Saturday, August 13, 2011

He Loves Me!

I just finished reading this book called He Loves Me!, by Wayne Jacobsen. Katie, from the blog Radiance From Ruins, left me a comment suggesting I read this book. Thanks Katie, it was so worth the read!

I have been away from the Lord for the past 10 years and have just recently come back to him and renewing our relationship together. As much as I thought I understood how much God cared about me back before I fell away, I still apparently missed it, because I would have never run from him if I truly grasped how deep his love is for me. During my prayer time at Catalina Island a few weeks ago I totally surrendered to God and his beautiful presence filled me and he spoke to me telling me he loves me. He explained if I will come close to him, he will come close to me and reveal even more of himself to me. The more time I will spend with him, the more he will reveal.  And I need all the love revealed to me that I can get!

 I have always had a bad feeling inside when I hear certain preachers standing on street corners and yelling out to everyone that they are going to hell.  My first thought and probably most everyones around me is get this guy away from me! We as humans long to feel love, we don't need anyone shouting our flaws and faults at us because let's face it, we are full aware of all our many failings and flaws already. I know I am! I long more to be loved and I know we all do. This book opens our eyes to the many ways God is always reaching out to us in love. He is never trying to hit us over the head with a bible, he gently calls us to him.

I almost don't even know how to put this book into words, but it takes our misconceptions of who we thought God was and shows us the softer side of God, the huge heart he has, the deep love he does everything out of. Wayne tries to point us to the direction of a loving relationship, not a works centered religion that makes us feel like unless we are doing something special for God he isn't happy with us. He shows us that trying to follow the laws and rules that we may find in the bible will only leave us frustrated. We just don't have what it takes to live a perfect life. Wayne does an awesome job going really in depth about grace, because this is where grace comes in. God loves us already, we don't have to do anything to get him to love us, he just does. When we truly learn to love him back and learn about his amazing and huge love for us personally, out of that stems a longing to do what is right. Religion can get it backwards. "No wonder Paul said that to really love like God loves will fulfill every bit of the law without even trying." p.187.

One of the things I really liked in the book was his teaching on what Jesus said in John 14:23 "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching."  He shows how this verse can be taken 2 different ways.  One way is the idea that if you say you love God you would keep his commands as if keeping them will be the way you prove your love.  The teachings and actions of Jesus' interpretation really reveals a different way, which is if we get the loving right, the keeping will take care of itself. Paul said love will fulfill the whole law. The book points out the difference in the way we take this is critical in how we invest our efforts... in keeping or loving. (Some of this can be found on page 187)

If you have found God's love and want to read a book that will awaken your soul to seek out even more of God's love, this is a great book to point you in that direction. If you aren't really sure about God's love this is also a book that can open your eyes to the truth of how loving our heavenly father really is.

This is hands down one of the best books I've ever read, I really recommend it. It reads easy and is a page turner.

I got mine from Amazon He Loves Me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Squash Soup

My dads garden is giving us a lot of squash right now so I've been making squash soup with it. This is sort of my own little recipe that I put together, so here is the recipe in photo form. :)

First I get 4 or 5 medium squash and a large leek,

then chop up the squash in small pieces.

Cut the leek up real thin.

Then add some oil to a pot. 
Any kind of oil, I cook mostly with unrefined coconut oil, 
but you can use whatever you like.

Then add the leeks and cook for a few minutes, 
then add broth. You can use vegetable or chicken broth.
Don't put a lot of broth because the squash will make plenty of it's own liquid because squash is mostly water.

Then after the leeks have softened up some, add all of the chopped squash. 
You shouldn't see any of the broth that is at the bottom after you add the squash.

Bring to a boil, then bring the heat back down to a low simmer and cover with a lid. 
Let cook around 20 minutes until the squash gets softer.
Add the whole pot to a blender and blend, you may have to blend half the pot at a time.

Then I add some salt and shredded cheese for more flavor.

Then you have delicious Summer Squash Soup!

