Category Archives: Hospitality

Teacher Appreciation Lox Bagel Breakfast

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Teacher Appreciation Lox Bagel Breakfast

For Teacher Appreciation Week this year, my gift was to coordinate parents to bring breakfast and lunch for the staff each day of the week. After everyone had grabbed their day/meal there was one slot left to fill. I ended up with breakfast on the last day. The parents really spoiled the teachers and staff with lots and lots of goodies, and since I had the luxury of knowing what everyone had brought, I decided they might all appreciate something that wasn’t sweet and unhealthy. My neighbor is a farmsteader and has a farmstand every other week. She bakes the most wonderful bagels. So I grabbed up a couple dozen of those and a dozen of her farm fresh eggs, along with a package of her farm grown sprouts, and herbs out of my own garden. Most of the rest of the ingredients were store bought organic. I was surprised by how many of the staff had never heard of Lox Bagels. Well, they are all big fans now as I was after the first time I had one! 🙂

Lox Bagels

  • Smoked Salmon
  • Hard Boiled Eggs, sliced
  • Cucumbers, sliced thin
  • Tomatoes, sliced thin
  • Red Onion, sliced thin
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Lemons, cut into wedges
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Chives, minced
  • Capers, whole or minced
  • Dill Weed, minced
  • Everything Bagels (1 to 2 dozen), sliced in half

Arrange Lox ingredients decoratively on a platter or charcuterie board, cover with plastic, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  When ready to serve set out on a buffet table with little appetizer forks and spreading knives.  Place chives, capers, and dill weed in small bowls and keep chilled until ready to serve.  When ready to serve nestle them in with Lox ingredients on platter.  Place whipped Cream Cheese in a bowl and keep chilled until ready to serve.  When ready, set next to Lox platter.  Keep Bagels in a plastic bag until ready to serve.  Fresh bakery bagels can be purchased ahead of time, wrapped and frozen, to keep them fresh.  Remove from freezer the day before and let thaw in the refrigerator.  Slice room temperature bagels in half with a bread knife and stack pairs in a kitchen towel lined bread basket and cover with another tea towel.  Set the buffet table near an outlet so those who wish to toast their bagels may do so. Set a toaster near the basket of bagels.

Cream Cheese Spread:

  • 2  8-oz blocks Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ cup Sour Cream (may substitute heavy cream – add more if a creamier spread is desired)
  • 2 Lemons, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons Dill Weed, chopped
  • ¼ cup Red Onion, minced

Place all ingredients for the cream cheese spread in a large bowl and mix with a mixer on medium speed until blended, then increase speed to high and whip cream cheese until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  If made the night before the flavors will have time to meld.

Mimosas

  • Various fruit juices, chilled
  • Sparkling cider/grape juice (non-alcoholic Champagne), chilled
  • Strawberries, orange wedges, fresh mint sprigs, etc. for garnish
  • Champagne Flutes

Arrange garnishes on a platter.  Fill a tub with ice.  Nestle the juices into the ice. Set the fake champagne (or wine, if appropriate) either in the ice also, or next to champagne flutes. Place the garnishes in front for easy access. Set out a small set of tongs for self-serving of the garnishes.  Let guests assemble their own beverages.

Cold Brew Coffee

  • 3 bottles of your favorite brand Cold Brew, or make homemade (recipe here)
  • Flavored syrups (Hazelnut, caramel Macchiato, etc.)
  • 1 or 2 quarts Half-and-Half
  • Ice
  • Clear plastic Solo Cups (with lids, optional)
  • Stir sticks
  • Straws

Fill a tub with ice.  Set the cold brew bottles (you may want to have both regular and de-caf) into the ice.  Nestle the Half-and-Half into the ice also.  Set a bucket of ice near the cups, with a serving scoop, and arrange the syrups, stir sticks, and straws so they are accessible.  Let guests serve themselves.

Want to know which cold brew brands are the best? https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/best-cold-brew-taste-test/

“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.”

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Mrs H’s Refreshing and Oh Sooooo Yummy Hibiscus Tea

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Mrs H’s Refreshing and Oh Sooooo Yummy Hibiscus Tea

As promised…

I preface my post here by first telling you, I used to be an iced tea (black tea) drinker for many, many years.  I drank it all day long.  It replaced my Coke/Pepsi addiction, which I had for many, many years before that.  I gave up sodas because they just have waaaaay too much sugar in them, plus the carbonation had an adverse effect on my digestive system after I had my kids.  Sweet tea took over as my thirst quencher after that, until I decided that the pink stuff I was using to sweeten it wasn’t good for me either. I only used it because sugar rots your teeth. I eventually learned to like unsweet tea, until I discovered agave nectar – but they don’t usually have that at restaurants. Okay, honey then.

After a recent surgery my doctor visited my hospital room and saw my small cup of iced tea on my dining tray. He wagged his finger at me and said, you better lay off that stuff. It’s is very dehydrating.  Well darnit! That was the first iced tea I’d had in months. When I started chemo I defaulted to drinking water ONLY. Chemo is very dehydrating, and I worked really really hard to keep myself hydrated through all my treatments, but there were weeks after each treatment when water just didn’t taste good at all.  Food didn’t taste good.  Nothing tasted good.  I switched from drinking my water out of a metal cup, to drinking it out of glass, and that seemed to help, but it was just plain hard some days to choke water down.  My doctor suggested flavored pedialyte, so I got some of that, and I drank lots of Pom (pomegranate juice), and watermelon water – the no sugar added brand. 

And then I discovered hibiscus tea.  What a wonderful little beverage.  My dearest neighbor had it at her farmstand one Saturday morning, and her husband mixed me up what he called a “suicide.”  Remember those?  That’s funny, because that’s exactly what we called them also, when I was a teenager.  It’s when you fill your glass with a shot of every soda pop variety in the dispenser.  Well the only two things my neighbor had to mix together were the hibiscus tea (which had basil leaves and mint in it) and lemonade with slices of real lemon.  It was fantastic.  It sure is great to finally have my taste buds back.  So I’ve started making my own versions of hibiscus tea, and that’s what I drink now all day every day. It’s how I stay hydrated through these last chemo treatments, and during these HOT summer months.

Our local grocery store sells the dried hibiscus flowers by the bag in the Mexican products section, so I stay stocked up with several bags on hand, and I make about a half-gallon of the stuff every other day.  I keep lemons and limes on hand, and I grow my own mint and basil (my sweet neighbor grows balsamic basil and it is the best).  I’m trying to grow my own balsamic basil, but until it gets big enough to harvest I just snag it from her at her farmstand on Saturdays.

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My Method

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I start by tossing a couple small handfuls (approximately 1 heaping cup) of the flowers into a short drinking tumbler, cover it with a strainer to hold the flowers in the glass while I run the water into the glass and over the flowers. The strainer also keeps the flowers from escaping while I’m dumping out the water from the glass. I rinse and dump and rinse and dump about 3 times. This gets all the dirt out of the flowers.

Next, I fill a small saucepan a little over half full with filtered water – approximately 2 cups.  I actually use hydrogen/alkaline water that I buy locally in 5 gallon containers.  Then I bring the water just almost to a boil, to the point where I see the steam rising and small bubbles forming. I dump the rinsed flowers into it, give it a stir, and then turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes, until the water has turned a deep dark red color. I then take it off the heat and let it cool completely. 

Once cooled, I set up my half-gallon mason jar with a canning funnel and set the strainer inside. The funnel keeps the strainer in place while I pour the simmered tea through the strainer into the jar.  I then refil my saucepot with filtered water and let the flowers soak again just a little more, so I get all the last bit of goodie out of them.  I pour that second tea water into the jar, catching the flowers in the strainer.  I like to toss the spent flowers into my garden. They make great compost. Finally, I fill the jar all the rest of the way full with just plain filtered water.

I like to add my sliced lemon, sliced lime, mint leaves, a sprig of basil, or whatever other fruit (sliced strawberries, orange wedges, watermelon slices, sliced cherries or grapes), to my jar of tea and let it all mingle for several hours overnight before I drink it.  If you just like lemon, do that.  Or just mint.  Or just lime.  It’s all good. You could even make ice cubes out of the tea so it doesn’t delute as you’re drinking it. Or freeze grapes and use them in place of ice cubes.

I twist on my lid and place my tea in the refrigerator.  And hopefully I’ve made this new batch while I still had a huge glass of the old batch left to tide me over until this new batch is ready the next day.

I like mine sweetened, and over ice.  I mostly use agave nectar to sweeten my tea, but I have been known to use maple syrup, date syrup, and honey — raw, unfiltered local honey is the best!!!!!!!! 

I only sweeten by the glassful.  I do not sweeten the whole half-gallon. 

So, there you go. Now it’s your turn to go grab yourself some dried hibiscus flowers, whatever fruit you like, and a sweetener that you prefer, and whip yourself up a batch of this lip-smacking yumminess! Stay hydrated this summer my friends, in the most delicious way!!!!!!! And if you know someone who is going through cancer treatment, be a blessing and take them a nice big jar of this wonderful beverage. If you are feeling especially generous you can include a bag of the dried flowers and a lemon so they can make another batch when they run out. People did so many wonderful things like this for me and each and every one of them were a blessing. May God bless you for all that you do.

“No longer drink water only, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”

1 Timothy 5:23

MrsH’s Original Bit-O-Honey Pie

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MrsH’s Original Bit-O-Honey Pie

They say there is nothing new under the sun, well, I beg to differ. The idea for this pie popped in my head after stumbling across a Bake-off contest on social media. I looked and looked for a recipe, figuring someone out there had surely invented such a thing already, but nope, I couldn’t find a single one. Sooooo, having my creative kitchen muscles stretched a bit, I humbly present to you my prize-winning entry!  Okay, I didn’t really enter it in their contest, only because of a ban on refrigerated items, but my taste-testing family all gave me thumbs way up and a great BIG fancy blue ribbon, I mean hug. Perhaps next year the committee that decides such things will make an exception and allow refrigerated items, and then I’ll get to enter the Honey Festival bake-off challenge, officially, with this pie!  Until then, you get to enter it at your supper table festivals for a whole year ahead of its grand appearance at the BIG SHOW! And this way all your little resident foodies can help me decide if it’s worth entering in the contest next year!

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup Uvalde Honey
  • ½ cup Almond Butter (I like it waaaay better with Walnut Butter, Crazy Go Nuts brand)
  • 1 cup chopped slivered almonds  (divided)
  • 1 Tsp. Almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp. Molasses
  • 1  8-oz pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 small tub Cool Whip topping, thawed
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup dry malted milk powder
  • 1 Vanilla wafer crumb crust for 9” pie

DIRECTIONS

Make crumb crust: Preheat oven to 375 *F.  Whirl approximately 2/3 of a box of Nilla Wafers and ½ cup slivered almonds in a blender or food processor until fine crumbs. You should come close to about 1½ cup of crumbs.  If you end up with a little bit more, save the extra for a garnish on top of the pie.  To the 1½ cup of crumbs add 6 Tbsp of butter, melted, and mix together well in a large bowl.  Transfer the crumbs to a pie plate and press into place evenly along the bottom and up the sides with your fingers or a large metal spoon.  Bake 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack until completely cooled.

Pie Filling: Using a mixer on low speed, beat together first nine ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well combined and creamy.  Scoop into crumb crust and spread until smooth on top.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 day before cutting and serving. 

Garnish with remaining crumbs, slivered almonds, a small piece of real honeycomb, and artificial bees from the hobby store, attached to the pie with toothpicks.

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

MrsH’s “Girl Scouts” Hobo Supper in Foil

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MrsH’s “Girl Scouts” Hobo Supper in Foil

 

I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot for kids to do but just be kids and play in the great outdoors.  That was plenty enough though, believe me.  My sisters and I made dirt houses lined with pebbles, floors swept down to the hard dirt, rocks and logs for furniture, and we served each other our fancy mud pie concoctions.  We played secret maze games between the sheets hanging on the line until we got hollered at to get away with our unclean hands.   We climbed Tank Hill just for something to do, and then tried to RUN down it without stumbling.  Sometimes we took a picnic lunch up there and ate it overlooking the town where we could watch all the goings on.  One time I climbed the tank – which was a mistake.  I guess I’m a little afraid of heights I found out.  My grandpa had to come and rescue me, and right after he called a welder to cut off the ladder so it couldn’t ever be climbed up by a kid again.  Oh dear!

We had bikes and rode them all over a whole vast network of oilfield roads, to secret places – under bridges, the old electric plant, and to the pond to catch frogs and salamanders and horny toads by the dozens, but hopefully not see any snakes – ’cause ewwww, girls don’t like snakes!  We all played ball or watched the games, and we all sat on the fences at the ranch rodeos and watched the cowboys do their stuff.  Sometimes they even let us run the hot-shot on the steers in the shoots, and open the shoot gates for the ropers.

Our little oilfield community had the first lighted baseball field, and the first lighted football field in the whole state.  We had a bowling alley, and a swimming pool, and in the winter we had a frozen pond to ice skate on. They say we even had a golf course, but it wasn’t like any golf course you’ve ever seen – just dirt and rocks and prairie, with flags stuck in holes here and there.  The clubhouse was just a corregated tin outbuilding, but it was something to do for those that are into that stuff!

If there was nothing else to do it was always fun to watch dad tinker with something in his shop, or tag along with him to his work.  I got to tag along once to the Blue Creek Ranch out by Kaycee, and they let me ride an old nag of horse all day long while dad fixed whatever it was they needed him to fix.  And my grandpa could be found in his massive garden most all summer.  It was fun to pick and eat peas while he watered and weeded.  I sometimes took my matchbook cars and made trails along the rows of corn.  I accidentally sat in an ant pile once though, and that wasn’t so much fun!  My grandma was always in the kitchen sowing or cooking.  And when me and my sisters stayed at her house, it was fun to play secretary with pens and notebooks in the garage.  Sometimes we’d nap with grandpa in the afternoons on the bed they kept out there, where the cool breezes blew through.

There was always a lady in town that taught piano lessons, and occasionally someone would travel through with gymnastics or dance classes, and our families all went camping and to the lake as often as we could.  My folks had a motorcycle and a scooter and we went for rides as a family, sometimes be gone all day!  And everyone in town met at the sand rocks to shoot off fireworks on the 4th of July – all of the families, and we shared our snacks and our fireworks with each other.  Sounds magical, doesn’t it?  It was!

We had a Girl Scouts troop and a Boy Scouts troop, and even a Boy Scouts camp on the Pine Ridge.  What in the world else does a kid need?  It was a wonderful life!

Girl Scouts was one of my fondest childhood memories.  I remember getting to go to summer camp (Camp Sacajawea) on Casper Mountain one year.  I got to ride on a bus up the mountain with a whole bunch of really nice bigger girls, singing old hippy songs all the way, and coolest of all, it was an over-nighter.  We made ditty bags out of bandanas and tied them to a stick (I’ve still got one of the nicer ditty bags we were given – shown in the photo below).  We filled them with snacks and water, and one of the days we used the ditty bag sticks as walking sticks and hiked to a really cool waterfall that flowed over a rock that we could walk behind (just like in the movie The Last of the Mohicans).  That’s the way I remember it anyway! 🙂  I remember doing crafts and selling cookies.  I remember one year being really ambitious to sell those cookies!  I ed Girl Scouts!

Girl Scouts memorabilia

This is a throw back meal from when I was a Girl Scout at Camp Sacajawea.  Very easy to make and I think it is delicious!  Of course we made S’mores for dessert – I’m pretty sure that was another Girl Scouts invention too!  😉

Hobo Foil Packs

This recipe feeds 4 to 6 people.

  1.  Peel and chop several cloves of garlic.  I did a whole bulb’s worth.
  2.  Wash a small bag of yellow potatoes, and a small bag of carrots, peel the carrots and then slice both into bite-size pieces  (figure on about 2 small potatoes and 1 whole large carrot per person)
  3.  Peel a yellow onion, cut in half, and slice it into quarter inch slices
  4.  Place all veggies in a bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste, and then drizzle generously with olive oil, toss to coat evenly, set aside
  5.  Mix 2 lbs of hamburger with 2 packages of dry onion soup mix, and a small minced jalapeno, a little salt and pepper, and mix well, then form into patties
  6.  Place a heaping ladle full of veggies into the center of a generous sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil
  7.  Lay a hamburger patty on top of veggies
  8.  Top with a spoonful of mushroom soup
  9.  Bring both ends of foil up and fold together to seal well on top, and then do the same on both sides.  Repeat making foil packets until all veggies and burger patties are used up.
  10.  Preheat BBQ grill, or campfire (or 350 *F oven), and when coals are hot and gray lay the packets on a grate about 6 to 8 inches above them
  11.  Let packets cook for 15 to 20 minutes and then carefully and gently flip and rearrange the packets so they can cook evenly on the other side for another 15 to 20  minutes.
  12.  Open one packet and test the veggies for doneness
  13. When done, remove the packets and serve one packet per person.

Step 5 - Grill 1 hour

Enjoy!!!!!!

Dinner Served1

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgement.  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.” 

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

Polynesian Dinner Party

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Polynesian Dinner Party

 

I love theme dinners!  And Polynesian is one of those themes that has tons to offer… tons of great foods… lots of great music… and a motherlode of great activities.  That’s probably why luau parties are so popular.  They are great for a crowd (family reunions, company picnics, neighborhood get-togethers, graduation parties, youth group events, and so on).

That’s all well and good, but I had in mind something a little more intimate.  In my younger life, I had the idea to have monthly theme dinners just for family – just to make memories for my kids.  January’s theme was Chinese New Year, where we dressed up, ate Chinese foods, listened to Asian music, played some sort of Chinese games after dinner, and totally immersed ourselves in Asian culture for a night.  February was Cajun foods, music, and culture.  March was Irish.  April was Polish or Italian.  May was Mexican or Caribbean.  June was Polynesian or African.  July was American (which encompasses everything from BBQ to Burgers, to Hot Dogs in every variety).  August was South American or Australian.  September was Russian or French. October was German.  November was American Indian.  And December was Indian or Mediterranean.  That was my plan.  It was so much my plan that I wrote a whole book about it, but then I kind of lost my focus.  <Sheepish shrug>   Well, thankfully God has given me grandchildren, and a whole renewed interest in introducing them to the cultures and foods, and sounds, and pastimes of the world.  And the great thing is … SUMMER IS COMING!!!!  Which makes it a great time to introduce the kids to something fun and interesting and chase away those summer doldrums, not to mention it’s all kind of educational as well.

JUNEPolynesian

Knickknacks, tanning mats, give a dog a fish bone.  The dollar store is a great place to look for decorations.  You can keep it simple (lay a bamboo tanning mat down on the table, set a tropical plant as a centerpiece, and lay out luau plates, cups, and silverware from the party store), or go hog-wild (outdoor party with mumus and sarongs, tiki lanterns, grass skirts, a limbo stick, kalua pig roasting on a spit, cold drinks in pineapples or coconuts, and a nice array of Makahiki games, Hawaiian crafts, and games).  Gotta have some Island music too (may I suggest Don Ho?), and maybe even get the kids ukuleles, and teach them to play an easy song.

After dinner, you can break out the limbo stick and challenge the kids to a contest, or try some hula hooping.  Then set the TV outside and gather the lawn chairs around for an outdoor movie night.  How about a marathon of old Gilligan’s Island reruns?  Or, for a real submersion into Hawaiian culture, make leis, learn to hula, set your back yard up with some of the Makahiki Games listed below, and watch a mesmerizing “Ha: Breath of Life” show on DVD.

