The Laws of Physics: Cooking Challenge 2

Hello!

To recap: I am, Catie, blogging in the place of my Mom this month as she completes some of her own projects. I am currently attempting a cooking challenge to help bolster my repertoire of recipes and learn some basic cooking skills. I am using the cookbook, Skinny Taste by Gina Homolka. Day one was a successfully delicious Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Pesto Mayo.

One of my all time favorite Date Night places to go eat is the Bonefish Grill in Madison,MS. And without fail, though I may browse the menu FOR-EV-ER, I will always inevitably order the Bang Bang Shrimp.  Now that my husband and I are both in school, such Date Nights happen less frequently, but my love for this dish does not waiver.  So when I saw in my trusty cookbook, Skinny Taste, a knockoff for this very beloved meal, I knew what I must cook! Also, since this meal is particularly spicy, (hence the name “Bang Bang!”)  I thought a dessert of Watermelon Lime Granita would be just the ending we would need.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this delicious meal. (Yep, it was That good.)

But here is the picture from her blogsite, Skinnytaste.com and I promise, cross my heart, mine looked the exact same (cough, cough).

skinny-bang-bang-shrimp

The Bang Bang Shrimp was quick to whip together. Mix up the sauce, (mayo, hot sauce, and sweet chilli sauce) coat the shrimp in corn starch (not corn syrup–I had an almost whoopsy with that one!), cook the shrimp, mix the sauce with the shrimp, and then layer over a bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce, and red cabbage.

I’m feeling like a pro….

Until the Watermelon Lime Granita ….

Now this dessert takes 5 hours prep time. No biggie, no sweat, I got this! I blended those fruits up, I poured them into a pan, popped them into the freezer and walked away. Well, I have a suggestion to make for all the novices out there like me: if your freezer is not empty, don’t pour your blended fruit juice into a pan and then, place it into the freezer like she instructs. Instead, cover that pan with a lid, before all laws of physics break loose. I came back 2 hours later, opened the freezer and before I had opened the door an inch, WHOOSH! Watermelon-Lime-Slushy everywhere! It was all over me, all over the floor, all over the walls, every nook and cranny was coated in that pink sticky stuff! Needless to say, I became my own clean up crew for this little incident.  All that was able to be salvaged of my cooling dessert was about 1 cup full left in the pan.  My mom and I can attest to the fact that it was very tasty, but I’m not sure it outweighed the mess. (yes, I’m still a tad frosty about it! ) However, lesson learned: Items in freezer will shift when liquids are involved!

Until next time,

Catie

 

I’m Not A Bad Cook: Cooking Challenge Day 1

Hey Guys!

So for the next couple of weeks (really until November), I will be taking over this blog site for Mom as she is off busy being awesome. Now since I have never blogged before, I was not sure where to start. So I decided the simplest solution was to challenge myself on something and write about it here. (mind blowing, right? totally original.) Up First: cooking challenge.

Now I want to clear the air here and say, I am not a “Bad” cook. So no thinking that I can’t mix and measure with the best of them. I just don’t cook. I never held more than a mere where-is-the-milk-for-my-cereal interest, until I struck out on my own (with husband in tow) and discovered the true dire necessity of knowing how to cook. Because being able to prepare deliciously nutritious meals on a nightly bases is like Survival Level needed. ‘Cause let’s be honest here, Fast-food…looks good on no one’s thighs.

Hence, when my husband and I moved in with my parents for the year, I put myself into what I refer to as, “Housewife Training.” I being Murphy’s Law (if it could happen, it’s going to happen to me, sort of thing) look to my mother the Queen of Keeping-it-Together for guidance in these matters and she has proved to be the wisest of all councils.

Now as I make this transition from catastrophe to composed, the rest of the family has been faced with a challenge themselves. For instance, due to my inexperience in the culinary arts, I tend to use way too many dishes and utensils and so the workload for the clean-up crew has definitely doubled! Therefore, I want to take this moment to say a really big, “I Love You!” to my family for understanding that my GPA has no bearing what so ever on my level of common sense. But I Digress.

For this week, I am cooking from a cookbook that Mom and I found at Target called Skinny Taste by Gina Homolka. She is a blogger at SkinnyTaste.com. I am going to be honest here and say that I have never been to her blog site, but the pictures in her book were absolutely mouthwatering and she had all my favorites there (made healthy!). So I knew we had to try it out.

