Breads and Rolls – Cheese Biscuits Deluxe

Cats and Their Toys
I find it interesting that our kitties each have their own preferences as they play. It’s remarkable, isn’t it, that God made these little critters with their own likes and dislikes.

Kenji, for example, loves straws. He is playful, good-natured, and innocent, and loves to play with string. But he also loves straws. And have you ever noticed that the straws from McDonalds are just a tad bit wider than a straw you can buy at the store? Kenji likes those most of all.

Dewey loves jingle balls and little cloth balls he can kick around. Jacob brought home a winter hat with a pom pom on the top at Thanksgiving, and by the end of the weekend, Dewey had taken it off the hat. It’s been his favorite toy ever since. He kicks it around and chases it throws it up the air.

Yuki, well, he’s a bit lazy. He likes to watch the games mostly. He’ll chase a string or rope if I walk around the house with it. Otherwise, he’s perfectly happy dilly dallying, watching the others as they play.

I don’t know if we’ll see cats or dogs in heaven, as was commented on heavily in the last week, but I do know this: God made these little creatures unique with their little personalities. And I’m sure glad He did!

Cheese Biscuits Deluxe

This was another fabulous offering (p. 67) that Nancy O. made for book club. This one, from Cheryl D. uses refrigerated biscuits as the base, and then adds blue cheese and herbs. Delish! And Nancy said it was also quite simple to make.

Here it is laid out on the cookie sheet:

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Breads and Rolls – Apple Ring Coffee Cake

Stir Up Your Power, O Lord

In Advent the collects for the day are especially beautiful. You may remember I wrote about collects a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the collect for the first Sunday in Advent:

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Each Advent collect begins with “stir up your power, O Lord, and come…,” and in Advent we wait. That’s why the altar is adorned in blue: blue is the color of expectation and hope.

Apple Ring Coffee Cake

Michelle W. made this great-looking apple coffee cake (p. ), submitted by Monique H. She said everyone in her family really enjoyed it! Thanks, Michelle, for baking, and to Monique for submitting.

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The Bread of Life… Hot Herbed Bread

Kelly here:

As I was starting to write this last week, we were on the wedding countdown in PA and were praising God that today was not “the day”.  It rained all day and flash floods in this formally parched area are wrecking havoc. Some roads are closed, emergency broadcasting system is sending us scary texts, ceilings/basements are springing leaks.  My Uncle Billy, who is well into his seventies and still running his own excavation business, is “drowning” in emergency calls on his cell.  The Quinn family is no stranger to these weather conditions, having lived in the Elmhurst and having witnessed numerous “hundred year” floods.  I keep reminding the kids that we are on High Street, on top of the hill, not “Fairlake Avenue”, as I nicknamed our block during one of those wet mornings when we needed a boat to get to school.

Another sad thing about the heavy amount of rain is the early demise of the Fall foliage.  It appeared the trees were close to the peak last weekend.   My husband and I had a little get away earlier this week to celebrate our 20th anniversary in the nearby Poconos, and really enjoyed the spectacular colors.

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Hot Herbed Bread

I can’t take the credit for this recipe, unless taking a picture and consuming it counts!  As usual, our friend Naomi P, always finds wonderful fresh baked recipes for us to enjoy.  She was apologetic for this recipe as its originator suggested heating store bought bread and adding butter and fresh herbs on top.  Store bought or not, it was delicious… thanks for this yummy bread recipe found on bottom of page 9, Charlene G.  Charlene is a spunky lady and another water aerobics friend.  I can always count on you to tell it like it is Charlene!

 

IMG_1293We managed to pose the bread with Naomi’s study bible/study guide.  This picture brought to mind lyrics from a favorite hymn of funeral fame

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“I am the bread of life, you who come to me shall not hunger, you who believe in me shall never thirst.  No one can come to me unless the Father beckons”

 

Easy Cheesy Appetizer Bread

Kelly here:

As Julie mentioned, this past Sunday was Rally Day at ours and many other churches.  As I’m doing my work in the kitchen, I enjoying listening to the podcast Concordia Publishing House makes available to prepare teachers for next week’s lesson.   The Podcast is part of a radio show on Lutheran Radio called Issues, Etc, which is a lively interchange between 2 Pastors, Todd Wilkens and Tom Baker. They examine the scripture we will be looking at, and are always pointing out many nuances I would miss on my own. If you’d like to listen, check out this link.

