Trusting God

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“We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.”

– St. Francis De Sales
(Bishop of Geneva 1567-1622)

Hello friends– Love this from St. Francis– in my own minor storm right now.  Hope these words might encourage you as well today.

“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” 
Psalm 91:2

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Chocolate Chip Cranberry Bread

IMG_2926Hi friends–  When we were newlyweds back in seminary housing, I got a version of this yummcious cranberry bread from my Canadian neighbor.  I’m sure I’ve made it every Christmas time since.  So I decided to go “wild” this year and sweeten it up a bit with mini chocolate chips–plus all those cranberries, orange peel and nuts– I think it turned the corner from breakfast food to dessert!

CHOCOLATE CHIP CRANBERRY BREAD
2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup of orange juice*
the grated peel of one orange
1 1/3 cup cranberries, cut in half
1 cup of walnuts, chopped coarsely (or pecans)
1 cup mini chocolate chips**

IMG_2921First cup those cranberries in half –not as easy at it sounds– they are roll-y little things.  And chop the nuts.  Grate the orange peel off the orange and then juice it.

Then in a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Next mix in the eggs and orange juice.  Finally, fold in the  cranberries, walnuts, orange peel and chocolate chips.

Spoon the stiff batter into one standard loaf pan (or two smaller pans) that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until it’s golden on top and cooked through if you test it by poking in a sharp knife.

Love this stuff– So good toasted up for breakfast (with our without the chocolate!).

*I just juice the orange I’ve used to grate the peel off.  If there’s not quite enough juice, just fill out the cup with water.
**Use those mini chocolate chips– the large ones will sink to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.

Thanksgiving 2014

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Hello friends– Is there turkey in your oven?  Are you with people you love to squeeze?  And that pie, all that pie..   I do hope so.

And I hope, hope you’re able to summon an overwhelming gratitude on this day to give thanks.  I know it’s not always easy, but it helps put everything else in it’s place.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.”
— Melody Beattie

In difficult days, in days when everything goes just right, Lord keep me thankful.

“My heart may sing to you and not be silent, O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”  —   Psalm 30:12

Wishing you the best sort of warm and wonderful Thanksgiving– full of pie and hugs and a heart of thanks with people you love…

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The photo is thanks to: ohmydeerhandmades.com.

 

HB Laurel!

IMG_0110Hi all– She’s come and gone– our lovable purple haired Laurel.  She can light up the house and make everything fun.  We did some birthday celebrating, some shopping (our forte), and some walking in the park.  Plus that girl gives the best “tech support” ever.  And this time she brought along her boyfriend John, an extra bonus!  Thanks for the visit Laurel-Lu.  Missing you around here…

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Boostore

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Hi there reading buddies–  I hope you have a friend like my friend Janet.  She is a a super reader and lucky for me, she is always passing along great books for me to pour over!  This summer there’s been a steady supply and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore was one of those fun sumer reads!

The story begins when graphic designer, Clay, looses his job in the recession– and ends up in the employee of Mr. Penumbra at his mysterious San Francisco bookstore.  The story, in short, is Clay and his band of capable friends using technology to translate a 500 year old encoded volume to learn the secret of immortality!  There are curious customers, an ancient library, cryptic clues, resourceful friends, and the genteel and determined Mr. Penumbra.

I liked the tale of adventure, not the swashbuckling kind, more the adventure of minds working together– with the help of technology to solve an ancient riddle.  It’s the juxtaposition of the leather book book loving sorts and the younger technology wielding adventurers.  It’s not an earthshaking book– but just a quick fun tale for summer.  I think you’d like it too…

Orange Currant Pancakes

IMG_1028Good Morning Pancake Eaters–  Nothing says the weekend like a good stack of pancakes for breakfast.  But happily when you’re a teacher, you can pancake for breakfast any day all summer long!  Here’s a plain old Tuesday morning breakfast with the grand-girls.

