Monday, October 20, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - October 20

Last week I tried out one of the recipes in Julia Child's book, Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. I made over her Leek and Potato Soup and it turned out wonderfully. Here's my version, kept warm in a crockpot:

3 cups peeled and chopped potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup rice milk
Pinch of nutritional yeast, optional

Bring potatoes, onion, garlic, salt, and water to a boil in a large stock pot. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Do not drain - allow to partly cool. Puree potato mixture in blender. It will take two or three batches. *When pureeing the hot mixture, hold the blender's lid slightly ajar and blend on LOW, in order to allow the steam to escape.* Return the pureed mixture to the stock pot. Blend in the rice milk and turn on the heat to medium. Heat thoroughly. Sprinkle a pinch of nutritional yeast for color and a cheesy taste. Serves 6.

This week I will try Julia's French Potato Salad and her Braised Wild Rice. Now for the week's menu plan:


Chunky Vegetarian Chili
Cherry Pudding Cake


Beef Bourguignon
Baked Potatoes
Baked Acorn Squash


Green Beans


Braised Wild Rice
Cubed Steaks with Creamy Morel Gravy


Pizza & Pop


French Potato Salad
Carrot Cake


On Your Own

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review - Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh

Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachers of Sundar Singh is compiled and edited by Kim Comer and is published by Plough Publishing House.

I was not all that excited to read this book, having never heard of Sundar Singh and feeling that this just might be one of those books that tries to bring Christianity and eastern religions to some sort of happy middle ground. My opinion rapidly changed within the first few pages.

Sundar Singh was born in 1889 in India and, at the age of 16, met Jesus - literally. Sundar asked God to reveal Himself as either the God of the Christians or another. It didn't matter, but Sundar wanted to know the REAL God. Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision and, from that moment on, changed Sundar's life completely. His father disowned him and kicked him out of his house when he refused to renounce his new faith in Christ. From the lap of luxury he went to live a meager life, sharing his wisdom and faith with whomever would listen.

Wisdom of the Sadhu is a compilation of parables and teachings  that touches the soul. One quote that spoke to me is on page 53. Sundar Singh was asked how we can know the truth about whether or not God exists, since it cannot be proven. Sundar responded, "God has no need or desire for anyone to prove his existence. Our arguments are feeble, our minds limited. God could have provided proofs convincing enough, way beyond anything we could imagine. God desires rather that we should enjoy his life-giving presence and so bear witness to something far more sublime and convincing than anything the rational mind can produce." He went on to compare our spirits to baby chicks still inside the egg, developing until it is ready to break free and explore the world. Some day we will break free from these bodies and this world and experience God in the spirit - in full. Right now, we feel God's presence rather than see it.

Sundar Singh died in 1929. His words of wisdom live on.

*I received a copy of Wisdom of the Sadhu in exchange for my honest opinion.*

NEGU - An Interview with Eric Rees

Eric Rees is the father of Jessie Rees, the little girl who started a fire within the hearts of many to do something about childhood cancer. He has written a book, Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie Rees and her JoyJars and was gracious enough to answer some questions about the book, Jessie, and NEGU. Visit NEGU at to learn more.

Never Ever Give Up is immensely personal. Why is it important to share your daughter’s story?

 I had three goals for sharing Jessie’s story; increase awareness of childhood cancer, give people facing personal hurdles in life hope and to create a wave of compassion through personal acts of kindness. 

You did not fully share the extent of Jessie’s illness to your other two children. Do you think this was the right move? Why? 

Every parent has to make decisions that they feel are best for their children.  Stacey and I felt it was best to hold on to the fact God could heal Jessie at anytime.  In addition, we wanted everyone living with “hope”, which is a very powerful thing in life no matter what age.  Was it the right move? After talking with Shaya and JT afterwards they were both thankful they didn’t live with this dark cloud over their lives each day.  They did an amazing job loving their sister and being there for her.  Looking back, we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

1.      Jessie had a strong faith in God. How did she draw strength from her relationship with God during her treatment?

 Jessie did have an amazing faith in God which inspires me daily.  She would pray for herself, listen to worship music during treatments and do her nightly devotions with her mommy.  She drew her strength from Phil. 4:13 and asked God daily for support.