This stuff is so addicting, I've been eating it almost every day.
I am going to try to freeze a batch of it to see how it freezes, not sure if that would work or not, but boy would I love to have some of this on hand throughout the year, especially in the winter months.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Green Bean Day

Yesterday we spent the whole day canning green beans.  Talk about having fresh home veggies, we started out first thing in the morning picking them from the garden. We had so many huge bowls of beans I wish I had taken a picture, but I completely forgot to take pics of the processes until the very end when we had them all canned.  So these cans are from all the hard work we did yesterday. Canning them involved...

  • Picking them from the garden
  • Filling sink and soaking to wash off dirt
  • Snapping each bean (snap off each end, then snap into bite sizes)
  • Then filling sink again and re-soaking to wash off remaining dirt
  • Sterilizing Mason and Ball jars
  • Fill each jar with beans 
  • Add pinch of salt
  • Sterilize lids
  • Add lids
  • Set pressure cooker and put jars in cooker (this sterilizes any contaminants or bacteria in beans)
  • Remove and put on table and wait for that POP sound when the lid seals

We finished with 61 cans of green beans.

It was a  fabulous and fulfilling day, now we have lots of green beans to get us through the winter. 

Here is my post from last  year when we were - Canning Green Beans.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Garden Progress #3

I was having a hard time with my garden because of the weeds.  When I would try to weed I was getting attacked by mosquitoes so I gave up on it.  I have just figured out, if I weed around 3pm in the afternoon, there are no mosquitoes out there. They can't take the heat, but I can! So I have started weeding my garden and now it looks so much better and is growing better now. I guess the weeds can suck the nutrients from the plants or something, I'm not sure.  Here is the progress in the photo above.  Click links to see when I first started it at month 1 and month 2.

Bell Peppers
I planted a ton of bell peppers because they are just so pricey in the stores and I can't bring myself to buy them all the time. Thought I would grow my own and freeze what I can't eat.

Bell Peppers - Already growing and looking good.

Below is all the basil I planted. This stuff grows like crazy. Last year my basil did really good, so I figured I would grow it again and make pesto and freeze what I don't use now. The back is Thai Basil and in the front is Sweet Basil. (To the left of them are cucumbers that are growing out of control.)

Thai and Sweet Basil

I always have to grow Banana Peppers so I can have peppers for my authentic homemade salsa.

Banana Peppers

I haven't done real well with my herbs, but I must say, between the basil and the dill, they are very hardy and strong herbs that managed to grow very well, despite my limited gardening knowledge.  I could not for the life of me get my cilantro to thrive. It did horrible, just puney little shoots that didn't last but a couple of weeks then poof. My mint didn't last long either.  Cilantro is my favorite herb and I use it almost daily. I would give anything to be able to grow it.


I got 3 Blueberry bushes and planted in the garden a couple of weeks ago.
I am not sure if I'm going to have my garden in this spot next year is why I put them here, but now that I can weed the garden in the middle of the day without the mosquitoes, I am questioning if I should have put them here, because they will grow too big to have a garden around them.  Did any of that make sense? lol

Blueberry Bush

Here is my patio, things are growing okay here, too. I'm not getting as many cayenne peppers from the potted plants as I did when I planted them in the garden last year though. I may need to replant them in bigger pots. 

Patio garden

One of my tomato plants on my patio finally started giving me some tomatoes! I'm so excited.

I've been regularly going out in the garden and grabbing me some cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes almost on a daily basis. It is so fun to eat veggies when you grow them yourself! If you have a child that is a picky eater and doesn't like veggies, this would SO encourage them to eat them if they grew them themselves. :)

My Topsy Turvey has been giving me lots of little cherry tomatoes.

That is my progress for now. I want to find a pickle recipe and pickle my cucumbers. 
If I get enough cayenne peppers I want to pickle those, too.  I am going to can some green beans at my dads farm this week, his garden is amazing! He has squash like there is no tomorrow, so I've been making summer squash soup lately with it. I will have to post the recipe for it later.  We've been eating a lot of food from his garden, so I'll post that soon, too.

