Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rice Pilaf

I got this recipe from - where else? - the Metro Newspaper. Man, this paper has some great recipes! =D

Rice Pilaf
1 cup basmati rice (I only had jasmine)
1/4 cup orzo pasta
2-3/4 cup chicken broth (I used half veggie cuz it was in my fridge)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (I subbed raisins, I don't like cranberries)
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced (I used 3/4 of a red onion, was in my fridge)
1/3 cup almonds, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 scallions, chopped

In saucepan over high heat, combine rice, orzo, and broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Once rice has cooked, quickly stir in cranberries, then cover and set aside for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While rice and cranberries sit off the heat, prepare the rest of the pilaf. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add cinnamon, cumin, and black pepper, then cook for 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add almonds and carrots, then cook for another 2 minutes.

Add rice and cranberries to skillet; toss well. Season with salt and pepper, then mix in chopped scallions. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

The article mentions that if you don't like almonds, you can sub chopped cashews or pistachios, and instead of the dried cranberries, you could use dried currants, cherries, or golden raisins.

Aaaaaaaand I didn't have any scallions (Superstore had none today), but here's a picture of what I made! =)

It tastes alright... I think it'd be better if the scallions were in it - both the flavour and the look would be better... And the look of food always adds to the flavour ;) But I'm unsure about the cinnamon... It reminds me of rice pudding, which I don't really care for... So I will take the article's advice and will "take this in any direction [I'd] like" when it comes to seasonings! =)

Family Social Night

Last night was Weston's Family Social Night, intended to raise money to help fund our summer camps. It was a great night! Not a super great turn out, but there was enough to raise $547, woohoo! =D

There was a jail, complete with jailers who went around arresting people with some pretty good charges - Alisha got arrested for not dancing lol! It cost $2 to bail someone out, and unfortunately I had no cash to bail out Alisha, but luckily Dave lent me a couple bucks and told me to go get her out lol. Thanks Dave! =D

There were also some silent auction prizes, and I ended up winning two! The first consisted of 8 passes for Laser Jungle (2 free passes, and 6 two-for-one passes), and some "Fuze beads" or something... Pretty much just Perler Beads. Anyone remember those? Those little beads you put on pegboards and then iron them... I use to have so many! I gave them to Drake, cuz he had said to me earlier that he really wanted them.

The second prize was pretty cool! a $10 gift card for Rona, which I can use to buy paint! I want to paint a couple walls in my place, white is so boring... Also included in the prize was a set of little journals put out by DaySpring (it's a Christian card company), meant to be used for sermon notes, prayers and praises, bible study, and reflections. Pretty cool! There was also "The Serenity Prayer" by Trevor Hudson, a little book that pretty much dissects the prayer and teaches us how we can transform our lives. Lastly, there was "The Names of God" by George W. Knight, which studies the over 250 names of God, covering names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Cool!

So all in all, I spent $40 on those prizes, but that money is definitely going to a worthy cause! Thank you to all of you who helped plan, organise, set up, run, and clean up. It was a great night, I had a lot of fun! =)

Oh yeah, and before I finish, remember my neighbour that had some trouble last week? She came to my door again yesterday to thank me for helping her, and handed me a card in an envelope. I told her it was no problem, that's what neighbours are for right? So I thanked her for the card, and she went back home. But when I opened the card, I found $40 in it! It didn't feel right to keep it, cuz I was just doing what I was raised to do when someone needed help, but I didn't want to have to go back to her and refuse her gift, cuz I didn't want to be rude... So I put it in the offering plate this morning, so that money too can be used for a good cause =)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May Long Weekend

There was a bunch of stuff that happened this weekend, all of it was pretty awesome!!! =D Well, I guess except for the weather on Monday... But that's petty lol. So here's some picture highlights!

Friday: Brandy and Liam came for a sleepover! =D
Once the Liam-raptor was down, I began teaching Bran how to cross-stitch. It was interesting to see what it's like for a beginner... A little bit frustrating for me, because I wanted to teach her all the little shortcuts I've learned over the years, but knowing she just needs to learn basics to start, I left it alone. But it was good! She got the hang of it, and was able to follow the pattern herself, and changing her threads, and even changing her colour on her own, way to go B! =D

Saturday: I just did laundry in the morning, then Liam went down for a nap just after noon, but by the time he woke up, Logan had come over, and we were all going to the Forks for the afternoon, woot!