And I’m happy to have discovered that when there’s yogurt in the recipe, the pancakes come out fluffier and so tender.  So these are kind of an “orange-currant scone” version of my favorite oatmeal pancakes– sweet with that friendly morning citrus flavor.  Hope you like them as much as we did!

ORANGE CURRANT PANCAKES
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup flour
4/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unflavored yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
grated peel of one orange
1/2 cup currants

IMG_1024Stir together the oatmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the yogurt, milk, orange juice, vanilla and oil.  Finally fold in the orange peel and currants.

Heat a pancake skillet to medium and spray it with cooking spray.  Pour batter by 1/2 cupfuls onto the skillet and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through.

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Jobay, the assistant pancake stirrer and expert pancake eater…

Dinner in a Chinese Village

Hi all–  Been missing my sis, Luanne, and dragged out the photos of our visit 2 summers ago in China.  She lived in a village near Lijiang, China.  And one evening her friend “Thomas” (I’m sorry I don’t know his real Chinese name) invited us all to dinner in their traditional Naxi home. I thought maybe you’d like to see it too. It was a feast I’ll never forget…

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When we arrived, Thomas and a friend were fishing for our soon-to-be dinner.

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There was a table filled with the finest food summoned up by Thomas’ sister and girlfriend.  The aforementioned fish took center stage– and my favorite were the “wheels” of lotus blossom root on the top right corner of the table.  Don’t you want to taste it all?!

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Here is part of our dinner, steaming in the wok over a wood fire.

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We gathered around the table to share the beautiful, bountiful plates prepared for us.

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Dishes are washed out in the courtyard– No water is plumbed into the Naxi kitchen, which a separate building across the courtyard from the other parts of the home.

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Thank you to Thomas (here with his cousin) for the warmth and generosity of sharing your home with us.  It was an marvelous memorable meal.

Happy Birthday Baby Mae!

IMG_9005Hi friends– Just a quick hello from San Francisco.  We’re up for the 4 day weekend with our kids and especially to celebrate Baby Mae’s 1st birthday!!  But I think it’s time for a new knick name for that girl—not a baby anymore!  She’s sweet and good natured and loves to laugh.  You can tell we dote on her.

So, Mae-kins, God bless and keep you in this year ahead, learning to toddle around, growing into a real little kid with all love and care that surround you.  You are a joy.

Orange Yogurt Muffins

IMG_8486Hi there– A couple weeks back our Micah and Jodi drove down the coast from San Francisco and after passing fruit stand after fruit stand, couldn’t resist stopping for some fresh produce.  They showed up with a big net bag of just picked oranges and oh, they were juicy sweet!

So one morning we turned a couple of those juicy orbs into bright citrusy muffins– they tasted a little bit like sunshine!  Good to start off any day…

ORANGE YOGURT MUFFINS
2 oranges
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup unflavored yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice

Grate to peel off of the oranges and set aside.

Then mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the eggs, oil yogurt and orange juice and finally fold in the orange peel.  Pretty simple!

Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake wrappers and pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes–just until they are firm to the touch and start to brown around the edges.

Ginger Soy Chicken Skewers

IMG_8460Hi friends– Bar-b-que season is just around the corner.  So last week we jumped the gun a little and grilled these chicken skewers for a table full of family.  The great grandparents liked it just fine and the kids ate the chicken off the skewers like popsicles (more fun that way!).

It’s a great recipe to make ahead when you’re having a group– just let it marinate away in the fridge all afternoon while you pull the rest of the dinner together.  Then pop it on the grill for a few minutes when you’re ready to eat…

GINGER SOY CHICKEN SKEWERS

Marinade:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tab. sugar*
2 tab. vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced

Whisk together the marinade ingredients til thoroughly blended and pour them into a flat baking dish or tray big enough to hold your skewers.

Skewers:
3 large chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper, cut to 1′ chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ chunks
1 onion, cut into 1″ chunks

Thread the chicken, peppers and onion onto the skewers and lay them in the marinade.  Turn them to coat all sides and you can give them a couple more turns during the time they are marinating to they absorb all the flavors.  Marinate 1 to 6 hours in the fridge.

