Superbowl Menu

I am not a football fan but my husband and oldest son are.  My youngest son is not a football fan but he is a superbowl football FOOD fan.  So the superbowl menu is a place where I can shine my culinary skills and be appreciated.

Each year I spend quite a lot of time planning the menu and I really enjoy the process of planning and eliminating.  This year my armchair quarterbacks have requested classic hot wings and I will not disappoint.  I also found a recipe for Buffalo Cauliflower that sounds great to me.  I kind of hope they don’t like them so I can keep for myself.  I love cauliflower.

When I announced that one of my ideas was jalapeno poppers, I got hearty approval so they are on the menu.  I think I am also going to serve oven fries to go with the wings and a trail mix mixture for in-between munching so the guys can go from salty/savory to sweet in one grab.

For dessert I am borrowing a new Thanksgiving recipe we had this past holiday that was fantastic – Handheld Pecan Pies.  The dough is laden with butter but oh my goodness they are fantastic!  The recipe comes from a popular restaurant in Seattle and appeared in an issue of Food & Wine magazine.

As I looked over the net for superbowl menus, I was suprised to find little in the way of “menus” and serving ideas even though the recipes were abundant.  I think I am going to create a post for some menus and serving ideas myself.

I look forward to the superbowl because I can create foods my family loves and appreciates, I can serve them with all the oohs and aahs but in between I can relax and crochet with their comments in the background.  It entertains me….

Designing a Sabbath Tablecloth

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So one of my daughters wants a Sabbath tablecloth.  Her birthday is coming up and I know she did not get one for Chanukah so I am going to make one.  I had spotted some Jewish themed fabric at Joanns several weeks ago and have been waiting for it to go on sale.  It was originally $15 per yard and that is a little pricey for a tablelcoth considering how much fabric I would need to buy.

Well good news – it did go on sale for 50% off but bad news – there was only about 1 yard left on the bolt.  I got upset at first and started fussing at myself but realized quickly that wasn’t helping the situation.  I decided to buy the scant yard that I wanted and find some coordinating fabric to add to it.

The piece I bought was basically an overall design of six-pointed stars with shades of blue and gold.  For some reason, it gave off a hue of lavender even though there is no lavender in the color scheme.  I chose a fairly dark mottled blue with gold dust scattered throughout the fabric.  it coordinated beautifully with my print.

So as I sat at my design table trying to decide how to lay out the fabric for cutting, I decided to get a little bit fancy instead of just stitching the pieces to the size I needed for a 52 inch square table.

I sketched out the diagram as you can see in the accompanying image.  I have a 10 X 20 inch piece of Marcella in white that I am embroidering with Shalom and two stars of David on either side.  The word Shalom will be done twice each facing opposite each other so no matter which side of the table you are on, you will be able to read it.  I am using size 8 DMC pearl cotton in a beautiful sky blue for the letters and I’m using a gold shade of the pearl to add some accents inside the bubble type letters.  The stars are bubbled also and I am adding some curly q’s in gold inside the stars and will accent with some seed beads.  Not too many seed beads because they get in the way when you want to set something on top of the table.

Once I had the centered motif sized and cut out, I then used simple geometry and measured out how many pieces of coordinating fabrics to surround the design. 

Thanksgiving Menus

I love the Thanksgiving holiday.  I love the idea of cooking up a storm in the day or days prior and having the whole family gathered around enjoying each other and all the food.  To me that is the ultimate in family gatherings.  Then I have the rest of the weekend to call up memories while I laze around eating leftovers without having to cook so I’ll be rested up to return to work on Monday.

I pretty much stick to the same menu every year but I spend a lot of time pouring over recipes, methods, tips and ideas from others.  I pour over blogs and magazines looking for a better way to season my turkey and improved methods for time management.  The time and anticipation I spend doing these things can be likened to the horse caged in the little area before the race, raring for the gate to be opened so he can be off doing what he was trained to do.  I just want to get started already.

