A time for feasting: part 3

It’s been a month now (to the day, actually), since my Valentine’s Party, but I had a few more photos to post of the actual courses. I’ll link to the recipe for the Zinfandel Short Ribs I used for the main course, but since I didn’t change the recipe much, I didn’t want to post my own recipe.

Appetizer: Shrimp tortellini with capers and lemon cream sauce.

I’m in love with lemon cream sauce. I first had it over in Tulsa while having a grand time with girl friends during their yearly shopping spree trip – in which we do more talking and eating out than hard-core shopping. Since then, I’ve been on a quest to re-create my own lemon cream sauce. Down in my apartment for dinner one day, I managed to create a pretty good lemon cream sauce, though it was more of a Sherry lemon cream sauce. I attempted to re-create my creation for the Valentine’s Meal….It turned out well, but not as amazingly good at my first time.

Shrimp Tortellini Appetizer

Shrimp Tortellini Appetizer

The second course was the soup course. I made a Roasted Garlic Soup for this course. I love roasted garlic soup. There is something so wondrous to me about taking sharp garlic and turning it into creamy soup.

Garlic Soup

Garlic Soup

After the soup came the salad. My friend Elizabeth actually put the whole salad together. I loved the look of this course – the green of the arugula, the red of the blood orange, and the white of the goat cheese croutons. Oh my! We topped it off with some pine nuts and a simple Cider Vinaigrette for a light finish.

The main

Arugula, Blood Orange Salad

Arugula, Blood Orange Salad

The main course was Zinfandel Short Ribs over Polenta. I put some ricotta in the polenta for creaminess.

Zinfandel Short Ribs

Zinfandel Short Ribs

By then we were pretty full on food, but we also had a cheese plate. For dessert we had chocolate mousse with chocolate covered strawberries. I ate my chocolate mousse before I snapped a picture of it. 15.02.14_0021

So, there you have my pictures of our lovely time. Hope you enjoyed!

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And bread to strengthen man’s heart: A time for feasting, part 2

Let’s talk baguette.

How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Oh, symphony of crackle. Only great breads sound this way.” (Colette, Ratatouille, Pixar, 2007)

A couple years ago I purchased a grand cookbook. Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. I bought it, I poured over the pages, I even tried some of the recipes. But it was the bread recipes that eluded me while sparking my imagination. The recipes are insanely detailed, down to a how-to on how to make an at-home steam generator.

The process for Demi-Baguette starts the night before you want the baguette. This recipe takes time, patience, and just straight-up following directions. The night before, you make the poolish. This is a water, wheat, and yeast mixture that will give flavor to the dough. This sits for 12-15 hours and gets all bubbly and alive.

The next morning, the dough process starts. The three stages are mixing, fermentation, and proofing. The fermentation process involves stretching and folding every hour for three hours. That is what makes the recipe a recipe that can be made while doing other things, but isn’t conducive to being out of the house for longer than an hour.

After the fermentation, comes the proofing – carefully folding the dough into shapes and letting them sit for a while, then making them into their loaf shapes and letting them sit. And, see, this is where my thinking got off. Because I thought that proofing meant rising. I made these little baguette shapes and kept waiting for them to rise. And waiting. And waiting. And after the time was up and they were supposed to go in the oven, I was stumped. I was so worried that I had done all this work and for all that I was going to get flat loaves of unimpressive baguette. But I put them into the oven and let bygones be bygones. And took up stock in Kleenex. (Okay, that last part was just dramatic. I didn’t actually cry).

Now comes the one difference to the recipe I made. The at-home steam generator kit in the book calls for rocks, a chain, and a water blaster. I don’t have that stuff sitting around, nor did I want to put up rocks and chains and insert them into my oven. So I tried a different trick. I can’t tell you how it worked compared to Keller’s fascinating idea, but I thought it worked for a lazy, more normal person. While the oven was pre-heating, I put a large cast iron skillet in the bottom of the oven to warm up. When I put the loaves in the oven, I put some ice into the cast iron pan, causing steam to rise up. I got this from a different baguette recipe that was much easier and shorter, but didn’t produce wonderful results. But I liked the cast iron idea.

