Friday, October 25, 2019

Bathmat Grace

I coined a phrase today as I headed to the shower after my morning exercise.  
Bathmat Grace”

As I prepared to step into the bathtub I saw the rubber mat that needs to be spread in the bottom of the tub lest one wants to slip and slide right into an emergency room visit.  It was neatly tucked away behind the faucet right where I always find it first thing in the morning.  Right where my husband rolls it up and tucks it away when he is done with his daily shower.  Don’t look too closely at the photo or you will see that this poor bathmat is desperately in need of being replaced. But until we buy a new one, this one will be lifted from its place at the bottom of the tub every time my husband is done with his shower.  I can almost guarantee that if you check out our tub an hour after I have finished with my shower you will find the mat still suctioned to the tub.  You see, my husband patiently explained to me how the mat can grow moldy if left in the tub and how it would last longer if I would lift it up and let it air dry between showers.  It sounded like a good idea but I think the only time I have ever remembered to do it was today when I needed to stage this photo after having my “epiphany moment”.  You see once I step out of the tub I don’t tend to look back.  I don’t think about reaching back in and picking up that wet rubber mat.  I am grabbing for towels and the hair dryer and thinking about the next thing I need to cross of the to do list for the day. 

And you know what?  When I go to get in the tub the next day, that mat is all dry and tucked away in its little home.  And I don’t think my husband has ever once nagged me about the mat, or complained to me for leaving it in the tub after my shower, or the fact that he is the one that ALWAYS ends up taking care of it.  In this one area of our home he has daily extended grace to me and just taken care of it himself.  Does it irritate him that I don’t remember to do what he thinks should be done with it?  Maybe. But he has not shared that with me verbally and not even in little sighs of exasperation or exaggerated banging of rubber against porcelain tile.  There have been no snide remarks of my shower slacking.  He has just extended grace and decided that love will cover this and he will keep no account of my wrongs with regards to our sad looking Rubbermaid rectangle.

Today I felt an incredible wave of thankfulness towards my husband and his extension of grace towards me and a nagging question, “Do I willingly extend such ´bathmat grace´ to him in other areas?”  What about with my children, or friends, or those at church?  Am I easily irritated when things aren’t done exactly the way I think they should be?  Do I find some not so subtle nonverbal ways to let others know that once again they have disappointed me?  

I have a feeling every time I unroll that rubber bathmat and get ready for a bath or shower I will be reminded to show my loved ones a little more grace.  And that can hardly be a bad way to start the day.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Heather's Tuna Burgers

My friend, Heather, used to have a food blog that I loved following. In general she ate a more healthy diet than I and one of my favorites that stretched my tastebuds a little (fish in general is NOT one of my favorite things, although I do like a good tuna sandwich with pickles and a great big pile of salty potato chips on the side). I wasn't used to the whole idea of warm tuna but I was game to give it a try. To my surprise, I loved it and so did my family. Heather has since shut down her blog and moved on to new things in her life, but I am glad I printed out the recipe before she closed up blogging shop. Here is her original recipe with comments added to reflect my simpler approach.

Heather's Tuna Burgers
2 5oz cans tuna packed in water, drained. (today I used 5 cans (56 gr each) and ended up with a yield of 6 burgers)
2 oz. cream cheese (I used a little less than 1/4 of a 270 gr container of Philadelphia brand)
1 egg
1/2 cup salsa (I use the organic kind from Costco and added a little extra because my mix was too dry today. I think I had a bit too much tuna)
1 1/2 cups quick oats If you are using old-fashioned rolled oats, you will need to blend them in a food processor before using. (I don't know if the oats in Spain are quick or not but I've never blended them and they've always worked fine so I am guessing they are the "quick" kind)
2 tsp. dried minced onion or onion powder (optional in my house)
2 tsp. garlic powder (same as the onion. I have made this without any added seasoning and it is fine. Might have a bit better flavor with them but these are tasty with just the flavor from the salsa)
** 2 tsp cumin
 ** 2 tsp chili powder
(** I have never used either of these because I cannot handle anything spicy at all. These two spices are never in my cabinet but if you have it and like it -- feel free to spice it up a bit)

Stir all the ingredients together. Form mixture into 4 large burgers. Cook in a sprayed or lightly oiled skillet or grill pan until lightly browned on both sides and warmed through. About 3 minutes per side. Serve the tuna burgers on whole wheat sandwich slims. Think of these like hamburgers, the bread and patty will seem dry if you don't have any sauce on it. For a light version use salsa. If your calories aren't important to you, go for mayo and then top with whatever topping you like. (lettuce, tomato, onion, pepper, cheese, pickles etc)

