Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We had a nice Thanksgiving. We had 13 people over for dinner.  My parents and my grandmother came, and we had a family from church and 2 international student from a local university.  James cooked the turkey and dressing, and he made sweet tea.  My mom and I took care of the rest.

The table after it was set.

The mantle

The foyer 

Time to fry the turkey.  The Cajun injection goes in first.

Into the pot!

James with some of our guests

We all helped with the clean up - even the dogs.  Lily is at James' feet licking a pot that had soup in it.  It was thoroughly washed after she got finished.

Daisy helped lick up the soup too, and she got some on her!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

As is the case every year, we have so much to be thankful for this year.  Here are a few of things I am thankful for this year.
  • God provided the resources that we needed to start the adoption process and He gave both of us a heart for it.  There has never been a question between the two of us as to whether or not we should adopt.
  • We have been blessed with overwhelming support from our families, friends, neighbors, & coworkers. 
  • We have a wonderful social worker who is helping us sort through all our adoption paperwork, and I am thankful that we are almost finished with it!
  • I'm thankful for my husband and the relationship that we share.
  • We're both still employed, which is not a given these days.
  • I'm thankful for God's mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love.
  • I'm thankful for the families we have met who are also going down the same path (adopting from Ethiopia) we are walking down.  It is helpful to talk to some else who is right where you are in life.
  • I'm thankful for our church and the wonderful teaching that we have received there.
  • I'm thankful that our new house feels like our home now.
  • We have good relationships with our extended families, and we do our best to keep in touch even though we don't live nearby.
  • I'm thankful for our dogs.  They are so much fun.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. I Chronicles 16:34

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipe #4

Cranberry Spritzer

3 cups water
2 cups cranberry juice
1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 can (6 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup Equal® Spoonful (May substitute 12 packets Equal sweetener)
1-1/2 liters diet lemon-lime soda, chilled
Lemon and/or orange slices (optional)

Combine water, cranberry juice, orange juice and lemonade concentrates. Stir in Equal® until dissolved. Chill 1 to 2 hours. Stir in soda just before serving. Garnish each glass with a lemon or orange slice, if desired.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipe #3

This recipe is from James' grandmother.  She said she got it from a Methodist Church cookbook from 1982.

Pecan Pie

1 deep nine inch Pet Ritz brand pie crust
3 eggs
1 tbsp melted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light Karo corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1.5 to 2 cups pecans (corsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350.  Bake empty pie crust for a couple of minutes to dry out.  Beat eggs, add rest of ingredients.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake pie for about 45 min on top of cookie sheet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipe #2

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth 
  • 2 cups apple cider or juice

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.
Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade, or puree it coarsely in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipes

We are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, so I thought over the next few days I'd share a few of the recipes that we will be making.  This first recipe came from one of my Sunday school teachers at Temple (where I attended in college).  Thanks, Denise!

Carrot Souffle
Servings: 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 45 min

1 (15 oz) can carrots (drain about ½ the water off)
1 stick margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. In a blender or food processor, puree carrots. Add margarine, sugar, & eggs, and blend well. Combine remaining ingredients and put in a greased 9x9 casserole or soufflĂ© dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°. Rotate pan midway through cooking.

NOTE: If doubling recipe, bake in a 9 X 13 pan, and decrease the temp to 325 degrees. If you bake the larger amount at 350, the corners will burn before the middle is done.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ethiopian Holidays

I just learned that both my birthday and James' birthday fall on Ethiopian holidays.  James' birthday falls Enkutatash, their New Year and my birthday is the same day as Timket, or Epiphany.

I found the following information at the British Ethiopian Embassy's website.

The Ethiopian New Year falls in September at the end of the big rains. The sun comes out to shine all day long creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and fresh clean air. The highlands turn to gold as the Meskel daisies burst out in all their splendor. Ethiopian children clad in brand new clothes dance through the villages giving bouquets of flowers and painted pictures to each household.

September 11th is both New Year's Day and the Feast of St. John the Baptist. The day is called Enkutatash meaning the "gift of jewels." When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with enku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since these early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside. After dark on New Year's Eve people light fires outside their houses. 

The main religious celebration takes place at the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the city of Gaynt within the Gondar Region. Three days of prayers, psalms, and hymns, sermons, and massive colorful processions mark the advent of the New Year. Closer to Addis Ababa, the Raguel Church, on top of the Entoto Mountain north of the city, has the largest and most spectacular religious celebration. But Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday, and the little girls singing and dancing in pretty new dresses among the flowers in the fields convey the message of springtime and renewed life. Today's Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal New Year greetings and cards among the urban sophisticated in lieu of the traditional bouquet of flowers.

Timket, or Epiphany falls on January 19th, just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a three-day affair, beginning on the Eve of Timkat with dramatic and colorful processions. The following morning the great day itself, Christ's baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is commemorated. The third day is devoted to the Feast of St. Michael, the archangel, one of Ethiopia's most popular saints.  Since October and the end of the rains, the country has been drying up steadily. The sun blazes down from a clear blue sky and the Festival of Timkat always takes place in glorious weather.  Enormous effort is put into the occasion. Tej and tella (Ethiopian mead and beer) are brewed, special bread is baked, and the fat-tailed African sheep are fattened for slaughter.Gifts are prepared for the children and new clothes purchased or old mended and laundered.

Everyone men, women, and children appear resplendent for the three-day celebration. Dressed in the dazzling white of the traditional dress, the locals provide a dramatic contrast to the jewel colors of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests' robes and sequined velvet umbrellas.

On the eve of the 18 January, Ketera, the priests remove the tabots from each church and bless the water of the pool or river where the next days celebration will take place. It is the tabot (symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments) rather than the church building which is consecrated, and it is accorded extreme reverence. Not to be desecrated by the gaze of the layman, the engraved wooden or stone slab is carried under layers of rich cloth.  In Addis Ababa, many churches bring their tabots to Jan Meda (the horse racing course of imperial day) accompanied by priests bearing prayer sticks and sistra, the ringing of bells and blowing of trumpets, and swinging bronze censors from which wisps of incense smoke escape into the evening air. The tabots rest in their special tent in the meadow, each hoisting a proud banner depicting the church's saint in front.

The priests pray throughout the long cold night and mass is performed around 2:00 a.m. Huge crowds of people camp out, eating and drinking by the light of flickering fires and torches. Towards dawn the patriarch dips a golden cross and extinguishes a burning consecrated candle in the altar. Then he sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism. Many of the more fervent leap fully dressed into the water to renew their vows.

Following the baptism the tabots start back to their respective churches, while feasting, singing and dancing continue at Jan Meda. The procession winds through town again as the horsemen cavort alongside, their mounts handsomely decorated with red tassels, embroidered saddlecloths, and silver bridles. The elders march solemnly, accompanied by singing leaping priests and young men, while the beating of staffs and prayer sticks recalls the ancient rites of the Old Testament.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

I made this for dinner one day last week.  It was good, but I think it could use a bit more salt and pepper than what it calls for.

1 cup potato, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1/3 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
2 pie crusts (either store bought or your own recipe)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.  Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well Cook one minute stirring constantly.  Combine broth and half and half.  Gradually stir into vegetable mixture.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  Stir in salt and pepper; add chicken and stir well.  Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with pie shells.  Cut slits in pie shells to allow steam to escape.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and cooked through.