My afternoons and evenings are now consumed with hosting play dates, assisting and reviewing homework and spelling words.   I have two of amusing moments to share from the past week  of school.

The always observant elementary students noticed that some of the waffles they were served for “breakfast for lunch” Thursday had a “best used by date” from 4 months earlier.  During the short trek back from Edison, our walking group had really come up with their own conspiracy theory around the expired waffles, complete with “eye-witness” testimonials from the nurses’ office and bathrooms that substantiated their story.  It was quite reassuring for all involved to find an email from the food service director when we arrived home, stating the waffles were safe and she had even put herself on the line by eating one, without bodily harm.

Tonight, I found this darling synopsis on what it means to be a citizen, which was likely written yesterday am after living through another flash flood warning here in swampy Elmhurst

 

Bad hair days are an important fact we live with as a citizens of the wet/windy Midwest

Bad hair days are an important fact we live with as a citizens of the wet/windy Midwest

 

Easy Cheesy Appetizer Bread:

During our freezer crisis this past week, I seized the opportunity to use some items from freezer/fridge to make a few more of my assigned recipes.  I had planned to make the easy cheesy appetizer bread for our birthday bash in July, but time/energy didn’t allow.  I had all of the ingredients in the malfunctioning freezer, so it made an easy appetizer for our Labor Day dinner.

Didn't need the Hellman's, low-fat creamy ranch did the trick!

Didn’t need the Hellmans, low fat creamy ranch did the trick!

This delicious recipe on page 3 was simple to put together.  I must admit I cheated a bit since I’d misplaced the dry ranch dressing I’d purchased for the recipe.  I  deleted the mayonnaise and instead substituted liquid ranch dressing, which we always have on hand to dip veggies in.  The cheese and dressing mixed together easily and I put a thin spread of it on each baguette slice.  I only made about 1/2 of the recipe for our small group, so they easily fit under the toaster oven’s broiler.

Here is the finished product, just delicious!  Thanks to Sally M for this recipe that delivered on its promise to be easy and cheesy!

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Baked Zucchini Squares

Julie here–
Novels in Verse
As I’ve mentioned a few times over the last few months, I’m working on a project set in 1852. A family travels from Indiana to Oregon Territory, and my main character, Emma, travels away from her childhood home, her best friend, and her grandparents to a new life of constant walking, dust, and difficulties.

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I wasn’t sure what form the book would take until after speaking to my agent today who helped me clarify and understand exactly what I’m trying to do. It helped me enormously. One of his suggestions was to read, read, read in this genre. So I went to the library this afternoon and got about 10 historical novels written in poetic form. First on my reading list is Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.

Baked Zucchini Squares
This is one of the few savory zucchini bread recipes I’ve run across. Much of the time zucchini bread-type recipes are sweet. This one, however, has onion, parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and bisquick. I decided to halve the recipe since I didn’t need an entire 9×13 pan of the stuff.

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This is a tasty side dish that would be paired nicely with a piece of pork or fish.

Breads and Rolls – Zucchini Bread

The War of Art

I’m reading this fascinating book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which Scott found in the amazing bookstore (Eighth Day Books) at our conference last week. Pressfield is the author of a bunch of historical novels, mostly set in ancient Greece. This is a nonfiction book about making one’s art and the things we do to avoid that.

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The first section names a “character” at odds with our creative lives called Resistance. Resistance takes a variety of forms–procrastination, busyness, excuses, delays. Anything that keeps us from doing our creative work. I loved this section: “Grandiose fantasies are a symptom of Resistance. They’re the sign of the amateur. The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come, whatever they like” (p. 43). Great stuff! So true!

Here’s another tidbit: “What does Resistance feel like? First, unhappiness. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored, we’re restless” (p. 32). Pressfield posits that the only way to cure this unhappy, restless feeling is to do our creative work.