Last but not least, I also planted 2 new rose bushes. One in front of my house next to my front door and one in the back yard.  Pretty eh?

Happy gardening to all my fellow gardeners!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lost Island Food

Chef Robert Irvine cooked an amazing meal for the cast and crew of Lost.  He went to Hawaii where the show is filmed and he had to prepare this meal right on the beach with no kitchen. They let him go to a hardware store where he came back and built his own kitchen.  They gave him the food that was only found on the island, but later they gave him a dahrma drop where he got to use extra goodies to cook with. He had to build a kitchen and cook a huge meal for 90 people in only 7 hours.  He also had to take the food all the way to the set after he cooked it all.  Needless to say, he passed the test with flying colors.

I was blown away by all the amazing things he came up with off the top of his head.  One thing in particular he made that really caught my eye was his cooked shrimp inside pineapple bowls.  He didn't have anything to put the shrimp in, so he got creative and carved out the pineapples to make bowls with them.  I scoured the internet looking for this recipe and couldn't find it at all. So I finally found a video that shows him making it (but they have since removed and it's nowhere to be found), and I took notes as he told what all he put in it and how he made it.  So I wrote it down and had to try to make this one myself!

He used chard, so I happen to have some of that growing in my backyard, so I pulled some chard up

and washed it really well in the sink.

Next was the part I wasn't sure how to do. He didn't say how to hollow out the pineapple really, so I just used a knife and started cutting away. Cutting out the core part helped the most, the rest of it just came right out.

I had some shrimp in my freezer that my dad had brought back fresh from Florida, so I cooked that.
I had to peel and devein it myself, so if  you buy the shrimp already done for you, it really saves a lot of time in the preparation.

Robert cooked his chard in butter, but I cooked mine in olive oil, garlic and crushed red peppers.

Then I filled up the pineapple half full with the cooked chard.

Put the shrimp on top and then poured the sauce over it.
I'll tell how to make the sauce in the recipe below.
Then bake it in the oven.

Then the best part of all... eating it!

Wow, just wow! This turned out amazing!!!! It took some time to put it together, but it was worth every minute.  He served this to go along with other food, but I just ate it as a single meal for my lunch today.  It was filling and very satisfying.

Here is the recipe, it doesn't really have a name or anything. I guess I could call it pineapple shrimp surprise. :)

Pineapple Shrimp Surprise
Peanut butter
Steak Sauce
Fish Sauce
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Shrimp (peeled and vained)

  • Water
  • Peanut butter
  • Steak sauce
  • Fish Sauce
Mix water and a few Tbsp of peanut butter together. Flavor with a tad of the fish sauce and steak sauce. I poured some of the juice from the pineapple in it, too.

Cook olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper in a skillet. Add chard and a small amt of water. Cook til desired tenderness.

Hollow out a pineapple and fill it half way with the chard. Boil abt 15 shrimp and put on top of the chard. Pour some of the sauce on top of the shrimp.  Bake in oven at 400F between 10 and 15 minutes.

Garnish as desired. Add the leftover pineapple to the plate. Enjoy!

You will automatically be transported to a tropical paradise as you eat this!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Farm Garden - Progress

Here is the garden over at my dads farm. I came over here today and a friend and I were weeding it. It's doing really good. I think the soil here is much better than the soil at my house. Things just seem to sprout up in no time and he even planted his things after I did.

That is the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

The views around his farm are beautiful.

He's got a lot of Boxwood on the farm, too. Some of it's mine, I planted it about 10 years or so ago.  We are selling it, so if you need any Boxwood bushes, just let me know!

[Boxwood bushes]

The grapes are even growing already. Last year I bottled my own grape juice, so I'm hoping to do it again this year, too.  My dad makes wine with it.

These grapes are sooo delish,, too!
I think these are the Muscadine.

