30 July 2008
29 July 2008
28 July 2008
...we made meat pies (people from Michigan call them pasties) and apple tarts. The mini pies we've made this week have been favorites of all the kids. We used muffin pans to make tiny pie crusts, and I was surprised by our success at removing them from the pan without breaking them into lots of tiny pieces. they sure looked cute sitting on the table, too! This is a fun one to do - and I'm sure will become a regular treat for our family.Friday...
...we finished up leftovers - so nothing really fancy. After all, in Medieval Times, they never let any food go to waste, right?Saturday...
We started off the morning trying to make marzipan - acutally, I left Nadia in charge of this recipe while I went grocery shopping. We substituted butter instead of the margarine the recipe called for - and that affected the end result - plus the fact that the Nadia and under gang did all the modeling of the figures (i.e. their end result looked nothing like this picture of marzipan that I found on Wikipedia), but they made birds, birds in nests, eggs in nests, and a few other different shapes. I think they had fun, they enjoyed eating them afterwards, and I imagine we'll try this one again one of these days.
This was, I think - it is a close toss up between this and the cabbage and dumpling soup - my favorite meal, and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the gang's favorite dessert! We made another meat pie (next time I will add veggies to the mix, but apparently that wasn't so common back then). This time, instead of a pie crust or a bread in which the meat mixture is placed, we boiled potatoes, mashed them with butter (and our hands - Jonathan and Elsie Mae were impressed with that trick!), molded it into the casserole dish and used that for the crust. The filling was fried meat (prepared with onions, garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, of course), cheese, eggs and milk. Bake all that in the oven until the eggs are cooked and it was lovely. Ketchup was a favorite addition by many (NOT ME) at our table. And then, was the week's highlight...
BLACKBIRD PIE !!!
This was another new thing that I learned. To entertain guests after a large meal, the cook would bake an empty pie shell. Once removed from the pan, they'd cut open a small whole in the bottom, shove in several small song birds, and place it on the serving dish. When the pie was cut open, the birds would "escape" and sing, to the delight of all watching.
We didn't use song birds, and we didn't use real black birds, but I modified a sugar cookie recipe to make chocolate sugar cookie dough, used bird-shaped cookie cutters, sprinkled the cookies with sugar and stuffed them all into an empty pie crust. Boy, were the munchkins and not so munchkin-gang delighted to find those cookies inside!
And the best bit? In making changes to that sugar cookie recipe - we ended up with a cookie that tasted almost exactly like the outside of an oreo cookie - so in the not too distant future, we'll be trying to make our own homemade oreos - and that will be a REAL treat, especially with a nice, cold glass of milk!
And the comments from the gallery regarding our "Medieval Week..."
- Elsie Mae: "Yum, yum!" (As we had to shower her off after every meal, she was quite enthusiastic about EVERY meal!)
- Jonathan: ...No words, just a huge grin and a shake of the head, then, "speciawully backbird pie."
- Victoria: "It was yummy and the blackbird was the best!"
- Anna: "Oh yeah, I liked the tarts the very best - especially the ones with the custard in them."
- Nadia: "I liked the tarts and the quiche (meat pie) with the pie crust. The blackbird pie was fun."
- Rebekah Joy: "My favorite was the trench bread with meat and potato stew, 'cause I got to make the bread. I also liked the cabbage stew with dumplings. The tarts were my favorite desserts, 'cause they were sweet and small and cute."
- Brendan: "I really liked the meat pie with the potato crust best of all. And all of the desserts were good, but I liked the tarts best. But then I'm a growing boy. I eat anything!"
- Richelle: "I agree with Brendan - I liked the meat pie with the potato crust and the cabbage stew was a close second. I think both of those will become regular features in our monthly menus! And pretzels, in my opinion, warm and dipped in butter, with pickles on the are always a delicious treat, but salty really appeals to me when I'm expecting..."
- Tim: "It was all good (Lots of meat and potatoes with a dessert almost every meal - who can complain?), but I liked the meat pie (with the pie crust) and the custard tarts the best."
-----------------------------------------------Last picture is from an art exhibit entitled "Sitting Pretty: Variations on the Chair," by Marilyn da Silva. This particular piece is called "Recipe for Blackbird Pie," 2001.
You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you... In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth."
"God was using the manna to humble and test them... Going through times of vast desert spaces and living on less than the bare minimum are not my favorite seasons. I say it was less than the bare minimum because the Lord said He didn't want them to live by bread alone. The manna was not quite enough; it didn't fully suffice them. The Lord put them in this position so they would depend on Him and not on themselves, their provisions, or false gods. Not to mention, He wanted to do them good in the end. This is the 'making room' piece. God wants to do us good! Too often we associate the idea of turning from our false gods with misery and legalism when it really means making room for God to do good in our lives... God uses scarcity in our lives to draw us to dependency on Himself."
