Saturday, November 30, 2013

Interesting Reads While Waiting

Lilly Pullitzer velvet men's trousers, circa 1970
Yesterday I had one of our several rumble down autos worked on.  Kelly L. helped me get the car started and followed me into town to make sure I made it safely.  He was also going to give me a lift home, if I needed to leave the car for any length of time.  Since Kelly had some business to transact at the Freedom Living Center, I waited in the very well-appointed main sitting room there until he was done with his business. 

While waiting, I picked up a Martha Stewart Living.  I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the whole Martha Steward thing.  The love comes, of course, from all the decorating ideas she promotes.  Her taste appeals to me.  The thought of having leisure to care how, for instance, the tops of my pie crusts are decorated, or whether the latest fresh flower arrangement is seasonally correct has some draw.  But there's the rub.  It's all so silly.  So vain.  So polar opposite of the reality in which I live. 

But every once in awhile, I like to peruse the pages in some waiting room or another.  Truth be told, once, ... I even bought one.  What a silly use of that $7.50 or whatever it was.  I can't imagine now what possessed me.  I must been gratifying some indulgent need for the fantasy of living a pampered existence.

Two of the many things I passed over yesterday stuck in my memory.  The first is an indicator of how Northern Minnesotan I've become.  The title of the article was something like, "What's your favorite big game recipe?"  Really?  Big game recipes in Martha Stewart Living?  I had to look twice.  And then thrice.  Then I scanned the recipes and was momentarily confused.  Chip and vegetable dips.  Appetizers and finger foods.  Crock pot fare.  But nothing that looked like it contained venison, elk, or moose.

"Aha!"  thought I.  "Big game.... I bet they're talking about a sporting event.  Perhaps the super bowl."

I checked the cover, and sure enough, it was the February 2013.  Big game recipes.  I get it now. 

I giggled at the thought of finding wild game recipes in Martha Stewart Living.  The whole East Coast chic thing doesn't really seem to fit with taking a rifle and firing it at a wild animal.  Those cute and fuzzy, noble beasts, falling to the ground and bleeding out.  The eyes that a moment before gleamed with life, fading to dull.  The skinning and gutting.  Just the notion cracks me up.  ""What's your favorite big game recipe?" 

The second article that caught my interest was on collecting.  The magazine featured a handful of collectors, photos of their collections, and a brief interview of how they got started and where they find their pieces.  

A colorful patchwork blazer for the man in your life
or perhaps trousers with an aquatic life theme?
Grassland birds?
And for the very fanciful man, fuchsia unicorns
One of the collections was Lilly Pulitzer Men's Stuff.  Wild floral prints.  Animal designs.  Bright citrusy colors.  For men. 

According to the article, they were quite the thing among the upper crust Palm Beach golf set.  It totally cracks me up. 

Lilly, whose mother was heiress to the Standard Oil fortune, was educated in all the best schools for a young socialite of the time.  She married a Palm Beach area citrus grower, who also had famous connections, being the grandson of the Pulitzer after whom the prize is named.  Lilly opened a citrus drink stand for the upper crust, in one of Palm Beach's premier shopping areas, just off Worth Avenue.  She discovered she needed clothing that would camouflage the juices that got splattered while working.  She designed a handful of sleeveless dresses to wear while working.  Her brightly colored dresses were so well-liked that she started making them to sell to others, and so began the line. 

Imagining the 1970s upper crust men wearing these prints on the golf course and while socializing tickles my imagination.  What a colorful time!  Do a google image search on Lilly Pulitzer Men's Stuff to see a far wider variety of colors and designs than I have shown here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Few of Life's Little Ups and Downs

It was a good news and bad news kind of day.

