Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Gluten-free Chocolate Brownies with Coconut and Hazelnuts


If you've ever wanted to make a moist, chocolaty gluten-free brownie that is not made with rice flour, this one might be for you. 

Many good brownie recipes use butter for the fat. I swapped out butter and used coconut oil instead. I also added shredded coconut and hazelnuts to give the brownies texture. Just to use up some homemade rhubarb sauce that I had in the fridge (sweetened with honey), I added it to the batter. The result was fiber along with honey and a special sort of sweetness.

The recipe for regular, gluten filled brownies that I make for my family (other than me) uses lots of sugar. I decided to opt out of the normal refined sugar and used coconut sugar instead. You could swap out for white sugar or even brown sugar if you wanted to. I would shy away from using much liquid sweetener as that might make the brownies too soft. 

For the fruit, applesauce would be good, as well as raspberries or strawberries. If not using a sauce or jam, cook the fruit a bit to give it some juiciness.

To top it all off, I salted the top of the cooked brownies while still very hot with coarse sea salt. Delicious!

Gluten-free Chocolate Brownies

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)
2 eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup oat flour
Scant 1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 TBSP cacao nibs (optional)
1 TBSP shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 - 3/4 cup fruit sauce or jam
Handful of blanched hazelnuts (or other nut)
Course Salt

Cream sugar and coconut oil. Add eggs and beat well. Then add oat flour, cocoa powder, vanilla, and baking powder and stir well. Stir in coconut, nuts, and cacao nibs if using. Add fruit sauce or jam last and stir until well blended.

Spread the batter in a 9 inch square pan that has been greased with coconut oil. Bake in a 350 degree oven (Fahrenheit) for roughly 30 minutes. Begin checking with a toothpick for doneness at 25 minutes. Immediately after taking brownies from the oven, lightly salt the top with coarse salt. 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Saturday Scripture Speaks - Fishers of Men


and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:10 (NKJV)

Fishing was a big part of the Israelite culture back in the days when Jesus walked the earth. Fish made up much of the diet and the economy. Peter and Andrew made their livings by fishing. Jesus fed the 5000 near the Sea of Galilee by multiplying two fish (and five loaves of bread) from a little boy's offering (Matthew 14:13-21). He also fed the 4000 in the region of the Gerasenes when he multiplied 7 loaves and a "few small fish" (Mark 8:1-9). 

Let's suffice it to say that fishing is an important enough theme for Jesus to use when giving Simon (Peter) and Andrew to follow Him (Matthew 4:19).

In today's very weird society (some would argue that it is a demonic society, myself included), being fishers of men is very important. After all, it is essentially the Great Commission. Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) says, 

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So, just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He commanded the disciples to go out into the world, even the world that was gentile, and teach them about Him. He said to baptize them and teach them to obey God. 

Don't we want that for the unsaved? Don't we think that, in this increasingly evil world we find ourselves, things might be better if more people realized that Jesus is God and came to earth to die for our sins? And that He not only lived a sinless life but died on a brutal cross and then rose from the dead on the third day? After all, His death would be in vain if He were either a sinner or one who just stayed in the grave.

Most people who go fishing use some sort of lure to attract fish. After that, they reel that fish in. That works in discipling (teaching) people. They see our good works, they see our genuine faith, they see kindness to those who persecute us for our faith, they really see Jesus in us. That lures them to the faith.

After that initial "bite", they listen to us relate the Bible and who Jesus really is to them. They go to church and listen to sermons about the Bible and about Jesus. And through that, the Holy Spirit speaks to them. The hook is set.

They respond, maybe after really fighting it, by saying yes to Christ and no to sin. In other words, they repent of sin and become born again believers. Then, they get baptized and lead a new life in Christ. Baptism doesn't wash away their sins - the blood that Jesus shed while on the cross does. The new believer becomes eager to learn more and to "fellowship" with other Christian believers. And that's where we need to come in.

Are you spending time with new believers? Are you teaching them to obey the Scriptures? To see them to salvation and then leave them on their own is to disobey that Great Commission. It's like catching a big fish and then taking them off the hook and throwing them back into the lake or river.

I challenge you to pray about who you might disciple today. Ask God for someone you can bless as a fisher of men and watch Him work. Don't worry. The Holy Spirit will bug you until you obey and become a mentor for the person(s) He has chosen for you to disciple. Your job is to listen and obey and then reap the blessing that comes with a life of obedience.

Monday, April 24, 2023

My Menu Plan for April 24-April 30, 2023 and Some Garden Plans

 This week I plant to roast veggies like sweet potatoes (which I almost always buy at Aldi because they are good but also at a good price), white potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and onions. With olive oil or avocado oil drizzled on them and some salt and pepper sprinkled on, they can't be beat.