Little Foot's been having a ball running around on the farm all morning. He was even wanting to go after the cows and staring them down in his Border Collie stance. I'm so proud of him!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garden Progress

My garden is doing pretty good so far. Minus the weeds!  My plan was to buy a larger and higher fence to put around the garden this year to keep Little Foot out, but I never got around to it, so I just used what I had here and tied string around it. He dug a big hole in it and messed up a few things, but I tried to fix it and now keep a better eye on him when he's out.

It's grown a lot in just 1 month!

Here is how the deck plants are doing.

I'm so glad my chives lived!

My lawnboy had mowed them down and I didn't know if they would make it after I uprooted them from the garden. They are hefty little plants.


My Topsy Turvy is also doing better than I expected. 
I didn't know if these things really worked or not, but I actually think it's doing better than the tomatoes in the garden or in the pots.  Still have to wait to see how many tomatoes it gives me, there are lots of tiny little green ones on it already.

Here is my first tomato I got to pick, it grew from one of the potted plants. It looks real pretty, but it didn't taste that great and it had a really funny texture to it.  So sad.  :(
The plant I got this tomato from is dying, looks like it has some sort of fungus attacking it. 
Little tiny black dots all over the leaves. I have no idea what to do about that, if anyone knows what it is or how to treat it, please let me know.

The flowers are coming back nicely this year, too.

Here's the Hydrangeas.

The rhododendron that was here when I moved here. 
Last year it didn't bloom really, but this year it is in full bloom!

Well, that's what I got so far.
How is your garden or plants doing this year?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Clean Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan
Source: Clean Eating Magazine, May/June 2009, page 58
Serves: 4 to 6

2 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, sliced very thin and cleaned
1/2 pound cremini or button mushrooms (8 ounces, about 15), sliced and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound broccoli, florets and stems cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup cooked cannellini beans, or 1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated
2 tbsp fresh chives
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 ounces reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a wide, medium saucepan with a tightly fitting lid, bring broth to a boil.  Add chicken, cover pan and reduce heat so broth and chicken simmer for 5 minutes.  Then remove pan from heat (do not uncover) and poach chicken in hot broth for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

While chicken poaches, heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add leeks and mushrooms. Cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and liquid has cooked out, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds before removing pan from heat and setting aside.

When chicken is done, lift from the both and transfer to a cutting board.  Cover saucepan and return broth to a boil.  Cut chicken into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside, keeping warm.  Add broccoli to boiling broth, cover pan again and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook broccoli until it is fork tender, not mushy, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Lift broccoli from broth with a slotted spoon and distribute it onto the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Set aside.  Reserve broth.

Add beans, cottage cheese, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, chives and thyme to a blender or food processor.  Add cooked leeks, mushrooms and garlic.  Carefully pour broth into blender or food processor and puree mixture until very smooth, taking care to avoid escaping steam or hot liquid splashes.

In a bowl, mix lemon juice and pepper together with chicken.  Pour half of puree over chicken and stir to combine.  Spread chicken across broccoli in baking pan and then pour remaining puree over top.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and transfer to oven.  Bake for 15 minutes and then, if desired, broil for 5 additional minutes to brown the top of the casserole.

Serve a heaping spoonful of casserole on top of steamed grains, like brown rice or barley pilaf. Be sure to ladle the flavorful juice from the bottom of the pan onto hot cooked grains.


This time Lou's husband Todd picked the recipe. Today is his birthday, so she wanted him to pick what he wanted to eat for tonight. 
Happy Birthday Todd!!!!
You can go and see her Chicken Divan here.

I copied this recipe from Sparkpeople website when I made it. There was a slight problem though, they never said to put the beans in the recipe anywhere, so after I made the sauce and poured it over the broccoli and chicken, I assumed the beans went in the puree.  It was too late, so my puree was a little watery.  To see how the photo of this recipe was suppose to look, check out this blogger at Proceed with Caution.  Wish I would have found her recipe instead of the one I used. Oh well, seems I make quite a few cooking mistakes, so I won't quit my day job! lol

All in all it had a great flavor and I really liked it. I'd never had this before, but Lou said it's a favorite of hers and  Todd's from way back.  Thank you Todd for the recipe idea! :)