So I put the loaves in, left the kitchen, and returned about 10 minutes later, turned the oven light on, peered in, and squealed with joy. (That part isn’t dramatic. I might have had tears in my eyes at this point, actually). There in the oven, a wonderful thing had happened. The loaves had risen up and puffed out and were starting to look authentic. I added some more ice cubes to the skillet to produce some more steam and danced around the kitchen for a bit.

And then about 10 minutes later, out of the oven I pulled some beauties. I made these a day early, so on Saturday, I actually put them in the oven a bit more to harden up the edge which had softened in the plastic bag I put them in over-night. And when I cut into them, they had those wonderful holes and that yeasty taste and that verse from Psalm 104 is completely true.



I’d just like to add that maybe man can’t live on bread alone, but I think I could live a pretty happy existence with baguette and Brie.

Disclaimer: I’m sorry I’m not sharing a recipe with you. My typical policy is that I will share recipes that I have changed from the original, but I don’t like to post other people’s recipes when I just followed them. I highly recommend Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. I have loved the recipes I have made from it. Disclaimer over.


Filed under French Cooking

A time for feasting, part 1

The end of most Januarys the thought hits me: Oh Crud. Next month is February. Hearts, red, pink, chocolate, here we come. Singleness Awareness Day.

This time, when the thought crossed my mind about the impending doom of February, an idea was born. Forged from the desire to give my single friends a special time to make them feel appreciated instead of feeling sorry for ourselves. Forged also from my own desire to plan and cook an elaborate meal. Because I like doing that.

So I set out to tell my single friends to book the evening and started dreaming of a menu. I knew I wanted to do something fancy. I looked up a traditional French course meal to see how many courses there are and the order of them. I ended up not making things that could completely be described as French, nor did I serve them in exactly the order one is supposed to, but it’s my party and I’ll do what I want. :)

Disclaimer: In order to talk about the different parts, I am going to divide these posts into different themes. This post will be about planning the party, the menu, and how it all went. Other posts will include more specifics on the actual dishes and maybe some recipes. Disclaimer over.

My plan did involve some simplicity, actually. (If you feel like that is crazy by the end of this post, you may feel free to tell me that in the comments) I knew that if I was going to pull off a 6 course meal, I would have to not over-do one single part of it so that I could actually make all those courses.

The first thing websites said about French meals is that you always have baguette available during the entire meal. Since I have been wanting to try out Thomas Keller’s recipe from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, I used this as my opportunity.

I decided that instead of doing the courses in the same order the French do, I would do more of an American take on it. According to the websites I read, the French actually have the salad course after the main dish. Well, that just went against everything I’ve thought about for a long time. So the courses I chose upon were:

  1. Appetizer
  2. Soup
  3. Salad
  4. Entree/Meat/Main Dish
  5. Cheese Plate
  6. Dessert

The first thing I really settled on was the main dish. A while ago I pinned a recipe for Zinfandel Short Ribs over Polenta that I’ve been wanting to try a while. Wintery Stew-like dishes are always so comforting. The second dish I settled on was the salad. A while ago my friend made a salad for a French 5 course meal we did, and I have loved it ever since. It was an arugula salad with goat cheese croutons that I loved. I’ve made it several times since, but this time I decided to do a take on it. So, I made an Arugula, Blood Orange, Pine Nut Salad with small Goat Cheese Croutons. The third dish I knew I wanted to do was Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Covered Strawberries for dessert. I messed around for a while between Creme Brûlée and Chocolate Mousse and settled on mousse since it was Valentine’s Day. And because I like to have reasons to make chocolate covered strawberries. I’m pretty sure they are my love language. I also decided pretty quickly on what soup I would like to make. I flipped through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and found her Garlic Soup recipe, which sounded good to me. I ended up making a completely different recipe, but looking at hers was what got me started down that road.

The most difficult course for me to figure out what the appetizer course. I knew that I just wanted to have a small appetizer to whet the appetite, but I had no idea what. And then, one day, I created something in my little apartment kitchen that was so delicious, I wanted to find a way to re-create it for the appetizer. I made a garlic, butter, lemon shrimp pasta that somehow turned out beautifully one day. But turning it into something that could be an appetizer was hard. Pasta noodles aren’t exactly easy to eat. I finally settled on using tortellini. I just put a few on the plate with the shrimp and we had a small appetizer. My friend Elizabeth helped with the cheese course as well as a trip to Whole Foods.