The second section (which I’m starting now) is about the difference between the amateur and the professional. The amateur, for example, will not have clear boundaries regarding his or her work. It will take over and destroy relationships and marriages. The professional separates the personal and professional life, knowing when it’s quitting time and devoting time to building family relationships.

Anyway, it’s really enjoyable so far. For anyone reading who has creative work they’re trying to do or struggling to find time for, this work will help you.

This is partly why I was so enriched and rejuvenated by our time in Santa Fe last week at the fabulous Glen Workshop. Thanks to Greg Wolfe and his great team at Image, we had an intellectually stimulating, artistically fulfilling, and all-around fantastic week.

Zucchini Bread

This is the first recipe of the 7 or 8 which include zucchini in the cookbook. Kelly Q. brought me this club-sized zucchini this week to get us started. This one zucchini produced enough to cover three recipes! The first of the three is Joanne H.’s zucchini bread (p. 72). There’s also a recipe for zucchini frittata, carrot zucchini bars, and a couple of others. So if you have any zucchinis you’d like to donate to the cause (for you green thumbs out there!), I’d sure appreciate it!

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This zucchini bread is moist and delicious! Next week I’ll make the one of the other zucchini bread recipes and see how that compares.

 

 

Easy Date Bars and Fresh Spinach and Berry Salad with Glazed Pecans

you-don-t-have-to-go-home-but-you-can-t-stay-hereThese were the last words I heard from the loud speaker the other night as the pool was closing. I don’t know how I managed to hear the manager as my ears were clogged with water, but I found myself chuckling at these closing remarks. As I was passing him on my way out, I asked him what he meant and he said this was a quote from the Blues Brothers. It seemed to have great irony to me, as I often escape from my home to have a brief respite at the pool.  I won’t go into the myriad of reasons I feel the need to escape to the pool, but alas, I can’t stay in it forever.

I continued to think about this quote and realized this may have divine implications for me.  God doesn’t want any of us to stay “stuck”,  he wants us to give all of these things over to Him and put our trust in Him to deal with the messes that come up in life.  I do know that when I find quiet time away to connect and hand my life over to Him (again), it is easier to go back home and carry on.

Easy Date Bars

Recently, I had a chance to use the new handheld mixer I ordered from Kohls.com, since my other one, circa 1990, had passed on.  My assistant chefs couldn’t get the box open quick enough. We made scrambled eggs for breakfast, which to my surprise and delight, was devoured even by my pickiest eater. The more I work with children, especially my own, I am finding the best way to broaden their food horizons is to involve them in every step of the process, from the shopping (or growing), to the preparation and serving.

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Scrambling some eggs up on the way to swim camp… our swim star hard at work!

We are enjoying baking together this summer. I find it is a great teaching opportunity in both reading and math. We are also learning how to improvise, such as in the date bars when I only had cake flour and smart balance margarine left.

We are enjoying the fruits of our labor and sharing them with others, which is an important lesson for all of us!

Easy Date Bars

I’ve been planning to make these for a few weeks to use up some leftover pitted dates from another class. These are also great addition to vegetable smoothies that need some extra sweetness. The chopped dates, water, sugar and Smart Balance margarine simmered in a pan for 10 minutes while we measured out and mixed our dry ingredients.

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After the wet ingredients simmered and cooled, they were added to dry ingredients and poured into a pan to bake for 20 minutes.  My lovely assistant below showing the batter in the pan

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These bars smelled absolutely heavenly as they baked and both kids and our neighbor were anxiously counting down with the oven timer.

 

After they cooled, I mixed 1 Tablespoon of warm milk to a cup of powdered sugar to make some icing. Sprinkles were suggested in recipe as an option, which I skipped. These bars were tasty, even without the icing. This step could be skipped if you are watching sugar/calorie intake.

As I mentioned earlier, I substituted cake flour for all purpose. Cake flour is lower in protein, which yields airy and light baked products. The end product was delicious but a little crumbly. When I have a chance to bake this again, I am going to experiment with a 25/75 mix of whole wheat/all purpose flour for a chewier/higher fiber content.

Thanks for this easy and delicious recipe to Barb S! I’m looking forward to making these again as an alternative to the granola bars my kids love to snack on.