Polynesian supper collage

Traditionally, a Hawaiian party would have deep pit roasted Kalua Pig, long rice (which is basically the same thing as Pad Thai rice noodles), some dish of sweet potatoes (purple), and Poi, or even Spam Musubi.  If it is your goal to introduce your family to Hawaiian culture, go with tradition.  I found some wonderful recipes HERE that I plan to try.

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Recipes

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COCONUT SHRIMP

Batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

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1 lb large tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined, and patted dry on paper towels

1  7-oz pkg shredded coconut

Instructions:  Place peanut oil in deep fryer and set temperature to 375 degrees.  Mix flour with wine until smooth.  When oil has reached temperature, dip about 5 of the shrimp, one at a time in batter and then roll in coconut.  Drop into deep fryer and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and curled.  Drain on paper towels.  Continue until all shrimp are cooked.

Melted jalapeno jelly makes a wonderful dipping sauce (remove lid from jar, warm in microwave about 1 min., stir and divide into little sauce cups).  Or see the sauce recipe later down on this page.  Serves 4

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SPICY POLYNESIAN WRAPS

Ingredients

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch strips

1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder (hot or mild as you wish)

1 tablespoon garlic salt

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 limes

10 (10-inch, thin) colored flour tortillas wraps

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped green onions

2 Serrano chilies, (seeds discarded) minced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken and coconut milk in a bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour.
  2. In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, curry powder, and garlic salt. Drain the chicken, and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the coated chicken strips 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Squeeze lime juice over chicken, and discard limes.
  5. On each tortilla, place equal amounts of rice, chicken, coconut, and green onions, and sprinkle desired amount of Serrano chilies. Wrap burrito style.

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POLYNESIAN DIPPING SAUCE (for shrimp, or wraps)

Ingredients

13 ounces coconut milk

2 teaspoons green curry paste

1 tablespoon grated gingerroot

1 tablespoon grated lime rind

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

Directions: 

Place coconut milk in a skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by a quarter – it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in the green curry paste, ginger, lime rind, and sugar. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce is thickened and fragrant. Stir in mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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SPAM MUSUBI

3 cups cooked Sushi rice

4 sheets Spring Roll Wrappers (this is a MrsH modification: I’m not a fan of Nori)

1  12-oz can Spam

6 Tbsp Soy Sauce

6 Tbsp Hawaiian BBQ sauce

Furikake

I cut the end off of my Spam can with sissors to use to make my Musubi, and I used a wooden meat mallet to press the rice down.  After making my musubi I have decided Nori is just too healthy tasting for my taste, so after making it with Nori, I peeled the Nori off to eat it, and next time I’m going to try making it with rice paper (Spring Roll Wrappers) instead.  I also didn’t care for the Furikake (rice seasoning) because of the seaweed that was in it.  The one I used was Wasabi Fumi Furikake.  It had a good flavor that really does need to be there, but just warning you not to go hog wild with it if you aren’t a seaweed fan.  I do like wasabi and sesame.  And I added chopped green onion. Maybe there is a variety of Furikake without seaweed???

Spam Musubi

Prepare the Rice as per package instructions.  Allow to cool.  Meanwhile, cut the Spam into eight equal slices.  Fry the Spam in a frying pan until very crispy on both sides.  Mix soy sauce with BBQ sauce and pour over Spam.  Stir around and flip until sauce is carmelized onto the Spam.  Remove from heat.

This is the process for making the musubi:  (shown using Nori seaweed)

Musubi procedure

Cut each sheet of Nori in half.  Lay half a sheet down on a clean paper towel.  Place Musubi press (Spam can) in the center.  Add about a heaping tablespoon of rice and press down.  Add a sprinkle of Furikake.  Place a slice of Spam on top.  Sprinkle with more Furikake and add another heaping tablespoon of rice.  Press it all down firmly and hold down while lifting can off.  Wrap Nori around.  Cut each finished roll on the diagonal and serve.  *Below is what Musubi looks like without the seaweed wrapper.  I wrapped my musubi up in plastic and refrigerated them overnight.  The next day I removed from fridge, peeled off the Nori, and cut them into bite-size slices.  Much better!

Spam Musubi naked

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HAWAIIAN SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

5 medium Sweet Potatoes, baked in 350*F oven for 1 hour, until soft

2 green bananas, diced

1 cup diced and crushed fresh pineapple

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp salt

 Juice of 1 lime (also the zest)

2 Tbsp Cocunut syrup (may substitute honey)

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts

After potatoes have cooled, peel the skins off and discard skins.  Slice the potatoes into inch thick slices and lay in a single layer in a buttered oblong baking dish.  Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and drizzle with melted butter.  Add a layer of pineapple and bananas.  Press down with a spatula to mash the potatoes slightly.  Mix lime juice with coconut syrup and pour over potatoes evenly.  Sprinkle with coconut and macadamia nuts in an even layer.  Cover and bake in a 300*F oven for about 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 15 mintues until toasted on top.  You can also broil the dish for a few minutes to toast the top if you wish.

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HAWAIIAN LONG RICE  (MrsH’s super easy version)

Cook a box of Pad Thai rice noodles as directed on package.  Drain off most of the water, but leave the noodles a little soupy.  Add a can of Campbells Creamy Chicken soup to the noodles and stir to mix.  Serve with chopped green onion for garnish.

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GRILLED PINEAPPLE

DSCN8871

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Dessert

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ISLANDER’S COCONUT CREAM PIE

1 prepared pie crust, baked as directed for cream pies

1 package of vanilla pudding, the kind that cooks, not instant

1 package coconut flakes

1 container of Cool Whip with 1 tsp. rum mixed in

Broken, slivered almonds

Cook pudding as package directs using 1/2 cup less liquid.  Add 1 cup of the flaked coconut to the pudding and stir to mix.  Pour into prepared crust and spread to fill evenly.  Chill until set.  Spread Cool Whip over pudding in piecrust.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flaked coconut and then almonds over the top.  Chill to set.

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HAWAIIAN PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Ingredients

1 8-oz can Dole pineapple slices, drained  (reserve juice for serving)

1 stick butter

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

6 maraschino cherries, halved

In an large oblong cake pan melt butter and stir in brown sugar.  Arrange pineapple slices next to each other in three rows of four. Place a half of a cherry in the center of each pineapple.

Cake Ingredients

2 ½ cups All-Purpose flour

3 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 tsp Vanilla

2 eggs

1 ½ cups milk (or substitute Coconut Milk)

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  Beat softened butter with sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each.  Stir in dry ingredients and milk.  Beat with a mixer until thick and creamy.  Pour over pineapple slices in large baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.  Serve warm.  If you desire your cake a little more moist, drizzle with reserved pineapple juice.

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Beverages

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Iced Thai Tea, my latest addiction!!!!!

THAI TEA

1 pkg Thai Black Tea bags (available at World Market)

Water

Sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, honey, Stevia, as you prefer)

Half & Half

Place 8 teabags and 8 cups of water in a saucepot and bring just to the steaming point on high heat on the stovetop, and then remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.  The tea will become dark orange colored.  Add whatever choice of sweetener to taste, I like this tea a little on the sweet side.  When the tea has cooled, pour it into a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

To serve:  Pour tea over ice in a tall glass.  Gently add Half & Half by the Tablespoonfuls until the top 1/4 of the glass is filled.  Add a straw and serve.  Let guests stir the cream into the tea before drinking.

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TROPICAL SMOOTHIES

Ingredients

1/2 ripe mango (peeled and seeded)

 1/2 ripe papaya (peeled and seeded)

 1 ripe banana

 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

 1/2 cup Cream of Coconut

 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

 1 tsp. honey

 2 cups ice

Directions

In a blender, mix mango, papaya, banana, orange juice, coconut cream, yogurt, honey, and ice. Blend until velvety.  Serve in martini glasses and garnish with mini skewers of pineapple chunks.

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Other Adult Beverage options: 

Fire Rock Pale Ale (beer) or Spearhead Pale Ale

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Cocktails

FROZEN MAI TAI

1 cup of ice

1 oz. light rum

1/2 oz. dark rum

1/2 oz. Apricot Brandy

1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple

Splash of sour mix & Splash of orange juice

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 4 seconds on low speed.  Garnish with lime and orange slices, and a little paper umbrella. I f you want to make it non-alcoholic just use 1/2 tsp of brandy flavoring  and 1 1/2 tsp of rum flavoring in a half a cup of soda water with the other ingredients.

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CAPTAIN MORGAN’S Piña COLADA

1/2 cup ice

2 oz. light rum

2 Tablespoons Cream of Coconut

1/2 fresh or canned pineapple

1 Tablespoon vanilla ice cream

Pineapple chunks, cherries, umbrellas for garnish

In blender blend until smooth.  If too thick add fruit or juice.  If too thin add ice or ice cream.  Garnish with Pineapple and Cherry, and a little paper umbrella.  You can use a mix to make these if you would rather… and you can make them non-alcoholic by substituting rum flavoring and soda water.

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Traditional Island games

Walk on Hot Coals

Dig a shallow pit about three feet wide by six feet long and fill it with charcoals.  Add starter fluid to get the charcoals burning.  Cover them completely with medium-sized smooth rocks and let the rocks get hot.  Any guests who are brave or foolish enough may hop across the rocks with their bare feet.

 ‘O‘O Ihe  (Spear Throwing)

Spear throwing contests were held to display strength and skill for fighting and food gathering. A target, sometimes the stalk of a banana plant, is set up and contestants stand some 15 feet away and attempt to stick a lightweight wooden spear in it.  Watch the video below, which features spear throwing and other traditional games.

A great alternative for the littler ones would be the inflatable Fish Spearing Game at Party America.com or Party City.com, if they still carry it as of the time of this writing.  If not, this is what it looks like and you can make your own version out of a an old toilet seat (padded and decorated) and a bamboo stick.  Hang it in a tree in the corner of the yard.

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‘Ulu Maika’ (Rolling Stones)

Based on ancient Hawaiian Makahiki games, this game is played similar to horseshoes.  Stones somewhat resembling modern hockey pucks were rolled between stakes on specially prepared courses to test a player’s skills, or rolled down long courses to show strength. One of the best of the remaining ‘ulu maika courses, approximately 500 feet long, is located on the island of Moloka’i.

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Moa Pahe‘e (Dart Sliding)

Using a wooden dart, which resembles a very small bat without the little grip stop on the end (maybe 8” long) with the skinny end and the fat end, you grasp the skinny end and toss the dart like a bowling ball between two stakes.

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Conch Blowing

Blowing a conch shell takes skill: you have to know how to purse your lips, where to place them for the best sound, and how hard to blow. (The sounds made by a novice are hilarious!)

Foot Races

Ancient Hawaiians used to hold foot races to see which warrior was the fastest.  You can hold single person races, three legged races, and backwards running races.  Watch the first video above, under spear throwing, for an example.

“Haka Moa”

Type of Hawaiian Luau fighting.  The contestants do not use their hands, and can only stand on one foot, and try to knock their opponent out of the ring.

Tug O’ War

To play this game you will need a 20’ length of rope, a 6’ length of rope, and a bandana.

Divide your guests into two equal teams.  Choose a large grassy or sandy area to play.  Place the 6’ rope on the ground in the middle of the chosen area.  This marks the centerline.  Have teams line up in single file on either side of the centerline, arms length apart.  Tie the bandana in the center of the 20’ rope and place over the centerline.  Each player grabs the tugging rope and at the signal tries to pull the first member of the other team over the centerline.

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Card Games

HIGO BANA

This is a card game played with special Hana Fuda cards.  I was introduced to it by a friend whose mother was Japanese.  She gave me a set of these cards many, many years ago.  I’ve even forgotten how to play it has been so long.  So I went online to see if I could find the rules.  How thrilling to find that this game is played by native Hawaiians under a different name.  The cards do not have numbers on them, only beautiful pictures, but they have point values.  Along with the rules I found some vendors who sell the cards.

  • Rules to Higo Bana were found at these web sites:

http://www.gamecabinet.com/letters/Hanafuda6.html

http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/pd49/pockets/games/higobana.htm

Compare them for a better understanding of the game.

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Crafts

Make leis  (wikihow)

Make Tiki face masks  (look for ideas on Pinterest and this easy one from Crayola)

Make grass skirts  (wikihow)

Make palm leaf place mats

 

Other Activities

Translate Your Family’s Names into Hawaiian  

There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: A, E, H, I K, L, M, N, O, P, U and W. The consonants H, K, L, M, N, P, and W are pronounced exactly as in English. If a name ends in a consonant, add a vowel. Always place a vowel between consonants. The following conversion table can be helpful in translating names:

Pronunciation of Vowels

A – ah
E – ay
I – ee
O – oh
U – oo

English Consonant

= Hawaiian Consonant

B, F, P P
C, D, G, J, K, S, T, X, Z K
L, R L
V, W W
J, Y I

 

Name Translation Examples:

Colleen = Kaliline                    Gracee = Kalakee                     Patty = Pakaki

Matthew = Makahewe           Carrie = Kalalie

Danielle = Kanielele               Michael = Mikala

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Face Painting

Hawaiian Face Painting

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General Hawaiian Customs

Add some true Island spice to your dinner with genuine Island customs:

Placing a lei over someone’s head is the customary way to welcome or congratulate them.  If the person is close in relationship to you, you would give them a honihoni (kiss) also.  Leis are usually made of flowers, but can also be made of candies or other decorative items.  And when your lei starts to fade and die, don’t toss it in the trash.  It is bad luck to throw a lei away.  A lei is love and you would never throw love away.  Rather cut the string and cast the flowers into the sea or hang the lei outside until it is gone.

I love that it is the custom in Hawaii for young ones to refer to older people as “auntie” or “uncle” when they are old family friends or neighbors of the parents.  That is how we raised our kids to do.  In Hawaii it is appropriate even to address a stranger as “auntie” or “uncle.”  It is friendly yet respectful.

You would never walk into someone’s home in the islands with shoes on.  And it is good manners to bring a small gift with you, possibly a dessert, when visiting someone’s home.  There is a pidgin phrase, “Make Plate” or “Take Plate” that also shows good guest manners.  When you have been invited to share a meal at someone’s home it is customary that you make a plate of food of the leftovers to take home, even if you don’t intend to eat it.  By doing this you are being a good guest and not leaving the mess for the host to clean up and put away.  Many times all the leftovers are packaged up and taken to the homeless.

Unless you are at a sporting event, it is considered rude to talk loudly, or to act like you are entitled to special treatment.  Politeness and reserve are considered a show of good breeding.

Dress is casual, aloha shirts and slacks are worn in place of suits and ties in business, and it is considered rude to stare or look someone in the eye for too long in public places.  And when you go away on a trip it is considered thoughtful to bring back gifts “makana” from your journey.  Most prized are special foods that are unavailable at home.

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I’m so happy you stopped by, and I pray your family supper night is such a huge hit that it becomes a favorite monthly tradition.  God bless!

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“Let love be without hypocrisy…be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”   Romans 12:9-13

 

Mrs H’s Tacos

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Mrs H’s Tacos

Get ready for TACO TUESDAY!!!!!!  This might be one of the more coveted recipes in my collection.  I am often asked how I make my tacos.  It is also a frequent request for Family Supper night by daughter, son-in-law, and the grandkids.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite dinners, and really one of my favorites too!!!!  Quick and easy!!!!

Let’s start with the meat

Taco meat

I use 2 lb. of quality ground beef (to feed 4 adults and 2 kids) – a good organic, grass fed, angus beef.  I break it apart in a frying pan and toss while cooking over medium high heat until browned.  Drain off and discard the fat .  I then sprinkle 2 packets of Lawry’s Taco Seasoning Mix over the meat, and then I fill the empty packets with water and pour the water over the seasoning and stir it well into the meat, with the heat turned down to medium low.  To this I add about a half cup of salsa (fresh or canned) and stir that altogether.  I then let the meat simmer on low heat until the tacos are ready to assemble.

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The meat will become drier the longer it simmers.  I personally like it dry so that it doesn’t make the bottom of my tacos soggy.  I don’t like when they fall apart and all the stuffing falls out.

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Pico de gallo

I use about 1 1/2 cup of chopped sweet cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped fresh jalapenos, and 1 cup chopped green onions (or a small sweet white onion if I don’t have green onions on hand), then add about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic minced, the juice of two limes, and a sprinkle of salt to taste.  If the jalapenos are really mild, I sometimes add a pinch of cayenne for some kick.

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Toppings

I chop one whole bunch of Romaine lettuce into small shreds.

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I like to shred my own cheese (pepper jack) when I’m feeling ambitious, but often use a Mexican cheese blend that is pre-shredded already.

Taco Shells

Taco Shells

I buy the small Old El Paso brand taco shells (2 pkgs to feed my family of 4 adults and 2 kids because the men will easily eat 6 tacos apiece or more).

Taco Shells in oven

I preheat my oven to 360*F, and set the shells in a baking pan.  When the oven is ready I pop the pan of shells in for about 6 minutes, or whatever time is recommended on the package.  This is an important step because it makes the shells nice and crispy!!!

 

 

Taco Sauce

I actually use a variety of sauces.  I like to try new ones.  The green tomatillo Herdez or La Costena hot sauces (medium) are both really good standbys.  I like the Taco Bell hot sauce (Diablo), and the DelPrimo sauces are all good.  But my favorite of recent is El Gallo flame roasted Jalapeno.  It comes in a bag with a little screw top spout (medium).

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To assemble the tacos I remove the shells from the oven and quickly fill them with meat, dispersing it evenly among the shells.  I sprinkle cheese over the meat in each shell, and then add the lettuce.  They each then get a spoonful of my fresh Pico and a generous pour of tomatillo taco sauce.  That’s it!  Mmmmmm…. let’s eat!!!!!!

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Now some people might like to add chopped black olives, maybe some sour cream, possibly some sliced avacado, and that’s all good, but personally, I can’t bear to mess with perfection.

If you’d like to add a couple of sides, I love charros or refries and Mexican Rice.  And you can never go wrong with Sopapilla Cheesecake for dessert!!!!!  Hubby washes his meal down with a good Modelo cerveza!  I just like iced tea.  Gracee will take a Margarita, if I make her one, and the kids like horchata.

Hey, while we are enjoying our Family Supper, may I share with you from the book One Year of Dinner Table Devotions & Discussion starters by Nancy Guthrie (published by Tyndale)?

 

Devotion

Oooo Eeee Cajun Feast

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Oooo Eeee Cajun Feast

Whether you are looking for a fun dinner party for Mardi Gras, or just LOVE hot and spicy Cajun food in the middle of the winter, these recipes will have you smacking your lips for more.  This is a collection of my most favorite Cajun recipes.  Good luck choosing which dishes to make first.  If you are like me, you’ll want to just celebrate NOLA for the whole month of February with a different Cajun dinner each weekend!

This was one of my favorite meals I did with my family one year for my dad’s birthday, and also on another occasion with my cooking club friends.  It’s a ton of fun!  Be careful though, it’s a little bit of a choke-fest if you do the crab boil indoors.  Plan to have some sort of good ventilation, or else cook that dish outdoors.