Another great use for sweet potatoes is in making pancakes. I make mine gluten free with oat flour, but you can put them in regular pancakes as well. My pancakes don't usually look beautiful as my husband's does, but they do taste terrific. 

I am a firm believer in planning. This year I started a garden plan using GrowVeg's planner. I can already see that it is going to be a real game changer for me. I have planned out my large in ground garden as well as the small raised bed herb garden out front. And then there is the plan for the greenhouse because, you know, I have to grow most of my tomatoes undercover if I intend to have any ripen before frost.

What I especially love about this planning software, however, is that I can keep a diary of everything I am doing pertaining to growing food and flowers. And, actually, the flowers are more often than not food too. The importance of maintaining a diary, or journal as the site calls it, is to have something to look back on in future gardening seasons that will tell me if a particular plant or variety did not do so well and possibly why. I have always wanted to be so organized, but life gets in the way and the 24 hours a day we get doesn't stretch out as long as it did when I was a kid.

Last year, I dehydrated more foods than I usually do. They have been great and I plan to increase that substantially. If the electricity goes out, no worries about food because I have a backup plan. Also, I will continue to can as much of my produce (and the chicken we raise) that I am able to. And, of course, freezing is still something we widely do.

I have made up a menu plan for this week, which is something I had let go of for a while. I need to get back on track so that was a priority for me. God willing, I will continue to do this again. And if you read this blog with any regularity, please know that another plan of mine is to start up the Saturday Scripture Speaks posts again. Many people had asked about it and told me that they enjoyed reading my thoughts on Bible passages. I don't claim to know anything about anything, but one thing I do know is that I love the Lord and He loves me. My life is committed to the spreading of the good news that Jesus is alive and that He saves.

Here is my menu plan for this week:


Beef Noodle Casserole in the slow cooker


Roasted Veggies with Left Overs


Lasagna, Green Beans, Salads






Meat Loaf, Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower


On Your Own

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The Best Time to be a Proverbs 31 Woman


Proverbs 31 contains the sayings of King Lemuel as told to his sons. Verse 1 says that the king's mother taught them to him. Verses 1-9 contain the advice to the sons while verses 10-31 are the epilogue, also known as "The Wife of Noble Character". Verse 10 of Proverbs 31 asks who can find a wife of noble character. 

In today's society, no matter where you live, is that an easy task? I have three sons who are yet unmarried and I have to tell you that I pray a lot for them and for their future wives, if that is even an option anymore. That said, I know that there are a lot of Proverbs 31 women in the United States, but I feel that the numbers are dwindling. Still, there is hope.

So, with that in mind, I suggest that today is an excellent time to either become a wife of noble character or persevere in that Proverbs 31 woman role knowing that our time here on earth is short. We can be a light to the world by becoming a living example of what a righteous woman looks like.

A woman of noble character is one whom her husband (or family if not married) is proud. Her husband has full confidence in her. The Bible says that she brings him good all the days of her life. That's quite a statement. I think that's also hard to do, especially as we see the signs of Christ's return nearing. Things are getting ugly out there and sometimes it's easier to lash out at others, often our husbands, when we're down and out. However, we must remember to speak kindly about our men in front of others. We want to bring them good, not harm.

The Proverbs 31 woman also works with her hands to create clothing for her family. She sells things at the market to help bring an income to the family. She is not idle and she feeds her family well with what she has. In return, her children rise up and call her blessed, as does her husband. 

This woman also helps the needy outside of her own household. Rather than sit around with friends gossiping about others, she is working hard to help those who need it most, be it with food, shelter, or clothing. I bet she talks about Jesus to them because that is WHO they need most.

So, why do I think this is the best time to be a Proverbs 31 woman? Simply put, there are needs that must be met and people whose hearts God has made tender are ready to receive the help she can provide. Families are being torn apart but they don't have to be. You can be the glue that binds your own family and you can be a light and an example to other women who need to do the same.

Grocery costs these days have gone out of sight. Do you have a garden? Are you being wise (don't let the oil in your lamp go out by being idle) and putting up all that you can grow? A whole lot of people are warning of a coming food shortage or famine. If you do have a garden, let me urge you to can, freeze, or dehydrate all that you can for your own family's needs. If you truly think you have too much (think more than six month's supply or beyond - I aim for a year's worth), consider sharing with neighbors or extended family. 

In years past, I have dry canned some stuff. This year I am dry canning probably three or four times what I usually do. Like everyone else, I love rice and beans. I pressure can most of my dry beans so that they are readily available when needed. The rice, however, I dry can so bugs or moisture don't get into the plastic bags the rice comes in. I also dry can dehydrated herbs that I grow so they will stay fresher. I also dehydrate peppers and then dry can them as well.

