Monday, December 31, 2012

Menu Monday, December 31

http://kavishv.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/goodbye_goodbye.jpg
Photo credit

Good-bye 2012.  You had some wonderful, inspiring, and memorable times.  You also had some awfully dark, depressing, and challenging times.  You will forever live in my memories.


Now, what's for dinner?

Monday, New Year's Eve
B: Oatmeal with cherries 

D: Potluck

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve 80's Party & Dance Charades



You know you're from the 80's when...
This New Year’s Eve, we are looking forward to hosting an 80’s party at our house.  (Imagine big hair, big makeup, mullets…)  Most years we have friends over, but this year will be a larger gathering with families with tween-agers and older. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Readers' Choice Awards

I know you were just dying to see this.  And I was dying to tell you!  These are the posts that you most wanted to read.

Thanks for coming to hang out with me this year and I know that 2013 is gonna be even better. 

Live in Victory!
Lynette

 
This is my go-to recipe for beef burritos, tacos, tostadas, Layered Fiesta Bake, etc.  
It is that good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review: Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

I just received "Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe" by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson today and I couldn't put it down.

As a mom, we are trying to do it all.  Many times, we are doing it without help or encouragement, too.  Feeling overwhelmed is certainly something I have felt and have felt guilty about, thinking that I must be alone in my experience.  But the authors are quick to affirm, encourage, and direct mothers to the feet of God all while giving practical advice as well.  

A Time to Plan Your Best Year Yet

I hope that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas! 

And after Christmas, it seems that most people's thoughts turn to New Year's resolutions.

I really detest New Year's resolutions.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Menu Monday, December 24

Every year, Christmas seems to come more quickly, doesn't it?  And this year was no exception.  I hope that this Christmas is a joyful one for you and your family and that you are surrounded by those you hold most dear.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, Christmas Eve
B: Oatmeal with cranberries
L: Leftovers

D: 1st Course:  Caesar salad
     Main Course: Chicken fettuccine alfredo; homemade garlic bread
     Dessert: Jesus' birthday cake: Chocolate cake


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Duke's Clam Chowder


http://www.dukeschowderhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/greenlake_515x238.jpg
Duke's at Green Lake, Seattle
Years ago before Tom and I got married and moved away, we both lived in the Seattle area.  I lived near Northgate and Tom would come over and take me for walks around Green Lake.  Many, many times we would then go to Duke's at Green Lake for a little dinner.  As a matter of fact, it was there at that Duke's that my then-fiance and I decided over Chardonnay and clam chowder to elope instead of having a wedding.  That was a decision neither of us has ever regretted.

Shortly before that, Duke's had printed the recipe for their clam chowder on cute glossy little postcards and passed them out to patrons.  I still have that recipe card, and below is that incredible recipe for one of the best clam chowders out there.  I hope you make as many fond memories while eating this as I have had.

 Duke's Clam Chowder
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/4 lb new potato, blanched and diced
  • 4 C heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 C clams, chopped
  • 1/3 C flour
  • 1/2 C half-and-half
  • 3 oz. butter
  • 2 oz. clam base
  • 1 1/4 C clam juice
  • 1 pinch garlic, chopped
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 t marjoram
  • 2 t fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 t Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 t dill
  • 1/2 t thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 C fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Cook bacon until transparent.
  2. Add butter, onions, celery and all the seasoning except dill and parsley.
  3. Cook until tender. Add flour and cook 3 to 4 minutes over low heat.
  4. Add all dairy products, clam nectar and base. Heat just under boiling point.
  5. Steam potatoes and cool.
  6. Add chopped clams and potatoes. Bring to a boil slowly and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add dill and parsley and serve.
This recipe also posted on Real Food Wednesdays.

Book Review: A Clearing in the Wild


http://sitesandstories.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/a-clearing-in-the-wild.jpg"A Clearing in the Wild" by Jane Kirkpatrick is based on the true story of Emma Wagner Giesy.

During the mid-1800's, Emma and her family were members of a separatist religous group called the Bethelites, who were led by a self-righteous man named Wilhelm Keil.  The group lived in a communal way and their mission was to convert others into the colony.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baked Pears with Chocolate

Baked pears with chocolate...  I've been making this recipe for a very long time.  It's one of those recipes that I can't ever believe gets out of our regular rotation.  Yet when I find it again, it's like finding a treasure.  I normally make this for simple family dinners, yet have served it when I know I have company coming that is very conscious of their waistline or when I want an unpretentious end to a nice meal.

Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon & Black Pepper

I made this salad from Orangette last weekend with our homemade fish and chips.  It was uncomplicated to make and had a very nice, uncomplicated, fresh flavor.  Also, the red cabbage makes a very pretty presentation and was a welcome bit of color on our plates.  We loved it and I wanted to share it with you, too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Menu Monday, December 17

Cookies I made... ya right.
The house is decorated?  Check. 

Christmas cards and letters are addressed, stamped and out in the mail?  Check.

Gifts are finished/purchased and wrapped?  Check.

Christmas cookies baked?  Nope... That's what's on the agenda for this week.  If we make them too early, Tom will sneak out to the freezer and eat all the Thumbprints.  So, we've learned to wait until closer to Christmas.  He's such a kid sometimes!  :)

By the way, yes, Virginia, you can make Christmas cookies when you are a Foodie!  Just exchange real food ingredients for the junk.  Use real butter, sprouted soft wheat flour, turbinado and sucanat.   Speaking of turbinado, it is my absolute favorite replacement for white sugar.  When I don't want large crystals in my finished product, I powder it, usually using an old coffee grinder I use for spices.

So there you have it.  Go and do!

Monday
B: Oatmeal with blueberries
L: Leftovers

D: Tacos; Spanish rice with black beans; green salad; mock frozen yogurt

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Book Review: Live Second

I've mentioned it many times before.  I love devotionals.  So to get an opportunity to review another devotional?  I was excited. This one is titled "Live Second" by Doug Bender, and includes 365 ways to make Jesus first in your life.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: Still Lolo



Oddly enough, I started reading the account of Lauren Scruggs on the anniversary of her horrific accident involving a small aircraft propeller blade.  I remembered hearing about the accident in the news last year, but that was about it.  So, I was looking forward to hearing her side of the story.

Friday, December 7, 2012

FREE SHIPPING at Tropical Traditions!

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FREE Shipping Coupon!!

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NOTE: To take advantage of this special, you MUST enter coupon code 112121 in your cart before checking out, and choose either Ground or SmartPost from the drop down list of shipping options! FREE shipping is NOT applied automatically. Orders placed before today cannot be refunded for shipping charges.


Menu Monday, December 10


I am posting this early because I want to share with you about a really wonderful organization, Samaritan's Purse.

Last week, I was able to get our Christmas cards addressed, signed, stuffed with letter and pic of the little gems, and out in the mail.  Whew!

This week, my plan is to finish any shopping I have not gotten done yet, which really isn't much, and get it all wrapped and ready including stocking stuffers.

If you are looking for a GREAT, easy gift for someone who has "everything", please consider a donation to Samaritan's Purse.  Not only was it easy, but it is a way to give a truly meaningful gift to someone in need.  Samaritan's Purse will also send a card to the person you are giving the gift in honor of. 

Monday
B: Oatmeal with cranberries
L: Leftovers

D: Homemade pizza; Caesar salad; pineapple

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brazilian Bananas

Brazilian Bananas
Last night for dinner, we tried a simple new dessert that all of really loved... even those in the house who don't like coconut.  So if you are looking for a simple fruit-based dessert that would be fit for company, this one would definitely be on my short-list.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Making Dinner Special with Candlelight & More

Photo credit
On Monday, I told you I'd share about our recent at-home dining experiences.  I hope you and your family benefit from our little experiment!

Back in June, I read "French Kids Eat Everything" by Karen Le Billon.  The book really made a wonderful impact on me and made me rethink dinner time.  Although we as a family almost always sit at the table together as a family, most of the time it still seemed like a rushed affair.  I really wanted something different for us.  I wanted our family to have a more  relaxed, unhurried, conversation-filled, "French" dining experience.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Monday, December 3

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If you look below for the weekend menu, you'll see something a little different.  This past weekend, we opted to make dinner a little more special.  I'll share about that tomorrow!

Monday
B: Oatmeal with strawberries
L: Leftovers
D: Taco salads; skillet corn bread;
fruit salad


Friday, November 30, 2012

Cornbread

Photo credit
Cornbread.  Who would have thought something that seems so simple could be so difficult?  Too dry.  Too sweet.  Not sweet enough.  Too bready.  Too grainy.  You know what I mean?

