling into cooled crust.
  5. Allow to chill at least one hour up to overnight.
  6. Drizzle (or crumble) chocolate topping over the top of pie, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool another hour.
  7. Serve!

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Chocolate Pie Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cups flour (more if needed)
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, more for pie plate
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour and cocoa powder onto your work surface and make a large well in the center. Pound the butter with a rolling pin to soften it, so it blends easily when it is added to the rest of the dough ingredients.  (I didn’t do the pounding with a rolling pin thing.  I just mushed it up with my fingers as I mixed everything together.
  2. Put the egg yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and softened butter into the well. Using your fingertips, work all the ingredients in the well together until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Gradually draw in the flour and cocoa powder with the pastry scraper, working them into the other ingredients with your fingertips.  (I don’t have a pastry scraper.  I just used a spoon and my fingers.)
  4. Continue working the ingredients with your fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Press the dough into a ball. If the dough is sticky, work in a little more flour.
  5. Lightly flour the work surface. Blend the dough by pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand. Gather up the dough with a pastry scraper and continue to blend until it is very smooth and peels away from the work surface in one piece; approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball again, wrap it tightly and chill until firm; approximately 30 minutes.
  6. Brush the pie plate with melted butter. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the chilled dough to a round 2 inches larger than the top of the pie plate. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over the plate.  (I couldn’t get it roll out properly, so I just pressed it into the plate like a graham cracker crust.)
  7. Gently lift the edge of the dough with the fingertips of one hand and press it well into the bottom of the pie place with the fingertips of the other hand; pressing lightly to seal any cracks.
  8. Using a table knife, trim the pastry even with the outer edge of the plate. Pinch the dough to make the edge stand up. With one forefinger under the dough edge, pinch the top of the edge between your other forefinger and them to make a wide scallop.
  9. Prick the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming when it is baking. Chill the pastry shell until firm; approximately 15 minutes.
  10. PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
  11. Line the pie shell with the double thickness of foil, pressing it well into the bottom edge. Half-fill the foil with dry beans to weigh it down. Bake on the baking sheet for 12 to 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the foil and the beans. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until the bottom of the pastry shell is firm; approximately 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and then fill it up.

Pasted from www.misshomemade.com/chocolatepiecrust.html

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Chocolate Drizzle (Topping)

 -Leah Cooks Kosher blog, babka bread recipe

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. chocolate chips
  • ¼ C. sugar (1/2 C. if you like a sweeter chocolate filling)
  • ½ C.  cocoa
  • 1/3 C. unsalted margarine (or butter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a slightly larger saucepan, put about ½ inch of water.  In a smaller pan (one that will fit inside the first) put all the ingredients.  Set the second pan into the first.  If you have a double-boiler, then use that.  This set up gets the same result for those of us who don’t have one.  J
  2. Bring the water to a boil.  Stir the ingredients until melted and well-blended.
  3. Remove from heat.

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Walking Barefoot Down a Gravel Road

This is a poem I wrote for a special lady in June of 2006.  She helped me through a difficult time.  May God bless you with someone who will walk barefoot down the gravel roads of life with you.

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Small, sharp rocks

Against bare, uncallused feet.

Rocks that poke,

That cut,

That bruise.

Uncaring little stones

Not meant for

The soles of feet.

As I walked barefoot

Down that gravel road,

You came to my side.

Without much thought

And without any mention,

You slipped off

The shoes you wore,

Undaunted by the pain

Of your mission.

Side-by-side

We walked barefoot

Down that gravel road.

You eased my pain

By sharing it,

Even when

You didn’t have to.

Thank you.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” -Galations 6:10 (NIV)

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The Pop Tarts That Didn’t Happen

These are the only pop tarts my husband will eat.  A few weeks ago I got the bright idea that I could make them, and I decided that today I would do just that.  I’ve looked up recipes, but I’ve found none for the chocolate fudge flavor.  I don’t think my husband would go for a plain pastery.  It’s got to be chocolate.  After looking at the other recipes, it sounded like the pastery was a pie crust with filling and icing.  I figured I could make a chocolate pie crust, so I searched out a recipe for that.  That would be step one.

For the chocolate filling, one recipe said to use just melted chocolate chips.  Well, that would be all well and good until the chocolate hardened again, so I needed something else.  I have a chocolate babka bread recipe, and the chocolate filling in that doesn’t harden.  It stays soft, so I figured that would be perfect.  That would be step two.

Last the icing.  For the other flavored pop tart recipes, people just use milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Well, this has to be, of course, chocolate, and I wanted it to harden.  I found some special icing at the store that would do just that, but it was $3.50 for one little tube, which wasn’t too terribly bad since I would only need one, but then I saw the chocolate almond bark on the shelf nearby, which reminded me that I had two packages of it at home that I bought on clearance after the holidays.  A box of sprinkles, and the third and final step was ready to go.

Well, I got home and got started.  I noticed that the pie crust recipe was rather crumbly, but I thought it might work after it had chilled a bit.  While it was doing that, I went ahead and made the filling.  Then I got the crust back out and started to roll it out.  It was too crumbly.  This recipe was designed to be pressed into the pie plate like a graham cracker crust.  Not cool.

I thought that maybe if I pressed it out on a cookie sheet, then cut it into pieces, and do it that way it would work.  Nope, when I went to lift the pieces off the pan to finish making the tarts, they crumbled.  It was sad and quite aggravating.

Now I have a chocolate pie crust and chocolate filling that I get to find something to with.  I haven’t given up on making chocolate fudge pop tarts, but it’s going to take more time.  Just goes to show that not every kitchen experiment works out.

Here’s to your experiments being successful!

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I Have Heard the Church Bells

Up until about six months ago, my husband and I lived in a tiny town in the Arkansas River Valley.  There was a Catholic church a few streets away, and every Sunday morning at about 8:30 they would ring the bell.  I always enjoyed hearing the bell ring, even if I’m not Catholic.  I know that being the heart of the Bible Belt, it would be noisy if all churches had bells that they used every Sunday morning to call people to church, but it would be lovely, too.  I’ve even heard that there are some places that do that, but that the bell-ringers have a type of song that they play that can be heard all over town.  I think that’s great!

Well, I wrote this poem just after I moved to that tiny town in 2009.  The sound of the bells reminded me of the hope I have as a Christian, and that inspired this little poem.  And now, though I no longer live where I can hear church bells each Sunday, I have that ringing, that hope in my heart.

“I Have Heard the Bells”

Regardless of the cost,

Regardless of the hassel,

Regardless of the stress and struggle,

I have heard the bells.

I have worried.

I have fretted.

I have been afraid and lonely,

But I have heard the bells.

I have seen

The old church houses

With old, rusted bells,

But I have still heard the church bells.

The bells still sing,

And Jesus still lives.

I know

For that is what the church bells ring.

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