Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hot Fudge Sauce

In some countries you can purchase bottles of chocolate fudge sauce like here in Russia but I have found a homemade recipe that, to me, tastes better than the chocolate fudge that comes in those cute little bottles. I first found this recipe here when we started searching for a homemade version so we could have some hot fudge sauce with ice cream. The three simple ingredients caught my eye and this recipe is now loved by our entire family.


Approx. 85 grams of a chocolate candy bar chopped into small pieces (We usually use dark chocolate but you can use milk chocolate)
1 can (14 oz/396 grams) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup Butter


Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until all ingredients are melted, smooth and creamy. Let cool slightly, serve immediately or store in a container in the fridge for up to a month. To reheat, spoon into a microwave safe bowl and heat until smooth.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Garden Pasta Salad

Warmer weather has finally come to me here in Siberia, Russia and that means it has definitely come to most of you. Summer means picnics, barbecues, and outdoor gatherings. One of the perfect food items to include this time of the year is cold salads. I love them in the summertime! I enjoy a good garden salad but every now and then a cold pasta salad can really hit the spot. I am not sure where I first found this recipe but I really like it as a change from the usual. Just a warning - the dressing is both sweet and sour.

1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni, (the original recipe calls for it to be cooked according to package directions for a salad. I just cook it al dente.)
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 or 3 large tomatoes. chopped (you can use cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup green onion, chopped (can use regular onion)
Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing recipe:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low heat on top of the stove until sugar dissolves. Pour over salad.

Prepare pasta according to package directions for salad or al dente. In a large salad bowl add pasta and remaining ingredients. Toss with dressing. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.. Makes about 8-10 servings and keeps for several days.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

This is Our Quest

Being a missionary in Spain, I quickly adopted the folk hero Don Quixote. Yes, he’s the nut who fought a windmill—among other things—and believed only the best about everyone. The knight Quixote was a starry-eyed idealist who always wanted the good.

 . . . And so do we!

We may not get knocked off our horses by windmills or farmers, but we will joust with the enemy, just the same.

The enemy has many forms. (I’m not talking about the enemy of our souls, here. I’m talking about typical missionary enemies—those things that could easily defeat us.)

It might be the hardships of the field itself. I think of those of you in third world countries where electricity is iffy, water supply is iffy, the government and all its officials are corrupt, and you need patience every. single. day. Dust permeates every corner of your home—even an hour after you dust and mop. Or you might live in a large city where the only “yard” you have is the one you create on your balcony. You live in a concrete jungle where the neighbors are critical and the traffic is crazy. You have to travel just to see something natural and green. (Your kids have no idea where milk comes from!) You feel penned in and often get cabin fever. I think of those fields where the harvest isn’t even green yet, let alone ready—like Europe. You rejoice when anyone is interested in coming to church. Anyone! I think of the “hardships” of the abundant harvests. How in the world can you possibly disciple 263 new believers? (I made up the number.) How can you counsel and meet their needs with only two pastors and their wives?

The enemy might be your body. It’s daunting to hear of missionaries’ physical challenges. We’re all only flesh. Every woman in ministry sooner or later faces an injury, sickness, hormonal challenges, pain, or just plain exhausted tiredness.

The enemy might be mental. Between the ears is where the hardest spiritual battles are fought. Love that person who’s trying your patience. Yield to your husband when you aren’t feeling perky. Enjoy Sundays when only your family and five more people show up for services. Get excited about distributing gospel tracts when there hasn’t been one response in three years. Clean up after inconsiderate people trash the church or on purpose soil the bathrooms. Keep smiling and being sweet, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord (from 1 Corinthians 15:58). Look to Jesus and not at people.

The enemy might be clutter: house clutter, mental clutter, over-commitment, social media, disorganization . . . . There are many ways we clutter our lives.

The enemy may be criticism. (Now, there will always be critics. Most of them are only mindlessly commenting on something they don’t like. Not everyone will be pleased all the time. That’s only normal.) Sometimes, the criticism is actually cruel attacking. It may be aimed at your pastor, husband, or directly at you. It might come from another Christian, another pastor, or an outside source. If you read missionary biographies—I heartily recommend it—you’ll find you’re not alone. If you read the Psalms, you’ll see you’re not alone. If you study the Perfect Lord Himself, you’ll find that no one is immune to cruel, unjust criticism.

The enemy might be time. It keeps ticking away. Your day is too short. The week flies by. Dinner has to be made right after you cleaned up the lunch dishes. Guests are arriving in an hour, and there are still beds to make and the “last touches” to do. Homeschooling is behind schedule for the year. Your pregnancy has slowed you down. Where did May go, anyway?

