Sunday, December 21, 2008

And since we've no place to go.....

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it Snow!Actually, we have a lot of places to go, but we've been slowed down quite a bit by two major snowstorms over the weekend!
Robert did get to try out the snowplow that we inherited when the Evans family moved to Oregon. It worked great and was a nice reprieve from the usual shoveling.

The chickens haven't known quite what to do with all of the white stuff, and have remained literally "cooped up." Today, I spent time shoveling the snow out of their yard and spreading fresh hay in the coop. This one (named Chocolate Bar) has ventured out of the coop once or twice to check things out. We are still getting eggs - around 5 or 6 a day. What else do they have to do when it's 25 degrees outside? Tomorrow is supposed to bring temps below zero, so hopefully their coop is now even cozier. (Robert calls it the Chicken Hilton.)

Christmas Happenings

December is always FULL of activity and this one has been no different. Kayla had her annual Christmas tea party. This was the fourth one we've done and Kayla says, "It's fun, fun, fun!" I think it's fun too - maybe a bit stressful to pull off in the month of December - but a really fun time for the girls. I can see us doing this for years to come. The crafts and stories and play time may change, but getting girls together for Christmas fun will hopefully not. We dressed up dolls and stuffed animals with Christmas ribbons, decorated gingerbread houses, made Nativity scenes out of clay pots, and had a REAL tea party, of course - complete with peppermint tea, hot chocolate, chocolate covered strawberries, tea sandwiches, cloth napkins, and grown up tea cups! And I have to mention that I could not have done all of this without the help of my friend Virginia - she goes to my church and is a student at UMass. She was so good with the girls and a huge help to me! Thanks, Virginia!
Kayla also got to perform in a Christmas Choir concert. She has been a part of this choir for a year and a half and has learned so much under the instruction of her director Craig. They even sang in Hebrew and Latin!
More singing with our homeschool group at a local nursing home. The kids sang 5 Christmas Carols and then spent time handing out hand-made Christmas cards to the residents. I am always amazed at how this small effort to bless these elderly folks is received. We got so many kind comments and thanks from our sweet audience.
And last, but definitely not least, was a day trip to New York City with our friends the McCullahs. I think we hit every major toy store in the city - even rode the 3- story ferris wheel inside of this Toys R Us in Time Square, saw the tree at Rockefeller Center, and window displays at Saks 5th Avenue. Would you believe that I've now been to NYC enough to actually be somewhat of a tour guide for others??? Never would have guessed this 10 years ago, but I love it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gluten Free Friday - Pecan Pie

Here are a couple of pecan pie recipes - one using corn syrup and one using maple syrup. The first is my grandmother's recipe - which I have a copy of in her old United Methodist Church cookbook - and uses corn syrup. The second is one I put together from a couple of different sources after searching for a recipe that did not use corn syrup. They are both very good. And just in case you're wondering about the correct pronunciation of pecan, it's puh-cahn and NOT pee-can! (And I'm from Texas, so I should know!)

Pecan Pie I
(with corn syrup)


3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup pecans
1 tsp vanilla
Unbaked GF pie crust

Pecan Pie II
(with maple syrup)

3 eggs
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans
1 cup maple syrup
Unbaked GF pie crust

For both pies, mix all ingredients together and pour into crust. Bake 10 minutes at 425*, and then reduce heat to 325*. Cook until center is set - about one hour. Cover crust with foil if it begins to brown too much.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So Egg - citing!


Just had to report that we are FINALLY getting 3-5 eggs per day! Not the 6-8 we hope to get in the spring, but still a good supply, and I am no longer worried that my chickens are sick or disabled, or on strike or something! I never have to go to the coop to gather them since the kids fight over who gets to collect eggs each day. I am certain that this excitement will wear off some day though, and I will get my turn. The off colored egg is actually a bluish green color and came from one of the two Aracaunas we have. They are called the "Easter Egg" chicken because they lay eggs in shades of blue and green. They look and taste egg-xactly the same on the inside - Delicious!

Gluten Free Friday - Pizza!

