I Grew It, Now What Do I Do With It? –KALE

We just enjoyed a delicious meal and I have to share the recipe with you. It began with a picture of a stew in a Williams-Sonoma catalog. I like the fact that it used an ingredient that we have an abundance of this time of year–Kale. Of course, I didn’t have many of the ingredients on hand, so I improvised and made up my own.  I was hoping this would last for two meals, but everyone enjoyed it so much there are only a few servings left.

SLOW COOKER PORK STEW WITH KALE

  • 3-4 lb. of pork stew meat or pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
  • 4 large or 6-8 medium carrots, cut into 1′ chunks
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen pumpkin puree (or 1 cup of canned pumpkin)
  • 32 oz. beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp.  rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 10 oz. kale, torn from the stem, into bite-size pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of oil over med-high heat. Salt and pepper pork pieces. Add only enough to cover the bottom of the skillet, browning the pieces on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and place in crock pot.  If needed, add more oil to the skillet and continue cooking pork in batches until all is browned and placed in the crockpot. Add onions to skillet and cook until  they soften. Add onions to crock pot. Then add the next six ingredients to the crock pot and stir to mix well. Cover. Cook for 4 hours on high.  Remove 1 cup of cooking liquid from the crock pot and whisk together with the flour. Add this thick liquid back into the crock pot and stir well. Add kale and stir again. Cover and cook on high for 30 more minutes. Ladle into bowls or serve over rice. Makes approximately 10 servings.

I served this with rice and crusty bread for a complete meal.  If this makes too many servings for your family, eat half and freeze half to enjoy on a crazy day when you don’t have time to cook from scratch.

HOPE YOU ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS WE DID!

Here is the pdf for easy printing: SLOW COOKER PORK STEW WITH KALE
 

They’re Home!!!

Just a short note to let you all know that our new daughters are finally Home! They had an interview with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa and we were cleared for travel that same day. We left for Ethiopia a week later and arrived home on Thanksgiving Day. What thankful hearts we had that day to be re-united with our children at home and see them receive their new sisters with open arms. Now comes the period of adjustment. All is well so far.  They have begun school and daily eagerly prove to me that they know their English A,B,C’s and can add numbers. One of my biggest worries was their adjustment to American food (and forks and knives etc.). I shouldn’t have worried — they are eating like champs. Tonight we opened a large can (yes, I said can, don’t tell anyone) of baked beans to serve with our barbecue and it was gone in one meal.  We are now contemplating those larger (100+ ounces) cans at Costco. And I thought those were just for restaurants! :O

Thanks to you friends and family for your prayers. God is good!

Adoption

I may have told you in other posts that our family has been blessed by adoption. I have refrained from getting on my adoption soap box until now, but it hasn’t been easy ;)

Here’s a little background.  My husband and I talked very briefly about adoption before we were married. I therefore knew it was a subject he would be open to when I felt ready to open our home and family to orphaned children.  Before and after our 5th child was born, we experienced many miscarriages. It was then that God began to place on our hearts a burden for the orphan. Because we already had a large family, we were limited to certain adoption options.  Brian and I both already had a tender place in our hearts for Africa, since he had done a one month medical mission term in Nigeria. When we started looking around the world for the greatest need, we were drawn to Ethiopia. We applied to adopt 1-2 children, ages 0-24 months. As is usually the case, God’s plans were different from ours, and we eventually brought home 3 children, ages 1-11 years.  Fast forward three years, and we hope to bring two10 year old girls home, also from Ethiopia, next month.

So why am I telling you all this?  In James 1:27, God’s Word tells us, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This means that every Christian should be concerned about others, especially orphans and widows. Does this mean every Christian should adopt? Of course not! BUT THERE ARE MANY WAYS WE CAN HELP THE FATHERLESS AND THE WIDOWS:

1. ADOPT Yes, adoption is a big one. As I visited my new daughters’ orphanage, they begged me to take pictures of their friends saying, “Mommy, they have no family. Please find them a family.” My heart broke that day to see so many children without the most basic of needs: A FAMILY! If God places that desire upon your heart, please give a family to one of these precious children.

