Sunday, January 25, 2015

Homemade Electrolyte Drink ("Gatorade")

Here is my recipe for my homemade electrolyte drink I take with me on my long walks.



(Note:  this is where I got my waterbottle:  Amazon)

2 cups liquid (I use coconut water, you could use green tea, herbal tea or regular water)
1/4 tsp Pink Himalayan salt
1/8 to 1/4 cup fruit juice (I used lemon, you could try lime, orange, etc or mix your flavors)
1/4 to 1/2 cup mixed berries (or your favorite berry), frozen
1 tbsp sweetener (I used honey, you could use Agave Nectar, any organic sugar, Stevia, Etc)
1/8 tsp baking soda


Pour about half of coconut water into blender carafe.  Add remaining ingredients and then the remainder of the coconut water.  Blend until well mixed.  Pour through a strainer, removing any remaining fruit bits.  Put bits back into empty blender & add about 1/4 c water; swish & blend again for a couple of seconds.  Strain again & discard any fruit bits remaining.  Pour into sports bottle & enjoy on your long walks. 



You can change the fruit, liquid, fruit juice & sweetener to your liking.  Have fun & enjoy.

Here are a few more pictures of the drink...once it sets a bit, it separates a little - just shake it up before taking a drink.



The picture below shows it separating:


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Conquering Loneliness

Conquering Loneliness

Loneliness is one of the biggest battles as a single woman living alone.  Here are some ways to avoid loneliness:

  • Invite a friend or family member to go on a picnic, or to the zoo, or to a museum. Be creative.
  • Take a class (NOT online)
  • Join a bowling league (or any sport or other activity where you have to leave your home)
  • Host a girl’s night out (or in); invite more than just single women; hire a babysitter for those with children & the dad’s will also get a night out. Have a crafting party or a spa party or a movie night.  Have lots of food; have a few games and activities and visiting.  This is good to get to know many different ladies in your life ~ you’ll have a wonderful group of ladies to advise & pray for you when needed.
  • Spend a weekend helping out in a soup kitchen; go visit the elderly or housebound; be a “big sister”, etc.
  • Adopt a pet (a dog ~ you’ll have to be proactive in its care ~ take it for a walk or to the dog park). You’ll also get lots of love!

What are some ideas that you have or used to conquer loneliness?  Please comment below.

Must Do vs. Want tos...Who Wins?

It’s easy, as a single woman living alone, to allow the must dos to slide. For example, I struggle with keeping the dishes done. I’m not just talking about cleaning them, I mean putting them away. A lot of times, I take the lazy way out and just stack all the clean items on the counter and just use from there. It is a must do – keeping the kitchen clean and organized; want to do – not dishes!
Sad... Want tos are winning
Sad… Want tos are winning
We must take care to be diligent and disciplined to rule. This is a daily (even hourly) practice we need to cultivate in our lives. It’s work.

The most important is one’s walk with God; sadly ignored most days as I find myself greatly distracted by the computer/internet/t.v./family obligations/my dog/etc.  This has been the pattern for the last 4 or 5 years.  I’ve been trying (& failing) at playing and working; at the end of each day, I find myself apologizing to the Lord for not finding time (making time).

It’s not just about playing games (online) – I get immersed in recipe websites, blogs, etc., & I lose hours each day.  Recently, it’s all been about dairy-free – a recent life change for me that I had to do (a story for another day) – due to food allergies.  This was a necessary thing; however, it has taken over a good portion of the past two months.

While I contemplated & wrote this article, I found myself wondering why I was so easily distracted.  That’s easy…it is easier to “play” (or ignore the “must do”) than it is to work (do the “must do”).  There’s more to it though.  There are underlying emotions which I realized were a huge part of this.  They consist of fear, pride, trust issues and tangible distractions (electronics, work, other obligations, etc).

Fear.  An entire spectrum of ideas can float through your head at this point.  What are you afraid of?  Spiders?  Snakes?  Losing your job?  Losing your home?  Death of a family member?  These all are legitimate fears.  Fear destroys and it is a great motivator to ignore the important issues/work; it also allows one to be distracted.  For the believer, spending time in the Word of God (Bible) corrects & directs us to live a certain way.  Fear of change, fear that nothing will ever be the same, that you’ll have to give up everything you can have one running from doing the right thing, from seeking the Lord in one’s life.

