31 October 2011

since life gave me lemons...

LemonAfter preparing high tea for The Importance of Being Earnest, despite our most careful calculations, my mother and I had plenty of leftover food. No one complained. The happy excess included three pounds of cream cheese (used for this cheesecake) and lots of apple muffins (likewise from Smitten Kitchen).

Also lemons. I came home with three pounds.

No lemonade; it's apple cider season, silly. But yesterday we had friends over for lunch after church, and I used those lemons in some seriously good chicken. And then peach cobbler for dessert . . . where those endless summer peaches, so tidily frozen, came in handy. :) A good meal was had by all.

We still have five lemons left, though. Any ideas?


Lemon Garlic Chicken
(original recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet)

2 lbs chicken drumsticks and/or bone-in thighs
3 tablespoons olive oil
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

1) Rinse chicken and pat dry, then place in glass bowl.
2) Combine all remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Stir to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate 2-10 hours.
3) Preheat oven to 375 and coat baking dish with nonstick spray. Arrange chicken in dish so that pieces do not touch. Bake 45-55 minutes, until juice runs clear and meat is no longer pink at the bone. 

Lemon Spice Peach Cobbler
(I have no idea where this recipe came from but it's awfully delicious)

6-8 cups chopped peaches
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 cups unbleached white flour*
1 cup granulated or raw sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten with fork

1) Preheat oven to 375 and coat 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
2) Combine peaches, arrowroot, lemon juice, and spices; pour into prepared dish.
3) Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest in separate bowl; add melted butter and eggs, stir to combine.
4) Distribute topping evenly over peaches. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Excellent served warm with vanilla ice cream, vanilla Greek yogurt, or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

*Just use oat flour, or finely ground rolled oats, for a gluten-free option.

Linked to Simple Lives Thursday.

{image credit: Back from Prague}

Distracted with much serving

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
 -Luke 10:38-42


Jesus doesn't say that serving is a bad use of Martha's time, nor does he scold her for working hard. But he does rebuke her for being "anxious and troubled" about her work. 

Martha was so distracted by trying to please the Lord that she neglected Jesus Himself . . . so burdened by "serving" that she missed the joy of His presence.

{image: Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, Vermeer van Delft}

29 October 2011

Weekend linkage

I think I have the paper for this classy bookshelf project... now to find a gold pen.

The talking statues of Rome.

Well this is about the craziest story I've read all year.

Speaking of crazy, good to know someone else is mad about sriracha.

Having just taught Billy Budd in American Lit class, this was a pleasing find: an extinct and particularly ginormous species of sperm whale, named after Melville himself.

Two lists from Grace Laced-- words that shape your attitude, whether discontented or peaceful.

It's almost calendar shopping season, isn't it? (I want a penguin.)

"Trails of Tarnation," your dose of weird Western humor for the week.

My newest crunchy website find: diyNatural.

28 October 2011

he is no fool

And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
-Luke 9:23-26


He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
-Jim Elliot

26 October 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: which is to be master

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."

-from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll


I'm experimenting a bit with blog layout. The other pattern was getting a bit too fussy for me. At the moment we've got Arthur Rackham in the background-- Arthur Rackham, who incidentally made some very good illustrations for Carroll's books. :)

24 October 2011

cloudy with a chance of meatballs

"The only thing that was really different about Chewandswallow was its weather. It came three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everything that everyone ate came from the sky . . ."

Best bedtime story ever.


This recipe-- like roast chicken and chocolate cake and many other wonderful things-- I learned from my mother. I've tried a few other meatball recipes but, honest to golly, none are as good as this one. I don't know why I bothered looking. :)

Use in spaghetti or soup, make a cream gravy and serve over mashed potatoes, stick them in a roll for meatball sandwiches. They freeze well so are ideal for big-batch cooking. 


Best Ever Meatballs
(I think the original recipe came from a cooking magazine and was titled 'Swedish Meatballs') 

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground turkey
3/4 cup finely ground oats
1/2 cup minced white onion
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 350 and lightly coat two large baking panswith nonstick spray.
2) Combine all ingredients thoroughly. I use the Kitchen Aid. If mixture seems dry, add more milk until mixture is moist and soft but not too sticky to handle.
3) Shape into small meatballs, about 3/4 inch in diameter, and arrange in single layer in pans. Place close together but do not allow to touch. I can fit a single recipe into two 9x13 pans but you may need to bake in installments.
4) Bake for 13-15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before freezing.

Linked to Simple Lives Thursday.

