Crackers - 2nd Attempt

Girls, I may have just found the perfect homemade cracker! Monday I made up the dough for Sourdough Crackers, found off the beloved HomeJoys blog. I had originally planned to bake them Tuesday night (the dough has to rest for seven hours or more/overnight); but we ended up doing haircuts for the boys. That was enough for one evening. So, I woke up and rolled them out early Wednesday morning. The dough rolled out easily, and I sprinkled garlic salt on them as the original recipe recommended. Sliced with a pizza cutter. Baked for 20 minutes. Ate one right away - DELICIOUS! Loved them. Been munching on them all day. Reuben loves them right along with me, and Eli's response? "Now THAT is a cracker!" (Jonah, as usual, would not try something new). I am excited to make them again, and try some variations. Some ideas that I have had are:

- Stirring in chopped, slivered almonds
- Garnishing with chipotle powder
- Mixing in Greek seasoning
- Adding italian seasoning and garnishing with parmesan cheese

The basic dough seems like it could be added upon without issues. They were simple to make, and I have a feeling they will be making a frequent appearance in our home. They would also be great with various dips as well. My only advice to myself in the future would be to roll them out very thinly. I did pretty well, but the thiner ones on the edges had a fabulous crisp texture that I wanted all of them to have ... and some in the middle just weren't quite that thin. But, I can't wait to make them again!


A Help Meet

18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (NIV)

18God said, "It's not good for the Man to be alone; I'll make him a helper, a companion." (The Message)

18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (New Living Translation)

18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (King James)

18And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. (American Standard Version)

Genesis 2:18 introduces the concept of a wife. Several different words are used: helper, companion, helper meet and help meet. I have always wondered…what exactly is a help meet? Sounds like a mistake…those two words don’t go together!

I was surprised to find that most articles/blogs written about this topic emphasize that the correct translation and understanding of the original Hebrew proves that women are neither subordinate nor inferior to men, but rather we are equal. I have never struggled with whether or not women are inferior to men, and I was more interested in discovering what my role is as a help meet.

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew. The Hebrew words used were ezer kenegdo, which happen to be very difficult to translate into English. Ezer is only found 21 times in the Old Testament and is almost always used to describe God when people are calling out in desperation. Through my research, I have found that the word ezer comes from the Hebrew root –z-r, which means “to rescue, to save.” Kenegdo means “alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.”

An example of how the word ezer is used to describe God is found in Psalm 121: 1-2: “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help (ezer) come from? My help (ezer) comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Verse 7 describes the type of help that the Lord provides: “The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life…”

Maybe my research has created more questions than answers. However, I now understand that my calling as a wife should not be taken lightly! I am much more than a companion who provides help with the everyday tasks of paying the bills, cleaning the house, raising children, cooking dinner, etc. I pray that God reminds me daily of the importance of my role as a wife, er, a help meet.


Crackers - 1st Attempt

For my first attempt at homemade crackers, I made the Crispy Rye and Seed Crackers from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday book. I had been SO looking forward to these crackers: they looked earthy, crunchy, salty ... just good for you and good to eat!

Well, they are good for you - but mine weren't so good to eat! The dough was almost the texture of modeling clay to me. Very thick. But I managed to roll it out thin and cut it into diamonds with a pizza cutter. Into the oven. And then I committed my all-to-often baking sin. Two minutes too long. I peeked when my timer beeped, and decided the crackers needed a couple more minutes. Returned probably four minutes later and pulled them out. Golden brown and crispy. And of a slightly burnt taste. Sigh.

Frustrated, I rolled out the second half of the dough. And in a state of over-concern I underbaked this batch ... probably about two - four minutes too short! So, they just weren't as crispy. And with all the seeds and stuff, I think these crackers really need that dry CRUNCH when you bite. Sigh. Again.

Eli wasn't too crazy about all the seeds. We both liked the garlic salt that I sprinkled on top as an added salty flavor. Instead of trying these again, I am going to make the Sourdough Crackers on HomeJoys for my next try. Hoping to find a winner that suits us!


Life is such a gift.

