Wednesday, February 02, 2011

What's For Dinner

I am always searching for meals that my family will eat. I really enjoy cooking, but didn’t have the time to do much of it when I was working full-time. So, I have been cooking quite a bit over the last two months and I thought I would share some of the recipes I’ve tried recently…

PW Jan’s Dilly Bread
This was the first time I’ve ever made bread. It was good and I would make it again. Don’t tell my husband it had cottage cheese in it…

PW Tortilla Soup
I love tortilla soup and I would definitely make this again!

PW Coq au Vin
Meh – This actually wasn’t great. Mine ended up pretty oily and my house smelled like bacon for a few days – not my favorite smell…

PW Chicken Scallopine
Loved this! I made it for New Year’s Eve and it got rave reviews. I added capers to my sauce and it improved the flavor. I also adjusted the recipe slightly to make it gluten-free. I would definitely make this again!

PW Three Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce
I made this for dinner with an old friend and her family. I added some spinach to the cheese filling (I frequently do this with lasagna too), and it turned out well. I make this again.

Warm Steak and Potato Salad
This was delicious and is a great meal for entertaining. Filling, but not too heavy. I served it with French bread and shrimp stuffed mushrooms (my own recipe).

Beer Bread
This bread turned out well. I added a little bit of sour cream and some sharp cheddar cheese. As my sister said, it made her house smell like sweaty gym socks, but the end result was worth it. As you will see in the recipe, the bread is best on the first day, so I wouldn’t make this again unless I had some hungry people on hand – I have half a loaf still in my freezer and it’s not great reheated.

How about you? What’s for dinner at your house today?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Warning: This is a long one…

I’ve been absent from this blog for quite some time and there is a good reason for that. When I wrote my last post in November, we were also in the midst of a major transition. For quite some time we had known that Northern Virginia could not be a long-term place for our family. When we moved to the area we imagined spending warm spring Saturdays walking through Georgetown or perusing the Eastern Market, attending the acapella sing along of the Messiah at the Kennedy Center, heading to the mountains to ski in the winter and vacationing on the beach in the summers.

But as it turns out, we did very few of these things. Maneuvering the streets of Georgetown to find a parking spot is in itself a test of personal endurance, attending the Kennedy Center sing along requires arriving hours in advance and standing in line in frigid temperatures in hopes of getting a ticket, and the traffic to get over the bridge to the eastern beaches is a nightmare. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying that we didn’t do it. Instead, we spent a lot of time rushing our children out the door so that we could sit in mind numbing traffic, working to afford our over-priced and under-sized home, and living in a sea of strangers.

As we prayed about a move, we looked at areas with lower costs of living, values that more closely mirrored our own, and the opportunity for a better quality of life. About this time, I took Evan to Iowa for a week. During that week I watched him fish with my dad, forage for firewood, catch a frog and camp outside for the first time. And he was happy - unbridled, unrestrained, happy. I remembered our trip the previous year when we drove down Grandview when Bryant school was getting out and I saw kids walking home from school, some with parents and some without (something I could never imagine my children doing in Virginia). As we looked at this tree-lined street adorned with American flags on both the lamp posts and houses, we remarked how there were more American flags on this street than we ever saw in our neighborhood in Virginia. I remember thinking to myself, “maybe life doesn’t have to be this hard…” Much to my surprise, for the first time in my life, when I thought about living in my hometown as an adult, I only felt relief.

So, as we considered where we might raise our family last fall, one of the places we considered was Dubuque. The more we thought about it, the more right it felt. So, Dave started to apply for jobs in Dubuque and through doors we believe the Lord opened, he received a job offer late last fall. So, we are starting 2011 with a fresh start in a new location. I am embarking on the new adventure of staying at home with our children full-time. And I feel peace and hope – two things I haven’t felt for a long time.

I am not na├»ve enough to think that changing our location will magically create the life we’ve always wanted. But, we have more support here, and fewer things working against us. We have a print hanging in our family room that says “We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is actually a choice”. I know that true joy and happiness are only found in the Lord. I also know that this joy is something we have to CHOOSE to walk in. And one of my focuses in 2011 is to CHOOSE to walk in JOY.

(Of much less importance, I am also going to try to blog a bit more in 2011. So, hopefully no more two month absences….)