21 October 2011

Weekend linkage

Did you know that Pandora now has unlimited listening time, even if you're a cheapo like me and don't buy a membership? No more annoying "you have reached your monthly limit" messages. I'm all over that. One thing I like about Pandora is how you can find new artists . . . well, new to you anyway. (Today, for example, thanks to my Mat Kearney station, I was introduced to Joshua Radin and remembered Griffin House.)

Despite the fact that I have nearly 400 recipes bookmarked on Delicious, and will probably only ever make 20% of them, this week I still managed to add these spiced nuts and this roasted cauliflower and these stuffed mushrooms to the collection.

Oh, please. If I had $120 dollars it would not be going towards a trivet.

Now that it's scarf weather . . . 25 stylish ways to wear them. Useful!

as long as life endures

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

-John Newton

19 October 2011

Roasting a chicken . . .

Perfect Roast Chicken

. . . is really not very hard. Moist, flavorful, with perfectly crisp skin? Yes. Anyone with a sharp knife and a big pan can do this. :)

Here is what I learned from my mother on the topic of chicken-roasting: buy a good quality bird, keep it small, go with a short time at high heat, and use butter.

Classic Roast Chicken
 (thanks Mom)

1 whole chicken, 3-5 pounds
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon dried herbs*
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small lemon (optional)
splash of white wine (optional)

1) Melt butter and herbs together in small saucepan. Meanwhile, trim chicken: remove giblets from interior cavity and cut away excess fat at the tail end. Do not cut off any skin, though. Save giblets for later if you'd like to make stock. Using your fingers and a sharp paring knife, separate skin from breast (you should be able to slip your hand between the skin and meat) and cut small slits in skin over thigh joint.

2) Now stretch the loosened skin away from breast meat without tearing it, and pour a tablespoon or two of melted herb butter over exposed meat. Usually I do this in two installments, first buttering up the back half of the chicken and then the front half. Replace skin and flip chicken onto its back. Pour over some of  remaining herb butter, reserving a tablespoon or so in the pan. Salt and pepper this side of the chicken generously.

3) Place chicken (still on its back) in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and flip chicken very carefully, using tongs and a long meat fork, and pour remaining butter over top. This will help to produce a crispy skin that's to die for. Make sure you get some into slits cut over thigh joint. Salt and pepper this side generously and return to oven for 45 minutes.

4) This step, for lack of a better term, may be called the "hip check." Remove chicken from oven and using a long fork and a sharp knife, take a peek at joint between body and thigh. If juices run clear and meat is firm, with a hint of pink at deepest part of joint, chicken is done roasting; if juices are pink and/or meat is still soft and red, pop some tinfoil over top, roast 10 minutes more, and check again. It ought to be done by this time, but if you have a large bird, it may need even more roasting.**

5) Once chicken is finished in oven, remove to platter and keep covered with foil. You now have the option of making a pan sauce from the drippings and browned bits in the roasting pan. I would if I were you. If your pan can go straight over a burner, do so and turn it to medium-low. If not, scrape everything into a small saucepan and turn it to medium-high. Add a splash of white wine if you'd like, bring it all to a bubble, and let cook for a minute or two. Pour into pitcher. (Yes, this is mostly fat. Oh well.)

Chicken Stock

Once you have removed any leftover meat from the bone, toss carcass, giblets, skin, and any random bones lying about into a stock pot. I like to add trimmings from onions, celery, and carrots, which I store in the freezer in anticipation of stock-making; if you haven't any I would recommend adding half an onion and maybe a small carrot, chopped. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and just enough water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 12-24 hours on the back burner. You may want to add a bit more water halfway through due to evaporation. The long cooking time is so as to extract as much goodness and nutrition as possible from those bones. :) Let cool, then strain out bones, skin and vegetable pieces. Skim most of the fat from surface. Freeze or refrigerate.

If you are like me, i.e. harebrained, you may wish to do this in your crockpot. Then you do not need to worry about burning things or letting the stock boil over. Both of which I've done.

*Tarragon, sage, and thyme are all excellent.
**This is why you want to buy a small one. With a large chicken, by the time the thigh is done, the breast has begun to dry out.

{image: adashofsass, who trusses her chicken, but I don't mine}

Well Written Wednesdays: dance, old scarecrow

She passed through the old cotton and went into a field of dead corn. It whispered and shook, and was taller than her head. 'Through the maze now,' she said, for there was no path.

Then there was something tall, black, and skinny there, moving before her.

At first she took it for a man. It could have been a man dancing in the field. But she stood still and listened, and it did not make a sound. It was as silent as a ghost.

