Friday, October 31, 2014

Luke 14:12 & Dreams

Living in the south, hospitality is just part of growing least it was for me.  It seemed like almost every weekend we had people over for dinner or coffee and dessert, and there are so many treasured memories I have from these times.  I'm definitely not the most hospitable person but I do try and my goal is that anyone who comes into our home would feel at peace and know they are welcome; part of the family.

I have a dream, it's a big one, a VERY scary one.  Do you have these kind of dreams? The kind you dare not tell another soul because then it feels "real"?  Maybe you're a blogger and you've written a post about your dream but it sits in your queue, unpublished, because you're afraid.  What if people think your dream is silly or completely unrealistic and not possible?  That somehow, if you say it out loud or put it online it becomes more real and you're then responsible for fulfilling it? I've been too afraid to even write this post for fear.

I KNOW that I alone cannot accomplish my dream, it's a God sized dream.  It would take divine intervention for many reasons: resources, my lack of experience and spiritual gifts.  But that's what God does right? He does the impossible!  For a few months now I've had this tugging on my heart: how can I help people? What gifts has God provided me with that would enable me to bless those in need?  Then it hit me...feed them! This isn't a completely novel idea: my church has a ministry called serve the city and they take meals once a week to a few different neighborhoods, there is a man downtown that feeds the homeless right out of his truck. In fact, just a few weeks ago our pastor gave a sermon on the very topic of my dream and it was like a punch in the gut.

I've mentioned it before, I love to cook and bake.  I'm not a professional but I think I can put a decent meal together and I truly LOVE feeding people.  Nothing makes my heart more full than to have people around our kitchen table, bellies full, telling me they enjoyed my food.  I don't mean that in a "I love praise" kind of way.  Actually, I don't really know how to explain it...but I just get a lot of joy from feeding people.

I wish we lived in a world that did not consist of those who were hungry or in need.  Instead, everyone had food, shelter, family, etc.  Unfortunately, this is not reality.  Even in my small community I am sure there are people (we probably see them every day) who are going hungry and would love a nice warm meal and to be welcomed into someone's home.

My dream:

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.                    Luke 14:12 NIV

Cook a meal (once a week) in my home and invite whomever is hungry or in need of a meal and fellowship.

Luke 14:12 is exactly what my dream is!!!  How would I start doing this? I have NO idea..that's where God would need to show up because my gift is cooking and showing hospitality, not in organizing people or projects or even funding this venture.  If more than a few people came, I would be in trouble.  However, I truly believe that God provides.  When you're doing His will, His way, all you must do is say, "Yes, Lord." He will take care of the rest...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chili & Chocolate Silk Pie

Stephen and I had some friends over for supper last night.  Since it's fall and I adore comfort food I made chili, cornbread and a chocolate silk pie.  Unfortunately, the weather played a trick on me and it was in the upper 70's ... ah well.  I thought I would share a few pictures and the recipes I used:

Mom's Chili:
1 lg. can Brook's Chili Beans (mild)
1 lg. can Tomato Juice
1 package McCormick's Chili Mix(mild)
1 1/2-2 lbs ground beef, browned

Put all ingredients in the crock pot for 5-6 hours on low, serve with crackers, cheese and spaghetti noddles if desired.

Perhaps the best part of this meal is that it makes plenty so you'll have left overs :)

Smitten Kitchen is the first food blog I ever read and it's still my favorite blog today.  Deb is the inspiration for a lot of my cooking and why I started a food blog a few years back.  I quit doing my food blog (another story for another day) but thought from time to time I would share some recipes here. Anyway, the chocolate silk pie I made is from Deb's cookbook and it's amazing! I think I've already made this pie 4 times and it's always a hit.  My pie crust didn't turn out as ascetically pleasing as normal but it didn't affect the taste so who cares, right?

I didn't make the pie crust that goes with the chocolate silk pie because I didn't have the ingredients so I instead used the "All butter, really flaky pie dough" recipe:

"All butter, really flaky pie dough"

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
16 tbsp. butter, very cold
1/2 cup ice-cold water

By hand, in a large widish bowl, stir together your flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into a medium-sized dice and scatter the pieces over the flour.  Using your pastry blender or fingertips, work the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas.

If the butter has warmed up a bit, place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes to quickly cool it down again.  Drizzle the water over the flour-butter mixture and use a flexible spatula to gently stir it together until a craggy, uneven mass forms.  Knead the dough and any loose bits together, working quickly so as to warm it as little as possible.  If your bowl is wide enough, you might be able to get your hands in and work the dough together there; otherwise, dump all the flour bits on the counter and do so there.