Then cook them on a hot grill, until the marinade coating chars a bit and the chicken is cooked through– just about 6 to 8 minutes per side.

The Shanghai Family has Arrived!

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Hi friends– If we’ve crossed paths in the last many months,  you’ve surely already heard (and heard) that our 3 grand-girls along with their mom and dad were making the move from Shanghai to Socal!!

Well, they are here!   So this weekend’s been a parade of friends and family, dropping by to welcome them in.  It’s been crazy & grand.  In the first 24 hours we’ve already baked a birthday cake, played at the park, colored mini posters and read a few stories– and there’s so much more ahead!!  I am thankful.

Delectable San Francisco

Hi there–  We pretty much ate our way across San Francisco a couple weekends ago– all that lovely food and I’m just not good at pushing back from the table and saying no thank you!  We sat over a few glorious dinners and nibbled some great things in between.  Since, I’m suspecting that you all enjoy eating as much as we do, I wanted to pass along a few suggestions…

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On a sunny afternoon we strolled past Delores Park to find a table at Namu Gaji–a Korean-San Franciscan restaurant with an inventive menu that includes okonomiyaki.  It’s a rice dish topped with bonita (tuna) flakes that literally dance as you chop stick them up to your mouth.  I think it’s the heat or the stone dish that makes it happen– or maybe it’s magic! But we loved the stylish interior and all the foods we tried…

IMG_7113     photoValentine’s dinner found us at a intimate (?) table for eight at Cotogna.  We chatted over 4 beautiful courses–boards of appetizers–seafood, cheeses, then first plate the most tender, exquisite lasagne, second plate flavorful sea bass and a berry pavlova for dessert.   Loved the dinner with our favorite valentines–our kids.

IMG_7197     IMG_7211After a Saturday morning hike through Muir Woods, we warmed up at Shanghai Dumpling King, an old favorite.  Of, course there were dumplings, Shanghai lions’ head meatball soup…  As we were digging in to the golden puffs for dessert, lion dancers came roaring through the tiny restaurant while fire crackers exploded out on the sidewalk–a little after lunch excitement!

photo 2     IMG_7372After our morning hike up the rocky outcroppings of Corona Heights Park, we rewarded ourselves with a stop at the Ice Cream Bar–for a round of “adult” ice cream treats.  I savored my bourbon ice cream topped with hot fudge and Larry sipped his beer & chocolate shake.  Fun and refreshing!

IMG_7392     IMG_7398We sat at a quiet table in the front window of Ragazza for some of the best pizza in SF.  We started with a kale salad with avocado and green goddess dressing — and and arugula salad with goat cheese, beets and hazelnuts.  Then dug into a trio of pizzas–sausage, amatriciana and Brussel sprout.  A delectable pizza feast.

Thanks Aaron & Jessica, Ani & Brian and Laurel & John for all the delicious times around the table with you all…  Loved it.

Thankful Again

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There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.
Ralph H. Blum

Hi friends– Cozy under a blanket on a foggy morning in San Francisco.  You can hear the fog horn down on the bay.  It’s a joy to be up here with our kids for a 4 day weekend.  At times like this, it’s easy to be thankful

So I am thankful for…
#1. a morning hike through the quietly verdant Muir Woods with kids
#2. giggles and waves (her newly learned skill) from our baby Mae
#3. talk at the table over over gracious meals (that someone else prepared)
#4. God’s good mercies new every morning

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.”  –I Chronicles 16:34

P.S.– The photo above is along a trail in Muir Woods–beautifully restoring.

Gratitude

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“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give,and life cannot be rich without gratitude.  It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievement compared with what we owe to the help of others.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer (l906-l945) German pastor, theologian, anti-nazi dissident from his work, “Letters and papers from prison.”

