Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Rushing Waters and Grindstone Falls

As I stepped out of the car I could hear the sound of the water rushing over the rocks. My kids were off and racing toward the lookout as I slowly followed behind. Moms are always the last to reach the exciting destinations. We are slowed down by details, by backpacks and snacks and the plethora of stuff that seem a necessity to bring along on a family outing. I was adjusting my camera as I reached the wooden stairs. The rush of the water was much louder now. I could hear my kids talking but because of the din I could not make out what they were saying. As I finally reached the bottom of the stairs and looked at the waterfall, I smiled. It was beautiful. The sun had chosen just that moment to peek through the leaves and the light seemed to dance among the water drops. I took this picture. It was one of those moments when you sigh because it seems that for just a brief second all is right. I love capturing those moments on my camera.

We were at this beautiful spot because we were attending our first monthly Worship with Creation event that Jason had organized for our church family. It was a great day with a devotional time that challenged us to expand our ideas of worship, and a hike that allowed us to look around for God's beauty in nature and in one and other.

As we stood almost level with the cliff of the falls, Jason spoke to us about how water is often used in the bible to describe Jesus. We often think of its beauty but we are reminded in scripture of it's power. He used the words of John as one of his examples,
"His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."
Revelation :14-16

As Jason spoke we could hear the power of the rushing water, we could feel it. As we went on our hike we could see how the power of the water cut through the rocks. It had smoothed ruff edges over time and chiseled paths where there had once been dry land. In some places the water was so still that we could almost see our own reflections in the pool. In other places it was running swiftly and pushing debris down its path. And as we finally made our way back to the falls, where we had begun I realized that there was some excitement to being near the falls itself and its power and majesty. I also realized that I stood there again at the cliff that to describe this waterfall with words is somehow lacking. Oh there are many superlatives to be sure but none of them really do it justice if you have not been there and experienced the scene in person. Even the photos which I love to take don't quite capture the real essence. And for me that also reminded me of trying to describe the Jesus I know to those who don't. No matter how hard I try somehow there is always something lost in the translation and my words never do Him justice and yet that does not diminish the truth of the experience. Jason and I wrote a song called "If You Could Know What I Know" and it reminds me of this post so if you feel like listening to a tune you can find it here on his missiology album.

We are into the home stretch with just the final day of our Thirty Days of Almost Nothing experiment to complete. I think we have learned a lot and there has certainly been a lot of discussion. I am trying to put together a post that summarizes all that I have learned and hope to have it up in a couple of days. I will keep posting recipes on Free recipe Friday as I have had many encouraging comments.  Did I mention I love comments!  Below are a few other pics that I took on our hike. Have a blessed day!


Friday, 25 September 2009

Free Recipe Friday - Vegetarian Harvest Soup

The weather got a bit cooler last night and I was reminded that we are into my favourite season, the fall. I love cool crisp breezes, warm sweaters, fuzzy socks and yummy soup. Last night, we had our worship team for dinner before our bible study and practice. Some of our band members are vegetarian so this soup made it's way onto the menu and both our meat and veggie eaters were equally impressed.

I was making up this recipe as I went so I think the quantities are about right. The great thing about soup is that you can't go too wrong. Maybe that is why I like it so much. I happened to have carrots and butternut squash in my fridge but you could substitute other squashes and root veggies if you happened to have them instead. So invite some friends over. Meals don't have to be fancy or expensive. Use what you have in your fridge. Make some soup and share some fellowship. As always if you have questions or comments I would love to hear them!

Vegetarian Harvest Soup

3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Med Onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tablespoons curry powder (you can add more or less for your taste buds)
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
Dash of red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 tablespoon of Vegeta food seasoning
8 Large Carrots
1 Large or 2 Medium Butternut Squash
12 cups of Vegetarian Broth
¼ cup of Honey
1 Cup of 2% Milk
1 Cup of 10% Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel carrots and cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Arrange both the squash and the carrots on cookie sheet (s). Once your oven is preheated roast the veggies for 30 minutes. Remember to check halfway through to turn your carrots. In your stockpot melt the butter on med heat. Add the finely chopped onion and minced garlic cook until soft about 3-4 minutes. Add the curry powder, cumin, Vegeta and pepper flakes cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

