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Monday, August 31, 2009

Mama Braggin Monday: Auditions

Mondays are the days that I shamelessly brag on my kids. So, like it or not, here I go.

For monetary and scheduling purposes, I can only allow the kids to do so many extra-curricular activities. So a couple of weeks ago, I pulled together several options for Sarah and I to choose from for her to be involved in.

She had to make the choice between auditioning for our church's Christmas musical, auditioning for a community theater production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and soccer. Piano is a given and non-negotiable in my opinion.

She chose to audition with our local community theater for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. To do that, she had to memorize and recite a passage from the book as her favorite character, which being a little girl of course is Lucy.

I'm bragging today, not because she got the part, because she didn't. We both auditioned and neither of us got called back. I’m bragging today because of the fact that she auditioned and did great.

She worked very hard on her audition piece and memorized it on her own with no help from me. She put forth the effort and gave her very best during the audition and did so despite her nervousness. If you have auditioned before, you know it takes some guts sometimes to get up there and do it. She did it. And did it well.

And I couldn’t have been more proud of her.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Foodie Friday: Key Lime Cheesecake (Flavor of the Month)



This month, Bridget at Bake at 350 gave us a Lemon / Lime challenge for our Flavor of the Month.

I’ll admit, I was having a hard time coming up with what in the world I was going to do. At first I thought I’d share with you my Lemon Thyme Grilled Shrimp… but then I realized that’s not a “baked” dish like Bridget would be looking for. Could I do a sorbet? A cookie? And then it hit me.

A while back I mentioned (in this post) that my mother in law had passed on her Cheesecake cookbook to me along with her prized Key Lime Cheesecake recipe. I had yet to try to make it, so I figured this was the time.


I did a little research on Key Limes and this is what I learned

* They are not indigenous to the Florida Keys, but were brought there and became naturalized.


* They range in size from ping-pong to golf ball size.
* They are greenish-yellow when ripe but are picked green commercially.


* They have a higher acidity than regular Persian limes.


* 25 key limes render about 1 cup of juice (from my own testing in the kitchen).



(sources: http://www.keylime.com/diff.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_lime)

Without further ado, the Key Lime Cheesecake






The recipe can be found on my recipe blog.


As a side note, Bridget, I am really enjoying the Flavor of the Month Challenge. It is encouraging me to get out of some of the baking ruts I can get into when I find a recipe that I like and stick to it. I'm trying new and different things, and that's what it's all about, right?

To my readers, if you want a baking challenge, then please participate with us. You can read all about it here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I sounded the trumpet...

I am studying the book of Esther right now with a sweet girlfriend. To be more exact, we are doing Beth Moore's Esther Bible study entitled "It's Tough Being a Woman."

And, boy is it EV-VAH.

But I tell ya, if you are looking for a Bible study to do, first I will always suggest Bible Study Fellowship to you, but this Esther study is SO good and SO worth it. And it is just really speaking to me right where I am at right now.

Truth be told, I'm feeling a little "Esther-ish" in life right now as I've been called to do something that I find very difficult. And I've been called to do this thing in the midst of some pretty all encompassing personal difficulty as well.

I hadn't equated my situation to that of Esther's until last week during the video segment where Mrs. Beth showed that Esther saw herself in the midst of personal crisis when she points out to Mordecai that the king had not requested her presence in thirty days. In the midst of her personal crisis in her marriage, Mordecai tells her that she is the one who is supposed to act to bring deliverance for her people.

So what does she do? She takes charge and through Mordecai, calls all the Jews of Susa to fasting and prayer. As Mrs. Beth equated it to Joel 12:15-16, she blew the "trumpet" to "declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly."

So on Monday, I did the same thing. I sounded the trumpet and called my friends to pray for me as I had a meeting concerning this thing I've been called to at noon that day and I was very nervous. The only difference was that I blew my trumpet on Twitter.

So about 1 1/2 hours before my meeting at noon, as I was headed into my staff meeting at work, I posted this to twitter:

"Hello twitter friends. If you are available at around noon central time, please pray for me. I have a mtg I'm nervous about. Pray for wisdom."

I then went into my staff meeting.

I came out of staff meeting and immediately left my office to go to this meeting that I had. On the way I felt the Lord impress upon me to look at Twitter and to see who all was praying for me. This, my friends, is what I saw:

melindagarman @WayMoreHomemade I'll be praying, friend. Hugs.

forthegirls @WayMoreHomemade I will be praying for you!

franthomas @WayMoreHomemade got it girl....will start praying now. ((hugs))

sweethomealagrl @WayMoreHomemade sure thing!

beckyjomama @WayMoreHomemade You got it!

smiths2boys1gir @WayMoreHomemade Absolutely!

dedraherod @WayMoreHomemade On it girl! :-)

bakingblog @WayMoreHomemade You can count on me! :) I will pray for you, no problem! Hope all goes well!

smillie_lady @WayMoreHomemade i've made a note on my computer and will be praying for you at that time. blessings!