Right now is still a good time to stock up on essentials. I'm not talking about hoarding but rather getting a supply of necessities and food items stocked for your family's use over the next several months up to a year's worth. Christians don't seem to stress the need to stockpile like they did back in the day. I think that's pretty sad. The Mormon church has been instructing their church members to stock up a year in advance for ages. It's a prudent thing to do. Why shouldn't we be doing the same? 

Look for sales in the stores. Stock up on what you need now, a little at a time if need be. When I go to the store, I often buy two instead of one of something I need and can't make or provide for myself. For you, this could be toiletries, over the counter medicines or supplements, household products like dish soap or laundry soap, or many food items (like rice) that you can't grow yourself. 

As for clothing, I don't expect we can all make our own. However, with inflation as high as it is you could look for used clothing at the thrift shops or garage sales. With garage sales, however, I find that many people think that they can get top dollar for their used stuff. Be careful. There are discount stores out there like B2 in Michigan that sell great new clothing at slashed prices. 

As times get more difficult, those who are unprepared will come knocking on the doors of those who have done their due diligence. Will we help them? I guess it depends on whether we have the extra to spare. Your own family should come first. 

I have thought a lot about the imminent coming of the rapture of the church to Heaven. If I have preserved too much food or stocked up on goods that I really didn't need, then perhaps someone who is "left behind" will come up on our home and will use what I have stockpiled. Maybe they will go into my bedroom and find my prayer journals and Bibles (I have a few different translations). Maybe they will read them before it will be illegal to do so and maybe a light will click on in their spirits. Maybe they will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thus be saved.

Being a Proverbs 31 woman is not always an easy thing to do, but it is something in which to aspire. I hope you will begin preparing or continue toward preparing for what could very well be a difficult and trying time. 

Please be hopeful and fend off feelings of despair. God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of joy in knowing that, as things get darker and darker, the Light is coming soon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Out and Among the Living


Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Can you remember the days when we used to get together with family and friends, comforting each other during the hard times and edifying (building up) one another? Can you remember the days when people weren't afraid to get close to you because you had germs that might pass onto them? Can you remember the days of hugs and kisses and those visits to loved ones in nursing homes or the hospital?

In our country and around the world, things are heating up and that heat is not a warm, comforting feeling. Two years ago, we were all shocked to hear that a lab grown virus had been let loose and people were dying as a result. Then, the inevitable happened. People were told that they must stay away from other people. Businesses were forced to close and churches were told that they had to close their doors. 


So when is it ever okay to tell the Church that she must shut down and forbid the gathering together of which the Bible speaks? The verse referenced above says to comfort one another and edify one another. That meant, and means, gathering together. In another verse, we are told to not forsake "the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (KJV Hebrews 10:25) 

God actually wants us to get together. It's good for us. It's good for others. Here's why:

When we gather together, we encourage one another - edifying

When we gather together, we are stronger - "A cord of three strands is not easily broken" (CSB Ecclesiastes 4:12)

When we gather together, we are healthier in Spirit and sometimes in physical health - we are comforting one another and that makes us stronger and healthier in our faith. Part of the reason that so many people died in nursing homes during the last two years is because they had lost hope. It's not enough to have someone wave to you from behind a window pane, or on a video chat, or any other form of "interaction". We crave physical comfort in the form of a hug, a kiss, a snuggle. It's the way God made us. When God made Adam and Eve, He didn't tell Adam that he could wave to Eve from six feet or more whenever he felt that he needed company. Instead, God said that "it is not good for the man to be alone". (NIV Genesis 2:18) He told Adam that Eve was God's gift to him and that together, they should have children and multiply. Hmmmm. You need physical contact for that.

I could go on and one, but I think you get the picture.

Life needs to go on and we need to get out and among the living. If we don't, who is going to be found faithful, going about the Master's business until He returns? (See Luke 19) 

The Master's business is to preach the Gospel (the Great Commission) unto the ends of the earth. That's going to require that we tell as many people as we can about Jesus, about HIs saving grace. People need to get saved. People need to know that there's hope (and it's not in this dying world). People need to know about - gasp - the Book of Revelation. The day is approaching (we don't know when but we sure can discern the signs of the soon return of Christ, birth pangs if you will). 

Are you ready? Are your loved ones ready? Are those that the Holy Spirit has put upon your heart ready?

Let me encourage you to live in freedom. The apostle Paul said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." (NIV Philippians 1:21) We need to stop living in fear of losing this life and really live in Christ. It means risk, but we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that people should go out and spread disease if they are sick. Also, they might need to isolate for a time because of serious conditions. What I AM saying is that we need to dispel fear. For fear is a form of enslavement. And how is that any way to live?

Monday, January 31, 2022

Menu Planning - January 31, 2022


Please Excuse the yucky looking ring around my burner in the picture above. Looks worse in the picture; believe me.

