A Memorial Day Feast

I love holidays. A chance to remember past events and celebrate life is timely for all of us. We aren’t going big on this one – there’s no crazy picnic happening at the Wagner’s house, but we are still taking the opportunity to celebrate with yummy food. Because that’s how Wagners roll.

So, if you’re looking for menu ideas – here you go. Our menu for today features several things I have had absolutely no hand in making except for coming up with the idea, and one thing that is the easiest thing on the menu that I did make. Because my ability to do things is severely lessened these days.

Memorial Day Menu
  • Baby Back Barbecued Ribs
  • Twice-baked potatoes
  • Grandma’s Coleslaw
  • Refrigerator Dill Pickles
  • Blueberry Pie

Below I will include the recipe for the refrigerator dill pickles. I think they came out very well. Mine aren’t very salty but I like them that way. They taste super fresh with a kick at the end.

But before we get to that: For the baby back ribs, mom made a rub with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and chili pepper. She put oil on the ribs, then the rub, and they are currently on the charcoal grill cooking to (what we hope will be) perfection. About 30 minutes out, we will put the homemade barbecue sauce on them. We’ll use ingredients we love like brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, maybe some whiskey if I can convince mom of that, and Worcester sauce for the sauce.

For the twice-baked potatoes, we are using Pioneer Woman’s recipe which includes lovely ingredients like bacon, sour cream, and cheese.

My grandmother’s coleslaw recipe is the best I’ve ever tasted. I grew up having it with fried chicken and mashed potatoes. To this day I cannot stand any coleslaw that has a creamy dressing on it. The exception to that being the coleslaw we put on shrimp tacos. But anyway…grandma’s coleslaw is easy to make. Thinly slice the cabbage and put salt and sugar over it and let it sit for a while. About 30 minutes before serving, pour a dressing of oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper over it. It is simple and delicious.

Now for the recipe you’ve been waiting for…or something like that. The recipe for Refrigerator Dill Pickles came from a good friend of mine. I visited her last summer, and I’m pretty sure I ate an entire jar of these pickles I loved them so much. They are easy and yummy and fresh-tasting. I halved mine when I made the recipe because I didn’t want tons of pickles around. I have three pint-sized jars as it is and will probably give some away.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

10 medium cucumbers, sliced. Do not slice them thinly. They should be a quarter to eighth-inch thick

Fresh Dill Sprigs – a few per jar

4-6 garlic cloves per jar – peeled and thickly sliced

½ tsp. crushed dried red pepper flakes

4 tbsp fine kosher salt

1 qt. water

1 cup white vinegar.

Into 3 quart jars, layer dill, garlic cloves, and cucumber slices. Combine water, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes, stirring until salt dissolves. Pour over cucumbers. Store jars in refrigerator. You can eat them about 24 hours after you have let them sit in the refrigerator. Enjoy the goodness!

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And my mom will be making a blueberry pie that will finish it all of with deliciousness.

Enjoy your memorial day, my friends. What did you plan on your menu? I’d love to hear!

 

 

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Two Sabbath Poems

A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems (1979-1997)

by Wendell Berry

1979, VII
What if, in the high, restful sanctuary 
That keeps the memory of Paradise,
We’re followed by the drone of history
And greed’s poisonous fumes still burn our eyes?
 
Disharmony recalls us to our work.
From Heavenly work of light and wind and leaf
We must turn back into the peopled dark
Of our unraveling century, the grief
 
Of waste, the agony of haste and noise.
It is a hard return from Sabbath rest
To lifework of the fields, yet we rejoice,
Returning, less condemned in being blessed
 
By vision of what human work can make:
A harmony between forest and field,
The world as it was given for love’s sake,
The world by love and loving work revealed
 
As given to our children and our Maker.
In that healed harmony the world is used
But not destroyed, the Giver and the taker
Joined, the taker blessed, in the unabused
 
Gift that nurtures and protects. Then workday
And Sabbath live together in one place.
Though mortal, incomplete, that harmony
Is our one possibility of peace.
When field and woods agree, they make a rhyme
That stirs in distant memory the whole
First Sabbath’s song that no largess of time
Or hope or sorrow wholly can recall.
 
But harmony of earth is Heaven-made,
Heaven-making, is promise and prayer,
A little song to keep us unafraid,
An early music magnified in air. 
 
1979, VI
What stood will stand, though all be fallen,
The good return that time has stolen.
Though creatures groan in misery,
Their flesh prefigured liberty
To end travail and bring to birth
Their new perfection in new earth.
At word of that enlivening
Let the trees of the woods all sing
And every field rejoice, let praise
Rise up out of the ground like grass.
What stood, whole in every piecemeal
Thing that stood, will stand though all
Fall – field and woods and all in them
Rejoin the primal Sabbath’s hymn.
 