Side story: right before Liam woke up, my elderly neighbour came to my door completely in tears, and immediately I went into panic mode, because I know she has a sister living a few floors below us and I thought something had happened to her. But it turned out that my neighbour had locked herself out of her apartment when she went to the laundry room, and her niece was supposed to be calling her to come visit, and our landlady wasn't home. Her sister was also moving out this weekend, which was stressing my neighbour out like crazy. But all was well, I helped her make some phone calls, and got a hold of our landlady so she could get into her place.

So, back to the Forks. I was supposed to be volunteering in the soup van handing out refreshments at the Jam for Dignity under the canopy, but it was raining so they moved the event indoors, so they didn't need the soup van, so I didn't need to volunteer, so I was able to just hang out =)

There was a HUGE puddle under the canopy. Seriously. And I, being a puddle jumper, had to go play in it, of course =)

I also bought myself a new sweater! =D It's super warm, pretty thick, and nice and soft inside =)

In the evening, Alisha and I went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather some more! We had some fun on the swings, and we had also brought out our tea, and I had my cross-stitching.

Then as we were heading inside (cuz it was getting dark and there were a few bugs coming out...), we were surprised by some fireworks going off at the Forks! I figured it would've been Monday night, but I guess not!

Sunday: Went to Weston, went shopping with my mom, and bought some new shorts and a skirt! =D Sorry, no pics yet...

Monday: Chillaxed all morning, then went for a walk around the neighbourhood with Alisha just to explore! It was pretty chilly though, so we didn't get too much area covered. But we are planning to take walks every weekend when she's over =)

So here's some stuff we found!
A dandelion on the bus bench:

A tree that only half blossomed...?

A secret hidden spot behind the front steps of La maison des artistes visuels francophones!

A field up Tache so full of dandelions it almost looked like a field of canola!

A view of the river:

A memorial park! There were plaques all around about Goulet, his work in forming Manitoba, and about his death. He was being chased by a mob on the now-downtown side of the river, and he was trying to swim across to St. Boniface for safety, but the mob threw rocks, and one hit him in the head, knocked him unconscious, and he drowned. Another plaque explains how this park's rolling "hills" represent the waves of the river, the rocks haphazardly placed around represent the rocks thrown, and the white infinity symbol sidewalk represents the symbol of the Métis. Very interesting indeed!

Then we got to the railroad tracks:

And I found these plants growing, and I'm unsure of what they are... But the second one almost looks like an herb or something... Prolly just weeds lol...

Then we found this tower! Turned out to be a part of a waterworks booster pumping system, but it was cool nonetheless!

Then there was this wooden tower thing, that turned out to be a part of a wall climbing club, pretty sweet!

THEN we found a GIANT ice slide!!! Why have I never been on this before?!?!?!? And no, it's not the one at Festival du voyageur, cuz we found that one too, and it's NOTHING compared to this one!

Then my camera battery died, and we were both pretty cold, so we headed back to my place for hot chocolate =) Then Alisha left about 3:30 so she could be home to watch Oprah's show. So I made dinner!

Ready for this???

"An adventurous take on steak."

Another recipe from the Metro newspaper, yay! =D Marinated Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce. Except I didn't have Gorgonzola cheese, but since it's a crumble cheese, I subbed it for Feta. Add a side of steamed green beans and a side of mushrooms and red onions cooked in butter, and there's my dinner! It was DELICIOUS!!!!! As you can see, I put some sauce on my beans too, and I'm pretty sure it tasted better on them than on the steak, so I'll be keeping that in mind! I'll put the recipe at the bottom.

And because my friend Alison posted pictures of her newly reorganised spice cupboard, and I commented about my own spices, here's the pictures:

And while I'm at it Alison, here's my Post-It note recipes! =P

Steak Strips with Gorgonzola Sauce
Keep in mind that I was only cooking for myself, so I quartered the recipe.
2 cups beef broth (I had veggie broth)
1 cups dry red wine (I subbed red wine vinegar)
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 NY strip steaks, each 10-12 oz and about 1" thick, trimmed of excess fat (I just had a sirloin, still tasted awesome!)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt (I just used sea salt)
Ground black pepper

In a large glass baking dish combine the marinade ingredients. Whisk to dissolve the tomato paste. Submerge the steaks in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (450-550F).

(Note: I live in an apartment without a balcony, so I just cooked my steak in a frying pan on the stove.)

