December is flying by, and Christmas is less than two weeks ago. If you’re like me, there are still many things to accomplish.
Although the holiday season is a joyful, amazing, beautiful time, it can also be one of sadness and heartache due to the loss of a loved one or some other trial. As I looked at the sparkling, white Christmas lights this morning during my Bible time, I thought of friends we know, who are going through that very thing. Please know we care about your pain.
November flew by with work, Operation Christmas Child shoebox preparation and then packing, family times, and some Christmas preparations. We also did our annual family photo (will share that later!), which with almost 30 of us is quite a feat.
Enjoy every moment of this special season celebrating Christ’s birth and His amazing gift to us.
Anna and Mary have had it on their hearts to bring some of their friends from Bible club to Walk Through Bethlehem. This year, with some hard work behind the scenes to coordinate things, it all came together. Sunday evening, Anna, Jesse, and Mary took a van full of kids to WTB. As the kids walked through “Bethlehem,” they were in awe and began trying to grasp it all. We’ve grown up in Christian homes, and we know very well the Christmas story–the heart of Christmas–but these sweet kids didn’t. They asked so many questions too: about sin, consequences, the devil, and so much more. It was an incredible evening, and we pray the seeds sown bring forth fruit.
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:1
We had a beautiful Thanksgiving, and life has been so fast-paced, it felt nice to linger around the table, talking. Plus, with a day off work, it provided an opportunity for taking down two dead trees and other projects (like some book brainstorming for me). I’m grateful for parents who have encouraged us in being productive during our single years.
I still am planning a Random Life for this week, so watch for that!
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:15
Happy Monday! I want to share some pictures of our shoebox packing parties. We loved our time working together. Some of the younger ones packed their boxes with such care. Ruthie was observed giving each little stuffed animal a kiss before placing it in her box. Adorable! Others gave much attention and detail to the items they put into their boxes. A number of the extended family came over in the evenings to help out.
I’m happy to be in the Denver area today volunteering with a friend at the OCC processing warehouse.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
Christopher and Anna Marie hosted a wonderful Scripture memory party on a recent Sunday evening. Christopher had encouraged all the cousins to memorize and come prepared to quote it before the others. Christopher had a reward prepared for those who recited their verses.
The evening included singing and special treats. It was a wonderful time together.
Steve and Teri
“Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes that I be not ashamed.” Psalm 119:79-80
Hello and welcome December! 🙂 I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving. Today, we’re sharing a post from Anna Marie on Instant Pots which we think you’ll find helpful. –Sarah
The Instant Pot is in use almost daily in our home. I like the ability to quickly cook frozen (yes—you don’t have to thaw) chicken breasts or thighs. It’s super handy to be able to make broth from beef bones or chicken carcases in less than three hours. And for making easy-to-peel “hard-boiled” eggs in a jiffy, it’s hard to top. But what I use it for the most is cooking dry beans. They don’t have to be soaked ahead, can be spiced in many different ways, and can be ready within an hour or two. Since they’re packed with healthy fiber, plant protein, and many essential minerals (including folate which is great for pregnancy!), they make for a truly nutritious “fast food”!
Here are a few examples of dry beans that we like:
Small red beans or chili beans are delicious in chili or cooked with Mexican spices and served over rice or taco salad.
Navy beans or small white beans are perfect for white chicken chili or navy bean soup! To make a delicious quick soup, I saute carrots, celery, and onion in the Instant Pot before adding in the dry beans, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and water or chicken broth. Once cooked, I mash part of the beans (a potato masher works well for this) and it’s ready to serve!
Garbanzo beans/chickpeas are perfect on salads, in soups, or made into hummus. Sometimes after cooking about 4 cups of these in lightly salted water, I will stir in a jar of Tikka Masala simmer sauce from Aldi and some precooked shredded chicken. This is great served over rice.
Pinto beans are a staple for burritos or Mexican side dishes, and I use a hand-held mixer to mash them right in the pot when they’re done cooking. Left whole, we enjoy them on taco salads or added into soups.
Black beans are great in a “Santa Fe Chicken” with cans of diced tomatoes/chilis, corn, spices, and shredded chicken served over rice. If you’re feeling adventurous, black bean brownies are actually pretty tasty and have been enjoyed here!
Lentils cook quickly and don’t need to be presoaked whether you have an Instant Pot or not, but I’m including them here anyway because they appear on our lunch table weekly in Sue Gregg’s Lentil Rice casserole. I like to make it in our Instant Pot because I can put all the ingredients in after breakfast, and set the timer to have it done at lunchtime.
As you probably noticed, we frequently enjoy various seasonings in our beans served over rice or another grain. There are so many variations you can do with this and we especially like it with some precooked shredded beef or chicken added (I keep bags of it in the freezer for this purpose). And don’t feel limited to rice as a base; quinoa, millet, or even riced cauliflower all work great, too!
Keeping some containers of cooked beans in the freezer is also very handy to add in to vegetable beef or chicken soups, or for easy main-dish salad toppings.
Cornbread is a popular side dish that we have with our Instant Pot bean dishes and soups. It’s not cooked in the Instant Pot although I’m sure some people probably do cook their cornbread that way. My go-to recipe is Sue Gregg’s blender cornbread which uses whole dry corn. It takes me about 5-10 minutes to get it in the oven and then it bakes for 30 minutes. The recipe is available on her site in a PDF download of sample recipes. Search for the text “sample recipes” on the homepage to find the PDF download link. The recipe is on page 63.
We buy our organic dry beans, dry corn, popcorn, wheat, oats, millet, etc. in bulk from Azure Standard and have been pleased with the quality and prices (disclosure: the Azure link is an affiliate link that is part of their “Share Azure” program. If you order through it I may receive a credit in my account. You could also just go directly to Azure Standard’s site; or, if you have a friend who orders from Azure, ask them if they have a Share Azure link you can use). I’m sure you can probably find these at your local grocery store or health food store as well.
So, is an Instant Pot a necessity? No. But we’ve found it to be a time saver for the uses I mentioned. We have the 8-quart size and I love having that size (larger meals and/or more leftovers), even though it takes a bit longer to come up to pressure than a smaller one. If you have a smaller family or cook lower volume, the 6-quart would likely be adequate. We have seen both sizes come up on very good sales (for example 8 quart around $60) during the holiday season in the past. And, of course, there are other brands of modern pressure cookers that would function in a very similar fashion.
God bless you as you seek to cook nutritious meals for your family!
Love, Anna Marie
“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
The Maxwell family and ministry blog of Titus2.com.