Perspective

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Hello all–  Woke up thinking this morning– I’m so easily distracted from what’s right and true and eternal.  Praying through my favorite Psalm 86 pulls me back.

This morning I read:
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart.”  v. 11

Perspective.  Knowing what I hold dear–with an undivided heart.  That’s what I want.  Lord have mercy.

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Picking up Breakfast

IMG_3300Hi there–  Had a great two weeks with our family in China– and when we stay with our kids in Shanghai, I always look forward to the mornings they pop out to the little “bao” shop across the street to pick up breakfast.

IMG_3298     IMG_3305    So this visit I volunteered to pick up the buns, if only Jodi would write me a list to hand over to the bao lady.  I think, perhaps, maybe this list says 3 sausage buns, 3 black sesame buns (my personal favorite), 2 tea eggs and 2 bags of soy milk.

IMG_3303      IMG_3306The lady at the shop, packed up my purchases and showed me the price on her calculator (thankfully, numbers are the same in Chinese!).  All that for about a dollar.  And I was off for home…

IMG_3264     IMG_3312Those black sesame buns have that rich filling, sort of chocolate-y, nutty in flavor.  Josie agreed with me that those sesame buns are just the best!

Charred Corn Salsa

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Hi all– Here’s a recipe that goes along with yesterdays “Smoky Carnitas” post.  Rounds out the taste for tacos, burritos…   It’s fast and flavorful.

CHARRED CORN SALSA
2 cups corn (fresh or frozen, defrosted)
3 tab. olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 tab. cilantro, chopped

In a hot pan pour in the oil and corn.  Stir it up on high heat until the corn starts to char around the edges.  Remove from the heat to cool.  Then mix together the tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, cumin cilantro and salt & pepper.  Add in the cooled corn and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it up.

P.S.  If you want to dial up the heat, add in some minced jalapeños or chipotle peppers.

Big day Jo-bay!

IMG_2809     IMG_2813     IMG_2808Hey Sweet Josie-baby,  it’s your birthday!!  Our grand-girl is turning two and we couldn’t love her more.  She is an ipad expert, loves to sing night and day, and is always on the run, tagging along with her big sisters.  Happy birthday dear girl.  Hugs from Grandma and Grandpa from across the world to Shanghai.

Ginger Biscuits

IMG_3520Hello there–  Some foods you run across are so memorable, you can recall the the flavor, the texture, the little crunch around the edges the slight bit of heat… years later.  I’m talking about those candied ginger scones, I bit into with my friend Jenni over coffee, must be 15 years ago!  They’re still in the back of my mind.  So when I ran across a tidy tub of candied ginger at Sprouts last week, I thought that’s it– I have to see if I can come up with something as tasty as those fabled scones!   Here’s my try.  I think they were yummy…

GINGER BISCUITS
2 cups flour
2 tab. sugar
1 tab. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup milk
4 tab. candied ginger, minced to bits
more sugar to sprinkle on top

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or drop it all into a food processor) until the butter is in coarse crumbs.  Stir in the milk and candied ginger.

Slap it on the counter and pat it about an inch thick.  Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter.  Slip the biscuits onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the tops with more sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until they are golden around the edges.

Eat them them while they’re hot with plenty of butter and honey!  (good toasted up in the toaster oven the next morning).

Stedfast

Hi friends–  We received bad news from someone we hold near and dear this week.  An alarming health problem–with questions and complications…  It gave me a perisitant knot in my stomach.  I think you know what I mean.

The next morning I happened on this Psalm–
“”He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is stedfast, trusting in the Lord.”  Ps 12:7

So I am praying for a stedfast trusting heart, as well as fervently praying for health and healing for our beloved one.  Lord have mercy.

Psalm 62

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope come from him.”    –Psalm 62:5

Dear Friends–  I love this because it’s true.  There’s no surer hope, not sweeter joy than rest in God.  Nothing else I try to hope in gives me that rest and peace for my soul.

Summer

“Summer afternoon.  The two most beautiful words in the English language.”
— Henry James (1843-1916, American born writer)

iced_tea_splash2Hi friends–  This is it.  We’re in the depths of summer.  I love how the world seems to slow down in summer, along with cold glasses of lemon iced tea and afternoon naps that happen when I stretch out with a book and good intentions. Cool afternoon breezes that float in the back door and meals set out under the trees in the yard. It’s the only time of year I feel free to by lazy.   Oh summer, I’m delighted you are here…

thanks to persimmon treetea.com for the photo.

Meeting Baby Mae

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Hello all–  It’s a big weekend for Larry and me.  We’re up in SF to meet baby Mae, our new grand-girl.  She’s sweet and pinkish and squirms and coos just the way a grandmother adores.  We couldn’t love her more.