Pride.  This is the idea that I’m doing okay or a “good guy” mentality.  This is the idea that I can do everything on my own, I don’t need anyone else.  Pride can also influence us in making wrong decisions about money or relationship.  For the believer, pride can take over our mind and cause us to think that we don’t need the wisdom of the Bible.  Another part of pride is the notion that “no one else will see” because you live alone.  This is dangerous thinking that can direct someone down a path of destruction.

Trust, or lack thereof.  If someone has a trust issue, they have a difficult time believing the words of the Bible and anything that anyone else says.  There is a lack of confidence in the Lord and his promises.  This is key for me.  It is probably my biggest struggle.  The emotion behind a lack of trust goes back to fear.  The fear that the words aren’t true, that the “rug is going to be pulled out from under you” so to speak.

Distractions.  I’ve somewhat already covered this, but wanted to clarify that it is more than just the computer.  It can be any electronic, a book or two, responsibilities (family, church, pet obligations, etc).  Other areas that could be distracting are blogging, hobbies, school and or work.  In reality, just about anything can be a distraction – if we allow it to take up too much of our time.

I actually stopped long enough today (while I was writing this) to pick up my devotion book* and was smacked square in the face.  The first line was (paraphrased):
~ We can’t be close to God unless we spend time with Him. ~

Wow!

It also hits home because in this past year or so, I’ve lost two close friends.  Even though I tried to keep the doors of communication open, after a couple of months of no response, I just let it go.  Then, it hit me…this is exactly how I was responding to the Lord.  Even after realizing it, I still struggle.

I thought about how to eliminate distractions and the underlying emotions that drive them; about how the “must dos” can be balanced with the “want tos”.

Balance & discipline/diligence.  Balance is the key, along with discipline to keep us going.  Here’s what I’m working on putting into practice in my life.

  • List all the things that need to be done in a week (cleaning, cooking, work, school, blogging, hobbies, church, etc)
  • Take the above list & break it down by each day – so that at the end of the week, everything has been completed.
  • Take the daily list & break it down by hours.
  • Using a timer and diligently following your schedule, work at your list. Note:  allow some flexibility for occasionally things/activities that come up – just don’t let them take over your list)
  • Go to sleep & wake up at the same time each day consistently – yes, each and every day, 7 days a week. (eg: 6 a.m./10p.m.)
  • Repeat as needed (weekly, daily & hourly)

Must Dos Won! (Crock Pot has my potluck dish cooking)
Must Dos Won! (Crock Pot has my potluck dish cooking)
This has become a rather long post, so I’m going to break up into several posts.  Keep a watch out for the rest.

(*my current devotional – referenced above is “The Power of Praying” by Stormie Omartian; Harvest House Publishers, ©2004)

Do you relate to this post?  Is this something you struggle with?  What are your motivations?  Distractions?  How do you maintain balance?  Comment below.

Favorite Recipe Sites & Reviews

Top “Ten” Recipe Websites

These are my opinions only.

(10 being the least favorite; 1 being my favorites)
What I based my decisions on:
Ease of Printing
Specialty Diets (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Etc)
Recipes that are from scratch vs. those that use processed (brand name) ingredients
Has recipes with food that I’d actually make/eat (simple, “down-home” cooking recipes)
Variety of food
Ease of browsing
Non-Recipe only content (has articles, video how-tos, etc)
Free vs. paid content


These are my least favorites –
They have a variety of food; not easily browsed or printed; failed at the specialty diets; on a good note, they do seem to have a fairly decent recipe base/variety of food I’d actually make/eat.

I will use these when I can’t find what I’m looking for on other sites
These are the sites that use processed foods as ingredients – their own foods (understandably, they want to sell their products).
The specialty diets are lacking for most of these sites.  Gluten-Free seems to be the main one they have; other food allergy issues, not so much

Yummily is a “collection” site – they gather the links to recipes; lists them & re-direct to that website to see the recipe.
They all seemed to have very few, if any, specialty diet recipes – except for a few gluten-free.
Epicurious.com/finecooking.com are higher end recipes – not a lot of recipes that I’d make/eat; this one of the better websites if you are looking for super “fancy dinner” food.