One the Menu:

Crab Boil at Sarah's

SHRIMP & CRAB BOIL

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SAUSAGE & CHICKEN GUMBO

Bananas Foster at Sarahs

BANANAS FOSTER

SHRIMP ETOUFFEE

If you buy an Etouffee mix and add shrimp or crawfish to it, you’ll end up with something that resembles brown gravy over rice with crawfish in it. It has a good flavor, but nothing beats homemade! I like mine on the spicy side, so I am fairly generous with the cayenne! The trick to getting just the right spice is to add some in the beginning, some during cooking, and some at the end.

2 lb Good Quality Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined
          (Use the shells to make a shrimp stock – recipe below)

2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
          Make your own: 2 Tbsp Paprika, 1 Tbsp Cayenne powder, 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp onion powder, 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper, 1 Tbsp kosher salt, 1 tsp packed brown sugar, 1 tsp each freeze-dried chive, thyme, oregano, and cilantro. Whirl in a coffee grinder or Bullet until blended and a fine powder. Store in a tightly sealed container. Use within 1 year.

4 Tbsp Butter
½ Cup Onion, Chopped
¼ Cup Celery, Chopped
¼ Cup Bell Pepper, Chopped
¼ Cup Flour
1 ½ Cups Shrimp Stock
¾ Cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp minced Garlic
I bundle of Fresh Thyme
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Hot Sauce (Crystal or Louisiana Gold)
Also: salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste
½ Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp minced Italian Parsley
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Rice (I like Comet Long Grain Rice, prepared as directed on the package)

Place shrimp in a Ziploc bag. Season with 1 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning and shake to coat on all sides. Store in refrigerator until later.

Make the shrimp stock now, recipe follows. Cook the rice. I usually cook mine and then set it off the burner without lifting the lid and let it rest for a while (maybe 20 to 30 minutes) to let it dry out a little. These three things can be done the day before and stored in the fridge.

Melt the butter in a large skillet; add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until translucent. Whisk in the flour to make a blonde roux, stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp Creole Seasoning.

Add a small amount of the shrimp stock, stir well to form a paste, add the remaining stock gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You may need a little more stock, but the end result should be the consistency of a gravy, not too thick, not too thin.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, salt to taste (yes, taste it), black pepper, and cayenne. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add the seasoned shrimp that’s been holding in the fridge, green onions, and parsley, simmer for 10 minutes more or until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the 3 Tbsp butter, and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Serve over hot cooked Rice. If the rice was prepared the day before it can be reheated in the microwave for a minute or two. Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main dish.

Shrimp Stock Recipe

The Shells and tails from 2 lb. of Shrimp
½ Cup chopped Onion
¼ Cup chopped Celery
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon sliced
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Black Peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a 2 qt. saucepan. Cover this with cold water, it should be about 6-8 Cups. You’ll need 1 ½ Cups for the Etouffee. Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain.
Tip: When adding fresh Thyme to a simmered dish like this, I always bundle the Thyme tightly with butchers twine. The leaves will remove themselves while cooking, and you will get all of the flavor from the stems. When ready to serve just remove the bundle of stems along with your bay leaves.

(This recipe was adapted from one found HERE )

Mardi Gras 1

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Gumbo.

CAJUN SEAFOOD GUMBO (or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo)

Ingredients

12 ounces fresh or frozen peeled and deveined shrimp (or 2 chicken breasts)

6 ounces fresh or frozen crabmeat (or Andouille sausage)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup cooking oil

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped red sweet pepper

½ cup chopped green sweet pepper, &/or 2 jalapenos

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon ground red pepper, more to taste

3 cups chicken broth, heated

1 14-1/2-ounce can tomatoes, cut up

1-1/2 cups sliced okra or one 10-ounce package frozen cut okra

2 bay leaves

3 cups hot cooked rice

Directions:
1. Thaw shrimp and crab, if frozen (or cut chicken into bite-size pieces and brown in butter in a frying pan).

For roux, in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven combine flour and oil until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir about 10 minutes more or until roux is light peanut-butter-brown.

2. Stir in onion, red sweet pepper, green sweet pepper, garlic, salt, black pepper, and ground red pepper. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are just crisp-tender, stirring often.

3. Gradually stir in hot chicken broth. Stir in undrained tomatoes, okra, and bay leaves. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

4. Stir in shrimp, and crabmeat (or andouille). Simmer, covered, about 5 minutes more or until shrimp turn opaque and oysters curl around the edges. Discard bay leaves. Serve in bowls with rice. Makes 6 servings. For extra heat add Creole seasoning, cayenne, or Louisiana Hot Sauce.

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JAMBALAYA

I like the boxed Zatarains mix, and usually add leftover cooked chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp (or crawfish) to it. Easy-peasy!

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CRAB BOIL

1 box Zatarains Crab Boil
1 whole Dungeness crab, or 1 pound king or snow crab legs
1 pound crawfish
2 pounds shrimp (whole, or shell on)
1 bag small red or fingerling potatoes
1 pound Andouille sausage
4 cobs of corn on the cob, broken into 2 inch pieces
Cajun seasoning (like Slap Yo Mama)
Garlic butter (3 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced, and added to 3 sticks melted butter)

Instructions

Using either a large soup pot with a lid or electric turkey fryer, fill with 3 quarts water. Bring to boil and add salt, plus 1 bag of Zatarain’s Crab Boil (if doing this indoors you will want all the windows and doors open because of the fumes – best done outdoors), 1 lemon quartered, and cayenne pepper to taste. Place the basket inside your fryer. If you are using a soup pot you will just have to pour the liquid out at the end and catch your pot contents with the lid or in a colander. Drop in crab and boil vigorously for 5 minutes (unless you are using precooked frozen, in which case you will add it with the shrimp at the end). Add potatoes and broken cobs of corn to the pot and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Add the crawfish, chunks of andouille, and shrimp. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow seafood to remain in water for 5 minutes after boiling.

Lift contents from water or drain water off (save, strain, and freeze for use in other dishes). Drizzle seafood with melted butter and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Toss to coat. Cover your table with a plastic tablecloth; lay a beach towel or two over that and then lay butcher paper over the whole top. Dump the pot contents out on the butcher paper, in the center of the table. Place lemon wedges and extra cups of garlic butter around. Let everyone help themselves, eating with their fingers. You will want to have plenty of paper towels nearby and possibly bibs. Be sure to have some crab crackers and forks available too.

Crab Boil at Sarah's

Photo by Sarah Gaitan

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Sandwiches (for a luncheon)

Poor Boy  (<<< click the link for a great recipe, and little story about how the Poor Boy originated)

Shrimp Po’ Boy  (<<< click this link for a killer recipe for this sandwich)

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Muffaletta

I got super lucky one day and found little bundles in my grocery store’s (HEB) lunchmeat counter of the three meats for this sandwich.  The packages were nestled in among the shredded cheeses, near the Lunchables section.  The bundles contained the three meats grouped on top of each other and laid on parchment paper, and then stacked on top of each other, enough for four sandwiches.  I bought two packages feeling very lucky, because it is impossible to find mortadella or cappicola in my town.  And to my chagrin I’ve never seen them again.  My HEB carries foccacia, but doesn’t carry the bread boules or the Olive Salad, so I’m sure the meat was a mistake purchase, but Walmart carries the Olive salad, and often has bread boules, the clam chowder size ones.

So, this is a link to Emeril’s recipe (simple) for the sandwich.  And this is another little bit more involved recipe I found in a recent search.

3 Cajun Supper

Beverages:

COFFEE AU LAIT
6 rounded tablespoons dark roast New Orleans coffee with chicory (Café Du Monde or Community Coffee)
6 cups water
6 cups milk

Brew your coffee in a drip coffeemaker and serve with half coffee and half scalded (not steamed!) milk.
Scald, do NOT boil, the milk. Pour coffee into warmed large mugs, then add the milk. If you like yours sweet, add two teaspoons of sugar to the cup. YIELD: 12 cups

Iced Tea

Make a gallon of sun tea using a family size tea bag (black and orange pekoe tea) and fresh, filtered, cool water. Set your glass container in the sun and let it brew until a rich brown color, about an hour or so on a hot summer day. Remove tea bag and chill in the refrigerator. I am a big fan of the cold brew tea bags! Just fill your container, add tea bags, and put in fridge. It brews in no time, is never cloudy, and tastes pretty darn close to the sun brewed.

In the south they love their tea sweet. It is easy to serve both sweet and unsweet by making a simple syrup that will dissolve quickly in iced liquids. You can make a quart of simple syrup by dissolving 5-6 cups of sugar in 3 cups of cold water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it’s dissolved and clear, cool and pour into a bottle with a lid. Store in the refrigerator – writing the date that you made it on the jar. If you notice it starts to turn cloudy or get moldy, toss it and make some fresh. Use for sweetening tea, coffee and cocktails. If you’re not going to use it right away, dilute it with 6 more cups of water and fill your hummingbird feeders.

Abita Amber beer

Mardi Gras 2

Cocktails:

SAZERAC
1 teaspoon of simple syrup (see recipe above) 3 – 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters 2 ounces rye whiskey (most New Orleans bars use Old Overholt) ¼ teaspoon Herbsaint, a New Orleans brand of anise liqueur (You may use Pernod, or some other pastis or absinthe substitute) Strip of lemon peel

The traditional method: Pack a 3-1/2 ounce old-fashioned glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, moisten a sugar cube with just enough water to saturate it, then crush. Blend with the whiskey and bitters. Add a few cubes of ice and stir to chill. Discard the ice from the first glass and pour in the Herbsaint. Coat the inside of the entire glass, pouring out the excess. Strain the whiskey into the Herbsaint coated glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass so that the lemon oil cascades into the drink, then rub the peel over the rim of the glass; do not put the twist in the drink).

HURRICANE (It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!)
1 ounces light rum
1 ounces dark rum (151 proof)
1.5 ounce orange juice
1.5 ounce fresh lime juice (NOT Rose’s or RealLime)
1/3 cup passion fruit juice or 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 teaspoon grenadine
Cherries with stems, and orange slice to garnish
Ice cubes

In a cocktail shaker, mix the rum, passion fruit juice or syrup, the other juices and the sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add the grenadine, and stir to combine, then add ice and shake. Half-fill a hurricane glass with ice, then strain drink into glass; add ice to fill. Garnish with orange slice and cherries.
Option: If you’d like something easier, look at your local liquor mart for packets of Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix and follow directions.

Desserts:

Bananas Foster at Sarahs.

COLLEEN’S BANANAS FOSTER
This photo was taken at a cooking club gathering, by the host.  We were joking that she was getting evidence photos to explain to her insurance agent how we burned her house down.  Ha!  This is not entirely the traditional way of making true Bananas Foster, because I am not a huge fan of mushy bananas, plus I like lots of sauce. I’ve made this a few times and this is the way I personally like it best. It’s sooooo easy, but your guests will oooo and ahhhh (or take fear photos) at your flame-boyant cooking panache. You’ll want to make this where your guests can see you.

INGREDIENTS
1 stick butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup banana liqueur
½ cup of dark rum
4 bananas, cut in slices (I like mine still with a hint of green & no brown spots)
1 carton vanilla ice cream (1 large scoop per guest)

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in a deep-sided skillet. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, and let cook until sugar is melted and sauce is bubbly. Slowly add banana liquor and gently stir until just warmed. Slowly add dark rum and gently stir until just warmed. Remove pan from heat and ignite with a long-stemmed BBQ lighter. Carefully stir with a long-handled spoon until flames subside. Place pan back on the stove with the burner off. Add the banana slices and gently toss with warm sauce (I don’t like mushy bananas, so that’s why I only add them at the end).

Place ice cream in serving dishes and top with several banana slices from the pan. Spoon warm sauce over ice cream and serve immediately.

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MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE

Ingredients

1 Oreo cookie pie crust

2 pints coffee ice cream, softened slightly

1/3 cup chocolate fudge topping

1 cup whipped cream

¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Directions: Spoon softened ice cream evenly into chilled crust. Drizzle fudge topping over ice cream then return pie to freezer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, decorate with whipped cream and sprinkle with almonds. Makes one 9-inch pie.

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BEIGNETS
These are heavenly little donuts that go spectacularly with Coffee au lait. I recommend the cooking class recipe offered at Southern Living .  My HEB carries the box mixes.

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KING CAKE

A King Cake is basically the same recipe as a giant cinnamon roll made into a “crown” shape (Monkey Bread in a Bundt pan would work fine), and the icing is covered in purple, yellow, and green colored sugar, and heaped on top. It is sometimes decorated with glitter sprinkles, mardi gras beads, or masks.  Also, a tiny plastic baby is hidden in the dough before the cake is baked.  When the cake is served at a Mardi Gras party, the guest who ends up with the baby in their serving must host the next soiree!

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~ DURING & AFTER DINNER ENTERTAINMENT ~

Background Music: Zydeco Stomp CD, or a New Orleans Jazz CD, some Hank Williams Jr., or a good Harry Connick Jr. album.

Play a game: Gambling is a big thing in New Orleans on the river boats. Decorate a room of your house to look like a Riverboat.  Play card, dice, and domino games, or the game Wits & Wagers.   Another game with a NOLA theme is Party Gras (which is a game played all night during other activities using Mardi gras beads – similar to the clothes pin game played at baby showers).

 

 

Watch a movie: Mark Twain – A Film Directed by Ken Burns (2002) would be a  good choice for documentary watchers.  Streetcar named Desire (an oldie).  The Frog Prince (for families with kids).  Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd, is set partially in New Orleans.  Ghost Rider, with Nicholas Cage.

You could also use this meal as a great starter for a video Bible study (the one I am thinking of is Breaking Free, by Beth Moore, as it was filmed entirely on location in New Orleans, both the original and the revised versions, and is an excellent small-group Bible study) to get started in your home with your friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.  After dinner you could play the introductory video, pass out the workbooks, and get it started.

 

~ A Reluctant Hostess’s Bag of Parlor Tricks for Social Occasions ~

 

Conversation Cards

Conversation Starters for the Table

Okay, the day of my party has arrived.  The food is cooked.  The table is set.  My guests are beginning to arrive.  I’ve shown each where to stash their coats and purses, and pointed them to the beverage station.  I have a few things to finish up in the kitchen, but also want to warmly greet each person who arrives, never-the-less in my flushed and busy chaos I can’t forget what it feels like to be the guest.  I’ve been a guest.  I know very well the inevitable awkward little spaces of time when introverted people start to sweat a little.  I know what it feels like to be out of my comfort zone.  If I don’t know the host very well, or any of the other invited guests, it is easy for me to feel a little bit ruffled.  I’m not sure where to sit or stand, or who to go and mingle with.  I wonder if it would be rude to sit at the table, or okay to hang with the ladies in the kitchen.

Life is so much easier for Sanguines and extroverts.  I  appreciate having them in my life.  I am honestly sooooo much better at coming up with ideas for parties: food, decorations, music, and games, than I am at the social aspects.  It’s probably my biggest hurdle to being hospitable.  I’m not so much worried about my house being clean enough, or putting on airs with a lot of nice things.  It’s the social part that gives me a heart attack.  I usually won’t go out on a limb to invite people over unless I know them really well (family), or I have an accomplice who is funny and outgoing, and with a real gift of gab.  Without my security blanket I’m pretty much a basket case.

This is where a nice set of Conversation cards really comes in handy for those awkward lulls during dinner when I can’t think of anything to talk about, and God forbid am surrounded also by introverts.  They rescue me.  Conversation is what draws us all out of our shells and helps us all to get comfortable with each other, and engaged – as long as we’re not put on the spot in front of everybody.

Sometimes, it’s hard to share our most personal thoughts, ideas, and opinions (unless we know where those around us stand), or without a glass of wine to loosen us up first – ha!, so a set of conversation cards can be a good way to get things going.  There are a ton of sets out there (Amazon).  Food for Talk by Julienne Smith is one of my favorites.

I have found that the best way to get past being uncomfortable and vulnerable in conversations with new people is by practicing treating them the way I want to be treated, and in my limited experience I have found that sometimes when I took that leap of faith and shared my heart with someone, it actually, occasionally landed in safe hands, and it very often was the catalyst to a beautiful friendship.

I have worked pretty hard to be a safe place for other people’s conversations as well. Gossips are not good friends!  Experience has taught me, that it is okay to be observant, cautious, and protective. It is like looking both ways before crossing a road. But when it looks as if the coast is clear, I encourage you (and deal a pep talk to myself as well) to try putting just a little of ourselves out there. And in return, also be a “safe place” for other people’s thoughts and dreams and ideas.

Another thing I struggle with is ADD.  When my mind is racing with self-conciousness, it is hard to pay attention, but we all appreciate a good listener.  Weep with those that weep.  Rejoice with those who rejoice.

I will pray for you, and for myself as well, that we learn to relax and just have fun.  And I pray that our minds don’t batter us too badly later as we lay in bed replaying every careless word we spoke and every clumsy gesture.  Please say I’m not the only one who does this!  Well, if I have a witness, at least you know you are not alone.

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“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

…given to hospitality.”

Romans 12:10,13

 

 

 

 

A Gringo Tamalada, Ole!

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A Gringo Tamalada, Ole!

While the rest of my fellow “gringos” are having “Ugly Sweater” parties, Cookie Exchanges, and Gift Wrapping/Mulled-Wine drinking parties for Christmas wouldn’t it be fun to host a TAMALADA just to be different?

I recently tried my hand at making Tamales, and to my delight they turned out, and were actually delicious (thank God), but boy howdy were they a ton of work. Took me ALL DAY! I’m absolutely addicted to tamales at Christmas, but I’m thinking if I ever decide to make them again I will want to make a party out of it, because many hands make light work. So here’s what I’m thinking…

Who to invite? Hmmm, well they’ll need to be reliable guests, who promise to make their dish and show up for the assembly process.

I could send them each a recipe card, after they RSVP and volunteer for a portion of the tamale-making they want to do. The host (which will be me, if I manage to muster the courage to actually do this) will provide snacks, and beverages – I’m thinking some fun drink choices would be Sangria; a Hot-Mexican-Chocolate Bar; Horchata Smoothies; and blended Margaritas. I’ll need to remember to find a good Latino Christmas Album or two or three to play for ambiance during the party, and also dig out an entertaining game to go with the party, that we can play while we’re waiting for the first batch of tamales to come out of the steamers. A couple of my favorites are Mexican Train (dominoes) and Canasta (cards)!

Or, if my family/friends want to bring their Christmas cards, stamps, address labels, and stationery we could get our Christmas cards ready to mail out while we wait for tamales, and we can snack and visit while we write and fold and lick and stamp! Make it kind of a working Tamale party! I can offer this on the invitations, and then discuss it with everybody when they RSVP.

Here’s how I’m thinking we can split up the cooking…

Guests #1, 2, & 3 could each make a 3-lb pork roast (half of the recipe listed below) and shred it, discarding any bone or cartilage, and reserving and bringing the strained pork broth to the party.

Pork for Tamales Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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Guest #4 could make the Chili sauce up to the point of adding the broth and blending it, and bring the cooked chilies with them to the party.

Red Sauce Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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HOST: could prepare corn husks

Boiled corn husks

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Guest #5 could make the Masa, up to the point of adding the broth and mixing, and bring it to the party

Masa Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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Click this link for a FREE PRINTABLE of the Recipe cards for Tamalada!