So that was the menu! I loved thinking through all the different components and trying to find things that would go together. I wanted to keep the different parts light so no one would feel bloated by the end.

Prepping the table

Prepping the table

As I was dreaming about courses, I also was thinking through the decorations. Since I wanted to be an event where each girl felt special, I thought it would be fun to give each girl a little bouquet of flowers. If I was going to give each girl flowers, I figured I might as well use them to decorate the table with. Although it was designed to be a fancy affair, I didn’t want the decor to be too fancy or stiff, so I incorporated some mason jars along with tan linen napkins and a blue tablecloth.

A table setting

A table setting

Just another angle

Just another angle

Take home strawberries

Take home strawberries

I spent about a month dreaming about and planning this time. I spent part of Friday and Saturday preparing for it. I woke up Saturday morning with a blazing headache, worried everything would fall through because it hurt to think. But God was gracious and slowly took the headache away as I started gaining strength to work on what I had so long planned for.

This is my headache face.

This is my headache face.

Then 4:45 came and my friend Elizabeth arrived and helped me with the finishing touches of everything. Then 5:45 hit and the other girls arrived and we sat down to a wonderful time with friends. I am so thankful for the chance to share with these girls. Cooking for people and having them into my (parent’s) home is another one of my love languages (besides chocolate covered strawberries), and it was truly an honor and a gift to me to be able to share with my friends. There was honesty and food, laughter, listening to music, and after it was all over they stayed and helped with the worst part of any party: the dishes.

Ruth, Dani, and Bridget

Ruth, Dani, and Bridget

Elizabeth and I

Elizabeth and I

So here’s to the best Valentine’s Day yet. And to many more in the future!

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Filed under French Cooking, Journal, Parties

The Giver: Book and Movie review

A warning for all of you reading this: There are spoilers contained in this review. If you have not read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry, I suggest you not read the rest of this. If you haven’t seen the movie, it may be okay for you to read on. It all depends on whether you like special things to be told about things you haven’t seen yet. I don’t like that, so, if it were me, and I hadn’t seen the movie, I wouldn’t read on. Either way, that’s the end of my warning.

Somehow I managed to not read The Giver in high school. I did not read it till last summer, actually. I struggled when I read it with how sad the book is, and a general dislike of dystopian novels, but I did find that I liked it. As I have thought back on it over the year, I have liked it even more. Reading it is, in and of itself, a thrilling experience. You desperately long to know what happens – and then the end comes and you are left wondering what happened.

I love how strong the theme of life is in the book. Lowry seems to draw in on how important it is to preserve life – even life that is not deemed as “fit” by the society. The parallels she draws between war and death in the memories and release to elsewhere in the community are striking. When I read it, I remember being enthralled by the descriptions. Somehow in her writing, Lowry is able to make you feel as though you are experiencing things for the very first time with Jonas. It opened my eyes to the wonder in the world around me – to the grandeur of color, the wonder of snow, the tragedy of war, and the blessedness of life. But, the haunting parts about the book, to me, were the descriptions of pain. Just as I felt wonder and awe with Jonas about colors, so I also I felt the pain alongside him. When he felt pain, he understood why the elders had initiated sameness. He questions whether life and love and emotions are worth all the pain. I understand this question. I’ve questioned it myself. During the reading of the book, I found myself emotionally reacting to the pain alongside Jonas. Tears flowed freely from my eyes as I felt the stabs of pain with him.

I think my first reaction to knowing there would be a movie was, “Oh, why do they have to mess another great book up?” I vaguely remember a conversation with someone about it, actually. I have an intense dislike for movies made from great books in which they do not live up to the book itself. There are notable and amazing exceptions to that dislike (Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe), but there are also many more that I have disliked. When I heard that the movie came out and that it got some good reviews from places I trust (I’m talking to you, World Magazine), I got more interested in seeing the movie.