Well, I got the inspiration for this recipe from the booklet that was included in my Nutrimill grain mill.  That recipe was almost perfect, but made such a huge amount.  So with a little finessing, this has become my go-to recipe for cornbread.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When Your Family is Sick; The Blessing of Herbal Tinctures



Jill Farris
This post is by my dear friend, Jill Campbell Farris.  She is a remarkable lady whose advice I often have sought out.  I value and trust her insight and experience.  Married to her hubby for almost 30 years and homeschooling mother to all eight of her children, Jill takes from her valuable time to help other women to lead godly and balanced lives.  You can read more from her at www.generationalwomanhood.org.  

When Your Family is Sick; The Blessing of Herbal Tinctures
by Jill Campbell Farris

I was born with a hole in my heart back in 1960 when open heart surgery was only slightly past the pioneering stage. After spending a childhood gasping for breath as well as constantly fighting illness, at the age of 11 surgery was performed and I instantly felt better. I am alive today and the proud mother of eight children due to the expertise of the surgeons who operated on me. I appreciate medical doctors!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Menu Monday, November 26

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This week is the beginning of our family's Christmas preparations.  Even though the first Sunday in Advent is December 2, we are starting early with our Jesse tree devotions and decorating the house.  Because I am working much more with my husband's business this year, I am finding that planning is the real key to keeping our household relatively stress-free.

Speaking of planning...  (I couldn't have asked for a better lead-in!)

Monday
B: Oatmeal with cranberries
L: Leftovers
D: Small group potluck

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Review: When Your Parent Becomes Your Child


"When Your Parent Becomes Your Child" by Ken Abraham is an enlightening book about challenges of having a parent who suffers from Alzheimer's.  The author gives an honest, insightful and at times heart-wrenching account of his own experience dealing with his mother's dementia.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cider Glazed Pork Chops

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This recipe is so good this time of year.  The warmth of the spices make this dish special enough for company but is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinnerServed with brown rice or mashed potatoes and your favorite steamed veggie, and dinner's ready.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sprouted Wheat Mock King's Hawaiian Dinner Rolls

These wonderfully aromatic rolls have been a part of our holiday menus for several years, and have been updated to use real food ingredients.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving & Turkey Poem


This little poem was too cute not to share.  I hope you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!


                When I was a young turkey,
                new to the coop,
                My big brother Tom
                took me out on the stoop,
                Then he sat me down,
                and he spoke real slow,
                And he told me there was
                something that I just had to know.

Easy Layered Turkey Casserole

Thanksgiving leftovers couldn't get much simpler than this.  This dish is kind of like a Thanksgiving version of a Shepherds Pie.  It is easiest to prepare this while you are putting away leftovers from your dinner.  So easy, but so good!

Book Review: A Season for Tending

"A Season for Tending" by Cindy Woodsmall was a surprise.  I have read only one other fictional book about the Amish ("The Christmas Singing" by the same author) but was prepared for much of the same pious, seemingly perfect characters in a predictable, yet sweet, story.

Didn't get that with this book!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Menu Monday, November 19

It's Thanksgiving week.  We will be busy preparing not only food, but our hearts for this special holiday, too.  Last year I shared with you about our favorite Thanksgiving traditions.  If you'd like to use them, here are our "Thankfulness Cards" for this year.


Monday
B: Oatmeal with strawberries
L: Leftovers
D: Tacos; spanish rice; green salad with ranch dressing

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christmas: Jesse Tree

Photo credit
Okay, we aren't even to Thanksgiving and I'm beginning to feel it.  Do you know what I mean?  The marketing push... the secularism... the gaudy, blinking, flashy decorations.

Are you looking for ways to make your Christmas more meaningful and more Christ-oriented?  Yes... our family, too.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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Turkey isn't turkey without cranberry sauce.  This easy homemade version includes fresh or frozen cranberries and your choice of natural sweetener (turbinado is my fave).  If you have fresh oranges on hand, adding the juice of one or two and a little orange zest adds a nice little change, too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour Buttermilk Biscuits

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This recipe is almost entirely from Alton Brown...but he didn't use sprouted soft whole wheat flour and he used shortening.

But, you are smarter than that, aren't you.

Yup.  I knew it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Menu Monday, November 12

This week we are looking forward to doing some decorating and planning for Thanksgiving.  Can you believe it?  Me neither.