Additional notes: These are large, filling burgers. If you have young children, you could make them smaller. If you want to make 6 large burgers instead of 4, just use 3 cans of tuna and 3 ounces of cream cheese. All the other amounts can stay the same. Leftovers warm up great. If you want to make 2 large or 3 medium burgers, halve the recipe but still use 1 egg. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A banana's highest calling

Years ago we were traveling in the midwest raising support for our missionary endeavors here in Spain.  We had a meeting at the church where the husband of a lifelong family friend of my husband was the pastor.  We arrived at a difficult week for the family as I think the husband had just returned from either a hospital visit to his dad or his dad's funeral. Pretty sure it was the second because several of his church members had delivered food to the house for the weekend that we were there.  One item brought by a dear lady in the church was this banana cake with caramel frosting.  We all had a piece and it was sooooooo delicious!  I took the knife and cut myself another half piece because one was not enough.  I was hooked!  The next day the cake was on the counter at breakfast time and I just had to have another piece, and maybe another "little sliver".  Next thing I know, our friend's mother (who lived in the basement apartment) was wrapping foil on the rest of the cake pan and stashing it away in the freezer for her daughter and son-in-law (the pastor) to pull out for themselves at a later date.  I guess she could see I needed a banana cake intervention!

This cake is easy to make, no odd or hard to find ingredients even here in Spain, and is delicious by itself.  Add the caramel frosting and you may find yourself, like me, wondering if there is a local chapter of BCA (banana cake anonymous).  My entire family loves this cake, and my son says that to be made into this recipe is "a banana's highest calling" in life.

A few "tricks" not in the original recipe:
1.  If I have bananas that are not getting eaten and are starting to turn brown I throw them in my freezer right in the peel.  Then on a day when I have time to bake with them I let them thaw on the counter (or zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so) and then snip off the end with kitchen scissors, then squueze the banana right out of the skin into a bowl where I can mash it with a fork or just stir it up into puree.  1 cup of mashed banana is 2 large bananas or 2-3 medium sized bananas.

2.  I cannot buy buttermilk here.  For this recipe and others that call for buttermilk I just add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk that the recipe calls for.

3.  I usually bake this in a clear glass pyrex 9 x 13 pan.  In my oven it is almost never finished at 30 minutes but with the glass pan I can easily keep watch and see when the sides are getting browned.  Not sure if it is the pan or my oven but mine almost always takes about 40 minutes to bake completely. Do the toothpick test or see if the top springs back when lightly touched.

4.  I cannot get good moist "american style" brown sugar here without a bit of a hunt or spending more than I care to spend.  I have found that 1 cup of white sugar mixed with aproximately 1 Tablespoon of molasses is a wonderful substitute and works very well in this recipe.

5. Recipe says to grease and flour the pan.  Since this cake is served from the pan, the flouring step is optional.  I usually just use baking spray on the glass pan and call it a day.

6.  This cake (better said, the frosting) is very sweet so you may want to cut smaller squares to begin with .... just know that you will most likely be going back for "another smidge" or two or three.  Feel free to transfer some to a freezer friendly container if you or a family member need an intervention, or invite several friends over to help you eat it up in one sitting so you don't have the temptation around for long.

7.  Keep a few bananas in your freezer so you can satisfy your sweet tooth or whip up a wonderful treat when visitors come.  Good any time of day, with your morning coffee or tea or as a dessert after a meal.  ENJOY!

Alice’s Banana Cake

2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup shortening or margarine
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Combine bananas and milk in a separate bowl.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl cream shortening and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well.  Add vanilla.  Add dry ingredients alternating with banana mixture.  (Begin and end with flour mixture)  Pour into a 9x13 cake pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or longer depending on your oven) until cake springs back when touched lightly on top and toothpick comes out clean.