And Jessica’s parents (the other grandparents) are here from New York.  So we had a long leisurely breakfast together, talking about what an amazing grand daughter we share.  In a bit we’re all taking Mae out to lunch along with her Aunt Ani & Uncle Brian– that Mae is adorable.  This couldn’t be more fun!

Six Year Old Charlotte

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Happy  Birthday Chalrotte-kins!  We loved birthday skyping to China with you last night– And we just love how you’ve grown into a math lovin’, picture drawing, twirly dancing kind of girl.  It will be so fun to come see you in July!!  Hope and pray your year ahead is full of 6 year old fun and that you continue to grow and learn, you beautiful girl.
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White Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_0765Hi Friends– How’s that for the longest cookie name yet?  I didn’t want you miss any of the yummy ingredients in these things.  Made them for the Monday night friends who come each week– wish I could send you a plateful too…

WHITE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL COOKIES
1/2 cup butter*
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2  cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Beat together the butter, peanut butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer until they are thoroughly blended–pretty and creamy.  Then mix in the flour, oatmeal, baking powder and salt.  Finally stir in the white chocolate chips.  Scoop out spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

If you’re a big peanut butter and jelly fan, sandwich spoonfuls of jam between two cooled cookies before eating. Mmmm.

*If you are taking the butter right from the fridge, warm it a bit in the microwave, just 6 or 7 seconds to make it blend-able.

Double Delight

IMG_0893Hi friends–  I have to admit, I have a severe case of rose envy.  The 2 double delight rose bushes in my yard yield only occasional, yet stunning blooms.  While my neighbor on the corner has the same bush that is full of flowers nine months out of the year.  I’m a rosebush failure.

So today when I dashed out to water some pots on the patio, I spied this blossom across the yard, tender and bright! So pretty I wanted to share it with you.  My grandmother, aptly named Rose, had a yard full of flowers and this was one of her favorites.  Mine too.

IMG_0906“‘Double Delight’ is a hybrid tea rose cultivar bred by Swim & Ellis and introduced in 1977. The plant grows about 90 to 150 cm high, blooms repeatedly* and has strongly fragrant white flowers with dark red edges. The flowers have up to 30 petals”   –thanks to Wikipedia.

*The “blooms repeatedly” part refers to my neighbors roses, sadly not mine.  Still I am thankful for beauty in my backyard.

Orange Curry Chicken

IMG_0687Hello all–  There’s a lunch spot in San Francisco called “Curry in a Hurry.”  I like that–sounds like my kind of place.  And this flavorful meal would fit right in there!  Quick to make and sweet and spicy good.

ORANGE CURRY CHICKEN
1 cup rice, brown or white
2 tab. olive oil
1 pound chicken cut into polite little chunks
1/2 cup green bell pepper, cut in bits
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut in bits
garlic salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cornstarch

IMG_0696Cook the rice according the instructions on the package.  In a large pan, cook the chicken bits in olive oil until they are nicely browned and cooked through.  Take the chicken out of the pan.  Then toss in the pepper bits.  Stir them just a minute of two and remove them from the pan (don’t cook them so long they lose their bright color!).  Then in a container with a tight lid, shake together the broth, garlic, marmalade, curry and cornstarch.  Keep the heat up in the pan and pour in the broth mixture.  Stir just a minute or two until it thickens.  Then put back in the chicken and peppers.  Spread the rice on a platter and serve the curried chicken on top.  Sweet and spicy.

Spring

Spring_Sheet-15vbqr7“Oh, sweet spontaneous spring…”
  –e.e. cummings

Hi all– It’s really finally spring here.  The leaves are beginning to burst out on the maple trees and I picked a fistful of roses for a friend this afternoon.  There’s a lot of joy in spring, a lot of hope…  And we are patiently hoping/waiting for a new grand-baby next month.  More new life this spring…  so thankful.

thanks to blogs.cornell.org for the photo

Pecan Pie Brownies

IMG_0060Hello there-  At Thanksgiving, some people just can’t wait for the pumpkin pie.  Not me.  I always hold out for pecan, my favorite.  And who doesn’t love brownies?  So when I saw this recipe with my two “faves” in one baking pan, I couldn’t wait to make them.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  The richness of the mocha brownies, the sticky, caramel-y nutty top– were just about perfect.  So I’m happy to pass this recipe on to you…

PECAN PIE BROWNIES

Brownie Layer:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup Hershey’s dark unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. instant coffee crystals (1 packet)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs

Mix the melted butter, cocoa and coffee crystals.  The stir in the sugar, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally stir in 2 eggs, quickly so the warm batter doesn’t make scrambled eggs!  Spoon the batter into a 9″ cake pan or springform pan, sprayed with cooking spray.  Put this in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Pecan Pie layer:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tab. cream or half and half
2 cups pecans, whole or chopped

While the brownie layer is starting to bake, Mix the butter, brown sugar, honey and cream in a heavy pan.  Heat and stir until it bubbles and simmers 1 minute.  Then mix in the pecans.  When the brownie has cooked 20 minutes, take it out and carefully spoon on the pecan mixture.  Put it back into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the brownies layer is set (stick in a knife to see if it’s still gooey) and the pecan layer is firm.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool, before you cut it into lovely slices.  Delish.

