Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ah, Divine Divinity!

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I must confess, this time of year all I want to do is bake! I'm not afraid to tackle "the impossible", to me nothing is impossible! I'm not saying EVERYTHING I bake or cook comes out as cuisine refinement, I just don't let those trivialities stand in my way. Take yesterday for an instance, if you could have been a fly on the wall in my kitchen, you would have thought I was cooking for a show named Catastrophe Kitchen, or maybe, Cooking Catastrophe! I was making divinity. Now I feel I must give myself some justification here, I have only made it once before. Yep, just once. I believe that the lively lips of several ladies I know has kept me in fear of ever being able to make a good batch of divinity. I hear the horror stories ranging from "it just won't stick", "you can't make divinity on a cloudy or rainy day", to "I overcooked it." Well yesterday I conquered my fear! That's right, I charged into my kitchen like Wonderwoman (minus the outfit) and got my baking on. Now, I decided to make this divinity for my husbands office employees. Yes, they were to be the ginuea pigs. I searched through my lofty recipe box and found that secret of secret recipes, yep, the one I copied from the church cookbook a decade ago! You must stay with me here! There is NO deviating from the sacred divinity recipe! Once you get a tried and true one, stick with it! Mine was tried and true from that sweet little church lady. I decided since I was making a vast amount of this culinary confection, I would triple the recipe. I gathered all of my ingredients and pre-measured each one into seperate bowls. I followed the directions and used the candy thermometer as a back-up precautionary method. This little gadget really is a handy tool and in my book, essential if you are making candy over the stovetop. Now, is where you must use your inner visionary skills and imagine you are the fly on the wall in my kitchen.
The candy has started boiling, I am eagerly awaiting for the temperature to reach 245 degrees, which it seems in no hurry to do. I have my handy candy thermometer in my syrup as it is steadily boiling. I also have the cup of water for the hard ball testing, which I do several times. Now, I do not recommend tasting the syrup, for not only does it scold your mouth, but also will temporarily glue your teeth shut! Yes, this happened to clumsy little ol me! When I tried to walk away from the boiling candy pot, I also realized I was glued to the counter by my shirt. In my haste to unstick myself I knocked over the candy thermometer onto my hand, which I might say burned like the dickens! So, here I am teeth glue shut, stuck to the counter with a nasty burn on my hand. So, I did what any self-dignified Southern lady would do....I cried! I kept telling myself, "This is why I don't make divinity!" It is dangerous! Then, God's sweet voice came into my thoughts and told me not to give up. I trudge on, and to make a rather long story somewhat short, It turned out to be some of the best divinity I ever have had!

What did I take with me from all this you might be asking. Well, in one afternoon's cooking experience I was reminded of how we may go through what seems a disasterous experience at the time, but if we perservere and refuse to give up, we will reap the rewards. It might even hurt. I love how God opens little windows for us to peer through, He taught me such a valuable lesson that day.

I even am going to pass along this Devine Divinity recipe and will pray that your cooking experience will be far less catastrophic than mine was!
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Devine Devinity

4 cups Sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
3/4 cup Water
3 egg whites
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups. chopped Pecans (You can toast if you like)

* Cook sugar, syrup and water in a broiler over medium heat. Stir until clear. Cook without stirring until mixture forms a hard ball when dropped in cold water, or if using a candy thermometer, it reaches 245 degrees. Beat egg whites until they are a soft stiff consistency. pour hot syrup mixture into egg whites while beating at high speed. Be careful, mixture is scalding hot! Beat until mixture is stiff. Stir vanilla and pecans into candy. Drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper.

I tripled this recipe, which I was made to fear I couldn't do! Don't be afraid to make divinity, if I can do it so can you!

Praise is God's plan for making our character more like his

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It is the most wonderful time of the year! This is the time to celebrate our Savior, Jesus Christ's, birth! I am a Christian and Christmas is VERY special to us. Most Americans easily are raptured up into the shopping frenzy, trying to purchase their holiday gifts and can easily loose site of the TRUE meaning of this special holiday. I must admit, I have fallen into this trap before. This year, I am making every effort for our family to focus on Christmas's significance. My favorite story to read our children is the real story of Christmas, that of Jesus's birth. I have often pondered, as a mother myself, what it must have been like to be Mary. A virgin. To have an angel come to tell her that she would give birth to the son of God! Can you imagine?! How timid and afraid she must have felt at first, especially since she was to marry Joseph. But what faith and perserverence she had! Wow! If you are a mother reading this, can you imagine walking in Mary's shoes? What if this was you, how would you respond? What an honor to be chosen to be the one woman in all the world to carry the child who would one day save the entire nation! I wonder at what went though her mind. She had to be a strong woman, we know that. She had to have a pure heart that was full of so much love, but most of all, she had to have trust in our Lord that all would work out according to His will. In other words, she was in a sense going on blind faith. Isn't that what we do today as Christians; trust in Him no matter where it takes us? We have the reassurance that He has a greater plan, one we cannot possibly see, but know that all be for the greater good.
This Christmas, as you prepare for your holiday traditions, stop and take a moment of reflection, thanking the Lord for sending His son into our world and saving us from it's stony grip.

I couldn't possibly leave you all without a recipe, now could I?! If you have been like me, in a whirlwind of frenzy, then you too have had a challenge making sure your family has a great meal every night. It has been so cold here in the South lately that I have been making a plethora of soups and sandwiches, chili and casseroles! Good comfort food! But, it doesn't have to be murder to your waistline! Here is a recipe that I adapted from the Abs Diet. Of course I had to make it my own by giving it a few tweaks! This sandwich has become a favorite of my hubby! It really doesn't take too long and your tastebuds will reap the rewards!

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Meatball Sandwich
For the Meatballs:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 sweet onion, chopped finely
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sleeve whole wheat crackers, crushed really well
1 tbs. protein powder
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

* Mix together beef and next seven ingredients. (The salt and pepper are for your taste, seasoning with the amount you like). Roll beef mixture into balls. In a saucepan over med heat, heat the olive oil, careful not to burn it. You may need more oil as you continue to cook the meatballs. This depends on your saucepan. Place the meatballs into the pan and cook, rolling onto all sides, til brown and done. You may have to open the meatball to check for doness, but most of the time you can tell. Drain onto a plate covered by some paper towels.

In the meantime.....

For the Sauce:

2 cans basil, garlic and oregano tomato sauce (I use Hunt's)
1 can tomato paste
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning ( I use McCormick's-in the grinder)
1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar

* Heat all the above ingredients in a sauce pan over med-high heat. Place the meatballs in the sauce and cook for about 10 minutes, or until heated thouroughly.

For the Sandwich:

4 whole wheat hoagies
mozarella cheese, shredded
Meatballs in sauce

* To assemble, warm the hoagie (microwave works wonders here), spoon the meatballs and some of the sauce onto the hoagie and sprinkle with the mozarella cheese. Serve with a salad. Yum!