So thankful



I am so tremendously thankful this year.


I am thankful for the promises contained in the pages of my Bible, a book that has been translated into a language I can read, and which I’m not prevented from studying because of my gender or socioeconomic status.


I’m thankful for a warm and comfortable home that is full of love.

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I’m thankful for family who live close enough for us all to gather around the same table and share a meal together.



I’m thankful for my two sweet boys and joy that they bring to me.

On Thursday, I had the honor of hosting Thanksgiving at my house. It was a small gathering – just eight of us – but we ate a lot of great food and lingered in each other’s company. I tried a lot of new recipes this year, and they were all fantastic. Here’s what we ate:

Dry-brined turkey
My great-grandma’s cornbread dressing
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Green bean casserole
Cranberry sauce
Dinner rolls

My mother-in-law brought pecan pie and salad. My mom brought pumpkin pie and chex mix. After the boys went down for their nap, we brewed some coffee, cut some generous slices of pie, and sat down at the table again. We shared memories and laughter, snuggled on the big couch, and played games late into the night. It was everything a holiday should be, and the perfect way to usher in Advent, as we begin to ponder and wonder anew at the mystery of Christ’s coming in the flesh to our broken, imperfect world.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Not by Bread Alone: A 31-Day series · Recipes

Day twenty-four: Breakfast on the beach

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’

They knew it was the Lord.” John 21:12

My dad makes the best oatmeal.

When I got married and was really cooking a lot for the first time, it was one of the first recipes I called home for. (That and my mom’s cinnamon cake.) Now, because it’s filling, inexpensive, and delicious, I make it almost every week for my family. It’s great year-round, but it makes an especially satisfying breakfast on those first freezing mornings of the winter. Knowing there was a warm bowl of cereal with cinnamon and brown sugar waiting for me at the kitchen table was the only thing that got me out of bed a lot of those cold mornings when I was growing up.

Maybe that’s why breakfast has such a special place in my heart. Or maybe it’s because when I was a new mom, and struggling with our routine as a family, a seasoned pastor’s wife told me that they never managed to have regular family dinners because of her husband’s schedule, so they made family breakfasts a priority instead. That stuck with me.

Nowadays, we split the difference – on any given week, we have an average of three or four breakfasts together at home and the same number of dinners.

But even so, I love breakfast. I could eat it three times a day, seven days a week, and I don’t think I would ever get tired of it. There are so many delicious choices: biscuits and gravy, French toast, bacon and eggs, pancakes, quiche, fish….

Wait. What?

That’s what the Bible says that Jesus fixed for his disciples. It must be a cultural thing, because I think that sounds kind of gross, but I would probably try it if Jesus was offering it to me.

Especially if I had been one of the disciples.

After the last meal they shared with him, all the disciples but John had abandoned Jesus. Peter snuck behind the entourage of soldiers to see what happened, but when a slave girl made him as one of Jesus’ followers, he denied any association with his Rabbi. Three times.

Now, they knew Jesus was alive again, but they weren’t quite sure what that meant for them, so they went back to the only thing they did know: fishing. Except, after following Jesus for so long, it would seem they didn’t know that anymore, either, because they did not catch anything. All night long.

And then Jesus showed up.

Before they knew who he was, he gave them some fishing advice, and they hit the jackpot. One hundred fifty-three large fish were in the net, and they knew that the Lord had met them, once again, on the sea of Galilee. They landed their boat less Peter, who had already taken off running toward Jesus, and came to have breakfast with Jesus on the beach.

I wonder if it was hard for any of the disciples to make eye contact with Jesus while they ate. I wonder if any of them were thinking back to the last meal they’d shared with him, and how he had said they would all desert him, and how he had been right. But I know for sure what they would have seen if they had dared to lift their faces and behold the risen Jesus.

Only love.

The breakfast Jesus offered them was not some bait-and-switch, some way to have an opportunity to tell them all just exactly what he thought about being left alone to be tortured and executed like a criminal. No, Jesus freely offered them the food and his time, just as he freely offered them his forgiveness and salvation.