This fall we started a new weekly tradition in our home - Friday Family Pizza and Movie Night. The kids absolutely love it! We put a tablecloth on our coffee table, turn off the lights and eat pizza while watching a movie. I was hesitant at first, wondering if we could really find a movie every week that was actually suitable for family viewing - we are SUPER SENSITIVE about what the kids watch - but so far we've been able to do it. Basically, if it was made after 1980 it's questionable in my mind - aside from a few exceptions like the Narnia movies, the American Girl movies, and Nemo! I tend to come home with The Love Bug, The Absent-Minded Professor, or Yours, Mine, Ours starring Lucille Ball (1968) - actually this one has a few problems. :) Lately, we've been watching the Planet Earth DVD's that we borrowed from my friend Aimee. They are wonderful!

I've been using the Whole Foods 365 Pizza Crust Baking Mix - it makes 2 large crusts and only costs $3.99 - and we've gotten creative with the types of pizza we make. We started out with the basic cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza, but now the favorites are Chicken Pesto Pizza and Mexican Pizza, which are each pictured here. (Actually, the pesto one above if half pesto, half cheese.)

For Mexican Pizza:
top the crust with a bit of pizza sauce or tomato sauce
season browned ground beef with chili powder and cumin
add corn and beans to the meat, and continue cooking until all mixed and warmed through
top crust and sauce with meat/corn/bean mixture
top it off with cheese - bake @ 400* until cheese is melted and crust is done
(I pre-bake the crusts a bit before adding all the toppings)

For Pesto Pizza:
brush pizza crust lightly with olive oil
Make pesto or buy it jarred - mix pesto with cooked & chopped chicken breast spread pesto mixture over pizza - on top of olive oil
top with feta or goat cheese crumbles
bake @ 400* until crust is done

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Houses and Harried Holidays

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

6am - Rise, Dress,Read Bible

6:30 am - Run 3 miles (only because I had not done it the day before, and would not do it the day after - early morning dr. appt and teaching geography class - and had to be somewhat prepared for the 5K on Sat.)

7:15 am - Head to grocery store (it opens at 7am) to buy food for tonight's house church meal (Krumrey's turn to cook!) Chili, rice, fritos, cheese, cornbread, salad, brownies. Also eggs and powdered sugar for gingerbread house making. (I was responsible for the royal icing and one gluten free house!)

8am - home from grocery store, unload groceries and make double batch of GF graham cracker dough for houses. Begin making cornbread and brownies for dinner. Make paper pattern of house while dough chills, and bread and brownies cook.

8:45 am shower and dress

9:30 am - leave for hospital to visit church family who just had baby #1. Look over Bible study material that I will teach tonight in truck on the way - Robert is driving, of course!

10am - arrive at hospital, hold and pray for new adorable baby. (Kory browns beef while we are gone - all 10 pounds of it!)

10:30am - leave hospital in order to get Robert to an 11am meeting (by this time we're really running 15 minutes late)

11am - drop Robert at coffee shop to meet with a man from church

11:15am - arrive home, roll and cut gingerbread house out of GF dough. Bake.

11:45am feed hungry children lunch

12pm wash/dry/tear lettuce ( Kory again) Add remaining chili ingredients to beef, stir, and cover

12:30pm gather up piano books, cooled gingerbread house pieces, mixer, eggs, powdered sugar, and bowl

12:40pm - leave for piano. Call teacher to say we will be late since I need to stop and fill a low tire with air. (light has been on for days) Listen to holiday music in the van. Discuss anorexia after being asked if the lady who sings "Merry Christmas, Darling" is still alive.

1pm - Arrive at piano lessons. Ask piano teacher if I can use her kitchen to make royal icing while she's teaching the kids.

1:45pm - leave piano, head to Cushman Cafe for weekly "treat" - and much needed coffee for mom. Piano teacher's house is just across the street - and it's a tradition.

2pm Arrive at Christina's house to make gingerbread houses. (This event has been planned and much anticipated for at least 2 weeks - definitely before the house church dinner duty was even a figment)

4:15pm Leave Christina's house. Stop at grocery store to get more tomato sauce for chili.

4:45pm Arrive back home. Finish chili and salad. Make rice. Cut up brownies and cornbread, put on platters.

5:30pm Feed kids chili for dinner and load all house church dinner items in car.

5:45pm - Leave for church in separate cars - my group always goes longer than Robert's.

6pm - arrive at church, warm and set out food.

6:30pm House church members arrive and eat.

7pm Bible study starts

9:15pm - my group is over, head back to kitchen to help clean up.