Monday
B: Oatmeal with peaches
L: Leftovers
D: Layered fiesta bake; veggies & dipfruit salad

Book Review: Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowning

Do you know someone who suffers from anxiety, depression, a compulsion or other control issue?  Maybe you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sprouted Flour Pumpkin Pancakes

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This past week, we didn't stick to our weekly menu very well.  But in the process I found this absolutely delightful pumpkin pancake recipe on allrecipes.com. Below is my version using real food ingredients. Top these babies with a little pat of butter and some gently warmed organic Grade B pure maple syrup.  My kiddos ate the leftovers for lunch! 

What a great way to get some veggies into your diet during the morning!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Prayer



 Thank you Tommy Newberry...


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for making us in your image –distinct and one-of-a-kind! We praise you for the idea that is America and for everything that is true and right about our nation. Most especially, we thank you for our individual freedom and both the blessings and burdens that come along with it.Thank you for our natural resources, our innovative businesses, our independent personality and for our giving spirit.

Forgive us now – both as individuals and as a nation – for turning away from your word and your principles. Make us sensitive to the truth. Give us a hunger and a heart for the truth. Keep us from being passive or indifferent, and instead, instill within us the courage to do mighty things for you right now. Show us what we need to do today to promote and preserve your truth for tomorrow.

Allow us to remain distinct and unique as a people, that shining city on a hill. May our actions imitate you and your goodness. May our character reflect your character. May our stewardship glorify you. And, may our leaders love you and be champions of your truth.

We pray as one for Godly leadership for our country, and we ask that you protect us from anything else. Grant us the courage to speak boldly and act wisely in defending the principles that matter most. Disrupt and dismantle any authority or plans that would lead us away from your favor and your glory.

Unify us once again as one nation under God, indivisible and with liberty and justice for all.

In Jesus name we pray,
Amen

Menu Monday, November 5

This week is not only Tom's birthday, but on his special day we are headed down to Seattle to see the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.  Years ago (I don't want to say how many) I had the opportunity to see it.  As an adult, I know that I'm more excited than the kiddos.  

By the way, I must be feeling a bit nostalgic.  But I have to say, I'm so glad that Steve Martin's "King Tut" isn't still on the radio...



Monday
B: Oatmeal with strawberries
L: Tuna melts on sourdough; raw veggies & dip
D: Cowboy hash; cornbread; fruit salad

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hard vs. Soft Whole Wheat Flour

When I first started grinding my own flour and making whole wheat goodies for my family, I must admit that some of them turned out less than desirable.  My family is so wonderful, though, that they were never mean or condescending, but were willing to eat my chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies using a hard whole wheat flour.  These were not really *bad*, but they certainly weren't good either.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Menu Monday, October 29

This is going to be a busy week so I'm getting my menu out there early.

We don't celebrate Halloween, so we are going to have a fun night at home instead on Wednesday.  Pizza for dinner, popcorn and movies in the evening.  And just so the kiddos don't feel like they are missing out, they both are getting a full-size version of their favorite candy bar.  We don't have candy in the house very often so they are excited!

Don't you just love autumn?  One of the reasons we love the cool weather is that we get to have soup again.  Warm, hearty homemade soup is always on the menu at least once a week this time of year.

What's your favorite soup?

Monday
B: Oatmeal with peaches
L: Grilled cheese on sourdough; raw veggies & dip
D: Small Group potluck

Book Review: Share the Bounty

I recently had the privilege to review an absolutely beautiful book titled "Share the Bounty" by Benita Long.

This book is many things.  First, it is a cookbook, filled with easy, yet beautifully presented recipes.  Although I consider myself to be a "real foodie", most of the recipes are made with real food ingredients.  The recipes we tried were simple in preparation yet complex and enjoyable in flavor.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homemade Spicy Beef Pepperoni

Whatever would I do without my sister-in-law?  Well, I'd probably be sitting on this recipe another year...

We love this pepperoni on our homemade pizza.  So simple and sooooo good.  And NO NITRATES or NITRITES, etc.  Gotta love that.

Oh, and if you like summer sausage, you'll love this recipe, too!