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Helping glaze the date bars

Fresh Berry and Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans

In my quest to use up and clean out my fridge/cupboard contents, I thought this would be fun to try out. Julie posted this recipe earlier this year, as I realized after the fact

The pecans were easy to sautee, even using margarine since we were without butter and cooled quickly on parchment paper. I have to admit we snacked on them a bit before the remainder made it to the salad!

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I am a big fan of eating and mixing fruits and veggies together, even in a salad. This recipe helps compliment some fresh berries and spinach. It happened to be one of the few hot evenings we had this summer and we all found this dinner salad refreshing!

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Anxiously awaiting his delicious salad for dinner!

 

Breads and Rolls – Beth’s Zucchini Bread

Hobo Doors and Fellowship Hour
On Sunday morning, several people donated to the delicious offerings in the after-service gathering. It’s so nice to do this.

When I was growing up, I remember the coffee and donuts in fellowship hall being my favorite thing about church. In order to indulge, we had to feed a quarter or two to the plastic container before we kids were allowed to take a donut from the overflowing pile. As I remember, my parents wouldn’t give me that quarter every Sunday, but I’m sure I begged endlessly, wearing them down.

My mom was the children’s choir director, so on Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings, I was captive to her schedule, her prep and clean-up time keeping us there for an eternity. While I waited, I’d roam around the church basement where I was secretly convinced homeless people were hiding out. A favorite exploring spot was the stage where a heavy draping curtain hung all around the sides and back. Hiding inside the dark folds, you felt like you could never be found, an Alice-in-Wonderland-rabbit-hole of church basements.

These little eccentricities make every older church fun to explore. At Redeemer, at least two places make great hiding spots for Sardines–a bell tower (yes, a real bell tower with a working carillon), which can only be reached by two staircases and a ladder, and a room where the organ pipes are hidden behind the altar. The latter is the location where it is reported an actual homeless person lived for some time in the 1980s or 1990s. The music director at the time reported that she’d hear strange noises at times, but could never quite figure it out. In honor of that, the kids in the youth group made a sign which hung over a rarely used door in the youth room, called the “Hobo Door.” I’m still a little hurt that someone decided to take the sign down and discard it. I mean, the kids spent actual minutes creating and giggling about that sign.

Anyhow, I’m not quite sure how I got from donuts to homeless people, but there you go. So at the fellowship hour after church this past Sunday, we had a bunch of great recipes from the church cookbook. I believe Nancy O. and Karen O. made all of these. Thank you, ladies! I’m accepting any and all help to get through this cookbook project!

Beth’s Zucchini Bread
So here’s a photo of Beth’s Zucchini Bread from the Dunlop family.

20140727-224141-81701231.jpg(And aren’t Karen’s little signs so adorable?)

I was so glad to get this submission because it was not long after Beth died that we put together the cookbook, and I thought it was a nice remembrance of her to include it. She was a lovely woman, and one I wish I’d had time to know better before she’d passed away.

I sat down with Kelly Q. over the weekend, and we made a plan for getting through the rest of the 112 recipes. She’s taking on a BUNCH! I’m excited to have help to get through it. We’re hoping there are some great gardeners out there who have massive zucchinis they’d like to donate since there are at least 10 zucchini recipes–some side dishes, some bread or dessert recipes.

I wonder who first thought of putting zucchini in bread. I mean, it’s sort of surprising, isn’t it? It adds a nice moistness to what might be an otherwise dry bread.

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Breads and Rolls – Monkey Bread

Loss

You know by now that my dog of 13 years died this week. I know, she was only a dog. But she was also a close companion.

I’ve heard people describe grief as “gut-wrenching.” To me it’s not so much wrenching as it is hollowing. Gut-hollowing doesn’t sound very literary though, does it? Sometimes, though, I think about never seeing Lucy’s sweet happy face again, and…well, I have no good metaphors for you. I just miss her.

But the thing about loss is not only the immediate finality and all-around suckiness of death. It’s not even that I’m just sad because Lucy is gone. It’s like all of our losses swirl around and circle back upon each other, compounding and growing.

My hurt is not just missing my sweet dog who brought me so much happiness, every day of her life, and for many years of mine. It’s also missing my grandparents, the children I could never have, my upcoming empty nest. It all sort of rolls together into this messy rat’s nest of hurt and emptiness and loss.