I have been trying to type words out to say, trying to find words to speak out in the midst of my life right now. Sometimes in life, we find words from another that become our own. With hope in good returning that time has stolen and with God’s word as a song to keep me unafraid, I go into this new week. May these words bring you new hope as well, my friends.

 

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Recipe: Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I hate failing. I hate it so much I generally don’t try again after I’ve failed. I give up easily because I want to do something perfectly or not do it at all. So, as one would expect, life is sometimes disappointing to me. More specifically, I am sometimes disappointing to me.

I’ve had a hankering for oatmeal raisin cookies recently. That’s weird because I don’ usually like oatmeal raisin cookies, but there it is. I also don’t normally like bananas (translation: I normally despise bananas with every fiber of my being), but I’ve eaten 3 in the last week. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I’m working on that. Anyway, I got a hankering for oatmeal raisin cookies and finally set about making them last Saturday only to make them and have them turn out salty. Like all I could taste was salt salty. My family and friends told me they did not, indeed taste salty. A friend later told me she thought the salt just wasn’t stirred in properly because her cookie wasn’t salty but one of her kid’s was. I counted it as an abject failure in my cooking repertoire. So, in most cases I would just give up on my hankering for oatmeal raisin cookies.

But today came, with snow glistening outside and a text that said school was cancelled, and a dream to cook something yummy. Since my hankering had never fully been satisfied, I decided to make some oatmeal raisin cookies again. I knew I wanted to use a different recipe. We currently have a girl living with us who is gluten intolerant, and I hate baking things that she can’t eat. I’m not saying I don’t do it, I just don’t particularly like when I do. :) “It’s a complicated emotion.” So, I set out with a new recipe from Thomas Keller and girded my mind to accept failure since, after all, I was trying to make gluten free cookies.

I thought through the recipe for TLCs – Keller’s recipe similar to oatmeal raisin but without salt or raisins and nuts instead. I thought I could switch out the flour for almond flour, add in an extra egg to make up for the lost gluten, and add in vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans. It didn’t take too long to make and roll the cookies out, ready to pop into the oven.

All rolled up and ready for the oven.

All rolled up and ready for the oven.

I anxiously waited for them to be finished. I actually looked at them halfway through and worried they wouldn’t come out right. They did spread more than normal gluten cookies, but they still managed to be chewy in the middle and actually taste rather good!

Out of the oven!

Out of the oven!

my "I count this a success!" face

my “I count this a success!” face

Below you will find the actual recipe. If you want to go to a printable version of the recipe, click the title.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Yields 20-21 cookies

Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery recipe for TLCs

Disclaimer: Thomas Keller uses weight for all his recipes. I weighed out most of the ingredients for this recipe. I will include the measurements he had in the book, but I did not measure out the almond flour which I substituted. I weighed it using the weight he had for all-purpose flour.

Note about oats: If you buy quaker oats, they will have some flour added to them to keep them from sticking together. We get our oats from the co-op so there is no gluten in them. If you are preparing the cookies for someone with gluten intolerance, make sure the oats you buy do not contain flour/gluten.

153 grams almond flour (1c. + 1 ½ TB)
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
138 grams granulated sugar (½ c. + 3 ½ TB)
75 grams dark brown sugar (¼ c. + 1 ½ TB, lightly packed)
212 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
134 grams old-fashioned oats (1 ¾ c.)
1 c. raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 in a convection oven. If you are using a standard oven, preheat to 350. In a medium bowl, mix the almond flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix with a fork to get out any clumps in the almond flour.

Place the butter in a bowl and whip using a hand beater. Whip till the butter resembles mayonnaise. Add the sugar and whip for 4-5 minutes on high speed, until fluffy and lighter. Add the vanilla and mix it in. Add the eggs and mix on low speed till the eggs are barely incorperated. Add the combined dry ingredients in two additions, mixing on low speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Pour in the oats and raisins and blend till just combined.

Use a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Take 2 TB of the dough and roll it in your hands so it is in a ball. Space them 1 ½ inches apart. I got 8 on my cookie sheet. If you are using a convection oven, cook the cookies for 17 minutes. The cookies will spread out in the oven more than gluten cookies would. If using a standard oven, cook for 18-20 minutes. Let the cookies cool on a cookie sheet for 5-7 minutes so they can set, then move them to a cooling rack till they cool.

Enjoy!

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Bahn Mi Sandwiches and Artisan Bread

This past summer I traveled down to San Antonio, Texas to visit my sister and her husband. One day we picked up sandwiches from Four Kings. They had sandwiches and soups. I looked over the menu and saw a sandwich that looked interesting. It was called Bahn Mi. For those of you who don’t know, Bahn Mi is a Vietnamese Sandwich. It has pork, pickled carrots, cilantro, and spicy mustard on a bun.

