Thursday, January 29, 2015

Best Healthy Cookbooks On My Kitchen Shelf (or what I got for Christmas)

One of my goals for the year is to cook more delicious AND healthy meals. And I have three new cookbooks to help. (thanks, Dave) 

1. Celebrating the Midwestern Table: Real Food for Real Times by Abby Mandel

I gave this cookbook a trial run by checking it out at the library. Then found a beautiful used copy for $1.

Abby, a longtime Chicago resident, "pays due respect to modern taste and concerns for health, with less fat, less meat and more wonderful vegetables and grains than our grandmothers' versions would have done."

2. The Pollan Family Table: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdom for Delicious, Healthy Family Meals by Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan 

This cookbook is full of gorgeous pictures that celebrate the family table and makes you want to host a big delicious family meal immediately.  

This fun family includes Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: an Eater's Manifesto and his sister, Tracy Pollan, who is married to Michael J. Fox.

3. The Daniel Plan Cookbook: Healthy Eating for Life by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen and Mark Hyman

I have two rules for buying a cookbook:

    *it must contain mostly recipes that I would enjoy making for dinner ... tonight.

     *it must not contain crazy unknown ingredients. 

I could not find a recipe that I would not make for tonight's dinner in The Daniel Plan Cookbook. It passes my second test, too.

Here is our favorite meal, so far. ("I would happily eat this once a week" ~Dave)

Asian-Style Curried Coconut Chicken
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon sweet curry powder 
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons raw honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil 
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
     cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
16 - 20 spears fresh asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
4 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
3 - 4 cups cooked brown rice
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
2 tablespoons coconut
hot sauce, as desired

1. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, curry powder, cornstarch, lime juice, honey and salt. Set aside.

2. Heat a wok or a large stainless steel saute or frying pan over medium-high heat, until a few drops of water evaporate immediately. Swirl 2 tablespoons 
of the coconut oil in the pan to coat. Add chicken strips, and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove chicken from the pan, and keep warm.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, asparagus, and ginger; cook for 4 minutes. Stir often.

4. Whisk sauce, and add to the vegetables. Cook until sauce thickens (1-2 minutes.) Stir in basil, chicken and nuts. Serve over hot rice. Garnish with green onions, hot sauce and coconut.

*my adaptations: I do not use cornstarch, did not toast the almonds and doubled the curry powder.

For more great recipes, check out all three of these cookbooks. Bon and healthy appetit.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday morning

Monday mornings will usually find me hanging out with this adorable one and her sweet mom ...

This week, they are visiting dear friends in Minnesota.

Monday morning has still been good ... just a little quieter. Extra time for tea and coffee. (always tea first)

For years, I have collected small pitchers from our travels.

We Childers women are all on a downsizing kick. As I have been sorting, I was reminded again how much I love my little pitchers, so I have been using them more. 

Tea and coffee with milk in a pitcher ... perfect for Monday morning.

And, this Monday morning, I have been studying.


So much planning and prayer has gone into our study of Philippians, that begins this Saturday morning. We have over 200 women signed up, but there is still room for you.

It is a funny faith stretching thing to accept a teaching invitation. (I am teaching 2 of the lessons) This morning, I began the portion that I will be teaching.

It rather freaked me out ... it is a very hard and complicated passage. After I settled down, I began to get excited, as this is the very passage God has designed for me to teach. I wonder what I will learn?

I would love your prayers, as I prepare lesson 5 and lesson 8. My wisdom will get us a little ways for a little while ... but we desire God's wisdom that lasts forever. Thanks, friends.

Linking up with dear Jen and the Soli Sisters 

Monday, January 12, 2015

I Had My Day In Court

Tucked in the middle of a really good mail day, (lots of Christmas cards) I found a jury summons for January 5.

It took me awhile to make peace with this white, very legal looking, piece of paper with my name on it. (why me? why now? why on the first day of Dave's new job? why on a -20 degree day? why criminal court? etc.)

Dave read some reviews of this court, so sent me off with plenty of quarters, bottles of water, lunch and his prayers.

Christy gave me a ride and prayed for me, too. So off I went.

Getting through the security and metal detector, in this very busy courthouse, felt a little like I was being ushered into jail. There were lots of uniformed folks yelling. Yelling a lot. 