The enemy might be your family or lack thereof. You harbor resentment against your mission calling because you haven’t seen your folks back home in years—except by pixelated Skype. You’re not happy because hubby’s occupied day and night. (When was the last time you had a date?) You’re up every two hours with the baby. The five-year-old hits and bites. Your teenager is tempted with the world, and you don’t have all the answers. If you didn’t have fifteen children, you’d have more time for ministry. You’re childless, and you long for a child to love. You’re single, and you’d like to have some company on your journey.

The enemy is you. The cartoon character Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” (In our case, it’s “she is us.”)

So what does Don Quixote do and . . . 

What do we do?

  • Remember that ultimately, the fight is for the right. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12).
  • Keep your armor on. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11, also 12-18).
  • Think about the good, not the bad. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
  • Rejoice that the battle is already won in Christ. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).
  • "Eat" regularly. Become a Berean Bible student. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).
  • Deny self daily. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).
  • Have a thankful spirit. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).
  • Be joyful in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4)

God bless you, fellow knights! ¡Adelante! (Onward!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Homemade Dinner Gravy

A good basic recipe that we need to make from scratch on the mission field is gravies. This recipe is a good one for a dinner gravy to be used with either beef or chicken dishes and to be served over mashed potatoes.

This recipe, as listed here, is already doubled. With the amount of food my family consumes, I most frequently double it. You can also easily adjust it for 2 cups of water.


In a saucepan combine:

4 cups water
2 beef or chicken bullion cubes (10 grams per cube)
4 tbsp. salted butter ( I just add in a dash or two to my unsalted butter)

In a separate bowl, combine:

1/2 cup water or 1/2 cup milk (for creamy gravy) - You can use a little less milk for thicker gravy
4 tbsp. corn starch
Dash or two of pepper

Heat water, bullion cubes, and butter together until boiling. Once bullion cubes have dissolved and mixture reaches rapid boil, stir in the corn starch mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer over medium heat for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from heat and serve.

Tip: If you need a mushroom gravy you can substitute one mushroom bullion cube for one beef and add well-drained canned mushrooms.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hospitality: Shoe Shopping

I am not a shopper. I really have to be in the mood to shop. But I can tell you one thing: when I go shoe shopping, I want the perfect fit. I want the shoes to seem as if they were made just for me. I love the perfect balance of style and comfort. Anything less, and they will not make it out the door of the store.

The problem is that we often treat hospitality in our home with the same mindset... what fits us. With hospitality, it isn't about our shoes. It's about putting ourselves in our guest's shoes. What are their needs? What are their goals/purposes/plans? Since we are not mind readers, this step is going to take a little research.

Our guest's needs can be narrowed down to:

A place to clean up and shower

Time to ask questions...

Things you want to know about your guests:

1) How many are coming?

Be sure you have sufficient rooms and bedding for the number of guests coming. If it will be a tight squeeze, let them know ahead of time so they can decide if they would rather invest in a hotel. Imagine a married couple battling jet lag and being crammed in a twin size bed with a toddler... not a pleasant picture. Be realistic, as well as transparent with your guests, about the space and facilities you have to offer BEFORE confirming their stay. If they are fine with the twin bed and toddler scenario, it may mean that financial savings are a priority in their needs. Also, consider investing in things like an air mattress if you plan on being host to guests.

2) Allergies (food, pet, etc?)

3) Goals and purpose of visit?

A surveying missionary is certainly going to have a different itinerary than a supporting pastor coming to visit the missionary. For example: surveying missionaries have limited time and need to accomplish a great deal in that time. This requires greater flexibility in hospitality. Knowing their goals will help you plan.

4) Special eating requirements?

We certainly don't want to serve pastas and desserts every night to a diabetic or someone trying to lose weight.

5) Special sleeping needs?

6) How adventurous are they in their eating?

Face it. Some people just love the food of their home country. As much as I love the food here in our country, others are just not interested. In hospitality, it isn't our goal to change our guests and win them over to the adventures of culinary delight. It is our goal to minister to them.

7) Do they have an itinerary?

Our last guests were here for survey had a wonderful goal. They wanted to eat dinner with different missionaries here as many nights as possible. Knowing that detail, and even helping to arrange some of those meetings, helped me to plan for when I needed to cook for our guests. These guests also needed an enormous amount of flexibility in schedule. They were only here for one week and had to make the best use of every minute. Knowing that helped me to plan meals that were just as flexible so that food wasn't cold when they arrived, we were not waiting on them unnecessarily when their schedule changed, and food never went to waste if they had to cancel dinner plans with us for an unexpected opportunity that opened up.

8) What is their normal eating/sleeping schedule?

With jet lag, this may be pretty interrupted, but it will give you somewhere to aim if you know things like they are not breakfast eaters or that they eat dinner early everyday.

Taking the time to ask a few questions can make the difference between a wonderful trip full of pleasant memories and a miserable experience.

So you have enough bedding and a place for your guest(s) to stay. What do you feed them with out breaking the bank and without living in the kitchen the whole time?

To be continued...