Recipe Friday: Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

As usual, I don’t measure stuff when I’m cooking. I put this all together, and then wrote down the amounts I thought might be accurate. Use whatever you have on hand.

There was an issue, when it was done and served, of clarified butter puddling on the bottom.

I considered cutting the butter amount in half for the recipe; but we liked the taste (and texture) of the dish so much that I’m keeping it as-is. The butter melded into the creaminess of the sauce and potatoes eventually, as it cooled.

I used red potatoes, which hold their shape and texture well with longer cooking times.

My husband and I both had seconds of this dish, we liked it so well. I recommend against seconds, though; it’s pretty filling.

One more note: After we finished eating, I kept having flashes of nutmeg, almost in my mouth. So I think maybe a dash of nutmeg in this dish might be good.

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 90 min

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 extra large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8-10 oz fully cooked ham, cut to bite-size pieces (this was four, thick, maybe 3”x4” slabs of ham)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 T flour
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Put the sliced potatoes, onions, and ham into a large bowl. Salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter and cream cheese, whisking together. (It’s a little clumpy.)

Whisk in the milk and heat to simmering.

Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. If it gets too thick, add more milk.

Whisk in the Parmesan cheese. Pour the cheese mixture over the ingredients in the bowl (potatoes, onion, and ham); stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×11” (or similar) baking dish. Cover with foil.

Bake at 375° for 70 minutes. Uncover, turn the oven to 325°, and continue to bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot, with a vegetable and/or salad.

God’s Light

Genesis 1.1-4 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

1 John 1.5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

God is pre-existent, from eternity past to eternity future. As humans, we cannot have a correct concept of eternity, not having been existent before we were born.

We cannot have a correct concept of light, either. God created the heaven and the earth, and there was darkness. He created light. It’s not that God created light for Himself, because He is light. No, God created light for us.

Maybe, when Adam and Eve were created, and perfect in the Garden, maybe they could see God’s light. Maybe their bodies were shimmering with light. Maybe that’s why, when they sinned, they were able to see that they were naked: their own light had darkened, and they were ashamed. And their eyes were darkened, and they couldn’t see God’s light any more.

God knew from eternity past that He would create us, and that we would sin. He knew that we would not be able to see His light, that we would need the light that He created for us.

He knew what we would need to live on earth, while we waited for eternity with Him. He provided everything.

All of creation cries out with God’s handiwork. All of this He did for us, an outpouring of His tenderloving care for us. It’s not just the light that He prepared. He also prepared a way for us to see His light again:

John 8.12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus is our light (because He is God, and God is light) and our salvation.

Today may we celebrate the light God gives us through His Son, Jesus Christ. May we celebrate His light we have in our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Above all, may we celebrate God, Himself, Who is worthy of all praise and adoration!

Recipe Friday: Kathy’s Instant Pot Chicken & Dumplings

This is a comforting, stick-to-your-ribs dinner. It’s also time-consuming, so pick a day when you really feel like cooking, and want to bless your family. You’ll want to plan ahead and make sure you have all the ingredients at-the-ready before you begin. Plan 3 to 3 ½ hours from start to finish.

This serves 3 with generous portions.

I started with frozen chicken breasts, bone-in. Because they were bone-in, I didn’t want to try to separate the meat from the bone until after they were cooked. If you have boneless chicken breasts, you can skip the first step, and just put in the raw, cut-up meat. Similarly, if you’re using left-over chicken, skip the first step.

Because my bone broth is concentrated, I used water and wine to supplement the amount of liquid. For extra nutrition, whisk a big scoop of collagen powder into the liquid.

The peas are optional. In our house, the peas only go into my bowl. 😉

Here is the complete list of ingredients. They are listed again later, separately, to show where in the recipe to add them.

Into the Instant Pot insert, put:

  • 3 large frozen, bone-in chicken breasts
  • 2 cups chicken bone broth

Close the lid, set to Seal, and cook 10 min at pressure. Allow 10 min natural pressure release, then release pressure and open the lid. Push Cancel.

Remove the chicken to a plate and allow to cool.

Pour out the liquid into a 2-cup measuring cup.

