Camp cooking

We are camping in the trailer and have a potluck to go to tonight. As I am still setting up the stuff everywhere I was thinking of just picking something up on the way….but then I got inspired to make cornbread to go along with the store bought soup and decided to triple the recipe. Here is the original recipe:

I can never leave a recipe alone. I didn’t need this one to be GF so I added regular white flour. With my tripled amounts here are my changes:

1 c. Cornmeal

1/2 c. White flour

1/2 c. Coconut flour

1 c. Butter

1/3 c. Bacon fat

2/3 c. Coconut oil

2/3 c. Honey

1/3 c. Corn syrup

The other ingredients I just tripled. It was so soupy at 10 eggs I hesitated to do the whole 18 but I remembered how coconut sucks up the moisture so I went ahead and did it. Then I changed my mind and added a bit more flour, coconut flour and baking powder! I made 12 muffins and baked the rest in my cast iron roaster. I only added the vanilla to the pot. The muffins were done at 20 min @ 400. I covered the roaster for the first 20 min and then uncovered for 5-10 more since the top looked soggy.
The muffins definitely tasted more bacon-y.  The bread had a more vanilla taste. The texture was pretty good. Yum with butter! 🙂

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I had a thought today as I was cleaning about what the word terrestrial means. Space is vast. So vast that humanity simply cannot believe that we are the only living beings in existence – that this tiny “Goldilocks” planet is the only one is the universe to support life of any kind. And of course there is no way to prove extra terrestrial life, or lack thereof. Some other “goldilocks” type planet candidates have been found but usually on closer inspection (or more information) they turn out to be different enough that humans at least couldn’t live on them. 

Yet we persist in believing. And in many ways humans long to escape the limits of this planet. Whether it be New Age “planes of consciousnes” or spacecraft, humans around the world seek a way off, even if just to explore and come back. Of course, after thousands of years of staring at the stars, we now live in the Space age.  We have as a race accomplished space travel…even if only to “get there first” over other humans!  And the ultra rich can now escape Earth even if only for a quick visit to space. It boggles the mind!

Yet…what if there are extra terrestrial beings? The Bible’s answer is plain.  There are. The Bible teaches that God made angelic beings as well as humans.  Beings with a form of life, consciousness,  will, and ability to interact on some level with us. Beings that can appear as terrifying  (their first recorded words are usually “Fear Not”), or who can appear as human as you and I. Beings who, as recorded in various books of the Bible, exist to do God’s will…and yet, some of them (a third according to one verse) chose to reject that purpose and rebel against God. According to Scripture,  they were locked out of their natural realm – Heaven, where they could be in God’s presence – and thrown to the earth. And, they will eventually in the fullness of time be thrown into a special place of eternal punishment prepared for them by God. They know about this. One demon (s) speaks to Jesus and asked if Jesus was going to throw them into that place before their time. In fact they beg Jesus to be allowed to enter pigs instead.  Jesus gives his permission. ..and the whole herd of pigs goes absolutely mad and comits mass suicide. 

The thought that struck me today is this, that demons (fallen angels are called demons by the Bible to differentiate them from the obedient, un-fallen ones), were created unlike us in significant ways. They were not created to be tied to the earth. They can move without regard to gravity. They are not, in some significant way, bound here the way we are. Yet demons were cast down to the Earth. In Job, God asks Satan (he demon “ring leader” if you like), what he has been up to. His answer each time is, going to and from on the Earth. That always struck me as an odd exchange. Of course God knows where Satan has been. Why ask? You can assume it is to introduce the subject of Job, God’s servant, but what if it means more? Is being stuck on earth a form of punishment for demons? Is God reminding Satan of his living hell, his limitedness?  Is being terrestrial a terrible punishment for an extra terrestrial being? It sure would explain, at least in part, their absolute hatred of humanity – a terrestrial species who has the promise of eternal joy in the presence of the Lord for those who trust in Jesus. And the demons get…Hell. That has to really chafe. It isn’t like they can forget their low “estate” either because some verses of the Bible indicate that demons struggle against angels.  That must be like having otherworldly salt rubbed into the gaping wound. 

It is sobering to think of. And we still miss the point. In Luke 10 Jesus sent the disciples out to do his work. They came back rejoicing that even the demons had obeyed them. And Jesus replies, paraphrased, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. I have given you (all my powers). But don’t rejoice that the demons obey you, rather rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”  Those poor disciples always miss the point. (As fo we so often!) They see victory over God’s enemies as the supreme good while missing the point that they have that power because they have been given part of God’s authority, because they are now part of God’s family! How supremely reassuring for us. That we, brought into familial relationship with our creator, will be able to enjoy him forever in perfect fulfillment of our created purpose. Hallelujah!  🙂 

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Summer Fun days

“Go Outside and Play!”  That’s been my standard line all day.  We’ve had Fall come upon us already, leaves falling, rain every day…until today.  Sunny and warm!  So we kicked the kids outside while we made chocolate birthday cakes.  They had a blast.  Apparently it’s a ton more fun playing on the trampoline when you use the watering can to make it wet.  🙂

Here is my mostly GF chocolate cake recipe.  We also made a cake from the box.  Can you tell which is which?

two chocolate cakes cooling on racks

Which one is GF?