9:45pm Load dishes and leftovers in van and head home.

10pm arrive home, unload van, put food and dishes away.

10:45pm Think about Kayla's morning doctor appointment that I can not miss, because I did miss last time and this is the rescheduled visit. Think about non-existent Antarctica lesson that I will be teaching to the geography co-op tomorrow.

11pm Look at Antarctica map, jot down basic outline for lesson, decide I can fill in the blanks in the morning and head to bed.


Trying to reconcile:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
Luke 12:48

and

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hot Chocolate 5K Run

I had a great time running the Hot Chocolate Run again this year in Northampton, MA. Last year, I ran it with Kory, but I don't think he's run since - except for football practice, so he wasn't up for running this year. Instead, I got to run it with a bunch of wonderful ladies from my church! Two of these ladies are in my Five Aspects of Woman study on Wednesday night - Rachel, the tall blonde next to me - a senior at UMass (I was intimidated by those long legs today!) and Jenna, on the far left - a new Engineering professor at UMass. It was about 28 degrees outside, but not windy, so a bit better than last year's wind chills in the teens! Here we are with our reward mugs of hot chocolate - complete with marshmallows - and a photo op with a race mascot - Mr. Penguin!
I think I mentioned Jenna below - she was a huge help to me on Thanksgiving - cooking and cleaning! She and her husband have been such a bright spot in our lives and church recently - so fun to get to know her better over coffee and 5K races!

Thankful For....

Forgot to include the list of things our family said they were thankful for this year in the Thanksgiving post, so here it is.......

Kayla

stuffed animals, my family, Buddy, my room, footie pj's, Jesus, my clothes, Floppy Kitty, our chickens, my ice skates, my hair, our garden, my cousins, my church, rainforests, Vacation Bible School, my friends, hot chocolate, animals, Webkinz

Cooper

football, Switchfoot, my family, music, enchiladas, Lego football players, snow, friends, my fire (flame) cap, trips to Texas, Play Station Portable

Kory

football, God, Buddy, our cars, outdoors, computers, books, my family, our church, food, friends, sleep, the Bible, my new winter coat, the Today Show, homeschool group, trees, winter, Christmas

Melanie

Robert, my kids, hot tea, my house, my new bedroom furniture, my dad's continual generosity Jesus's sacrifice and His joy, siblings who love and walk with the Lord, trips to California and Switzerland, our homeschool group, a healthy family, fresh eggs!

Robert

sunshine, my 40th birthday party, long underwear, my marriage, Tazo Tea, Switzerland trip, a new furnace, my kids' artwork, Jesus

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Tree Time

It has always been a tradition in our house to get our tree the day after Thanksgiving. I even refused a free tree from friends that were bringing some back from a Thanksgiving trip to Vermont, since they would not be returning until Saturday, and I knew there would be a major revolt by children if they even had to wait one extra day. (I, on the other hand, could use that one extra day to recover from Thanksgiving!)
And we always forget that you can go to the tree farm as early as September or October to "tag" your tree - meaning claim one and mark it with a tag with your name on it. Then you can return when it is closer to Christmas to actually cut it down. If you don't "tag" then you end up finding "the perfect tree" only to discover that someone has already claimed it! Oh well.....it just means you have to look a little harder, and we always find a great tree. This year we are being really diligent to water the thing though, so that we don't repeat this episode from last year!

Thanksgiving

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, the kids started anticipating the day. One day Kayla said, "Mom, listen to me tell you the whole story of Thanksgiving at our house." And then she proceeded to list everything we do from the morning until evening time - wake up, eat breakfast, mom starts cooking, set tables, watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, make place cards, cook more, lots of people come over, drink apple cider, pray and say what we are thankful for, eat turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, green beans, have tea and coffee and lots of different pies, play games, watch football, people leave, eat leftovers, more pie, go to bed! She actually added a lot more detail with a lot more excitement, and it made me realize how much the kids look forward to these traditions and special holiday activities.
This year we looked at the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and discussed it before singing it together. Robert got to use his new birthday guitar for the occasion! We had quite a crowd, as usual, and I always think people are going to feel too crowded, but they never do seem to mind. I think we set a record with 26 total people this year. We had to have the kids (Age 15 and under!) eat in the basement! A new friend from church, Jenna, came over early to help out and I don't think I could have pulled it off without her. She and her husband even did dishes afterward while I played Scrabble with the other ladies. And we enjoyed having Josh's (from church) mom Lynda stay with us for a couple of nights all the way from Colorado.
This is only part of the living room crowd - sweet girls from church, our friend Tim, and his parents from New Hampshire. After the meal there was game playing and football watching and second rounds of pie and coffee. It was, and always is a fun day.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Gluten Free Friday - More Pumpkin!