1.      Over 80,000 JoyJars have been distributed internationally. How have you accomplished so much in such a small time frame?

We are actually nearing 100,000 JoyJars in all 50 states and 28 countries.  We just received a request from Lima, Peru.  Social media has been the best channel of communication for us.  Jessie simply just started at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and it grew week by week. We now partner with over 275 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.

1.      Do you have advice for other Christians who may be questioning God’s plan? 

I don’t know if I would call it “advice” but I would let them know they are not alone in their feelings. I questioned God many times and still do.  I don’t question His love for me or Jessie.  I questioned His choice in using Heaven as a healing agent.   But now that time has past, I see His plan.  Jessie was an Angel sent to Earth with a message (Never Ever Give Up) and a mission (childhood cancer).  How else can you explain how one twelve year old girl, fighting cancer, choose to give to other kids and started a global movement of compassion that has raised millions of dollars to “care” for children/families fighting cancer around the world.  My only answer is, God had a plan!

In addition, I would encourage them to realize God’s plans don’t always match up to our own plans but He is still a loving and caring God.  Faith in God is all about “believing” in our hearts and heads that God loves us no matter what and when we fully depend on Him, He will show us the way. 

Tell us more about the Jessie Rees Foundation. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. How can we help? 

The Jessie Rees Foundation is a global childhood cancer charity dedicated to ensuring every child fighting cancer has the support and resources to Never Ever Give Up.  We fulfill our mission by 1) encouraging courageous kids to NEGU, 2) assisting courageous families to NEGU, 3) rallying communities to NEGU for courageous kids, 4) mobilize athletes to NEGU for courageous kids and 5) inspire the world to NEGU for courageous kids.

Each year in the US, the month of September is dedicated to “childhood cancer awareness”.   If you have a social media platform, please join our Going Gold campaign and help raise awareness of this devastating disease. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review - Their Name is Today by Johann Christoph Arnold

Their Name is Today is written by Johann Christoph Arnold and is published by Plough.

If you are concerned about America and her future leaders, then you are not alone. Training leaders begins when those leaders are children, yet we sometimes forget that the little ones who often "get on our nerves" are even now in training. I have been discouraged in my parenting along with most every other parent. Let's face it: children can sometimes give us panic attacks!

Arnold reminds us that, yes, there really is hope for the children. Today is a scary time to be living, but that doesn't mean that we need to bury our heads in the sand. In Their Name is Today, Arnold not only gives practical advice to parents, but challenges all of us - teachers, parents, grandparents, concerned citizens - to step up to the plate and say "no" to a lot of which is the real threat to a healthy childhood. Technology, standardized testing, over-stimulation, pressure to get the best grades, marketing - it all blasts the kids too much and takes them away from that which a child really needs. Personal attention and time to be children.

I am passing my book to a teacher friend. Arnold has a great way of cutting through the mess of opinions and ideologies and gets straight to the heart of the matter. My friend will like that. Perhaps you have a friend who could use some of the same encouragement.

*I received a copy of Their Name is Today in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Menu Plan Monday - October 13

I found a gem of a book in our local library. It is Julia's Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child. Remember the blog/book/movie, Julie & Julia? It's a true story of a woman who so respected Julia Child that she sought to make every recipe in Julia's classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in a year. As I look through the cookbook I just borrowed from my library, I notice first that it isn't nearly as large as Julia's first cookbook is. Like the original, however, this book is loaded with cream, butter, meat, and all else that some might consider to be unhealthy. There is still a lot to glean from it, however.