Wrap the dough up tightly in a large piece of plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge at least 1 hour for a halved dough and 2 hours for a full one before rolling it out. *This recipe makes 2 pie crusts, I usually just freeze my second one for later use*

When you're ready to make your pie, dust your counter generously with flour, place your piece of dough on it, sprinkle the top with additional flour, and begin to roll it out into a large round.  I like to keep the pie dough moving it all times, rolling it twice, life it, and rotating it a quarter turn, repeating until its' the desired size and shape.  Keep a bench scraper or long thin spatula handy and if the dough ever stick to the counter, shimmy the spatula underneath and lift the dough enough that you can dust the counter with more flour.  If the pie dough becomes soft, it will be harder to roll, more likely to sick and to break up those flake-inducing bits of butter-don't even try to fight it.  Just slide the dough onto the back of a baking sheet and into the freezer for a few minutes until it firms up again.

Place the pie dough into your pie pan, poke holes in the bottom of the dough to allow air flow so it doesn't "puff up" while baking.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, allow crust to cool completely before adding the chocolate filling!! This is VERY important!!

Chocolate Silk Pie

12 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I use a 60% cocoa bar), melted and cooled
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract


1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar

In a large stand mixer, whip butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  While mixer in running, drizzle in melted chocolate.  Add eggs one at a time, beating mixture at medium speed for 5 minutes after each addition, and scraping down the bowl.  Add vanilla, and blend well.  Spread chocolate filling in prepared crust, and smooth the top. Set pie in the fridge until fully chilled, at least 6 hours.

Just before serving, beat cream with sugar until it just holds soft peaks.  Spoon onto pie and serve!

You can see the silky goodness!

*Pie crust recipe and Chocolate Silk filling recipe are from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How Far I Haven't Come

On my journey of purging and trying to live more intentionally I knew there was still much work to be done. So far, none of the purging had "hurt" and although the goal wasn't to deprive myself or inflect emotional pain on myself, I knew that it had been too easy.  About two weeks ago, I got a nice smack of reality and realized just how far I hadn't come....

An acquaintance of mine is going through a BIG life change and in doing so, she is basically starting over and in need of almost anything for herself and her two children.  When I first read her request I was mad at myself that just the week before I had loaded up my car, TWICE, and hauled all of my purge items to our church.  If only I had known a week before I could have given her soooo much! Then God whispered, "You still have plenty to give."  I went through my house in a panic, looking for any "extra" things I had to donate and all I could find were items I used, loved, "needed".  I quickly garbed some things before I could talk myself out of it and told her what I had to bring.

There were two specific items that gave me a hard time, and I am VERY ashamed to admit: washcloths and my dresser.  I know you're judging me, and you ridiculous...I didn't want to give up 4 washcloths and my dresser (that sits in our extra bedroom holding stuff).  My heart is still black and I am very selfish, but I'm working on it.

The washcloths were new, we received them for a wedding gift.  They were an expensive brand and white; which is why we never used them.  I was too fearful of ruining them or staining them so they lived, folded up nicely on the first shelf in our linen closest.  If I'm too afraid to use them, why keep them? I feel so awful but my first thought was to give away some of the good washcloths we had but used and keep the good ones for myself and start using them.  I quickly realized how terrible and nasty that was so I quickly put them in the stack of things to give away.

The dresser.  My dresser.  It wasn't particularly anything special, but it was the one and only piece of furniture I had EVER been able to pick out for myself, prior to getting married.  I always had a nice bed and dressers, but they were hand-me-downs.  In high school, my mom took me to a local furniture store and I found "my dresser". And I truly loved it! It currently lived in our extra bedroom, holding my yarn and crocheting projects and some seasonal decorating items.  Again, I quickly offered it up before I could think about it too much and realize what an unhealthy, nasty, attachment I had to a piece of wood that we didn't actually USE or VALUE anymore.

The point? I'm still a work in progress.  I don't know if I will ever truly have the right kind of relationship with my things but I am working toward it.  I want a giving heart and I obviously have LOTS of room for growth.  I can tell you this, two weeks later, other than the two above items mentioned, I don't even remember what else I gave her.  I also don't miss the washcloths that sat in our linen closet for five years and because I needed to empty out the dresser, I got rid of more baggage.