'Ghost,' she said sharply, 'who be you the ghost of? For I have heard of nary death close by.'

But there was no answer, only the ragged dancing in the wind.

She shut her eyes, reached out her hand, and touched a sleeve. She found a coat and inside that an emptiness, cold as ice.

'You scarecrow,' she said. Her face lighted. 'I ought to be shut up for good,' she said with laughter. 'My senses is gone. I too old. I the oldest people I ever know. Dance, old scarecrow,' she said, 'while I dancing with you.'

She kicked her foot over the furrow, and with mouth drawn down shook her head once or twice in a little strutting way. Some husks blew down and whirled in streamers about her skirts.

Then she went on, parting her way from side to side with the cane, through the whispering field.

-from "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty

18 October 2011

a refuge for us

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

-Psalm 62:5-8

17 October 2011

kids these days.

A mere twenty-four I may be, but I feel like I've truly arrived as a crotchety old lady.

While on the internet, especially social networking sites, I have begun to clutch my figurative pearls at a spelling trend noticeable among Today's Young Whippersnappers: adding completely unnecessary and illogical letters to random words.



I ask: whyyyy?

(I understand if they were to write goodbyyyyye, because if you were to say this word in a drawn-out fashion, you'd actually emphasize the y. But the e? I just don't get it.)

Someone enlighten me, if there's a reason for this, so I can stop pulling out my greying hair.

14 October 2011

Weekend linkage

Have you ever watched Kids React on YouTube? You should. Nothing better than a 10-year-old boy's honest opinion of Justin Bieber. Anyway, here's one of my favorite episodes: Kids React to Harry Potter. Six minutes of laugh. (The red-headed twins are the best.)

Ever since I saw a feature in Real Simple on lamp makeovers, I've been looking for a new shade. Our living room's table lamp has a great base, but a dingy old pleated shade . . . as replacements, this one and this one are particularly appealing.

This week I discovered Bloomsberry Chocolate. The flavor! The packaging! The color! I'm ruined for anything else.

Make a lace vase this weekend.

Not sure about you, but I write lists all the time, and this paper set looks perfect.

More grading music: back to the classics with Bach's Mass in B Minor.

I think this sort of conversation happens a lot with us. (I cry woe and despair. Long-suffering husband, though knowing the matter is not as dire as I think, pretends to take me seriously.)

I knew you could make incredible things out of Legos, but . . . wow.

12 October 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: holidays from the school of Christ

I wanted-- what did I want? I wanted the fine keen bow of a schooner cutting the waves with Davy and me-- just Davy and me and Flurry-- happy and loving and comradely on her decks. Well, there was nothing unChristian about that, as long as God was there, too, and as long as we were neglecting no service of love. But, though I wouldn't have admitted it, even to myself, I didn't want God aboard. He was too heavy. I wanted Him approving from a considerable distance. I didn't want to be thinking of Him. I wanted to be free . . . I wanted life itself, the colour and fire and loveliness of life. And Christ now and then, like a loved poem I could read when I wanted to.

I didn't want us to be swallowed up in God. I wanted holidays from the school of Christ. We should, somehow, be able to have [our old love] intact and follow the King of Glory. I didn't want to be a saint . . .

But for Davy, to live was Christ. She didn't want to be a saint, either; she was too humble even to think of such a thing. She simply wanted God.

-from A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

11 October 2011

magnificat anima mea Dominum

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones 
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

-Luke 1:46-55

{image: The Visitation by Juan Correa de Vivar}

10 October 2011

Because there are no words

You have led me to the sadness, I have carried this pain
On a back bruised, nearly broken- I'm crying out to You

I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy

When death, like a gypsy, comes to steal what I love  
I will still look to the heavens, I will still seek your face 
But I fear You aren't listening, because there are no words 
Just the stillness and the hunger for a faith that assures

I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy


While we wait for rescue with our eyes tightly shut 
Face to the ground, using our hands to cover the fatal cut 
Though the pain is an ocean tossing us around, around, around  
You have calmed greater waters, and higher mountains have come down

-"The Valley Song" by Jars of Clay

03 October 2011

oh, my head

“The moments of greatest philosophical and poetic intensity in Walden are these experiences of perceptual reorientation that reveal the inadequacy of conventional self-understanding.”

-David M. Robinson, Thoreau's Worldly Transcendentalism


Interpretive lingo: a good reminder of why I didn't go to grad school.

(Some people can speak in such terms all day and retain their sanity . . . alas, not me!)