While the chicken is cooling, set the Instant Pot to Sauté and start in on the next set of ingredients:  

  • 4 T Butter
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut to bite-size chunks
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut to bite-size chunks
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp thyme or rosemary (or both)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Add the butter and olive oil; allow butter to melt.

Add the onion and celery, and sauté only 3-4 minutes.

Add the carrots, potatoes, garlic, mushrooms, thyme/rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir.

Separate the cooled chicken from the bones. Cut the chicken into strips or bite-size pieces. Add the chicken to the Instant Pot.

Add back all but ½ cup of the cooking liquid (keep that ½ cup broth in that cup; you’ll use it for the dumplings). Stir.

NOTE: If you don’t have at least 1 ½ cups of liquid in the pot, add water until you do.

Cook 15 minutes at pressure. Allow 10 minutes natural pressure release, then release the rest of the pressure and carefully open the lid. Push Cancel.

Next ingredient set:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 Tbs softened cream cheese OR ½ cup heavy cream

Stir in the ½ cup water, ½ cup white wine, and 2 Tbs cream cheese (or heavy cream).

Set the Instant Pot to Sauté.

While the cream cheese is melting, mix the dumplings (This made 6 medium-size dumplings.):

  • ½ cup broth from cooked chicken mixture
  • (If your broth isn’t very salty, you’ll want to add a bit of salt to the dough.)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Tbs butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

In that 2-cup measuring cup with the ½ cup broth left in it: mix the dumpling dough together.

Stir the chicken mixture, making sure the cream cheese is blended in.

Drop dumpling dough by spoonfuls onto the top of the chicken mixture. DO NOT mix the dumplings into the liquid; leave them on top.

Replace the Instant Pot lid, but do not tighten or seal it. Cook, on Sauté, for 15-20 minutes. On my Pot, the Sauté function gets the mixture to a rolling boil. I let it boil for 8 minutes, then turned it off to cook the rest of the time, still with the lid on. (Alternately, you can seal the lid and cook at pressure for 10 minutes.)

Open the lid and check the thickness of the liquid. If you like, you can thicken with 2 Tbs flour:

GRAVY (optional):

  • 2 Tbs flour, mixed as a slurry with water or broth

First carefully remove the dumplings to a bowl or plate and keep warm.

Stir the flour slurry into the chicken mixture and allow to boil for at least two minutes.

If you like, add the frozen peas at this point, mix in and allow to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Replace the dumplings on top of the chicken mixture, or serve them from the separate plate/bowl.

This is the pot after 2 servings were taken out.

Promises and Peace in and of the Trinity

I love how God reveals Himself to us. We are but poor, frail humans, with limited understanding. But God is abundant and gracious in His teachings, parables, examples, and love.

I was thinking about Jesus as He hung on the cross, with the two thieves next to Him. One of the thieves reviled Him; but the other thief asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23.43) I’ve often wondered how that worked. I know that Jesus speaks only truth. I also know Jesus died that day, went to hell to pay for my sins, and rose again the third day. How could He be in paradise that day, but also go to hell? Of course, it’s because Jesus is God. God is always in paradise; and Jesus is God. The repentant thief could join God in paradise because he accepted that God had sent a Saviour in Jesus, and that He paid the price for his sins.

Like in Matthew 18.20: For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Jesus spoke to them while in His physical body. When we pray in His name, He is not here physically, but His Spirit is here. Jesus and the Spirit and God are all the same. Here they are / here He is.

In John 8.56, Jesus told the Jews “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” The Jews didn’t get it: Jesus was too young to have known Abraham. But Abraham knew Jesus, and rejoiced for the day He would come because Abraham knew God. Jesus was right there: John 8.58: Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Jesus has been God, has been with God (and with the Holy Spirit) for eternity past, and will be for eternity future.

I get immeasurable comfort and peace from God, from knowing God, from reading His Word. And that’s what God wants for us – it’s why He offers it to us. Do you, too, delight to abide in the truth of God’s presence, His Word, His Trinity?

A few more Trinity verses (of the many that God gives us):

Hebrews 9.14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Ephesians 2.18 (speaking of Christ) For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

John 14.16 (Jesus is speaking) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14.26 (Jesus is speaking) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.