BigBlackDogs @WayMoreHomemade You'll do just fine!

stop4chocolate @WayMoreHomemade Will pray my friend!

Notesfromthewal @WayMoreHomemade will be praying!



Oh my. Even now, two days later, I am so overwhelmed by this outpouring of love from friends, most of whom I have never met in person, that I am nearly brought to tears.

So thank you. Thank you to my online community for being such a wonderful support network. Because honestly, there are things that I simply cannot ask "IRL" friends to pray about because of the sensitivity of the matter. But you, my online friends... I don't have to be specific and you won't figure out or necessarily care what the meeting was about. All you cared about was that I was nervous. And you cared enough to pray.

And that means the world to me.

Blessings to each and every one of you, my online friends, because you all just bless my socks off.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Foodie Friday: Hatch Green Chiles

Late summer here in the southwest part of the United States means one thing. It’s time for Hatch Green Chiles.

Hatch, New Mexico has become somewhat of a “Mecca” of chiles in recent years. If you look at a map, just draw your finger due west from Dallas, Texas on over into New Mexico. Hatch is just a little north of Las Cruces.

This site about the Hatch Chile Fest has a lot of information about them and a good video to give you some visual references for some things I’m going to talk about.

The chiles from Hatch that I have been buying at my local produce market, The Bedford Farmer’s Market, I believe are Anaheim green chiles. I bought them on a Wednesday morning and then began to plan several meals around them.

The best way to experience these chiles is to fire roast them. It’s so incredibly easy. I have an indoor grill which I find works great for roasting peppers and chiles. Turn the heat up as to the top setting and set those bad boys right on the grill grates. Leave them to get nice and charred and allow the skin to get blistered up. Turn them periodically to char all sides.



Or if you don't have a grill available to you, just put them on straight on the grates of your oven.

Once all sides are well charred, remove from heat and put the in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (or seal in a large zip top bag). Once they have sweated in their own little sauna for a few minutes, you can remove them and that outer layer of skin will peel right off. You can then slice into the chile and remove the seeds.



There is a good tutorial about roasting peppers on The Pioneer Woman Cooks here (using red bell peppers, but the same principles apply).

Or, you can buy your chiles already roasted. The Bedford Farmers Market has a big roaster like the ones seen in the video on the site listed above. And I tell you what, they are right about the smell. I was leaving the market the other day when he started roasting a fresh batch of them. Holy Moly. The smell was incredible.

So once your chiles are roasted, peeled and seeded, you can do a myriad of things with them. They really don’t have a lot of serious heat to them, so don’t be afraid to put them on just about anything.

Green Chile Cheeseburgers
Dice them up, reheat the diced chiles in a skillet or on a griddle with some salt and pepper and put them on your hamburger/cheeseburger. I like mine with a nice smooth cheese like Havarti. But be careful about adding a lot of other condiments. Lettuce and tomato are fine, but pickles and other sauces might over-power the chile flavor.

Green Chile Eggs
Dice the peeled green chilled and reheat them in a skillet or on a griddle with some salt and pepper. Assemble as follows: toast or toasted English muffin, top with cheese, fried egg and diced green chile on top.

Stuff those bad boys
Peel the green chile but do not diced. Keep it as whole as possible while cutting a lengthwise slit and removing the seeds. Add some chicken and grated Monterrey Jack or Colby Jack cheese. Bake for a few minutes until cheese is melted.

(Sorry there are no pictures of these dishes. When you're cooking in the real world for a hungry family, they don't always want to wait for the food blogger to take pretty pictures before being served. Sorry y'all. The family comes first.)

One thing I will say is that the chiles that we ate that were stuffed had a little more heat than the ones that were diced. I honestly don’t know if it was a function of not dicing and leaving them whole or what. But it was a pleasant flavor heat and not too much.

I enjoyed our week of Hatch Green Chile eating around here and will definitely be buying some more. I hope that you do, also.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Coffee Chronicles: Good to the last drop

I like coffee. I don't drink a ton of it, but I do like it. Especially with a little flavored creamer. And double especially if that flavor is chocolate.

But I digress.

So, as a money saving measure over the last year, I have cut out my Starbucks habit (Oh I LOVE me a tall mocha. Just LOVE.) and I have started drinking regular grocery store coffee either that I make at home or at the office.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been getting to work and putting a pot of coffee on to brew there as time is short at home when getting two kiddos ready for school. I always want for there to be plenty for others so I make a full pot of coffee; even though I pour myself only one cup and actually only drink about half of that.