The next step is to add half the veggie broth to the stock pot. I use vegetarian bouillon concentrate and just follow the directions to make the broth. Once the broth is added to your stockpot add the honey and stir until blended. After 30 minutes your roasted veggies should be ready.  At this point you need to scoop out the squash and cut up your carrots. I mashed them with a potato masher but if you think you would like a smoother soup I would recommend putting both the squash pulp and the the carrots through your food processor until it is smooth. Slowly add the mashed or purred carrots and squash stirring until it is well blended with the broth. Cook over med heat for 10-15 minutes. Lower the heat and slowly add the Milk and then the cream until well blended. Heat for another 5 minutes on low, don't let the soup boil once you have added the cream. Serve.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Week # 4 - Weddings and Our Other Usual Craziness

Life in our zoo is never what you might call dull. With the schedule of our own immediate family comes the usual craziness of school, bible quizzing, church, swimming lessons, worship practice etc, etc. This week was extra special as we celebrated a wedding. Jason's brother Brandon and his fiance Nathalie were married in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by family and friends. It was four days of events and we loved every minute of it. We were very excited on Friday to meet some of Nathalie's family that we have heard so much about. Saturday was the rehearsal on Toronto Island and we had a wonderful day meeting more family and some of their friends. Sunday was the big event in which our entire clan was involved. Jason was officiating the ceremony in both French and English, Daniel and Caroline were ushers, Trinity was the flower girl, Liam was the ring bearer and I sang during the ceremony with Jason's dad. It was truly a family celebration and there were many tears of happiness and joy.

It was during the final event on Monday, a post wedding homemade brunch, that I was reminded about something I have learning during our Thirty Days of Almost Nothing experiment. What I have loved best about this month is the clarity that it has brought as a reminder of what is important. When it is all said and done what will we remember? What will be remembered? What will matter? What really is important?

As I spent a moment at Brandon's and Nathalie's townhouse reflecting on the wedding ceremony I paused at a new tradition that Nathalie taught us. Nathalie was born in Switzerland and one of the wedding customs that she brought was for the wedding rings. Every guest was asked to bring a yard of yarn (it is usually ribbon but Nat loves to knit) to the wedding. As we sat during the ceremony we were asked to greet the person next to us and attach our yarn to their yarn. This being completed each side of the guests were all connected by bright beautiful yarn like a tapestry of the bride and groom's life.  Jason then explained that since we were all an important part of Nathalie's and Brandon's life we were going to pass the rings over each string of yarn. As guests passed each ring, he asked us to say a prayer or blessing for the couple. Since the rings represented Nathalie's and Brandon's commitment to each other he challenged us each to think about our commitment to them and their marriage. How would we as individuals support and under gird not only their marriage but their lives. As I looked around the room I saw people who loved this bride and groom touching the rings for a brief moment as they slid along the yarn and I could see that many of them paused, heads bowed with tears which told stories of love and commitment. As the rings came to me, Matthew 22: 36-39 flooded my heart.

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus said that out of all the things in the bible, what was really important boiled down to two things: love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.  If our devotion to Jesus and his commandments isn't producing these two things, we've missed the entire point. 

My commitment to Brandon and Nathalie is two fold. I will continue to love God with all I have and because of that life changing, redeeming, indescribable love, I will love, pray and be there for them as individuals and for them as a couple whatever the future may hold.

When celebrations end and life begins to creep in again who will you be making commitments to? Who are you loving as Jesus commanded? As you go out into the world this week, I pray my friends that you will not be distracted by this life but you will be focused on what Jesus considered important and what truly matters.

For more thoughts on Weddings and our Thirty Days of Almost Nothing check out Jason's weekly blog at Pop Culture Devotions. Just a reminder that tomorrow is free recipe Friday. I am not sure what it will be yet but there will be something posted!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Free Recipe Friday - Laundry Soap

We have a lot of people in this house and that means those people make a lot of dirty clothes. Laundry is a big chore. I do between twelve and thirteen loads of laundry a week. As you can imagine we also go through a lot of laundry soap and laundry soap is expensive. This summer I started looking around to see if I could make an easy, environmentally friendly laundry soap that worked on messy kids clothes for less than I could buy one. Well, after some research and some trial runs I have something that I am happy with so I thought I would share. To set the parameters we have a regular washing machine, it is a top loader and I like to wash all our clothes in cold water except for my boys white socks which I often have to wash in hot. I pretreat any stains with a bar of Sunlight soap. This recipe takes me about 15 minutes of actual prep time. It is really easy and anyone can do it. My kids love to grate the soap. This recipe costs me about $2.13 to make about 5 gallons (80 cups) of concentrate.

