Sep 22, 2012

♫ On the first day of Au-tumn ♫

I had picked up a large head of cabbage from our local farmer's market recently that needed to be used, and today a sweet friend gave me two beautiful smaller heads from her garden. I've been in the mood to make stuffed cabbage rolls and today I did!  I'd forgotten how easy this dinner is to make.  Here's how:

I rinsed off the cabbages and peeled away the top layer.  Then I placed them  in a  large pot and covered them with water.  I put a lid on the pot and brought the water to boil.  I turned the heat off and just let them steam for about 10 minutes.  I carefully drained the water off and let the cabbages cool until I could handle them.  I know everyone has an idea of the "easiest" way to do this, but this is my method and I'm content with it! 

 Once I could handle the cabbages, I took a sharp knife and cut a ring around the core, and gently pulled it out.  The cabbage leaves separate easily.

In a large bowl, I mixed the following:

2# ground chuck
1/2 c. uncooked regular white rice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1/2 c. water

Then I put about a tablespoon of the meat mixture on each leaf of cabbage, rolled them, tucking in the sides, and placed them seam side down in an oven proof crock or pan.

To make the sauce, I heated 2 Tablespoons of Crisco in a saucepan and added a Tablespoon of finely chopped onion.  When the onion started to get soft, I added one Tablespoon of vinegar, one Tablespoon (Wondra) flour, a tsp. garlic salt, and a 48 oz can of tomato JUICE. I brought this to a boil and poured it on top of the stuffed cabbages.

Lastly, I covered the oven proof pan and baked the cabbage rolls at 375℉ for 1 1/2 hours.  I actually doubled this recipe which yielded a pan for us, a pan for the freezer, and a pan to give away!  

It was a good day for comfort food, just like Mom used to make!

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sep 17, 2012

Sin and the kitchen floor...

Recently we decided to take some money my hubby earned and give it to Lowe's in exchange for a new kitchen floor.  The one we had was really pretty over 17 years ago when it was very white and shiny.  I worked hard to keep it that way too for a long time. Eventually however it lost it's no-wax feature and became a real source of aggrevation as I struggled to make it look as clean as possible.  But no matter how hard I tried, time, kids, and wear and tear had taken its toll and it just never looked really clean anymore.  

So we went from one extreme to the other, this time choosing a darker laminate that has a random pattern that looks something like stone.  It's amazing how I don't spend nearly as much time cleaning the new floor.     It just doesn't "look" dirty.  I gleefully posted on Facebook: "So, if you change out your all-white kitchen floor for a darker, patterned one, the same dirt accumulates, but you don't see it, right?  works for me!"

A friend commented: "When the sun shines in and shows all the dust I thought I'd cleaned, it helps me remember that in God's light, I'm more sinful than I appear!"

Now isn't THAT the Gospel Truth!

And it is actually something I've been thinking a lot about lately too.  I know I am more sinful than I appear. And I bet you are too.  Just like there are areas of my home I keep hidden from visitors, there are hidden places in my heart that are messy at best, but when God shines His light on them, they are exposed for what they are...dirty, sinful rooms that need a makeover.

God's shining light is a good thing. I'm thankful He cares enough about me to show me where my thoughts, words, or deeds are not expressing His pure nature~areas that He wants to clean up and replace with something new, clean, and beautiful.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
See if there be any grievious way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting!"
~Psalm 139:23-24~

Sep 6, 2012

Where am I?

More than a few years ago now, our younger son was a new driver and out on a date with his then girlfriend, now wife.  We were at home in bed, though of course not asleep.  It was nearing the time that he should have been home, and the phone rang.  My husband answered it, only to hear our son's near frantic voice:  "Where am I?"  As it turned out, he was on his way home and a fire truck was blocking his normal route and traffic was redirected, causing him to become disoriented in an unfamiliar neighborhood in downtown Akron.  His father talked him back onto the right roads that would get him safely home.  We've had  tons of laughs over the years at this memory and it's sure to be a funny story passed down through the generations.  

There have been several times in my own life when I've stopped to ask myself the question, "Where am I?"~not because of being lost while out driving late at night, but because circumstances beyond my control sometimes make me feel lost and disoriented.  Roadblocks I never planned on appear out of nowhere, and I'm forced to move in a different direction or to think in a new, better way. 

Most of us like to feel settled in to what becomes comfortable and familiar in our lives.  We like predictability, whether it is knowing a paycheck will be deposited into our account every couple of weeks, seeing our spouse go off to work and come home around the same time every day, or just doing the things we enjoy that become happy traditions for us.

Getting older and feeling it is an unexpected change that can be difficult to wrap our arms around.  The energy we had just a few years ago is gone and we find we don't have the stamina or strength to do many of the things we used to do at the pace we used to do them.  On days like that, I find myself wondering "Where am I?" along the continuum of life ~ will I live to be an old lady telling stories to my great grandchildren from a rocking chair, or am I already almost at the end of my journey here?

Then there are the times I try to take a personal spiritual assessment test.  "Where am I?" in terms of my eternal relationship with God and my relationships with people?  Am I resting in the knowledge that God is "for" me and that whatever might be a surprise to me in life was no surprise to Him and He is weaving this tapestry into something very beautiful? Am I always looking to make and keep peace with friends and family,  so that I can look forward with confidence and back without regrets? 

When my brother got his cancer diagnosis ten months ago, one of the first things he wanted people to understand was that eventually all of us will be thrown an unexpected curve ball in life, and when that day comes, we will need an internal compass to help and guide us through difficult times. 

Friend, don't wait till the turmoil comes.  Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father but by Me."   God has provided that Compass for us and we don't have to live our lives in fear, despair, or anxiety, no matter where we find ourselves or what our circumstances may be. Even when our world is turned upside down, our heavenly Father will show us the way to go and lead us safely home.