And, one sweet sheriff who made direct eye contact with me and smiled.

I spent a quiet few hours in a very comfortable jury room, working on my Precept Philippians Bible Study, before my number was called. (my tiny way of adding some light to a rather dark place)

Then off to a court room for jury selection for a ... double murder trial. Oh my.

60 potential jurors and they needed 14 people.

Again, it took me awhile to make my peace with this. I did come to a place of trusting that God really was in control and if I got chosen, He would see me through.

The judge called up 14 potential jurors for questioning. My name was not called.

This was an interesting thing to watch, especially with the alleged murder suspect sitting right there.

And the judge was rather mean and shamed based. He made fun of a women who did not speak fluent English etc. I was not fond of him.

After several hours, they did not have enough jurors, so they called up a second set of 14. They did not call me.

By now, I know, I will not have to serve. And, Illinois is a one day jury system. If you are not chosen the first day, you are done. I was grateful, I did not have sit on a double murder trial.

Here is what I learned when I had my day in court.

     *I feel really nervous in situations where I have
no control. 

     *I am very unhappy when people are treated rudely by someone in authority.

     *I love the simple act of one person, the smiling sheriff, who did her best to make a difference.

     *Throughout the day, I felt extreme pride and gratefulness, for my dad and my, who regularly go into jails to bring hope to inmates. 

     *And, choosing good judges really matters. This guy may have been a fair judge, but I sure did not like his manners.

Have you ever served on a jury?


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why I (still) Love January and Tips to Help You Love January, too.

There seems to be two camps of thinking about the month of January. I, for one, am deeply entrenched in the camp that believes January is a beautiful month.

Here are a few tips to help you move a few steps closer to enjoying this delicious month.

1. Fine tune your Christmas decorations, so they are easy and quick to take down. 

This was a picture I took two years ago. I have since gotten rid of everything that does not give me lots of joy. I now have just 3 Christmas bins.

There is no reason to be grouchy before the month even begins. :)

2. Stock up on all your favorite hot beverages. I  think of January as a cozy month, which means favorite mugs and favorite drinks.

We had a mini-crisis the other morning, when we thought we were out of Tetley tea. We dug around and found one last box. Phew.

3. To compensate for all the fun lights of Christmas that are now packed away, I add a few things for sparkle in January.

     * I add a string of lights to the bookcase. These fun floral lights are from IKEA.

     * I love to put candles ... everywhere.

     *I use reflective surfaces. I love this pewter piece from Germany. It is part of a communion service. And the silver pedestal was a wedding present, 37 years ago. (this is the top of our television cabinet) 

4. Choose one area of your home to decorate in a new way.

This year, I challenged myself to do the mantel using only things I already had AND things I had never put on the mantel before. (with the exception of the Mt. Rainer picture which is always up for winter)

The fish plate was chosen for its shape and sentimental value. It is from Viet Nam, where I grew up. I loved the texture of the bamboo tray. And, I wasn't ready yet to put away all of the Christmas advent art from True Cotton.

Dave brought this beautiful vase home for me from Romania. The typewriter is from Home Goods.

5. Do something fun and new. Read some new books, try a new recipe, find a new route for your morning walk. New is good for a new year. 

I chose for my new thing, to sign up for Jeanne Oliver's amazing (and free) on.line course, Becoming: the Unfolding of You.

It is great. Eight weeks with 22 different women teaching from their life story on our identity in Christ and then sharing something creative from their lives.

The spiritual content has been amazing, but I am also really inspired by the creative bits. In the first lesson, Jeanne showed us how she decorates her mantle.

Jeanne likes to use something fresh from her yard, even in the winter. I liked this idea, so I went to our alley and clipped a few branches from my neighbor, Amy's, Christmas tree. (an interesting tidbit about Chicago is that if you want to get rid of anything, put it in the alley and it will be gone, usually within the hour)

Pretty, eh? 

6. Use your Christmas gifts. Read the books your kids gave you, watch the movies, get the massage from the gift card. (I wish) 

Jenny sewed for me a beautiful tablecloth from my mom's fabrics. A perfect cheery bit for what is turning out to be a very cold month. (-20 with windchill)

So, how about you. Do you love or loathe the month of January

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