13 October 2014

One Quick Tip: Crispy Pie Crust

Dear Lissy,

No more soggy crusts -- even in puddin' pies.  Want to know my secret???  It's an oldie (c. 1939) but a goodie.

Roll out your favorite pie crust recipe on graham cracker crumbs instead of flour.  

That's it.  Really. The graham crumbs that get smooshed onto the outside of the crust don't add any flavor or weird gritty texture, but they keep the crust crisp.

You're my little puddin' pie,


07 October 2014

The Secret Ingredient for My Chicken Soup

Dear Lissy,

Forget the herbs and spices, the only ingredient you need for kickin' chicken soup is (drumroll, please)...

I add a couple of  Tbsp of rice vinegar to deglaze the pan after sauteing the soffritto.   If you've  got a good quality stock and a well done soffrito, rice vinegar provides all the extra flavor you'll ever want or need. 


03 October 2014

Bible Marking Tutorial Series, A Marking System for Professor Horner's Bible Reading System

Dear Lissy,

I have loved and used Professor Horner's Bible Reading system for several years.  One of the strengths of this system is how it interconnects parts of the Bible.  Once you read Ecclesiastes and 2 Corinthians together chapter for chapter, it will forever change how you view both books.

Professor Horner advocates reading fairly quickly, which doesn't leave a lot of time for contemplation or note-taking.  I recently found a super-simple three color marking system that is fantastic for use with the Horner system.
Col-Erase Colored Pencils are hands down my favorite Bible marking tools.  Designed to be used in under-drawings for graphic artists, the color is light enough to shade or underline without showthrough, rub-off, or ghosting.  Practice underlining, shading, and erasing on a page in your concordance before using in the text.  In my experience when color is laid down with the side of the pencil lead, it erases almost completely.  If I've used the point directly on the Bible page, it doesn't erase as well.  It is fairly easy to teach yourself to underline using the side of the point instead of the tip. 
Use a yellow pencil to indicate importance.
I frequently remember a verse from my reading when listening to a sermon or talking with a friend.  I get very frustrated if I can't find it quickly, but when I've been reading 60 or 70 chapters a week, I need the verse marked in some way.

A red pencil indicates repeated content within a book.
When I read a book rapidly, I notice repetitions that bring out meaning or reveal the character of God.  While these can be marked with a pencil symbol, the red underline is easy to find when flipping back through the book.
Blue pencil highlights inter-textual allusions.
Again, inter-textual allusions are the strength of the Horner system.  I've faithfully put cross references in the margin with pencil, but having a blue highlight on the verse reminds me of a treasure I've already found.

Remember:  Make the smallest mark possible to preserve the readability of the text and allow room for future marking.  
  • Circle the verse number instead of underlining or coloring the whole verse.  
  • Run a vertical line in the margin beside a passage you want to highlight.
  • Underline just a word or phrase that brings out the meaning of the verse.
This highlighting system is simple and intuitive enough that it doesn't slow down my reading at all. I hope that you will immerse yourself in God's Word every day when you are grown, just as we do now!


P.S.  Find the first letter in the Bible marking series here.

10 July 2014

One Quick Tip: Straw Mulching Your Garden

Dear Lissy,

Gorgeous summer weather has finally come to stay!  I'm trialing Yukon Gold potatoes for the first time this year, and using the popular raised bed/straw method.  I'm no stranger to straw, though -- I've been heavily mulching all of my crops with it for years.  Strawing is an essential part of gardening for one of my friends born and raised in Bavaria, Germany; and she got me hooked.
  • Straw keeps the soil cool and moist, which plants love.  Even hot weather crops like tomatoes grow best with "cool feet."  Cool weather crops will survive July and August heat waves when well mulched.
  • Straw keeps leaves and veg from touching the soil, cutting down on pests and blights.
  • Straw keeps weeds at bay.
  • Straw protects the tops of root crops from scorching (beets, onions, garlic, shallots, etc.)
  • Straw helps the garden look and smell amazing.
A few pointers...
  • Make sure you buy straw, not hay.   Hay is full of weeds. Straw is gold, hay is usually greenish. Horse and goat farms are usually the least expensive source of a bale or two, but a local hardware store or berry farm has straw as well. 
  • Strawing walkways is beautiful, but expensive.  Resist the urge unless you can get free straw.
  • Straw comes in huge bales, but individual "flakes" are only about 4-6" thick.  Break up the flakes, and tuck in around any plants over 8" high.  
  • Occasionally check under the straw for signs of pests.  Mice can be a nuisance if you don't have snakes, cats, or use a deterrent like garlic, onions, or mint planted around your crops.
  • Refresh the straw as needed. 
  • One bale does most of my garden.  
    • Some crops, like beans don't need straw.  Their leaves shade out the soil completely, and the fruit never touches the soil.
    • I only put a thin layer 2" layer around the Delicata, Zucchini, Summer and other squash vines.  I heavily straw cukes, though.
    • I heavily straw (6" minimum) any cool weather crops like broccoli, lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes, and chard.  Potatoes will grow directly in the straw, yielding a clean, easy harvest with no mosaic virus.
    • Tomatoes and Peppers love a heavy straw mulch, but weed-free grass clippings are even better (and much cheaper!)
    • Pine straw mulch is best for strawberries, asparagus, and blueberries.