Sunday, 31 March 2013
Happy Easter 2013
Happy Easter to All!
It's been hectic, getting ready for these last few days from Holy Thursday through this morning, Easter Sunday itself. I didn't think I'd have time to post anything this week.
I've spent alot of time in choir, between practicing at home and performing in our many Holy Week services. But, it's been a very rewarding time as well...many new friendships, beautiful music to sing and beautiful people to sing them with. Art seems to be a perfect catalyst for renewing faith.
So, I surprised even myself when I took a moment to walk out onto the front porch at the farm and watch the sun rise.
My view is below...the clouds in the west and north, the sunrise on the east landing on the dormant grasses in the front lawn--where, if you look close enough, you can see the beginnings of green.
Everything I see in front of me-- the gray and brown images of plants and trees, beaten down by the Winter--are now ready to awaken in the annual rebirth of Spring.
What a glorious metaphor for Easter and how lucky we are to witness this miracle of Nature every year...a reminder that we too can be re-born.
Posted by Karen
at 13:08 CDT
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Say "thank you" with a Bourbon Pecan Pound Cake
Bourbon Pecan Pound Cake...
Sounds yummy doesn't it?
I made one today but the story starts two days ago.
On Tuesday, two days ago, I left Chicago in a snowstorm, car fully tanked with gas, loaded with four dogs, dog food and human pantry staples (like almond extract), a pile of music and my flute--for a treacherous ride through hypnotic blowing snow, howling wind, patches of ice alternating with slush on the expressways. It was light out and would be for the next three hours, my usual time on the road.
But then I hit Rockford and the snow packed the four lane highways while road crews kept basically two lanes open. Reduced visibility and lanes...the time to dusk hit.
And by the time I got through Freeport and onto the two lane road, it was dark and I still had 40 miles to go..
I will not take you on the rest of the trip because I don't want to relive it, even virtually, but let's just say my Guardian Angel was probably as exhausted as I was by the time I pulled into the garage.
The snow kept flying the next 24 hours, sometimes sleet, always blowing. When I went to sleep last night, I seriously wondered if I'd get down the driveway to run the errands I had to do today. I was on the list for plowing by our road crew. But I also knew they were working their plows off, and had been for at least 24 hours.
But then, I woke up this morning and –lo and behold!--my whole driveway was plowed and the barnyard area neatly dressed. I couldn't believe it—they had plowed sometime between 11PM and the crack of dawn (I'm an early-riser).
I was so amazed (and thankful) that I wanted to do something nice for the guys. So, I baked this great cake and took it to their office on the way to my errand-filled midday. I really appreciate the staff at Vincent Earthmoving!! And this isn't the first time they've helped me out either—that crew is just amazing.
In case you also have someone you need to thank—here's the recipe, which I received from one of my church-lady friends, Kaye.--who calls it Stonecypher Family Recipe Pecan Pound Cake.
Bourbon Pecan Pound Cake
½ lb. Butter
2 & ½ cups of sugar (only use “pure cane sugar”)
6 fresh eggs
3 cups of sifted cake flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Ground nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
½ cup bourbon
1& ½ cups chopped pecans (toast in 325 degree oven for 8-10 minutes first, to bring out the flavors)
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (only use “pure cane sugar”)
1 tbsp. Bourbon
2 tbsp. Water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat butter and sugar together. Then add eggs, one at a time, beating in. Combine dry ingredients together, Combine bourbon and sour cream together. Mix into butter mixture, alternating wet and dry. Stir in the pecans.
Prep a pretty bundt pan or tube pan.
Pour in batter and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, check that the cake bounces back when touched. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto serving plate. When cooled down but still slightly warm to touch, drizzle the above glaze on the cake.
Now, write a little thank you note and deliver!
Posted by Karen
at 18:15 CST
Saturday, 1 December 2012
OK-- I admit I am feeling overly-sentimental, and a little guilty about not posting last week...
So, I will share another story and recipe with you this weekend.
I DID hang a wreath on the front door today. And it DID make me sentimental.
I have a neighbor directly across the street from me in Chicago who was born in Italy. Whenever I hang a wreath, I am reminded that in Italy, a wreath always signifies death. Now, the rest of Western Europe and America doesn't share that opinion...and I really hope my wreath doesn't offend her.
But I think there's a compromise. When I hang up my Christmas wreath, I am inspired to think about the family and friends who shared their Christmases with me and who are now no longer with us.