Fast forward a few months to when I was perusing the internet, as I am wont to do, and came across a recipe for Bahn Mi. I knew I had had this sandwich, and I knew it was good. So, like all internet junkies out there, I pinned it. This past Saturday I finally put it on the menu. Since we make a lot of bread around here, we decided to make our own rolls to put the sandwich on. Let me tell you: that was a good decision. It really doesn’t take long to make the recipe and it is the simplest  bread recipe ever – so give it a whirl and you’ll be in for a treat.

I’ll post the recipe for the bread here. You can make round rolls, baguette, sandwich rolls (like we used for this recipe), bread bowls, and round loaves out of this recipe. The recipe for Bahn Mi can be found here. I didn’t change anything so I didn’t feel like I could post the recipe here, but head on over to the site and make it up. You won’t be sorry! My whole family loved this sandwich! As my dad said, “Yeah, this recipe is a keeper.”

Artisan Bread (I halved the recipe below for the sandwiches because we were only serving 4 people)

6 c. all purpose flour

1 ½ TB yeast

1 ½ TB salt

3 c. warm water

Mix those 4 ingredients together and let it rise for an hour. Shape into what you want to make and let it rise for 30 minutes to an hour on some parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 420, heat up some boiling water and put it in a 9×13 pan to put under the bread. Put the bread in the oven for about 20 minutes. The thing about bread is it’s all about feel, so I can’t tell you what it should look like.

(Just watch Ratatouille and you’ll know what I mean)

Enjoy!

 

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Bahn Mi Sandwich

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Epic failures and Potato Soup

I haven’t blogged much recently. It has to do with the fact that I haven’t cooked much recently. This fall and winter have taken a toll on my ability to stand on a tile floor for longer than 30 minutes, which takes a toll on my desire to cook.

So when I found a Warm Chestnut Soup recipe that looked delicious, I actually got excited about cooking something and put it on the menu. Mom went to the trouble to get chestnuts for me. As I got ready to roast the chestnuts, I looked up how to roast them online and then promptly thought I could possibly just do it without following the directions. As it turns out, cutting the slit in the chestnut is rather important to be able to shell them later. I figured that out today. Also turns out chestnuts’ shells are hard to cut into…So I was sitting with a pan of roasted but un-shellable chestnuts wondering what to cook for dinner.

There are times when the thought of potato soup is comforting and cheerful – maybe especially when you’ve just make a mistake in cooking. I made some changes from a normal “American” potato soup because…well, I guess I don’t need a reason other than “it sounded good at the time”.

I found out a few soups back that I love starting soups by cooking some bacon. And what is potato soup without bacon? Although rhetorical, I’ll answer my own question. It’s sad. Just plain, straight-up sad. After cooking the bacon, I threw in some onions and the potatoes and cooked them for a while in the bacon fat. I threw some salt and herbs de province in for some european flair. I added just enough chicken broth to cover the potatoes and let it boil for about 15 minutes.

After that it’s just a matter of a few finishing touches. I used a hand blender to make it smooth, added in a good amount of heavy whipping cream, some more chicken broth, and a little bit of white wine. I let it simmer for a little longer till we were ready to eat.

As a last touch, I fixed up the spices; it needed some more salt and pepper, and laddled it into bowls. I topped it with shaved romano cheese and bacon.

My potato soup is very thick, and it’s winter comfort food at it’s finest. Below is the recipe, but, in all honesty, I just threw stuff in the pot while I was making it, so please change things up and taste as you go. They might not be the right proportions.

Herbs de Province Potato Soup

6 slices of bacon cut into ½ inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
4 large potatoes, chopped
1 TB Herbs De Province (or a combination of sage, rosemary, thyme,etc)
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 cups chicken broth (more if needed)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup wine
grated romano cheese
Cook the bacon in a soup pot on medium heat till done. Take bacon out and set aside. Throw in the onions, potatoes, and herbs de province. Cook until the onions are soft and potatoes are starting to brown. Add in the broth, cover with a lid, and boil for 15 minutes or till potatoes are soft. Add in the heavy whipping cream and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Add in more broth and wine. Taste test and add spices as needed.
Enjoy! 

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starting out 2014

2014 is here. This past Sunday my pastor preached his last sermon in 2013. He preached on Jesus’ victory over death and the hope of the resurrection. He preached on God’s plan to wipe the tears away from our eyes. He preached that Jesus will have the victory.

It’s a message our church needed to hear. It’s a message a lot of other people other than our small congregation heard. And I’m sure that was in God’s providence.

I pause to look back over 2013. And I don’t even know where to start. So many things that affect my heart happened this year. It’s all so close to home.