Lift the steaks from the dish and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the marinade. Lightly brush the steaks with oil and season evenly with salt and pepper. Allow to stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before grilling. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp minced shallot
1 cup sour cream
4 oz (1 cup) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (As I said, I used Feta)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 2 minutes, stirring often. Mix in the sour cream and cheese and cook until the sauce begins to simmer and the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, add 1/4 tsp pepper, and cover to keep warm.

Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the steaks over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until cooked to your desired doneness, 6-8 minutes for medium rare, turning once or twice (if flare-ups occur, move steaks temporarily over indirect heat). Remove from the grill and let rest 3-5 minutes. Serve warm with the sauce. Garnish with chives, if desired.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

God's Garden - Genesis 1 Reflection

"Grab a Bible and read Genesis 1. Consider the wonder of God's creation."

The Bible I ended up with is The Message, excellent! =D I love this version! Reading this today, I can really picture what's going on: "Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness." I can imagine this, because I've felt it. Bottomless emptiness. Nothing. Darkness. No hope. No life. But then, in Genesis, what's the first thing God does? "God spoke: 'Light!' And light appeared." God spoke. One single word. "Light!" And it was there. God spoke into the darkness, and with the coming of light, the darkness is gone: "God...separated light from dark." Light and darkness cannot mingle together. There is either light, or there isn't. Even the faintest bit of light pushes away darkness. Amazing! God has done this in my life! Into my darkness, God spoke, "Light!" And there was light. There was hope. There was a promise of more to come in life. "God saw that the light was good." Indeed!

As I read through this chapter, I can't help but picture God smiling as He creates everything. Everything He makes, He sees it as good. In my own experience, when I make something good, and I take a moment to step back and really look at it, at the whole picture when I finish a part, I can't help but smile. Right now I'm working on a cross-stitch project, and every time I hold it out to look at the big picture, I smile. Picture God creating stuff, using words to just make everything appear, stepping back after each day to see the big picture, and saying, "It is good." What else would He do but smile? =)

I like God's pattern during the six days of creation. The first three days are spent creating Day and Night, sky and water, and land. The next three days are spent filling Day and Night (sun, moon, stars), filling sky and water (birds, fish), and filling land (vegetation, animals).

And after all that, He makes man. And not just any kind of creature man, but rather, man made in God's own image: "reflecting the nature of God." We are mirrors, reflecting God. God created us to "be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of the Earth." God has given us the Earth to take care of it. But I don't think we've done a very good job of it... Nowadays there's so much talk about globacl warming, polar ice caps melting, holes in the ozone layer, the list could go on, and that's just about the environment! We don't even take care of each other: child labour, poverty, hunger, slavery, human trafficking. We are not taking care of anything except ourselves. And in the long run, we're only going to end up destroying ourselves.

"God looked over everything He had made; it was so good, so very good!" He says this AFTER creating humans. We are included in that statement! God sees us and says we are so very good! I often wonder: does He still say that? I'm reminded of the song "Wonder" by Jaylene Johnson. There's a line that goes, "Do you look at what you've made, do you look at what you're making every day, do you still look down and say, 'It is good'?" I guess that question in itself could open up a big theological can of worms...

Women's Camp 2011

This weekend was amazing, despite my allergies being super flared up... Headaches, plugged ears, stuffed sinuses, stuffed/runny nose, coughing/sore throat... And my left hip and knee were acting up too... But I made it through, and I was feeling better on Saturday actually...

Anyways, Friday evening and Saturday morning, I missed the sessions because of not feeling well enough to be around the loud music and singing, and sitting in a chair for so long. But we had gotten there on the Friday right when dinner was starting, so we just went straight in. After dinner, instead of going to the session, I unpacked, got my bed ready, then chilled for a bit cuz I got hit with a massive headache. I couldn't even stay up and play cards, I just went to bed.

Saturday morning I set my alarm for as late as I could to still be up for brunch, and I figured if I was awake earlier and in time to go to the session then I'd go, otherwise I figured my body needed some extra sleep. Which it apparently did, cuz I was feeling a bit better. After brunch I went back to my room to rest some more. And stitch haha I did quite a bit of stitching done this weekend, which is awesome cuz I'm almost done this project I've been working on as of late! =)

Then at 2 was the auction, which is always fun lol! I ended up winning a beach set for $24, woohoo!!! =D It includes a towel bag (a towel that folds inside out into a bag), a bamboo mat, a competition size frisbee, and a pair of size 8 sandals.

