Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nana's Scone Recipe (For Rixie)

Our culture has changed so dramatically over the past twenty years.  While I often fuss about Modern Technology and the way we seem to be so wired-in to our technology, there are some terrific benefits.

There is a lady in North Georgia who is my friend.  Rixie has been a great friend to me since we met in a Yahoo! group ~ yes, that's on the computer ~ about eight years ago.  We have met in person one time.  We correspond via facebook almost every day.  I have watched her children grow into some pretty impressive young folks.  She and I pray for each other through our similar health issues.  We share some common quirks and interests.  I have quoted her and linked to her blog several times.  I am always impressed with her gifts as a mother, a supportive wife, and an encouraging friend to more folks than I think she realizes.

So while I am not often a huge fan of technology, I am thankful for the technology that has allowed me to meet and get to know this lady and her family.

This is the scone recipe I promised her:

Nana's Scones

2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. Crisco
1 egg
1/4 c. milk (more or less)
as many raisins as make you happy

Sift together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Cut in fat with a fork or a pastry cutter until mixture is nice and crumbly.  Add well-beaten egg and raisins.  Mix in "enough" milk to make this the consistency of a biscuit or slightly thinner (don't you just love directions like that?!).
Roll out to about 1 inch thick and cut out.  You may bake at 375 for about 15 minutes (keep an eye on them), or you may cook in a lightly greased skillet on the stove on medium heat for about 10 minutes on the first side and 5 minutes on the second side.

This is making me hungry; I'm off to the kitchen to make a batch!

I realized after posting that it has been a while since I have made these so I thought I ought to do a quick run-through.  Here are a few notes.  1.  I added more sugar.  What can I say?  I like things a little sweeter   2.  The dough really does need to be the consistency of biscuit dough.  While I don't roll biscuits out (I just pat them into the size and shape I want in my hand), if they are too thin they are sticky and take longer to cook.  3.  I bake biscuits and such on a cast-iron skillet in the oven.  If you do this, you will need to turn them about half-way through the cooking so that they don't burn on the bottom ~ remember that cast-iron gets pretty hot in the oven!  4.  Lots of butter when you pull them out of the oven.  That's a must!  

NOTE: I realize that folks in the UK tend to make their dough for scones thin to the point of almost pourable. Mom's family were all from Canada so I suppose that explains the difference.  The kind that are poured into a scone mold are completely different; more of a pancake than a biscuit.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Culture of Fear?

My sister and I were talking via email this morning about the latest stories about General Gates' new book and the fall of Fallujah.  It got me thinking...

I keep thinking about the difference between our generation and our parents' generation.  In our parents' day ~ WWII ~ the country mourned when a city that "our boys"  had fought so hard to take and keep fell.  I really thought that after 9-11 we had finally recovered from Vietnam and learned to support and love our protectors again.  But when we have such a lack of leadership in government, I guess we shouldn't be surprised.  Yeah, I'm pretty upset about it.  Angry and sad.  I wish I could say that I'm confused by all this but I'm too cynical to be confused. 

It was interesting reading the news this morning; I had a bit of an epiphany.  I make myself at least look at the headlines on Drudge Report and then read through the big stories on Fox News once a day.  I don't enjoy the process, but I do it.  I realized that not only have we become a culture who allow the media to shape our views and our emotions, we are allowing the media to generate desired emotional responses in us and thus create a culture of fear.  Think about what you hear and read on the news.  There are so many stories that we would have been ignorant of 20 years ago.  Not that they are not important, we just did not have access to this volume of news.  These news stories are being reported in a way to create fear even among educated Christians.  Interesting to think about.  If I allow myself to have fear as my primary emotion, what does that do to me?  Not that I think I need to be an ostrich and go stick my head in the sand and ignore what is going on around me, but how much do I allow the emotions that are created in response to these things to control me?  The media ~ even the conservative media ~ uses news as a stimulus to create a desired response from their readers/listeners.  I think ~ I know! ~ I need to stop allowing them to have that kind of control over me. 

Don't get me wrong; I'm still pretty furious about the Gates story that is coming out.  I think that the way our military is being used by the current administration is wrong.  I think that the things that are happening to them are tragic.  I think that we are losing many, many good people in not backing them up, and through leaving them unprotected.  I think that the way they are being treated is keeping some terrific young people from deciding that this is how they want to spend their lives.  When the military (and law enforcement) becomes a political tool instead of a group of folks committed to protecting and serving those who need help, their purpose changes and they are weakened as an institution. 