Caramel Frosting

1/2 cup margarine (butter is better and what I usually use)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Melt margarine.  Add brown sugar, milk and a pinch of salt.  Boil, stirring continually for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to warm.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Beat until thick.  If too thick add drops of hot water to thin.  If too thin add powdered sugar.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Apple Crisp two ways

I haven't posted in so long but lately I've been debating if I want to return to blogging or just stick with Facebook.   One of my friends was saying on facebook that he was craving apple crisp and I went looking for my post (I was sure I had blogged my apple crisp recipes before) but I guess that was done on my old blog that no longer exists.   I have a file with transcripts from that old blog, but unfortunately it is just text and none of the great pictures that accompanied those posts, many of which are photos of the kids that have subsequently been lost for good when my external hard drive crashed a few years ago.  I found the file, amazingly, and just had a fun time scrolling through posts to find the one I was looking for and enjoying the fun stories of my kids when they were little (so glad I took the time to blog them since I don't keep a diary or journal)  So, for my friend Bill, I return to blogging, at least for the time being, to post my two favorite easy apple crisp recipes.

Here is the blog post from 11 years ago (minus the photo, obviously)

This afternoon as I was sitting in the lazyboy watching a video and enjoying the quiet as Lydia napped, this paper floated down from behind me and into my lap, a "request" from Uncle Sam (aka. Stephen).    (missing photo was here)

Sorry I couldn't get the scan to be better.  It says "WE WANT YOU! to make a apple crisp! signed: Uncle Sam Ü "  With the typical Uncle Sam with his finger pointing directly at you.

Now how could I deny him?  I even went "all out" and used the "good recipe" usually reserved for a special person or occasion as it requires dipping into the "reserves" of our precious cake mixes (which can be bought here but they cost at least 3 or 4 times what they would in the states).  It is one of our favorite recipes though ... those of us with good tummies will enjoy it tonight.

"Special Friend" Apple Crisp

6 large apples  (I am using Fuji and Granny smith)
1 cup water
1 pkg. white or yellow cake mix
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter

Peel, core and slice the apples.  Arrange in a 9x13 pan.  Pour water on top.  In another bowl, mix cake mix, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter.  Combine well and dump on top of the apples.  Don't stir!  Bake at 250 degrees for 50 - 55 minutes.

When I don't have a cake mix to use, this is the recipe I fall back on.  As you can tell, both of my favorite recipes are ones that don't call for oats in the crumb topping.  I don't have anything against oats (although I hate oatmeal), I would just rather have them baked into a cookie or a loaf of bread.

Flash Gordon Quick Apple Crisp

4-5 apples
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter

Peel, core and slice apples.  Place in a 9" pie pan.
In a separate bowl mix sugar, flour, salt, spice. Add melted butter.  Mix well then crumble over the apples.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Changing my thinking One Bite at a Time

I have just finished a great little Bible Study written by a good friend of mine who used to work at my home church before the Lord moved her to a new place in life.  And He moved me and my family across the ocean too.  Thankfully we can still keep in touch through email and facebook and her blog.  This is an affiliate link to her little study on Titus 2:3-5.  I especially like her plan of going through the alphabet listing various attributes and characteristics of God as a concrete way to praise Him.  I have appreciated something tangible to help me retrain my frail brain that likes to tend towards worry and negativity.  This simple little task is helping me move the focus off me and onto my perfect God.  I highly recommend this study called The ABC's of T23.  If you use my link I will get a small % of the purchase but go order it, even if you don't use my link!

Click here to view more details

Brenda is also posting this month of November as a month of gratitude and I am loving her short devotionals and the plan to allow me to focus on being thankful for someone in my life each day of November.  This daily action of gratitude is also doing wonders to change my outlook from gray and dreary to a more positive approach to my life as God has it right now.

Needing a pick me up in your thoughts and attitudes today?  Head on over to Petals From The Basket and get a little gratitude in your attitude.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meal Plan October 22 - 28 Pantry Manna