1) We started the day today running down to McIntosh to get the car which wouldn't start for Louisa when she got off work last night at 11:00.  (Thanks to the Oklee area co-worker who kindly helped Louisa out last night after having worked a double shift.)  The car has been problematic since the summer, but it's what we have, so we've been trying to nurse it along.  We made the decision that it was no longer reliable enough to trust for her to go back and forth to work all those miles in the cold.  (Bad)

2)  After contemplating all the various things that might have been the problem last night, today the car started with just a little boost from the van via jumper cables.  We took it over to Fosston to the ever capable Dustin and Adam at Carco.  (Good)

3)  Dustin and Adam don't have time to work on it until next week Wednesday.   Our good van is in the shop getting the deer damage repaired, so that left us with the prospect of two drivers with work obligations (Louisa and Joe) and only one vehicle.  Only a kind of, sort of, sometimes functional vehicle, AKA the creeper van, which has really crummy winter tires that scared me all last winter.  Oh, and the headlights only sometimes work if the car warms up first and the door is slammed just so.  Oh, and the gas gauge is shot, we have to use the trip odometer to keep track.  The speedometer isn't accurate.  The heater van hums with a very annoying high pitched hum, until one drives over rumble strips or a railroad track, after which it will run normally for a few miles.  The radio is down to one speaker that rattles like things are falling off the car.  The back seats have holes rusted through the floor in spots.  And once since we replaced the battery the van didn't start.   (Bad)

4)  We have Jeremy's vehicle here which we've been wanting to get into working order before sending it down to him in Granite Falls.  .  Since the car sat outside for over a year, we want a few things checked out.  Hoses and wires and fluids, etc.  Oh, and we're going to have him blow the engine area, to make sure all the leaves and mouse nesting material is off the engine block.  Jeremy cleaned most of it out before he moved, but the wimpy little shop vac we have still left some debris.  We're happy that Scott's able to get it in so soon.  (Good)

5)  But that still leaves us with four services and two work shifts, just tonight and tomorrow, not to mention the ride up to Tami and Jim's in Grygla for Thanksgiving, which we're hoping to be able get to.  And one van.  (Bad)

4)  But we have very generous friends and neighbors who have often come to our rescue.  When I called our friend Lana to see if we could use Brad's older car, she dissuaded us based on the fact that the heater in it is one of those "only occasionally functioning" varieties.  kind of like so many things on the Creeper van.  But Lana generously offered us her almost new and very nice car for a few days.  (Good)

5)  I took Louisa over to get Lana's car and left my purse there.  Duh, I can't figure out why I even took in into the house for the 30 seconds I was there.  (Bad)

6)  In spite of the other commotion and the missing purse, I was still able to get back into Oklee to pick up Elsie in time to get to the chiropractor in  Thief River on time.  (Good)

7)  We ran out of time to get all the way downtown to mail Aunt Aimee's afghan, so she'll have to wait an extra few days.  :-(  (Bad)

8)  In spite of the 155 miles I put on the car today, I still managed to photo copy some stuff for the Sunday School kids for the Christmas program and serve my kids meals at mostly the proper time.  I didn't wipe out on the slick spots on the roads from this morning's snowfall.  And most importantly, we got home in time for Joe to make his 5:00 Mt. Olive church service, with a few minutes to spare.  In fact, we even beat the school bus after we passed it as it was accelerating after stopping at at Alyssa's house.  (Good)

9)  When I got home, Clara had mixed up crust enough for four Gluten Free pies!  Yeah, Clara!  (Good)

10)  And perhaps most exciting of all to my Mommy heart, Aunt Nyla called just after I got home with news of Matthew.  He's officially finished with all the initial Marine Corps training.  He'll be in the Twin Cities tonight at around 9:00.  Nyla's daughter (Joe's cousin) Christina and her husband, Troy, will pick Matt up at the airport tonight and get him to Nyla's.  Joe's parents Jerry and Bergetta will come to their place for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and take Matt home with them where his truck is waiting.  Thank you all for caring for him so well.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On the pursuit of well-being in a sin-filled word

Believe it or not, sometimes, ... yes, even I, ... spout my opinions.  (For those of you who are not frequent readers, that's supposed to be irony.  I'm very, very well-known for spouting.  Loudly.  And when in person, it's often accompanied by wild gesticulations.)