Even if you don't want to make your own laundry soap try to use a natural detergent and make sure you use the smallest amount of detergent that will get your laundry clean. The fill lines on the inside of the dispensing cup of your laundry soap is often hard to see so make sure you check! Excess detergent can be difficult for machines to rinse out and may make your laundry dingy and gray because the alkaline residue left behind tends to attract dirt. Many consumer studies have shown that you can often use half the detergent that is recommended on most commercial laundry soaps and still get your clothes clean. Remember if you use more, you buy more so it is in a company's best interest for you use more than you actually need.

McGibbon Laundry Soap
2 Sunlight Soap Bars
1 ½ Cup Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax
12 Cups Hot Water

Large Pot
Box Grater
Long handled Wooden Spoon
Measuring cups
5 gallon bucket with lid

Fill your pot with 12 cups of water. I fill it with hot so it heats faster. Put your burner on high. Grate your sunlight soap directly into the water using the fine grating side. (When my kids help I get them to grate it onto a plate and then I pour it in.) Stir your grated soap until it is dissolved into the hot water. In your bucket measure your washing soda and your borax. Once the water/soap mixture has boiled and the soap is dissolved pour very carefully into your bucket. Stir until completely dissolved. Carry your bucket to a place where you can get hot water. I use my kitchen attachment but if you don’t have one a laundry tub or bathtub will work. Fill your bucket nearly full with hot water (about 80 cups). Make sure you fill slowly or you will make too many bubbles and you won’t see where the water line is. Put your lid on the bucket. Then lift it to where it can sit for 24 hours. PLEASE NOTE: This will be very heavy. Be careful not to hurt your back. If in doubt, get someone to help you. 24 hours later your mixture will look like a gooey gel. This is your concentrate. Fill your laundry soap jug (I use a funnel to help with this process) just over half full with your homemade soap concentrate and then add half full of water and shake until dissolved. I don't add any fragrances as some make me sneeze but you could easily add some drops of essential oil if you like a particular fragrance. Use 1 cup for a large dirty load. This soap is not as thick as commercial variety and it does not sud a lot in the washer but it cleans our clothes really well and is just pennies a load!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Liam's Health Update

We travelled back to McMaster today with cookies and a bible to get the news about Liam's latest MRI scans. Liam made the cookies for his neuronocolgy team and Dr. Singh's boys. He left the bible in the neuroncology kids waiting room with his usual note and a please pick me up sign. We were hoping that everything would be clear and Liam would not have to return for a year but although most of the news was good he is still on the six month follow-up protocol. We were a bit disappointed but I guess we just need to be patient.

The good news is that Liam's tumour is still gone. There has not been any changes or any growth in relation to the actual tumour that they removed. This really is great news and we are praising God for a clean scan in this area. There were some other changes in the scan that they would like to watch and hence Liam needs another scan in six months. They have told us not to worry but his right ventricle was slightly enlarged in this scan. This is a different development than from his last MRI so they want to monitor it. It is not enlarged enough to cause pressure on the brain or to require surgery but they want to see him again in six months. Recommendations were also made that Liam see two different specialists. A pediatric neurologist to address some involuntary motor function concerns and a pediatric opthamologist to look at his optic nerve in his right eye which apparently is an odd shape. Some of this may sound a little alarming but it really isn't and although we wanted to be on the just a yearly check-in protocol we are happy that they are keeping a close watch on Liam.

Thanks so much for all the prayer and the notes today and we will keep updating as we have more news.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Week number #3 and Making More-with-Less

We are now entering week three of our Thirty Days of Almost Nothing Experiment. Life has not stopped but it feels like we have been able to slow the pace a little. We believe our experiment has allowed us more time for each other. Things are a bit simpler and we seem to have more time.  I even attempted to beat my son at a game of basketball today. Our home school life is back in full swing and the kids have really stepped up to plate but reusing duotangs and supplies from last year. They have even found some things that did not get used last year because they had gotten misplaced. It was amazing to see today how fast things turned up when there was not the option of getting more. Instead of defaulting to wanting something new the kids are coming up with another idea on their own of something that will work for them. This is less stress for me as I am usually the one they ask to get them things.