I liked these recipes; browsing was fairly easy; tablespoon.com had a great cooking-for-2 section (2 meals for a single lady); there were a good number of specialty diet recipes other than gluten-free.  Printing also seemed easy.

These two are also higher end food; browsing & printing seem to be quite easily.  I like that there is a great deal of non-recipe content; they also have many “base” recipes available – stocks, sauces, etc to use in your cooking.
I like these two for “fancy dinner” recipes as well.
If you are a “foodie” and you enjoy websites (& magazines) dedicated to food, these two are great reading!


This is a recent find for me; I really like this website.  Fairly easy to navigate; there is a good number of non-recipe content articles & information.  They also link to blogs with recipes & non-recipe content alike.  Printing was quite simple here as well.
Specialty diets for gluten-free & dairy-free; has a good selection of recipes to check out; egg-free, not so much; overall, they have a good variety of specialty diet recipes.
godairyfree.org is just that – a collection of recipes for those who cannot have dairy.  Their website had a lot of non-recipe content on living dairy-free.  It is easy to navigate & to print.  The “Dairy List” is especially helpful if you are living a dairy-free life.

This is a great “down-home” & simple recipe collection; recipes created by home cooks & their families through the years.
There is a good variety of specialty diet recipes
One of my favorite features is that you can create your own cookbook.
There is a great community of cooks; you can register for the website & interact with them within in specific “discussion groups” – they have a group for just about everyone.  Click on their “community” tab to link to the groups.
Browsing & printing are easy; if you register you can save (“pinch”) recipes to go back to later.
If you have a recipe to share, the process is easy; just type in ingredients and directions; share pictures of each step if you have them & save.
If they had the option to amend each recipe to a smaller serving (eg: 4 servings to 1 serving) this would be my #1 choice.
Their premium membership ($$) includes:
Ad-Free Browsing
Free Membership Gift Codes
Unlimited Downloads of e-cookbooks
Premium recipe Box
Personalize Recipes
Menu Calendar & Grocery List
Photo Albums
Pricing is fairly reasonable:  $3.99 for 3 months; $14.99 for 1 year (includes free apron) & $28.00 for 3 years (also receive the free apron); there other “perks” include the above premium perks & a free gift code; 3 years has 3 gift codes.
I like this for the variety of recipes you can find; both simple/”down-home” and “fancy dinner” recipes.
Browsing and printing are easy; searching also is easy. You can search by recipe, chef and/or show.
Their other than recipes content is excellent; videos, a restaurant guide, etc.
There is also a store where you can purchase just about anything a home cook would like.

This is the web based version of the magazine.  My mom received the magazine for years; I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone.  The website has the majority of the recipes online.  Some will only be visible to those who have registered; you can also subscribe to their magazines through the website as well.
The other than recipes content is a good selection, including a “cooking school” (online classes look to be about $15 each).  There are online cooking school & a search to see if there are cooking school classes in your local area.
Browsing & printing are easy; the specialty diets is lacking for some areas; there is currently only one vegan recipe; the greatest number is gluten-free; dairy-free comes in 2nd.  Vegetarians will have an easier time as there are many vegetarian recipes available.
My biggest dislike for this website is the pop-up each time you log onto their website.  This is just an inconvenience, there is no bearing on the actual website – you can just close it.

