Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Easy to Love. With an L.

These guys fill me up.  Every day.  As hard as life is sometimes, I can count on them for a smile or a hug. 

Matty:  Mom, do you have any tricky letters in your name?
Me:  Well, I have an L...
Matty:  L's are easy. That's just two lines.

I'm glad my name doesn't start with a tricky letter like S.  Or P. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sharing the Love: Flatbread

My mom always made flatbread with soup.  I remember most:  ham chowder, navy bean with ham, and beef stew. A loaf of this bread for dunking makes those meals even more comforting (if that's possible...ah, soup.).  She probably didn't use a breadmaker when I was a kid, but that's the recipe I'm sharing with you.  Knead and rise, knead and rise?  No thanks.

Sandy's Flatbread

9 - 11 oz warm water
2 T butter
3 1/4 c flour
2/3 c oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T brown sugar
2 T (one pkg) yeast

Put ingredients in breadmaker according to its instructions (mine is in the order I listed them, with the yeast in a valley in the flour and the other ingredients heaped around the edges). 

Run the dough cycle.

When dough is risen, shape the into an oval on a lightly-greased baking sheet.   Puncture all over with a fork.  (No idea why...maybe that's for show?)  Rise for 30 minutes in a warm kitchen.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Slice bread in strips, butter and dunk into soup.

Notes: I'm terrible at measuring.  While it's mixing, if it seems dry, add water.  If it seems too moist, add flour.  Wow.  Helpful, huh?  Also, honey is a fine substitute for brown sugar.  This bread is best the same day.  You could freeze it that day, but it seems to dry out quickly.  If anyone has suggestions for that, I'd love to hear them!


Sunday, September 19, 2010


To start out a new week -- and take a little break from the recipes -- I thought I'd post something topical.  I recognize that this is a hot topic, and I know the opposing side of my argument.  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments, as always.

We've been having a bit of a conflict in the US of A.  Well, we've been having a few, but this is the one I want to talk about.  In case you've been living under a rock, I thought I'd inform you that there is a group of Americans who want to build a Muslim community center in Manhattan.  The proposed site is near Ground Zero, and many Americans think it's disprespectful to the memory of the lives lost to build it near the place of the September 11 attacks.  Truth is, there was a mosque there previously (as well Muslim religious facilities within the Twin Towers themselves). 

The argument has become: does religious freedom exist in America?  "Tasteful" or otherwise, the project has been deemed perfectly legal.  The outcome is yet undetermined. The funds aren't even in place to actually build the community center, and the plan isn't to construct it in the immediate future.  But, in my humble opinion, that's not the real issue.  The issue is whether or not we're assuming that all Muslims are terrorists.  It turns out that a great many Americans are making that assumption.

Then, just before September 11 of this year, a pastor in Florida by the name of Terry Jones tried to start a "holiday" called National Burn a Quran Day.  Luckily, he called it off, but not before he posed as a Christian representative to the rest of the world.  If the terrorists are a case of extreme Islam, then Pastor Jones is surely an example of extreme Christianity.  And I feel sad about that image.  I realize that most Christians don't feel the way Pastor Jones does, but with the press he received and the attention we all gave validated his opinion.  So loving, isn't it...burning another person's holy book?  So kind, isn't it...spewing that kind of hatred for an entire group of people?

I've always maintained that one of President Obama's major accomplishments has been restoring our reputation in the world.  I think he is a great diplomat, and the rest of the world listens.  In the midst of the controversy, he made a statement (in part, please feel free to seek out the entire speech):

But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.

Last week, out of the blue, I got an email from a friend of mine in Denmark.  She and I have recently become reacquainted and I assume she knew little of my political opinions prior to this email.  When I asked her if I could post her email on my blog her response was:  "Go ahead and post it, whatever it takes to change the mind of just one person ;-)"

So. Here it is. Enjoy.

"By the way, I wanted to congratulate you on your president (Obama) again! I heard parts of his speech on 9/11 - or the day before - in which he insisted that we should not fight muslims but terrorists and that if you could build a church or a synagogue, then you could build a mosque as well. I really do believe that he is doing a HUGE leap for world peace saying those things. People in the entire world listens to what he is saying, and I know that for the many Muslims in Europe, this is so important. Especially the young Muslims here, when they become teenagers they often get this "who-am-I?" feeling, because they realize they are not REALLY turks (or whereever their parents come from) and if they feel excluded from the West as well, their only identity is being fundamental, extreme Muslims. However, when Obama says those things about being equal, I think they feel welcome and included and part of the society they live in. And it is strange, that what the American president says has this effect on Europeans - but that's just the way it is :-)"

So don't take it from me.  Take it from my sweet friend in Europe, who offers us another perspective and gives us something else to mull over.  We are not the only citizens of the world.  I think we'd do ourselves a service by looking outside of our own lives and loving everyone.  And as Christians, let our light truly shine.  Not only when it's painless and comfortable, but all the time.  Instead of carrying around signs of protest that speak of hatred and fear, can we not reach out with love?  Especially in a time when the world is fragile and people are hurting...can we not seek out peace?

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:15-16

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pork Schnitzel

I made these tonight, kind of by accident.  I thought I had no meat for dinner, but I found a pack of four pork chops in my freezer, so I called my mom and asked how to bake them.  (I think I've made pork chops twice.  Both times on the grill.)  She gave me this recipe out of the Betty Crocker cookbook and it was superb.  A definite make-again.