The first meal I made was the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Pesto Mayo (p.95 in the cookbook).

sandwich 1

Not the most ambitious recipe, but the sandwich came together perfectly (Yum!) and was a good start for a novice. The recipe went just as the name implies: grill the veggies, toast the bread, make the fancy mayo, slap it together and “Pesto!” (see what I did there–punny) you’re a sandwich prodigy.

For my husband, who has yet to be convinced that “Veggies alone, a meal do make,” I made a ham, tomato, pesto mayo, and provolone melt, which seemed to be edible, seeing as there was none left when he left.

Along with our sandwich, we toasted some sparkling caramel apple juice (Delicious!) in honor of the first Autumn chill. Which is when my world traveling parents informed me that the correct way to toast, as they do in Europe, is to simply raise your glass to each other, rather than clinking the two glasses together.  To which I smartly replied, “Well, I’m American.”

And on that note, I loudly and proudly clink my glass to you in honor of a first post and a first meal completed.

Until next time,

Catie

Guest Post: Cara Meredith

Hey!

Earlier this week, I guest posted for Cara and today, we’re doing a little blog bunny hopping and she is posting for me.  I’m so impressed by all that she has accomplished in her life.  I think you will be too when you read her bio, but more so, after you read her lovely, poignant message for Good Friday.  Cara regularly posts at be, mama. be.  Blessings, Mimi

Leaning Into Friday

I used to have a love-hate relationship with the weeks leading up to Easter. As a child, we didn’t participate in Lent; I’d see various friends arriving at school with a leftover smudge on their foreheads, and I’d wonder why they’d forgotten to wash their face this Thursday morning.

I’d say mmm-hmm when a Catholic buddy of mine lamented at having to give up ice cream or chocolate, meat or – true story – quesadillas in the forty days prior to Christ’s resurrection.

But for me, in the little Baptist church we found ourselves entrenched in, the Easter season seemed to arrive without fanfare. As children, we found ourselves seemingly shoved with palm branches on Sunday morning, made to make our way down the long aisle, waving and fanning and smiling our fronds to the adults sitting in the pews to the left and right. And then, just as it always seemed to do, the dreariness of the week ahead began to set in. I knew I’d have to hear the brutal story of One Man’s death on the cross, the nails driven into his hands, the way he cried out, without answer, to his dad.

It made me yearn for the arrival of Sunday morning.

I wanted to stop living in Friday. I wanted the hurt and pain and loneliness of that dreaded waiting period to return to triumphant hymns, to again hear the shouts of He has risen – He has risen indeed! I wanted the afternoon feast of ham and mashed potatoes and lemon meringue pie, just as I wanted the pretty new dress from J.C. Penney. I didn’t want to sit in the ugliness – I begged Beauty to return.

But now I kind of like it.

I love Jerusalem Jackson Greer’s words in A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together,as she chronicles the Easter season, and Holy Saturday in particular: “…I do my best to live in that place, that wax-crayon place of trust and waiting. Of accepting what I cannot know. Of mourning what needs to be mourned. Of accepting what needs to be accepted. Of hoping for what seems impossible.” Because when I actually sit in the waiting, in the mourning, in the accepting and in the hoping, then it makes Sunday morning all the more resurrected.

I then feel the joy that much more. I lean into the hope and I embrace the celebration and I believe in his peace, all over again, as if for the first time.   So this week, as you prepare for Sunday, might you also sit in the waiting pain of Friday.

cara meredith profile pic

Former high school English teacher turned youth minister, Cara is learning what it means to be as a full-time mama and free-lance writer and speaker.  She holds a Masters of Theology degree (Fuller Seminary), and is currently tweaking away at her first book.  She loves pretending to be a foodie, being outdoors and trying to read seven books at a time (although never very successfully).  She lives near San Francisco with her husband, James, their son, Canon, and a second little boy to arrive late this summer.  

Twitter: @caramac54

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Good Morning!
My friend, Sarah, graciously agreed to guest post for me today.  I hope you enjoy her creative spark as much as I do.  Please make her welcome : )
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It’s barely into the evening hours, and we’ve already been driving through country backroads in multiple states in the pouring rain.  Lightning strikes have lit our path more times than we want to count, but thankfully, the flooding in the fields beside the road hasn’t reached our path…just yet.