Tomorrow we are going to decorate them.  I’m going to try to use marzipan (homemade) for the first time in my life, and Nathan is going to try to fix his box cake’s split personality.  😉

I’m aiming for a “castle” theme with my decorations.  I have some macha (green tea) powder which I am thinking will make an awesome moat mixed with frosting.  The kids want to know where the towers are….so hmm…may need to make some towers!  Good thing we just bought ice cream cones.  Whatever happens, I know “my” mostly GF cake at least won’t make the kids blood sugar go crazy.  😉

Will post pics if they aren’t a disaster.

Since life is in total upheaval, moving without a place to go, we acquiesed to child one’s request to go mini-golfing.  Hopefully some friends and family will be able to join us.  And, I don’t have to move all the half-packed boxes out of the way to party here.  It’s going to be more expensive, way more, but hey you only have a birthday once a year right?  And I think the lack of stress over hosting will be worth the money.

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Kids can cook?

The answer is, of course they can.  Many kids and younger siblings would die of starvation if they didn’t manage to learn basic survival skill #1: Getting something to eat.  I remember one aspect that was mind-blowing during our visit to Cameroon was finding out that kids there get their own machetes at about age 4.  Kids at 6 or 7 were care-giving for their siblings all day.  So my sheltered 10 year old started looking _really_ sheltered.  We decided to introduce real life skills like chopping food a little bit earlier than we had assumed after that, and yet it’s still hard for me to see them wielding chef’s knives. Ok, I admit it, I bought a campy little device that they use in one hand to make sure they don’t cut their fingers off! Here it is:

One of the things that really got our kids going was looking through my issues of The Food Network magazine because everything looks so good in there!

Up to this point we have spent more of our homeschooling efforts on other aspects like this one, a visual comparison of what 100 calories look like for different foods…

Various amounts of foods that make 100 calories

100 Calorie Food Comparison

and learning about nutrition.  What is fat, protein, carbs, and why does it matter?  What are calories?  What are vitamins and why do we need them?  How do you shop for foods?  How do you menu plan?  Etc.

This year I decided we are going to really focus on actual cooking skills.  One of the reasons is that I watched an episode of Rachel Ray’s Kids Cook-Off (interview with the winner here).  It was amazing watching these kids chop veggies quicker than I do usually!  (ok, I’ve cut myself too many times, so I just choose to chop slowly…but still)  My kids are nowhere near winning their own cooking show, and I’m fine with that, but we need to get going on some of these skills.

For fun today, I made one of the contestant’s sandwich recipes for lunch.  It’s a take on PB&J, only with fresh berries mixed with the jam, and adding in sliced bananas, candied pecans and chopped bacon.  We used fresh raspberries mixed with blackberry jam and no Chipotle.  I had my 10 yo help by candying the pecans and slicing the bananas, then helping me assemble the sandwiches.  It was fun!  The sandwich itself got mixed reviews, most of the fam said it was a bit over the top, but it tasted good and it was a fun change up for us.  The Food Network put this recipe up online from the show if you want to see it there.  This is ours in mid assembly:

PB&J with bananas, fresh fruit and baconOne of the joys of parenting is seeing your childrens’ gifts come out and flourish.  I’m sure the parents of the kids on that show were mighty proud.  I’m not expecting anything like that out of my kids, but I am looking forward to seeing what fun adventurous ideas they come up with in the kitchen!


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So Happy Together….

I have been really enjoying the Piano Guys music and videos and this one, with Steve happy with his cello, is pretty funny and an ear worm.  It also describes our last weekend. 
The video

We are hitting 13 years this September but without a place to live yet in Sept (lease ends Aug 31 and so far nobody will rent to a family our size), we decided to celebrate our anniversary early. The grandparents took all the kids for 2 nights and a day. This was also the youngests’ first night away from Mommy and Daddy made extra challenging because he isn’t weaned yet. 

The stress we have been under the last little while has been pretty high. So this time at home just the two of us was really, really nice. What did we do? Well….being foodies…we cooked for each other!

Not the best pic but this was our dinner.  Nathan made ribs with his latest take on homemade HP sauce (super yummy but a real pain to clean off of glass), homemade potatoes wedges, and I made “green juice” smoothies and dessert which was very simply local strawberries and real whipped cream. It was fantastic and a good lesson on how the simple things are sometimes the best! And of course carrots for our colons. 😉

We also spent some time in the evenings watching the stars come out. I highly recommend this activity as long as you’re warm and comfy, which we were. We live in one of the best places in the world to see stars on a clear night and boy did we see them! Plus some shooting ones. 