This year, the first day of Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving Day.  We have a Chanukah party every year and draw names but keep it a secret as to who we have.  We set a limit on what to spend and draw our names during Sukkot.  So since Thanksgiving is on the 1st day of Chanukah and everyone will be together anyway, we are combining the two.  We will start our Chanukah “party” portion of the day around dessert.  We are primarily keeping with the Thanksgiving dishes except for having Fried Pies as one of our desserts.  There will be 7 more days to enjoy latkes and sufganiyot after all.

My menu Thanksgiving 2013 is:

Appetizers:

Hot Spicy Artichoke Dip w/Pita Chips and Assorted Crudites
Spicy Roasted Nuts
Cheese Turkey Balls (made by the kids)

Roast Turkey & Smoked Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole
Scalloped Peas & Onions
Herb Stuffing
Sweet Baby Corn
Green Bean Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
15 Minute Biscuit Rolls

Pumpkin Pie
Handheld Caramel Pecan Pies
Fried Fruit Pies
Chocolate Tart w/Rum Glaze

Beverages

Egg Nog – Virgin and Hi-Test
Assorted Mixers
Grape Juice
Coffee

Let the feast begin!

Freezer Strawberry Jam

I was shopping for party favors for a baby shower I was giving and wanted something that people would really enjoy, was very cost efficient, and would appeal to a variety of ages.  I decided to make Freezer Strawberry Jam and what a great decision it turned out to be.

I had not made freezer jam for several years so I was looking for the right containers to use.  I discovered that Ball makes plastic freezer jars and they were available in my local grocery store.  They cost about $3.49 for 3 (8 oz.) jars w/their respective lids.  Even with strawberries not on sale, I estimated the favors cost approx. $2 or $3 each jar.

The jam was super easy and quick to make and the pay off in flavor was off the charts.  The jam keeps in the refrigerator for three weeks but in the freezer can last up to one year.

I have pictures of the final product but did not take any photos of the process itself.  I plan on making some blackberry jam next time and will post pictures at that time.

I washed the jars and their lids in very hot water and then let them drip dry before using.

The strawberries are first cut into small chunks (I just sliced in half and removed the stem).  You then combine the Sure Jell with the requisite water and boil 1 minute.  Mash the berries with a potato masher or in the food processor and add the amount of sugar for the berries you are using.  A recipe/chart is provided in the box of Sure Jell.

Add the Sure Jell mixture from the stove, stir, and fill the jars.  I left about an inch head space.  Two packages of strawberries (16 0z each) yielded 12 (8 oz) jars.

I then set the jars in a muffin tin and slid the whole thing in the fridge to chill for a week before the shower.  I printed labels from the Ball webpage, filled in the date made, and instructions and glued to the tops of the lids.  They were a hit and my husband is enjoying the extra few jars I made just for him.

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My Refuge

Many years ago, I was at a Women’s Retreat in Jacksonville, FL and at the close of a moving sermon by a well-known woman evangelist, she began putting the microphone in everyone’s face and asking, “What does Jesus mean to you?”  I remember sitting there hoping she did not put the microphone in my face and wondering what would I say if she did.  As I thought on this I realized I had no idea how to really answer that question.  I knew all of the bible stories, the message of salvation, the need for a Savior, etc. but I wasn’t sure I could answer the question of what Jesus meant to me? without sounding ‘clichest.’  And I really did want to know the answer.  I really did want to have a personal reason for what He meant to me.

This blog post would be book size if I were to fill in all that transpired between then and now but suffice it to say that I have learned what Yeshua means to me personally – He is MY refuge.

Whatever life throws at me from one day to the next, my Refuge never moves, never changes, never says no, and never closes His arms to me.  In fact, I am constantly aware of His very own Spirit pursuing me and wooing me every time I stray just a little.

How did He become my refuge?  Through life’s storms, He sheltered me and I got to know Him.