Let’s go do the same.

And if oatmeal sounds good for breakfast tomorrow, here’s my dad’s recipe:

3 cups cold water
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or steel-cut)
1 spice tea bag
¼ to ½ cup brown sugar
½ to 1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Put spice tea bag in water and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oats, and let cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until oats are soft and all water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Serve with milk

Makes 4 servings


This post is part of a 31-day series. A list of all the other posts in this series can be found here.


That’s the way the cookie crumbles

I love cookies.

When I was growing up, my mom made cookies and brownies far more often than she made pie or cake, so they have always been my dessert of choice.

My favorite cookies are chocolate chip. Specifically these chocolate chip cookies.

I’ve been in love with this specific cookie recipe for almost exactly 19 years now. How do I know how long it’s been, you ask? Simple–the recipe is in the Boxcar Children cookbook that I received as a gift for my seventh birthday. My parents still have a video of me wearing Beauty and the Beast stretch pants with a matching shirt, opening the cookbook, rainbow shoelaces, and a box of checkers, etc. It was a good birthday.

I can only hope Friday will measure up.

On Friday, I will be twenty-six, marking the nineteenth anniversary (or thereabouts) of my discovery of the perfect chocolate chip cookie, so I thought I’d remind you, my few and faithful readers, of this amazing recipe.

“Dr. Moore’s Favorite Brown Cookies”
1 1/3 c. butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar (I always use dark brown – I like it best)
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 12-oz bag chocolate chips

Cream together sugar and margarine. Add eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. Fold in chocolate chips.

That’s your batter.

Now for the important part – baking. Do you know the secret to the perfect, chewy cookie? (If you want crunchy cookies I can’t help you; I only ever make cookies crunchy by accident.)

Bake the cookies on the low end of the time given, until they’re just set. (For these cookies, I use a one-once scoop to form the cookies and bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees.)

Here they are, baking away:Image

Pull them out of the oven. Then, as tempting as it is to grab one of those hot gooey cookies and shove the whole thing in your mouth, exercise self-control. Let them sit on the cookie sheet another five or ten minutes.

Here’s the neat part: they will keep baking on that hot cookie sheet. Not as much as if they were in the oven, but just enough to keep them from being so gooey they fall apart.

Then you can transfer them to a cooling rack on your kitchen counter and bake some more.Image

If you noticed there are only ten cookies here, you would be correct. I cannot comment on the whereabouts of the other two cookies, except to say that they were delicious.

So if you need a pick-me-up after school or work snack for this Monday (or any other day) try this recipe. You won’t be disappointed.


Grandma Pierce’s Christmas Cookies

I know I’ve been posting a lot about food lately, but that’s just a reflection of my life right now. I probably spend 50% of the month of December in the kitchen. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I am in the kitchen a lot around Christmas, and I like it that way. And I have yet another recipe to share with you. But first, a story.

Jason and I had a conversation about a month ago that went like something like this–
Jason: Help me remember, you need to get the recipe for my grandma’s Christmas cookies from my mom.
Amy: Okay. What kind of cookies are they?
Jason: Christmas cookies.
Amy: But what is in them?
Jason: I don’t know. They’re just Christmas cookies. And I really like them. You need to get the recipe from my mom.

I was a little baffled, so I called Jason’s mom and at Thanksgiving, she gave me the recipe. When we got home, I scanned the list of ingredients for anything I needed to pick up at the grocery store. As I read the recipe, I became skeptical. Two whole cups of shortening? With no butter? And there are cherries and dates in these cookies? Suffice it to say I didn’t think they sounded so amazing. Scratch that – I thought they sounded gross.

“Are you sure you like these cookies?” I asked Jason before adding “dates” to my shopping list. He assured me that he did, and so at Wal-mart I threw some dates in my cart, and came home and started to make Christmas cookies.