2. GIVE Not everyone wants or is able to adopt. Yet there are many people out there who would love to adopt, but the cost is daunting and may seem impossible.  Look around you! I am sure there is someone in your family, church, or neighborhood who desires to adopt. Ask them how you can help them. Could you donate to their adoption? Could you hold a fundraiser to help with the cost of the adoption? Even the trip for international adoptions seems like a big hurdle.  Can you offer to care for their children at home while they are away?

3. SPONSOR There are some children who are not available for adoption, or maybe these children have families who are struggling to meet their basic needs such as food and schooling. There are wonderful programs that will guide you in supporting an orphan or needy child. What an opportunity for a person or family to show the love of God through support and correspondence! Is there a struggling widow with children in your church or neighborhood. How can you help them. Men, those fatherless boys especially need some time with a man who will teach them about God and how to be a man of God.

4. FOSTER There are so many children in the U.S. Foster Care System! Most just want the same thing as true orphans– to be loved and to be part of a family. Many of the children are older. Many of them have troubled pasts. There are adults whom God has equipped to be able to love and counsel these precious children. I especially have a heart for these older children, but that belongs to another post.

5. PRAY Pray for the orphan.  Pray that God would “set the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6).  Pray about what God would have you to do for the fatherless and widows.

 

Just Do It!

I began this blog with high hopes and aspirations.  I have reached a time in my life where I feel that I have “lived” through so many circumstances, stages, ages, and struggles and God has taught me so much about so many things.  I want to share those truths that God has taught me and is teaching me with others–especially women–especially younger women.  The Bible commands the older to teach the younger and I felt that this blog would hopefully give me the opportunity to do just that. But so far I have not done so well in the blogging arena.

God is still teaching me many things–especially things about myself. So why have I not been able to stay involved in my blog?  It is something I REALLY DESIRE to do. We all have areas in our lives where we fail to do what we truly want to do.  I have identified some reasons for my failure and hopefully some solutions. Maybe you can relate to one or more of these.

1. Failure to plan  ”If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You have all heard that saying.  I had this idea to blog out there in the nether regions of my brain, but I had not made it a part of my daily/weekly plan. I plan to cook, clean bathrooms, teach, grade papers, weed etc. but I had not planned a time to sit and blog. The whole time thing is a real struggle for me.  I am a morning person, and so 5:30am is when I have “me” time. Or it was until this year. I now begin school at 6:30am with my eleven year old, so we can work uninterrupted until the 3 younger boys wake up. I feel like I don’t stop going from one task to another until I drop into bed. My sweet husband is the one who insisted that the boys read quietly tonight so that I could blog. I don’t have this planning issue worked through yet, but I am determined to try.

2. Feelings of inadequacy  I read some other Mom blogs and they often speak to me and my situation.  They are so well-written. They are humorous and touching. They relate to what I am going through.  So I start asking, “Do I really have anything to say?” “Do I really have a clue what I am talking about?” Every day events happen at home that remind me that I am a sinner and that I don’t have it all together.  Why did I every think I could write a blog that would encourage other moms as they raise their children, feed their families, love their husbands, and manage their homes when I do all those thing far from perfectly. Then I am reminded that we are all on a journey.  We are all striving to do these things better. Almost all women want to be the best wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend that they can possibly be by God’s grace.  I may not be perfect, but I can encourage others, because I also want to be all those things.