(((((-Full recipes are further down on this page-)))))

My Tamalada Invitation

Printable Invitation

Click this LINK for the printable Tamalada Invitation!

So, I know from experience that it’s going to take at least 4 hours to make the finishing touches on the meat and masa, then assemble, and steam the tamales. So I’ll plan my party accordingly when filling out the details on the invitation. Maybe I should have it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon?

Once my guests have RSVP’d and volunteered for the dish they want to make, I’ll send them out the recipe card for their items (shown above, in case you missed them).

((((( Click here for the FREE PRINTABLE Recipe cards for Tamalada! )))))

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PREPARING FOR MY PARTY:

Buy whatever groceries and beverages I’ll need and give myself time to prepare them before the party.

Set up a station for the final masa preparation. I will need counter space, a large bowl, a mixer, and a cup of warm water to test the masa in.

Set up a work station for the final preparation of the red sauce. I will need a large sauce pot for the stove, and a blender or food processor. Someone will be making a roux in the sauce pot, and another person will be blending the red sauce (softened chilies and broth from pork). The pork and the red sauce will be added to the roux.

I’ll set up a large table for assembly. Place the ingredients down the center of my table, the husks next to the masa, the masa next to the meat, and finally a cookie sheet at the end to pile the tamales on. I’ll put a person at each ingredient and we’ll pass each tamal along. They’ll go together pretty quick. I will need some clean kitchen towels and possibly a roll of paper towels, also a masa spreader or spatula, a spoon to measure the masa, a spoon to measure the meat, and a large cookie sheet. And afterward some tin foil to wrap the tamales in for sending home or freezing.

Make room in my refrigerator for whatever uncooked tamales, and whatever else needs refrigerated.

Set up the steamer pots (illustrated below). I will need two large canner size pots with lids and a steamer basket for each inside. I will also need two clean kitchen towels and water for those.

Set up a beverage station with various beverages as mentioned earlier. I can set up a hot cocoa bar, I can also set out a large thermos of blended Margaritas, and a pitcher of Sangria. I might also want to set out some iced tea and water and a cooler of ice, and a variety of glasses and mugs.

Set up an appetizer/snack table where guests can nibble as we wait for the tamales to cook. Decide what appetizers I will serve at my party, and have them ready when guests arrive. I will need serving plates, bowls, spoons, etc. I might want to have a pretty tablecloth for this table, and some festive table decorations.

Set up the music that I will have playing in the background of my party.

Set out a couple of game choices (mentioned earlier), so that once the tamales are all assembled, and the table has been cleared, we can start having some fun. Or if we all prefer doing Christmas cards, I will need to *be sure to note this in my party reminder call, so my guests will know to bring their supplies!

Of course I’ll want a clean house, a spotless kitchen, and a tidy bathroom at least. Ugh! Sometimes this keeps me from throwing parties! My house is truly never clean enough.  Oh suck it up girl, get to scrubbin’ it’s gonna be fun!!!!!!!!!

A day or two before the party I can send a reminder via Text/eMail/Phonecall, so my guests will know if we’ll be doing Christmas cards during the party, or just playing games and eating. They might need the prodding for the dish they are making too!

Day of the party designate various ASSEMBLY LINE jobs:

Someone to wash all the dirty dishes and clean counters (my least fav job)

Someone to make the roux, and mix the meat with the sauce

Someone to finish making the red sauce

Someone to finish making the masa

Assembly line Husk Person, who will dry and pass the husks

Assembly line Masa Spreader person

Assembly line Meat person, who will also wrap tamales

Tamale tie person, who will tear off strips of husk to tie around tamales and stack them on a cookie sheet

And finally someone to set up and load steamers, and babysit them with water

Full RECIPES

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Pork for Tamales

2 3-lb pkgs Pork Carnitas or a shoulder roast

1 large onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, broken in pieces

3 jalapenos, chopped

1 Tbsp salt

Enough water to cover

DO AT HOME: Place pork roast, onion, garlic, and salt in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer over medium heat until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Remove pork from water and shred. Store in a Ziploc bag and keep in refrigerator for up to a day, until ready to use. Strain liquid and reserve for use in making the red sauce and the masa. Place in sealed jars in refrigerator for up to a day. Skim the fat off the broth and place it in a separate ziploc bag to use for the roux. Bring the pork, broth, and skimmed fat to the party.

Carnitas Pork

DO AT THE PARTY: Once at the party someone will need to make a roux (see recipe below) and then the pulled pork can be combined with the roux and the red sauce.

chili cascavel

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Red Sauce

4 ounces California (or Cascavel) chile pods, seeds and stems removed

4 ounces New Mexico chile pods, seeds and stems removed

1 1/4 cup reserved pork broth

1 1/4 cup water

1 Tbsp salt

3 cloves garlic, broken in pieces

1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin seeds

DO AT HOME: Toast chilies in a hot skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Rinse chile pods. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add rinsed chile pods and cook until chile pods are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain water off chilies and discard the water. Add salt, garlic, and ground cumin. Seal in a plastic bag until ready to blend at the party. This can be done up to a day ahead.

DO AT THE PARTY: Pour chilies, broth, and water into a blender and blend until smooth. Place in large kettle until ready to mix with the pork.

Roux: Someone will need to make a roux using ½ cup lard, reserved from roast, and ½ cup flour. Cook on the stove, stirring continually until peanut butter colored. Toss in the pork and red sauce and mix well. I also like to chop another jalapeno or two to add to the meat. Cover and refrigerate, or if near to being ready to assemble, place on the assembly line.

Pork mixed with red sauce

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Masa

2 pounds Manteca lard, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder, divided

2 tablespoons salt, divided

5 pounds ground masa harina, divided

2 to 3 cups broth reserved from cooked pork roast (or chicken broth), divided

½ bunch Cilantro, finely minced

Small white onion, very finely minced

½ cup Tomatillo Salsa, or Salsa Verde

Reserved pork broth with skimmed fat

DO AT HOME: Place 1 pound of lard in a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and mix until fluffy, scraping sides so the lard stays in the center of the mixing bowl. (The flat beater is the ideal accessory for mixing.) Add half the baking powder and half the salt to the lard and mix together. Add half the masa harina and mix together. Seal in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

Now do the other half of the same ingredients, and store in the fridge in a ziploc bag for up to a day. Please bring to room temp before bringing to the party.

DO AT THE PARTY: Place one room temperature batch of the masa in a large bowl. Slowly add half the broth, half the onion and cilantro, and half the salsa verde, to and mix until combined. The mixture should be about the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If not, add more broth as necessary. Test the masa by taking a small piece (1/2 teaspoon) and dropping it into a cup of warm water. If it floats it is ready; if it sinks, add a little more lard, beat for another minute and test it again. Repeat this process until the masa floats. Cover and set on the assembly table.

Repeat the process with the remaining batch of masa.

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Corn Husks

DO AT HOME: Take husks from package and rinse well in the sink, removing any silks or debris. Fill a large stock pot with water and press the clean husks down to submerge them. Bring water to a boil and soak husks in gently boiling water for about 1 hour. You may need to flip the stack occasionally so the top ones get pliable. Drain water from husks but keep husks in the kettle with the lid on.

DO AT THE PARTY: Set warm, soaked husks, in covered pot on the assembly table. Keep a clean kitchen towel nearby to dry the husks just before spreading them with masa, otherwise the masa won’t stick.

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ASSEMBLY LINE

Tamale Assembly Station

Place the husks, masa, meat, and cookie sheet down the center of a table, and seat my guests all around it, except the guest who volunteered to do the mountain of dirty dishes. Assembly will start with corn husks being dried off and passed to the masa person next to them, that person will spread it with masa and pass it to the meat person next to them; that person will top it with meat and wrap it and hand it across to the tie person; that person will tear off a little strip from a boiled husk and use it to tie around the tamal and lay on the cookie sheet. Once the cookie sheet is full and heaping, the last person (ME) will pack the tamales vertically in the steamer with the open end up and start them steaming.

Assembly Line

SPREADING THE MASA: Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand (or on the flat work surface), narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk spread 2 tablespoons of the masa with a spatula or masa spreader in a rectangle shape, using a downward motion towards the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk. Pass to the person with the meat (or other) filling. There is too wide of a swath of masa on this husk shown below, and also it’s not quite thick enough. You only need enough masa to wrap around the meat and a little extra to hold the husk closed.

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ADDING THE MEAT: Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of your chosen filling down the center of the masa. (When I ran out of meat filling and still had masa, I started making Pepper Jack Cheese and Jalapeno filling. Fold both sides of hust to the center over the top of the meat; finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk toward the filled end. Pass tamale to the person who will tie the tamales closed.

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TAMALE TIE PERSON: Make sure each tamal is snuggly closed and will not open during steaming. You can secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around each tamal. This will keep the tamal from unwrapping during the steaming process, especially if the husk is too thick and will not stay folded. Stack wrapped tamales on a cookie sheet.

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HOST: Prepare the steamer pots… (You will also load the steamer pots)

Steamer Pot

This is my tamale steamer. I can only fill water up to the little rack, but not above it, and start it simmering on the stove. The steamer pot needs to be tall enough for our tamales to sit up vertically above the water and still fit the lid on. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can improvise like I have. All mine is, is a round cooling rack setting on top of a brick, which I’ve washed several times in the dishwasher, or I could also use a small colander placed down into the bottom of my soup kettle and my rack on top. This set up works perfectly. Each steamer will need to have a clean kitchen towel and a lid.

When a cookie sheet of tamales is piled up high, they can be loaded in the steamer…

Fill the top part of the steamer with tamales. Stand the tamales up vertically, open ends up and folded ends at the bottom, and make sure the folded part is either tied up, or held in place with another tamal. Pack the tamales snug enough so that they won’t fall over during cooking, but not so tight that the steam can’t get in around them. In other words, don’t cram and squish them as tight as they will go, but let there be too much space or they will collapse and mush over. If there are not enough tamales to fill the steamer, use canning jars to take up the spaces so the tamales don’t fall over.

Turn heat up on the water until it boils. Cover the tamales with a clean kitchen towel and then the lid of the pot. Turn the heat down to medium so that it stays gently boiling, but not raging boiling. Set timer for 2 hours. Check every 20 to 30 minutes or so to make sure the water is not boiling dry, and add boiling water as necessary. Make sure the tamales are above the water line and that the bottoms are not siting in water at all.

Steaming tamales

Tamales will need to steam for 2 hours or more. After 2 hours we can test for doneness. Remove one tamale and check if the masa holds together and slips easily off the husk. If so, it is done, if not it needs to steam some more. Check again in 15 minutes when I check the water level.

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When a batch of tamales is done they can be eaten right away, or wrapped in foil (1 dozen at a time) and refrigerated or frozen for later.

cooked tamales

Divide the wrapped dozens of tamales among the guests. There should be about 1-2 dozen per guest.

You will want to eat some at the party!!!! There are lots of ways to eat tamales. Some like them topped with just a little of the red sauce, which you can make another batch of while the tamales are steaming. I like mine all different ways. Straight out of the steamer and burning my fingers and tongue as I shove them into my mouth, or if I have all the toppings on hand for Tortilla Soup or Carnitas tacos, I like all of those (minus the tortilla strips) on top of my tamales. I also like them with salsa verde, chopped onions, cilantro, and jalapenos, and a little dallop of sour cream (as pictured below). And I also like them loaded up with red sauce, pepper-jack cheese, black olives, corn and black bean salsa, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo. There is just about no wrong way to eat a tamale.

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So there you have it. Sound like fun to you? I’m pretty sure all my Mexican friends reading this are laughing at my gringo-ness; all having hosted and attended a hundred Tamaladas, so hopefully one of you will take pity on me and invite me to your next one, to show me how it’s done! My hat’s off to whoever invented tamales, for passing on this wonderful food, and to my friends south of the border for keeping going this fun tradition. Feliz Navidad!

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“The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.” Isaiah 25:6

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Mrs H’s Indian Fry Bread Tacos

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Mrs H’s Indian Fry Bread Tacos

In case you missed this recipe, featured recently in A Native Thanksgiving, here’s a re-run of it all by itself, because it is just too delicious to miss.

There are several ways to make the fry bread. My grandmother used her homemade yeast bread recipe and then divided it into dinner roll size pieces. She pulled those into little robe shapes and gave them a little twist before frying. She called it “Squaw Bread” and I could have honestly eaten the whole stinking batch every time she made it. Nothing better than hot fried bread, unless of course it is hot fried bread rolled in cinnamon and sugar, which she also sometimes did.

You can save yourself a lot of work by just using Rhodes Yeast Rolls that come frozen in the grocery store. Thaw them and then fry them. It’s that easy!

The Native way is also very easy and delicious. This is the recipe:

Fry Bread (2)

FRYBREAD

This recipe makes 7-8 small ones

Ingredients

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

Deep hot fat in fry pan or fryer

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients. Stir in milk. Kneed and work the dough on a floured board with floured hands until smooth. Divide the dough into eight pieces and shape into flat disk shapes, with a depression in the center. Fry in deep fat (about 375°) until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper.

Fry Bread Taco mrsh

INDIAN FRYBREAD TACOS

6 servings

Frybread tacos are very much like the Elephant Ear tacos that we used to get at the carnival when the rodeo was in town. Very easy and one of my favorite things to eat. If I have leftover homemade chili I use it in place of the meat recipe here. And when I can’t find Anasazi beans, and I’m in a hurry, I just substitute canned pintos.

Ingredients

6 pieces Indian Frybread — about 6” in diameter

For Chili:

1 lb hamburger

1 big can tomatoes (I used Rotel)

2 Tbsp homemade chile powder (or your favorite packet of Chili seasoning)

salt, pepper to taste

Fry hamburger broken up loose until cooked, then drain fat. Sprinkle some salt and chile powder over it (or use a Chili seasoning packet). Add tomatoes and their juice — break up tomatoes and stir it around. Simmer till meat tender and sauce is thick, 30 – 40 minutes.

Toppings:

1/2 lb cheese grated coarse (Colby/Jack)

1 1/2 c Dried anasazi beans, cooked

1 1/2 c Mache or arugula, washed & stemmed (I substitute Cilantro, chopped)

1 pkg sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced

2 ea Ripe avocados, halved & sliced

1 sm red onion, thinly sliced and diced

1 bunch red radishes, sliced

1 container Golden yellow cherry tomatoes diced

3 ea Green Anaheim (New Mexico) chiles, prepared (I’ve sometimes substituted Poblanos when Anaheims are out of season or unavailable)

1 lg Red bell pepper

Directions:

22448To prepare the anasazi beans, soak overnight in water to cover. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the beans simmer until the skins break, about 3 hours. It may be necessary to add water as the beans cook to prevent them from burning and sticking. After the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. You should have about 3 cups cooked beans.

While the beans are cooking, roast, seed, and de-vein the chiles and the bell pepper, and chop each of the veggies. I usually do this early in the day, place each in a ziploc sandwich baggie, and store together in the fridge until I’m ready to serve.

Prepare the Native recipe fry bread while the meat (chili) is cooking.

Indian Fry Bread Tacos mrsh

To Assemble the tacos, place 1/2 cup cooked beans on each piece of frybread, then a layer of meat mixture, then your choice of the vegetables (I like all of them). Finish with a little Mexican Crema (sour cream), some bottled hot sauce (salsa) on top, and finally a little sprinkle of cheese.

You’ll need a fork and knife to eat this marvelous creation!

Indian Fry Bread Tacos logo

supper grace

A Native Thanksgiving

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A Native Thanksgiving

Originally featured in my book, Come for Supper, the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, this is one of my very favorite meals. Not because it is top shelf gourmet, for in fact it is probably closer to just being sustenance on that scale; mostly made with government commodities, or what can be scavenged in the wild, using few and extremely inexpensive ingredients. Not to say these aren’t all very yummy dishes though, don’t be scared, just probably not cheffy food, if that’s what you were looking for. The beauty of this meal for me is in savoring the foods of another people. Cultural differences can sometimes separate us, but I am enchanted by the brotherhood of the table and the fellowship of food. Eating modest foods also makes me very thankful for the things that I have, and the extravagant meals I have been blessed to enjoy. In a world where some have the luxury of living-to-eat, this is a great reminder that many many people on this planet eat-to-live, and even with the little that they have, are incredibly generous.

Nature Collage

I am drawn to and have a deep affection for the American Indians. I think we all do. Most of us played cowboys and Indians when we were kids. Many of our grandparents told tall tales about having native blood in our lineage. It is the raw deal, and unfair treatment of our native people by our government, that gives us (me, at least) a huge mistrust of the federal government. And although they’ve been tucked away, they have never been forgotten. We admire their courage and bravery, so much so that many of our sports teams have been given names like, “Chiefs” “Braves” “Redskins” and “Indians.”  Many towns (and counties) in my native state have Indian names: Sundance, Shoshoni, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, Crowheart, Chugwater, Arapahoe, Wapiti, Cheyenne, Osage, etc.  Movies like Dances With Wolves, Son of the Morning, and Windtalkers reinforce the love affair. Even so, how many of us truly know our native brethren? Or, know anything about what their life is like today (myself included)? Most likely the closest we ever come is visiting a local gambling casino, or reading about some misfortune in the newspaper. By bringing us to a table to celebrate some of their best dishes, I hope to change that a little. This is an interesting article that I really wanted to save for myself, and share with you, as we consider honoring these interesting people with a Native fall feast for our family and friends.

Native American prayer

Meal Blessing

11 Native American Supper

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THE    FELLOWSHIP    OF    FOOD…

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WATER CRACKERS (Wind River Reservation)

Ingredients

1 lb Commodity flour (about 3 cups of all-purpose flour)

Powdered milk and water to equal about 2/3 cup liquid

1 Tbsp Vegetable shortening

1 tsp Baking soda

1 tsp Salt

Directions:

Mix all ingredients except powdered milk together. Add milk to other ingredients to form a dough and beat it up. If the dough is too sticky to roll out, add a little more flour. Roll it very thin on a flour dusted cutting surface, cut it into pieces with a pizza cutter, lay the pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet, prick each piece with a fork, and bake it quickly in a 350 degree oven until toasted golden. Try these crackers the traditional way first, but the next time you make them you might wish to substitute fresh whole milk for the powdered milk, 2 Tbsp butter for the shortening and a splash of olive oil, and perhaps sprinkle the dough with a mixture of seeds, or some parmesan cheese, or some finely chopped italian herbs before cutting and baking. These are also nice served with an assortment of cheeses.

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3 sisters

THREE SISTERS SOUP (the 3 sisters are beans, corn, and squash)

Ingredients

1 lb beef stew meat

8 cups water

3 spring onions with tops

1 tsp minced garlic

1 can kidney beans and liquid

Half gallon size bag of fresh green beans, sliced (may substitute frozen or canned)

3 ears fresh corn (may substitute frozen or canned)

3 summer squash, cubed

½ tsp oregano (or 3 mint leaves)

2 tsp salt

5 lg squash blossoms

Black Pepper

Directions:

Cook the stew meat in water until tender. Cut corn from cob, chop spring onions, and add all vegetables to water and simmer until tender. Add seasonings, and squash blossoms; simmer 15 minutes. (For vegetarian version omit meat).