The pantry and the freezer are getting low on supplies but we still have enough that I was able to plan a week worth of menus again. Our grocery list consisted of some fresh fruit & veggies, milk and bread. I have not attempted to make bread yet but that might be a project for next week. Some people have asked me about laundry detergent and supplies. I started to make my own laundry soap this summer so I have come up with a simple recipe that seems to be working. I will share it this week on Free Recipe Friday.

In order to come up with some simple and yet nutritious meals for our gang this week I have turned to a great cook book that I have had in my collection for a few years. The "More-with-Less Cookbook" (by Doris Janzen Longacre) has lots of recipes that are simple and use things that you usually have on hand. The recipes range from whole wheat bread and corn cheese bake to tabbouleh and Egyptian Taikh. I am pretty sure they still sell this cook book at the store Ten Thousand Villages and you can probably get it on-line somewhere. It was commissioned by the Mennonite Central committee of Pennsylvania, in response to world food needs. The book has been around since 1976 but I find not only recipes good but the added notes and reflections from the author and contributors thought provoking. The foreword states that the cookbook, "... was born from a compulsion that someone, somehow must prod us over-fed North Americans to do something about our over-abundance in relation to the world food crisis." It goes on in the revised forward twenty five years later to ask "Does what you eat affect who you are spiritually? Does your belief in God affect your way of Living?....this book speaks, not only to our physical bodies but also to our souls. It is soul food and we need it now more than ever. " Hmmm makes you think doesn't it?

Today we made yummy no bake cereal cookies from pg 287. TJ helped me and the kids have been enjoying them all day. It has over three hundred pages of recipes so there really is something for everyone. Anyway, it is a great book that I highly recommend so if you get a chance pick it up.

I will leave you with a quote today that has had me thinking about our individual role as a citizen of the earth.

"Life is like a huge spider web so that if you touch it anywhere you set the whole thing trembling"

- Frederick Buccher

Friday, 11 September 2009

Free Recipe Friday

Today is Friday and that means it is free recipe day! The recipe that I have chosen to share today is not really mine. I learned it from a very special friend who I have been missing tons lately because she lives on the other side of the world. So I was thinking of her today and thought I would share this with all of you. We make this soup quite a bit as it goes long way and it is a great way to use up leftover chicken. (If I have less chicken I just use more rice.)

Now in all fairness to April I am not sure that I do her soup justice as she makes great authentic homemade Pho soup which she learned to do in Cambodia where she used to live. I loved watching her make it here in her kitchen but I am not sure I ever wrote it down when she lived here. So it may not be quite the same as hers but my family loves it! Thanks April I named the soup after you!

April's Chicken Vietnamese Pho

8 cups homemade chicken broth (or you can use 2 boxes of the ready made broth)
3 cups cooked shredded chicken (I often use leftovers from a roasted chicken)
¾ Cup Uncooked Jasmine or Basmati Rice
2 Tablespoons of Oyster or Fish Sauce
Salt to taste (I don’t usually use any)

Soup Garnishes (you can make some or all of these – Jason and I like them all but the kids like a few)
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
8 Cloves of Minced garlic
Cabbage thinly sliced
Cilantro finely chopped
Chopped Limes
Bean sprouts
Lime wedges

Heat fry pan to medium heat. Pour the uncooked rice into the fry pan. Cook rice until it just starts to turn a light brown. You will have to watch it as it can burn easily. This gives a great flavour to the rice once you put in the soup. Once the rice is a nice light brown colour remove it from the heat. Transfer the chicken to a large soup pot and add the chicken broth, chicken, rice and the fish sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiled reduce heat and continue to simmer until the rice starts to break apart at the ends. I think this takes about 40 minutes.

While the soup is simmering get the soup garnishes ready. In the fry pan heat the remaining oil and add the minced garlic. Sauté the minced garlic until browned. Once browned drain oil on a paper towel and set browned garlic apart in a bowl. Pour the soup in each soup bowl. You can top each bowl with a little cabbage, cilantro, bean sprouts and garlic. Squeeze the lime over top. Serve. My kids like to be able to add what they like so you can make any of the garnishes optional allowing people to add more or less according to their taste. They also like to add fried noodles on top which is definitely not authentic but they love them.