I have no such desire to create dishes from any of Julia Child's cookbooks in a year, but I do desire to make some of them over the course of the next few weeks, transforming them from luscious fat-filled goodies to something a vegan or vegetarian (and a gluten-free person) could enjoy. With that in mind, you will notice that my first attempt will be on this week's menu under Monday. I am going to try the Leek and Potato Soup on page 1 but changing it to Creamy Potato and Onion Soup. I intend to replace the sour cream with something vegan. you'll have to wait until next week to find out whether the attempt is a good one. If it is, I will share my recipe. As for the original from Julia Child, you'll have to borrow or purchase it.


Creamy Potato and Onion Soup
Warm Bread


Parmesan Baked Bone-in Chicken Breasts
 Mashed Potatoes
Baked Acorn Squash
Cole Slaw


 Roast Beef
Roasted Potatoes


Gluten-free Birthday Cake
.Pizza & Pop


Beef Goulash
Sauteed Zucchini and Tomato Sauce
Green Beans


Veggie Burgers on the grill
Oven-fried Potatoes
Cottage Cheese


On Your Own

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Quitting Coffee?

Just wanted all of my readers to know about some products that are healthier than non-organic, chemical laden coffee. I am trying to quit the caffeine habit and have tried substituting other, lesser spiked, drinks.

Tazo has a great organic chai that has half the amount of caffeine in a cup than coffee. I have tried the chocolate and the vanilla and I love them both. The chocolate tastes a lot like mocha coffee (in my mind) and fools me into thinking that I'm getting a full blast of caffeine when I'm not, at least not that full blast as my normal cup of java.

I have also been drinking Teecino hazelnut tea. It tastes like coffee and is caffeine-free. This tea has barley in it, which is NOT gluten-free, but the tea IS gluten-free when brewed in its bag or other paper filter. If you are sensitive to gluten, make sure you use the paper filter or tea bag to ensure that you don't get the gluten. However, if you have Celiac's, you might want to skip it altogether and find another substitute, like pure roasted dandelion root, to be extra careful.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Book Review - Noah by Mark Ludy
Noah is illustrated by Mark Ludy and is published by Plough Publishing House.

Noah is a different kind of storybook about the famous man of the Bible - the one who trusted God enough to build a gigantic ark in a hostile world where everyone was telling him he was crazy. What's different about this rendition of the story is that the book has only pictures in it - no words. The pictures are stunning and filled with images that allow a child to imagine it all in the manner in which it probably was meant to be imagined.

What I really like about the book with no words is that, at a time when Hollywood has gone crazy with a retelling of Noah in a manner that is NOT Biblical, we get a book that allows us to tell our kids the real story. Later, the children can retell it in their own words using the pictures to spur them on. Having heard the real story and armed with good pictures, they will tell it well.

*I received a copy of Noah in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Natural and Non-GMO Products I Love

In case you haven't heard, October is Non-GMO month. It's time that we bring more awareness to the problems of GMOs in our food and personal care products. Let me give you a little history of our own family's touch with GMOs. My husband works in route sales with a major snack foods corporation. We have always supported that company by buying their brand of snacks and goodies - after all, they do supply my husband's paychecks. The problem with those snacks is that most of them are made using GMOs - like corn, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, beet sugar, and the list goes on. Top all of that off with GMOs in other food products, even some of our favorite gluten-free goodies, and you have a recipe for a health disaster.

Almost two years ago, my then 14 year old son came down with a very dangerous auto-immune disease called Henoch-Schonlein Purpura. This disease attacks the body by inflammation centering mostly in the upper intestines and kidneys. It also mainly attacks children under the age of 14, but people even in their 60's have been known to get it. It is also considered to be rare, but, like other auto-immune diseases, is on the rise.

Our son's kidney took a big hit. We spent the first year dealing with this disease at a large children's hospital because none of the smaller hospitals would deal with it because of its severity. The kidneys are still damaged. Almost two years later, they are still leaking blood daily. He sees a nephrologist every 3 months in a large city downstate, 3 1/2 hours from our home. He used to have to go monthly. This is a daily fight and we don't really know what is just down the road. Our son has had 5 CT scans and several MRIs in the last two years (the last one a month ago when he had to have an emergency appendectomy). What is all of that radiation going to do? We can only hope and pray that cancer, another auto-immune disease, does not later develop.  