To me, it has been quite profound to meditate on these thoughts - that scarcity, be it provisional, financial, relational, entertainment-oriented, even God's silence for a period (or hearing from Him less - or less quickly - than what I'm actually desiring... or stomping my foot - inside - and demanding). The Israelites weren't happy with the manna - they craved the things of Egypt. "They (the Israelites) were offered the minimalist diet of manna so that their souls could feast on the Lord. Instead, they craved the richness of quail while their souls starved. You could say that God wanted bread for their bodies so they could have meat for their souls..."
God did give them what they desired, but as Numbers 11 describes, they weren't so happy with the results, which included some rather serious consequences physically, as well as spiritually.
Kelly also tied this whole episode in with another well-known Biblical account - the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10.17-31, Matthew 19. 16-30, or Luke 18. 18-30). Jesus looks at the rich young man with expressive eyes of love - and then tells him what he lacks, what is causing the leanness of this man's soul. In essence, Jesus tells him that with his eyes so focued on worldly wealth and worldly things, he is not storing up treasures in heaven and is not following the Lord. His possessions and perhaps his postion as a man of means meant more to that young man than the Savior did. Fascinating that what Jesus told him was "You are lacking this... and to fix that lack and be able to follow/walk with me, you need to give up these."
Doesn't make sense, from a human perspective... Something is missing in my life and I know that there is a hole, yet to ultimately fill that void, I need to give up more, set aside additional priorities of my own, to make more room for God.
Some of these thoughts are just half-baked in my head - and I'm not really sure where this will all lead, but you can be sure I'll be meditating on these portions of God's Word for many days to come.
Other posts related to this Bible reading challenge:
24 July 2008
23 July 2008
22 July 2008
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups ice water 1-1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder 2/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 to 1-1/2 trays of ice cubes, as much as you can spare 2 tablespoons soybean oil OR 2 tablespoons corn oil plus a 5-second squirt of non-stick spray for emulsification purposes Place all of the ingredients into the blender, including the oil and the non-stick spray. Use less water for thicker milk shakes and more water for shakes that are easy on your blender motor. The blender should be about 3/4's full. Place the lid on. Process for a full 2 minutes. Pour into cups and serve. Makes 4 - 12oz servings. Variations: • Add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee for a mocha shake • Add 1 very ripe banana for a chocolate banana shake • Add a big spoonful of peanut butter for a decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake. • Add a few broken red and white candy mints for a refreshing Chocolate Mint shake. • To make Vanilla Milk Shakes, omit the cocoa powder, reduce the sugar to 1/2-cup and add 1 tablespoon (yes a full tablespoon) of vanilla flavoring. For a french vanilla milk shake crack in an egg too.
We can't get the non-stick spray, but this seems to be a great way to make a yummy frosty and it requires no ice cream - which is horribly expensive here, or requires lots of effort and advanced planning to make. I think we'll be trying this one again - as soon as I borrow a blender. Mine was knocked to the floor a few weeks back, and the pitcher part is broken. :-(
21 July 2008
YUM YUM! DELICIOUS!
"We think Daddy is enjoying being home this week, with Mama cooking like this!"
20 July 2008
~ "Trench" bread - and no, that is not a "typo," where I really should have typed French bread. Trench bread is round or oval loaves with a crispy outside crust, but the bread also serves as a bowl for your soup or stew.
~Last but not least, we enjoyed gingerbread cookies, dipped in milk, as our dessert.
Tim was preaching out in Boankada (one of the bush churches) this morning and took Brendan and Anna with him, but everyone else particpated in the preparation of this meal:~Rebekah taught Nadia how to make the Trench bread. ~Jonathan and Elsie Mae helped Mama with the potatoes. Elsie was busy washing potatoes - both before and after they were peeled and diced. Jonathan started learning how to use the potato peeler and worked for quite a long time dicing the potatoes after they were peeled. It takes a loooooong time to peel and dice 4+ kg of potatoes. ~Victoria was busy helping clean/wash dishes and then helped lots with measuring and mixing for the gingerbread cookies. We were able to make this treat with REAL molasses - one of our friends who worked at the embassy gave us what she had left when they returned to the States recently, so this was a real treat! ~Rebekah, Nadia, Victoria and Jonathan all helped roll out and cut the cookie dough. Then Rebekah and Nadia helped keep and eye on the cookies while they were baking.
