Friday, October 31, 2014

A Tradition Continues

It's that time of year again.  

I know you have been waiting all year for this day, so without any further ado, here it is.  Turn on your sound and get ready to dance with The Reformation Polka.


Happy Friday!

And just in case you missed it, here are the words:

 Author: Rev. Robert J. Gebel
When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law;
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian! Oh...

Chorus:
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!" Oh...

Chorus

They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!" Oh...

Chorus

Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek! Oh...

Chorus

Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets a chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance! Oh...

Chorus

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

Many, many thanks to Rev. Gebel, who provides me with great fun every year.  And Mr. Marvelous (both Sr. and Jr.) with lots of cringing and eye-rolling.  



And Anna Elizabeth?  Happy Birthday tomorrow!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

About Ricotta Cheese

Our home is in the country.  Just ask the city folks who know us!  We live on a 3.5 acre wooded, hilly lot on a private road (which means that we have to pay for repaving) (and the Google people don't come up and take pictures for Street view). 

We are not, however, remote.  It takes about 8 minutes to get to the Walmart to the west of us and 10 minutes to get to the one to the east of us.  Honestly, that is closer than most of our city friends.  If I run out of something in the middle of cooking, it is not that big a problem for me to get in the car and run to the store.  Especially since I now have reliable transportation!

But some days I just don't want to stop in the middle of what I am doing, change clothes, and go to town.  I also don't like to go to the store and spend money unless I really, really need something (it's a Dave Ramsey thing).  I find ways to work around or make substitutions and move on with life.  I also like the satisfaction of making things myself.

Perusing the internet and some cook books a year or so ago, I discovered that one can make ricotta cheese.  From scratch!  I kept meaning to try it.  This week I wanted to make a casserole for a friend.  I had everything I needed except the ricotta cheese.  Aha!  A golden opportunity!  I found some cheese cloth and picked up a bottle of good quality white wine vinegar and I was ready to go. 

I found a recipe from The Barefoot Contessa (any woman who cooks barefoot and refers to herself as The Contessa has my attention).  Four ingredients.  Minimal fuss.  Rave reviews (except for the one purist who insists that this is not REAL ricotta cheese but only a "nice" cottage cheese.  Bless his heart!).  Here is the link to the recipe

This recipe is easy, and it is GOOD!  So here we go, in case you run out and want to give it a try.

The Ingredients: 
1 quart whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, (the Contessa uses a full 2 cups)
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tablespoons good white wine vinegar


 You also need a good sieve and enough cheese cloth to make a double thickness in the sieve.  Dampen it before you spread it out in there.


Put this over a tall pot of some sort so you can drain the whey after you finish the cooking.


Once you have that set up and ready, put the milk, cream and salt into a sturdy pot.

I prefer to use the copper bottomed pot I inherited from my mother-in-law.  It's one of my favorites, for many reasons.

Here is the hard part.  Turn on the stove and stir frequently.  Heat it to boiling.


That's right.  You are going to boil the milk.  I know, I know; our mothers always told us that you NEVER  let milk come to a boil because it RUINS IT.  Make yourself go ahead and let it come to a boil.  Console yourself.  As soon as it boils, you are going to turn off the heat.  Does that make you feel better?  It helped me.


After you turn off the heat, add the 3 Tablespoons of vinegar.  I have heard that you can use plain ol' every day distilled white vinegar.  I decided to live on the wild side and use "nice" vinegar.

Stir the vinegar in for 1 minute and watch it curdle.




It doesn't inspire confidence, does it?  Hold on.

Now pour it into that cheese cloth that you have lining the sieve sitting over the tall pot.

It doesn't really strand like that; it's just a lucky shot with the camera


And just let it sit there and drain for a while.  The Contessa says to let it go for at least 20-25 minutes.  I prefer mine moist rather than dry and 15 minutes was plenty long for me.  Partly because my pot is so tall.  If you have a shorter pot, you will have to drain the whey once or twice to keep the cheese from sitting in the liquid, so that might take a little longer.



When you get it to the consistency you want, put it in a container.  After you taste some, of course!




Then you take the whey and pour it into a clean quart jar.  Go look on Google and you will find plenty of suggestions for how to use that.  I'm going to be trying it in some whole-wheat bread this weekend.


Look at you; you just made Ricotta cheese!  Someone asked me tonight what in the world I am going to do with all of this Ricotta cheese?  This stuff is so good that in addition to lasagna and the casserole (Spicy Italian and Cheese Noodles), I think I may put some on an English Muffin for breakfast in the morning.  Now I just have to go make English Muffins.....