americastestkitchen.com, cooksillustrated.com & cookscountry.com (companion sites)
These are my favorites
The three companion websites above are paid ($$) subscriptions; about $5 a month per website; an annual, multi-site cost is $70.  You can also register for a 14-day trial.   In addition, there are some free items, but very few.
Cooks Illustrated & Cook’s Country also have magazines you can subscribe to.
If you’ve not seen America’s Test Kitchen, go to their website & watch some of the episodes you can access for free.  The premises behind the websites/show/magazines are the science behind cooking & how to take a recipe & make it the best recipe ever.  I’ve used several recipes & have not been disappointed.
The specialty diets will struggle to find anything for these websites.
Other than recipes content is excellent – they have equipment testing/reviews & taste testing.
Allrecipes.com
This is an excellent website if you are a single lady in that they offer the option of changing a recipe from multi servings to one (or two) servings; it adjusts the recipe & you’ll be able to make just one serving.
There is a good representation of specialty diet recipes on All Recipes.
The website is free, but there is also a subscription section (Go Pro)”  $9.95 for 6-months; $17.50 for 1-year & $22.95 for 2-years.  They, like Taste of Home have a “cooking school”.  Courses are priced between $6 & $30 – most are $15.
They have a “menu planner” – cost is part of the above “Go Pro” cost.
There is a great variety of recipes – international and “down-home” cooking.
In the video section of the website are many videos on the recipes & techniques




There are so many recipe websites available if you search recipe websites – from ethnic specific websites to general recipe collections; I hope this list helps you in your search for recipes to use.

Do you have a favorite recipe site that I don’t have listed?  Comment below & let me know what you like about it.

Recipe: Spaghetti for One

Cover Photo
¼ of small onion or 1 small shallot, diced
Garlic cloves (3-4 medium or 5-7 small), minced
1 mini sweet pepper or ¼ of large, seeded & diced
(I also use chopped carrot, zucchini, any vegetable really, just add when adding the pepper in the recipe)
4 oz turkey sausage or ground beef
8 oz can tomato sauce
½ c diced tomatoes & juice (from 14.5 can, I use the entire can)
½ tsp Italian seasonings
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp basil (I don’t use)
1/8 to 1/4 poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
Fresh cracked pepper (I use mixed peppercorns), about 5-7 grinds
1 whole bay leaf
½ c hot water
1 ¼ tsp beef bouillon*
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 oz spaghetti pasta
Kosher Salt
Sauté onion, garlic, peppers & any other vegetables you are using in about 1 teaspoon of olive oil until translucent & tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan & set aside.
IMG_1223IMG_1219IMG_1226IMG_1231
Add turkey sausage to skillet & cook through.  Just before done, add ¼ teaspoon of each of the above seasonings, a 1/8 teaspoon of the poultry seasoning & a pinch of red pepper flakes if using.  When cooked through, add onion mixture back in.
 IMG_1238
Add tomato sauce & diced tomatoes.  Add an additional ¼ teaspoon of above seasonings, 1/8 teaspoon of poultry seasoning & another small pinch of red pepper flakes.  Add in bay leaf.  Bring just to boiling over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low & simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 IMG_1243
While sauce is simmering, add bouillon to hot water & stir to dissolve; set aside.
 IMG_1244
At the end of the simmer time, taste sauce & adjust seasonings 1/8 to ¼ of a teaspoon at a time to adjust to your desired taste.  Add bouillon & lemon juice to sauce; stir to incorporate.  Set stove to lowest setting & simmer 1-3 hours, stirring occasionally.  The longer it simmers, the deeper the flavors of the finished sauce.
 IMG_1246
About 10 minutes before sauce is done, heat a pot of water to boiling; add pasta & cook until done, about 7 minutes.  Drain & return to pan.  For an even deeper flavor, you can add additional bouillon to the pasta water before adding the pasta, but this is optional.
 IMG_1257
Remove bay leaf, discard.  Take one final taste test & adjust if needed.  You probably won’t need the salt, but if using, add at this time (the bouillon is high in salt; I don’t add any due to this).
 IMG_1254
Pour sauce over pasta; stir to combine & serve hot.  I like to serve with green beans, a green salad & a loaf of fresh crusty French bread or homemade bread.
IMG_1265
* use vegetable bouillon and eliminate the meat for a vegetarian option.

