Friday, February 27, 2009

Holy Jesus Homemade Crackers

Please don't take offense at my Holy Jesus Homemade Crackers. They are your basic "unleavened" crackers, but with a message, at least to me and the gals I am in bible study with. We have been studying the book of Luke and last week we looked at chapter 12, verses 1-3, where it says,

1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered
together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples
first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For
there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be
known. 3 Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the
light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on
the housetops.

According to Miriam-Websters dictionary, leaven is a "substance (as yeast) used to promote fermentation in dough or a liquid." When you use leaven, such as the yeast in my homemade bread, you use 2 1/2 tablespoons of yeast that eventually works its entire way through approximately 13 cups of flour. Wow! It doesn't take much leaven to affect and change the texture, smell, look, and feel of flour. While the outcome of leaven tastes yummy--once it is baked under high heat, leaven alone smells horrible and is unpleasant if ingested prior to baking. And so it is with us.

Jesus is warning His disciples to not be like the Pharisees who say one thing and do another, hypocrisy. He is calling His followers to be different, to not live in such a way that causes fermentation in their spiritual life, or to rot their relationship with God. Often the Bible uses leaven to symbolize sin. Leaven puffs up from within, much like pride puffs up within.

1 Corinthians 5:5-7 further explains the consequences of leaven,

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the
whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new
lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was
sacrificed for us.

So, bake some unleavened crackers, save money, and remember that something very tiny can ferment your life. Be careful what you allow into your heart (and sometimes your stomach!)

Holy Jesus Homemade Crackers
1 cup all purpose flour (you could use whole wheat too, but you'll need a little more water if you do)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil or neutral oil

Preheat oven to 400. If you have a baking stone, put it in there to heat up; otherwise you can just use cookie sheets.

Put all ingredients in the food processor and give it a quick whirl to blend. While the processor is running, slowly add 1/4 cup of water. Let the processor run for a minute. You want to stop when the dough forms a fairly dry, only slightly sticky ball. After a minute, if you don't have the ball, start adding water, a few drops at a time, while the processor is running. (Be careful here - you can go from 'not a ball' to 'ball that is too wet' WAY fast, especially if the kids are adding the water. Just add a little more flour if it gets too wet.

Roll the ball out, using more flour to dust the dough as needed, to about 1/4 inch thin or thinner. Cut the dough using butter knives, cookie cutters, or pizza cutter into any size or shape you like, but try to keep the crackers roughly the same shape so they will bake evenly. Place crackers on the ungreased cookie sheets or directly on the baking stone and bake for 10-12 minutes.

These crackers can be made with any flavor idea in mind. Our favorite is to add a bit of honey and cinnamon. We have also chopped up garlic and topped with Parmesan cheese and salt. Enjoy!

P.S. This is the Bible Study I was referring to earlier!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

I love yogurt with fruit on the bottom. I love whipped yogurt. I love Stoneyfield yogurt with the cream on the top. Smoothies are great and need yogurt. Yum yum yum. But store bought yogurt is expensive and my goal is to help both you and me go organic cheaply.

I began making yogurt when Mr. Smackdown was 9 months old. I was already making my own babyfood and knew there must be a way to encourage happy bacteria to grow in my kitchen. Afterall, when we lived in India, our stomaches would beg for the clay pots of yogurt sitting on countertops near our favorite place to get sick, I mean, eat. If yogurt can be made beside a road in India, it can be made in my home.

Grab a stool and bucket and go milk your cow! Or use some milk that is in your refridgerator. There are two ways to make yogurt. You can use a powder or purchase some plain whole milk yogurt at the grocery store. I go the easy route, and typically use Stoneyfield yogurt. Technically, you never have to buy yogurt again! However, that is as long as you save approximately 2 tablespoons from previous batch of yogurt.

Let's get started. I fill a quart mason jar until it is about one inch below the top. You can leave the milk in the jar and place it in a pot filled with water, in a warm oven for anywhere from 30-40 minutes depending on the temperature setting, or dump the milk into a stainless steal pot. However you choose to warm the milk, heat it to a temperature of 180 degrees. Now, if you do not have a kitchen thermometer, you can guestimate that the milk is 180 when it starts to have little foamy bubbles at the edges of the pan.

Meanwhile, fill a custard cup with plain yogurt. (I think that whole milk and whole milk yogurt work the best for homemade yogurt.)This equates to 2-4 tablespoons. It really does not have
to be an exact science, as I have discovered over the past four years.

Once my milk has reached 180 degrees, I pour it back into the quart mason jar and let the milk cool until it is between 112-120 degrees. At the same time, I allow the yogurt to warm to room temperature, and no the lack of refridergeration won't kill you.