Hello friends– This stopped me in my tracks.  I’m trying to recall all the help that I’ve been given– It’s easy for me to take it for granted.  More gratitude is always a good thing…

Valentine Morning

IMG_6983Hi all– Just saw the last friends out the door from a morning of valentine-making.  My table’s still strewn with scissors and wiggly eyes, candy hearts and all shades of pinkish paper…  We cut and glued and pasted and stickered to our heart’s content.

IMG_6999And ate.  Little plates of cheeses and bread, olives and salami (love salami).  And cookies, lots of cookies.  And washed it down with mugs of coffee and “breakfast sangria”– that’s the fruity, sparkly drink you make without alcohol so you can serve it first thing in the morning!

I love those gals–the best kind of valentine friends.  It was grand.

Present Blessings –Dickens

dickenssumm1_1503938c“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens

Hello all- In the middle of this Christmas rush, I’m hoping to make time day by day to reflect on present blessings, on things true and noble and admirable…

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable… think on such things.”
Phillipians 4:8

thank you for the Dickens portrait– telegraph.co.ik

God is Awake

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“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” –Victor Hugo
(1802-1885) French poet, novelist, dramatist.

I take a lot of comfort in this thought.  I hope you do as well…

Pasta with Sausage & Swiss Chard

IMG_4811Hello there– This has got to be one of my favorite easy week night dinners.  The spicy sausage, savory chard, sweet red pepper against all that mellow pasta.  Can’t beat it.  And it is pretty much ready in about 20 minutes.

PASTA WITH SAUSAGE & SWISS CHARD
3 tab. olive oil
2 Italian sausage links (hot or mild, pork or turkey)
1/3 large yellow onion, cut to tiny bits
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 up red bell pepper, cut fine
1/4 cup parmesan-romano
4 big beautiful Swiss chard leaves, ribs removed & cut to shreds
8 oz. spaghetti noodles

Heat the oil in a pan and throw in the chopped onion and sausage, skins removed.  Break up the sausage into small bits as it cooks using a wooden spoon.  When the sausage is browned, add in the garlic and red pepper and cook a minute or two more.
Then stir in the parmesan-romano, and finally the Swiss chard leaves.  Just cook the chard for a minute two until is just starts to wilt–not long enough to get soggy.

While all the above is happening. Boil the water with a good sprinkle of salt and a glug of olive oil and cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Drain the pasta– add a bit of the pasta water to your pork/chard mixture if it seems a little dry.  Then layer the pasta and the rest on to a plate and dig in while it’s hot!

God with Us

“Her father had always said, God does not need our worship.  We worship to enlarge our sense of the holy, so that we can feel and know the presence of the Lord, who is always with us.  

 —from Home by Marilynne Robinson (page #110)

Hello all- Ran across this in one of my favorite books.  It’s pretty much been on my mind lately.  So in all that fills this day ahead, I hope to know and feel the presence of God.

Linguine with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

IMG_4342Hello all–  We’re finally into the hot days of summer here.  And there are tomatoes out there ripening on the vine as I write. It’s lovely to pick them out in the side yard and carry them right in to use at dinner time.  We’ve been taking brown bags of tomatoes to family–wish I could send off a bagful to you…

LINGUINE WITH OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
4 oz. dry salami, cut to bits
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup pitted dark olives
1 tab. capers, minced
1/2 cup basil or marjoram, chopped
8 oz. linguine

IMG_4331Cut the tomatoes in half and in a bow, toss them with 2 tab. of the olive oil and a good spinkling of salt and pepper.  Spread them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until they look roasty (but not yet mushy!)

While they are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add in the salami bits and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes until the meat starts to crisp a bit.  Remove the salami from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil.  To the same skilllet add the wine and simmer until it reduces, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Then stir in the tomatoes, capers and olives and toss them in the wine and oil in the pan.  Stir in the salami and basil (or marjoram).

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain it and spoon the warm tomato mixture over the linguine.

Serves 4 a delicious warming supper.

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