Last week was one of those weeks.  You know, the kind that stretch your faith and test your sanctification.  The kind that come around every once in a while to see if what you say to everyone else about trusting the Lord is something you really believe after all.  We were caught by surprise by an exorbitant utility bill that came in last week and received some other news from back home that was unpleasant and unexpected and promises to bring us some challenges after the new year. Some new challenge or disappointment seemed to pop up each day threatening to pull me into a pit of worry and doubt.  It is easy to get discouraged when we put our focus on ourselves.  Then today I read an update from a dear friend who is literally fighting the battle for his life and my own little hiccup in life pales completely in comparison.  And yesterday we had the privilege of sharing the Good News of the gospel with a new friend using this incredible tool which is the reason why we are here in Spain in the first place.  And God has done other things just today and even last week sprinkled in between the tough days to remind us that He really does care for us.  He showed us His love through our church family, supporters back in the States, our Pastor, and even through our neighbor, who showed up Sunday night with some fresh picked egg plant and a couple pomegranates.  This is the same neighbor who just a few years ago seemed to be in a perpetual state of anger at us for all the excessive noise we apparently generated on a daily basis.  The only time we ever saw or heard from him was when he would come upstairs and yell at us.  Saturday he even asked my husband if they could meet regularly to give him English conversation practice.  
  Today I was trying to come up with a plan for meals that would work with our schedule this week and be possible to carry out without a trip to the store, at least for a few more days.  I pulled together this dish grabbing ingredients that were in the freezer, pantry and fridge.  There wasn´t really enough chicken for a whole meal by itself but diced up and added to steamed broccoli and some cooked ¨ble¨ (cracked wheat that is cooked kind of like rice but is more filling and more nutritious than white rice -- at least I think so.  please don´t burst my bubble if I am wrong) and covered with a gravy made from chicken broth it became a hearty filling meal.  I decided to coin a phrase for this kind of thrown together improvised meal.  I am calling it ¨Pantry Manna¨ from Exodus 16:15 When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.  
I read that verse to the family as I explained the way I named our ¨casserole¨ and it was a reminder that The Lord has given us our food to eat not just today but every day.  We can either look at it and say "What is that?" or we can be thankful to Him for once again giving us just what we need (and most of the time SO MUCH MORE).  One great thing about this "manna" verses the kind in Exodus is that the 3 servings that were left in the pan can be stored in the fridge in tupperware and brought to school for the kids´ lunches tomorrow.  No waste.  :-)

"Pantry Manna" Version 1.0

Monday 10/22
Pantry Manna version 1.0

Snacking meal --  peanut butter on integral Maria cookies (kind of like graham crackers)
fruit: apples, bananas or pomegranate that the neighbor brought to us last night.

Tuesday 10/23 (parent meeting after school)
lentil soup with Spanish chorizo

Wednesday 10/24
Ikea meatballs in crockpot
Baked sweet potatoes

Thursday 10/25
broccoli, ham and cheese quiche (modified from this recipe)
tossed salad

Friday 10/26 (youth group party at the house)
ham and cheese sandwiches
pepperoni pizza puffs
chips and onion dip
veggies and ranch dip

Saturday 10/27  (Major fund-raising event for ds#1's senior class fund)
midday meal  clean out the fridge of leftovers
evening: hotdogs and "fair food" at the school Fall Festival

Sunday 10/28
Swiss Steak (in the crockpot)
Mashed potatoes
whatever veggie is a good price at Wednesday´s market (broccoli, cauliflower or maybe brussel sprouts)

Needing some menu inspiration?  Head on over to Laura´s for Menu Plan Monday and see tons of great Menu plans for the week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WFMW Sandwiches for a crowd

I was so excited Saturday to think I had come up with an original idea that solved my dinner dilemna when my family got home from choir practice after 9pm ravenously hungry.  My menu plan had grilled cheese sandwiches on the plan and I had all the ingredients.  The problem was that Friday night a piece fell off the hood of my range and landed on my new (less than 6 month´s old) glass top stove and broke it.  I was unsure about using the burners until I talked with our landlord.  Plus the nice big griddle that I used to use on my old gas stove will not work on the new stove due to it not being flat on the bottom.  I was looking at a long process of cooking up 1 or 2 sandwiches at a time on the back burner of the stove to feed all 6 hungry mouths.  Then I thought, what if I just put all the sandwiches together on a big cookie sheet and put them in the oven under the broiler?  I did just that with enough room for 9 sandwiches on my cookie sheet.  I watched them carefully and when the tops were nice and golden brown I flipped them over to do the other side.  We all LOVED how they turned out.  The cheese inside was melted perfectly and there was a nice balance on the bread between being soft from the melted butter and having a little crunch from the toasted edges.  The best part was that all the sandwiches were done at the same time and we were able to sit down together and eat without Mom in the kitchen as the short order cook.  Totally works for me and I think it may be the way I always do grilled cheese, at least whenever I need to make them for more than just one or two of us.

Check out what works for others on this week´s Works For Me Wednesday link up.

Oh, and what a surprise to head over to Laura´s blog Monday and see her weekly plan including Oven Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  Great minds think alike I guess.  (but I do like my idea of using the broiler setting so I can easily see exactly how toasted my bread is getting and when to flip them over).