One of the things that sometimes wears on me as a mother is the whole notion of health.  The health of the kids, the health of the mom.  Physical health, Emotional health, Spiritual health, ... I get tired of thinking about health.  
There are so many health concerns in the world and so many answers.  To immunize or not?  Which diet is the healthiest?  Which children have which food sensitivities?  Is it chronic fatigue, lyme's disease, depression, hormone imbalance of any number of varieties, insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, or just what?
And after ten kids, and 20 years of parenting, not to mention 40 some years of life in this world, for me, it's all just got to be in God's hands. 
I have too much on my plate, and our budget is too constricted to do anything more than what we're doing. 
The way I see it, the way the Bible tells us, this is a sinful and broken world. 
If it's not one thing, it would be something else. 
Way back when, I started researching all this junk for a variety of childhood illness related reasons, (chronic ear problems, ADD type stuff, autism, Aspbergers, skin issues, ...)   And throughout the years different research for myself, ... things like depression, PMS, chronic fatigue, metabolism, etc. 

There are a whole host of ideas out there.  Many good and well researched.  And many cockamamie. Some people have skills and concentration and time and interest to research it all.  I simply do not.  I mean, it's all interesting to me.  And fascinating, too, all the different ways that are outside the mainstream, where people have found relief from one thing or another.

One friend was convinced Jeremy's ear troubles were from yeast (The Yeast Connection). There was the potato/alcohol connection thing someone recommended for dealing with mood swings  (Potatoes not Prozac). 

Treating various illnesses with homeopathy, the science of which claims that the smaller the particle of remedy, the better the result.  And for some things, when combined with about a hundred lifestyle changes, it seems to help.

There's hyper- and hypo- glycemia, glucose intolerance and other metabolic disorders.  Celiac disease, fibro-myalgia, and other auto-immune disorders.  The list goes on and on.  

And at it's core, it's all simply that we live in a sinful and broken world.  Things are WRONG with our bodies.  They are not and will not work right.

And we, as sinful people living in this sinful world, making our way as best we can.  As my friend and mentor Dort P. put it, we muddle through.

By God's grace, our mainstream and alternative medicines sometimes offer solutions that help alleviate the results of this brokenness.  And other times, we suffer along with St. Paul.  We bear the thorns in our flesh.  We must simply live with the problem.  And with St. Paul, God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Given the same situations, each of us must make our own decisions.  Is it time to do more research and try more things.  Or is it time to bear the thorn in our flesh?  Each of us is different.  Each situation, personality, financial situation, location, ...  We're all different people and will make different decisions.

Sometimes, due to new or different information, a new or different perspective in life, the same person will make different choices at different times.

It's all part of the challenge of living under God's grace, but in a broken world.

It's easy to look back with a new and different perspective, and carry regrets about choices we made in the past.  If only I had known ...  or my son or daughter's life could be so much better, ... or I wish I had tried ...,  or what have you.

And yet we know that by God's grace, according to His wisdom and timing, living under His providential care under the grace of Christ's forgiveness, we chose the best we could for that part in our life.  We muddled through. 

We simply are where we are today.  Each day.  Serving our Lord according to the talents and abilities God has given us.

Sinning as we all do.  Failing to do those things we ought and instead doing those things we ought not to do. 

But also clothed in Christ's righteous wedding garment put on us at our baptism and through faithful use of the Word and Sacrament, we serve God.   Doing the work God lays before us each day.   According to our abilities and interests and choices.

All of us.  We all have broken parts.  Emotionally, physically.  Things that simply aren't right.  We sometimes find one solution, other times another.  And we carry on.  We continue, as we're able.  We fulfill our daily vocations, as best we can. 

And we know we will sin.  We know we will fail.  But we keep putting one foot in front of the other, resting assured in God's Grace that He will most importantly, lead us to heaven in the end; and secondarily use us, broken as we are, to His Glory.

I think I've probably mentioned this passage before, but it's so profound to me, especially with regard to life choices and mistakes, I'm going to write about it again.  It offers great hope for me in those times when I have to question and re-evaluate decisions, past and present.

It's just a little passage, really.  Eleven words in the book of Hebrews. "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."  (Heb. 11:20)  Just eleven words.  So terse.  But so full of comfort in this world of sin.