This is a mostly authentic recipe, and doesn’t have much flavor, especially if canned vegetables are used, which are most likely. The next time you make it you will want to use beef broth in place of the water, and leftover beef roast, pulled apart. I always prefer fresh vegetables. I also added 1 packet of beef gravy mix and 1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix to my pot. I also added a small can of Rotel Tomatoes, 1 large potato diced, 1 large carrot chopped, a handful of frozen peas, 2 tsp. minced garlic, to the other vegetables, and about a ¼ tsp. of Cayenne powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Delish!

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WILD GREENS AND FLOWERS SALAD

Serves 4 to 6

Salads were much liked in the spring when new, tender greens appeared. A great variety of mixtures was used. Since salt was uncommon or not used at all, salads were flavored by herbs, oil pressed from seeds, and especially with vinegar made from fermented, evaporated, uncooked maple sap (which we can’t make or get). So this is an approximation of the spring tonic salads beloved by all woodland people after the long winters.

Ingredients

1 cup watercress leaves and (only) tender stems

1 cup lamb’s ears, quarter new leaves (or use small spinach leaves)

1 cup arugula lettuce torn (not cut) to bite-size pieces;

can also use Bibb or less expensive leafy (not iceberg) lettuces

1 cup Dandelion leaves

1/2 cup tender nasturtium and violet leaves torn up

1/2 cup nasturtium and violet flowers (in season)

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup salad oil

As much tender mint leaves as you like in the salad

2 tsp fresh mint chopped fine and bruised

2 tsp chopped tarragon (fresh) or 1 tsp dried if necessary

optional: salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine honey and vinegar, whisk in oil and crushed mint. Season to taste with small amount of salt. Pour over greens and flowers in large bowl, and toss for about 3 minutes to coat everything with dressing. Serve immediately.

If you cannot find the greens and flowers listed, you can use a “spring mix” salad from the produce department and add to that whatever edible flowers and greens that you can find, perhaps look at your local garden center, nursery, or fresh herb store.

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Native Supper

SQUASH OR PUMPKIN BLOSSOM FRITTERS (Pueblo style)

serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

2 dozen large squash blossoms

(4 dozen of the smaller pumpkin blossoms)

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin powder

2 – 3 cups finely ground cornmeal (masa harina)

Oil for deep frying

Directions:

If you’re a gardener or truck farmer, you can make this dish easy; otherwise you’ll need to visit with a farmer at a Farmer’s Market about getting some blossoms. During the growing season farmers thin the blossoms of their vines, because the vine can’t support but only a couple of pumpkins or a few squash. At season’s end there will be an abundance of flowers, as the fruit will not have time to finish before winter.

Rinse and pat blossoms dry. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs with milk, chili, salt, and cumin. Dip blossoms in egg mix, and then roll gentle in cornmeal. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to set coating. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to about 375°, hot but not smoking. Fry blossoms a few at a time until golden, drain on paper towels. Keep warm in 250° oven until ready to serve.

Only in the southwest are the blossoms of squash and pumpkin important as a religious symbol, as well as food. They appear as sacred symbols in many Pueblo ceremonies, and gave rise to a popular design worked in silver.

38016ada1e3f4e7fc10fa388363291ce-american-dolls-american-artThere is a Hopi Squash Kachina (Patung). He is Chief Kachina (wuya) for the Hopi Pumpkin Clan. He runs with men of a village in spring ceremonial dances to attract rain clouds.

The Hopis and Pueblo farmers gather large quantities of squash and pumpkin flowers at the end of the growing season, when these flowers cannot make fruit; that’s the time white farmers harvest their curcurbitae and pull up or plow under the still-flowering vines.

OR, you may like to try this stuffed blossom recipe….

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fried squash blossoms1

STUFFED SQUASH BLOSSOMS

Ingredients

2 doz. squash blossoms

Filling:

8 oz. block cream cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

1 Tbsp chopped green onion

Batter:

1½ c. flour

½ tsp salt

¾ to 1 cup dry white wine

cooking oil for frying

Directions:

The authentic way is not to stuff the blossoms, but simply to batter and fry them, or just fry them naked in melted shortening. This is a recipe I stumbled across recently and enjoyed. Pick large squash blossoms in early morning just before they open. (I used my garden zucchini blossoms that had opened already and they turned out okay). Heat 1-2” oil in heavy Dutch oven. Meanwhile, stuff blossoms with a tablespoon of filling. Smooth peddles over filling, and make batter. When oil is ready (pops and crackles when a drop of water is added), drop each blossom into batter, turning to coat evenly, and then immediately into hot oil. Turn while frying to cook evenly on all sides, and remove with a slotted spoon when they have turned golden-brown. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot as an accompaniment for soup. Or, they also make a great appetizer with a spicy marinara sauce to dip them in.

Fry Bread (2)

FRYBREAD

This recipe makes 8-10 small ones or 5 big flat ones

Ingredients

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

Deep hot fat in fry pan or fryer

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients. Lightly stir in milk. Add more flour as necessary to make a dough you can handle. Kneed and work the dough on a floured board with floured hands until smooth. Pinch off fist-sized lumps and shape into slightly twisted ropes — everyone has their own characteristic shapes.(Shape affects the taste, by the way because of how it fries). For Indian tacos, shape dough into a rather flat disk shape, with a depression — almost a hole — in the center of both sides. Make it that way if the fry bread is going to have some sauce over it. Smaller, round ones are made to put on a plate. Fry in deep fat (about 375°) until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper. (My grandmother made what she called, “Squaw Bread” at least once a month when I was growing up. Her’s was made from regular yeast dough. It was one of my favorite things on earth!!!!)

Wohape2

MODERN WOJAPE

Wojape (Wo-zha-pee), a pudding, a dessert. Wojape is traditional to the Sioux and other Northern Plains Nations and predates most of us living now. This is a berry pudding to eat with fry bread. It was made with fresh wild berries collected during that season and also dried berries, preserved for use through the winter. The berries were mixed with sugar when it became available, and also flour for thickener. Today is a different time and Wojape, like many other things, has adapted to the easy access of ingredients. However, it is just as delicious. It can be eaten after a meal as a dessert or as many “out there” know, as a main course maybe with a hot cup of coffee. She calls it modern because of using any kind of frozen berries, “We moderns often use government commodities gallon cans.” This recipe makes enough for about 20-30 people who have 1-2 fry breads.

Many thanks for this recipe go to: Ms. Stacy Winter of Crow Creek, Rapid City, South Dakota.

Ingredients

1 Bag (5 lb) frozen berries (blueberry, raspberry, cherry or a mix)

8 cup Water

2 cup Sugar

Cornstarch or Arrowroot

Directions:

To a 5 quart pot (enamel or stainless steel) add all the berries and smash them with a potato masher. (If you are fortunate enough to have a food processor this would work fine also. However, stop just short of puree, you want fine pieces throughout.) To the smashed berries add the water and sugar. Boil (lightly) this mixture (Approximately 15 to 20 minutes) until everything is cooked. Thicken to desired thickness with cornstarch that has been dissolved in cold water. Serve warm and eat with Indian Fry Bread. Dip the bread into the Wojape and eat in this manner.

Wojape is also outstanding on French Toast, Pancakes, plain Cheesecake, over ice cream, and is excellent served over Angel Food Cake with a dallop of whipped cream.

Indian Fry Bread Tacos logo

INDIAN FRYBREAD TACOS

6 servings

Frybread tacos are very much like the Elephant Ear tacos that we used to get at the carnival when the rodeo was in town.  Very easy and one of my favorite things to eat.  If I have leftover homemade chili I use it in place of the meat recipe here.  And when I can’t find Anasazi beans, and I’m in a hurry, I just substitute canned pintos.

Ingredients

6 pieces Indian Frybread — about 6” in diameter

1 lb hamburger

1 large onion minced

2 small cans tomato paste

1 big can tomatoes

1/2 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp chile powder

salt, pepper to taste

Fry onion and hamburger broken up loose. Sprinkle some salt and chile powder over it. Add tomato paste and 4 cans of water and the canned tomatoes and their juice — break up tomatoes and stir it around. Add basil and oregano. Taste for seasoning. If you want, you can use a taco seasoning packet in place of seasonings, and a mild tomato salsa in place of tomato paste and tomatoes. Simmer till meat and onions are done and sauce is thick, 30 – 40 minutes.

Toppings:

1/2 lb cheese grated coarse

1 1/2 c Dried anasazi beans, cooked

1 1/2 c Mache or arugula, washed & stemmed  (I’ve often substituted Cilantro, chopped)

1 lg Red ripe tomato, sliced

2 ea Ripe avocados, halved & sliced

1 ea Red onion, thinly sliced

1 ea Bunch red radishes, sliced

24 ea Golden yellow plum tomatoes halved

6 ea Green Anaheim (New Mexico) chiles, prepared (I’ve sometimes substituted Poblanos when Anaheims are out of season or unavailable)

1 lg Red bell pepper

Directions:

To prepare the anasazi beans, soak overnight in water to cover. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the beans simmer until the skins break, about 3 hours. It may be necessary to add water as the beans cook to prevent them from burning and sticking. After the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. You should have about 3 cups cooked beans. While the beans are cooking, roast, seed, and de-vein the chiles and the bell pepper. Leave chiles whole; slice pepper lengthwise into six strips.

To Assemble the tacos, place a layer of meat mixture, cheese, and 1/2 cup cooked beans on each piece of frybread. Add 1/4 cup greens per taco, followed by a red tomato slice. Add slices avocado and 1 thin slice red onion, separated into rings. Follow with radishes and 4 golden yellow plum tomatoes per taco, and top with 1 roasted green chile and 2 slices roasted red pepper. You can vary the toppings and the order in which the taco is built, and for a vegetarian version omit the meat sauce and cheese.

You may also wish to offer Sour Cream (I like the Mexican Crema) and salsa (favorite jarred, or refrigerated varieties).

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NAPOLIAS (Cactus)

Ingredients

1 servings

1 lb Pork

2 Cloves garlic, minced

1 lg Onion, diced

3 c Water

2 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 lg can stewed tomatoes

1 lb Green cactus, peeled & diced

Salt

Pepper

1/4 t. Cumin

Seasoning salt

Directions:

Cube the pork; fry in a skillet with onion and garlic. In a large Dutch oven, add all ingredients, salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 tsp. cumin and seasoned salt. Cook until meat is tender. You might like to season this with an assortment of dried ground up chili peppers, like New Mexico red chilies, green chilies, chipotle chilies, and little chili pequine, to make it like a Chili Colorado. Very good with corn cakes, or the pinion squash bread featured below!

Cactus (fresh, small, thick pads): Remove spines with knife and peel, or purchase at market in a jar, diced and packed in its own juices. You can usually find it at Mexican markets; the cactus referred to is generally prickly-pear cactus. The juice from the prickly pear cactus is also useful in Native American craftwork, specifically painting with earth paints.

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PUEBLO PUMPKIN/SQUASH PIÑON NUT SWEETBREAD

Makes One loaf, serves 6 – 8

Rio Grande Pueblo peoples traditionally served a variant of this sweetbread to parties of nut-pickers in September when piñon nuts were being picked from the mountain slope trees. Families would (and some still do) camp for many weeks in traditional areas reserved to clans. In the recipe you can use either cooking-type pumpkin (these have necks and thick, meaty bodies, not like jack o’ lantern pumpkins) or a sweet bright orange squash, like butternut.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup finely mashed or pureed pumpkin/squash

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

2 eggs beaten foamy

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup pine nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, spices. Stir in pumpkin, eggs, butter. Stir pine nuts into thick batter. Scrape into a greased 6 x 9 loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in bread comes out clean.

This sweetish, spicy bread goes well with soups, stews, and can also be a dessert, especially if you cut it apart and put yogurt or applesauce over it.

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OR, this is a sweeter, less cinnamony version that lets the pumpkin shine through…

pumpkin bread

PUMPKIN PINE-NUT BREAD

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

2 c Flour

1/2 c Oil

3 Eggs, beaten

1 1/2 c Sugar

1 teaspoons Baking soda

1 teaspoons Vanilla

3/4 c Milk

2 c Cooked pumpkin

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 c Pine nuts, roasted

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium size bowl, mix eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix well, then add pumpkin. Mix well and folk into dry ingredients. Add pine nuts. Pour batter into 2 greased 5×9-inch loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes.

The pine nuts generally taste better if, before they’re added to the mix, you put them on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 350-400 degrees. It roasts them a little. But watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn.

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MAPLE-PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

1 Graham cracker crust in 8″ spring form pie pan

1 lb low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3/4 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 can)

1/4 cup flour

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Put all ingredients into blender, a little at a time, alternating wet and dry. Process until smooth, then pour into crust and spread evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes. Let cool before serving. May be topped with yogurt, flavored with 2 Tbsp maple syrup. Take it up a notch drizzled over with caramel sauce, and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

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A    TASTE     OF     CULTURE…

If you have kiddos, you can make this supper a lot of fun for them. This is also a great get-together for church, or a Senior Center, or a classroom if you are a teacher, or homeschooler? Below are the cornucopia of ideas I’ve collected over the years for either a dinner party, or you can use them as activities during a weekend or weeklong festival.

Background Music: Tribal Winds, Music from Native American Flutes; also cd Good Medicine by John Two-Hawks – American Indian Lakota flute player & musician. I actually have several CD’s that I love, shown below. (Not shown: Gathering of Shamen – Native Flute Ensemble, Medicine Man – Pete “Wyoming” Bender, The Stories of Red Feather Woman – also featuring the music of Andrew Vasquez, with special guest Rodney Grant – Windriver).

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Host a Pow-Wow: American Indians, at least those I am familiar with (Northern Arapaho, Eastern Shoshoni, Lakota Sioux, and Utah Navajo ) have an annual party called a Pow-Wow. They set up teepees, do dances, trade and sell craft items, share food, pray, play games, pass the peace pipe, and tell stories. Thermopolis Wyoming is home to the annual Pow-wow of the Windriver tribes, the Gift of the Waters Pageant, and they tell the history/stories of the giving of the healing waters (see clip on Facebook).

BowArrowInstruments

Here’s a fun idea: ask your guests to bring “trade items” (things they have outgrown, don’t use, or don’t want any more) to trade with each other. All unwanted items can be donated to a local charity thrift store after the get-together.

img00008Hoop and Pole Game

Natives of different groups have their own special ways to play the Hoop and Pole game, but in all the games a person tosses a long dart of some kind at a circular hoop. In this version of the game the hoop is rolled along the ground, set into motion by a third player, while the two other playershoopandpolegamepg18s throw their pole as the hoop rolls in front of them. The score depends on how or if the pole falls on or through the hoop. Netted hoops are made by the Arapaho of Wyoming and other tribes.

Navajo tribes play a stick and dice game, and also a shoe game. Google them to see how they are played.

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The Sun Dance, usually conducted once a year, is a custom of the Arapaho people. The Sun Dance is a sort of prayer ceremony. See more about it here.

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Navajo Blanket collage

Navajo Blanket (given to me by my father-in-law) collage

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PEACE PIPE

As the sun sets, gather everyone around to sit “Indian style” in a circle in the center of the yard around a fire pit. Pass around a “peace pipe” with imaginary tobacco in it and let everyone take a puff. This ritual in Arapaho belief is supposed to bond friendships. Encourage the oldest men of the group to pass on some of their wisdom to the younger by telling interesting stories of their boyhood, what games they played, things they did with their parents, faith experiences, etc. Some can share lessons they learned from mistakes they made. Maybe dad or grandpa or Uncle Jerry has a “vision” for the family (or church, or group) or a weird dream that they had that they would like to share.

CRAFTS

Make Bead Chokers

LoomWeaving

Make a loom and weave pot holders

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Make Beaded Moccasins

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Make a Dream Catcher

The following are items I made for my granddaughter’s teacher to use for a center in her Kindergarten classroom this year.

Garden Collage2mrsH

Make a “Pretend Garden” using an old wooden box covered in burlap, pantyhose filled with black beans for the rows of soil, and hand-stitched felt veggies.  Let the littles enjoy hours of play planting and replanting veggies.

Garden Collage

BowArrowInstruments

Dollar Store bows, with homemade quivers for the arrows, plastic Bowie knives in homemade sheaths, and and assortment of primative instruments – they look cooler with feathers tied to them!  Set up deer silhouettes and various parts of the yard and let the littles go hunting for food.  Also let them make music for dancing.

Cane Pole Fishing

Homemade Bamboo “Cane Poles” with string and child-safe hooks, and little fishes that they can catch with them.  Make a “pretend pond” and let the littles catch fish for supper.

peacepipe

When you were born, you cried

and the world rejoiced.

Live your life

so that when you die,

the world cries and you rejoice. — White Elk

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We do not want schools….
they will teach us to have churches.
We do not want churches….
they will teach us to quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.
We may quarrel with men sometimes
about things on this earth,
but we never quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.

–Heinmot Tooyalaket ( Chief Joseph), Nez Perce Leader

Tecumseh's_Lance

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“Behold I lay in Zion a Chief Cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6

Chief Cornerstone collage

(Photo of a Christian T-shirt from eons ago)

Unless I Wash You

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Unless I Wash You

“”What I am doing you do not understand now,

but you will know after this.”

John 13:7

Have you ever been to a foot-washing ceremony? If yes, how did it make you feel? Were you uncomfortable taking your shoes off and exposing your stinky feet to someone you looked up to, like maybe a leader in the church, or the leader at a ministry where you volunteered? Sounds like I might have some personal experience, doesn’t it? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, you’d be right.

I worked as a counselor of sorts in the lending closet of a crisis pregnancy center for a time, and at one of our monthly meetings (where we would communicate information between the board, the directors, and the staff, and also have devotions and prayer), both of our directors rose up from their seats and began filling little tubs for each of the staff members. Our directors had just returned from a director’s retreat and explained to us how they had felt the Lord leading them to wash our feet. Oh no, I thought to myself, no, no, no! Que the panic attack of the century! Of all the hot summer days to be wearing my cheapo, made-in-China, dime store tennis shoes, and without socks. My feet are going to wreak! There’s no way I’m taking these shoes off my feet in this crowded room, much less let someone else take them off for me with their sniffer right down there at toe level. Oh heck no. Nope. Not happening.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t mean any disrespect, and surely didn’t want to put a damper on the spiritual experience at all, but I was squirming and sweating profusely, and was not in my right mind. I was scared to death that my racing thoughts would soon start spilling out all over my face. Thank God I was seated at the end of the chairs (a benefit of always sitting in the back of the room); this gave me a decent amount of time to try and figure out a game plan, an excuse, maybe, for running out early.

I didn’t run, however, and I’m not sure why not, except I was hoping someone else in the room would raise an objection, a genius excuse, and then I could chime in with my support, and the two of us would get out of it together. But no such luck. Each person seemed completely uninhibited, (of stinking course, gawd, why am I the only basket case in the room, ever), and each appeared to appreciate the experience. Lord have mercy.

When it got around to me, the last person, I tried everything in the book to get out of it, discretely, but the director wasn’t having any of it. She absolutely, positively would not take “No thank you” for an answer. So I begged her if I could then just please take my shoes off my own self and hurry and plunge my feet into the sudsy water while she was still a good distance away? Maybe she could hold her breath and we could spritz some air freshener in the room? And maybe I could wrap my shoes up in a grocery sack and toss them out the back door while everyone was distracted, please! OMG, I was so humiliated and embarrassed.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:3-10

You know what? My feet did not come out of the tub the same way as they went in. When they came out they were clean. They were stink free. The sweat and the dirt had been washed away. My heart-failure was over. I could finally relax and be humbled by the kind ministry taking place. Our director washed my feet, and also prayed for me while doing so, and spoke words of prophesy over me. I felt strength enter my body. I felt blessed.