Thursday, 10 September 2009

Thirty Days of Almost Nothing Continues

We left on Sunday for the cottage and we stayed until Wednesday night. It was great fun to start the home school year off up there. My kids think a swim break for recess is very cool. The one disadvantage though is that I did not have access to the Internet to keep up with the blog. Sorry to all of you who were checking for a new post. Thanks for being faithful. We are more than a week into our "Thirty Days of Almost Nothing" experiment and I have learned some things about myself.

I am addicted to large Ziploc bags. I am embarrassed to admit it but I have found that they have been the hardest thing for me to give up. I know that they are not a necessity but I miss them. I realize that I use them for everything. Of all the things in the world to miss I am sad that I seem to have fixated on the Ziploc. My head knows they are terrible for the environment and that there are way better ways to store things but I find them easy and my routine is messed up without them. Isn't it funny how some things become so much of a routine that it throws us off when we change them. It is a good reminder to keep adjusting the routine so I don't get too comfortable. Who knows what I could start to latch onto next!

Another thing that I have learned is that I like the rest from choices. I like not having a choice about buying things. I know that sounds a bit weird but too many choices and options tire me out. I get overwhelmed walking into big box stores or even little box stores. All the packages start to look the same, my eyes begin to blurr and I often come home with a product that I didn't intend to buy. It drives me crazy. Does anyone else wonder why we have to have fourteen different choices of mozzarella cheese with only slightly different packaging? All I want is plain old real mozzarella cheese. But I have to sift through no fat mozzarella, probiotic mozzarella, light mozzarella, smoked mozzarella....oh it just makes me want to get Velveeta! I know it is kind of weird and not really real cheese but at least you know when you get it home it will be the Velveeta that you thought you were buying. Do not even get me started on yogurt... I love yogurt but I will be honest I don't miss buying it because I can't stand trying to pick one out in an aisle that seems to grow weekly. Really do we need this many choices??? I don't and so I have realized that I like the rest and the freedom in having less choices to make.

The third thing that I think I am starting to learn about is that an awareness has awakened in my brain and in my heart. I think God began it a while ago but I was not really sure what it was about and I still don't think I know what the whole picture looks like. He is starting to put more of the puzzle together though. Some pieces I have picked up along the way are a discomfort with the normalcy of our family's consumerism, a questioning in my heart of who is my neighbour?, and conviction that my circle of neighbours is not just people who I see face to face in my daily life, they may be people that I never and will never meet and yet we are connected because we are all made in the image of God. We have spent the summer as a church going through the book of Ephesians. If you have never read it I highly recommend it and if you have read it, read it again. There are so many nuggets of treasure to mine. For me, to dig into Paul's words to the Ephesians has been not only challenging but also exciting. I love learning about Godly relationships. It gives me hope that things can be different. They should be different. God intended them to be different. All of this relates in my brain. Really truly it does! It is not quite formulated into a plan of action but it definitely is all part of the picture that He is revealing to me every time I give myself an opportunity to sit still.
I saw a great quote on a bench today when I was in Stratford. We were early for our play to and so we sat on one of the benches that they have by the festival theatre that overlooks the river. The quote was, "Sometimes we are most moved when we sit perfectly still." - Bell.
I took this photo on Tuesday morning just as the sun was starting to rise over the horizon. I was perfectly still. Only the birds and I were enjoying this moment as the sun began to rise up over Georgian Bay. It was one of those moments that make you hold your breath because you are swept up in the awesome beauty that is really indescribable and you realize that the same God that made this indescribable moment made you and everyone else that has ever drawn a breath. The final thing that I have learned so far is that the bench in Stratford is right. I am most moved when I am sitting still. Our "fast" from being caught up in buying allows for more time spent in His presence. I notice more of what is around me because I am not as distracted, I can focus more on what matters and I can sit still and I am enjoying the view.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Day # 5 Fingerprints of God

Day # 5 of Thirty Days of Nothing.