John 15.26 (Jesus is speaking) But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Matthew 28.18, 19 (Jesus, after His resurrection) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

2 Corinthians 13.14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

1 John 3.21-24 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, and we will receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and we should love one another just as He commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments remains in God, and God in him. And by this we know that He remains in us: by the Spirit He has given us.

1 John 4.2 By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God

Resurrection Sunday Thoughts

Alleluia, He is risen!

As I read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, questions and thoughts race through my head. Are you like that?

After Jesus died, one of the Roman soldiers was awed at Jesus and His cry, and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15.39) Was that soldier still there after they took Jesus’ body off the cross? I think of that hymn, The Old Rugged Cross; it was stained with blood so divine. What became of that cross? Did the soldier take it home with him? Were there miracles wrought through that blood, to believers? Was that soldier humbled? Did he follow Jesus? Was he one of them who saw Jesus after He resurrected?

Jesus was laid in the tomb. Joseph had been compelled to offer it, at a great monetary cost to himself and family. How did that come about? What was his backstory? How did he know about Jesus, and why did he “happen” to be there? And, it was foretold in Isaiah 53.9: And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

When the women arrived Sunday morning to embalm Jesus, there were angels, telling them, “He is not here!” The Bible tells about angels rejoicing. How much emotion do angels feel / demonstrate? Were they anguished and weeping at Jesus’ crucifixion? When Jesus said that He could call upon more than twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26.53), were they there in an instant, ready to defend their Lord?

Mark 16.19, 20: After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked through them, confirming His word by the signs that accompanied it. After Jesus was taken up into Heaven, He worked together with the disciples. What does that mean? The Holy Spirit had not yet been sent. Was His Spirit with them in this special way?

And what of the disciples? For three years they had walked with Jesus, learning from Him, extracting everything He wished to give them. They believed He was The Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16.16). Jesus had evaded the authorities many times, but then He was taken and crucified. He didn’t come down off the cross when taunted (Matthew 27.38-44; Mark 15.36) – although I think the disciples believed He surely could have, maybe wondered why He didn’t. Then He died. He actually died. They could see He was dead, and buried.

But then came Sunday! He is risen!

I cannot fathom the wild range of emotions the disciples swung through, trying to keep up with all Jesus was showing them. They implicitly trusted Him, tried their very hardest and best to understand. In the meantime, they obeyed. They just put one foot in front of the other, wherever Jesus said to walk, and they went.

And, just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit came alongside them, inside them, explaining and giving peace and direction and joy and understanding. And power! Such bold preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and God our Savior!

And now Almighty God is inside each of us as believers! May we be as bold and knowledgeable (with the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2.16) and as wise as the men and women of the Bible, all of whom God gives as examples.

And may we keep wondering and examining His Word.

The Beginning and the End (and the End) of Egypt

Genesis 46.3, 4a And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:  I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again

God tells His story in so many ways. We’ve got the whole Bible; and we’ve got His Spirit; and we’ve got past and present circumstances.

In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve sin, and are cast out of the Garden of Eden. Also, they are prevented from eating from the Tree of Life (a blessing, so that we are not condemned to living in sin forever).

In Genesis 46, God appears at night, in a vision, to Jacob/Israel. He tells Israel not to fear to go down into Egypt, for God will go with Him; and that HE WILL BRING HIM BACK AGAIN.

Because Egypt is often given as a symbol of sin, I see this as a picture of the human race entering the sinful world. BUT, we are promised that God will go with us. And He is! God is with us in so many ways: Bible, Spirit, circumstances, each other…

Then, in Exodus, God leads them physically out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. I see this as a picture of our salvation. The Israelites were in bondage, and could not save themselves. God brought them out. Once in the Promised Land, the Israelites had to fight for their Promised Land, just as we must fight the spiritual battles raging all around us. I think of Philippians 2.12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; we must, once God has gifted us with salvation, work out that salvation by reading His Word and obeying His Truth.

In Exodus 12.11, God gives Moses and Aaron specific instructions on how to eat the Passover: And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S Passover.