This morning I made a homemade soup/stew and it was wonderful for lunch. The rest of the gang will have it tonight for supper. When making soups and stews, I rarely follow a recipe. The best soups seem to be made when you throw in whatever you have and whatever you like. If you want an approximate recipe for the one above, here it is:

Vegetable Stew

1 quart of canned tomatoes, undrained
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint canned black beans, undrained
2 large potatoes, diced
1 handful dehydrated mushrooms (I use morels), crushed
2 or 3 dehydrated peppers (I use a sweet pepper), crushed
1 or 2 large pinches dried basil, crushed
1 pinch dried oregano, crushed
Several asparagus shoots, cut in bite sized pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 or 2 TBSP good oil
2 large leaves fresh kale, chopped
Freshly ground peppercorns to taste
A pint of water or vegetable broth if to thick

Saute the onion, carrots, garlic, and celery in the oil until softened and aromatic. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to gently simmer until the veggies are tender. 

Here is my plan for the week:


Breaded Fish Strips (from Schwan's)
Vegetable Stew (above)


Skillet Lasagna
Green Beans
Tossed Salad


Baked Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Deviled Eggs




Pizza & Pop


Baked Potatoes
Cubed Red Kuri Squash


On Your own

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Garden Planning with Frances Hodgson Burnett


This year, I intend to shake things up in my garden just a little bit. I guess I have been inspired by a book I have been reading - Unearthing The Secret Garden. Marta McDowell has done a marvelous job of giving the reader a glimpse into the life of Mrs. Burnett, especially of her love of nature's beauty and abundance that in turn inspired the massive success of The Secret Garden (available in about any form you like, even a movie of the same name starring Margaret O'Brien).

Here are only some of the trees and plants that Mrs. Burnett enjoyed and that may have inspired her books:

  • Violets
  • Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Indian Corn
  • Dahlias
  • Chestnut Trees
  • American Linden
  • Maple Trees
  • Delphiniums
  • Crocuses
  • Oak Trees
  • Petunias
  • Roses
  • Snowdrops
  • Crotons
  • Poppies
  • Snapdragons
  • Primrose
  • English Bluebells
  • Tulips
  • Hyacinths
  • Daffodils
  • Clematis
  • Jasmine
  • Larkspur
  • Anemones
  • Marigolds
  • Lilac
  • Lilies of all sorts
  • Sunflowers

I have watched lots of gardening videos online featuring the best in the practice from Wales to the southern United States. These people have been working outside to prepare for spring and it's an appealing process right now. But, since winter, with its accompanying snow and cold, is in full force here in the north, I am in planning mode. That's all well and good for me because it gives me the opportunity to take time to rest and to dream, and plan, for a different or better garden.

Here's where Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Secret Garden come in. My plan is to incorporate more beauty and possibly more herbal health into my garden.

As far as size goes, I don't plan to increase anything in that area. However, I do intend to make the most of the space that I do have. After all, I do not have the luxury of being able to pay a gardener to help me. 

I have four small beds in the back of the house, mostly under pine trees with pheasant pens providing additional shade, that the previous owner had planted. In one of the beds, is a large amount of Yarrow which is quickly taking over the entire area. I will keep some of the Yarrow (it's a great ground cover as well as useful in homeopathic medicine for blood clotting). I would like to pop in some California Poppies (useful for a relaxing tea and other purposes), a bit of Calendula (use in tea, balms, etc.), and maybe a mint like Bea Balm along with some Sage.

The other beds are filled with lovely flowers such as Roses, various Lilies, herbs, and even Asparagus and Chives. I just need to do some weeding to clean up the beds. 

Out front, I have Echinacea, Roses, wild violets, and other flowers that I still have not identified. Again, a heavy weeding and cleaning will do wonders there. I think I will put in a few Nasturtiums to add a pop of color and variety - and it's a blessing that the sun shines nicely in that area.

As for the actual vegetable garden area, I already have Lavender, Bee Balm, Lemon Balm, Chives, Bergamot, and Sage. Last year I put in some Thyme, but it would take a great miracle for any Thyme to reseed and come up given the cold winters. This year I intend to pop in some Basil and Calendula, along with some Marigolds here and there. 

Shall we talk about Sunflowers? The flowers below are a type of sunflower; they grow low to the ground, however. What variety are they? I don't know. They were there in the beds in front of the house when we moved here and I will be sure to keep them. They bloom every year and are a beautiful perennial.

I will put tall sunflowers someplace where they won't shade my sun loving veggies and/or flowers.

Hopefully, I will have a freshened up garden space(s) that I will enjoy. When planning your own beautiful garden, try to pick plants that you enjoy, be they edible or not. I chose to include mostly plants and flowers that are culinary and/or medicinal. You might just want lovely plants that bring you joy.

That's the largest blessing from gardening - the joy that you inevitably get from it. Wishing you the best season yet!