Like any movie based off of a book, there were differences between the book and movie. I’ll admit they are there, but I don’t want to dwell on them. I walked out of the theater amazed by how well the movie matched the overall feeling and theme of the book. I was even more amazed that the movie seemed to go even farther than the book. The book has a wonderful emphasis on life and love; the movie has more of an emphasis on love. It is an emphasis that I think is a completely acceptable one. The movie actually shows the gospel in a powerful way. Two lines are said very close to each other in time in the movie in a powerful way – a way that can open up conversations for the gospel.

At the very end of the movie, there is a tense scene in which The Giver (played by Jeff Bridges) is trying to plead with the elders, specifically with the “lead elder” (played by Meryl Streep, though the role is not in the book), to stop the release of a young girl. They are arguing about memories and whether they should be returned to the people. The lead elder thinks it is a bad idea. The Giver thinks it is a good idea. He makes some statements about love – explaining what it is, how it feels, and why it is important, and then says, “With love comes faith and hope.” Faith, hope, and love….the greatest of these is love. Faith, hope, and love – where do those three exist but in Scripture – In whom do they exist if not in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Without love you cannot have faith and hope, and love is the everlasting one of the three. The boldness of Hollywood to leave a line in like that astounded me.

But it doesn’t stop there, as far as the gospel goes. It cannot, in fact, stop there. Or, to be more precise, it cannot start there. After a few more lines of dialogue, the lead elder makes a powerful statement. She said, “But people are weak. And when people have the chance to chose, they will always chose wrong.”

Re-read that for me and let it sink in just a bit.

“When people have the chance to chose, they will always chose wrong.”

Yes, Meryl. Yes they will. Always.

And that is why we humans need Love personified. That is why we need faith and hope. Because we have none in and of ourselves. If we only have ourselves to look to, we are doomed. That is a truth that must be addressed to present the person of Jesus Christ to a world without true love – a world without faith and hope and love.

So I walked out of the theater loving this little, short movie. I can find fault with it. But a movie that can say two statements of truth so close together while showing the blessedness of life? That is something I can and will support. In fact, I supported it so much I asked my parents to read the book and go see the movie with me again.

I’m headed off to a Bible study in a few minutes in which we will look at the Heidelberg Catechism. The first question is an apt ending to wrap up what I have (poorly) tried to say in this post.

“What is your only comfort in life and death?”

That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”

May God’s comfort in the person of Christ be your hope this week.

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Breakfast: Easy Egg Muffins

I know, I know. I’m finally posting a recipe.

The past few weeks have come with a lot of change and transition. A new school, a new city, new people, and the old nose-to-the-grindstone schedule of a new school year. Breakfasts are always hard for me. I go off and on of what I feel like I can and can’t eat. Part of the problem for me is that I am picky and I’m not usually hungry in the morning. Now, I know people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I believe that. It’s not my favorite, but I believe it. So, on the first day of school I pulled a yogurt out of the fridge, opened it up, and started eating it only to discover that I was going through one of my weird, “I just can’t even stomach yogurt” phases. Yogurt is one of the easiest breakfasts there is, and it happens to be good for you, so I felt stumped.

Enter an idea I saw on pinterest a while back: egg muffins. I wondered if it would actually work. And, if it did, would they actually taste good? Eggs are tricky, as far as cooking/overcooking them goes. If they are overcooked they are gross. Believe me. I know. I overcooked this here recipe…it’s okay. It was only once. Anyways, I decided I might as well try egg muffins loaded with all kinds of goodness. I looked up a few recipes and, in the end, just decided to wing it myself. So, I give you my all-new egg muffin recipe. What I love about these is that you can make them, put them in the fridge, and just heat them up for 1 minutes in the microwave and voila! You have your breakfast as you run out the door already 5 minutes late.

Missy’s Egg Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
9 eggs
⅓ c. Milk
6 strips bacon, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
½ c. Cheese (whatever is your favorite)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
Spraying oil
Preheat the oven to 350. Cook bacon. Sauté pepper and onion in olive oil. Meanwhile whisk the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper. Add cheese and any herbs you might fancy. Most recently I tried basil. Sage might be yummy too. Or cilantro for a Mexican flair. When the bacon, peppers, and onion are finished, mix them in to the egg mixture. Spray a 12 muffin tin with a generous amount of oil, especially if you are using a stone. (Lesson from experience). Put about a half cup of the mixture in each muffin place (what do they call those?), or less depending on your muffin pan. Cook for 25 minutes in the oven. Let cool, then take out of the pan.
The really neat part of this recipe is that you can try all sorts of different combinations with the same 9 egg mixture. My most recent try was with sausage, a bit of Parmesan and four-cheese, and basil.