I always am glad for the start of a new year. I know that people say that you don’t keep resolutions or things like that, but new starts are good. And the wonderful, amazing this is: we get that in Jesus. Not just at the new year, though it is a wonderful time to remember it. We become new in Christ. Humor me for a few minutes, and look through this list:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

So I start this new year with a heavy heart, but a heart reliant on God. A heart reliant on a God who is faithful to His people, a God who loves His people so much He makes us look like His Son.

I usually have a list of resolutions for this year. I recently read an article from Desiring God which said the most courageous resolution for 2014 is found in 1 Corinthians 14:1: “Pursue love.” I read the article, which I recommend and wanted to make excuses. The stream of consciousness went about like this:

“But love hurts” “So? C.S. Lewis says you have to love without it your heart dies” “But I’ve felt the pain of loving people this year” “So? That’s still what you’re called to do” “But I don’t have the heart to love” “Yeah, that’s why you need Jesus”

That last thought leads me to recommend another article. Today I read a blog post by Ann Voskamp about needing Jesus this year. It’s ever so true every year, but in some way, especially this year. In order to set about loving people I need Jesus. He is the fountainhead of love. He is the one who first showed us what love looks like – a picture of sacrifice. He is the one who constantly shows us what love looks like by being our mediator to the Father.

I follow Him into this new year slightly afraid of what He might bring, but completely reliant on His grace as He teaches me to love.

What are your new years resolutions?

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Stitch Fix, No. 1

It’s been a crazy last few months. If you’re here to just hear about my Stitch Fix, scroll down a bit while I monologue. Over the summer and here in the fall I’ve lost weight. It’s at the point now where I can’t fit into the clothes I had and fit into early in the summer. And yes that’s nice and yes I look very different now…but also I have to wear clothes. It’s a rather difficult thing getting dressed for work these days. I dropped about 2 clothes sizes, so wearing any of my pants or skirts except for one or two is out of the question. Oh, and I live in Enid, Oklahoma: the thriving metropolis of shopping…or not.

I had heard of Stitch Fix from a friend and have another friend who started using Stitch Fix at school. When I originally heard of it I didn’t think I needed to use it because, as a single person, I can easily go shopping on my own. Since I’ve lost weight, however, it’s been difficult to find clothes to wear since I’m almost starting from scratch to get a new wardrobe.

So, by now you’re asking, “Uh, Missy, what exactly is Stitch Fix?” Well, I have an answer for you! Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that sends you a box of 5 items. To start with Stitch Fix, you go to the website and fill out a style profile. Now I know what you’re thinking: “How can I possibly fill out a style profile? I don’t know my own style! I just put on clothes and wear them!” Well, I understand where you’re coming from, but here’s the dealio – the wonderful folks over at Stitch Fix have made it incredibly easy to fill this out. This is a very detailed style profile complete with detailed sizing information. So, after you fill this out, you pick a date you want your box to arrive. Since the business has grown it has been taking a bit longer to get your first fix. I think it took me a little over a month to get mine.

Do you want to know what came in my first box? Well here is a look at it.

The open Stitch Fix box

The open Stitch Fix box

I opened the box, took the stack out, and thought, “How does my stylist already know me?” Purple is one of my favorite colors to wear. Seeing so much of it made me happy.

The awesome stack

The awesome stack

One thing that is really cool about Stitch Fix is that you can try on all the clothes in your own room at your own house with your own clothes. Each piece of clothing comes in pairing suggestions. My stylist also threw in things she knew would go together, which was wonderful of her.

All the "item cards"

All the “item cards”

13.11.13_0012 13.11.13_0011 13.11.13_0008 13.11.13_0010 13.11.13_0007

These were the individual pieces I got in my stitch fix.

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13.11.13_0005

 

So, yes, my mirror is not the best to take pictures in front of…anyway. I tried on all the items. The pants didn’t fit quite right. I liked the color of the purple tank, but it was a little too “flowy”. I couldn’t see myself in the gray tank. The two items I had a hard time deciding whether to keep was the skirt and the infinity scarf. I love infinity scarves, and I love purple. But at $48 I couldn’t justify buying yet another purple scarf.

The skirt, however, I couldn’t send back. I love, love, love it. It is classy but oh so comfortable!

The way Stitch Fix works is that the styling fee is $20. However, if you buy an item in the box the $20 goes towards one of your items. So, essentially, if you buy something you don’t have to pay for styling it. One of the neatest things about the Stitch Fix box was that included in the box is a USPS bag to throw the items in that you don’t want, stick in your mailbox, and return to Stitch Fix. It simply couldn’t be easier.

If you’re interested and have more questions I’d love to answer them. If you follow any of the Stitch Fix links in this post, it will take you to the site where you can sign up. If you sign up using my referral link, I get some Stitch Fix credit.

All-in-all, I loved the experience and am looking forward to my next box in December.

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