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The Practice of Hospitality

Foot washing was first introduced in Genesis 18:4 by Abraham and 19:2 by Lot, and then in Genesis 24:32 by Laban, and Genesis 43:24 by Joseph. It is seen again in the strange story of the Levite and his concubine and the old man in Gibeah – Judges 19:21. Levitical priests were required to wash their hands and feet before entering the tabernacle (God’s house) Ex. 30:18-21.

It was once a common custom and courtesy in the ancient Near East to wash the feet of guests (as noted in my Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, NKJV, footnote for Judges 19:21). Most people of Bible days wore sandals, and all that walking around that they did in those days must have made their feet very dirty. Not only would it have been a welcome refreshment to get the sweat and dirt off their feet before sitting down to a meal, but it surely also helped keep the houses from being tracked into, and the bedding from getting soiled.

A note in my NKJV study Bible for Mark 6:11 says that Jews, returning home from a journey also used to knock the heathen dust off their sandals the moment they reentered Jewish territory.

This is probably the custom Jesus drew upon to instruct His disciples to knock the dust off their sandals as a testimony against any town or home who would not receive them or hear them when they preached the good news to them (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). Paul and Barnabas actually did this in Acts 13:51.

what-did-shaking-the-dust-off-your-feet-mean-in-the-bible

The Hebrew word for ground or earth is adamah (Strongs #127). The Bible says “the Lord God formed the man (Adam) of dust (adamah) from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7), but after the sinful fall of mankind God said, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). But, in case we should think it was only Adam whom God considers dust, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

In the New Testament there is the story of a sinful woman with an alabaster flask who “stood at [Jesus’] feet behind Him weeping; and washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” Luke 7:36-47.

Jesus compared her actions to a foot washing, and He forgave her sins. And He forgave her sins!  (wait a minute….EPIPHANY!!!!)

What if a foot washing is something like a baptism – a mini cleansing of the sole from earthly heathen soil, which we are bound to get on us simply by being in the world?

Of course we are cleansed of our sins (past, present, and future) by our Savior’s blood when we are born again and baptized, so we are essentially cleansed and do not need any other “baptism.” But…we ARE imperfect humans, and in this world we will have troubles (John 16:33); we’ll slip up from time to time – lose our temper, tell a white lie, borrow something and forget to return it, show partiality to someone, disobey God, etc. We may think these are insignificant, or secret sins, but God sees them. He smells our stinky feet, and whether we realize it or not, we are tracking heathen dust into our homes, into our friends’ homes, and into HIS house! But I have good news. When we’ve gotten some inevitable earthly dust on us James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another, and pray Jesus to … well … wash our feet of them (1 John 1:7-9 & John 13:10).

Jesus, after explaining to His disciples who He was in relation to God the Father said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:14-15.

I have often wondered, since foot washing has really gone by the wayside in many modern churches, as far as a frequent practice, did Jesus mean His actions to be figurative? Did He simply mean for us His followers to humble ourselves and be willing to serve others in the lowliest of ways? Or did He really intend that we literally wash each other’s feet – to symbolize God’s forgiveness and the washing away of our little daily sins? To be honest, something tugs at me in my heart that Jesus intended the basin & towel to be more than a lost and forgotten ritual, but the saved person’s sort of confessional?  Plus, instead of falling into the bad habit of tearing down our brothers and sisters, pointing out all their little sins and flaws, we could have mercy to forgive them, love them, and get down to toe level with the Lord’s basin and towel.

The practice did continue in the New Testament church. It is on the list of the virtues of a godly woman in 1 Timothy 5:9-10: “She [is] the wife of one man, well reported for good works, brings up children, lodges strangers, washes the saints’ feet, relieves the afflicted, and diligently follows every good work.”

Could it be that the lowly chore was delegated to the women? According to Rabbinical Literature, Jewish wives were once expected to wash their husband’s feet, as well as prepare their drink and bed (Yer.Ket. v.30a, jewishencyclopedia.com); otherwise servants were expected to wash the feet of guests.

What’s kind of ironic about women being relegated to this chore is that we girls LOVE to have our feet washed, don’t we? In today’s modern world we don’t make foot washing a part of our hospitality practices any more, but we do still observe the ritual in a way – we just go to a special (non spiritual) place to have it done and we pay for it. We call it a pedicure, and it is definitely a treat! Wouldn’t it be neat if there were Christian pedicure places, where we could go and it would be safe, and we could confess our sins, and we could leave with a whole new lease on life? Maybe the next time I get a pedicure I will put my headphones on, close my eyes, and spend the time in quiet meditation, discretely giving my sins to God.

“Confess your sins one to another” it says in James 5:16 (see also 1 John 1:8-9).

Say… what am I thinking? You and I can do this right now. What have you been struggling with this week? This month? This year? Have you been tracking sins into your house, into God’s house?

May I wash your feet?

8 Unless I Wash

How about if you think of all the little shortcomings, and sins that have entangled you this week. What is it that is weighing heavy on your heart? What is it that is making you feel guilty way down in your gut, and holding you back from running the race our Lord has marked out for you? Go ahead, take a moment and write your thoughts down?

When you have finished calling to mind each and every ugly little thing that is nagging in your spirit, will you please then come sit in this seat, slip your shoes off, and slide your feet into this tub of hot, soapy water I have prepared for you. I’m going to dunk a soft cloth into the water and run it over the tops and bottoms of your feet, and then squeeze the water over them. As I do, I want you to imagine the Lord’s forgiveness washing over your shortcomings as you give each one of them to Him. You name them, I’ll wash that dust off with this holy water, and we’ll just go for as long as we need to until we’ve covered everything on your list. You are precious dear one. The Lord loves you. And He forgives you!

Now lift your feet out of the water and let me dry them with a soft, fluffy towel. Don’t you feel wonderful getting that off your chest?

Let’s now pour this dirty water out on a flower bed, or under a big oak tree in your yard. All this water is sure going make the flowers and trees grow and blossom, and as you watch them getting bigger and stronger I want you to know that YOU are becoming a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. God’s beauty for ashes!

“How beautiful…are the feet of them that bring good news” Romans 10:15 (Isaiah 52:7).

Pray these verses with me: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the POOR; He has sent me to heal the BROKEN-HEARTED, to proclaim liberty to the CAPTIVES, and the opening of prison to those who are BOUND; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who MOURN, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isa 61:1-3

Go, be free, my friend, and sin no more. But if you find your feet dusty again, my door is always open. You come right back here and sit, and we’ll chat, and we’ll give those cares to God and let Him wash them all away again. Where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is among us.

“I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:15.

Martha Served

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Martha Served

“Now it happened as [Jesus] went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.” Luke 10:38 …And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10: 39-42)

I recently put together a fairly elaborate luncheon for a group of ladies. I’d put a lot of thought and effort into it, wanting it to be sort-of-like a seventh inning stretch for them — a sort of coach’s halftime speech that would give them a sense of accomplishment for their work so far, refresh them, and then inoculate them with the energy and enthusiasm to crank out the last ounces of their strength and finish the game.

As they nibbled on their morsels, I remarked to them that this was going to probably be my finest hour, the penacle of parties, and it was going to all be downhill from here. One of the ladies piped up saying that I didn’t really need to go to so much fuss and bother, that she was just as tickled with a loaf of bread and simple assortment of lunch meats. As long as she didn’t have to cook it, or clean up from it, she was totally happy. The other guests agreed.

That’s when the scripture about “Martha, Martha” and Jesus popped into my head. And I have to also say, I love how the scriptures are so honest with Martha’s wording of her question to Jesus, “Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” By her words I’m almost certain Martha was probably a firstborn. I’d even venture a guess that she and her siblings may have lost their parents at a young age and Martha assumed the role of mother to her brother and sister. I only wonder this because the three of them are always together, but there is never any mention of parents or spouses. Mary fits the model of a second born – an opposite of the firstborn. The oldest always feels like they have more responsibilities than the other kids, and that younger siblings get away with slacking off much more than they do.

Martha had obviously been brought up with manners and knew how to entertain guests. I bet she kept her house spotless clean, dishes done, beds made with fresh linens, and Refreshments (2)smelling great with scented candles and such. When Jesus stayed I’m sure she tried hard to make sure everything was perfect for Him. Maybe she laid a mint on His pillow and bottle of water on his nightstand. Perhaps she washed his clothes for Him. And what a sweet surprise it would have been to have them pressed and hanging in the bathroom for Him when He got up to shower in the morning. With a name like Martha you have to think she probably did crafts, gardened, was an amazing decorator, and most assuredly a fantastic cook too! Or maybe it is Martha Stewart I’m thinking of? Ha!

Scripture says the Mary/Martha/Lazarus family lived in Bethany. Luke says Jesus came to their village and that’s where He met Martha. I often wonder what Martha was doing when Jesus came through? Was she planting flowers in front of her home, or sweeping off the sidewalks when Jesus passed by? Was she at the market or on her way home and they met in the street? I wish I knew how their paths had crossed? What had He said to her that prompted her to invite Him to her house? And what did she make for supper? Even more intriguing…what did Jesus like to eat?

Like Martha I am a firstborn, with a lot of things on my mind. Always a million plans on my heart. I admire Martha wanting to make her guest comfortable and happy. If she is Refreshments (1)anything like me she probably spent all week deciding on what to make for supper after extending that invitation, and then shopped all over town for the freshest and finest ingredients. I wonder if she scrubbed and dusted and made sure everything was perfect, like I certainly would have. From the cleaning of the bathrooms to the chopping of vegetables, I imagine she stayed busy. And I’m pretty sure Jesus not only cared, but that He noticed, and was grateful.

In fact the more I look at it from my recent experience with the ladies, the more the tone of His response seems to sweetly suggest that she didn’t need to go to so much trouble and fuss for Him; that she had made way too much food and preparations; and that a simple dinner would have done fine. I think Jesus appreciated Martha’s efforts greatly, but what I see that He desired rather than an extravagant meal was the pleasure of her company, which is where Mary comes in.

Jesus often broke the social molds of the age and this is one more example. Mary was allowed to sit at Jesus’ feet and be taught. That was a luxury reserved for the men in those days, but Jesus let Mary be seated in the congregation around Him instead of sending her away to do women’s work. In fact, Jesus wanted Martha to put down the spatula and oven mitt and partake as well.

Jesus loved Martha (John 11:5) and her sister, and their love for Him was mutual, but I see each was different in return. John 11:2 and 12:3 says it was this Mary who anointed Jesus with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair (Matt.26:7). That makes me think Mary (as the Greeks would say) “eros” loved Jesus – with a deep, familial, affectionate love. Martha “philos” loved Jesus, with a brotherly, giving, serving love. And Jesus “agape” loved Mary and Martha, with unconditional, sacrificial love.

God had gifted Martha to serve, and her gift is important. If she hadn’t been there, Jesus would have maybe starved. He’d have had to probably sleep on the cold hard floor or worse, on the street. As special as Martha’s gift was, though, it’s only part of the total package of hospitality. I believe John 12:2-3 lists the total package: Martha served, Lazarus sat, and Mary anointed. As a guest in their home Jesus was provided for, kept company, and well-regarded.

Those two girls, whether they realized it or not, were a pair. Together these two women demonstrate what I think are the two sides of hospitality, giving and receiving (and Lazarus was there to talk sports, right?).

I don’t think it is a coincidence that Luke 10 begins with Jesus sending out His disciples two-by-two and ends with Mary and Martha?

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy other [disciples] also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 10: 1-9)

I feel like the kingdom of God has come near me today. As much as I love to serve, I have to remember that it isn’t fair to impose my ways on anyone (we are all gifted differently), or expect someone is being lazy who doesn’t share my vision. I need to put away distractions sometimes and just sit at Jesus’ feet, probably a lot more often than I actually do.

And when I do serve, I’m going to try to KEEP IT SIMPLER so that I can receive from the Lord what He wishes to teach me, rather than trying so hard to impress my guests.

It is so true what Jesus says in Matthew 13:17, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” I sooooo wish I could see how very different Martha’s first supper for Jesus was from that last one with Him after her brother came back to life?

“There they made Him a supper; and Martha served…” John 12:2

Cowboy Style Backyard BBQ

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Cowboy Style Backyard BBQ

Duuuuude! …Ranch that is.  When I think of a backyard barbeque I think of the time that I was a guest at my girlfriend’s ranch when the hands threw a BBQ feast that would knock you right out of the saddle.  I was the only dude; everybody else was the real deal.  Weeeeee doggies!  I loved when I got to stay the weekends with her.  Her life was so much different from mine.  I was a city girl – well, if you want to call the thriving metropolis of Edgerton, Wyoming a “city” (population 150).  Wilma, on the other hand, was a country girl through and through who lived on a ranch clear out in the middle of nowhere, where the deer and the antelope roam.  She had two older brothers and her dad was as close to John Wayne as you could get without cloning.  He sat tall in the saddle on his giant horse, Keno.  Keno was a plow horse with a shiny black coat and giant hooves.  Looking back, he was probably a clydesdale or something kin to it.  Wilma’s mom was the craftiest lady I knew.  She was always dressed so nice in her country western flare.  She made all sorts of grub from milk products and her summertime garden and all that a working ranch has to offer.  Her house was immaculate and decorated with stretched animal skins backed by layered, pinking-sheared felt, and Indian blankets hanging on the walls.

She also made jewelry out of porcupine quills. Porcupine quills?  Well, here’s the story that I got.  Wilma’s brothers were coming home kind of late one night and hit a fat and waddling porcupine in the road.  When they saw her in their headlights they swerved left and right, dust flying everywhere, but they couldn’t get the old Ford shut down in time.  Thump!  They bailed out to see if she was okay and saw that she was dead.  She was so big that they knew she was pregnant, so they did a prairie style emergency cesarean section on her and brought the little dickens home to mom to see if she could keep it alive.  Mom nursed the little critter with a tiny baby bottle, and not only did the tiny beast live, it became a family pet.  She plucked its quills to make her jewelry.  She made beautiful things from those quills.

Wilma had a bedroom in the ranch house, but her brothers all slept in the bunkhouse with the other ranch hands (probably why the house was always so clean).  We never saw much of them.  Our days were spent riding her horse bareback all around the ranch, and sometimes following her dad on his rounds.  Sometimes we’d pack up her record player and her Tanya Tucker, Dolly Pardon, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn records (…yes records – I know, this dates me.  If you don’t know what records are, ask your mom…) and we’d haul them up to the attic of the barn.  We’d push the hay bales around to make a stage, and then we’d string an extension cord, plug the record player in, and take turns pretending to be Country Western stars at the Grand Ole Opry.  “Stand by yer man…doot doo dooo…”  She knew all the words to all the songs, I just lip-sinked and pretended until I learned them.  See the thing about that kind of music is nobody listened to twangy Country Western in my house in the city.  But by the third sleep-over with Wilma I could cut loose at the top of my lungs with the best of them.  That’s also the beauty of living in the boondocks – nobody can hear you.  You know, I can still smell the barn in my memories.  Wood, leather tack, and hay —aaahhhchoooo— God bless me!

I always got a kick out of the phone thing too.  At Wilma’s house the phone was on a “party line,” and they had a special ring to let them know when the call was for them.  If you picked up the phone to make a call you might hear people talking, and if you lacked manners you’d listen in to see what they were saying – but everyone in Wilma’s house was polite not to, at least when I was there anyways.  And at night after we cleared away the supper dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, Wilma, her mom, and I, we’d gather around the CB and listen to the trucker’s conversations as they cruised by on the nearby highway.  Wilma’s mom even let me make up a “handle” so I could hold that microphone and push the button and say, “Breaker, breaker, one-nine,” and hopefully snag a passerby into a mini-chat.  What was my handle?  It was pretty corny – Capricorny!  The conversations were never too intelligent either.

Okay, so getting back to where I started…there was one weekend that I stayed over when the whole ranch had a barbeque planned.  My gosh it was a big to-do.  Wilma’s mom had made several salads and a big pot of ranch style baked beans, and several desserts.  There were a bunch of bow-legged cowboys hootin’ and hollerin’ in the back yard, some standing around the cook, others trying out their rope tricks on a saw-horse bull’s head, and another gang tossing horseshoes – clank!  The BBQ stove was made from a big barrel cut in half lengthwise with welded-on hinges and a vent pipe sticking out the top.  It was filled to capacity with ashen charcoals.  It was also big enough to cook a couple dozen steaks at a time, and you could feel the heat of it from three bunkhouses away.  The smoke from that iron trench rose to the heavens and made a big old cloud in the back yard.  It smelled sooooo good, as only charring, perfectly seasoned, aged bovine can smell.

They asked me how I liked my steak and I said, “Well done, please!”  In just three shakes of a lamb’s tale (that’s a nano-second to you and me) here it came.  I looked at it like a beginner climber might look at Mount Everest.  It wasn’t like any steak I’d ever seen before – it was a ROAST, that could have fed my whole family.  I weighed in at about a buck o-five, this steak was just under that.  It took up my whole plate at an inch and a half thick.  The crimson juices ran all over the plate until they were spilling over the sides.  When I stuck my fork in, it wiggled a little and let out a moo.  I asked, sheepishly, if my side-of-beef could smolder just a smidgen longer on the hot coals until it was dead, dead, dead.  They gave me heck and teased me for a stretch, but obliged me.  When I got’er back I worked on that thing most of the night trying to git’er done, but it was mission impossible.  I rolled around in bed that night with a belly full of cow that would last me the rest of my life.  Okay, maybe not that long.  Yeehaw!  I am a Wyoming girl after all.

So, for my backyard BBQ I’m gon’na play on my memories of this grand little shindig and add a little dude to it, ’cause I really don’t know no better (and yes, I know that was not proper English).

Here’s what I’m thinking for my City Slicker Cowboy BBQ party:

Horse2

Set up several bench type picnic tables in the backyard.  Cover them with red and white check tablecloths.  Set up a CD player with my favorite Country Western tunes, or set it on a good Country Western radio station – Sirius Satellite if you have it.

In the invitation ask guests to dress up in western apparel:  cowboy boots, cowboy hats, button up shirts with tight Levis and big belt buckles, or women’s shirts and skirts with Cadillac Cowgirl accessories.

Come ‘n Get It MENU

Marinated and grilled Tri-tip

Corn on the cob

Potato Salad

Boston Baked Beans

Coleslaw

Corn Bread

Lemonade

Coffee

Iced Tea

Peach Cobbler

By the way, isn’t this a cute idea for napkin holders?  I found a motherlode of bluejeans pockets at my local antique mall a while back and this is how I decided to put them to good use: 

MARINATED AND GRILLED TRI-TIP   (Serves approximately 8)

Marinade Ingredients

1 cup lemon juice
1 cup soybean oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup black pepper
1/2 cup garlic salt (recommended: Lawry’s)
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped dried onions

2 (4-pound) tri-tips, trimmed

Directions:

To make the marinade, mix all of the ingredients except for the beef in a large mixing bowl. Place the trimmed tri-tips in a plastic container and pour the marinade over. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Heat grill to medium temperature.