In Psalm 5: 4-6, David describes those evils G-d abhors and destroys.  And in verse 7, David does not claim to be better than those boastful men who do evil and which G-d abhors; however, He says, “BUT as for me…..”  David knew G-d and had discovered that G-d was His refuge for in verse 7 he goes on to say about those who take refuge in G-d Almighty:

…by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, at Your Holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.

David did pretty much every ‘bad’ thing there was to do in this world but He chose to take refuge in Salvation’s arms.  He chose life (Deut 30:19).

Those who have taken refuge in the L-rd and have come to know Him, to believe that He came to die for him and to give life abundantly, will enter through His abundant lovingkindness.  His righteousness covering us, buries the person we used to be and clothes us in His humility and His own righteousness.

Deut 33:12 – Let the beloved of the L-rd rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long…

Zech 9:15 – The L-rd of Hosts will defend them.

Col 3:3 – …your life is now hidden with Messiah in G-d

Psalm 32:7 – You are my hiding place.

Psalm 30:1 – You lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

Isaiah 43:1 – Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Psalm 5: 11-12

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for you;

And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.

For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O L-rd,

You surround him with favor as with a shield.

Beauty For Ashes

Yesterday was my 37th wedding anniversary.  My daughter-in-law said she was thankful that my husband and I had made the committment to stay together no matter what and that her husband (our son) was blessed to have both parents.

Her comment got me thinking about the sacrifices parents make to stay married.  Marriage is difficult.  We are all individuals and we all have our individual ways of looking at things and making decisions or choices.  Sometimes those differences can cause problems in relationships.  We are constantly having to give up our “right to be right” to keep the peace.  Or sometimes we don’t give up the right so quickly and the result is “no peace.”

There are other kinds of sacrifices we make as parents or spouses.  And whatever the differences of opinions or struggles to get along, those sacrifices are many times painful to make.  The temptation is great to just give up and throw in the towel.  Sometimes our anger and frustration can mount to experience feelings of hopelessness and we feel overwhelmed and helpless to make the marriage work.  But when we do not give up but keep on trying and pushing through, we are literally placing our rights on the altar of obedience and a beautiful aroma begins to eminate as the sacrifice becomes ashes.

“…To give them beauty for ashes….”  Ashes are a by-product of burning something and when we think of physical sacrifices we think of burning on an altar.  So applying a visual picture to this whole thought process this came to me:

As G-d’s children, we sacrifice on the altar of obedience and the resulting ashes are then traded for His beauty.  Isaiah 61:3

That “beauty” can be the blessings my daughter-in-law so accurately recognized in her husband.  In contrast, our current world is evidence of the result of not sacrificing to keep our marriages together through the broken homes, broken lives, destroyed families, lost children, and a deviant society of young people destined for the next generation to deal with.

In retrospect, those sacrifices seem so little to give up for the sake of peace, harmony, and the blessings around a table surrounded by our family members.  I think of that every Shabbat when I recite Psalm 112 over my husband.  Here is just a small portion of it:

Blessed is the man who fears the L-rd.  Who delights greatly in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.  Wealth and riches WILL be in his house……..

Zakka Item (1)

I’ve been on a zakka kick since I first discovered the word.  I love handmade items that fall in the zakka category.  Their style appeals to my senses and satisfies that domestic side of me.  This is a little fabric basket or bucket that I sewed for my daughter.  I haven’t sent it to her yet but I am filling it with some handmade items for her to use for hand sewing.  I am including a needle book, pincushion, and a scissors keep.  I will be posting those as I finish them.  This was a Simplicity pattern that included a sewing machine cover, various sizes of these baskets, and other sewing room items.   They all called for fat quarters which is what I used mostly.  Some pieces were just scraps from various sources.

The next one I make, I will select the fabrics for the prairie points so that they contrast a little more with the bottom band.  These fabrics I used were gorgeous and all from a coordinated fat quarter bundle but sewn like this they do not really compliment each other with enough contrast.  In my opinion, that is.Fabric Basket