3. Feelings of guilt This will probably sound silly to many of you.  I have always been one of those people who will not sit down and do something I enjoy, such as read a book, until all my work is done.  When I was a young mom,  it was until my “to- do list” was done. Now my to-do list is never done, so I refrain from sitting down until I’m exhausted or too mentally drained to do anything else. And when I finally sit down I notice all the chores that still need to be done and feel guilty for doing something “fun” like blog.  Or, I’m too tired to think and can’t do anything other than mindless activities. I know you moms know what I mean.  I have all these plans of tasks to do once the children are in bed, but when the time actually comes all I want to do is go to bed too. Thus the guilt of leaving things undone, so I can do something I enjoy, keeps me from doing what I want to do.  Lets face it — the chores will never be completed.  If I wait until they are, I will never accomplish those fun things. So,  just do it!

What holds you back from doing something you really desire to do?

My Favorite Costco Buys for Clean Eating

Having a large family, shopping at Costco make sense for us.  Storage for our bulk buys can sometimes be an issue, but the savings outweigh the inconvenience. When we started eating clean, I was surprised to find that Costco carries many organics and clean foods.

My LIST OF CLEAN COSTCO FOODS:

1. Organic Coconut Oil

2. rBST-free milk

3. Half-n-half and heavy cream

4. Organic olive-oil

5. Organic apples (in season)

6. rBST-free Greek yogurt

7. Organic granola

8. Organic Strawberry spread

9. Chips (Costco usually has at least one variety that is organic.  We currently have a bag of Kale and Chia chips that is not organic but is non-GMO ~ better than the alternatives)

10. Organic butter

11. Organic peanut butter

12. Organic croutons

13 Organic silk

14. Organic flaX

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SOURCES FOR CLEAN FOODS?

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Book Review of READY FOR ANYTHING

IMG_0296I promised to review the books that I had on my reading list, but his has definitely not been the year for reading as far as my schedule is concerned! But here are my thoughts on my first book for 2013. Ready for Anything by Sheila Stewart Doom is a favorite of mine. Of course, I may be a little prejudiced since it is a biography of my grandmother, Ruth Stewart Fajfr. She was an amazing woman and this is the story of her two lives. Just when you think the book is done, she begins a new life with a new husband, a new country and a new ministry.

Grandma came from humble beginnings in Alabama. She loved God above all things and He led her down amazing paths in her life. She graduated in the first graduating class from the university my oldest daughter now attends (4th generation). She went as a missionary to Hungary, married a Scottish evangelist, and spent the second half of her life as wife to a passionate Czech pastor.

What I love about her biography is that although she lived a full and exciting life, she comes across as just an ordinary woman with all the same struggles that I face. She experienced pride, selfishness, and feelings of inadequacy. She got frustrated with her husband (gasp!). Yet she was a willing “vessel” that God used mightily in the lives of many people all around the world.

This is an excellent book for women of all ages. We see how God uses an ordinary woman, who is “ready for anything” He wills, to accomplish extraordinary things. The diary entries are especially helpful as they show Ruth’s true heart through her struggles, and the strength she found to overcome them in Christ alone. Very inspiring for us all!

Ready for Anything is available from Revival Literature. Call  800-252-8896 or go to Revival Litterature’s Website. Revival Literature is a ministry of this reviewers’ parents.  Proceeds from book sales go back into printing and ministry. The reviewer receives no compensation.

My NEW FAVORITE Swiss Chard Recipe

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I have already shared one recipe for Swiss Chard which was a hit at our family Thanksgiving meal.  Since then I’ve found a new recipe that is now my easy, weeknight choice for this yummy vegetable. This is the perfect season to try this recipe.  Both ruby red and rainbow chard varieties are available at the farmers market and grocery stores.

This is actually a Martha Stewart recipe, but so nice and simple!

SAUTEED SWISS CHARD with RAISINS AND PINE NUTS

2 bunches (about 1 1/2 lbs total) Swiss chard, stalks cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (keep stalks and leaves separate)

2 Tbsp pine nuts

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup golden raisins

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Coarse salt and ground pepper

  1. Wash chard, leaving some water clinging to stalks and leaves; set aside. In a large saucepan with a lid, toast the pine nuts over med-high heat, shaking pan to brown evenly, 2-4 minutes. Remove from pan. Set aside.
  2. In same saucepan, heat oil over med-high. Add stalks, and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add leaves, raisins and garlic. Cover, reduce heat to med-low, and cook until tender, 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pull lid back slightly, and tilt pan to pour off water. Stir in vinegar and pine nuts; season with salt and pepper. Serve.