But I've noticed lately that when I go to make a fresh pot in the mornings, most of yesterday's pot of coffee is still sitting there. Untouched. Cold. Wasted.

So I had a bright idea this morning. I would only make half a pot of coffee. That would be enough for me to grab a cup and wake my sorry self up and leave a little bit for maybe the one other person who might want some.

And guess what happened.

Murphy. That's what. Murphy and his STINKIN' law.

The coffee maker beeped its wondrous beep signifying that the brewing process was over and my fresh hot coffee was ready for consumption. However, I was in the middle of something of utmost importance at the time (like updating FaceBook or Twitter or something) and couldn't get immediately across the hall to the kitchen.

A couple of minutes later, I get up to go in to the kitchen and what did I find? Two people, Loud Lady and ADHD Guy, drinking all of MY coffee.

I hate to admit it, but I actually said out loud, "It would figure that the day I only make six cups of coffee everyone wants some..." and left the room.

I have to point out also that I almost never see either of these people in there getting a cup of coffee. So why today? Why? On the day when there wasn't enough to go around? On the day I was trying to be mindful of resources and not be wasteful? WHY?

What is a girl to do? Do I contribute to and allow coffee wastefulness? Or do I get stuck just getting the last little bitty bit in the bottom of the pot?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BBA Challenge #11 - Cranberry Celebration Bread

Originally in the Bread Baker's Apprentice book, this bread is "Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread." But what do we all know about me that makes a bread of that description utterly impossible?

The walnuts.

Because... I don't do nuts.

It actually makes me feel like a bit of a culinary failure that I don't like nuts. I think all the time about the myriad of dishes that would be opened up to me if I could just do it. But I choose not to, so I don't add nuts.

And the bread did just fine without them. In fact just look at how packed full of dried cranberries it is...



I really do love braided loaves. They are just so fun.

And being a "traditional" celebration loaf, I did two braids. A much larger one on bottom with a little bitty one on top.





A little egg wash to give it a nice finish...



And voilĂ .





I'm sorry that my "final product" pictures did not turn out any better than they did.

Overall impressions:

Delicious and beautiful. I think it would make a nice edible centerpiece to a holiday table.

Would I make it again? You betcha!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where in the world is Donna @ Way More Homemade?

Yes, I'm here.

And I'm not.

I've been having a hard time lately finding where blogging is fitting into my life right now. And I'm also seeing where it isn't.

As I said back a few weeks ago, I'm trying to live life. While doing so has led me part of that has involved me not spending so much time on my computer while I am at home.

Time is short these days, it seems. However, now, with school having started, while I will miss the lazy days of a relaxed schedule in the summer, getting back to a routine should do me some good. I hope that writing will work its way back into my routine.

I am also seeing that while there is a lot going on in life right now, there is a lot going on that need not be discussed here. At least not specifically. It is a difficult thing to navigate; trying to be creative about what to write while being totally consumed by things that cannot be written about.

I have recently come up with several posts that are just dying to be written. And soon before the ideas go right out of my head. But I would have to have time in the day to sit down and write. We'll see if that happens sometime soon. And if I can make myself sit at the computer instead of in front of the TV after the kids are in bed.

Until then, dear friends, I hope to post some of my recent Bread Baker's Apprentice creations and I'll also be participating in Bake at 350's Flavor of the Month again this month (our flavor is lemon/lime - my mouth just watered as I typed that.... Pavlovian response much?).

So if you're still reading here, please be patient with me and I'll get back to it. I hope to have some new material posted soon and will also try to pull some old favorites from the archives.

Thanks for hanging with me y'all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Last and First

Yesterday, the last day of summer:



(Dude... what happened? Sorry for the blurriness.)

Today, the first day of school:






Yes, today is our first day of 3rd grade and Pre-K. Yesterday we went to a local bounce house place where I got to spend an extended lunch hour with both the princess and my little man on their last day of summer break.

Surprisingly enough, we had a smooth go of it this morning. Everyone cooperated in getting ready in time for pictures before school and everything.

Amazing.

We'll see how the rest of the week goes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

1st and 15th Scripture Memory

Hebrews 10:35-36

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.



There is a lot I could say about these verses. But, I will confine myself to just say that Mrs. Beth Moore told me I needed to memorize this one last weekend when Keal and I were at the Life Today taping. SO that's what I'm doing.

Her series on this passage (that will air much later, like in December or so) just really spoke to me where I am in life right now. I have lost my confidence in several areas and have not persevered. I am am working through some of these things and am looking forward to regaining my confidence and choosing to do the courageous thing.

I also wanted to tell y'all how amazing it was to see her just reciting her verses over and over to herself as she prepared for our sessions together. It was such an encouragement to see the scripture memory at work in someones life. And while I have not been the best about really memorizing my scriptures, I have been spurred on to work harder and be more intentional about it.