If you browse through all of the recipes on this blog you will notice an abundance of recipes that include pumpkin. I guess I didn't realize how much I love pumpkin, but it is evident here. So, even though Thanksgiving is over, I'm posting a really great pumpkin recipe that I received via my Celiac Support Group's email updates. It comes from Enjoy Life Foods, but I altered it a bit since I don't usually have their granola cereals on hand. It was also intended to be a vegan recipe, so it will work with regular dairy or any of the alternatives.

Pumpkin Tartlets

Crust:
1 cup rice squares cereal, finely crushed
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or GF flour blend)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, or dairy free alternative
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Filling:
1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup milk (rice or soy will work also)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or whatever flour blend you like)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

For crust: Mix rice flour, crushed cereal, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Grease muffin tin, or use muffin liners, and spoon crust mixture into each. Set aside some of the crust mixture to sprinkle on top of each tartlet before baking. Press crust down with spoon or fingers.

For filling: Mix together the pumpkin, oil, GF flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Fill each muffin liner with the pumpkin mixture and sprinkle remaining crust on top of each.

Bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Let cool in muffin tin for about 15 minutes before removing.



Friday, November 28, 2008

Chickens: Triumph and Tragedy

If you prayed for our chickens to start laying eggs, thank you so much! :) I believe it was the very next day that I received a call while having coffee with a couple of women from church at Starbucks. It was an out-of-breath Cooper calling to report that Kayla had just discovered an egg in the back yard right outside of the chicken coop! We were so excited, and we have now received our 4th egg of the week! I think they are all from the same chicken, so you could pray for the other ladies to follow the fine example of their producing girlfriend/coop-mate!

The tragic part of this story is that the next day I sent Kory and Kayla out around 5pm to check for more eggs. (This was the same time of day they had found the first egg.) It's dark here at that time, so I gave them a flashlight. They quickly returned with Kory announcing that he had seen a fox enter the coop. (I figured he was trying to get out of the errand.) Robert went out with Kory to check on the girls and discovered a very disturbing scene in the coop. A fox had indeed been in the coop and had attacked one of the Plymouth Rock (black and white striped) chickens. It was still alive, but suffering greatly. So.....farmer Robert had to come back to the house for a hatchet and then go and put the poor girl out of her misery. I think Kayla cried for almost an entire hour. And Kory had to be Robert's assistant - holding the flashlight and an open bag to dispose of the body. Needless to say, the whole family had trouble getting to sleep that night. Not sure we're cut out for farm life! And we're now down to 8 chickens.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hens on Strike?

Well , the chickens are now more than 6 months old and have yet to produce any eggs. My friend Christina, who got her chicks on the same day and from the same place has been getting eggs for about 3 weeks now! I have done all I know to do......put fresh hay in the coop and laying boxes, put a light on in the coop to give them more "daylight" hours, clean the coop, provide fresh food and water, and have even given them several pep talks about their job here on earth. Nothing.

To make matters worse, Christina gave me 5 of her eggs to try. I fried them for breakfast this week and let me just say there is a HUGE difference in these home grown, cage free eggs! The yolk was a deep orange color, and kept an almost perfectly round shape once cracked in the pan. And the taste? Oh. My. Goodness. They were amazingly delicious!

We have even searched the wilds of our yard for a secret laying nests and have found nothing. I just don't know.......you can pray about this if you think it a worthy request! :)
I will be sure to report any answers!