We, along with our son's doctors, spent a lot of time trying to pinpoint the trigger that caused this disease to flare as it did. The concurrence is now the vast amount of chemicals and bio-engineering in our food supply. I have always gardened, but now I focus on more than simply growing some of our own food. I try to buy organic or food that the labels clearly state are Non-GMO verified. Whatever we can do to protect ourselves is worth the extra trouble or cost. If I told you the medical expenses we have accumulated over the past two years, you would be shocked. Spending more on organic food is not that expensive when compared to 17 hospital visits in less than a year's time. I kid you not.

So.....with that background, I'd like to tell you of a few products that I have found to be useful and wholesome.
  Bee Friendly Skin Care sent me a coupon to try their skin care cream. This cream is mainly bee's wax and extra-virgin olive oil. I have been using it on my psoriasis and have had good results. I also use it on my body and my face. Wonderful stuff.
Muir Glen Organic tomatoes might be something you already know about. Did you know that they are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project? Yes! We had a horrible year growing tomatoes, so when I find Muir Glen on sale, I gobble them up. Something that struck me the last time I opened a can: They do not use BPA, a dangerous chemical, in the linings of their cans. Double yes!
Meijer Naturals are Non-GMO. They are slightly higher than their regular Meijer brand items, but the extra cost is worth it!

Frito-Lay's Simply Blue Corn Tostitos are gluten-free, organic, and Non-GMO. I love them!

There are lots of other healthier options out there; you simply have to look for them. Buy organic when you can and avoid GMOs as much as you can. Use the Non-GMO Verified shopping site.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Book Review - Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Storm Siren is written by Mary Weber and is published by Thomas Nelson.

I was getting in a rut with my reading life so I decided to try something different. Storm Siren is that different book. It is a young adult book that is more science fiction or paranormal than anything else, yet it still has that strong Christian influence. I was pleased.

This is the story of Nym, a 17 year old in a place called Faelen. Nym has already belied the odds because only males are allowed to live in Faelen, which means that she should have been killed or even never been born. She hides her gender until her hood flops down and reveals who she is - the one who might be able to save Faelen through war.

Storm siren is filled with intrigue, action, and power. It is a good read that I passed on to my teenage daughter. She loves science fiction and I know she'll love this one.

*I received a copy of Storm Siren in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Menu Plan Monday - October 6

Last week, our family visited the upper peninsula of Michigan to spend time with good friends, mill about some museums, and search for good antique shops. We did all of that and more. My husband and two of our children were able to fish quite a bit in Lake Michigan's Little Bay de Noc while my daughter and I watched from the window of our cabin. Togetherness in a tiny, two bedroom cabin with a kitchen you can barely move in is quite the thing. You should try it. All things considered, this was a successful vacation. While we did not cook a lot of homemade meals, we did enjoy good food and good fellowship.

Here's what we're planning this week:


Cheeseburger Soup (potato starch in place of flour)
Warm Breadsticks


Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce
Green Beans
Parmesan Chicken
Chia & Quinoa Parfait (from I Quit Sugar)


Baked Potatoes
Pork Chops
Baked Butternut Squash
Ice-cream Sundaes


Venison Steaks in Mushroom Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Peas and Carrots
Cherry Crisp


Pizza & Pop

Potato Salad
Stir-fried Veggies


On Your Own

Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - September 22

We are going on vacation at the end of the week. I can't wait. I get tired of planning a menu sometimes - do you? I do it as much as I can, however, because it really does save me from headaches later on. Here's the plan, and it's an immensely simple one:




Chili (one meaty and one vegetables only)
Ice-cream (coconut ice-cream for me)


Taco Salads
Mexican Rice


Spaghetti & Meatballs
Green Beans
Garlic Toast


Pizza & Pop


On the Road & Having Sandwiches & Snacks


We don't know yet.