Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Original Recipe.....

Rheinlander Famous Lentil Soup
To Make the Stock:
2 large fresh or smoked pork hocks
2 small pork bones
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1 1/2 quarts cold water

Rinse bones and pork hocks under cold water. Place in stock pot and add rest of ingredients. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours. Strain stock and save ham hocks.

For Soup:
4 oz. diced bacon
1/2 cup diced leaks (white part only)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 cups raw diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups washed green lentils

For Seasoning:
1 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 TBSP white vinegar*
salt to taste

Melt bacon in stock pot. Add onion, leaks, carrots, and celery and saute' until golden. Add one quart of stock, lentils and seasoning. Cook for 1/2 hour then add potatoes and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender. Remove meat from pork hocks and dice very small and add to soup. Salt to taste. Before serving add the vinegar. Serve with sausage and warm bread.

Usually I use 2 cups of lentils and almost never have a leak or the exact meat called for. Split peas also work well as a variation or combination.

*Balsamic vinegar rather than white vinegar seems to be a more mutually enhancing taste I think. 

 The above is a recipe a dear treasured friend passed on to me a couple of months ago when I shared my desire to learn a good lentil soup. (She didn't say it was a secret recipe so I hope it is okay to share here.)
I hadn't tried this recipe yet because my kitchen shopping never seemed to include some of the basic ingredients this list calls for. But now that spring has truly hit our area and the rains have made every corner cold and damp; today seemed the perfect day for a pot of soup.

I laughed to myself as I argued with the recipe and offered it what my kitchen had supplies for. I had no pork hocks, bones or bacon. Instead I cut up a package of skinless smoked sausage links. I had no onion, bay leaves, potatoes or peppercorns. However I did put in 3 carrots, 3 celery, pepper, a dash of salt and some green onion at the end. With my fuzzy dog boys being vegan eaters, lentils are always a plenty and I did a combination of brown and yellow lentils for the protein benefit as well as the added flavor boost. As for the rest of the seasonings; I couldn't find any thyme, I completely forgot to add the vinegar and I most cautiously added the nutmeg since I had only heard of using it in pastry fun.

The things is this: even with all the variations to my offerings, my family went nuts over it. Even the extra people that often end up at my house loved it. My pot is now empty, tummies are full and at the end of the night everyone is still commenting on how much they enjoyed the soup.

As I did the dishes tonight, I thanked God for helping me pull it all together. He said, "You are welcome. Think about this though. There is a lesson to be learned here."
"Really Papa? Is it that we can eat healthy and creative in the kitchen?"
"Well yes daughter (with a smile) that is true. But the bigger lesson is that it is not for you to judge what is going to work in different situations. Nor is it by your strength and wisdom that things come together. Your only task is to offer me what you have. I will take that offering and make a beautiful and complete recipe with it." 

Then my mind flashed through a list of some of the famous people in the Bible that we know of today.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Abraham and Sarah doubted.
Samson was arrogant and prideful.
David had an affair and was a selfish murder.
Gideon needed proof over and over again.
Moses orphaned, had a speech impediment and lacked self confidence.

Then I saw images of famous scenes of the Bible.
Rahab was honest and courageous despite the formidable threat of death.
Abraham and Sarah became parents in their 90s.
Samson killed a bear, a lion and brought down the walls of a coliseum with his bare hands.
At about 12 years old, David fought and killed a giant of a man and later went on 
to be a man after God's own heart. 
Gideon chose the strength of his army by how they drank water from the river. 
Then they conquered in battle with only clay jars and torches as distant weapons.
A hundred thousand people listened and followed the guidance of Moses for 40 years.

These lists could go on and on. That is just what instantly flashed in my mind.
It makes me think about the limitations I put on myself; how I hold myself back without even asking God what He wants to do with "my ingredients".

