Thursday, September 22, 2011

One more recipe, macaroni and cheese!

This is one of my favorite recipes, it's nostalgic, my Gramma has been making it for as long as I can remember, and before she made it for me, she made it for her kids, and I think that makes it pretty special, even if it is a very common dish, and a very simplistic recipe.

She got this recipe from "The all new Purity Cook Book: A complete guide to Canadian cooking", originally made in 1967, and now available on Amazon for a new generation to enjoy! I'm using a battered, torn, flour coated version my Gramma gave me years ago, it looks like this, only much worse...

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you're looking for a book packed with no-nonsense basics.  I use to it make cookies and cakes and consult it pretty regularly.

Anyway, here is the recipe I use for macaroni and cheese, as it was written for home cooks in 1967.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cook 1 cup macaroni until tender in boiling salted water.


Meanwhile, melt in a saucepan 1/4 cup butter or margarine

Add 1 tablespoon chopped onion (or omit if you don't like them, I add more when I make mine!)

Cook slowly until tender, not browned.

Blend in 1/4 cup pre-sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
a few grains of pepper

Gradually stir in 2 cups milk

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.

Add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

Stir until cheese is melted.

Add cooked macaroni and blend well.

Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 or 2 quart casserole.

Sprinkle with 2/3 cup buttered bread crumbs.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes until bubbly and browned.

Yeild: 4 to 6 servings.

That's it.  So simple.  Now, just in case you were thinking about omiting the mustard powder, don't do it, it's good! And I like to cook the flour and butter mixture a few minutes before adding the milk, like making a real roux out of it first, you don't have to, but I like to.  As for the crumbs on top, my gramma did the coolest thing, and just buttered whole pieces of bread and laid them on the top, and they got so nice and toasty on top.  Each serving was the size of the piece of bread on top of it, I loved that growing up.  I myself like to mix Cornflake crumbs with parmesan cheese, parsly and dried basil and softened butter to make crumbs, then put that on top, it's all good!

Enjoy my hand me down recipe, and keep it going, it's too good not to share!


Recipe! Because I said I would share it....

I posted pictures of my favorite dinner, Indian style butter chicken on Facebook, and a few people were curious about the recipe I use, so I'm sharing it here for your viewing, and potentially tasting pleasure!

Let it be said upfront, this recipe is likely not very authentic, but it's pretty darn tasty.  The back story behind me creating this recipe is that I fell in love with the butter chicken at our local Indian place, and I could eat it every single day if I could afford it, but I can't! So, I set out looking for a grocery store substitution, I tried multiple brands of bottled sauces and dry mixes and frozen ready made dishes, and every single one of them paled in comparison to what I had become addicted to at our local Indian place.  My next logical step, though it was daunting at first, was to make it myself.  I googled recipes, reviewed a bunch, and ultimately settled on this one found here at The Pioneer Woman, you just can't go wrong with Ree, and her step by step directions are amazing!

I made it, drooled, and fell in love, it's true! But, it wasn't quite right, excellent, but not the same as the little Indian place, it was great, but not what I had been searching for, so I started to customize it to suit our tastes.  So, here's what I do differently...

Use WAY more of the spices she listed then she suggests, but you'll have to go by taste, increasing slowly until you know what you think of them, especially if Indian spices are new to you.  Plus, I didn't want want to spend mucho bucks on cardamom, so I skipped it, but I use Garam Masala, and it has cardamom in it, so it's not gone all together.  I also use curry poweder and turmeric, about 1tsp each.

I use a little less lime juice then she suggests, it's only my prefernce.

I don't use the onion anymore, some of us in this house don't like onions, just saying....

I skip the tomato sauce and just use one big can of diced tomatoes.

I skip the fresh cilantro, it certainly tasted nice, and it brought a brightness and freshness to the dish, but the butter chicken at the Indian place was not bright or fresh, it was dense and heavy and deep and flavorful, it was a like a cozy fall evening, not a bright spring morning, so I skipped it, keep it if you like!

And that's about it.  Follow PW's recipe, she won't steer you wrong, and if you want MY butter chicken specifically, then follow my little omissions/inclusions while using her cooking instructions and you'll still be good to go!  Now, I just need to figure out a way to duplicate their naan bread too, trust me, you'll want some naan bread for all that yummy sauce!



Setting up home...

Our family just relocated, same town, new house, and it's been joyful but exhausting!  We've found that with small children, there's more to making a new house feel like home then simply moving in our belongings.  For the first few days, this new house felt like our things in the wrong place.  Nothing looked right, nothing smelled right, nothing felt right and we all felt a little lost.

I have to say, that though it often irritates me, my husbands incredibly energy and drive was very helpful, unstrumental even, in making this new house "home".  We've been here just shy of two weeks, and his hard word and dedication has transformed our new place into a warm, inviting and familiar place, and it's transported us, we are finally home again!  Our things are in place, the walls of our bedrooms are now colors we chose and love, the house smells like us, and feels like us, and when we look around we see our memories, our trinkets and little personal touches we were missing so badly when we were living out of boxes.  It feels so good to be here now, and we can finally start enjoying this new house and the blessing that it is.

We can feel God in our new home, and I feel challenged by him to make this new home a better home, a more comfortable, more loving, more grace filled and more hospitable place to  be, for us, for our family, our friends, and neighbours!

The process of purchasing a new house and moving was stressful and at times really scary, but living here and feeling challenged by God to make a new and better start, that's just exciting!!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Treating trials like challenges...