Since my dog destroyed the thermometer shown in the pictures in an attempt to eat the yogurt starter, I wait about an hour or so and see if I can easily wrap my hands around the jar and keep them on the jar for a few seconds. You can speed the cooling process up by sticking your jar in the fridge, but I often forget about it when i do that and my yogurt takes longer to make.

Once the milk is ready, I carefully pour a littlebit of milk into my yogurt starter to blend the yogurt into the liquid milk. Stir it up and add the starter and milk to the mason jar.

Once again, you have a few options as to the location of your fermentation. I used to warm my oven, shut it off and stick the soupy milk into the oven for about 4 hours. However, I would often preheat the oven for dinner and completely destroy the batch of yogurt. After this happening one too many times, I typically wrap up my mason jar and stick her in the microwave with a towel around the far and the lid loosely on. I have found that the milk stayes warm enough to quicly ferment and give us great tasting yogurt.

In approximately 4 hours of sitting, while you are busy accomplishing grand things either in our home or in the loser curiser (a.k.a. minivan), you are conveintly growing good bacteria to aid in digestion, help boost your immune system, and saving money!

Now, don't stress out if you see a yellow liquid form at the top of your yogurt. This is called whey. You can mix the whey back into the yogurt when you dish some out for yourself, or use it to make saurkraut, soak your oats, or other healthy stuff. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

The finished product:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Even Kids will like this: Lentil Rice Casserole

Lentil Rice Casserole
(4-6 servings)

Bake covered at 300 for 2-2 1/2 hours (which makes it easy to pop in the oven before it gets crazy-hungry dinner time)

Blend together the following in a casserole dish and let stand overnight or 7 hours to improve nutrition:
3 cups water
¾ cup uncooked lentils
½ cup uncooked brown rice
Whey or juice of ½ lemon

Add just before baking:
3-4 tbls Liquid Aminos (I use Braggs Liquid Amino, which can be found at Kroger and health food stores)
1 small onion chipped or ¼ cup instant dry onion
½ tsp basil leaves
¼ tsp oregano leaves
¼ tsp thyme leaves
¼ tsp garlic powder
Bake covered at 300 for 2-2 ½ hours or until tender and the water is absorbed.

We serve it on whole wheat tortillas with grated raw cheese.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gadarene RUSH on this Post: Amber Necklace Giveaway

My latest obsession is Baltic Amber. In fact, you will notice that everyone in our family, except the hubby, is sporting their new link of it. I think that the hubby is intrigued by it, but is waiting to see if the Baltic Amber necklace changes our lives in a noticeably scientific way. The only lanyard he will sport is his AWANA name tag or a ski pass.

I heard about Baltic Amber from a friend at church. I must admit, at the time I was FAR from being the Granola Mom 4 God that I am now. Being comfortable in her own skin, this intriguing home birth mommy had her kids wear an amber necklace for teething.

Being mostly uneducated, I thought, "What about that gross teething gel, Mylicon?" (Not realizing that teething gel and Mylicon worked on two opposite ends of a baby. I have since learned and often use Hyland's teething tablets--that is, before THE NECKLACE arrived in our mailbox). The Baltic Amber necklace looked like a strangling hazard and it would probably cause SIDS. I filed this ancient pain-relief remedy in the dungeon of my pregnant belly only to be birthed into existence again by my third child , who failed to experience relief from the homeopathic teething tablets.

Four years later, three children, myself, and my mom are all sporting our Baltic Amber. Yes, tree resin has helped our aches and pains. How does it work? Well, that is for you to find out and why I am hosting a giveaway. My midwife taught me a valuable lesson, though frustrating at the time. Make an educated decision for yourself. Do your homework. It affects you and your family.

Mr. Smiley, who was acquiring his first two bottom teeth, began to take longer naps once donning the mysterious brown necklace.

Mr. Smackdown and Mr. Easy have actually SLEPT IN the past several mornings, praise the Lord. And I, though waken up frequently by Mr. Smiley, have woken up more rested.

Initially, so as not to make a gadarene rush, I only purchased one necklace for the most pressing painful situation, Mr. Smiley. I saw results and shared our amber experience with my mom. Convinced she gifted those near and dear with amber.

It was at this point that I befriended Kate, from Inspired by Finn. Kate is a cool mom, passionate about natural and holistic healing. I asked her what she liked best about being a mom and she replied, "I LOVE the opportunity every day to share the experience of life through the eyes of a child. The hugs and kisses are out of this world as well :)." OK Kate, twist my arm--I'd love to host a giveaway for you!

And now for a cool holistic freebie. Thus my first giveaway, brought you by Inspired by Finn.

Things you must do to enter the drawing:

1. If you aren't a follower already, then become a follower of Granola Mom 4 God.

2. Screen-shop Inspired by Finn and post a comment telling me what color of Baltic Amber that you like.

How to Earn Additional Entries: After completing the above mandatory post leave me separate posts for the following steps you participate in.

