New Paths

New Paths photo

Red line shows the original path, now long forgotten.

Sometime last year, during one of the sudden, violent, thunderstorms that we occasionally experience in Texas, a small tree crashed across a path in our beloved park. Getting around it was no easy task. Waist-high, thick, scratchy, bull thistle and burclover attacked us as we circumnavigated begrudgingly. “Surely, someone will bring a chainsaw and clear this path soon,” I thought. But this was not one of the main trails; only a path worn by neighbors who knew the secret park entrance close to our house. Days, weeks, months, went by and no tree removal. Instead, step by step, the weeds were trampled, turned brown, and ground into dirt. As the new path slowly formed, the old one was quietly disappearing.

Today there is no trace of the original path, but Something today prompted me to take a photo and consider how establishing new, healthier habits is just like this. Uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and sometimes downright painful at first. The more we tread the new path, the easier and more comfortable it becomes until we forget about the way we used to go. Maybe we could even place our own felled trees to block those unhealthy old ways.

Psalm 139: 23, 24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

Dark Chocolate Pudding

Dark Chocolate Pudding

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk in honey and milk over medium heat.
  3. Continue whisking and heating until pudding is thick, smooth and just starting to boil – about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Pour into 4 6-ounce dessert cups and chill if desired (about 1 hour).

Baked Salmon Cakes

Baked Salmon Cakes

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
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Faster, easier, and bursting with flavor, these cakes far outshine the fried version

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry instant brown rice (or 3 cups cooked regular brown rice)
  • 1 15oz can salmon (skin and large bones removed) (or 3 5oz pouches)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons creole seasoning (like Tony Chachere’s)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Prepare rice according to package directions.
  2. Mix cooked rice, salmon, eggs, veggies, cilantro, lemon juice, and seasoning.
  3. Form cakes and place on a greased baking sheet. (An ice cream scoop works great for this.) Flatten with spatula.  Spray tops of cakes with olive oil.
  4. Bake at 450 for 5 mins. Turn, and bake on the other side for about 5 mins, or until golden.

These cakes are especially yummie with Creamy Dill Sauce (recipe below)

Creamy Dill Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped dill (or parsley, or cilantro)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground ground pepper to taste

Blueberry Lemon Scones

Blueberry Lemon Scones

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium easy
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Back in grad school, my sweet classmate rewarded me with these for teaching one of her kitchen labs. They’ve been a favorite of mine ever since.

Note:  This Recipe was slightly modified from Cookie & Kate, which was mildly adapted from Chocolate & Carrots.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted organic butter
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup plain organic yogurt
  • ½ cup whole organic milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk together.
  3. Slice butter and drop into dry ingredients. With a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour.
  4. Add blueberries and lemon zest and gently stir.
  5. Gently mix in milk and yogurt. You may need to use your hands to knead the last of the flour into the dough. If dough is too sticky, add more flour in small amounts.
  6. Form dough into a circle about that’s about an inch deep all around. Cut the circle into 8 slices.
  7. Separate slices and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until very lightly browned.

 

Gratefulness is Worship

Is there a better family movie than The Sound of Music? Highly doubtful. We recently experienced its delightfulness along with four of our granddaughters. The first time  Maria joins the Van Trap family for a meal, she reminds them of our fundamental moral imperative: to be truly thankful for the food we receive. Fundamental because we are made to worship, and worship flows from gratefulness.

Gratefulness puts our world view in correct perspective. We are the creatures. We cannot take care of ourselves unless our Creator provides. We acknowledge this truth every time we give Him thanks from our hearts. Ungratefulness was the first sin. Adam and Eve were provided a vast variety of deliciousness in the garden. Rather than feast contentedly on God generosity, their ungratefulness twisted their view of God into a stingy landlord who was withholding good from them.

The more we have, the less thankful we become. It is human nature. There may be few other historical time periods, where a country has had as much abundance and variety of food as we do now in the US. We recently took our grandchildren on a field trip to HEB (our beloved Texas grocery store).

One highlight of this highly recommended tour was the marvelous Produce Man who oozed gratefulness on many levels. Surrounded by an ocean of fruits and veggies, he demonstrated their wonders and our taste buds were rejoicing. He was especially proud of the dragon fruit and jack fruit from Bangladesh, his country of origin. Perhaps he had experienced the extreme poverty that is common in parts of that region, I don’t know. But his enthusiasm and gratefulness for our profuse food bounty were contagious.

 

Gratefulness allows our hearts to soften like a ripening peach. Gratefulness is the gate to God. (Psalm 100:4) Gratefulness says, “You are a good God.” “You are a generous God who loves to give good gifts to His children.” Gratefulness acknowledges the blessed state of our utter dependence on a loving, faithful, almighty God. Gratefulness is worship.

Gratefulness is the very first ingredient in any meal plan.

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.

He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Acts 14:17,18

 

 

Perfect Baked Beets

Perfect Baked Beets

  • Difficulty: easy
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This is a super simple recipe to turn beet-haters into beet-lovers. It did for me.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash but don’t peel a bunch of beets. Cut off greens and save for sauteing. Dry beets with paper towel and rub with olive oil. Place in a casserole dish and cover. Bake 60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then rub gently with paper towels and skins will just fall off. Wear gloves for this part unless you want to keep answering the question, “Why are your hands purple?”
  3. Serve with salt and pepper to taste. A delicious complement to just about any meal.

 

Southwest Chicken Wraps

Southwest Chicken Wraps

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
  • 8 oz fresh salsa (you could use picante sauce, but it won’t be as yummie)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, drained
  • 8 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup guacamole
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Combine chicken, picante sauce/salsa, chili powder, and garlic powder in large skillet and mix well. Cook over medium heat until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Add 3/4 cup cheddar and beans to chicken mixture and mix well.
  3. Spoon equal portions of chicken mixture onto each tortilla.
  4. Chop tomato, top chicken mixture with remaining cheddar, lettuce, tomato, green onions, guacamole, sour cream, and cilantro. Roll to enclose filling. Serve immediately.