Over the weekend, I have been pondering the fragility of life. Jonah, saddled with bronchitis, would wake up at all hours of the evening, night, dark night, wee morning hours ... you get the picture. Wake up coughing and hacking. Monday morning he woke up and just started gasping for air. I happened to be in the hallway right outside his door and heard his cries. Inside, he looked at me. And I saw so much fear and confusion in his eyes. He was trying to cough and breathe, but crying because his chest was so tight and he felt like he couldn't breathe. My mommy heart just broke for him as I propped him up and reassured him that everything was going to be okay. To calm down. To trust Jesus.
Not in a morbid way, but this reminded me of how fragile our lives really are. We're dependent on the fact that our heart must beat, our chest and lungs breathe, our body work according to God's plan. But we can't number our days. Later I thought, 'what if Jonah really couldn't breathe? i have no control over how many days God gives him!' God's ultimate control and plan is
out of my control. And that actually makes me thankful! I can trust that His hands are bigger than mine, and that He holds our lives in them. Our lives are but "a breathe" as the Word says - may I use mine wisely and lovingly.
And treat my days as precious and as a gift. As I put Jonah down for his afternoon nap today, he asked if I would 'lay down and snuggle for just a minute'. I almost instinctly replied, 'you'll be okay, Mommy has things to do', but something stopped me. Probably the Lord! Why not take three minutes and snuggle? In a flash, he won't be wanting to snuggle with his mommy. Time will fly by and I'll look back and wish that I had slowed down enough to
be there with my children. So I stopped. Laid down. Snuggled. And enjoyed every minute by him, watching his breathing slow, his eyes close, and his body relax and succumb to sleep.
Thank You, Lord. Thank You for the gift of life. For each day with Eli, with Jonah, and with Reuben. May I stop being so "doing" and "self" oriented and enjoy such rich gifts.

6:00 'o' Clock a.m. and A Whole Lot of Reality

I know that I have been saying for weeks that I am going to do a wrap up post for the 6 'o' clock club.  I has been almost two months since we finished!  It has taken all this time to process and regurgitate the impact that this has had on my life.  I went into the 6 'o' clock club idealistically and with great expectations.

My expectations looked something like this:

(1) It's going to be hard (I am anything but a morning person), but it will be good.
(2) I will draw closer to Christ.
(3) My days will be filled with the joy of the Lord.
(4) I will have more time to prepare for the day and memorize scripture.
(5) I will be better equipped to take on the daily tasks of raising children and keeping my home.
(6) I will be a better wife, mother, friend...because of this.

And for a while, It seemed as if all was going to go according to the plan.  Here is a summary in texts.  You will notice that after day 17, the texts stop.

Day 1.  (6:00 am and all is well. –j) (Good Morning! Ready for nap time yet? – sn)

Day 2.  (Ugh, this one was tough! Fighting like a drowsy warrior; resisting the urge! – sn) (Stand your ground man! – j)

Day 4  (“This is the day that the Lord hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it”. – sn)  (Anem Ha ha-amen! – j)

Day 8  (An new week and a fresh new day! – sn) (6:18 – Feeding Z at 6, just now getting to it. - )  – (good job!  It’s about the spirit of the law, not the letter =)  - (if you guys think about it, could you pray for me?  I’m getting really discouraged about the 6:00am club. – j) – (Praying! – sn) – (Sure will! –sk)

Day 9  Face book message (Back on the 6 'o' clock train, but I don't know where my phone is. Hope everyone has a great morning with the Lord! – j) (I was so disappointed this morning when I didn't get a call...I said extra prayers for you!! Glad to hear you are back! – sk) (I did ... I am loving doing this with you guys. Well, loving it and learning a lot through it as well! – e) (this has been great! Not great as in I've been up and at 'em and on top of everything every morning without a struggle or frustration, amazing myself with my own strength and abilities, but great in the motivation of fellowship, the correcting of my priorities and mindset, and the amazingness of really grasping God's grace and my utter dependence! – sn)

Day 10 (Hit the snooze a couple times, but I’m up! =) – sn)  (I woke up soaked with pee…not my own…or Greg’s. – j)  (empathetic LOL the day can only get better, huh?! – sn)  (I’m gonna assume so. :0) j)  – “Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future”…even when pee-soaked =) – sn) – (Love it! See you later. – j)

Day 11 – (“In the morning when I rise give me Jesus/You can have all this world, give me Jesus.” – sn) (“You can take the world, just give me You!” – j)

Day 12 – (Bed is sooo comfortable this morning…But I overcame! =) – sn)  (I hear ya! Bless the Lord O my soul: and ALL that is within me Bless His holy name. – j)

Day 17 – (Mah! I said mah! – Chief Wiggem. - j)  (I need to start this day off right – jury selection this morning and elders visitation tonight (hey I rhymed!) –sn)  (Talk more later. – j) 

This is the part of the process where things began to go South.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but on day 17 something in me changed (a.k.a SNAPPED).  I was done!  I began to see myself for who I was, and I was not pretty.  The darkness that I had tried, desperately, to pretend was not there, reared its ugly head and punched me square in the face!  

