Monday, September 29, 2014

Amazing Salmon Bisque

So, I brought out my boots and socks today and tossed the flip-flops aside. Just a little sign that I’m officially ready for fall (even though we’re expecting hot, dry Santa Ana winds down in our area later this week…grumble and growl). I love all things autumn, but it looks like I'll have to wait a few more days.

I also especially love Mondays; it’s my errand day. Grocery shopping day. My pay the bills day. Buy massive quantities of bird seed day. AND…it’s also cook and bake and don’t be afraid to try new recipes day J And today was no exception.

I noticed a box of seafood stock in my pantry this morning so the wheels started turning. I threw this together today after all the groceries were put away (after I’d made the recipe in my head about 14 times, LOL) and I’m happy to share it with you. My measurements aren’t exact – you’ll have to be the judge, depending on how large your fillets are.

What you’ll need:
3-4 small to medium Salmon fillets (Not whole fillets - I just used packaged, frozen fillets)
1 shallot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced small
½ red bell pepper, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. flour
26 oz. seafood stock
2 c. white wine
1 c. heavy cream
¾ of small container sour cream
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
Seafood seasoning (I used Old Bay)
Olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Pour a Tbsp. or so of olive oil in a large pot (with a lid). Cook salmon fillets, both sides. Season with your favorite seafood seasoning. Once cooked, removed from pot and set aside.
In same pot, scrape up little bits of salmon from bottom. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and a pat of butter. Sautee shallots, bell better and celery until translucent. Add a little salt and pepper while cooking. Add minced garlic and cook another minute or so, but don’t let garlic brown.
Add white wine. Bring to a slow boil and cook until liquid reduces by about half (about 7-8 minutes).
Reduce heat and sprinkle flour over mixture. Cook a few minutes to thicken (I use a whisk to mix it in well). Add tomato paste, rosemary and red pepper flakes and mix.
Whisk in seafood stock and bring back to a boil. Add heavy cream and sour cream. Mix well.
Break salmon into pieces and add to the pot.
I used an emulsion blender to blend it all together and thicken it.
Add Italian parsley.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

He Who Set the Stars in Place

It was early, but not too early for an ohmygosh moment.

This morning, just after 6am, I stepped outside with Willy, my recovering-from-surgery dog. (He’s such a sweetie). Anyway, once he’d finished what he went out there for, I happened to look up….a deep sigh for the day(s) ahead and an unpleasant, impending event.

And there it was.

In a clear, midnight-blue sky…before sunlight, before the rush of the day…a single star burning bright as anything and refusing to give up its light.

A burning reminder that the One who set that particular star in place so long ago and then held it there, suspended by the very breath of Him even to this day, so high up yet so seemingly close I could almost reach out and touch it…fashioned my heart with the same hands. From something so magnificent for all the world to see clear down to something so minute and small as MY heart, MY life, MY cares and concerns. He – the God of wonders - created it all.

Instead of feeling really small compared to the star, I suddenly felt just as big and just as important standing there with my sweet dog on a leash in the clear, cool of a fresh new morning.

And I wanted to shout right there next to the chicken coop in my pajamas and morning hair, “That’s MY God! That’s what MY God can do!” He alone takes us low and small and broken and holds us up as His dearly loved children and makes us new and promises unconditional love and redemption and grace and salvation and space reserved just for us in His house with many rooms (John 14:2) and He makes us shine like those stars for Him!

He alone makes all things new.

It’s never too early…nor too late…for an ohmygosh moment.

Sometimes, we simply have to look up.

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
(Psalm 40:5)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Welcome the Scent of Fall

The past couple of weeks have been exhausting. It seems I’m never completely “done” checking off all the boxes when I finally fall into bed at night. Yesterday was no exception.

I’d spent the day running errands, cleaning, shopping, laundry…the usual Saturday stuff. I must have passed by the bunch of over-ripe bananas sitting in the basket 100 times thinking, “I really need to make some banana bread,” until finally last night…after dinner and after dishes and after dogs were fed and all was taken care of…the exhaustion of these past weeks sort of melted away when the heavenly aroma of banana nut bread filled the house.

I was given this recipe several years ago by another mom when our girls were in pre-school together, and I’ve used it ever since (and our girls are still best of friends). It’s a simple and basic recipe and will definitely bring glorious fall into your home.