Book Review: Amy Carmichael: for the children of India

Book Review:
Amy Carmichael:  for the children of India
By Sam Wellman
Barbour Publishers
© 1998
1998 Book Cover
1998 Book Cover
This book chronicles Amy Carmichael’s life and journeys from Ireland to England to Japan and China and finally to India.
As a child, Amy was adventurous, even getting her brothers into trouble with her.  She was well studied in classical literature; more important than that, she had the Word of God engrafted into her heart.  Even as a child, before she realized the need to ask Christ into her heart she had a soul aware of spiritual things and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  She was a compassionate soul, a trait that would help her in her lift ministry.
As a youth, Amy wanted to help those less fortunate; she became part of a ministry that helped others, especially the young girls that worked in the mills of her area; she utilized her skills of entertaining her younger siblings in her ministry and was a popular figure at the meetings.  She was invited to attend Keswick Convention, a convention of believers to study and discuss the Bible.  Keswick Convention is still an active convention today.  Through Keswick, Amy realized that she needed to accept Christ into her life.  This was a changing point for Amy.
After getting sick in Japan, Amy was on her way back to Ireland to get better & she stopped in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).  It was around this time that she became involved with missionary work in India.  After she recovered and was at the British missionary stations, Amy became disgusted at the very “British” settlements and “lack of conversions” and preaching.  This drew her deeper into India.  She also choose to become native – she dressed, lived, ate like those she was desiring to share Christ with.  This included learning Tamil, the ancient language of the area.  Another missionary, Thomas Walker, took her under his wing and tutored her in the language.  While in Japan, she became aware that she needed to become “native” in order to relate and connect with the local people.
Amy also rejected the British ways of missionary work and convention; instead, she worked & learned how to reach the people, so special to her, to show them a different way.  Appalled by some of the customs of the day/land, Amy set out to do something about it.  Through this, Amy, a single woman, became Amma (mother) of many.
Her greatest desire was to have blue eyes; a prayer never answered by the Lord became one of her greatest assets in saving many of her lotus buds (her nickname for the temple girls she was working at saving).  Dressed as a native, with her brown eyes, she was able to move among the people she so loved easily; she was able to save so many more children and women.  Had her prayers been answered for blue eyes, this would not have been so.
She chose the 6th day of every month to pray for those she was working at helping.  After several unfortunate illnesses, Amy’s closed confidents were no longer at the fellowship working.  Amy realized that she needed to be surrounded by godly sisters who would pray for and with Amy and be a group for fellowship and study.  She called this group “Sisters of the Common Life”; for this group, two things were essential:
  • Prayer was essential (focused, deep prayer)
  • Service was essential (with joy, they did the jobs no one else wanted to do)
After a disastrous fall, Amy was forced by immense pain to her room; as much as possible, she still encouraged, lead & taught her beloved children.  After 20 years of pain and weakening, Amy slept.  She was laid to rest in her beloved land on the fellowship grounds.  She didn’t want a headstone, so her children honored her resting place with a bird bath (Amy was an avid bird lover) simply marked “Amma”.
This is a story of a minimally educated young woman and how she stepped out in faith and love for her Lord and founded and developed a fellowship to save young children from a life of slavery.  That fellowship still exists today, almost 110 years later.  It still has the same mission that Amy founded it on.  Amy’s motto was “The Cross is the attraction”.
(These are not affiliate links; these are just for more information)
Here is the link to the book.
Here for more information on Dohnavur Fellowship
Here for Keswick Convention
(All quotes from Amy Carmichael, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.  Used by permission)

Savory Lentils, Rice and/or Beans

Savory Lentils, Rice and/or Beans
1-2 servings

¼ c lentils/½ c water  (I used regular lentils, but red lentils would be a nice substitute)
¼ c rice/1 c water  (I used brown basmati rice, but any rice will do, just cook until tender & liquid has been absorbed)

for each pan:
¼ tsp beef bouillon (use vegetable to make this vegetarian/vegan)
1 tsp onion soup mix (use dried, minced onions to make this vegetarian/vegan)
Smidgeon red pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t care for spice)
1/8 tsp Himalayan pink salt powder (oops…too long in the coffee grinder)
– use any salt you prefer if you don’t have the above
1/8 tsp chef’s essence (use any spice mix you have/prefer)
½ tsp Earth Balance buttery spread (or, if you can have dairy & prefer, use butter)

Cook rice & lentils separate.
For the rice, put water on to boil.  When boiling, add bouillon; stir to dissolve; add rice & remaining ingredients; reduce to simmer (low to medium-low), cover & cook 20-30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

For the lentils, put the water on to get hot enough to dissolve bouillon; add lentils & remaining ingredients and once boiling, reduce to simmering & simmer until the liquid is absorbed – 15-30 minutes.
Combine lentils & rice and stir in ½ teaspoon Earth Balance/butter.  Enjoy

You can change the bouillon & seasonings to fit your tastes… Experiment & let me know how you changed it below.