Filed under Savory Dishes

The Hawk and the Dove and the Gospel: A Book Review

As you may remember from my previous book review, I’m actually rather bad at book reviews. I can handle the short paragraph review of Goodreads, but a long review (or writing of any kind) – is not actually my strong suit. “Why, then, does this girl have a blog?,” you might ask. Good question. But back to the subject at hand: During the TV coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, a friend, and I started up a Facebook message chat thing. Almost every night, we would watch the Olympics and chat about what was happening on the screen. We also meandered to other topics such as personal health, the church, YouTube series we both watch, and, of course, books. During one of these (rather lengthy and battery-draining and awesome) conversations, my friend recommended we do a book swap. We live in completely different parts of the country and have only met in person once or twice. So we agreed to mail each other a book, read it, mail it back, and have a conversation about it. We decided that the next month, March would be a good month. “Why, then, are you writing this review in July?,” you might ask. Well, we both had busy schedules. It soon became apparent that there was no way I would send a book till after school was out, so we postponed the book swap. Then the summer hit, and I was busy cleaning out my classroom to move to a different school. And then the day came when I realized that the book I had been pestering my friend to read and was intending to mail to her was not actually in my possession at the time. That is to say, I still own it, but it is on loan to another friend I pestered to read it. And if you know me well enough, you’ll probably already have guessed what book I sent my friend. So after months of putting it off, I finally ordered an amazon copy of The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon and sent it off to her. About a day later, I received a package from my sister as she was picking me up in her car on her way out to California. It was the book from my friend. She sent me The Hawk and the Dove series by Penelope Wilcock. Just a side note here that the copy she sent me has the first 3 books in it. The titles for the second two books in the series are The Wounds of God and The Long Fall. Two weeks later and I am finished with all three. I don’t usually read books that quickly unless the story grips me or if I am reading a mystery novel or a Harry Potter book. The classics take me months, sometimes years to get through. This book has a rather basic reading level and large print, which led to the speed at which I read it. I even spent time in California while my adorable nephew was laying on the floor reading this book instead of playing with him. Call me a bad aunt, but that’s how captivating this book was. And now to put off the triteness with which I have started this review. The contents of these books and their affect on me are not light-hearted. This book hit me deep in my heart, precisely at a time when I needed to read it. Books have that power – to speak where you especially need it and touch your heart. For that reason, this review will not be easy for me to write or (maybe) for you to read, but, as the book was, I hope this will be good. Please feel free to comment on your thoughts of the book or my review of it below. The Hawk and the Dove series chronicles the lives of the monks of St. Alcuins Monastery set in England. I picked up that they are set in England through context clues, so if I am wrong, please correct me. The stories about the monks are told from a mother to her daughter (in the first and second books). The third book jumps right into the stories themselves instead of jumping back out for conversations between the mother and daughter of the earlier two books. I found this transition to be a good one. I did not quite understand the place of the side story of the narrator and her daughter in the first two books, since the story did not seem to go anywhere and was about the brothers anyway. The stories of the monks in the first two books are usually about a certain topic as the mother introduces the story. The characters in these first books are varied. Some stories focus on one brother, while another focuses on a different one. The last half of the second book and the whole third book completely follow the story of two particular monks. One of the main characters is Father Peregrine. Peregrine means hawk and everything about him is hawk-life. He has eyes that look deeply in soul-piercing way. He can be severe in his judgement and harsh in what he says. Through the course of the story, tragedy strikes the life of Father Peregrine. He is humbled many times by trials, which takes him from being severe man to a humble and gracious one. He is a monk who can sympathize with weakness and pain. These traits make him able to serve well as the abbott of the monastery. The second main character is a brother named Tom. Tom is a hot-headed young man who enters the service of God, a fact that shocks many people including his family and, sometimes, the other brothers. He does not always seem to belong with the monastery with its focus on simplicity and discipline, but it is a good place for him. In the course of the story, Tom becomes Father Peregrine’s attendant/assistant to help Father Peregrine with tasks he can no longer perform due to his injuries. Throughout the book, a friendship unfolds between these two monks who are so very alike, yet so well-suited to help each other. My favorite parts of the books were the talks these two characters had. Father Peregrine would simply go on and on, expounding the riches of the gospel to Tom. These passages spoke directly to my soul, as Father Peregrine brings out the Man of Sorrows who knew pain and suffering for us. As he struggles through pain and humility, Peregrine looks to His Savior who suffered every insult and injury imaginable for the sake of saving sinners. But this is not a book about a perfect saint who bore all the affliction and suffering perfectly. I saw Peregrine’s struggle. I felt his pain. I knew his weakness as my own. Wilcock does not shy away from delving into the very heart of Peregrine. And, to my amazement, Father Peregrine does not shy away from revealing his heart to Brother Tom. He opens up what he is thinking and feeling, yet also focuses his mind on the gospel. I highly recommend this book to you, but also highly recommend you take stock in Kleenex before reading it. I already plan to buy the book, re-read it, and underline my favorite passages. Thanks especially to my friend Laura who shared it with me. I leave you with some of my favorite quotes in hopes that it will prompt you to read it yourself. May our lives be saturated with the hope of the gospel and a realization that Christ has suffered for us, and we are sometimes given the hard task of suffering with him.

