Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Travel Cooking

It was just a few days after our celebration of Jesus’ journey from cross to garden, from death to life that we began a journey of our own.  Maybe that’s just a fancy way of saying that spring break came right after Easter this year, but after celebrating the resurrection, we seemed all the more ready to embark on a new adventure.  This time, to central Florida.

Our family recently purchased a new pop-up camper, and I can’t tell you how much we have enjoyed it already.  The pop-up allows us to travel on a level somewhere between roughing it and not.  Our son loves the slide out beds while our daughter loves the constant opportunity to play outside.  The camper not only sleeps our family comfortably, but gives us a nice place to eat together, and even – most important to me - cook our own meals.

So . . . I made some extensive meal plans for our trip.  I imagined things would be much tougher than they actually turned out to be, and I took my recipes from camping websites where the assumption was that we would be cooking over an open fire.   I had two gas burners, so that kind of qualifies.  The other assumption, which I loved, was that kids would be involved and that the recipe would need to be simple and fun.

And so we had scrambled eggs with cheese and goldfish crackers on the day we saw the Tampa Aquarium, and Banana Boats for desert on the day we went to the Okefenokee Swamp.  Not every food was themed specifically for the day’s activities, but they were all pretty fun and good.

Travel is all about seeing new things and enjoying new experiences.  In this trip, not only did we get to visit places we had never been, but we got to live life just a little closer to nature.  We fended for ourselves just a little bit more than before, living not only just a little closer to the land, but closer to our neighbors in the next campsite as well.

Common wisdom tells us that we find God in unexpected places.  Having traveled and witnessed the never-before-seen, I know that that is true.  God can be found in the prairies of Florida, the swamps of Georgia and the state parks and campsites across the country.  Each one had its own beauty, and each one was made by God.

Travel if you can.  If you can’t, look harder at your own locale.  The more you see, the more you will know of God’s imagination and the indescribable love that brought about an amazing and varied world.  This world may not belong to us, but we get to be willing participants in each day.  Don’t miss that opportunity.

Blessed eating!

One of my favorite dishes on the trip.

Black Cherry Dump Cake
Chocolate Cake Mix                        1 Stick Butter
1 Can Cherry Pie Filling

Pour cherry pie filling into pot or Dutch oven.  Cover with Chocolate Cake Mix.  Slice butter and place on top of cake mix.  Cook until done.




Monday, May 27, 2013

Still Here

As I type these words, I feel as if I am whispering into a cave, long abandoned.  “Is anyone still here?”

My schedule, both wonderfully busy and terribly full, becomes such that my blog has often had to sit on the sidelines.  I don’t have the heart to give it up entirely, so I pick up the laptop on my vacation while I’m planning my next meal and enjoying some time to reflect.  I remember my 1 year anniversary of blog writing like it was yesterday.  Now it is a couple of years back.  I meant to whoop it up at my 100th post in some clever way, but that somehow got past unnoticed.

I’m not sure if anyone is still out there reading what I write, but I’ll continue to do it for the reasons that I started with: to explore God’s work in my life, especially through the elements of food and family.  And if you are there still reading my writing, thank you for hanging around.  I hope the dinner’s been worth it!

At this moment, I’m watching my son pull out his dominoes, ready to set them up and knock them down on the table in the beach house overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.  My daughter is playing with the tablet.  This morning, we rode waves until we were exhausted and starving, then had seafood for lunch.  Time moves slowly here.  We don’t often experience that in real life, the life of the city and work and obligations.

I have refrained from planning every meal while I’m here (unlike our last vacation), but I do have some cooking planned;  a seafood casserole one day, a corn chowder and salad on another.  And I still need to come up with a cookie recipe to take to The Singing.  I am open to any suggestions!

I believe that God is in each step of our path.  This is a remarkably good thing.  Sometimes the trail is straight and smooth like a highway, where there is nothing to do but run.  On some days, it meanders blessedly through serene landscapes, giving us time to pause and be grateful.  Though it is sometimes difficult, I try to appreciate every leg of the journey.  I will likely miss them when they are complete.  There will be days when I may yearn for them back again, so I try not to wish them away.

If you are still in this cave, if you still take a moment to read this blog, thank you for being a part of the journey with me.  I don’t know how often we will travel together, but I am grateful for your company on the trail.  For now, know that my family and I are still cooking, for others and for ourselves.  The picture above is of my daughter helping with the cookies which will be a thank you gift for her teacher after a wonderful year of learning.

We are still learning; still going, still preparing food and sitting down to wonderful meals together.  Thank you for sharing this one with us.

Blessed eating!

Seven Layer Cookies
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs      ½ cup butter, melted
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips    1 cup butterscotch-flavored chips                       
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut                  1 cup chopped nuts
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk             

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour melted butter in a baking dish, cover with graham cracker crumbs and press firmly in the bottom of the pan.  Layer with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and nuts.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over all.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool and cut into bars.

p.s.  The teachers loved them!