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Names

If you are new to the blog and my names project, there is an explanation of it here




I have been reading through Psalms again recently.  I came to this passage in Psalm 28:

"Blessed be the Lord!
     For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
     in Him my heart trusts and I am helped;
my heart exults,
     and with my song I give thanks to Him.
The Lord is the strength of His people;
     He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
     Be their shepherd and carry them forever."                              Psalm 28:6-9

There are a lot of names and descriptions of God in this passage ~ all of which I need to remember this week

God is:
  1. Blessed
  2. The Lord
  3. The One Who hears
  4. Merciful
  5. The Lord
  6. MY Strength
  7. MY Shield
  8. Trust-worthy
  9. Helper
  10. The Lord
  11. The Strength of His people
  12. The saving refuge of His anointed
  13. Saviour
  14. The One Who blesses
  15. Their Shepherd
The thing that really jumps out at me this time is that these descriptions are personalized.  He is MY strength.  He is MY shield.  He is the strength of HIS people.  He is the saving refuge of HIS anointed.   He is the shepherd of HIS people.

God is a very personal God.  The One who made everything and keeps everything in place from the largest macrocosm to the smallest microcosm is a personal God.  He KNOWS us.  He CARES about us.  Can you imagine?  He is never too busy with really important stuff to pay attention to the least of His children.  It's not just a matter of "Oh yeah, you are over there and need this; here ~ I'll toss it to you.  Catch!".  No, it is Him hearing my cries and coming to me, kneeling down and picking me up and carrying me.  Giving me His strength.  Shielding me from the enemies around me.  Saving me.  Carrying me.  Blessing me.  Loving me.  Giving me the strength to stand when I want to collapse.  Giving me the courage to fight when I want to run.  My place of refuge.

That is Who I serve.

His peace to your home.                  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Friend

Recently Mr. Marvelous and I traveled to South Carolina to visit my parents.  We had a lovely time that included a brief stay at the beach.

We had an unexpected encounter while we were there.  We went to Walmart one morning and while we were there we met a gentleman (I use that term lightly).  He was a little....different.  He seemed to be imploring us to give him shelter.  After a quick conference, we decided that he did indeed need a home, and that we were indeed the people to provide him with the refuge he so desperately needed.

We discovered that his current residence was being revitalized to make room for some new occupants.  I didn't quite catch all the details, but there was something about making room for more appealing clientele in the neighborhood.  We were asked by the developers if we couldn't help out some of his neighbors, but as there were about 50 of them we had to decline.  He promised that they would be no trouble and would not take up much room, but when he asked us to pay him for the privilege of providing these unfortunates with a place to live, we had to be firm.

He was rather quiet on the way back to my parents.  I wondered if he was a little nervous about meeting my folks.  We have since learned that he is always pretty quiet.  I'm beginning to think he may have been the victim of some nefarious experimentation that perhaps destroyed his ability to communicate verbally.

We also discovered that he absolutely LOVES having his picture made.  Personally, I think this is a desperate attempt to find his family and be reunited with them.  We have found solid evidence that he came here from China.  I think he was separated from his family on the trip over and is still trying to reconnect with them.

I am pleasantly surprised at his cheerful demeanor.  He always seems to have a smile on his face, no matter what the situation.  The developer who was trying so hard to convince us to bring him home was right; he doesn't eat much and he really isn't any trouble at all.

As long as you don't mind the constant photo-bombs.

Since he is unable to tell us his name, we chose one for him after much thought.  He smiled when we told him what we had chosen, so I guess he is happy with it.

Meet Jack South.


He likes to hang around with the animals


He's a little quirky at times


My men think he's pretty "chill"

 I think he's going to fit right in to our house.

You will be seeing a lot more of him in the days to come!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday

Recently our pastor preached some excellent sermons on prayer.  He challenged our church to focus on spending more time in prayer.  You can read some of what he has written about prayer here; it is well worth the time.

I started thinking about the HOW of prayer.  In Christian circles there is a lot of talk about ACTS prayers; the acronym for Adoration Confession Thanksgiving and Supplication.  Have you ever wondered just how to pray prayers of adoration?  If the acronym includes Adoration and Thanksgiving, that indicates that there is a difference between the two.  Adoration is different from saying, "God, thank You for Your love".