Place tri-tips on grill at a 45 degree angle to establish grill marks and cook about 35 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness. Remove the tri-tips from the grill and let rest about 2 to 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Corn on Cob

CORN ON THE COB

Ingredients

As many ears of sweet corn on the cob as number of guests

Butter (lots and lots of it)

Cajun Seasoned Salt, like Slap Ya’ Mama (or another favorite of mine is the wonderful Hatch Chili seasoning from Urban Accents that I got at Central Market in San Antonio, TX)

Directions:

Leave the corn in the husks and grill on the grill, about five to eight minutes per side until all sides are burned. Remove from grill and keep warm in oven on low (170 degree) heat.  When ready to serve cut the stem ends off completely about 1/4″ up the cob.  Let your guests peel the husks off by loosening the husks from the corn where the cob was cut.  Grab the silks end firmly and pull the husk off the cob.  The silks should slide out with the husks and you should be left with a nice clean cob of corn.

Now I have some dandy little plastic corn cups that fit a cob of corn perfectly.  Place a couple pats of butter in each dish and then about a teaspoon of seasoning sprinkled all down the length of it.  Lay the hot cobs of corn on top and roll them around until they are covered with seasoning and melted butter.  Offer little cob forks to make them easier to hold onto.

Potato Salad

POTATO SALAD (serves approximately 20)

Ingredients

12 large red potatoes cooked until tender and cubed, skins on or off as preferred

6 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

1 large red onion diced

6 stalks of celery chopped

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

1 small sprig of dill weed, chopped

1 bunch of green onions chopped

1 or 2 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, diced

Sauce Ingredients:

2 ½ cups Mayonnaise  (more or less, as you like it)

¼ cup red wine vinegar

3 tsp Iodized Sea Salt

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp pepper

 Directions:

Put first eight ingredients in a very large bowl.  Mix up sauce ingredients and pour over the ingredients in the bowl.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Optional additions:

Add 2 Tablespoons of mustard to finished potato salad.

Add a half-cup of blue cheese crumbles and a quarter cup of crispy crumbled bacon as a garnish on top of potato salad.

Baked Beans

BOSTON BAKED BEANS (serves approximately 8)

Ingredients

1 large package dried navy beans (or 6 cups)

2 bay leaves

8 cloves

1 large white onion, peeled

1 cup molasses

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons iodized sea salt

2 teaspoons pepper

2 cups boiling water

1 lb of salt pork

Directions:

Rinse the beans and soak overnight.  Drain and rinse the beans again.  Put in a large kettle and cover with fresh water to about ½ inch above the beans.  Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Simmer until tender, about 2 hours.  Drain. Place into a casserole dish.

Poke the cloves into the onion and add it to the beans.  Mix together the molasses, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Add the boiling water and stir to blend thoroughly.  Pour over the beans, adding more water if needed to almost cover the beans with liquid.

Push the piece of salt pork down into the beans until it disappears.  Cover beans and bake in a 275 degree oven for about 4 ½ hours.  Uncover and continue to bake another half hour.  Take the pork rind out and chop up into bite-sized pieces and return to casserole.  Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.  May also be served cold by allowing to cool and refrigerating overnight.

Cole Slaw Fruity

COLESLAW

Ingredients

1 head of green cabbage, shredded (approx. 8 cups)

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 cup grated celery

2 Fuji apples peeled, cored, and chopped

½ of a small white onion finely sliced

1 green bell pepper thinly sliced

3/4 cup of white raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Optional: caraway seed, ground (’cause that’s how my grandma made it)

Sauce Ingredients

1 ½ cups mayonnaise

¼ cup lemon juice, or white wine vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Place the first seven ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over veggies.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.  Just before serving sprinkle with slivered almonds and ground caraway seeds.  Serve within 2 hours for a crispier salad.  The salad will become more wilted the longer it marinates.

Mexican Beans
Cowboy Beans / Charro Beans (mmmm…one of my favorties)

CORN BREAD

Ingredients

2 boxes Krusteaz Honey Cornbread mix

1 1/3 cup of milk

4 eggs

1 (16 oz) can of creamed corn

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 Tablespoons diced jalapenos

2 green onions chopped finely

Directions:

Prepare 1 large 9 x 16-inch baking pan by lightly greasing with shortening or cooking spray.

In a large bowl blend all the batter ingredients until just moistened.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden on top and springs back when touched.

PEACH COBBLER (serves approx. 6)

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon ground mace

½ cup brown sugar

4 cups sliced peaches (fresh or frozen)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon butter

Topping Ingredients

1 ¼ cup flour

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons Baking powder

¼ cup butter, melted

1/3 cup milk

sugar cinnamon mixture

Directions:

Put first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and cook until thickened.  Add another Tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 3 Tablespoons water if needed for thickening.  Fresh and frozen peaches produce moisture.  If using canned peaches, drained, you won’t need any extra cornstarch.

Pour peach mixture into an oblong glass dish 8 x 12-inch that has been lightly greased with butter.

Place all topping ingredients in a bowl and mix together.  Dough should be very much like biscuit dough.

  Topping can be added to the peach mixture one of two ways.  Some like a peach cobbler with a topping that looks a lot like drop biscuits.  Others like a cobbler with a lattice topping like pie.  If you like the drop biscuit type then just take small spoonfuls of the batter and slide them off onto the peaches with your finger or a knife, dropping a small pile about ½-inch apart all over the top until all the batter is used up.

  If you like the lattice top, sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and pat out the dough with your hands, flipping to coat with flour.  With a floured rolling pin roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.  Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the dough into strips.  Lay one set of strips horizontally across the top of the peaches about an inch apart.  Pull every other strip back and lay in a vertical strip.  Lay the pulled back strips over it and pull back every other of the other strips.  Lay another strip in and lay the pulled back strips over it.  Repeat until you have a lattice pattern over the peaches.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes for drop biscuit topping, less for latice top, or until the crust is just golden and the filling is bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

COWBOY COFFEE

I’ve heard that in the olden days the cowboys would dump the grounds in with the water and set the pot on the fire to cook.  When the coffee was made they’d break an egg into the pot to round up the grounds.  Let’s be honest… that’s got’ta be the nastiest cuppa-joe on the planet.  We’re not doing that.  We’re just gon’na brew it in the old Mr. Coffee machine (or Keurig).  And since we’re sissy city slickers anyway let’s splurge and have some creamer – flavored creamer if you are one of those.  Serve it in little tin cups for looks.

lemonade

LEMONADE

I personally like the frozen Minute Maid concentrates the best.  I mix them up with twice as water as directed and then slice up several lemons and float the slices in the lemonade.  It will probably  need some more sugar (try 1 cup to start).  I like the pink lemonade with pulp.  And when I’m feeling really fancy, I add a bag of frozen strawberries (or raspberries, blackberries, even blue berries) to the pitcher.

If you are feeling really really fancy you can make Fruity Lemonade:  Fill a glass with a chunk or two each of the following fruits:  Watermelon slice, pineapple chunk, frozen strawberry, maraschino cherry, orange slice, lemon slice, lime slice, raspberries and a mint leaf.  Mingle the fruits with ice cubes and pour the lemonade over the top.  Serve with a striped straw.  When you are done drinking you have a nice little fruit salad to munch on.

For another change of pace I make Limeade from frozen concentrate, use club soda for the liquid – a little more than called for, add some sliced limes, just like I do for the lemonade. Plus, I add a jar or two of drained maraschino cherries to the pitcher.  Lip smackin’ good!

ICED TEA

1 gallon of fresh tap water

1 Family Size tea bag

sugar or other sweetener

I brew my tea in the sunshine.  I fill my freshly scoured sun tea jar with cold tap water and hang a Family-size Lipton teabag in it (folding the corner over the lip of the jar and holding it in place with the lid), screwing that lid on snuggly.  Then I set the whole business out on the back patio until the sun brews it a nice dark golden brown all the way to the bottom.  I hurry and bring it in and pull that teabag out, and since I like mine sort of sweet I add about a cup of sugar and stir it in while the tea is hot.  Ten I set the jar in the refrigerator to get cold.  I like my tea over a tall glass heaping with ice cubes.  Mmmm… mmmm…. mmmm, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Unless of course it’s…

MRS. H’S TEA

Not me, Mrs. H., but by BFF Treva’s mom, Mrs. H. — Mrs. Hendrickson.  She was bar-Nunn the best cook of the prairie.  Treva’s mom had a gallon container of this concoction in the fridge at all times when we were kids.  It was the number one requested beverage of all gatherings of kids in our school for all time.  It was always the first beverage to run out, and believe you me the party was over when that happened.

In a one-gallon pitcher add:

1 small can (6-oz) frozen lemonade concentrate (or spoon out half of a large can)

1 envelope Orange flavored Kool-aid, non-sweetened

5 Tablespoons Instant tea

1 ½ cups sugar

Add fresh cold water to the gallon mark

Stir until mixed.  Mrs. H. always poured hers into a clean gallon-sized plastic container like what distilled water and drinking water comes in, so she could cap it and store it in the fridge.  I always use a gallon size bottle of drinking water to make my tea, so I will have the container to make my tea –  just like Treva’s mom had.  This tea just goes with everything.  You’re gon’na love it.

Now, what to do after grub time…

Karaoke

Set up a “stage” using bales of hay, and after dinner let your guests have a go at some Country Western Karaoke.

Cowboy Poetry

Ask your guests to do a little research before the party and round up some cowboy poetry.  Perhaps your guests are poets-and-didn’t-know-its and would care to take a dare and write some lines of rhymes on their own times and bring ’em. Gather everyone around the fire pit or bonfire and let him or her take turns sharing the funniest and cleverest.  Roast marshmallows and invite your guitar-playing buddy to lead the gang in some prairie tunes, like Home, Home on the Range.  It will be a little like camping. 🙂

Cowboy Poetry, by Hal Cannon

Cowboy Poetry Classics, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Sep 13, 2005)

Coyote Cowboy Poetry, by Baxter Black (Hardcover – Oct 1, 1986)

Elko! A Cowboy’s Gathering, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Jan 25, 2005)

Cactus Tracks and Cowboy Philosophy, by Baxter F. Black (Paperback – Oct 1, 1998)

Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, by Charlie Seemann and Virginia Bennett (Paperback – Jan 20, 2004)

 (And there are tons of others.  Type “Cowboy Poetry” into the search box at Amazon.com)

Also, try this website: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/yours.htm#Classic

We are lucky in our family that we have Harold.  He’s my cousin-in-law who dabbles a bit in cowboy poetry, among his many other talents.  He wrote a poem once about MUSTANGS that I just love.  It’s actually best when he tells it, live and sitting around a campfire.  I’ve lost my copy that Sonya sent one Christmas and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.  We got together for a family reunion a couple summers ago and he told of few of his poems while we were all sitting around after dinner.  Darn-it, where’s a video camera when you need one?

MUSTANGS by Harold Anderson

Games

Horseshoes & Steer Roping

Definitely set up a horseshoe pit (see Family Reunion chapter for how to set up a horseshoe pit), and even a sawhorse mounted steer head for some roping practice.

Target Practice and Knife Throwing

Set up a target strapped to a tree for knife throwing competitions, or line the fence with pop cans for some target practice.  If you live in the city use rubber band guns or a Red Ryder BB gun.  It will be a hoot, I promise!

Rubber Band Gun vendors:

http://www.backyardartillery.com/rbguns/

http://www.firewheel.com.au/fw/index.aspx  (really cool gun!)

Gunnysack races

Be sure and pick up some gunnysacks for races at your local farm and ranch store (like Murdocks), and maybe even a small horse trough filled with water and a half a box of apples, so the kids can bob for apples.

Needle in a Haystack

Make a big haystack and hide some treasures in it for the kids to find.

Rope Tricks

Make sure you have some lassos so your guests can learn some rope tricks.  Here’s how to do them:  http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/spin_rope/index.htm

Rodeo Race

This is a team relay race so divide your group into however many teams of equal number and be prepared with a stopwatch to time them.  At the starting line is a giant stick horse, a cowboy hat, and a neckerchief.  At the whistle the first person on the team has to put on the gear and ride the stick horse through the rodeo arena.  First they’ll zigzag through the pole bending, at the end of the poles are the barrels, which they must circle each one without knocking ’em over.  They’ll ride from the last barrel to the waiting rider, hopping and kicking like they’re on a bucking bronc to the finish line.  The next rider has to put on the gear and repeat the process (in reverse) to the waiting team member at the other end.  Whichever team finishes in the quickest time wins.

Square Dancing or Line Dancing

Remember when we all had to learn to square dance in P.E. class at school when we were kids?  You always wondered where in the world you would ever use that in life – well…right here, at your Cowboy BBQ, that’s where.  Clear an area for the Square Dance and see how much you remember.  Get a Square Dance CD to refresh your memory if it has faded over the years from lack of use.  Or, if you’d rather, learn a couple of line dances and teach them to your guests.  There is a wonderful line dance video out there that you can use to teach yourself and your guests.

Square Dance Fun for Everyone (2 CDs and Booklet) – Kimbo; Audio CD

Let’s All Square Dance – Various Artists; Audio CD

A Quick Start Guide to Line Dancing (Shawn Trautman’s Learn to Dance Series) – Shawn Trautman; DVD

Harmonica

Give each guest a harmonica and give everyone time to pick out a tune… then have a contest and pick the winner of the best tune.

Play Harmonica in One Hour, Featuring Bobby Joe Holman by Bobby Joe Holman (DVD – Nov 29, 2005)

Movies

After dinner, how about a nice outdoor movie under the stars?  Drag the TV outside on the patio.  Gather all the lawn chairs around it.  Wrap everybody up in a saddle blanket or sleeping bag, and let’s watch an old western.  Pick a movie, any movie:

The Shootist                Tombstone                  Silverado                     Quigley Down Under

The Cowboys              Tom Horn                    Open Range                The Quick and the Dead

True Grit                     Bite the Bullet             Wyatt Earp                  The Sons of Katie Elder

Pale Rider                   El Dorado                   Nevada Smith             Long Riders

Paint Your Wagon      Outlaw Josey Wales    Once Upon a Time in the West

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance             Young Guns                The Magnificent Seven

Maverick                     Urban Cowboy           8 Seconds                    Unforgiven

Rank

Pure Country               Lonesome Dove (ummm… that’s a little bit long to watch in a night)

Campfire Stories

And when we’re done with that, how about sitting around a campfire and telling stories, roasting marshmallows, or singing to the guitar until everyone is snoring?

Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)

More Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)

The Kids Campfire Book: Official Book of Campfire Fun (Family Fun), by Jane Drake, Ann Love, and Heather Collins (Paperback – Jun 12, 2001)

I personally love Patrick McManus

Board Games

Here is the short list of some “Cowboy” themed board and card games if you’d like to give them a try.  Look for them online at Board Game Revolution and Amazon.com.

Cowboys: The Way of the Gun

Wyatt Earp (card game)

Snorta!  New Edition from MATTEL (I hear this one is hysterically fun)

The Farming Game by Weekend Farmer

Racing ‘N Rodeo Board Game, by Weekend Farmer

Late for the Sky Rodeo-Opoly, by Late for the Sky

Life on the Farm, by WeRfun.com

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Well, partner, I reckon I better run off now and git something done with myself.  Been sittin’ here at this dern computer most of the morning.  Can’t wait to get this party started with you.  Happy Trails!!!

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 “Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves.  And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” 

John 18:18

Feast of Booths

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Feast of Booths

Continuing with our study of the feasts of Israel is this, our final feast, the Feast of Tabernacles.  If you have missed the other studies, you may click the links here:

The Lord Our Passover (Passover & Unleavened Bread)

FIRSTFRUITS

Happy Firey Tongues Day (The Feast of Weeks – Pentecost)

Feast of Trumpets

Feast of Atonement & The Lamb’s Book of Life

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My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  Ezekiel 37:27 (NKJV)

THE FIRST TABERNACLE

Do you remember the story in the Old Testament where Moses went on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from God, but returned only to find the Hebrew people had constructed a golden calf all that time he was gone, and were worshipping it?  Aaaargh!!!!  I think Moses was pretty much at his wits end with them.  He angrily tossed and broke those stone tablets, and went straight to burn their stupid idol (32:20).  In his frustration he went out and met with the Lord in a tent far away from the camp.  He called it the tabernacle of meeting (33:7) and there God and he talked things out.  The Lord asked Moses to come back up on the mountain and He would show him what to do.

When Moses returned to the mountain, God gave him instructions for building a Tabernacle of worship for the people, so that they could have Him with them in their wilderness wanderings.  God made Himself accessible to the people.

Later, on in the timeline of history, when David became king, he sought to build God a permanent dwelling place, where the Ark of the Covenant (from all the way back in Moses’ day) could be kept.  His son Solomon fulfilled his father’s vision, and the temple was built in Jerusalem.

Through the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8; 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12) and the construction of the temple (1 Kings 6:13, 14; 2 Chronicles 6:18), God demonstrated again and again an outward expression of His persistent desire to dwell with man. But we are to make no mistake… These tabernacles were only temporary provisions. God’s word tells us that He does not dwell “in temples made with hands.” (Isaiah 66:1-2; Acts 7:48-50; 17:24, 25 cp. Jeremiah 7:4; Matthew 24:1, 2) (*http://www.dianedew.com/habitatn.htm)

 

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”    1 Kings 8:27 (NKJV)

 

God’s house on earth was regularly robbed and desecrated by evil kings throughout the Old Testament.  And even in the New Testament religious people of that day were using it in ways that God never intended.  Jesus overturned tables when He found that people were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.

In 70 AD God’s Tabernacle (Temple) on earth was finally destroyed for the last time when the Holy Land was conquered and God’s people were scattered over the face of the earth.  It has never been rebuilt.  All that remains is the western wall, where orthodox Jews and people from around the world go to pray and press their paper petitions into the cracks between the stones.

HISTORY OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES

Though God’s tabernacle on earth was misused and eventually destroyed, The Father never wanted His people to forget about His dwelling place, because it was after all a copy and shadow of things to come. The design that He showed to Moses on that mountain was and is a copy and shadow of His tabernacle in heaven (Hebrews chapter 8 and 9; Revelation 21).  The purpose of the tabernacle is to give man a place on his/her level to meet with our Maker, for the purpose of fellowship!  A place where we can remember the covenant God has made with us, lay down our sins, learn of His will and His ways, and sup with Him!  The ritual of “church” is a practice that, in it’s very best, gives us a picture of heaven.  Our modern “church” is rooted out of an ancient Hebrew practice ordained by God…

 

“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.”

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 (NKJV)

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If you would like to have this coloring page, click the FREE PRINTABLE link below.

jewish-sukkah-free-printable

The Jewish Feast of Ingathering or Feast of Booths, as it is sometimes called, is the last of the yearly feasts of Israel.  It takes place in the fall, at the end (or ingathering) of the fruit harvest.

In modern Hebrew culture, The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is celebrated by God’s children who first put up a Sukkah (like a gazebo with an open air roof) in the days leading up to the feast date.  It can be built on a porch (as long as the porch does not have a roof of any kind), or in a back yard (as long as its location is open to the sky and not sheltered under any tree cover).  The Sukkah can be made of an existing structure, as long as the roof is replaced entirely with “sechach,” which is vegetable matter that has not previously been used for any other purpose.  It must be four sided, with one side open for entering and exiting.  The roof cannot be premade – it must be newly constructed of twigs and branches of palms collected for that particular Sukkah that year.  Inside is a table, and all the family meals are taken in the Sukkah for the entire holiday.  Guests are invited and encouraged.