Fall Frenzy

If only my heart and mind felt as peaceful and quaint as this photo looks. Truth is, this front porch always sets the scene for the coming and going of the Krum family and many others on a very consistent basis. So, here's a few glimpses of what we've been up to........
Robert has been leading a Bible study for the Amherst College football players every Tuesday for the past few years which has been a true highlight of each week for him. We've tried to have them over for dinner after each season, and it is a fun evening. They are always extremely appreciative and entertaining. And we are always amazed at how just six of them can fill an entire room in our house! Kory and Cooper look forward to this evening so much - especially after getting to go to a couple of their games, and seeing them at church. And I couldn't be more pleased that our boys think that it is perfectly normal to be a cool football player and serious about your faith all at the same time!
We recently participated in another Report/Presentation week for our homeschool geography class. Cooper built a "hacienda" out of cardboard and sugar cubes, and reported on the significance of the hacienda in early South American life. He compared them to the feudal system of the Middle Ages. Kory did a presentation the major historical events in South America - focusing on the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca civilizations - their rise to power and them ultimate downfall to the conquistadors. Kayla did a book report on Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborne and made Brazilian Hot Chocolate for everyone.
We welcomed yet another new baby into the Mercyhouse family - Kaydence Faith. Her mommy had been at my house just the day before she was born, lamenting the necessity of quitting work early because of driving difficulties among other hardships common at the end of pregnancy. She left asking for prayer to deliver little Kaydence over the weekend so that she wouldn't have to take personal days to be with her at the end of maternity leave. Well, about 30 hours later, she had her little girl in her arms and was relieved in more ways than one! Thank you Lord, for your mercy and grace!
On Tuesday we got to participate in a really neat homeschool activity - a lesson in animal skull identification and nature observation. The kids each got a skull to sketch and then a field guide to try and identify the animal from the shape and features of its skull. They learned to recognize the dominant sense of the animal as a clue to its identity. Later, a guide took them on a short nature walk and helped them to notice clues as to where an owl might live. We will even receive owl pellets in the next week to dissect!
And I am still really enjoying my Five Aspects of Woman study with a great group of girls this year. This photo is from our first "life lesson" night in which the girls each bring something that creatively demonstrates what they have learned from the Aspect we are currently studying. These projects represent the Mistress of the Domain Aspect - as in you are asked to be a steward, by God, of all things He has given you - home, education, words, body, family, time, etc. So...Tomisin sang a favorite song of hers, Stacey shared her journal, Sarah showed before and after photos of the transformation of her dorm room desk :), Lorraine showed photos of her mom realizing her dream of starting a wedding planning business in Zimbabwe, I shared the process of writing my book, Danica shared a book report on the topic of marriage, Rachel wrote key points from the lesson on a pumpkin, and Virginia did a collage expressing the thoughts and attitudes of her heart currently. Each project was so inspiring and provided a joyful evening for all of us! And, as always, I am so grateful to be able to teach a learn from this material every year!

Gluten Free Friday - A Little Thanksgiving Prep and a Nice Surprise

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I have needed to start thinking about our menu. And even though I do grow weary of the never-ending focus on food around here, I do love to prepare this big meal and share it with whoever will join us!

Above is a photo of Carnival Squash stuffed with wild rice, craisins, and pecans. I saw this recipe in a cookbook while browsing a bookstore on Cape Cod. It actually called for acorn squash, but our farm had an abundance of carnival squash last week, and it worked just as well. I don't think we'll have this for our Thanksgiving meal, but we did try it out this week and it was a hit. (My kids love squash - Yay!)

Here's what you do: Cut tops off squash, and then cut them in half. Place in a baking dish, flesh side down, and add a bit of water to dish. Cover and bake @ 350 deg. until tender. Cook 1 cup of wild rice in 2 1/2 cups water. Add 3Tbsp butter, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces, and 2/3 cup craisins to cooked rice and stir. When squash is ready, fill each half with the rice mixture and serve.
We ate the stuffed squash with a whole chicken that had cooked in the crock pot all day with garlic, rosemary, and sea salt. What we didn't eat, I left in the crock pot - bones, meat, fat, juices, and all. To the pot, I added carrots, celery, onion, more garlic, and water to fill. Then I left the crock pot on all night and all day the next day. (About 20 hours.) When I found time, I spooned out all of the meat, bones, and veggies, and then strained the rest leaving only broth. After leaving the both in the frig for a few hours, I skimmed off the fat and poured the rich broth into jars to freeze. I can't wait to pull these out next week to use for gravy, mashed potatoes, and cornbread stuffing! There is nothing like homemade broth! (Or stock - if you prefer - not sure the difference. Nourishing Traditions has specific instructions for making different kinds of stock.)
And just when I was thinking I should make up some gluten free sugar cookies to freeze for future decorating a holiday eating, a surprise package arrived in the mail. Amazingly, my thoughtful friend Jenny in Oklahoma had sent a gluten free sugar cookie mix with icing as well as a chocolate cake mix with chocolate icing! I couldn't believe it - and it put a big smile on all of our faces! Our baking will be even easier now.
Thanks, Jenny!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Birthdays, Bum Knees, Brides, Boys, and Blues