A few years ago I made a commitment to spending a couple of hours one day a week in prayer for a specific need in our church.  It was a time of learning a lot of the hows of prayer.  One day as I was praying, I started thinking about a catechism question that I learned as a girl.  The question is from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and there is a terrific story about how it happened that I will share another time, but the question is, "What is God?".  What is God?  How in the world would anyone dare to answer that question or begin to come up with any kind of answer to that question?  Through a lot of prayer!  The answer that was discerned after days of prayer was this: "God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth." 

That was the beginning of how I learned to pray prayers of adoration.  I would confess to God that:

His being has no limit in space or time and never changes.
His wisdom has no limits in space or time and never changes.
His power has no limits in space or time and never changes.
His holiness has no limit in space or time and never changes.
His justice has no limit in space or time and never changes.
His goodness has no limit in space or time and never changes.
His truth has no limit in space or time and never changes.

As I thought about these things and prayed these things, I thought about what the Bible says about Who God Is.  The verses that I kept coming back to are the verses from Galatians 5:22-23.  It says:
"The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law"  (Are you singing the song?)

So God is love and the source of all love.
God is joy and He is the source of all joy.
God is peace and He is the source of all peace.
God is patient and He is the source of all patience.
God is kind and He is the source of all kindness.
God is good, and He is the source of all goodness.
God is faithful and He is the source of all faithfulness.
God is gentle and He is the source of all gentleness.
God is the source of all self-control.

As I prayed through these attributes I was overwhelmed by them.  Some days it was all I could do to move on to the other parts of prayer.  
Mr. Marvelous often says that prayer does not change God, it changes us.  We have certainly lived that in our lives!  As I learned to pray prayers of adoration, I learned that one of the things this accomplishes is to help me better keep my focus on God.  And as I keep my focus on Him, more than me, I am changed.
Hope this is helpful to you today!



Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday!

I was informed this morning that there were snow flurries in northern Vermont yesterday.
Winter seems to be closing in on us.

Get out and enjoy the sunshine this weekend while you can.









Spread your wings a little.









Remember to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the good gifts He sends you!


The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
    and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7                                   
                    


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Homesteading In The Fall

I love autumn.  

I love the colors that come out.


I love the shift in the light (although I do NOT love the shorter days.  Sorry, Martha!).


I love the cooler days and nights. 



I also enjoy fall canning even more than I enjoy summer canning.

It's not that summer canning is so hot (although it is).  I love my outdoor/back porch kitchen that Mr. Marvelous set up for me and it keeps the heat out of the house quite well.  


I just like the stuff that gets put up in the fall. 


Last weekend Mr. Marvelous and I made a trip to the farmer's market over near Finley Avenue.  We were looking for pears and we finally found some.  I'm not just talking about a few pears, or even a bag of pears.  Oh no!  We came home with a BOX of pears.  That's 50 pounds, in case you didn't know.  Yeah.  That's a LOT of pears.

Last year I did not get pears and therefore did not make pear relish for Mr. Marvelous.  Of all the things I can in the fall, I thought that was his favorite.  That man can put away some pear relish!  I use his Mama's recipe, which probably has a little something to do with the fact that he likes it so much.

After I got all those pears peeled, cored, quartered and ground, and after I got busy cooking and canning, I had 36 pints of pear relish on the shelf.  Half of them are regular and half of them have a little jalapeno kick.  And I still had pears!

That's when I discovered that pear relish is not Mr. Marvelous' absolute favorite; pear preserves are.  You would think I might have figured that out after 27 years.

Did you know that trying to make the syrup and the pears come out evenly is like trying to make the milk and the cereal come out evenly?  It is.  I have 9 pints of preserves canned and 2 quarts of syrup left over in the refrigerator.  I figure I'll get 9 or so more pears this week and any left-overs after that will go to the chickens.

After pears come pumpkins.  I found 2 nice pumpkins at the Green Up Garden Shop (another of my favorite places in case you hadn't noticed).  This week I got those pumpkins de-goo'ed, chopped and peeled and put up 28 pints of canned punkins.  Home-made Pumpkin Spice Latte, pumpkin custard, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread.....Oh boy!

There was one startling moment when I was taking apart the second pumpkin.  I discovered that it had developed a little more than it should have before it was picked, and there were not only some seed strands inside, I found a few leaves INSIDE the pumpkin as well. 



















Let's see; 28 pints of pumpkin + 36 pints of relish + 9 pints of pear preserves = some big canning!

And I'm not done yet.  I still have to get apples to put up apple pie filling.  Then I'll make some apple jelly and some grape jelly, and then the fall canning should be finished.

                                   Unless I think of something else.

                                                                     But for right now I think I'm going to bed!