I'll be the first to admit that I have always been a bit rebellious.  And those of you that know me well, you know that this is an understatement of magnanimous proportions.  But as I have "matured" I began to think that I had left my rebellion in my teens and twenties.  I even started to say things like "I used to be quite the rebel".  Had I known that my rebellion was merely hiding just beneath my imaginary pristine surface, I'm sure I would have kept my mouth shut.  I think that is the point though.  I was merely being careful and not striving to repent and be renewed.   

As the weeks wore on, I crawled deeper and deeper into my own dark heart.  I stopped getting up early, I stopped reading my bible and struggled to find words to even pray.  I scowled at my husband and barked at my children, phone calls to friends became fewer and fewer.  I cried a lot!  The mess in my heart spilled into a physical mess in my home.  Things were not pretty over here.  Sin is never pretty.  

Hosea 7:13-14
13 Woe to them,
       because they have strayed from me!
       Destruction to them,
       because they have rebelled against me!
       I long to redeem them
       but they speak lies against me.

 14 They do not cry out to me from their hearts
       but wail upon their beds.
       They gather together
 for grain and new wine
       but turn away from me.

Then when I could take it no longer.  I let go.  I began to repent, day after day, sin after sin.  I fought long and hard, for what?...I'm not sure, but it was time to stop.  I began reading again and feasting on His Word like never before.   I cleaned up the house.  I realized that my children were not put on this earth just to make me miserable and I began breathe again!  

Hosea 6:1 
Come, let us return to the LORD
He has torn us, but He will heal us;
         He has wounded us, but He will 
bandage us.

Hosea 6:3

"So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD
         His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
         And He will come to us like the 
         Like the spring rain watering the earth."

So there it is.  In far more words than, I'm sure, were necessary, but many less than I wanted to use - My Journey from February 1st 2010 @ 6:00 a.m. to the next time I forget that I'm a Sinner.

-Forever humbled in His presence-


Psalm 37:4 - To Delight

Psalm 37:4 says: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV)

Lately I have been struggling with who I am. I know that I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a sister, an employee...just to name a few. My struggle comes in prioritizing these roles and responsibilities. Some days I want to be a mom and wife first, other days I want to be a friend first, and still other days I want to be an employee first.

I was asking myself last night: What does it mean to "delight" in the Lord? How do I delight in the Lord so that I can get the desires of my heart? I was really only interested in MY desires.

Then, this morning, I got to thinking: What are the desires of my heart? First and foremost, I desire to be the best wife and mom that I can be (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course). I realized that I have confused my PLAN for my life with the desires of my heart. The verse does not read: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will make your greatest plans a reality."

Regardless of what role I am in at any given time, I will try my hardest to seek God and "delight" in Him! Although I am still seeking for the true meaning of "delight," I can rest knowing that God has a plan for my life that includes giving me the desires of my heart, even those desires that are uknown to me or have yet to be awakened.


Sourdough - Whole Wheat Loaf

In my continued attempts at working with sourdough starter, I searched a (little) bit online and found this site: Sourdough Home . They had a whole wheat sourdough loaf that seemed to be pretty tasty and pretty simple. I wanted to try another recipe than my previous one. I just like to try new recipes, basically!

I followed the recipe exactly: excepting that I did not convert my starter to whole wheat. It only takes 3/4 c. of starter, and I figured that I was not selling my bread or advertising for anyone! Therefore, I would not be being dishonest in some shape or form. The only trick I found was that my rising times were considerably longer than suggested in the recipe. I think the first rise was about 3 hours, the second nearly 2, and the final one was at least 1 1/2 hours. Th
ankfully, I mixed my dough up at 8 a.m. this morning! The loaf finally came out of the oven at 3 p.m.! Lesson learned: if I make this again, I had better plan my time out and make sure I am just around the house or back in between rising time! In my limited experience, the rising times with sourdough starter just take a long time, no matter what the recipe.

I was so pleased with the appearance of the loaf! My mom came by to pick up half to share, and I must say, my vanity was a little bit stoked by her admiration of my bread. We split a slice right then and both enjoyed it. It definitely tasted "whole wheaty", but wasn't that the point? Sourdough Home has some other recipes I would like to try. But, I am also wanting to tackle a few in my checked-out copy of Peter Reinhart's book as well. It's going to be a month full of bread! If you all don't get tired of my bread baking posts, there might be several more to follow.