Spicy Beef Pepperoni
  • 2 pounds ground beef (preferably pasture-fed)
  • 2 t. liquid smoke
  • 2 t black pepper
  • 2 t mustard seed
  • 1-1/2 t crushed fennel seed
  • 1-1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1 t smoked paprika (regular is fine)
  • 1/2 t powdered turbinado (or sugar)
  • 2 heaping t salt
  1. DAY 1:  Mix ingredients together well.  Knead and place in a sealed container.  Refrigerate.
  2. DAY 2:  Knead meat mixture.  Place back in covered container and refrigerate.
  3. DAY 3:  Form meat into 1 lb. rolls.  You'll want to make sure that the rolls are firmly packed so the finished product holds its shape and doesn't crumble.  I personally haven't had that problem, but I have heard from others that that has been an issue.  
  4. Place rolls on a wire rack on a jelly roll pan.  Bake @ 200 degrees for 8 hours, turning rolls 1/4 turn every 2 hours.
  5. Allow to cool.  Wrap and store in refrigerator.  Keeps well in freezer, too.
Note:  For food safety reasons, you will want to make sure your summer sausage has reached an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life

How badly do you want to change your life?

During my "past life" in direct sales, I read countless self-help books.  But I can tell you, reading a book is not going to change your life.  Only YOU can do that, of course with God's help. My point to my prelude is this:  Change takes effort, focus, a ton of hard work and a lot of prayer. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Free Shipping Today Only at Tropical Traditions

FREE SHIPPING FOR ALL DOMESTIC GROUND ORDERS TODAY ONLY!


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NOTE: To take advantage of this special, you MUST enter coupon code 249112 in your cart before checking out, and choose either Ground or SmartPost from the drop down list of shipping options! FREE shipping is NOT applied automatically.

Orders placed before today cannot be refunded for shipping charges.This special offer does not apply to refrigerated or frozen items, products shipped directly from our farms in WI (Eggs, Produce, Lady Finger Popcorn, Heirloom Dry Shell Bean Mix, Heirloom Cornmeal, and Heirloom Whole Kernel Corn), or to rebounders, which are shipped by the manufacturer. It also does not apply to 3 day, 2nd day air and overnight shipments. Coupon does not apply to Healthy Buyer's Club discounted items.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Review: The River

Sometimes you just like to sit down and enjoy a good story.  The River by Michael Neale is just that; it's a good story that is easy to read, yet it wasn't one of those books that I couldn't put down.  Instead, I felt that the story was pretty predictable and was really trying to make you take a look at your own life.

The main character, Gabriel, lost his father when he was only 5 years old.  He leaves The River in Colorado where he began his life to live with his mother in Kansas.  His life is full of fear and unresolved grief until he has the opportunity to return to The River at the age of 20.  There he learns about his heritage and purpose in life.

My complaints?  For being a "Christian" book, I would have liked to seen Gabriel find comfort in God.  There is never any mention of God in this book, yet Gabe does find that The River "talks to him" as well as he finds comfort in a bird.  Another thing (and it is a very small one) is that Gabriel's love interest, Tabitha, is very much the initiator in their relationship.  As a mother of a soon-to-be teenage daughter, I would have preferred Tabitha's character to have been not quite so assertive.  Call me old-fashioned...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: The Gospel of Yes


I recently finished reading "The Gospel of Yes" by Mike Glenn.  In his book the author reminds us that our faith in God is not about all the no's like "Thou Shalt Not..." but instead about all the yeses...the powerful, wonderful, good and abundant things of God.

This is a good book for new Christians giving them some insight into God's goodness and faithfulness, as well as a great reminder for those who have known the Lord for a long time.

One of my favorite things included in this book is a wonderful way to share how God, being a just God, required payment for sin and how Jesus became that perfect payment (pages 64-67).  That is why salvation is a gift... and not something that we have to try through our own works to earn.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided with a free copy of this book by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Random Thought 9/14/2012

"Until we know that life is war
  We'll never know what prayer is for."
~John Piper

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beef Summer Sausage

Many months ago, I got a great recipe for homemade summer sausage.  But it did contain nitrates in the form of a meat tenderizer.  *Blech*

So, I said to myself, "Self, what did they use many moons ago before some evil scientist concocted nitrates?"

And you know what?  The answer is...salt.  Use a good quality sea salt, good quality grass-fed ground beef and you'll have a great summer sausage.

And if you like pepperoni, I've got a recipe for you!