Over the summer we attended Ryerson Christian Family Camp. It is one of my favourite places to be and we had an absolutely fabulous time. Ryerson Camp is right on lake Erie, near Turkey Point, the staff is fantastic, the family camp program is Christ centred and we love it. If you want to join us next year let me know I and I will get you all the details. All of their summer programs are great but I think I love family camp the most because I am always looking for things for us to do as a family that everyone loves. Sometimes this is a bit of challenge with both a teenager and a preschooler in the house. Family camp is favourite for everyone. This year we talked our friends, the Seppenwoolde family to come with us. We each had a cabin but they were joined in the middle and our kids loved going over to see if they were up in the morning. I am not sure how much Bev, Will and Jenni loved it but I have a sneaking suspicion that they liked it too as there was a lot of giggling going on on. There are many activities during the week like canoeing, low ropes course, swimming, golfing, worship, campfire, bible teaching, and of course sponge wars. As part of the family camp program we were given a memory verse in which the program for the week was based on. The kids got to learn actions for each word to help them remember and even TJ can now recite it. The scripture for the week was Romans 12:1-2.

"Therefore, I urge you brothers in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good pleasing and perfect will."

Yeah, I did that from memory so I if I made any mistakes you will have to let me know. I have been thinking a lot about these verses as we spent the week pulling them apart and since then I have been looking at it for some personal application. The line that has stuck with me most is "do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world". I have started thinking about what patterns of this world do I personally conform to?  I have been challenged to really think about how do I look different because I love to spend time with Jesus everyday? How is that playing out as I live my life in both the little and the big things. This thirty day experiment is part of the process of helping me figure that out.
Another part is what I am calling my "Fingerprints of God" book. What I have discovered about myself is that I struggle with being overwhelmed with the darkness of this world. When I look around I see so much need, sickness, poverty, so many broken relationships, greed, selfishness and loss. I become discouraged. I forget the ways in which God has intervened in my life and wants to intervene for others. This soul that has been healed by a saviours love and sacrifice still needs reminders that the battle is won and that I know the ending of God's story and it is good. That God's beauty is pushing back and breaking through into our messy, mucky world every day and I need to take notice. So I started writing in a little book five things everyday in which I was reminded of God. Something that reminded me of His character, His love, His forgiveness, His hope, His story. Something that had His fingerprints all over it. I have to admit I had trouble at first coming up with five things. But as the days have pressed on I am now having trouble keeping it to five. In upcoming posts I will begin to share some more of the things I see but for now I will share this. I was reading some different blogs and I was directed to Kindness Girl.
Kindness Girl is a mom and she loves to think of different things that she and her kids can do to brighten their community. Things they can do as they are going about their day. These things don't cost a lot but in them I saw God's fingerprints and it made me smile. She is doing one for the first day of school for kids in her neighbourhood. I actually think she home schools but she and her kids know what it is like to be nervous on the first day and to be walking toward the school. I wish I could see the faces of the kids in her neighbourhood. I want to see the faces of the kids in my neighbourhood. We can all do it. If you can't do this one do something else, start today. It won't cost a lot. Have a peek at her blog post and see what she did. I think I will start today. People walk by my house all the time and I know we have sidewalk chalk in the garage.....oh I can't wait to get the kids up!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Roasted or Unroasted Corn Salad

It is Day # 4 of our "Thirty Days of Almost Nothing" experiment and as we head into the long weekend I find it freeing that we are taking a break from consumerism. It is an odd and yet great feeling to not have the pressure of so many options. I will post more about my thoughts on that later once I have had a chance to process them more.

I have been out all day today for a fabulous family gathering at my parents house. We were visiting with my Aunt Nellie who is vacationing from Ireland and my Great Aunt Ag who is 104 years young! They both look wonderful and it was so great to see them and to be able to hug their necks! We really had a wonderful afternoon. I volunteered to bring a salad which is the same salad for which I promised yesterday that I would post the recipe.

I originally made this salad last week for a church gathering and so many people asked me for the recipe I wrote it down when I got home. Last week I didn't have a lot of time (what else is new?) and I needed to use what I had in my house as we had used up our budget for the week. So I looked up some recipes and of course I did not have all of the ingredients that each of them required. Therefore, in my usual fashion I made something up that fit what I had on hand. When I was making the recipe today I decided to do something a bit different and thus the recipe morphed again. So if you use this great budget friendly recipe feel free to try something different with it. It is kind of fun!