A Smoothie For Those Tri-ingTimes

Ahh, morning sickness...wait, that should be BLAH, morning sickness! Nothing sounds good. Nothing looks good. Let's not even talk about smells... You don't want to eat but you have to. If you feel full you feel sick. If you feel hungry you feel sick. The last thing you want to think about is food, yet all you can think about is food because if you don't eat soon you're going to get sick, so the desperate search for "what sounds even partially edible?!" begins. I can think of few tortures worse than having a constant forced loop of food options running through your head when the very thought of food, or the faintest whiff of it, lays you flat out.

There would have been a time in the very recent past where I wouldn't have been able to even type out many of these words, the subject matter of food was so precarious. Which direction would it send me running in? But praise the Lord for second trimesters! Feeling more energetic, and once again more appreciative of food, (Hello, Appetite! I thought you were gone for good.) I thought it might be nice of me to share the thing which helped me get through the earliest days (you know the ones, where you definitely feel different, but also hopeful that this might just be as bad as it gets. so naive...). It would be even nicer of me to share the thing which helped me get through the roughest patches, but there isn't anything. It just stinks. But I don't want to tell you that. I want to be nice. So I'm just going to share this:

Vanilla yogurt
1 scoop Whey Protein Powder
Frozen Cherries (or whatever fruit sounds good at the moment)
Ginger- juiced (at least 1 tsp but don't go heavy until you've tried it- it's heavy stuff)
Fruit juice or milk

Toss it all in the blender and blend well.

The main thing is to get that protein in you to keep you going and baby growing. The yogurt and banana helps your stomach feel like there's actually something in it (without being too heavy) + good 'ol calcium and potassium, and the ginger should help everything settle. This is the first pregnancy that I've tried juicing ginger, and it really did help. I would put some in with my orange juice too on the days the orange juice sounded good. The trick is to prepare and juice the ginger in the earlier part of the first trimester while the thought of food prep is not revolting.

This worked wonderfully well for the first 3 weeks (perhaps for others out there it might last even longer depending on the intensity of morning sickness). I would put together whatever combination sounded good in the blender, drink it down, and be able to get through my morning actively and even hit the gym sometimes.

Maybe this recipe will come in handy for you some day. One way or the other, at least now you know where I've been and why I haven't posted anything for the past two months ; )


Sourdough - Part 2

Success! I babied (stirred, fed, covered, etc.) my starter for three days, as instructed. I found it slightly challenging to feed it as often as Old Sourdough instructed. I fell behind a couple hours here and there, but my starter did not seem to suffer. On Monday, I continued to follow instructions (not always my way of cooking/baking) with precision, and baked my first loaf! It came out pretty good! Simple recipe: 2 c. starter, 2 c. flour, 1 tsp salt. The loaf didn't rise quite as high as I might have liked, but I will see how my future loaves turn out.

I did use all-purpose flour, but I hope to add some whole wheat the next time. The crust was extra crunchy, and the inside warm and chewy. My egg wash was not exactly as beautiful as others' pictures that I looked at, so I'll have to see if I need to paint on more before baking the loaf. I imagine this will continue to be a learning curve. However, my true test was Eli: and he loved it. As mentioned in my previous post, my other loaves of bread with starters had not had the true "sour"dough bread taste, but he said this one did! I enjoyed it as well. We had it for dinner that night with egg salad (thank you, easter eggs), and enjoyed it as toast yesterday and this morning.

The recipe as listed above was Old Sourdough's: I haven't had the chance to do some searching and see what else is out there, but I imagine there are other tried and true ones to experiment with. And if anyone wants to share, my starter seems happy and bubbly, and quite sharable!


Sourdough - Part 1

My Sourdough experiment has begun! I ordered a packet of dehydrated sourdough from Old Sourdough, as Gina on the HomeJoys blog had done. She shared that she had experienced many failures with sourdough and various starters, but finally had success with this! A packet of dried up starter? I know, sounds strange. Looks even more strange when it arrives. But, it was free, and Gina inspires me, so I decided to give it a try.

Here you can see how it arrived ... 1/2 a teaspoon worth!

I followed the directions which were fairly simple. Mix the starter with 1/4 c. water and 1/4 c. flour, cover, let sit, come back 24 hours later.

The starter went from looking like pancake batter to a spongy texture as of this afternoon. My next step was to feed it again. I downloaded a mini-instruction manual off of Old Sourdough's site to keep me on track. I will be stirring, feeding, and watching over my starter for the next 48-72 hours. At some point in the next three days, my starter will be ready to attempt my first loaf! I have also tried a few starters that have been given to me. Perhaps I never tried the right recipe, but my sourdough never came out like, well, sourdough. It was always sweeter and didn't have that crusty crust you would expect. I have high hopes for this one! We will wait and see ...