Side note, does anyone need a pair of size 8 sandals? My feet are size 9.5...

After that was dinner, then a small group of us from Weston went to the prayer room that was set up. I really enjoyed the prayer room, but I didn't have time to visit all the stations. There were four, but we were only there for 45 minutes before the next scheduled thing (which was the Crosseyed Rascals), and I spent most of that time at "God's Garden," which focuses on Genesis 1. I had quite a bit to write in my journal while reflecting on it, which I will post in a different post, cuz this one is already getting long lol...

But yes, the Crosseyed Rascals came out to do a show for us! They were soooooo funny LOL! The best part was when they reenacted Major Winnie's day on Friday. Beautiful nachos anyone??? =D

After that we had some snack (home-made coconut cookies, they were AMAZING!!!!!), then campfire, hurray!!! =D Captain Tiffany and I led the songs, and oh boy was it ever fun! =D

Then of course, once all the scheduled activities were done for the day, we went and played cards. Game of the night: Apples to Apples! =D Geez I love that game!!! First round, I ended up being adorable and cuddly haha then the next round I ended up being a cheesy ancient American... Except I only actually won ancient, the cheesy American was given to me lol!

For those of you who have never played Apples to Apples, that last paragraph probably made no sense... All you need to know is that I won the cards with those words, so "adorable," "cuddly," and "ancient," but I was given "cheesy" and "American."

Anyways, got to bed sometime after 1 am, but had a great time! =D

Sunday morning (today), I got up at 7:30am in order to make it to the cadets' devotions, which was really cool! =) Then we had breakfast, then praise and worship, then the last session, then lunch, then we left!

One of the highlights for me, as always, is having a secret sister. This is a tradition in our WWW group (Wild Wild Weston, haha!), secret sisters are planned out, put together by Trish and Bernie. I was given Liz, and it was great to be given that chance to pray for her all weekend and to make her a card, even though I'm really not that creative in that way... But it was fun =) My secret sister ended up being Sylvia, which is really funny because I was going on and on about how excited I was over my gifts from my secret sister, and I really should have been able to figure it out that it was her by the looks and smirks she was giving me, but I do like to be surprised, and so I try not to guess and figure it out.

Anyways, I had received three things from my secret sister. Friday I got a bookmark and an Aero bar tied on with ribbon:

Saturday I got a card with a Peppermint Aero bar:

Then this morning I got a card and a stone:

My secret sister knows me so well =) Aero is my favourite chocolate bar, and the peppermint only makes it that much better! And I have a rock collection! =)

So that was pretty much my weekend. I took quite a few nature pictures too, I'll share a few here to finish the post. Enjoy! =)

Here's a video we watched at our last session, take a few minutes to watch it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Menu This Week

So I finished "Love Wins" by Rob Bell this week. There's lots of pages that are dog-eared, so I'll have lots to blog about I'm sure. It was an interesting read, though I'm not sure I agree with everything Bell had to say...

Last week my menu didn't go as planned once again because I ended up having dinner at Ruth and Peter's (home group night, had some plums, apples, and avocado on toast, yum!), and Wednesday I ate at Mom's because I ended up needing to go to the hospital. Don't worry, I'm fine. I had an infected cyst on my back, I had an appointment with my doctor that day, and he sent me to the hospital to have it removed. No complications, it's all gone, and I'm just on antibiotics until Tuesday to ward off any more infection from the surgery. But it's all gone, they got the capsule out and all, so it shouldn't come back, thank goodness!

Next weekend I'm off to Camp Arnes for Women's Camp, so as of Friday evening, I'm not sure what my meals will be...

But I am in a bit of a rush right now, so here's my menu for this week:

*EDIT* I changed it around because my mom ended up sending me a ton of leftovers home with me after dinner tonight =)

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Dinner @ Mom's

Breakfast: Cereal and berries
Lunch: Leftover zesty spinach soup
Dinner: Dinner at Ruth's

Breakfast: Cereal and berries
Lunch: Leftover zesty spinach soup
Dinner: Leftover meat and potatoes

Breakfast: Cereal and berries
Lunch: Leftover meat and potatoes
Dinner: Zucchini-Potato Pancakes

Breakfast: Cereal and berries
Lunch: Leftover pancakes
Dinner: Spaghetti with butter and herbs

Breakfast: Cereal and berries
Lunch: Leftover spaghetti