How do we respond, then?  How are God's people supposed to react to these things and keep our responses controlled by HIM instead of by someone else?  It goes back to focus and priorities and world view.  I have to filter all of this news through a perspective that is founded on Biblical truth.  I know that sounds like empty Christian-ese but let me explain how that has changed me over the past few months.  
I spent the fall reading through the histories of the Old Testament; Joshua, Judges, Samuels, Kings and Chronicles.  I re-discovered that the world is not that much different now than it was several thousand years ago.  God's people had horrible, depraved men in political control.   This was God's country designed to be a theocracy and it was totally corrupt.  In many ways it was worse than what we see around us here and now.  The remnant of those who were faithful to God did not have the comfort of the Old Testament to read, let alone the New Testament.  I wonder how often they spent their days putting one foot in front of the other and with grim determination making themselves remember "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, The Lord is One"  
When I spend more time each day reading and studying "news" that is fashioned by men and women, and less time reading and studying "news" from God, then these men and women are shaping the way I think.  They now have control not only over my thoughts but also my emotions.  However if I spend more time in studying my Bible and talking to God and listening to Him, then He controls how I respond to everything else that I hear and see.  Instead of being fearful about the state of the world, I am confident that God is still in control.  More than that, I am even more aware of His power over all of it!  When that happens I can read the news and go from being someone who is bowed down by the fear and depression of the times to someone with her head up and confidence in the goodness and authority of God.

My friend Tammy characterizes this so well.  Tammy is very well educated about what is going on in the world but I never come away from a conversation with her thinking about what is going on in the world. Instead I come away with a renewed sense of Who God Is.  Because Tammy is diligent in her obedience to what God tells her to do, she is able to be an incredible encouragement to everyone she meets.
That's what I want to be like.  May God give me the grace to focus on HIM today.  May He use me for His glory to encourage, help and strengthen His people.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Monday Morning Memories: Snow Days!

My memories are my memories.  I'm sure that there are inaccuracies and that others remember the same event differently than I do.  But these are the stories as I remember them.

Taylors, SC : March Snow in Taylors, SC
Photo Courtesy of City Data: Taylors, SC

It seems that every year was a snowy year when I was growing up in Greenville, South Carolina.  Every snow day started the same way.  There was the breathless anticipation as we sat by the radio listening to the news and the weather report.  Surely we wouldn't have to go to school; didn't the superintendent see that it was a BLIZZARD out there?!  Mom insisted that we have breakfast while we waited and there was a certain protocol to snow day breakfasts.  We grew up with Mom in the home.  Furthermore, Mom was a retired nurse of the old school.  Therefore, nutrition was a big deal in our family.  So snowy days we always had hot cereal (cold cereal was reserved for the week at the beach in the summer when the rules were relaxed), either oatmeal or Cream of Wheat.  Trust me, it tasted worse than it sounds.

Eventually the call would come over the radio: NO SCHOOL!!  Hurray!!!!

As soon as we were done with breakfast (and not a minute before!), the cage doors were opened and away we went out the door.  Coat? check.  Hat?  check.  Extra socks? check.  Boots?  check.  Gloves?  Gloves??  Mittens???  Anything?????  OK, grab a pair of Dad's socks, pull them over the hands and let's get going. 

First we had to walk through the yard, leaving our tracks.  Of course we had to lay down while we were leaving tracks, so that we could make some snow angels.  Then the five of us would grab the sled and take off.  For a while we would be content to use the sled down the driveway beside the house.  It was one of those old-fashioned kinds of driveways made of two parallel strips of concrete.  The hill wasn't that steep, but it worked.  When we got bored with that hill we would trudge a few doors down to Elm Street and then we would take off.  If we did it just right, we could ride all the way to Grove Road.  Then we would hop off and line up tallest to smallest (I was always at the end of the line) and march back up the hill with the sled on our heads.

As the day wore on, we would venture into other snowy day activities.  Snowman building, snowball fights, face washing, etc.  There would be frequent trips into the house for refreshment.  We were the envy of the neighborhood because our mother made real cocoa; not just envelopes of hot chocolate mix. 

I don't know what West Prentiss Avenue looks like these days, but when we were growing up the tree was lined with oak trees on each side.  You could stand at the top of the street up near Augusta Road and look down and it was as if you were looking through a tunnel of immense, stately trees.   When the trees were snowy and the road was snowy, it was a picture that Thomas Kincaid could not replicate. 

Sometimes these days, when I find myself wishing for snow, I start a search on the computer for pictures upstate of South Carolina in the snow.  I always seem to be looking for a snowy road that is lined with a tunnel of trees.  I've found a lot of beautiful, amazing pictures.  But none of them ever quite match the pictures I carry in my heart of West Prentiss Avenue, Greenville, South Carolina.