Family

Yesterday my big family was all together for the memorial service of my Uncle Dennis.  He was my mother’s brother and we all loved him– and pray for his dear wife Patti, who adds so much laughter and warmth to our family.

It’s times like this you realize, again, how precious your family is.  I watched my two capable brothers lead the memorial service, my mother reliving memories of her younger brother. I saw my sister put her arms tenderly around mom at the end of the service, chatted with cousins I seldom see now.  The older I am, the more I admire and love them all.  So very thankful to have family.

Panettone French Toast with Cranberries

IMG_8310Hi all– OK, just one more Christmas post– because I wanted you to have this panettone french toast for your Christmas file.  It’s rich and citrusy with that sweet, tart cranberry topping, it’s lovely.  We had it for Christmas Eve breakfast with the grandparents and our kids– along with baked spinach eggs and a savory baked ham.

PANETTONE FRENCH TOAST WITH CRANBERRIES

IMG_8309Toast–
l large panettone Christmas bread
4 eggs
2 cups milk
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
1 tsp. vanilla
cooking spray or butter

Slice the panettone loaf in a nice, thick slices and cut them in half to get a normal serving size.  Then in a flat bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, spice and vanilla.  Dip the bread into the egg mixture, drain is a bit over the bowl if it’s too eggy and grill it on both sides on a pan with melted butter (if you’re in a decadent Christmas morning mood) or cooking spray.  Keep it warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve it up.

Cranberry sauce–
1/2 cup sugar
1 tab. cornstarch
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup water

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a pan until they are blended.  Then drop in the cranberries and water.  Stir over medium heat until the cranberries all pop–that’s a cute little sound!  and keep stirring 3 or 4 minutes more until the sauce really thickens.  Serve it warm over the french toast.  (of course you can make it ahead and microwave it on it’s way to the table).

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All around the table ready to dig in… Ani made name cards with our “elf names” for the day.  Grandma Lo was “Tinker Sugar-socks!” … Laurel serves up the cider to the grandparents…  Larry’s folks unwrapping gifts from the grandkids.  A sweet day all together.  Merry Christmas 2012.  It was a good one.

In Case of Fire…

Hello friends–  Haven’t you had the conversation–“If you house was on fire, what one or two things would be grab on your way out the door.?” Of course your family, the dog…  Lots of people answer–photos.  or maybe– my laptop.  I’d hope to get my two little  irreplaceable  recipe notebooks.  But my first grab would be my old Bible.

Larry gave it to me when our children were babies.  It has marks and notes and prayers scribbled in the margins that chronicle almost 40 years of a life.  And tucked between the pages are small momentos I treasure.  There’s a flattened oak leaf from a morning in Big Bear when I had a significant talk with God over one of my struggles.  And a dear typed letter from Ani, that she gave us during her wedding ceremony.  There are two tattered back and white photos of my boys as toddlers and scraps of notes written by Larry when we were newlyweds.  I keep a copy of one letter we wrote from Spain to friends at home and a photo of all our kids the Christmas we were all together (thanks Laurel for that).

Most of all I love it for all the things God has said to me over so many years from it’s pages.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10.

A couple years ago that old Bible fell apart at the binding.  Larry paid a small fortune to have it all rebound with creamy brown leather for my Christmas gift and now I’m sure it’s good for another 40 years… For this book, I am thankful.

How to Cook Everything, the basics

Hi all-  Came home from the library last week with an amazing cookbook–Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, the basics.  And that is precisely what is it–everything!  185 recipes, 486 pages, 1000 illustrations.  I love his heavily illustrated start on holding a knife, chopping, measuring…  And then he moves on to tutorials on steaming, sautéing, broiling and baking…  His recipes are truly the basics, from french toast to coleslaw, deviled eggs to cinnamon rolls.  Good things you can make with basic ingredients and there are loads of tips to make it all foolproof– from how to prepare chicken for cooking, to which types of butter or olive oil are best.  There are fascinating asides on types of flour, buying a fish and variations of chocolate.  My favorite page (#26) has brilliant illustration of  a spear of asparagus prepared 5 ways–steamed, grilled, boiled, roasted, stir-fried.  Simply beautiful.  There is not fancy-schmancy food here, just all the things you really cook at home.  I would recommend it for beginning cooks who are ready to dig in and learn.  These friendly, colorful pages could not be more helpful and inspiring!

Rest

“The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which I lay my head.”
— Charles Spurgeon

Some days are so hectic, life gets complicated and worries nag me in the night.  But there is rest, and peace– if I can stop and remember, stop and trust in the sovereignty of God.

(Thanks Paul for posting this quote.  So apt.)