 So, here at the end of the day, I want to encourage you in a quirky but very real way with a bowl of soup. You have a destiny and a purpose that is made only for you. Each day holds treasure, adventure and hope. All you have to do is step forward and hand God what you may perceive as meager offering. He, is His great wisdom and creativity, will fashion your offering with His guided skill into a beautiful recipe that brings delight and satisfaction to Him and to everyone around you and will speak into your own humble self worth.

God bless you this week with His joy overflowing.

March Memories.....

 I can't believe March is almost over with. I have thought about sitting down to express my thoughts and happenings of the past few weeks but........okay really here is my silly excuse.......I usually leave my web window open on my regular sites as a reminder to slow down my scattered self. However, I shut everything down one day for a re-boot and never remembered to open things back up. A sad excuse I know but it is all I can offer.

What can I share today? How about the fun weekend that just passed? Surprises and off the wall encounters were plenty.

Thursday evening as my husband was pulling into the driveway, he met up with these little friends. I personally know nothing about chickens. My only real thought was focused on trying to keep the dogs away from them as we did our evening things. I figured these biddies would take their cute chatter back to wherever they came from when they were good and ready.

The fuzzy boys eventually settled for the evening and we all got some sleep so I didn't give the chickens another thought except for gratefulness that they had moved on.

I was wrong. Friday morning found the boys once again beside themselves with hunter/stalker instincts in full force. They slobbered all over my front windows as the chickens casually took turns walking around my front yard. Our landlord sent someone down to catch them but had success with only bagging the black one. The brown one mysteriously disappeared.

Finally I gathered my whits and set out to find her, partially out of curiosity and partially because the dogs were getting on my last nerve. I followed the dogs' clues for a rousing game of  peek-n-seek with that chicken. Where was she hiding? She had decided to nest under my front porch and laid an egg!

Now, remember I said I have no experience with chickens? Keep that in mind as you picture me running around the yard with a slice of bread and a bath towel while trying to corner and capture this fast chicken. It was a hilarious sight indeed. Eventually I gave up and went to our landlord for help.  Once he had both chickens safely in a cage, he even found whom they belonged to.

The fuzzy boys were wrung out for the rest of the day. Protecting the house is such hard work! Aren't the just a sight to see?

Saturday was Hubby's birthday and he asked to spend the day hiking around Forest Park. We did up our day packs with sandwiches and dog supplies and set out for adventure. I cannot believe how long we have lived here and never stepped a single foot into the biggest city park in North America. Wow! I thought we had to be in the Gorge area to be spectators of such green beauty. This park sports well over 70 miles of hiking trails in the middle of the city.

The fuzzy boys were so very happy to wander, explore, claim territory and make friends with everyone on the well traveled pathway. The water stream intrigued Kekoa and he wanted to dive for stick treasures to take home. Congito on the other hand wanted nothing to do with the noisy cold water and stuck to me like glue.

 Were it not for our mighty little explorers wanting to keep on the go, 
I would have loved to simply sit for a while and watch the water 
flow over the rocks to destinations ahead.

In true typical fashion for us, the birthday DAY became the birthday WEEKEND by continuing the celebration with my folks after church on Sunday. Mom made a dinner feast and everyone had a grand time cutting up, goofing off and enjoying one another.

I gave Hubby the choice of having a decadent type of cake or a low fat healthy type of cake. Was that really a choice?  He picked the decadent surprise and I created the cake you see below. It is a Coca Cola Cake.  It looks sort of lumpy because it was so sweet and sticky that I had a hard time getting it out of the pan. But it tasted good and bumps helped to accent the decorations of "spilled coke bottles".   Hubby was positively thrilled with the cake because he is an avid Coca Cola collector. All of his treasures have pretty much taken over our bedroom walls (but that is another story for another day).

For now I need to scoot. The change in the air has given me cause to uncharacteristically clean my house like a woman on a mission.I pray that you have a wonderfully blessed week that is filled with God's joy and love that makes you smile from your inner most being.

Below is the recipe if you are interested. One look at the ingredients and you will see that it is not designed in any way for the calorie conscious person. I read that you can do a more calorie modest style by using a box cake mix and diet soda. Simply google "low fat coca cola cake recipe" if you want to try it instead of this.