Though hardly weather for the Christmas holidays, we’ll gladly take this journey to reach the warm hearth of home.  In about an hour and a half – Lord willing – we will pull into the driveway of my husband’s sweet parents, where Southern accents,  a roaring fire, hot tea and a warm bed await.

This year, I am very much aware what a gift it is to be home for the holidays, as we have recently moved back to our home and ‘our people’, after almost two years of living out of state for my husband’s job.    After a few years of marriage, I have more than made peace with the fact that wherever my husband and I lay our head is home.  But there is so much to be said–even spiritual ramifications–for living in a place where you find your community once again, and how that sustains and sows into who you are.

When I think of home and community and family at Christmastime, my thoughts turn to traditions.  I grew up in a somewhat typical suburban family, but lost both of my parents young, and experienced the ‘gypsy life’ of an actor for many years of my adult life.  Home was whatever community I found myself in – from acting companies to beloved friends and roommates, to my step-parents and spiritually given Godparents.

The few years before I lost my Mom, our family would all go to see a movie the evening of Christmas day.   We loved packing into full movie houses with other families and friends, where we watched the cinema screen like a stage play.  When we opened presents from one another, I learned patience as we opened them slow, one of us in the room at a time, {usually by age range from youngest to oldest} savoring the joy of others as they opened their treasures.

I have loved every unique Christmas holiday that has brought me closer to loved ones in my past, but there is something to celebrate in the joy and beauty of our young marriage, the family I married into, and the traditions–both old and new–that we are experiencing and discovering with one another.

My husband’s family has their own beloved traditions that are delightfully becoming part of my own.  Every Christmas Eve, we surround ourselves with family and hugs and laughter while we eat scrumptious homemade gumbo, and a homemade caesar salad with marinated tomatoes and pancetta that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.    I’ve begun to give a small box of Harry & David pears to my mother-in-law, and we enjoy the succulent juicy treats together on Christmas day.

My husband and I like to drink a glass of eggnog sprinkled with cinnamon–my Dad’s favorite Christmas drink–and toast to our family and his memory.   I enjoy seeing my husband laughing at the National Lampoon’s Christmas  Vacation movie almost more than I do watching it myself.    I have begun reading remarkable books during the Advent season  to help prepare my heart for Christmas.  I love making a Christmas playlist every year for family and friends.

One of my new favorite traditions is singing with our church choir in the annual Christmas cantata.  Whether it’s the Hallelujah chorus, or a turn of a phrase telling of ‘the Christ-child’s birth’, God’s gift of music centers my spirit and Gospel truths revealed in song stay in my thoughts long after the conductor lays down his baton.  

I am in a time of abundance and I recognize this with great awe and reverence.  I simply cannot take this fact lightly, as I have known times of crisis and want for a good portion of my life.

I remember the first Christmas after my Mother died.  I took my hollow heart to the Christmas Eve service in a beautiful wooden cathedral.  As the clock neared midnight, we lit candles as the lights dimmed, and sang Silent Night.  Tears streamed down my cheek as I choked on the words, then finished the last stanza with unfettered abandon.  Every note ached with missing her, and was simultaneously healing to my grieving  soul.

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There are the traditions that bring us joy and bring us closer to each other.  And then, there are the traditions that bring us closer to the Maker of our Souls, the Infinite and Most Holy God – that remind us that the incarnation and birth of our Saviour is the ultimate gift to the Believer.

What Christmas traditions bring you joy?

Which ones point you to the Christmas Christ child?

Sarah_aboutMePic

Sarah Caldwell is the Chief Creative Curator at All Manner of Inspiration  where she gathers everyday inspiration and encourages artists of all makes and models. A self-proclaimed musical theatre geek and book lover, Sarah aspires to shed a bright light on the Creative Process that draws others to see their dreams more clearly. She’s currently chasing the next inspirational spark, and her sweet pup Daphne, in the heart of Fort Worth, Texas with her Husband, Frank.

Guest Post from Katie@CardiganWay

Hey!

This month, the focus on my online bible study ministry site has been gratitude. I was thrilled when my friend, Katie, who blogs regularly at Cardigan Way, agreed to share some thoughts on the subject.  Her writing exposes her sweet gracious spirit and I knew I wanted to share her thoughts, here, as well.