The passage itself doesn't show all of the Bible's truth.  But it reflects a particular concrete example of how God sees us through faith in the righteousness of Christ.

If you  haven't read it in awhile, refer back to the account of Jacob and Esau in Genesis.  Their birth and younger years are recorded briefly in chapter 25, starting at verse 19.  The account of Isaac blessing his sons, is recorded in chapter 27.  Read on to the resolution, which doesn't come until chapter 33. 

God, in His Holy Word, has recorded for us both the good and the bad in His people.  He shows us time and time again that we simply cannot make it on our own.  Even the Biblical heroes fall, time and time again.

In the account of Isaac, Jacob and Esau, our human wisdom sees stubborn old Isaac not wanting to bless his sons according to God's will and His prophecy before the boys were born.
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
We see the treachery of Rebekkah and Jacob, trying to force God's will (which happens to also be their will) to be done.  But through human deception, rather that trusting God's promise and providence.

Later we see the pain of Isaac, when he realizes what he has done.  He's crushed and heartbroken, and angry.   His wife and son have betrayed him.

Esau is filled with bitterness that turns to hatred,
So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Jacob has to flee for his life.

Rebekkah and Isaac must still live together as husband and wife after this great betrayal.

It all seems so wrong.  And it is, indeed a story filled with the tragedy of sinful decisions.

And yet, in Hebrews 11, in the list of Biblical heroes, Isaac is listed among them. 

On account of faith.  "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."

By faith, through Christ's righteousness, God declares Esau righteous. 

A hero. 

So to with us.  We will always sin.  Our poor decisions will continue to cause pain to ourselves and others.  But we, too are declared heros.  We stand righteous before God, through Christ.

And not only that.  But also, for Christ's sake, God worked it out in the end for Isaac.  Likewise for us.  He manipulates all our human flubs, somehow, and uses them to His glory. 
I can't tell you how those eleven words have brought me comfort throughout the years.  "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."

Raising children can seem like such a great and consuming responsibility.  Especially in today's world.  We parents and families today are indulged.  We have the luxury of mostly not having to wonder where each meal will come from.  We mostly don't wonder how we'll cloth our children or where we'll find shelter each season. 

We have time and luxury to worry about things like diet and health, emotional and physical.  And even spiritual.  And in so worrying, we often take too much on ourselves.  We think we are the only ones who can do this.  It's all on us.

Are we making the right choices.  Are we  providing the best.  Are we giving enough.  Are we giving too much?  Are we setting a good enough example.  Are we strong enoughHow can we read the Bible enoughHow do we give our children good morals without making them self-righteous


But it's not.  Not really.  And in reality, this temporal world is all vanity anyway.  Here today and tomorrow cast into the fire. 

It's not all on us, but God.  His righteousness on us.  That wedding garment that we simply wear.

But how, we wonder, how to do that in daily life?

Focus on the ONE THING NEEDFUL.  Put as much effort and time into the temporal well-being of our families as we can each day.  To the best of our abilities.  With the wisdom and resources at our disposal.
And rest assured, every hour, every minute, in the eternal promises of God.  The knowledge that like Isaac, we will screw up.  But in the end, we'll be a heroes.  Heroes who's only act of heroism is the righteous covering given us by Christ.  That covering which allows God to see us as a heroes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My latest favorite pork roast

Keep in mind I don't really follow recipes or measure, so all amounts are approximate.  Cooking time and temp, too.  Most of my meat is butchered at home or a local locker, so I don't even know the weights of my roasts.  It's all a guess.  But this will give you the starting point for a wonderful way to do pork.

Curried Pork Roast
Pork roast

Times and temps
Last night I had two pork roasts, one perhaps 2-3 lbs, the other maybe 4-5.  I would have preferred to bake them at low (270-300) for about 5-7 hours, but I didn't get them in soon enough.  I ended up doing them at 325 for about 3 hours.  They were cooked through, and mostly tender; but another hour would have made them fall-apart tender.  I baked my roasts in a small roaster.  Medium would have been better, but I didn't realize how large the one roast was until I already had the smaller one dirtied. 