What you’ll need:
¾ c. sugar                                          5 Tbsp. stick margarine
2 eggs                                                1/3 c. water
3-4 medium ripe bananas, mashed  1 tsp. baking soda 
1 2/3 c. flour                                       ¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt                                           ½ c. chopped nuts
2 tsp. vanilla


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 8” round baking pan (I made 8 mini loaves and had enough left over to fill a small square pan for the loaf pictured). Mix sugar and margarine. Stir in eggs until blended. Add bananas and water, beat 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts just until moistened; stir in nuts. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (about 20 minutes for the mini loaves; 45 minutes for the larger pan size). Cool 5 minutes before slicing. Freezes well! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lessons Learned from a Mini-Dachshund

I never realized I could learn so much from my mini-dachshund.
Willy had surgery recently to repair a ruptured disc in his back. He was in agony and paralyzed in his hind quarters.
Despite the vet’s cautious optimism and the raised eyebrows of the many nurses who treated him, Willy is proving that through his determination, he’s going to beat the “50/50 chance” to ever walk again. He’s incredible and getting stronger each day!
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

Willy has shown me that it’s not enough to simply “want” something. You have to think past the pain and into the victory; to pull yourself up on wobbly legs, maybe listing to the left or to the right but never losing focus of the end result. Maybe the process isn’t pretty or graceful; maybe even a little humiliating, but it’s necessary to meet the goal. And, like the many prayers that have helped him heal and find strength to move forward, those prayers turn to rejoicing when we can stand without help and run on our own!
I praise God for the many practical ways He speaks to my heart.

And I praise Him for the work He’s doing in my sweet Willy.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Sharing my article in today's paper

Hello, friends!

I hope you have a great weekend planned. I'm slowly mustering the motivation to tackle the linen closet (and maybe even work a little in the garage???). The closet has become a scramble of sheets and pillow cases of various shapes and sizes and I can't stand it anymore. So wish me luck - I'm goin' in! If I come out alive, I might post some "before and after" pics...we'll see.

I just wanted to share my article from today's paper. Be safe, well and blessed!

God is good...ALL the time :)


Read it here

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Coffee Break with Deb (9/10/14)

It’s a warm day, but my afternoon coffee still tastes just as wonderful. A few stolen moments in between the rush and the hurry to relax and stare out the window does wonders for a mind spinning with thoughts and concerns.
It’s hurt, confusion and frustration that keeps jabbing at my joy these past weeks; a sharp reminder of things unsettled, questions left unanswered.
But my sweet and very wise friend told me something recently and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. She said, “You are not defined by what others think of you! You are who God says you are!”
I hope you find comfort in those words as I have.
God knows your whole story down to every last detail. He’s walked beside you down the path that’s led you to your “now.” It’s His judgment that matters – not the judgment of those whose vision of you is blurred.
God sees you with clarity right through to your soul; from the smile you throw on to get you through the hard days clear down to your hurting heart.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)
He alone has been with you from the very beginning and He’ll be with you to the end…and every tear in between.

Be blessed, my friend.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hold On!

I always seem to be about a season ahead of the calendar. Maybe it’s because I’m always thinking ahead for the magazine; always mentally planning out the next issue (CW Voice).
But really, I’ve always been this way; breaking out the apple and cinnamon candles in late August and decorating for Christmas as soon as I put the Halloween candy away. Maybe that’s why I can still find joy in baking and cooking even when it’s 85 degrees outside and I’ve got windows open and fans spinning. Because in my mind, I can still “feel” fall coming on. I smile at the leaves shedding their green coats and stepping into brighter, more festive attire. As soon as there’s a hint of glorious autumn on the breeze, I welcome it with a gracious heart.

I made pumpkin scones with berry butter a few days ago. They’re wonderful! (I just followed a Taste of Home recipe). I especially love the kneading part of bread and scone making. The dough is soft and pliable in my hands and all the while I’m anticipating the final product; pulling them hot from the oven and adding a dollop of berry butter (made with re-hydrated dried cranberries, butter and a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar). It takes patience and time to work through the process. Every step is necessary. The final, delicious result doesn’t fully satisfy until all the ingredients, all the elements are in place.
Hold on, I tell myself. It’s not done yet – give it a little more time.
I feel like God has spoken these same words directly to my heart quite a lot lately.
Hold on, Deb. This storm won’t last.
Hold on. I’m putting all the elements together but it takes time.
Hold on, child – you’re going to love the finished product!
Oh, my friend, incredible things happen when we hold on to God’s Word through the tough times. When hurt and grief rain down hard and the rough seas threaten to overpower us, God is there with His mighty hand outstretched encouraging us to simply hold on!

“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;

- 1 Thess. 5:21 NASB


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