So, just a week after my dad returned home from celebrating his 70th birthday in Massachusetts, he was scheduled for a total knee replacement! I'd known about this surgery for quite a while, but didn't think a thing of it until he started talking about driving himself to the hospital and hobbling out on crutches to water his newly landscaped yard when he got home! Yes, really! My dad is single and lives in a three bedroom house an hour away from the hospital where the surgery was to be done. I decided to book a ticket back to Texas - my 4th trip this year - in order to be with him, and it was really my pleasure and privilege to do this. Robert's parents came in to town (San Antonio) to pray with him before the surgery and sit with me until the doctor came to tell us everything was OK. This was a blessing to both of us as well. We had a great week together, and I was amazed at his progress. We had several visitors throughout the week - above is cousin Dasa - and I even ran into a old high school friend in the hospital cafe! My dad is in great shape - he swims, works out at the gym, and walks pretty consistently - and I know this has helped him have a quicker recovery than some. He's home now, walking with a walker and getting physical therapy at home for the next month.
I stayed at the hospital the first night, but the remainder of the week I slept at Miss Riggs's apartment. Can't believe she's getting married next month! I got to have dinner with she and Jack one night and was privileged to see them perform their wedding dance once back at the apartment! (Our dinner was directly after their dance class!) It was beautiful, of course, and to the music from the movie Miss Potter - "When You Taught Me To Dance." Can't wait to be a part of this very special day. Gotta get busy on a flower girl dress - Kayla is one of seven!
And then back to real life at home. I was "on" this week for teaching the homeschool geography class. We are finishing up our study of South America, and I was to teach the older group some current events from the continent. First, we put a giant South America puzzle together after the boys colored and labeled the country, capitol, and natural resources in each piece and then we learned some recent sports and political news. I chose to study up on Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, which led me to study up on communism/socialism, which led me to study up on Karl Marx. I have to say that I went to bed pretty disheartened about the similarities I could see between that country/leader and ours - especially in the mindset of the upcoming U.S. Administration - of which Chavez is a big proponent, interestingly enough. Striving to be hopeful and prayerful, but I must admit that after all of that reading, I feel a bit nervous about the world in which my kids will be adults someday. Someday soon.

Glad to be home. Ready for routine. Wondering if that is even a valid expectation - Can't remember the last time we actually had a consistent routine. Feeling weary, but pressing on.
Is Thanksgiving really 13 days away?

Gluten Free Friday

This is just one of the ways we've enjoyed the apples we picked last month. I made apple butter out of the not-so-pretty ones!

Baked Apples

8 apples - cored, but with bottom of apple in tact
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup raisins
4 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup boiling water

Arrange cored apples in baking dish. Mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, raisins. Spoon this mixture evenly into each apple, topping with 1/2 Tbsp butter. Pour boiling water in bottom of baking dish and bake @ 350 deg. for 30 minutes or until apples are tender.

You can omit the pecans and raisins if you want and still have a tasty dessert or side dish.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween

Here they are - the ladybug, the football player, and the border patrolman/secret agent. They had a great time trick-or-treating with friends and made quite a haul. Afterward, Kory and Robert headed to church for the annual Free Rides outreach. This is the church's 9th year to offer free rides to anyone who calls on Halloween weekend which, in this town, is known for being the wildest party weekend of the year. Last night there were 14 vans running from 10pm to 3am non-stop, and about 70 volunteers were there to pull it all off! My guys got home around 4:30am - and even did our paper route before retiring for the night!

Gluten Free Friday (Saturday !) - Chili

My sister called this week wanting this recipe, so I thought I would post it. I stopped using the chili seasoning packets when we discovered our gluten intolerance, even though some of them are gluten free. It's easy enough to season chili with your own spices.