Pork Schnitzel
4 - 6 pork chops (mine were bone-in)
6 T vegetable oil
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c bread crumbs
2 tsp seasoned salt*
2 tsp paprika
2 eggs
1/4 c milk

For Schnitzel sauce:
1 can chicken broth (divided)
2 T flour
1 c sour cream
1/2 tsp dill

Mix eggs and milk.  Pour into shallow bowl.
Mix flour, bread crumbs and seasonings in shallow bowl.

Season chops with seasoning salt.  Dip them in egg mixture, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture until completely coated.  Pour 3 T vegetable oil into frying pan.  Add pork chops (two at a time) to oil and cook over medium-high heat 4 - 5 minutes/side, or until juices run clear.  Remove from heat.

In small bowl, blend flour and 1/2 c chicken broth for thickening sauce.

When chops are cooked, pour the rest of the chicken broth into your frying pan.  Use the broth to deglaze the pan.  Slowly pour broth/flour mixture into the pan, and heat to boiling.  Turn off heat and stir in sour cream and dill.

Serve sauce over pork chops.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jack-Jack's Turn

We've been so focused on kindergarten around here that we didn't start talking to Jack about starting Sunday School and preschool until this week.  Which is about right for a three-year-old's attention span anyway!  It's been a TON of fun for him, although he's still a little uncertain about me leaving him alone. That won't last, though, I know it.  He had a great time at his orientation for preschool tonight.  I cannot believe this day is here.

His new SPARKS Bible from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
CrossRoads Pre-K at New Hope Church.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sharing the Love: Apple Crisp

A friend asked for apple crisp recipes, so this is my recipe. It's ultra traditional and best served warm, with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel.  (In your fall apple baking, don't forget about this beauty!)

Apple Crisp:

10 c apples, sliced
1 c sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c water

Mix apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon and pour into lightly-greased baking dish.  Pour water over apple mixture.

1 c oatmeal
1 c flour
1 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c butter, melted

Mix the above and spread over apples.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dear Matthew

Dear Matthew:

Tomorrow you're going to start kindergarten.  And just so we both have a memory of how the day before you started went, I wanted to write you a little note.

You woke up at 7:30 this morning, crawled into bed with me, kissed me on the cheek to wake me up and said, "Mom!  I have to tell you something!  I'm so excited for tomorrow!" 

It probably should have started today.  You and Jack were a handful for me.  Seriously, do you have to throw things at each other ALL day long?  You got Jack good with a Lego and he clonked you with the Leapster.  Enough, boys.  Be kind to each other.

But it didn't.  So we spent the day together.  We went to my office and then we got soup and breadsticks for lunch.  We had to run a couple errands and then we just chilled together tonight. 

When you were in the bath, I brought you two shirts, one green and gray and one red and white and asked you which one you wanted to wear tomorrow.  Exasperated, you replied, "Mom!  I said to get me a new shirt."  You were appeased by my reminding you I got you new pants.  Then you chose the red and white one because "it's awesomer."  It really is, Son, good choice.

I tucked your excited little body into bed and it was your turn to choose the first song.  You chose "Down in my Heart."  ("I've got the JOY down in my heart...I have peace that passes understanding down in my heart...")  Again, excellent choice.  You are going to do just fine in kindergarten; you're a good decision maker.  It was a good day-before-kindergarten, Matthew. 

I got this note in your starting-school packet and it's a good reminder for everyone, so I'm going to share it here.  And with you as your life progresses.

Everything I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten...

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt someone.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and point and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together.  Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that...

-- Robert Fulgham


Good luck tomorrow, Matthew. I'll send you off, and be waiting when they bring you back.  I am so proud of you.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Fivester

I went on a date with this handsome guy today.  It was so fun.  We went to the Mall of America, only to find out every parking ramp was full.  Which equals long lines and chaos, so we left.  We stopped at Target and got a new toy, then hit Red Robin for lunch, and saw the new Nanny McPhee movie.  Oh, then stopped off for a new pair of school shoes. Delightful. I love this child.  So much.

O'Henry Bars

This recipe is from my cousin Megan.  These are amazingly delicious.  Try 'em.

O'Henry Bars

Beat together:
4 c oatmeal
2/3 c butter
1 c brown sugar

1/2 c corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla

Butter 9x13 pan slightly.  Press oatmeal mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

6 oz. chocolate chips (I use a bit more than that)
2/3 c peanut butter
(about one minute on high in the microwave)

Spread on top of oatmeal crust.

Chill in refrigerator.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


There are hundred clichés for this milestone:

They grow so quickly.
You blink and they're grown up.
The years pass so quickly.

And they're cliché for a reason:  They're TRUE.  And mothers everywhere agree.

As we near the start of Matty's school career, I am blessed with so many other moms from my online forum of other moms with kids his age. And we're all going through this together.  And all of us are feeling emotional about it.  It's surprised me some initially, actually, that I wasn't the only one feeling so sad. 

I want to keep my Matthew little.  Desperately.  He's a curious, thoughtful child.  I have no doubt he'll grow up to be a wonderful thoughtful man as well, but the need for time to slow down a little physically hurts.  Ask Cory.  He'll attest to my tears.  And it's not his going to school -- that part doesn't make me sad (he is SO ready to use the brain God gave him!).  It's that his time at home with me, these past five years...are over forever.  Thank you to God, the Creator, for giving him to me and allowing me to spend these years with him.  And, my thanks to my gorgeous husband for busting his butt working so hard to support us. I am forever grateful.  So so lucky.

I'll have more photos to share as the week progresses.  Tomorrow night is his open house where he'll meet his teacher and see his classroom.  I'm planning a Momma/Matty day this weekend, and then, next Wednesday is his first day of school.  *sniff* *sniff*  *SOB*

One final one (courtesy of my wise mother):  The days are long, but the years are short.  The truest of them all.