This may have been our best anniversary yet. 🙂

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The world is burning

There is nothing more primitively satisfying than making fire. “I make fire!” should be accompanied by chest thumping and grunting. I have discovered in this, our first year of needing fire to keep warm all winter, that making fire is not so simple as one might think. Paper, tinder, lighter, fire – right? Well we eventually discovered that our chimney was almost totally blocked. So part of my struggles could be chalked up to that. But N always seems to have an easier time of it. This handy little life-saving hack has evened the playing field. 

It is so simple to make.  All you need is an egg carton, dryer lint and a tea light candle. Stuff the egg compartments as full as you can with lint, take the wax or soy candle out of the metal and place on top. Melt on a cookie tray (covered with foil if you aspire to use it for anything else ever again. We now have a dedicated sheet just for this), oven at 250, until it is melted. Don’t don’t don’t forget it! Flammable!  🙂  When cool just cut the compartments apart, place one in the fire and light. Pure flame that lasts for 10 min or more, which is plenty of time to get a normal fire started (of course you need to add tinder and firewood). 

With the most recent Islamic terrorist attack in Nice, France, it might seem that the world itself is burning up. Sometimes I wonder if that primitive delight in fire is partially responsible for the apparent human desire to create chaos.  What are the most popular movies?  Ones featuring apocalyptic chaos. Zombies. Alien invasions. War.  Yet… Peace.  We all talk about it. Jews even greet each other with the word for peace and wellness in the world, Shalom. Yet we keep making great towers of civilization. ..only to burn them down again. I am talking on the human level not the individual, but it certainly plays itself out there too. A close family member was an abuse victim as a child. As an adult “they” made choice after choice to basically torpedo their own success. Every time things were going well, they did something foolish to ruin it. I know this is a common thing for victims of abuse but still. Why do we self destruct? 

I wrote this commentary on racism this week as the American nation again faces new onslaughts of “race” related violence. I think it applies.


Racism sucks. There is only one race. The human race. Racism itself, the idea of different races, was an evolutionist made up story to justify racism.  So that it made sense for the African slave trade to continue – because they were a lesser race.  You know what I have noticed? I have lived in a lot of places.  And racism is nothing more than a combination of fear and greed. Fear of losing economic benefits (and / or personal security) to a perceived threatening sub group.  And greed – to keep the status quo going if it benefits you.  Everyone is racist to some degree and we all need to admit it.  Immigrants?  Mexicans? Blacks? Asians? Jews? Muslims? Gentiles?  Whites? Foreigners? Christians? Liberals? Men?  Women? If you have ever jumbled all the people of one group together in your head under the idea that there is some kind of trait shared by all then you have done the same thing as the founder of racism.  The only true solution is Jesus. In him, all are equal, slave, master, male, female….all equal and equally valuable. As the Bible says He came to set us free from the sin that clings so closely. In Him we are truly united into one body, free to love each other as brothers and sisters because we share the one truly important trait – forgiveness of our sins, indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God himself, justified in the eyes of the one true Holy God and being conformed into His image daily until we are made perfect in Him. Becoming less racist should not be our goal, as Christians. We should strive to leave all clinging sins behind and cling to our Saviour alone.


Of course, the Bible says that the end of the world will come in flames. So I don’t think we can escape the fires. But, and here is the important part, we can be saved out of it.

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Creative catch-up

I forgot to post an experiment that was inspired by a talk during our FSJ trip. We were talking about how awesome “Monkey Bread” is, and wondered if it would be just as awesome if it was garlic butter bread? So here are the pics of my attempt:

Garlic Butter Pull Apart dough

Bread dough, in balls, dipped into garlic butter

And here is the finished product. The dough puffed up beautifully so the balls ended up being less buttery than I expected. So I served with a butter garlic dipping “sauce”:

Baked Garlic Butter Pull Apart Bread

Yum!  All ready for dinner!

So, it turns out, you can definitely make it. And it rocks!

The recipe is too simple to make a whole page for, just take bread dough (I do have bread dough recipes here), make into small balls and dip into garlic butter.  Use real minced garlic.  🙂  Then pile in and bake!

Another experiment that was delicious I put into a recipe here.  Stuffed wontons

It’s called “Dessert Bows” and it’s wontons stuffed with rice pudding, nutella or lemon curd and strawberries.  The leftovers made an awesome breakfast the next day:

Rice Pudding Dessert wth Strawberries, Cream and Lemon Curd

I may need to stop getting all creative in the kitchen for a while, as we have to move.  Again.  Our rental landlords decided they wanted to sell the house, despite giving us verbal assurance that they would not put it up for sale while we were renting it.  Sigh.  No new place yet!  Another sad note: Parfait cup cracked in the dishwasher.  Goodbye, parfait cup.  It was sweet having you around.

lemon curd yogurt granola parfait

Parfait with Lemon Curd, Granola and vanilla Yogurt


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