Easy Beef and Bean Chili

1 lb ground beef (turkey works, too)
1 can tomato sauce
1 can Rotel or can of diced tomatoes and green chilis
1 can beans, drained (I use pinto or kidney)
2-4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Brown beef or turkey in skillet. Add cans of tomato sauce, beans, and Rotel and stir over medium heat. Add seasonings - stir and simmer 15-20 minutes.

We like to eat ours on baked potatoes with cheese - or over rice - or in a bowl with Fritos and cheese on top! Serve with a side salad for an easy and complete meal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wayfarers on, Baby.....

Whew! The birthday bash is now over, and I can take a moment to report to you that we celebrated Robert's 40th in grand, and totally tubular 1980's style! I had prayed about this party for months - asking that it would be fun, encouraging to Robert, and a recognition of his faithfulness in ministry all these years. It was all that and more. The Lord completely exceeded my hopes and expectations with this very special evening!
My sister, Melinda came up with my dad to help us celebrate - and also to celebrate my dad's 70th. (see below) Here we are with Kayla in our 80's attire - mini-skirts, legwarmers, leggings, and jellies.
Billy Idol showed up at the party (yes, Jonah truly bleached his hair for the occasion) -as well as Garth from Wayne's World, a few mulletmen in athletic gear, and this adorable cassette tape couple below - sweet friends Dan and Sarah.
Another highlight of the evening was watching Kayla and Cooper each perform a song on stage. They have been planning this for months, but I was skeptical about whether or not they would follow through in front of a crowd. They were FEARLESS! We forgot to load Kayla's song - Veggie Tales, "His Cheeseburger" on the computer, so she opted for a capella! (It happens to be Robert's favorite Veggie Tales song, which is not surprising since it is a spoof of an 80's love ballad.) She didn't miss a beat, and got a standing ovation.
Cooper performed "The Eye of the Tiger" on his electric guitar, and got much encouragement from the crowd - singing along and clapping. They truly amazed us, and it also made us realize how much they consider our church their family and support system. What a blessing.

The grand finale of the evening was a performance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance. A small group from church took it upon themselves to learn the dance and perform it along with the video as a special birthday surprise. They did an awesome job - so awesome that Robert had them perform it again after our church service on Sunday morning so more folks could enjoy their hard work!
Patrick brought the house down with his monologue/skit - "Robert Krumrey, Age 80." He wore Robert's clothes, and imitated Robert's preaching by talking about Lord of the Rings, being from Texas, and his vision of multiplying church plants here in our area. He also pulled some similar sermon stunts like bashing a radio to demonstrate our brokenness, and throwing fall leaves around the room as an illustration of death. It was very funny, and a tribute all at the same time. And others also shared their thanks and encouragement with Robert at the microphone and around the room - a really wonderful time, and very thoughtful comments by all.
And then Ethan and Eric played "Happy Birthday" for Robert on guitar - 80's style. Ethan was actually playing the gift guitar and handed it to Robert after I shared about the many people who had been a part of the gift. Then Robert led us in singing "Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord."

So many of you helped make this an amazing evening with your gifts, your prayers, your crazy costumes, cards, and encouraging words. Robert and I had dinner out last night, and he just kept expressing an amazement over the what the party meant to him and the way the Lord has blessed him and us through our many friends, and church family. He was humbled by the guitar and has been enjoying it as much as he can. I thank the Lord for this outpouring of generosity and love - and His answered prayers for a true celebration of the godly life of one of His own. Even in all of its silliness, the body of Christ was experienced in such a joyous way!

To see the rest of the photos, click the Flickr badge in the right side bar.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gluten Free Friday - Birthday Weekend

We are having quite the birthday weekend here at the Krum house. Robert turned 40 on Thursday, and my dad turned 70 today! They are almost exactly 30 years apart to the day. We had a big breakfast, a steak dinner at home, and his favorite chocolate cake for dessert (recipe below!) to celebrate Robert's day - just a warm up to his 1980's themed party on Saturday!
Today we have been celebrating my dad's 70th birthday. We went out for Mexican food for dinner(he wouldn't let me cook because I have come down with a nasty cold) and then had dessert at a quaint downtown inn - flourless chocolate torte.

Here's my dad with his new birthday toy from his four kids - an iPod touch. We had fun playing with it, drinking hot tea and coffee, and playing Apples to Apples in our own private dining room.