And verse 15: even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

Having recently read Matthew 24, (you can read it here) I couldn’t help but draw comparisons:

  • God’s people were to search for and clean out any leaven from their homes. Leaven symbolizes sin. We are to clean our lives of sin by confessing and repenting.
  • They were to be ready: loins girded, shoes on their feet. The Lord would call for them at any moment! We are to be ready for the Lord’s return at any time. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24.16-20: Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day
    • Be ready for the Lord always. He is with us right now, always; but He is coming again to take us home.

The Israelites were going to the Promised Land. So Jesus will take us to His promise: His Heavenly home to live with Him forever. Our final trip will be unlike the Israelites’ arduous journey, filled with complaining and dangers. We will rush to meet Him in the air (Genesis 46.3, and I will also surely bring thee up again and John 14.2, 3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.), joyous and finally, finally, fulfilled with perfect peace.

Wildcrafter’s Toolkit Offer

A unique opportunity is available for free from this site:

Here is an excerpt from the email:

Starting today, we are starting our free showing of Wildcrafter’s Toolkit.
Here are the skills covered in these short video lessons…

  • 7 foundational wildcrafting principles
  • 8 wildcrafting practices (such as knowing when to harvest, having a plan for your harvest, and being safe)
  • Plant identification
  • How to harvest leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, roots, and bark
  • Processing plants (washing, storing, drying, garbling, and freezing plants)
  • On the final lesson, you’ll receive a printable Wildcrafting Checklist
    It’s important to learn how to wildcraft correctly, so simply go here to sign up.
    The first two videos are already posted. 
    Wildcrafter’s Toolkit is free, the videos are short, and there’s no homework. So, what are you waiting for?   🙂
    Enjoy!
    John Gallagher
    LearningHerbs

Ye Ask Amiss

James 4.1-6  From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

James is such a good book. Well, of course the whole Bible is such a good book. But I like sinking my teeth into James and really chewing on it.

The fourth chapter of James speaks of talking to and relating with God. He spells out our own sinful flesh and desires, and how contrary we are to the ways of God. And he highlights the grace and faithfulness of our gracious, wonderful Heavenly Father.

Look at vs 7-10:  7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Verse 8 reminds me of Philippians 2.12: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Work out your own salvation. Draw near to God. God bows down and gifts us salvation. We don’t work for it; He gives it as a gift. Yet we are then to work it out. It’s WORK to draw near to God. We are to forsake all the ungodly attitudes, actions, and material things in our lives, and submit to God alone. That requires our attention and energy.

And then, look at verses 9 and 10: we are to be afflicted and mourn and weep. This is suffering, and we are to embrace it.

James 4.3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Nowhere in the Bible do I find that we are to pray for our own comfort or ease. We are encouraged to look to Jesus as our source of comfort and joy and peace; but we are not to seek a life of ease.

Look at the apostle Paul. He didn’t pray for comfort for himself. He went out and preached Jesus and got pummeled for it. We are to do the same.

“Well, I don’t want to be like Paul,” you might think. “I don’t want that kind of suffering and discomfort in my life.”

But suffering and affliction bring us closer to God. Look at the complete joy and peace Paul had, the rejoicing that poured out from him, look at his prayers that we all might experience what he had.

Paul worked out his own salvation, alright; and look at his amazing reward. I don’t think we are to go out beating the bushes and looking for trouble, mind you. Just follow hard after God, and He will direct your paths. He has promised He will not bring upon us more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10.13). And when we are suffering and drowning in troubles, we can cry out to God, and He will save us (Psalms 107). We become blind to the grace of God when we are at ease; we can see Him more clearly when we are in trouble.

When you pray, don’t ask amiss. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5.6); Submit yourselves therefore to God (James 4.7a); Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4.10).

Natural Pain Relievers

Sayer Ji is a medical / nutritional researcher. He is passionate about his subject, and has established a research database.

This morning’s article deals with the health effects of over-the-counter pain relievers, and suggests five natural alternatives. As always, he backs his information with research.

This short article is worth the read:

https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/6-natural-ibuprofen-alternatives-backed-clinical-research3