Thursday, November 26, 2009

Perfect as Pie

One would think it makes more sense to blog about Thanksgiving food AFTER Thanksgiving, but I couldn't stand to wait because of how my morning has gone! Aaron and I have plans to spend the evening with some good friends, Grant and Joy, who happen to be in town and also without family in the area. I told them that I'd like to bring the pumpkin pie (I LOVE making pies) and the stuffing (my number 1 Turkey Day favorite!) Joy is a Vegan, so I knew I wanted to make both of these dishes suitable for her diet. She certainly didn't request this...but I made the decision! Vegan eating is obviously very healthy because it focuses on veggies and protein from legumes. I'm no where near a Vegan, but Aaron and I have been eating far more veggies and fruits since my diagnosis over the summer than we previously did, so I'm ALWAYS looking for "healthier ways" to prepare a classic meal. Pie, in my opinion of course, is one of those classics. I learned from my mom and grammy G when I was just a kid that you NEVER EVER buy your own pie crust. You make it from scratch! So I've gone from using Crisco, to using butter (not much better for you!), to just today learning how to use light olive oil for the crust. I've found that butter is better than crisco because it creates a flakier, pastry type crust, but olive oil is always healthier for you. I couldn't have used butter in this case because it comes from cow's milk and that isn't Vegan.

So, my first try with the recipe I found: Terrible. It wouldn't even roll out without falling apart! I thought I may have missed a step, so I tried again. STILL no luck! Then I finally looked up a different recipe...PERFECT! It worked like a charm! So I think i've found the best olive oil pastry crust recipe. After a morning of initial frustration, please allow me to share the wealth of knowledge!

For a single crust pie. Double the recipe for a two-layer crust.

2/3 C Extra-Light Olive Oil-chilled (put bottle in the fridge for about 20 minutes)...and emphasis on extra-light. You don't want a strong olive flavor to your pie!
2 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 C Ice Water - I suggest even putting cubes in it to make it really cold

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork. Add the chilled olive oil and cut in with a pastry cutter. Cut until pea-sized balls are formed. Add cold water and mix again with the fork. Then form a ball of dough with your hands. Flour your rolling pin and rolling mat and flatten dough.

Add ingredients (apples, blueberries, cherries, pumpkin, etc.) and bake for 15 minutes at 425. Then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 35-40 minutes.

*Today I made a pumpkin pie and I highly recommend the pumpkin mix from Whole Foods. It's all natural and smells amazing. The color (as you can tell from the picture) is darker than usual...probably because they don't use artifical colors! Hooray!

Enjoy! This recipe makes a beautiful pie!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sew, baby!

My sweet little niece, Addie, is the lucky recipient of my first project on my new sewing machine! Lets just say that I'm loving every second of my free time because I've been busy cooking, baking and crafting! My dear friend, Rebecca, let me borrow this simple dress pattern which I variated just a bit. I found a cute red turtleneck and white sweater to go with it so Addie can wear it this winter. But I also added some little lady-bug buttons to make it wearable in the spring/summer.

I am finally getting familiar with my machine by Baby Lock and it's amazing how many features it has. One of my favorite, of course, is the button hole feature. Makes life much easier! I bought from a great little shop in Maryland that has been so helpful. They've given discounts on supplies and have spent a few hours with me showing me some tips. They threw in a basic sewing course that I was all for!

I've been hunting for great fabrics and have found a handful, so more projects to come!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Where Have I Been?!

Whew. The past few weeks have been pretty darn busy, hence my complete lack of blogging.

I started my new job almost two weeks ago now. It all happened so quickly! I had been in contact with a local pregnancy center for a few weeks looking into a potential position that was more operations oriented. Then everything changed in a matter of about 24 hours. I had spoken with the office about coming in to shadow someone working on the admin side of things. I called on a Monday to set things up, and I was offered a counseling position, instead, right on the spot. WOW. God has definitely known my heart all along! Since i've been training for the past year to counsel, this is exactly what i've wanted to do. I'm not a certified counselor or anything...though the possibility about going back to school isn't off the table as of yet. But as far as the term "counseling" in this position goes, I'm trained to counsel based on specific guidelines.

This has been a bitter-sweet job experience for me because the woman whose shoes i'm attempting to fill has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I'm sad that it was her illness that allowed this opportunity to open up for me. We continue to pray for a miracle for her. There's so much about my job that I can't write or talk about. The only difficult part about this is that I would love to share the amazing things that God is doing. It's incredible just how blessed I am through the process. But it still comes with its huge challenges. I see many clients who are in desperate need of help and compassion. It is only by God's goodness that I can be the hands and feet of Jesus. Such a humbling process. But the only boast I will make is in the mighty power of Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:17)

I've found that Romans 15 shares the truth and purpose i've come to know in this position - Just in case you wonder about (or I ever begin to doubt!) my calling here, at the pregnancy center, as well as in this life. Sharing the hope of Christ is the goal. Because whether we are talking about the life of the unborn, or the salvation of those who do not know the Savior of the world, it comes down to an issue of LIFE. So I am thankful that i've been called to this position to be a "fisher of men." (Matthew 4:19)

I love Romans 15 (1-13) from the Message Bible, so i'll leave everyone with this:

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?"

That's exactly what Jesus did. He didn't make it easy for himself by avoiding people's troubles, but waded right in and helped out. "I took on the troubles of the troubled," is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it's written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we'll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

So reach out and welcome one another to God's glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God's purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do!

Then I'll join outsiders in a hymn-sing;
I'll sing to your name!
Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together!
People of all nations, celebrate God!
All colors and races, give hearty praise!

There's the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope! Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!