Happy Birthday to Grandad and Robert!

Here's the recipe for Robert's favorite chocolate cake. It comes from the Cook 'Em Horns cookbook and all I did was substitute flour to make it gluten free.

Texas Chocolate Cake

2 sticks butter
4 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups gluten free flour mix (I used rice, tapioca, and potato)
2 cups sugar
1tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Icing:
1 stick butter
4 Tbsp cocoa
6 Tbsp milk
1 box (16 oz) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Boil together butter, cocoa, and water. Sift together dry ingredients. Pour boiling mixture over dry ingredients, beating constantly. Stir in buttermilk, eggs, vanilla; mix well. Pour into greased 9X13 pan. Bake @ 400 degrees for 30 minute.

Icing: Boil together butter, cocoa, and milk. Remove from heat; add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until thick and spread over warm cake.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ironic

I have not been able to keep up with reading all of my favorite blogs, so I recently realized that Jenny had tagged me for a little bloggy game - to post the 6th photo out of the 6th folder from my computer. Well, this is it! Me, my kids, and two of their friends posing with the Red Sox World Series Trophys (or is that trophies?) from the past two years. This is ironic and a little sad, since the Red Sox lost their game last night and therefore WILL NOT get to play in the World Series this year. Massachusetts is in mourning today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gluten Free Friday - Matooke

Our homeschool group is studying geography this year. After each continent is studied for 3-6 weeks, we all gather for a time of reports and presentations. I say gather, because we did decide to split our growing-very-large-group. We are now two groups of 7 and 8 families. On report weeks we gather as a large group and the kids each do a special report on something they've learned about the particular continent. Our first continent to study was Africa, so the Krum children did a group project on the country of Uganda. Cooper created the middle section of this display board and shared general information about the country, Kayla reported on the animals and food of Uganda, and Kory discussed a political and humanitarian issue going on currently. We were, of course, inspired by my teacher and long time friend Kelly R. who sponsors several children in Uganda, and has traveled there the past two summers to visit them and give aid to the crisis of the IDP camps.
As part of Kayla's report on food of Uganda, we made a traditional dish called Matooke - (mah-toe-kee) which is a beef and plantain stew, and Ugali - which is a sort of cornbread. This is Kayla coating the cubed plantains with lemon juice. Plantains don't ripen as quick as bananas and have a more firm flesh. They ended up feeling/tasting like a potato in the finished stew dish.
My good friend Izckra and I served each of the kids a plate of Matooke and Ugali, as well as pineapple and mango which are native fruits to Uganda. Everyone seemed to enjoy the taste, and all of it was gluten free, so here's the recipe in case you want to be brave and go Ugnadan for dinner anytime soon!

Matooke

8-10 plantains
lemon juice
oil for sauteeing
1 onion, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, or 1 can whole tomatoes, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 - 1 tsp each - salt, coriander, and cayenne (smells sooooo good!)
2-3 pounds stew beef
4 cups GF beef broth

Place stew beef in covered baking dish and bake @ 300 degrees for 2 hours - until tender.

While beef cooks:

Peel plantains, cut into cubes, coat with lemon juice, and set aside

Heat oil in large pan. Saute onions, tomatoes, and garlic until tender. Add broth and spices - simmer.

Add beef to the broth mixture. Simmer 30 minutes.

Add cubed plantains to beef and broth and simmer together until plantains are tender.

Annual Cape Cod Trip

Just returned from a little getaway to Cape Cod - the "arm" of Massachusetts. I think this is our third annual fall trip there - a nice break after the craziness of the fall semester. We stay in the weekend home of friends of ours which has been such a blessing and generous gift.
We played miniature golf at a really fun place - all in pirate theme. Robert didn't tally our final scores, (wonder why?) but I must tell you that I made several holes in one! Maybe I have missed my calling!?
We toured the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory in Hyannis (home of the Kennedys) and got to take home free samples - kettle cooked and so yummy!

Our other activity was TV watching. This house has several TVs AND cable! Imagine our kids' delight to lie in bed and watch shows they have never seen - on channels they never dreamed existed - History Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Home and Garden. And Robert and I stayed pretty glued to Fox News getting, well, another perspective on the presidential election and candidates. Hmmmmm...someone isn't telling the whole truth.