“Peregrine gently stroked the delicate skin of the child’s forehead…’Thus was Jesus,’ he whispered, ‘ and thus all the little ones whom Herod butchered. Oh, God protect you in this world, dear one. God keep you safe from harm.’ Melissa watched the tiny, pink hand grip round Peregrine’s scarred, twisted fingers, and sadness welled up in her for sorrow to come, for the inevitable harshness and pain. ‘You can’t ask that, Father, and you know it, of all people,’ she said gently. ‘But let him travel through life with his hand gripping Jesus’ scarred hand as tight as it now grips yours, and the storms will not vanquish him.'”

One of the stories tells of when Father Peregrine traveled to a debate concerning the nature of God, whether his supreme manifestation be in justice or mercy. Below are selections from Peregrine’s defense…

“‘The root of the cross is not justice though its fruit be mercy, as you say. The root of the cross is love, and what is laid down is more than gold, it is blood, life: given not with the clink of dead metal, but the the groans of a man dying in agony. No yellow shine of gold, but the glisten of sweat, and of tears. Justice is an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, for every sin a sacrifice. But Christ, the sinless one, is he whose broken body suffered on the cross, and the holy God in Christ who suffered hell for our sin. That is more than justice, my lord Prior, it is love. Nor is it merely a just love. It is a merciful love.’ … ‘For God loves me, even me; and tough Satan parade my sins and weaknesses before me, yet am I saved by the love of God in Christ Jesus, from which nothing can separate me. Justice would separate me from the love of God. By my sins do I justly perish. But I am redeemed, reborn, recreated; I am held and sheltered and restored by the love of God. Mon pere, I cannot call that justice. It is grace, free grace. It is the most prodigal generosity. It is all mercy.'”

And after a heart-wrenching meeting with a struggling brother, Peregrine prayed…

“‘How do you do it?’ He prayed in silent wonder. ‘How did you do so much without doing anything? How did you lift the man out of that torturing agony of grief and fear just by consenting to bear the same torture, the same lonely agony? Suffering God, your grace mystifies me. You become weak to redeem me in my weakness. Your face, agonized, smeared with dust and sweat and blood and spit, must become the icon of my secret life with you. The tears that scaled my eyes run into your moth. The sweat of my fear glistens on your body. The wounds with which life has maimed me show livid on your back, your hands, your feet. The peace you win me by such a dear and bloody means defeat my reason. Lift me up into the power of your cross, blessed Lord. May the tears that run into your mouth scald my eyes. May the sweat that glistens on your body dignify my fear. May the blood that drips from your hands nourish my life.'”

What books spoke grace to your heart this summer?


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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!


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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Filed under Parties, Savory Dishes, Side Dishes