Savory Lentils
Savory Lentils
Savory Lentils & Rice
Savory Lentils & Rice

Savory Beans
½ c beans (pintos, red kidney, black, etc or a mix of any)
Water
1 ½ to 2 teaspoons beef bouillon (or vegetable)
1 tbsp onion soup mix (end of packet from above)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp chef’s essence or spice blend of your choice
2-3 oz cooked, chopped steak (or steamed vegetables for a vegetarian/vegan option)
½ tsp Earth Balance buttery spread (or, if you can have dairy & prefer, use butter)
1/8 tsp Pink Himalayan salt powder*

Rinse beans & check for any rocks (discard); put in bowl & cover with water to approximately 3-4” above beans; soak overnight.
Drain & rinse beans; place in pot with approximately 2 cups water; bring to a boil.
Boiling beans
Boiling beans

Add seasonings & beef (veggies) & boil lightly until beans are soft, stirring occasionally.  30 minutes to an hour or so.
Boil off the liquid until you have the soup or stew consistency you desire (I boil most off because I don’t like “soupy” beans).  Add Earth Balance spread/butter & enjoy

*Taste & if needed, add salt a pinch at a time.
Savory Beans close up
Savory Beans close up
Savory Beans
Savory Beans


Notes:
  • A delicious option is to combine all three after cooking for a hearty stew; serve with a salad and bread (cornbread?). If you combine, this will make at least 2 servings – lunch & dinner or a meal for 2.
  • “Chef’s Essence”: this is a spice blend that I found at a local store; you can substitute any mixed spice blend you like.
Chef's Essence Spice Blend
Chef’s Essence Spice Blend
  • ¼ c dry rice makes approximately ½ cooked
  • ¼ c dry lentils makes approximately 1 c cooked
  • ½ c dry beans (pintos) makes approximately 1 cup cooked
  • To make VEGAN/Vegetarian, substitute beef bouillon with vegetable bouillon; sub the onion soup mix with dried minced onions and sub the beef for lightly steamed vegetables or tofu or leave out completely.
  • To increase the servings, just double or triple.

Did you try these recipes?  What did you think about them?  Would you make any changes?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cream Cake Recipe

Non-Dairy Cream Cake Recipe



Ingredients

1/3 cup egg whites
1/2 to 3/4 tbsp applesauce (unsweetened)
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (use 1 tsp vanilla if you don't want/like almond)
1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (8oz) canned coconut milk (boxed won't work, need canned)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350*; grease & flour 8x8 or 9x9 cake pan & set aside.
Beat egg whites & applesauce until frothy and about doubled; add sugar and mix well.  Add in extract and beat well.
Combine dry ingredients.  Alternating with egg mixture & coconut milk, combine just until all is combined.  Pour into pan & bake 35-45 minutes or until done (when toothpick or knife, inserted in center, comes out clean).

Cool a few minutes in pan & invert onto cooling rack.  Once cool, place on serving plate & cover in frosting or glaze.  Serve & enjoy.



Store in refrigerator.




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Death of the Brain-Sapping Bug

The Death of the Brain-Sapping Bug


I had a bug, near the rug.
No crawling commenced, my focus was fenced.
Its presence commanded; attention demanded;
Bright colors and noise, with disharmonic poise.
Vile living included, Truth-living excluded.
A monster it became,
To some, only a game.
Its lies distrust,
Truth-Seeking a must!

How to remove, I reflected;
For Life & gaining true perspective!
With firm resolve,
The problem I solved.
A picture to prove,
This WAS the right move!

Don’t you know it’s true…
YOU have one too.

A clearer head, I never had

Until it was dead…on the T.V. stand!