Coca Cola Cake


  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • .
  • Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
  • 1 box confectioner's sugar, (1pound)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan and set aside. In a large bowl combine flour and sugar. In a saucepan combine the cocoa, Coca-Cola, butter, and marshmallows; bring to a boil. Combine the boiled mixture with the flour and sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl mix eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla; add to the first mixture. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, until cake tests done.
Frosting: In a saucepan, bring butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola to a boil. Stir in the sugar and mix well. Stir in nuts. Spread over the cake while both cake and frosting are still warm.
Serves about 16.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It Is All About Today.....

I grabbed my camera yesterday to snap a picture of the brilliant colored crocus in my front yard. It looks like spring is here in the great valley of the Portland area. I have noticed the beginnings of buds on my "non-fruit bearing" apple blossom tree as well. I can hear the birds and the feel of the air is changing.

Mmmmmm.......Sigh......... I love God's versatile creativity.

With the changes all around us, I have felt motivated to get out and walk a mile or two every day with the dogs. My fuzzy boys are loving every second of it. I don't know what body signals I send out differently between putting my shoes on for errands and putting my shoes on for a walk. But they sure know the difference. Before I even say the words, "Would you like to go for a walk?", they are prancing and dancing around me. My question is met with a lavish amount of slobbery kisses and mumbling dog talk that gives way to their obvious praise that I am the best-est pet owner in the world.  haa haa

On our walks, Congito has a good case of little dog syndrome and he volleys for lead position at all times. Kekoa is content to observe and question every blade of grass. Once we get to the look out point that is our half way marker, Kekoa will look about as if he is surveying his kingdom. It is all quite funny to watch. At the same time, they remind me to savor each moment.

I have been thinking about moments lately. Moments of the past have struck me at the forefront of my mind. This time last year, every moment in every situation with every person in my life was surreal and impacting. I seemed to be in a continuous state of wanting to hold on to each moment and second of the day and nothing else mattered. I didn't look forward, but instead I held on to that single space of time for what it was completely worth.

I know that was because of my heightened awareness and emotions of giving almost a whole year to my dad until he passed.  But now that the rawness of that year is gone and I seem to be caught up in the every day things, I wonder if I need to remember some of that urgency.  I feel a little caught up in the every day things, the mundane, and making comments to myself of what tomorrow or next week holds.

Yet, as I sit here, I hear that still small voice say, "Today is a gift with a plan and a purpose. Examine today for all it is worth.."

And so I ponder and look to shift my thought parameters.

Before I sign off though, I want to share these pictures.
The ever dramatic and high energy Congito flops on the couch with a sigh after our walk. 

Congito makes me laugh. 
Doesn't he look like it is so hard to be a D-O-G?

 You can't really see Kekoa because his fur absorbs the bright reflective light of the sun. He is up on top of the couch "roosting" where he can view the passersby out the window. No matter how sleepy or comfortable, he is always on perimeter watch guarding his kingdom.

I pray you have a wonderfully blessed week, full of His joyful presence and love that bubbles from your middle and overflows with that goodness feeling that is undeniable.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

He is Here....

 Tonight as I get ready for bed, I find myself needing to stop here and make note of the fact that life has been moving at mock speed. 

Even still; God is here.

In the midst of out of town company and crisis ministry; God is still here.
Despite lost keys, fainting daughters, doctor appointments, routine test and then my own pulled ligament that seems to not want to give up; God is still here.
Unexpected schedule changes, balancing routine with stepping into learning I can do more than I think I can; and God is here.

He is in all of it. 

He is with the family that I cannot protect every day. He is in the insurance adjustments and job challenges.
All the every day things that are big and small; they can be taxing and draining, invigorating and challenging....they all come with their own choices and outcomes.

I choose....

I choose...........

I choose to remember that with all of my choices, they lead wit the factor that God is here and I am never ever alone.