Ingredients for the salad:

4 cups (500 mL) corn kernels (frozen kernels thawed & drained or cooked fresh)
2 cups (250 mL) red and/ or orange and/or yellow peppers, diced
2 green onion, finely chopped
½ cup (60 mL) chopped cilantro (use more or less depending on if you like it)

Ingredients for Roasting Option:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic

Ingredients for the dressing:

2 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime (or more if you love lime)
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
2 tbsp (15 mL) ground cumin
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp Lime Cordial (optional, I used the second time I made recipe)


For the roasted corn option: heat a frying pan over med to high heat with the vegetable oil. Once heated add the minced garlic. Cook until fragrant about two minutes. Add your corn and cook until some of the corn gets brown or roasted. (See photo). Once roasted turn off the heat and set the corn aside. You can let the corn cool on its own if you have time. I didn’t so I stuck it in the freezer for five minutes. Once your corn is cool or if you are not roasting it, toss it together with the peppers and the green onion in a salad bowl. Mix together the dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over corn mixture just before serving, add cilantro and toss to coat evenly. (See photo)

Note: When I first did this recipe I did not roast the corn or add the Lime cordial. The salad tasted great and only took me about 10 minutes to make from start to finish. Today when I made the recipe I roasted the corn and it gave the salad a nuttier taste. The lime cordial also gave a bit sweetness to the dressing.

So there you have it. I great salad recipe that is super for lunches, dinners, and potlucks. This recipe feed my family of six, and six other adults today as a side dish. If you are feeding a larger crowd just double the recipe. Enjoy and check back soon for more thoughts on our family's experiment.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Step 1 - Grocery Shopping in My Own Home

So it is Day 3 of our Thirty Days of Almost Nothing experiment and I have already learned some interesting things about myself. I have often joked that if there was ever a disaster that we should all head to my mom's house as she could feed a small army for a month with all the food she has in her freezer and her cold room. Well, I cleaned out my own freezers today and I discovered that the apple does not fall far from the tree. I had no idea that I had so much food. I know that I stock up when things are on sale and sometimes I cook in bulk and freeze casseroles etc for nights that I don't really feel like cooking but I had no idea exactly what was in there. Lesson number one is that I need a system for knowing what is in my freezer and when I put it there so that we are not wasting or buying what we do not need. So those of you who know me know I love lists and forms so I developed one that helps me keep track of what I have in freezer, the date I put it there and how may people it will feed. I am keeping the form on the freezer itself so as I take something out I cross it off the inventory.

The good news of lesson number one is that I was able to go grocery shopping in my own freezer and pantry before I went grocery shopping at the store. I have another form that I use to plan my family meals for the week so I was able to organize that once I knew what was in my freezer. Our grocery list (another form) was much smaller than usual this week. We only had to buy perishables such as fresh fruit and veggies and milk. We spent under $50.00 which is pretty impressive for a family of six. Our buy of the day was our milk (3 litres bag) for just $2.77 with our coupons. If you would like a copy of any of the forms I have mentioned just leave me a comment or send me an email and I will send it to you. Be sure to check back tomorrow as I will be posting a great corn salad recipe that uses ingredients you probably have in your fridge and freezer and budget friendly.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Thirty Days of Almost Nothing Experiment

I have been a bit of a frugal junkie for while partly out of necessity and partly because it is a bit of a challenge to see how little we can spend on things. I have always loved a good deal, a great sale and freebies are my favourite. Our family is big on the 3 R's of reduce, reuse and recycle but upon further self examination, I have come to the conclusion that I would much rather reuse and recycle than to reduce. Why is that??

My husband Jason and I have talked a lot about how God promises to take care of our needs and how we have seen that played out in our life. Lately, though I have been challenged with what I consider a necessity. Are some of my needs, really a need or are they really a want that I have justified into the need category? What would our lives and our bank accounts look like if we only used what we needed. Would we have more money and resources that we could invest in God's Kingdom? Would we become the kind of stewards of God's creation that he intended us to be? What would we learn about our resources and ourselves?

So for the next thirty days our family is going to try a little experiment that we are calling "Thirty Days of Almost Nothing". From September 1st to September 30th we will try to reduce first and in the process we are going to try to determine what are really necessities for our family. So before we buy anything including groceries, toiletries, school supplies etc we are going to ask ourselves is this really a necessity? Hopefully by continually asking this question even over our smallest expenditures we will learn something about what we as a family really consider a need. So stayed tuned as I post about what we are learning, new frugal tips and budget recipes over the next thirty days.

If you want to read more about my husbands thoughts on this topic be sure to check out Jason's new post at his blog.