A quick google search shows me I could read for days about cooking times and temps and still not have it all figured out.  There is the safety issue, the lean vs. more marbled issue, pastured vs confined, etc.  There's no exact rule of thumb that encompasses all of it.  From what I could see quickly scanning a few pages, today's regular supermarket pork is alleged to be best reaching an internal temp of 160.  "They say" that will kill any germs and yet leave the pork juicy and succulent.  "Others say" that you must maintain an internal temp of 190 for an extended period of time to slowly melt the collagen that will give your meat a silky texture and offer maximum health benefits. 

What I know is that lower temps for longer times will give you a tender and juicy end result.  I think the meat roasting gurus call it low and slow. 


1 T salt
1 T curry
1 T sugar
1 t oregano
1 t pepper

Mix together and rub all over meat.

Put into roaster or crock pot.

Fresh fruits and vegies
two apples
one large onion
sprinkle apple and onion slices over the roast

Consider celery and carrots, too.  Or an orange, cranberries, or whatever sounds good.  I really like fruit with pork.  Apples, onions, and celery go well with curry.  I don't really like carrots with curry, but that doesn't mean you won't.  I can imagine that oranges and cranberries would be wonderful, but I don't know whether I've tried them or not.  The curry in this is not terribly strong.  It adds a kind of warm glow that goes well with the meat and the slight tang of the fruit.  Subtle, but really, really good.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Definite Comfort Food Success

Meals around here have been stuck in the "one of those days," rut lately.  Too little meat in the freezer, too little forethought to have anything thawed in time, too little maternal energies, ...  I fear, too many excuses, right?  I've been using many, many eggs, and canned elk or venison and bear, since it's quick and easy.

I prefer to have Sunday Dinner in the oven before church on Sunday, especially when we're on the late service schedule.  Sunday school is at 10:00, and church at 11:00.  Since that service is the last of three between which the pastor has to rush on a Sunday morning, whichever church has the late service often starts late.

Yesterday was a late late-service day.  We got out of church closer to 12:30 than 12:00.  Joe had to  run to a quick visit after church.  So I knew dinner would be later still. 

Which actually worked to my advantage since I had not begun work on our family dinner before I left for Sunday School.  I had taken a couple of pounds of ground beef from the freezer before church and set it on a cooling rack to thaw.  But that was the extent of my planning.

I had a few carrots in the fridge at the stage I'll call the beginnings of being slimy.  I had some cauliflower that was getting a little gray at the edges of the florets.  I had an unopened quart of half and half.  And I had some dried garden herbs from a previous year I've been trying to remember to use up.

"Hmmm," thought I, "I can do something with that." 

And what follows is the delicious result.

Creamed Cauliflower and Carrots to serve over meat and starch of your choice
1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and cut into largish bites
1 large onion, sliced or wedged
4-6 medium carrots peeled, and cut into bit sized chunks
fat of choice for sauteing (I used 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 lard)
1/4 c (small handful) whole dried sage leaves
1/4 c (small handful) dried parsley
1/2 qt half and half (or a little more)
salt and pepper to taste
about 1/3 c corn starch

Variation, ... use fresh cream rather than half and half.  You can probably omit the corn starch thickening if you do this.

In a dutch oven, cook the vegetables and herbs until tender-crips in about 4 tbs fat of your choice.  This takes about 15-20 minutes, on medium to medium-high heat.  If you keep the lid on while they are cooking, they will kind of half-steam half-saute, rather than browning in the oil.  Stir periodically.

While vegetables are cooking, you can prepare the starch and meat you want to serve alongside.  I cooked up some white rice.  Brown rice, potatoes, or pasta would also be good.  Or toast, biscuits, or English muffins.  I browned some ground beef and added the last half of a jar of salsa.  Sliced and cooked chicken breasts, pork chops, or steamed shrimp would go well.  Or bacon and eggs. 

When the vegetables are still a little bit firm, pour half and half over them until vegetables are covered and the amount of liquid is to your liking.  When the liquid returns to simmering, thicken with the cornstarch dissolved in water.

Salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for two minutes more.

Ladle creamed vegetables over your choice of carbs and meat.