I stirred flour into them until I thought my arm would fall off, and then I stirred in the cherries, dates, and nuts. What kind of nuts I was supposed to use, the recipe didn’t say. I asked Jason what kind his grandma used, but he didn’t know. I used walnuts.

Fast-forward five hours. The cookies had chilled in the icebox (actually, I used a refrigerator, since I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an actual icebox) and had been sliced and baked. I handed Jason a plate and a glass of milk. And I took a cookie.

I looked skeptically at it one more time before taking a bite. And you know what? They were good!

So here’s the recipe, copied exactly as Grandma Pierce wrote it. Give it a try!

Christmas Icebox Cookies

Cream together: 2 c. sugar, 2 C. shortening.
Add: 3 eggs, 1 T. Corn Starch.
Sift together & add: 5 c. flour, 1 t. soda, 1/2 t. salt.
Add: 1 c. chopped nuts, 1 c. maraschino cherries, 1 c. chopped dates, 2 t. vanilla.

Makes 4 large rolls. Chill and slice fairly thick. Makes 8 dozen cookies.

Bake 375 12-15 minutes.


Take-out Guilt

I have a confession: sometimes I bring home takeout.

And usually I feel guilty about it. After all, the whole point of menu-planning and cooking from scratch and coupon-clipping is to save money on my grocery bill and to provide better food for my family. Stopping by a fast-food restaurant and picking up food I know to be terrible for me seems like a slap in the face to all the work I do to prepare homemade meals the rest of the time. But this weekend, I gained a new perspective on the whole take-out situation, and I thought I’d share it with you.

This weekend was hectic for me and Jason. Friday night, Jason spoke at the youth service for our church’s Pacific Islander congregation. Saturday morning we had to be at church at 6:30 to go to a youth fine arts competition, which lasted all day. By the time we got home that evening, I was exhausted, mentally and physically.

Normally, I would have agonized over whether or not to pick up some take out, waffling because I know I should make dinner, but not really feeling like making anything. We had food at our house. I could have made several different things for dinner without having to pick anything up from the store. But I didn’t want to. I was tired.(By the way, I’m not saying that we should only have to make dinner when we feel like it. If I only did things when I felt like it, my house would get vacuumed once a year and I’d have to throw away any dirty dishes that needed to be washed by hand.) In the end, I’m usually plagued by guilt when I decide to pick up takeout. I feel like, by giving in to the lure of fast food, I have somehow failed to adequately “measure up” as a wife.

But by the grace of God, my attitude this Saturday was different. It occurred to me that I only had a couple of hours at home with my husband that evening, and I wanted to spend them with him, instead of in the kitchen making food for him.

Sometimes, I realized, what you gain by ordering takeout is well worth the few dollars you loose by not making dinner from scratch. So I picked up a pizza from Little Caesar’s – I even splurged an extra couple bucks for Crazy Bread. And it was delicious.


Chocolate Chip cookies

I snagged a great deal on some flour yesterday. You may not be as excited about this as I am, but Dillon’s had Gold Medal flour on sale for $1.99. When I combined that deal with the $0.75 printable coupon here (which they “doubled” to a dollar), I got 10 pounds of flour for just over $2.00 after tax!

In honor of that great deal, and the fact that I intend to do a LOT of baking this month to stock my freezer, I decided to participate in LifeasMOM‘s “Recipes that use flour” recipe swap.

I’ve already shared with you my favorite banana bread recipe. Hands down, my other favorite thing to make would be chocolate chip cookies. In fact, I’ll be making a whole bunch this week. This recipe is one I’ve been making since I was 7 years old, when I got the Boxcar Children Cookbook for my birthday. I think this recipe and the brownie recipe on the facing page are the only two things I’ve ever made out of this cookbook. But this one recipe has definitely seen enough use to make the cookbook purchase a worthwhile one!

“Dr. Moore’s Favorite Brown Cookies”
1 1/3 c. margarine, softened
2 cups brown sugar (I always use dark brown – I like it best)
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 12-oz bag chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together sugar and margarine. Add eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake cookies 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Check out the other great recipes in the recipe swap here.