There isn't any doubt about it, life can be hard! Sometimes life throws us something really unexpected and scary, and we aren't sure why we're facing such trials, it seems unfair and insurmountable.  But in times like these, when life feels overwhelming and difficult, when it all seems uphill, what good does it do to fall to pieces and give up? Philippians 4:6-7 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Luke 12:25-26 says "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"  In the face of struggle and hard times, instead of turning to worry and fear, the bible calls us to to trust God with our needs and our circumstances, and to let go of worry, since it doesn't actually benefit us, or eliminate the cause of our anxieties.  Easier said then done right?

Earlier today I posted about having to trust God more and how we were planning on taking on a more frugal lifestyle.  It seems no sooner did I post that, that God decided to test our dedication to that lifestyle.  We hit a finanical pot hole today, it was unexpected and scary, especially on the eve of purchasing a new home, especially because I'm off work now on maternity leave, especially because Elvis has injured his back and is working modified hours.  We didn't want this.  We certainly didn't ask for this, and God knows we didn't need this.  But, we've got it.  Our circumstances are what they are, worry won't get us out of it, neither will fear, or anger or sulkyness.  All those negative and worrisome attitudes get us is a gloomy household, a strained marriage and confused kids who start to worry themselves.  Worry doesn't do us any good at all.  But the circumstance calls for some form of action, because it won't go away on it's own either, I can't waste time worrying, but we can't afford to be idle either. 

God is using our trials to challenge us, to challange and inspire us to change our lives.  We've been careless with our money at times, and we have wanted too often for material things, which has led us to unneccessary spending.  We've got things, but now we've got debt too.  And we're being accountable for that, we did it, and now we need to work together as a team to undo it.  My husband and I are a team, and I don't want to place the burden of digging us out of this financial pot hole all on his shoulders.  I don't want to see him weighed down and stressed because of debt, I want to help him eliminate it.  God is challenging me to break out of my comfort zone, and to do what needs to be done even though I don't want to do it, but to do it because it's for the greater good of my family.  My husband and my children need me to do it. 1 Timothy 5:8 says "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  I need to help provide for our family.  Even though I feel like I serve them best from home, I feel called to help financially as well.

Though I intended to take my one year of maternity leave, just like with my previous babies, this leave is not paid, and it's not easy.  Though I want nothing more then to stay home with my children, I know I have to go back to work eventually, and it seems like a year may be unrealistic given our current situation.  We want to give our children a certain standard of living, and we want to enjoy our new house, we want to feel unburdened, we want to delight in our blessings and our family, and in order to do that, I need to make some money, I need to go to work.  Thank goodness it doesn't have to be full time, thank God I can still be a mostly stay at home mom, but it's hard for me to suck it up, change my plans, and let go of my selfish desire to stay home.  I could stay home, I could take my whole year off, but to the detriment of my marriage and my family, and that would be no good, it would feel awful, and it wouldn't be satisfying in any way. 

Another layer to this challenge will be this, doing what needs to be done joyfully.  It will mean stepping up and helping my husband financially, because neither of us intended for this snag to happen, and it's not either of our faults, and doing it with a smile on my face, not grudgingly, not with a pout.  I want to have a good attitude, I want to continue to care for my family properly at home, I want to continue to be a good and supportive wife, I want to be a happy and loving mother, and I want to help remove the weight of debt from all our shoulders.  It's pretty clear to me that God is challenging me, and I know what needs to be done.  So I'm going to channel my inner Proverbs 31 woman, and I'm going to be brave and accountable and I'll do what needs to be done, joyfully.  I'm rising to the occasion, I'm up to the challenge!

I'm taking this trial, which if we weren't careful, could tear us down and pull us apart, and I'm going to see it as a challenge, a chance to grow and mature and build up. And I hope that God will help me to continue to see it this way tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and every day, because He knows it won't be easy.


Its been a while...

It's been a while since I've posted here, and I've really missed it! I got busy with life and the beautiful chaos that comes with having a young family and forgot why I started this blog, and why I was keeping it up, and I'd like to get back to that!

This blog was started so I could journal how I am reading, processing and applying God's word in my life, and how it's helping keep me focused and balanced and feeling confidant, even in tough times. This blog has helped me clear my mind and focus my efforts, and it has helped me relax and just trust in Him in the past, so now that my baby is old enough to set down a while, I'm diving back in!

Life here is in a state of transition, which is both exciting but also a little stressful! We've adjusted well to the addition of our new daughter Stella to our family, and she's a little joy, but now Avery is back in school, and Landon starts Junior Kindergarten on Friday, and to top it off, we're moving! A brand new home awaits us and we're so excited to get in and make it feel like home! I'm day dreaming of Christmas and birthdays and playing in the backyard, and it's so exciting, but at the same time, it brings worries. Moving, unpacking, and getting settled, on top of the financial strain of a bigger home, it's a big commitment and undertaking, and to make it work, and to really be able to enjoy it, Elvis and I need to have a shared vision for our family, and a strong commitment to living in a certain way, that will lessen the burden and the stress of a bigger monthly mortgage.

We've talked about how we'll start being more frugal, and how we're going to make it a really fun sort of project, to see where we can cut back. We're going to tap into our creativity and really try and find interesting, unique and innovative ways to shop, save, and spend differently. But faith will come in handy here, when we're feeling like it's too hard, when we're feeling deprived, our faith will help remind us that God cares for us and provides for us, and will not test us beyond what we can handle. I had originally started a frugal living blog, but I think perhaps I am spreading myself too thin, trying to maintain too many blogs that are really just sub-topics of my life, so I think I'll just merge that blog with this one, and continue to maintain our grief blog (Like a Sparrow Falling), as well as our new blog for our fundraising efforts to help other grieving parents (For Grieving Hearts).

I'm going to try and post here several times a week, to keep myself on track, and to let you all know what God's doing in my life and what pieces of scripture I'm thinking over and trying to apply.