The strange thing about blogging, I’ve never met Katie in person but I feel I know her.  I talk about her to my family like I would about any of my friends.  I feel a kinship with her perhaps it’s a southern thing, since she is from the South, but I suspect it’s a sister in Christ thing.  Please check out her blog and show her some love.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allumeheadshots

The Grace of Gratitude. Again.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I drove to school through the fog, the trees mostly bare, that in-between time when it’s not yet winter but the vibrant hues of fall leaves are now muted, beginning to disintegrate on the ground.  The beautiful landscape of North Carolina was itself muted, a hazier version of its fogless self.

bare trees

By the time I hit the pillow, exhausted, it was as if the muted colors of the early morning drive pervaded the entire day.  I felt like the hazier version of myself…or something like that.

I found myself feeling utterly inept at my new job when decision after decision seemed to be the wrong one.

My phone died.  I was disconnected.  And while that may seem a small thing, I should tell you that I am in the thick of the adoption process, and the mere buzz of my phone sends my heart into my throat.

And that was really the main thing, the uncertainty of adoption and the weight of it.  The question mark that lies between today and the day that walk in the front door of our home with a little one in our arms.

A muted day.

ivy on the tree

You should know that this is not new, that grace has met me time and time again in the act of thankfulness, in naming a gift.  It’s happened before...  And {often} in much harder spaces than what I needed yesterday.

See, when I first read Ann’s book , I began to list my gifts.  We lost twins and I stopped.  Stopped speaking to God really, much less thanking Him.  I found myself confused and indifferent, the other side of angry.  And I believe God was okay with that, waiting patiently for my return to Him.  Actually, that’s not true.

If I say I think He waited patiently, then I picture Him – in my mind’s eye – to be something like the parent whose six year old has obstinately refused to wear anything other than the hand painted nightshirt to school.  And this makes me imagine His waiting idly by, watching from the Heavens, smiling, strong enough not to check His watch, believing that soon enough, I’d realize the error of my ways.

But that’s not true.  I believe {know} He hoped with us.  And then, I believe He grieved with us.  Deeply.  Like the parent whose child cannot understand her mother and father’s love for her.

leaves on the drive

It happened again.  We lost two more babies and the next day, all I knew to do was to pull up Lamentations 3, that touchstone of God’s faithfulness, whether or not I was able to claim it quite yet.

But I took a baby step.  And made a deliberate choice to…at least…call His grace to mind.

And I began to count again.  Slowly, deliberately, not always easily.

I counted and I shared them.

And last summer, in a little under a year, I made it to No. 1000.  But it wasn’t without the choice to keep counting…and counting…

For I can look back and find in my list gift No. 365…I counted the gifts of new life in my womb.

And then for No. 390, a train ticket of grace {when the babies didn’t make it}.

Then I counted No. 674, which was the text that changed our lives.

And then No. 747: He gives peace.  That was the day the adoption fell through.

And I counted and counted…and when No. 1000 rolled around, I was stunned by grace, by the quote that so perfectly described the journey of my counting.

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace, only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.”  — Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies

I was in a very different place when I counted No. 1 than where I was when I reached No. 1000.  And it was Grace.

I’m still counting.

And you’d think I’d remember these miracles, wouldn’t you?  That I’d easily call to mind the amazing grace I’d already known in counting gifts and further, that it would dawn on me in the much less significant, daily little missteps.

Tiny {by comparison} frustrations.

Small, mindless annoyances.

And — okay.  The slightly larger ones of unknowns and questions.

But yesterday, I didn’t remember it {or at least I chose not to}.  So this morning, I flipped my brain back to No. 1000 and Anne Lamott and then decided to count those very things – the frustrations, annoyances, and questions – as gifts.  Because hard eucharisteo is never without grace.  And these things were really… hardly…medium-sized.

I felt inept in my job yesterday. 

So I counted. No. 1426: getting to serve teachers for a living.

My phone died right when I needed it.

 I counted No. 1427: forced quiet.

I ached to be on the other side of our adoption.

Again I counted. No. 1428: we are adopting again.

leaves on the ground

 So I think, my dear friends, that we should keep at it, to deliberately recall the waves of grace found within naming the gifts, including the winds, the small rains, and the storms.  It may be a baby step, tentative, doubtful, and feel like the most you can possibly do.  But count.  And then, bask in the grace that He brings.

What are you grateful for today?