This isn’t the way it’s meant to be. We feel that down to our bones. Sweet, loving dogs aren’t meant to leave their families. They aren’t meant to stay home and lay on the floor, legs arthritic and full of pain, while their favorite person goes on a walk alone. They aren’t meant to go to the vet and never come home again.

They’re meant to run in the surf of Lake Michigan and play hide and seek and chase after little boys and go on long walks and scare away whole flocks of geese, honking into the sunset. They’re meant to freak out the cats and chase squirrels into trees and gobble up peanut butter and curl up with their favorite person on a nice soft sofa.

Is Lucy doing these things in heaven? I don’t know. I hope so. I hope that this week was national Golden Retriever week in heaven, just because Lucy arrived there. My husband pointed me to this piece about C.S. Lewis’ opinion about dogs and heaven. I like it.

What I do know is that God is in the business of taking bad things and making them good–though, as the Old Testament figure of Joseph learned–sometimes those good things come awfully far down the road. So in the meantime, while I’m waiting for those good things to come along, I’ll be cuddling with my kitties (as much as they’ll let me) and hoping for brighter days.

Monkey Bread
As a thank you to my coworkers for covering for me while I’ll be away on vacation, I made monkey bread (p. 70) for them. It’s easy to make–just use pre-made buttermilk biscuits, cut them into quarters, and roll in cinnamon sugar. I’m going to leave the nuts off because of allergies.

I had bisquick at home, so I used that instead of buying the tubes of biscuits. I don’t know if that made a difference in the result. These sort of remind me of the Apple Pie Bites, I made waaaayy back last winter.

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Final note: Does anyone have any spare zucchini or tomatoes they would like to part with? I wish I could say that I am a gardener. I’m really not, but I know that some of you out there are! If anyone has zucchinis or tomatoes they want to give up, I’ve got a bunch of recipes to get through. I’d love to get to them in the middle of August.

P.S. Latest remaining count of recipes: 112.

Breads and Rolls – Rhubarb Muffins

Moist Weekend
Well, the start to our weekend was rather soggy. Rain Friday night made Lucy (our dog) freak out and try to squeeze under our bed around 5 or 6 a.m. She’s a 90-pound golden retriever, and has in the past squished herself through the 8-inch opening under our bed, only to get wedged under there and unable to free herself. It would be humorous if it wasn’t so annoying to have to lift up the entire (very heavy) bed to get her out.

Because we were soggy anyhow, I went to water aerobics Sat. morning, taught by the lovely and talented Kelly Q., my blogging buddy! It was something different than I’ve been doing with the “land” group exercise classes. I liked the change of pace–and Kelly always does an incredible job.

Then I started in on the shopping to outfit Jacob’s dorm room. I’ll have to chip away at it little by little. Here’s the pile so far.

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Thanks to Kathryn for all of her suggestions about buying lots of socks and undies and mildew-resistant towels in case he decides doing laundry is optional.

On Friday evening, I got the mission trip troupe together for a reunion. We had a nice time looking at a slide show of our photos and reliving some of the memories. I wish I had more time and energy to get the kids together more this summer, but between work, writing, sending Jacob off to college, and various trips, I’m doing well to keep my head above water.

Poor Lucy struggles to get up and down the stairs. I haven’t figured out a way to help her down the stairs yet. She won’t let me carry her front half, and if I try to carry the back half, she rushes forward and about drags us both down. So for now she is doing it herself, but it takes her awhile to get psyched up. In the meantime, this morning, while she was gearing herself up mentally, the cats took the opportunity to try out some doggy food.

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(Don’t worry, though; they only ate about 3 pieces before she showed up)

P.S. I’m listening to Maroon 5’s “Daylight” on Spotify today.

Rhubarb Muffins

 Well, these muffins (p. 71) were easy to put together. The only tricky part for me was the topping, which is included melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar. When I mixed it together, it all sort of congealed into a lump instead of being nice and topping-ish. So I put on the topping in clumps and then sprinkled a little sugar and cinnamon over the top.

They smell delightful!

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