3. Blog about this giveaway with links back to here and Inspired by Finn and gain 3 extra entries. You must post on my blog with a link to your post.

4. Send this post to your friends. Each friend, who is not already a follower, counts as an entry. Leave a message alerting me to who you bragged to.

5. Leave a comment about what you learned from Kate's website.

This contest ends March 3rd, and I MUST have access to a valid email to contact you if you want to win.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Word of the Week: gadarene

What the spank is this word and where in the world of mothering would I use it? The way I interpret gadarene's meaning, pronounced GAD-uh-reen, is to be hasty in a decision, to jump on the bandwagon-without really thinking about what you are about to do.

I picked this week's word by simply going to Mirriam-Websters Online Dictionary for their "word of the day." This word is derived from the very chapter I studied last week in Bible study! Luke 8: 26-39, refers to a man named Legion, who lived in Gerasenes (or the country of the Gadarenes--Matthew 8:28). Legion was plagued by demons, naked, and lonely. Yet, Jesus just so "happens" to come along and ask for his good name.

"Legion," the man declares. I imagine him almost croaking these words out, neck bulging with effort, as the evil spirits try to lock his mouth shut. The demons probably turned cold at this twist of fate. No longer can they hold this man captive. But where can they go?

Scripture tells us that the demons implore Jesus to not command them into the abyss. What is so bad about the abyss? The abyss, in reference, is the one we learn about in Revelation 20:1. All I have to say is that if a demon doesn't want to go there, then it must be a pretty nasty place.
Instead, they choose to indwell a pig. A pig? I don't understand their logic, but it works for them to enter this "unclean" animal (which is an altogether different subject). For some reason, Jesus is generous to his enemies and grants their request; perhaps because He knows that eventually they will be stuck in the abyss and, well, pigs are pretty foul themselves. The demons then grunt their grand, fat, pink bottoms with tiny tails down the steep bank and into the lake. Drowning themselves. It really seems like a rash and foolish plan to me.

Because of this, gadarene becomes a synecdoche for a hasty rushing into something . . .

Now, there is another reason why I chose this word. But that will be for another day. I will give you a hint. I wanted to gadarene purchase five items, but figured it was foolish until they had been tested and approved on one family member. And this item is . . . .

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Memory Cross Valentine Update

I am amazed how God has made each of us differently and fascinated by the imagination of some people, in particular the genius who created these Memory Cross cards (I know that I sound like a commercial).

Mr. Smackdown enjoyed coloring his Bible story cards and Mr. Easy delighted in making them into a table that he piled crayons upon. Regardless of how they were used, they were a hit in our household. They provided the perfect morning entertainment, fulfilling the intended purpose of showing God's lavish love, while we anxiously awaited the Hubby's yummy French toast.

If I were teaching Sunday school, I think I would be tempted to use these as my entire lesson, culminating in each child getting a Memory Cross card to color and take home. Talk about a great hands on lesson!

Additionally, they would make great cards for kids to color and give to neighbor--along with a nice baked good, send to a sick person, or decorate for a teacher. The Bible craft cards would be helpful while waiting at the doctor, unique as a sibling gift when the new baby arrives, or a creative non-sugar altermative for a sticker chart filled up. Reward your kids with the Word!

I'll let you know how the family pack works for helping me memorize scripture.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I've dated for 16 years

What were you doing 16 years ago today? I CLEARLY remember this unique day that happened 1/2 of my life ago. I hung out with my girlfriends at the local eating establishment, called Profits. I looked forward to snow that was to be coming the next day, along with a bowling birthday party for my friend Jack. I eagerly anticipated what I would wear that night to the basketball game. And I met my husband.

While everyone is ramping up to celebrate Valentine's Day, I am praising God that today marks our 16 year dating anniversary. Sixteen years ago, tonight, I conspired to have a "blind" date with this cute football player. Andy and Sharon, pictured above, graciously agreed to "host" this blind date, especially since my hottie husband could not yet drive. The hubby and I didn't do much talking that night. We smiled a lot, ate pizza, went bowling, and hung out a Denny's. But it launched an amazing love affair that continues to this day.

Thanks, Andy and Sharon! (and Ryan)

I love you, Husband. Thanks for a great 16 years!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

#5) Techniques to maintain Bible Memorization

Two words: Memory Cross

As a little girl, I had a weird obsession with paper. I collected paper, crumpled it up, flattened it out, crumpled it up, and flattened it out until it was almost as soft as a tissue. This slightly compulsive act would lay stacked up in a fairly tall pile in my closet. Later, I became obsessed with recycling paper. Paper became my major in college--kind of. Every English major has to have lots of paper when creating novellas. Today, effective devotional journaling must involve a journal that has soft enough paper to soak up the perfect ink pen. I love to rub my hand over paper, assessing its invitation to be used for profound thoughts and meaningful inscriptions. Perhaps that is why I am pretty jazzed about my most recent find of creative contortions of paper. Let me write it again: Memory Cross