*** I once served this and forgot to add the balsamic vinegar at the end.  It was still delicious.  So if you are not a big “vinegar person,” just leave it out. ***

Here is the pdf for easy printing: SAUTEED SWISS CHARD with RAISINS AND PINE NUTS

This Little Mommy Went to Market!

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Whew!!! We have been in a frenzy of planting for the past month with no end in sight.  First, the cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli went into the ground.  Soon, bok choy and spinach followed. Then lettuce, swiss chard, kale. Now, we are frantically trying to get our tomatoes in the ground. We have planted over 150 tomato plants so far and still have more to go.  We lost some to a big WIND storm a couple weeks ago and have to replace them too.

Why so much you ask? Because we have a large family. No, just kidding! We have a booth at the Community Farmers Market.  We were very excited to be win this much coveted spot in such a super farmers market. But now we have to think BIG.  Much bigger than the 10 mouths at home to feed.  We now need to feed many of the locals who are looking for local, all-natural (we can’t use organic because we aren’t officially certified) sustainably-farmed vegetables.

Hey local friends!! Come see us next week — it will be our first market week.  For the rest of you, go out today to your nearest farmers market and support your local farmer! You’ll be eating fresher and healthier.

My 2013 Farm/Clean Eating Booklist

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One of the things we try to impress on our children is that they will spend a lifetime learning. This journey of organic and sustainable farming that we are on requires lots of self-education.  We attended the Mother Earth News fair to learn from other farmers.  We have been building a substantial library — books ranging from organic farming to turkey raising to root cellaring to composting. The internet has become a great resource. Youtube videos on plucking chickens?!!

Here is my list to read for 2013 to educate myself on these topics:

1. Clean Eating Magazine (not a book, I know, but I hope to learn lots of ways to eat clean)

2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle  (Barbara Kingsolver)

3. The Small-Scale Poultry Flock  (Harvey Ussery)

4. The Naturally Clean Home  (Karyn Siegel-Maier)

5. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health

6. Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres  (Pam Dawling)

I’ll let you know some of the nuggets I learn, after I read each book. What are you reading/doing to keep learning?

Clean Eating Challenge Update

IMG_0043Back in January I told you of our challenge to “eat clean.” I haven’t updated you on our progress partly because it has taken a while to figure out the best ways for our family to succeed in the challenge.  I think we are finally on our way!  The clean vegetables part has been easy, since we grow our own organically.  The biggest challenge has been breakfast foods and snacks.

With all the different ages in our family, everyone awakens at different times in the morning and makes their own breakfast, except for the littles.  I have always relied on convenient breakfast foods to make this easy–such as cereal and instant oatmeal.  We make special, homemade breakfasts on the weekends.  I have also always bought crackers and cookies for snacks and desserts.  ”Dessert” has never been a big deal to me, but the children like something sweet after dinner — usually cookies or ice cream.

So with my limited time, what was I to do?  To my delight, a baker has emerged in our family! Our 11 year old has been our biggest encouragement to clean eating.  She reads every label that comes into our house on food and pores over the recipes in my “Clean Eating” magazine.  She has taken on the challenge of making healthy snacks and breakfasts.  The twins love her homemade pop-tarts and breakfast cookies full of dried fruits.  The younger children are also following her lead by adding granola to their yogurt. She has stopped me from buying non-dairy creamer and Ritz crackers (“I can make crackers, Mom!”). She loves to visit Whole Foods Market with me and choose our organic fruits for the  week. She has tried out many delicious dessert goodies on her family over the past three months.

With the help of our “resident baker” we are now well on our way to eating clean — much healthier than 2012!

What are some of your healthy breakfasts and snacks?