Beef Summer Sausage
  • 5 lbs. grass-fed beef, ground
  • 5 heaping t sea salt
  • 2-1/2 heaping t mustard seed
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  1. DAY 1:  Mix ingredients together well.  Knead and place in a sealed container.  Refrigerate.
  2. DAY 2:  Knead meat mixture.  Place back in covered container and refrigerate.
  3. DAY 3:  Form meat into 5-1 lb. rolls.  You'll want to make sure that the rolls are firmly packed so the finished product holds its shape and doesn't crumble.  I personally haven't had that problem, but I have heard from others that that has been an issue.  (I made these into 1/2 lb. rolls and baked them with my homemade beef pepperoni, too. )  
  4. Place rolls on a wire rack on a jelly roll pan.  Bake @ 200 degrees for 8 hours, turning rolls 1/4 turn every 2 hours.
  5. Allow to cool.  Wrap and store in refrigerator.  Keeps well in freezer, too.
Note:  For food safety reasons, you will want to make sure your summer sausage has reached an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.

Another note:  If you think 5 pounds is a lot of summer sausage, as I did, you might want to think again.  My family loves this sausage with apples and cheese for lunch, diced in scrambled eggs, etc., etc.  I can't keep this in the fridge/freezer long at all.

Thanks, Kristie, for urging me to post this recipe.  You are the best!


Homemade Vanilla Extract

Some things are just so easy.  Take for instance making vanilla extract.  Vanilla beans, vodka, and a little time.  It's the best vanilla extract you'll ever have and knowing you did it yourself?  It doesn't get any better than that.  By the way, make up extra, bottle it up and give it as gifts.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • 1 C Vodka, rum or Bourbon (cheap stuff works just fine)
  • 3 vanilla beans 
  1. Slit the vanilla beans lengthwise. Cut them in half or in quarters (I did this so they’d fit in the jar). Add them to the mason jar.
  2. Add the vodka or rum to the jar.  Cover with a lid and shake.
  3. Stick the jar in a cupboard for at least 8 weeks.
  4. Strain off vanilla beans and bottle.  Or, you can leave them in the bottle and just add top off your extract with a little more vodka as you use the extract.
How simple is that?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Money Smart Family System


Being a parent, we get to teach our children about things we value.  We hope and pray that we are giving them tools to be successful and productive members of society.  We teach them about faith, how to be a good friend, to be a person of their word, to eat a healthful diet and to value people above things.

But many times, we fail to teach them about things that we might be struggling with ourselves or may not have a real grasp of how to teach.

Like, for instance, money management.

The MoneySmart Family System by Steve and Annette Economides covers this subject with tons of examples of their own family's experience.  They give ideas how to teach children at any age how to earn money, have a good work ethic and positive attitude, how to budget and save for normal and large purchases, and how to make charitable giving part of the whole equation.

For a long time, we have struggled with the idea of giving our children an allowance.  We did not feel that it gave our children a "real world" experience.  With The MoneySmart Family System, we saw a way that we could give our children money, but money that they earned vs. received just for breathing.

Love, love, love the concepts in this book and can't wait to hold our family meeting on Sunday to get the ball rolling with our two children!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Free Shipping at Tropical Traditions!

I absolutely love, love, love Tropical Traditions' expeller-pressed coconut oil...and so much more!  As a matter of fact, I have not gotten one thing that I wasn't absolutely tickled about.

So I wanted to let you know that through midnight EDT, Monday, August 6th, all Tropical Traditions Ground shipments within the lower 48 United States will be FREE with the use of their FREE Shipping coupon!  A minimum order of a measly $16 bucks is all it takes.


 Not so small print: 
To take advantage of this special, you MUST enter coupon code 682212 in your cart before checking out, and choose either Ground or SmartPost from the drop down list of shipping options! FREE shipping is NOT applied automatically. Orders placed before today cannot be refunded for shipping charges.

(This special offer does not apply to refrigerated or frozen items, products shipped directly from our farms in WI (Eggs, Produce, Lady Finger Popcorn, Heirloom Dry Shell Bean Mix, Heirloom Cornmeal, and Heirloom Whole Kernel Corn), or to rebounders, which are shipped by the manufacturer. It also does not apply to 3 day, 2nd day air and overnight shipments. Coupon does not apply to Healthy Buyer's Club discounted items.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shrimp Scampi

Photo credit
Luscious.  This simple recipe is quite simply that.  Paired with a Caesar salad and fresh, warm whole wheat sourdough bread to sop up the extra buttery goodness and you've got a dinner that is a little piece of heaven on earth.  And by the way, Shrimp Scampi ain't just for the grown-ups, folks.  My kiddos absolutely love this dish.