Having been a kindergarten teacher, I found that it was always important to provide a hands-on learning experience. If you want a child (or anyone, for that matter) to remember an important idea, then have an object lesson! The more senses (taste, touch, smell, site and sound) that you can stimulate, the greater your chances of making a lasting impression. Additionally, I really like small, cute things. Let me type it again: Memory Cross

In an attempt to provide a neat present for Mr. Smackdown and Mr. Easy on Valentine's Day that would show them God's love and our love, I found myself at a loss. Yes, I succumbed to candy (organic chocolate, if you must know) but I wanted something creative, purposeful, lasting, loving and eternal. I wanted to make this holiday not about romance but about a lasting love that God gives us through Jesus.

I want Mr. Smackdown, Mr. Easy, and Mr. Smiley to feel treasured and loved through our purposeful Valentine gift to them. Two words: Memory Cross

What is Memory Cross you ask? Well, for someone who has always struggled with memorizing scripture (me), this is a cool way to make memorizing scripture fun. (Rather than being redundant and ill-equip, at this late hour, to explain this intricate paper folding, I encourage you to go to their website.)

It is a hands-on, kinesthetic (though you can be sitting in a chair) Bible memory experience. In a nutshell, a Bible verse is on a piece of paper that is folded in a gazillion different ways and you keep opening it up like a never-ending gift, which is what God's word is to us.

Does it help you memorize scripture? I don't know yet!!! We just got our family pack of Bible memory verses in the mail. Plus, it isn't Valentine's Day! And as an added treat, Memory Cross threw in some samples, which were way cool. One of the freebies happened to be a Valentine Card made large enough for tiny hands to continually open AND was black and white for the kiddos to color. The kids' Valentine Card was a hit! The boys really enjoyed coloring it, and showing lots of love for each other as they took turns beautifying their symbol of God's loving Valentine message. We just have to decide who to give it to!

So guess what? Two words: Memory Cross

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Watchful Wednesday

It is a rite of passage for a boy to possess his first watch. It announces his awareness of time. Though he owns the time on his wrist, it truly is God who numbers his days. And so, Mr. Smackdown, formerly Buddy A, announced it was morning to his sleeping mommy two hours before morning officially began in the quiet household. Not able to see the analogue clock in his bedroom and the digital one lacking electricity, he began his wakeful journey into his parent's bedroom. After too many mornings of being woken by this this excited 4 year old's voice announcing his desire to start the day, became necessity to this lactating mom that her son have his very own INDIGLO watch. Now Mr. Smackdown doesn't even have to get out of bed to know the time. He can press the magical flashlight on his watch and he can see if it says 7:00. Let's see if it works.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thankful Tuesday

Don't get me wrong, I love snow. However, it was a treat to have some warm weather with sun yesterday. I am thankful for a God's eye glimpse into spring--fresh smells, green grass, sweet composting leaves, and sprouts in my garden. While the boys moved massive amounts of mud in our pretend lake, I moved copious amounts of winter dog poop (you thought I was going to be poetic, didn't you?). We pulled out the sand table, stripped off the coats, and abandoned hats. As I look forward to warmer days, I will still smile should we be blessed with the white snow that reminds me of the daily cleansing bath I receive from Jesus. In a nutshell, I am thankful for mud.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Word of the Week: synecdoche

Synecdoche. I just learned this word. It is pronounced si-neck-dah-key, with the emphasis on the neck sound. According to Wikipedia, it means a term denoting a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing. For example, if you said that someone was of the cloth that would mean that they are clergy. Kleenex for tissue. Plastic for credit card. In an attempt to really understand this word, I sought out a picture to describe synecdoche in my life. Baby Smiles sums it up in this precious photo shoot moment. Love. Happiness. Mothering. I can't decide but agree with them all.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What is something that you want to learn about?

I have a gazillion things that I personally would like to write about, but the words simply aren't coming. I am passionate about many things and sometimes get flustered in the activity of all that I am cataloging in my brain to learn about, try, or throw away. So I came up with an idea to get my creative juices flowing. I want to know what would you, my reader, would like to learn about. This can be something that I could blog about for you or would allow me to hear about your dreams and passions. Here are some ideas, a sampling of things that I still would like to learn more about:

1. how to achieve consistent home organization
2. using biblical essential oils
3. creating a wide readership of my blog
4. healing my thyroid
5. techniques to maintain Bible memorization
6. growing big yellow onions and hearty carrots
7. Greek
8. interesting, healthy, sprouted, fresh lunches that my children will eat
9. harvesting and storing seeds from my garden to plant the following year
10. read music and play the guitar

So leave a comment and let me know what you would like to learn about. Tell a friend and have them leave a list. Better yet, become a follower and I will be sure to blog about one of your learning dreams!