The girls then decorated the dining/living room to give it a medieval atmosphere. They closed all the curtains, turned off all the lights and fans. They set the table with our nice dishes, set out the candles for light, made a poster welcoming the rest of the family to the feast, and made sure the place was swept and picked up.
Although we had to wait until nearly 3 p.m. for Tim and his gang to return, everyone agreed this meal was definitely well worth the wait and the effort!
19 July 2008
This is the book we are using to get a lot of our ideas and information from, although we have a couple of other resources, too. And Tim is excited, too - since we are using medieval recipes for all of our meals this coming week - means a diet more based on meat and potatoes than we typically have, to he's sure he's in for a treat.
Some of the foods we are plannig to eat: French Toast, Stew served in a Trencher, Meat Pies, Cabbage Stew and Dumplings, Mead, Marzipan, Curds and Whey, Apple Tarts, Curd Tarts and Real Gingerbread. We are even going to make our own butter! I've had to come up with some creative substitutions for some of the recipes, but I think things will actually work and then, much to my surprise, I was actually able to find everything when I went grocery shopping this morning. Of course, the big girls will be heavily implicated in all meal preparations. I need to get some batteries so we can share some pictures. We also hope to construct a miniature castle that they can use to play with puppets they'll also be making.
Preparing for this unit of study has been lots of fun - I've learned lots of interesting things I'd never heard before - we'll be sure to be sharing some of those tibits with you throughout the week, too!
Did you know that the following sayings all came from the Middle Ages?
- Don't count your chickens before they hatch.
- One shears the sheep, the other the pig.
- He casts roses before swine.
- He's an ear-blower.
- The world turns on her thumb.
- It's a hoe without a handle.
- He sits in his own light.
- The pigs run loose in the corn.
- He kills 2 flies with one blow.
- She takes the hen's egg and leaves the goose's.
18 July 2008
17 July 2008
16 July 2008
15 July 2008
13 July 2008
We had to show our identity cards, and then find our testing numbers. Mine was 238. Our classroom was the only one that had a big leak through the roof in the middle (remember I said it was raining), most of the lights weren't working, and the windows were really little and rain was coming in through them. I was glad there were no fans, or we would have frozen since most everyone was soaking wet from the rain. I took my first exam and everything went just fine. On the second one, my dad's phone started to ring. Actually, it started to croak like a frog, because that is the special ring he has it set on. The teacher asked, "Who has a phone in here?"
I didn't know I wasn't supposed to have a phone, and I thought my daddy had turned the ringers and buzzers off, so I said, "Me. I have a phone." She called me to her desk. I walked up and she asked me to give her the phone until recess, so I did.
When recess finally came, she gave me back the phone and told me to turn it off. I didn't know how, so I went into the bathroom to hide and call my mama. I told her what happened and she explained to me how to turn the phone off. When I went back into the class after recess for the last test that day, the teacher asked, "Did you turn it off?"
I said, "Yes, Maîtresse."
I took the next exam, then went out to wait for Daddy.
My tests continued the next day, too. It went much more smoothly, except that I had a big pit or river of running water flowing underneath my desk. The water from all of the rain from the day before was still finding places to go, and it had carved out the river under my desk. It was a little wierd.
I took my first exam and went out for recess. There were two more tests after that. Then I was finished and free, and stood around waiting for my dad.
The one thing my teacher bothered me about, and the question she kept asking was, "Did you bring the phone?"
Just a word, from the parents' point of view - obviously Rebekah didn't get to take her exams under ideal testing conditions, but we think it was a good experience for her to see what her Nigerien friends have to do, just for the privilege of moving on up into middle school/junior high. Of course, we gave her an incentive to do well, too... If she passed her exams, we'd get her an African Grey parrot, something she has been asking for now for the last 2 or 3 years.
Her exams took place June 25th and 26th and today, July 13th, the results were finally posted. She passed!!! ...so now Mama and Daddy get to make good on their promise, as she has already reminded us several times today. It will probably be several days before we can actually make all of the arrangements, but she is already thinking about names. She's settled on Napolean, if it is a male. The jury is still out if it is a female. Any suggestions?
Thanks to all of you who were praying for Rebekah as she took her exams - and just think of the great story she'll have one of these days to tell her grandkids!(Picture of African Grey is from Wikipedia)
Edited to add - If you'd like to see how the "sky water" pools and pours during a good rain in this usually parched and sandy land, check out the following video posted by Rachel and Sjoerd, over at Life in Niger. It really is quite unbelievable! From what we are hearing, this is the best rainy season in the past 15-20 years, definitely the best one we've experienced while here. Niamey has received over 200 mm of rain already. I believe that is more than the total yearly accumulation they've received in some past years, and Lord willing, these rains will continue until near the end of September.