Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comfort Food

 Our Storyteller is suffering with a cold and requested this simple but tasty 'comfort food' for supper. As I was putting it in the oven, I realized that I have not shared this easy recipe with you - so here it is! I  think this is a great casserole for 'veggie haters', picky eaters or those who require a non-spicy diet.  It's popular at pot-luck dinners too.  It doesn't freeze well - presumably because of the dairy  content - but that is easy to work around if you keep cooked chicken in the freezer.  When chicken is on sale I often bake 5 pounds with a sprinkling of herbs and when it is cool I cut it up and divide it into 2 cup containers before freezing it. It's handy for many different recipes, and works especially well in this one. You could also use a deli chicken or those frozen grilled breasts. 

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

8 ounces of fine or medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
3-4 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup  (my recipe is below)
16 ounces  reduced fat sour cream
1 1/2 -2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons  poppy seeds
1 sleeve of crackers, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine first 6 ingredients and stir well. Spoon into a lightly greased 2 quart casserole or 7"x12" baking dish.  Top with the crushed crackers and drizzle with melted butter.  Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and brown. Serves 8.

Quick 'Cream of Chicken Soup' Substitute
We're always trying to avoid excess salt and this is more economical than Campbells.

3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup shredded chicken (if available)

Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat.  Blend in flour and seasonings while cooking and stirring until bubbling.  Slowly add the chicken broth and blend until smooth using a whisk.  Add the milk slowly and continue to blend until thickened.  If it gets too thick add a bit more chicken broth. This makes about 10 ounces  and is a good substitute for one can of Cream of Chicken Soup. Double for Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole.


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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving # 38

I've just been forced to take a quick break by Dreamer - she has mopped the kitchen floor and banned me from the kitchen while it dries! Like you, we are busy as bees getting ready for company tonight and a quiet celebration of our 38th Thanksgiving tomorrow! I thought I would sit here with my nice cup of hot tea and share a bit with you! Hopefully you are taking a break and taking time to reflect on the joys of Thanksgiving too!

I guess I should explain those 38 Thanksgivings, since that seems like a lot of Thanksgivings for a couple married only 19 years, but it's true! We were married in Canada on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend way back in '91 - it was glorious!  We felt then that no matter where the Lord led us we should  celebrate both Canadian and American Thanksgiving to reflect our 'dual heritage' - we've always had so much to be thankful for!  It's helps that we really like turkey too!

We'd been married just over a month when I prepared my first Thanksgiving dinner - for my mother in law!  Yikes! I'll never forget it! We ate on a borrowed card table and used blue splatter ware tin pie plates for our table service! I made enough food to feed an army, and amazingly, everything turned out pretty well.  Timing was the tricky part - having everything ready and hot at the same time was a struggle with my tiny apartment sized stove! I am amazed at God's goodness in allowing that dinner to go well, since I've had many more special meals to prepare over the years and it just gave me a sense of confidence  that I might not have had had everything been a flop.  Don't get me wrong - I've had many flops since, but we've all lived and learned to laugh about it!

One of my goals for Dreamer is to have the 'life skill' of making a special meal from scratch before she leaves our humble nest for college or marriage. I think she has the tidy up and cleaning part well in hand, but so far she loves to bake cookies and eat homemade food, but not make it!  We have some work to do there! I hope we'll have the time to reach that goal, but right now it seems like other life skills are more pressing - and getting ready for high school is taking up much of our time.

Speaking of time, the floor is dry, I'm on my second cup of tea and I need to get back to the list - there are just a few items left and I have a 1/2 hour of rest scheduled too, so I'd better be going!  

I'll finish with my 'short list' of things 
I am very very thankful for -

  • Always #1 - my salvation in Jesus Christ, without Him, I would be lost and miserable
  • My family - my husband and children, my Dad and Mum, my sister and her family
  • Dear friendships - God has been so good, not in providing an abundance of friends, but in providing friendships that enrich us in so many ways
  • Our home - a place of harmony, joy, laughter, learning, music, quiet and rest
  • Our needs are met - more then met really, and we have enough to share with others
  • Good books - for learning, laughing and escaping into another pleasant place for just a while
  • Trials - we've had so many and yet with each God has taught us to trust Him and shown us His goodness and faithfulness. Our latest trials are hard to be sure, but there is so much joy in knowing He is at work in our lives.
 I do hope that you enjoy a pleasant and loving Thanksgiving with those you love!

 Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Man Camp

Breathtaking beauty courtesy of our Awesome God  - image captured in the early morning by our Historian

Last Saturday our guys braved the frosty morning air to attend our church's first 'Man Camp'. I think that judging by the response this will become a regular event for the men of our church family. The guys went to learn to protect and provide for their families and to be reminded of God's standards for men.  By all accounts it was a wonderful day.  The guys, young and old,  cooked good meals over an open fire, reviewed some basic first aid skills, practiced target shooting with guns and bows, mastered fire building without matches, learned to handle a pocket knife, reviewed some basic orienteering and heard a lot about what God has designed a man to be and how a man should treat a lady.

There was a lot of  guttural 'ugh, ugh, ugh' sounds going on Sunday morning.

 Only some of it could be attributed to the  general stiffness felt by unaccustomed muscles long over worked in the chilly November air during Man Camp.
You could almost smell the testosterone in adult Sunday School 
... or maybe that was a little leftover woodsmoke!

Our Storyteller had an amazing day.  The Historian enjoyed the day too, though the 'real deal' outhouses were a bit more 'rustic' than he anticipated. 

Both of our guys came home in one piece with glowing cheeks and much to share,
and for that, I am truly grateful. 

I thought that seeing a picture of my Storyteller positioned to shoot might be my undoing, but I was just so proud of him.  From all reports he listened well and followed instructions.  He wants to learn to shoot so badly. My conviction that a boy doesn't need to learn to shoot to become a man was quite likely wrong.  

For some boys, it's very necessary.

I admit that I was one of those Mum's who didn't want our boy playing with guns.  It didn't matter because I soon learned that even a wooden spoon will be turned into a gun in the hands of our boy. I don't how many times we had to ask the Storyteller to put away his 'gun fingers' at the table when he was younger.  We didn't buy toy guns for our Storyteller because with his temper control problems, we didn't think adding a gun to the mix was a good idea. We compromised with Nerf Blasters, and they have been a lot of fun for both children. 
Raising a boy to become a godly young man who is ready, willing and able to be the protector and defender of his faith, his family and his country is no simple task.  We need manly men who love God passionately, serve Him faithfully, and know His Word thoroughly.

Man Camp was just another step in that direction.

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