The week-long feast of Tabernacles is book-ended between two Sabbath days of rest – Leviticus 16:30-31; 23:34, 41.  On the first day of the feast the people of Israel were to “take the foliage of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and use them for the roof, and also offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, and rejoice before the Lord for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40,36).  All native Israelites were to go out and dwell in these booths for the seven days of the feast to remind them of their ancestors wandering in the wilderness.

(For more info please visit this terrific website!)

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EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US

As with all the feasts, Jesus is the pivotal point on which they all are hinged.  Each of the feasts are a copy and shadow of things to come.

The first four feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost) happen in the spring and summer, and each has been fulfilled by Jesus, our Passover Lamb without spot or blemish, the Resurrection and the Life, the Bridegroom of the church, our Messiah.

Three feasts remain: Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

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Click here for the fall-feasts-free-printable

The ultimate fulfillment of the last three feasts, as it appears, will be when Jesus sounds His trumpet at the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) and gathers His elect “from the peoples” (Eze. 11:17) – the rapture; atones for His chosen (Yom Kippur), taking the sacrifice from the cross and sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat in heaven (Lev.16:3, 14; Rom. 5:9-11), permanently penning the names of those atoned for in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  And then gathering us, His bride, the elect, and the church, from the heavens, from one end of heaven to the other, to gather us from the many mansions (Sukkot) He has built in His Father’s house (where we will be kept safe from the great tribulation to come)…

For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock. 

Psalm 27:5 (NKJV)

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…to His great Tabernacle in the New Jerusalem.

“And there we shall all ever be with Him…” (1 Thes. 4:17)

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The Wedding Feast

To understand the Feast of Tabernacles with a little more clarity, I feel like we need to understand the Jewish Wedding customs.  I see the two of them just so very intimately intertwined.

In the Old Testament, it was the custom for a son, or his family, to choose a bride.  Having made a choice, the son would then go to the father of the bride and negotiate a “bride price” or dowry.  Once the dowry was paid, the son would ask for the bride’s hand in marriage, seal the covenant with a sip of wine, and place a ring on her finger.  The two were engaged at this point, or in Jewish terms, betrothed.  It was a legally binding agreement.

The groom then left his bride and returned to his father’s house where he would begin building a home for the two of them.  This home was built in his father’s estate.  As you can imagine the groom was anxious to go back and get his bride and get the show on the road, but the son would not be allowed to go back until his father approved of the house that he had built.

When the house that the son built finally passed his father’s inspection and approval, the father would give the son permission to go back and get his bride.

When he went to retrieve his bride, while he was still a ways off, he and his groomsmen would begin shouting, and even blowing a trumpet to alert her.  The bride was supposed to be dressed, packed, and ready to depart at a moment’s notice.  She was to have an oil lamp ready, and all of her bride’s maids as well, in case he came at night.  In her time of waiting she was to remain consecrated, set apart, and bought with a price. And when the groom arrived with his groomsmen, they would then snatch the bride away and begin a joyous procession to the father’s house.  This would alert the townsfolk and bride’s families that the wedding was taking place, and they were all invited to come.

At the father’s house the bride and groom exchanged rings and vows were spoken.  Afterward, the two of them would disappear into the house he had made for them, and there they would remain for seven days.  They were not considered married until the marriage was consummated (John 3:29).  The bride and groom remained in the chamber and spent that time getting to know each other in every intimate way.  The wedding guests continued to celebrate with feasting and drinking wine and dancing until the seven days were finally ended and the bride and groom could share in a grand feast together.

If you are familiar with the scriptures it’s easy to see so many illustrations of Jesus and the church in this beautiful tradition.  If you are not familiar, I encourage you to seek the scriptures for yourself.

First, we are a chosen bride:

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  1 Peter 2:9

“For I [Paul] am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.  2Corinthians 11:2

Jesus made a covenant with His apostles (Passover/Last Supper) that passed on to all who of us who have believed and received Christ as Lord.  At the Last Supper Jesus said, “This is my blood of the everlasting covenant, which is poured for many.”

The dowry He paid for His bride, the church, was His suffering and death on the cross (Unleavened Bread/Crucifixion/Passion of the Christ).  “But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”  1 Peter 1:19 (AMPC)   It was a high price, but greater love hath no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends.

The figurative ring that Jesus placed on His bride’s finger is the deposit of the Holy Spirit into our hearts when we accept His proposal.  He set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  And He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  (2 Cor. 1:22 & Ephesians 1:13-14)

It is the seal, the promise, guaranteeing He will return for us someday.  Jesus told His disciples it was to their advantage that He go to heaven, because unless He went, the Holy Spirit could not come back.  The Holy Spirit is the betrothment, the signed contract.

When Jesus told his disciples that “in my Father’s house are many mansions” ( ) and “no man knows the day or the hour of my return, only the Father,” ( ) they understood the symbolism parallel with the wedding custom.

When the apostles preached that Jesus would return with a shout, and a trumpet (1 Thes) to gather up His bride, the Jewish people of that day HAD to have begun to see the mystery of the gospel, as I pray we do.

The feast of Trumpets is fulfilled by the rapture (gathering up and snatching away) of the church (all the believers of the earth) – the Bride of Christ.  And the feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled when the church dwells in heaven in our little sukkah’s (booths, tabernacles) that our Bridegroom has built for us, to keep us safe for the last seven of Daniel’s prophesy – the great tribulation.

Jesus was Jewish, and He used things familiar to Jews to teach kingdom principles; the Jewish people got their customs from the Father to begin with.  It is all patterned after things in heaven.  When we draw the veil back on those Jewish traditions, it gives light to our understanding of the scriptures and how Jesus fulfills all of them.  Oh how I would love to be adopted into a Messianic Jewish family and to know the ways and practices of the people of my Lord.  How I appreciate the knowledge of my Jewish brothers and sisters like Zola Levitt and others, whose wisdom I draw upon heavily in my understanding of the scriptures.

Who is the bride and who are the guests?  I believe I am interpreting Zola Levitt correctly that the bride is the raptured church (Christians and Messianic Jews), and the guests are the family of the Father (the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) who repent as a nation (at their feast of Atonement) of their rejection of their Messiah.

It’s maybe a little odd of me, but I am thankful for Israel’s unfaithfulness (the Father knew they would be – as Hosea’s wife was), because it allowed me, YOU (and all Gentiles), the blessed opportunity to be grafted into the promise, and a new covenant, and to share in that great feast in God’s tabernacle in the New Jerusalem at the end of the age.

 

The Lord’s Time Fully Come

jesuswaterintowineI’ve often wondered about the two places in scripture where Jesus draws back from participating in a certain activity, saying My time has not fully come. The first instance was at the wedding in Cana when Mary, His mother, asked Him to show His works and do something about the lack of wine. Jesus told her His time had not fully come, but obeyed His mother, and did His works in secret. I believe His reluctance to manifest a miracle with wine (especially the wine for a wedding banquet) was because He is saving himself for THE WINE that will be shared with us at THE WEDDING FEAST in heaven…the fulfillment of the Last Supper, which He told his disciples He would not drink of until we are all able to drink it with Him, at His table, in His kingdom.

sukkot_feast-of-tabernaclesThe second time Jesus made that statement (in John 7), His brothers were getting ready to go the Feast of Tabernacles and pushing Him to also go and show His works to the people. Jesus told them to go without Him, as His time had not fully come. Jesus did end up going, but secretly. Hebrews 8:2 tells us, the true tabernacle is with God and not men. Jesus was well aware of the many mansions (Sukkahs, tabernacles) that await us in His kingdom. Our Lord observed the feasts on earth knowing they have a fulfillment in heaven. He has slipped away to prepare our places, that where He is we may be also, and He is waiting for His Father’s command to return for us, His bride.

His time fully comes in that day, when we shall sup with Him in His tabernacle, and He with us.

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“Come away with Me…” Mark 6:31 (NKJV)

 

…is an invitation that Jesus continues to extend to anyone who can hear His voice.  It is the essence of “Tabernacles” to come out from the lives we’ve built for ourself and commune with God.

In Jesus the intent of God’s heart is fulfilled. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt (or, tabernacled) among us…” (John 1:14) His name was called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God With Us.” (Matthew 1:23) The tabernacle of Moses was only a type of “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man…” (Hebrews 8:2, 5; 9:25) “… Behold, the tabernacle (the abode) of God is with man, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people …” (Revelation 21:3)

God’s ultimate intention, however, has been to make His abode within the heart of every believer (John 14:23). Jesus promised that the same Spirit that “dwelleth with you … shall be in you.” (John 14:17) His place of habitation is within His people: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.” (Zechariah 2:10)

In Old Testament times the Spirit of God would “come and go” – His Presence would enter, bless, and depart (Numbers 9:15-23; 11:25; 2Chronicles 5:13-14). Yet the Lord longed for a place in which He might continually dwell, or make His abode. “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation … here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Psalms 132:13, 14)  (*http://www.dianedew.com/habitatn.htm)

 

 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”  John 15:4-6 (NKJV)

 

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  John 15:2 (NKJV)

 

“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”   Matthew 3:10-12 (NKJV)

 

“And the fire will test each one’s work (our Firstfruits), of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”   1 Corinthians 3:13-17 (NKJV)

 

“Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’  Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved to the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”  Romans 11:25-29 (NKJV)

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So while our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, gathered around tables inside their little outdoor huts, covered with palm branches, let us all remember, our bodies are the temple of the Lord, and let us eagerly look forward to the ingathering (harvest of souls) that shall take place, and the great supper that the Lord is preparing, where we will ALL share that communion cup with Jesus finally, after all this time.

 

‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’”

Revelation 19:9 (NKJV)

 

“Surely I am coming quickly.”  Revelation 22:20 (NKJV)

 

 

FIRSTFRUITS

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FIRSTFRUITS

Are you ready to accompany me on another captivating adventure into the Biblical Feasts of Israel? Are you as addicted to this series of adventures as I am?  If you missed our first excursion into the Biblical holidays of the Hebrews, please get your passport up to date by clicking on the link under recent posts (or here: The Lord Our Passover) to catch up, and then be sure to come back here for FIRSTFRUITS, the second stop on our tour.

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“For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.”  Romans 11:16

The Firstfruits observance rose out of the sawdust of the construction of the very first ever “church” (the tabernacle) and its priesthood. The Hebrew people, wandering in the desert, on their way to the Promised Land, were instructed to give their first best of their first spring crops to God and in return God would bless their spring harvests. He would also use these offerings and tithes to fund the operation and ministries of His house on earth.

“But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses…to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.”  There you shall take your offerings, your sacrifices, and your tithes. “And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 12:5-7)

God established that His people (the Hebrews) seek His dwelling place (the tabernacle), and go there, packing their tithes and offerings, partaking of the communion (which had been established between Melchizedek king of Salem and Abraham their ancestor in Genesis 14:18-20), and there rejoice before the Lord.

“And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.

And you shall go to the priest in those days…then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. And you shall say…I remember what you delivered me from ‘and now behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’

Then you shall set it before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.

When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase…and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled…then you shall say, ‘I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me.

Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people…’”
(Deuteronomy 26:1-15)

According to Leviticus 23:9-12, the priest would wave a sheaf of green barley from each offering of the new harvest before the LORD (north, south, east, and west); a male lamb was then sacrificed as a burnt offering to the LORD; there was also a grain offering of unleavened bread made with oil, and a drink offering of wine.

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Green barley

16 Firstfruits

I took this photo of a crop of wheat growing in a field near my house.  The farmers all around me planted winter wheat in their fields last year.  When spring came, with perfect warm and dry conditions, most of them were counting their chickens, as the saying goes, hoping to cash in on the terrible, relentless drought we were suffering with exactly the right low maintenance/minimum water required crop.  I enjoyed watching as the beautiful fields of green slowly began turning amber gold, and the warm Texas sun dutifully accomplished its work.

One late afternoon weeks before the harvest those still green grains got bent over and blown down by a tornado and wind squalls.  The gusts mischievously pounded the crops with down drafts in the night while we were all sleeping, and in the morning when we rose the fields looked as if aliens had crafted crop circles in the night, or as if herds of elephants had bedded down in the middle of them.  Every field was sculpted with strange mazes and patterns of wheat pinned to the ground in random fashion.  The farmers kept their optimism that their crops were still harvestable.

Just when the wheat was almost perfectly aged and ripe for harvest, south Texas got smashed with a month of flooding rains.  Inches and inches of rain.  Rain that carried houses away, washed bridges away, washed all our firewood and even our picnic table away, and filled up all the lakes and rivers to overflowing.  The wheat fields sat in standing bogs.  After a few weeks the amber waves, well, what remained of them, began turning a grayish tan.  Even so, the farmers held out hope that the sun would come out, dry everything out, and there would still be something enough to salvage.

The sun did eventually come out. The wheat did eventually dry out.  When the wheat was finally dehydrated enough for harvest the farmers turned the key on their gargantuan tractors, and lowered their combine blades down to the ground to rake up their pitiful, drowned, and wind damaged wheat.  The blades dragged across rocks and hard clumps of dirt, in an attempt to reap every kernel possible.  The damage to their equipment ended up exceeding the small pittance they netted from those fields.  There was little to no profits that year, only tax write-offs and equipment repairs.

So when I read this scripture about green barley I realized that there is still a lot of faith to be had between green FIRSTFRUITS and that actual golden harvest, at least in south Texas.

“Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the firsfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” Proverbs 3:9-10.

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And try me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake, so that he will not destroy the fruit…” Malachi 3:10-11.

“Do not think that I [Jesus] have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:17-20

The Firstfruits Resurrection

Now, here again is a mystery which gambols and pirouettes on the chiastic ring structure of scripture – the focal point of all the mysteries, Jesus!  Let’s begin with the amazing coincidence that Jesus, our male Lamb, sacrificed, arose from the grave on the very day of Firstfruits – three days after Passover/Unleavened Bread.

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order; Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

So, not only did Jesus rise again, but as He did, He waved a “firstfruits” offering to His Father in heaven, as our High Priest, passing through the rent curtain of the Holy of Holies on earth and entering the Holy of Holies in heaven.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Matthew 27:50-53

We learned in the Passover study that Jesus’ body is the unleavened bread, pierced, striped, and broken for us.  His shed blood is the wine of the new covenant.  When we partake of the communion, we remember His sacrifice until that day when He shall eat and drink it anew with us at the wedding feast of the Lamb, in His kingdom.

“We have a High Priest, (in the order of Melchizedek Gen. 14:18 ) who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” Hebrews 8:1,2,5.

Jesus is the first-begotten of the Father (Heb. 1:6); the Firstborn of Creation (Col. 1:15-16); the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5) and is the Firstfruits of those who are to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20-23). And just as He is our Firstfruits, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (James 1:18).

There are 50 days between the waving of the green barley and the next “firstfruits offering, the waving of the two loaves of wheat bread. Those fifty days are called “the counting of the Omer.” Each day of the Omer a sheaf of grain is waved by the priest before God.

“So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Our High Priest, Jesus, spent the first 40 of the counting of the omer showing Himself to His disciples and others, by many infallible proofs. He spent the time preparing His disciples, telling them He would be gone for a while, and though they grieved over it, it was to their advantage that He go, for unless He went He could not send the Holy Spirit back for them. He instructed them that after He was gone to go and take their place in the city and wait until they were given the seal of promise. Then He went to the Mount of Olives where He bid farewell to all and a cloud hid Him away. His beloved disciples then went and waited, as instructed, as we also must, for the promise of their redemption.

“…but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23)  

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

The green barley was the waving of the firstfruits – and corresponds to the resurrection of the O.T. Saints. The Lord descended into Paradise after His death on the cross to preach the gospel to them, and sprinkle His blood on the mercy seat for them, and they were resurrected.

The two loaves that are waved at Shavuot/Pentecost represent Jew and Gentile, who are commissioned by Jesus to take the gospel (plant and water seeds, in the fields which are white for harvest) to all the word. Jesus waved them to the north, south, east, and west. It has taken 2000 years, but the gospel had to be preached in all the world as a prerequisite for Jesus to return for His bride. When our job is complete, He will rapture the living and resurrect the dead of His church (N.T. Saints).

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

Our Lord has gone to make a place for us! His promise that He will return for us is the seal of the Holy Spirit, which came at Shavuot/Pentecost, at the firstfruits of the wheat. We accept His bridal contract when we ask Jesus to live in our hearts and take His cup (communion). The dowry He paid was His blood on the cross. The Bridal gift that He left is the gift of the Holy Spirit who can only come to live in us when we are made clean by His blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies in heaven.

Acts 2 was the “early rains” upon the fields. There will also be “latter rains” poured out, Joel 2:28-29 just before the Lord comes for His church. The wise virgins had their lamps full of this, but the foolish did not. See the blog post about the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (in the list of recent posts on the right side of this page).

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There is a famous credit card commercial on TV that asks, “What’s in your wallet?”  In the same vein I ask,

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“What’s in your BASKET?”

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This is the question on my heart now every time I walk down the isles of the big box stores at Easter, strolling among the purple baskets, green baskets, yellow baskets, pink baskets, and blue baskets…baskets filled with candy and toys…baskets for little girls and little boys…baskets filled with grass and eggs.  Longaberger baskets, Peterboro baskets, and great big Texas baskets filled and decorated with bread, or flowers, or fruit, used as centerpieces on our dining room tables.  What’s in your basket?  What do you have to present to the Lord?

Jolee Wheat

With our High Priest now seated in His heavenly sanctuary, what firstfruits will we present to Him in our baskets?

There is one thing I know, we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out when we die (1 Timothy 6:7).  Not our riches.  Not our fame.  Not our social calendar.  Not our church attendance.  The only things to follow us to heaven are the souls of people whom we have invited to the great banquet, AND our other good deeds, which were done in obedience, and in secret, without fanfare, if they survive the fire (done out of love) – 1 Corinthians 3:14-15.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

“And he who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” John 4:36.

I wonder, could the firstfruits in our baskets be the PEOPLE whom we’ve brought to the house of God (church), shared our faith with, helped in times of need, and fed and fellowshipped with around our tables?

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Are my firstfruits fireproof?

Why was Cain’s offering not accepted (Genesis 4:3-5)?  I believe there is a big hint in the wording of the scriptures that tells us he gave an offering, but it was not of his “first” fruits.   Abel’s offering, on the other hand, was of the “first” born of his flocks.

Also…

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:1-4

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”  Matthew 23:23  “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:20

And perhaps the biggest of all, if we do the good we know to do out of obligation rather than love, we may as well not done anything at all (1 Corinthians 13:3).  Love suffers long, is kind, does not envy, doesn’t parade itself, and if not puffed up.  It doesn’t behave rudely, seek it own, or easily provoked.  It thinks no evil.  It doesn’t rejoice in other people’s misery, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails.

Something the Holy Spirit put in my heart to consider also is Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled with your brother, then come and offer your gift.”

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works follow them” Revelation 14:13.

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I’m excited for our next adventure in the feasts (the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost).  You’ll find it under the title: Happy Firey Tongues Day!  Come take your place at my Lord’s table, and let us sup together these blessed feasts that the Lord has laid out for us in His word.  Let us be rich and well fed on the Word that we may have hope for our future!

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“Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21