Thursday, June 26, 2014

Home Made Creamy Caesar Salad

It's the last week of the month and that means recipe week.  Normally I try to post a recipe for a super easy or extra ordinarily yummy dessert, but I thought I'd deviate from the norm this month.

Canada Day is coming and that means picnics and potlucks and the need to bring some food item to share.  What better thing to feed your friends than a home made caesar salad that puckers them up and leaves their taste buds quivering for more! 

And yes, it's easy to make...right down to the croutons!

So let's start there...

Super Easy Home Made Croutons

Toast two or three slices of your favourite bread until it's fairly well done.  Cut the toast into cubes. 

Melt about 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch x 9 inch pyrex pan in the microwave.  Sprinkle in garlic salt and garlic powder - go a little lighter on the garlic salt so it's not too salty.  Stir this around and dump in the toast cubes.  Mix well until the butter is absorbed.

Broil this for a few minutes, stirring periodically until the croutons are nice and crispy.  Pull the pan out of the oven and let the croutons cool.

(Quite often I'll use left over hot dog or hamburger buns that happen to be in the freezer just to use them up.)

Creamy Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 minced clove of fresh garlic

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.  Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavours can blend.

For extra tangy dressing add extra lemon juice to taste (using the juice of 1/2 a squeezed lemon works well too)

NOTE:  This recipe is enough for one large head of romaine lettuce.

The Salad
  • 1 head of fresh romaine lettuce - I like the full head with the dark green leafy parts instead of just the romaine hearts
  • Home made croutons
  • Bacon bits - you can use store bought, but if there's left over bacon from a weekend breakfast, I cut it up and store it in the freezer so it's ready to toss into a salad.
  • Green onions (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese - I leave this out due to my lactose intolerance and my husband's extreme loathing of the "stinky foot cheese", but typically Caesar salad should have Parmesan included in it - fresh if you have it - otherwise the dried grated version works.
Mix this all together, pour the dressing over top, and toss well.

NOTE:  Caesar salad is always best eaten fresh - if it sits for an extended period of time I find it turns rather slimy and, while the flavor is still good, the texture and aesthetic qualities leave something to be desired.

Enjoy and happy Canada Day weekend!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Eternal Hope

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Judy.  In memory of her daughter.  Thank you for sharing your pain with me.
How do you find hope in your life in the midst of pain and suffering?  What a question!

This past weekend I was facilitating a women’s retreat for Southwood United Church.  The retreat centre is located on an escarpment in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains overlooking the Ghost River.  This was the scene of a major flood that swept across Southern Alberta in 2013.

Trees that previously stretched their limbs to the sunlit sky now lie on the ground, flattened by the rush of water that buried them one year ago.

On Saturday afternoon I went for a walk by the river with a dear friend who recently lost her daughter.  Her pain is fresh and raw, and my heart broke for her as we grieved together by the river.

 While we were there we noticed an interesting characteristic of the trees in the devastated landscape.  Each tree appeared to be lying on the ground.  On closer examination we realized that although they were flattened out, each tree had brilliant green spring growth on it. 

 Intrigued, we looked closer and saw that the trees, weren’t actually uprooted. Their trunks lay parallel to the ground, forced down by the weight of the flood waters, but their roots remained firmly planted in the ground.

 Despite adverse growing conditions, their roots extended deep into the soil and they continued to thrive and grow. 

My friend, in the midst of her pain, looked at this and commented on the similarity to a faith journey.

 Life’s events knock us down and leave us lying on the ground, but our faith roots us firmly in Jesus Christ so we are able to drink deeply from His well of life-giving, life-sustaining water and continue to grow through difficult times.

This beautiful woman is an inspiring example of what a strong faith looks like.  She grieves, and yet she finds and accepts the gifts that God continues to bring into her life.

I’m reminded of this scripture…

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”  Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)
So we suffer and we grieve, but Jesus is our solid foundation.

Yesterday I received this picture from my friend.  A reminder of our time together.  She titled the picture “Eternal Hope”.  Now I share that hope with you and pray for all who grieve.  May you find the hope of Jesus Christ in the midst of your pain. 


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Beautiful Mess

It’s Sunday morning.  For a change, we’re not rushing to get to church.  I sit on the front porch, tea in hand, basking in the early morning sunlight while I enjoy the unexpected gift of an unscheduled 20 minutes.

The chaos of colour from my flower bed draws my gaze.  Yellow, orange, red, and white sway in the morning breeze.  It’s chaos! 

California poppies self-seeded from last summer have hijacked the soil. 
They spring up everywhere burying ,the miniature rose and subduing even the strongest hosta in a sea of colour.
In the self-ordered world that is my mind, it’s a mess.  But through the eyes of a gardener it’s beautiful.

 I smile and wonder…is this how God sees my life?  Does He gaze at the chaos, the struggles, the failures, the missed opportunities, the pain and grief and brokenness…and see beauty?

“Look at the lilies how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed a beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?”  Luke 12:27-28  NLT

God takes the time to create the flowers, making them perfect and beautiful.  I think He smiles when He sees them in their radiant colour.  And He smiles when He sees us, no matter what condition we’re in.  He made us and loves us in the midst of our messy, broken lives.  To Him we are beautiful, regardless of where we’re at.

The mess in my flower bed is a gift.  A gift of colour and beauty given by God.  I take the time to enjoy it and give thanks for it; thankful that He loves me in all my messiness.

You may not love yourself, but know this…God does. 

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NLT)

Substitute “the world” with your name in that scripture and let the words sink in slow and deep.  “God so loved…that He gave his one and only Son…”

That’s how much He loves you.