Among the many I remember, there is always one who is first recalled...my "Grandpa."
My maternal grandmother's second husband---was the most inspirational person of my youth...no, my life.
Picture this--at the turn of the 20th century, he ran away from home in the Netherlands, stowed away (at age 14) on a ship to the United States...where he changed his name and lived until he died as Albert Moore. Only after he died did we find out his "real" name.
The man who made sure I went to college, never had a formal education...
The man who made sure I went to Church and got my sacraments, wasn't Catholic...
The man who "raised" our generation as children--me and all my cousins--wasn't a "blood" relative...
The man who (with my grandmother) never owned a car or a house, made sure they gave everything they were and owned to their children and their grandchildren...
The man who helped to merge the cultures of the children of his wife--Polish, Austrian and Mexican marriages--all Catholic-- enabled and enforced by a man who was Dutch and Protestant and never had biologic children.
I can (and will someday) tell you much more about my Grandpa. But today, I am making "Railroad Chili" in his honor, so I will give you a recipe.
For most of his life, my Grandpa worked for the railroad on the route from Chicago to Florida--as a cook. So, when he'd cook big batches of food in the kitchen for us , I always assumed it was something he made on the railroad. Grandpa's version of chili included red kidney beans that he would start soaking the night before. And it included lots of green pepper. If times were good, it'd be "Chili con carne"--if times were tough, the meat was limited, or there were a lot of mouths to feed, it'd be "Chili mac"--served over elbow macaroni.
Today, I am making my version of "Railraod Chili" in the crockpot--something Grandpa didn't have but I can't seem to live without.
And, I didn't soak kidney beans--in fact, it turns out I only had canned black beans. So, it's an inspired--but adaptable chili, as you can see.
Prep a large crockpot with spray oil.
In a skillet on the stove, brown 2 lbs. Ground beef, 1 large chopped onion, 1 large diced green pepper, 3-4 cloves of minced garlic.
Add the browned ground beef, peppers, onion, and garlic into the crockpot.
Add 1/8 cup chili powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp cumin. You will adjust seasonings later, including adding cayenne pepper if more heat is desired.
Add 2 (14.5oz) cans of diced tomatoes with the juice.
Add 16 oz (2 small cans) of tomato sauce.
Add 2 cans of rinsed and drained red kidney or black beans.
Mix, cover and cook on “low” for 7-8 hours. Adjust seasonings as desired.
This is the perfect:
Chili Con Carne--as is with some dunkin' french bread on the side—or--
Chili Mac, served over cooled elbow macaroni.
Posted by Karen
at 14:48 CST
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Almond MIlk Ice "cream"
The weather's hot and my favorite dessert in hot weather (ok--any weather) is ice cream. But it can also be my personal fall from a healthy diet as I tend to overdo a good thing. Portion control just isn't possible for me. Even with the commercial low-carb ice creams, there's too many carbs in most 1/2 cup portions and --do you know how small 4 oz. is in a bowl???
I also know lots of people can't tolerate ice cream because of the dairy--yet they are tempted and later pay the consequences.
So--here's an amazing solution:
ALMOND MILK ICE CREAM
Just 3 ingredients for 1 pint:
2 cups of Pure Almond natural almond milk*
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of slivered almonds (toast in pan or oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes to bring out best flavor)
Using an ice cream maker, process almond milk with vanilla in the pre-frozen insert about 20 minutes. When churned to frozen state, stir in the almonds. It's ready! Freeze extra for later.
* I used Silk Pure Almond Milk-original. It has 60 calories per CUP (8 oz), 7 grams of carbs and 50% of
daily Vit E in each cup, too! --
NOTE: You can stir in other nuts and even get creative with flavored nuts. If my sister Nancy were here today--I'll bet she'd have me substitute chopped Wasabi Almonds to the blend.
Posted by Karen
at 09:39 CDT
Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2012 09:44 CDT
Thursday, 7 June 2012
Are you not responsible for the babies?
I am always upset by the interlopers on my property--you know, the animals that attack your pets, the rodents that bring disease, the animals that eat the bark off your trees and that eat the roots of your vegetables, but...
They are God's creatures...
while I get terse when the barn swallows make awful mud nests on top of my windows, I grit my teeth...
I see the new life and wonder...
What reason do I really have to be angry--
these babies are new life...
Posted by Karen
at 18:41 CDT
Sunday, 13 May 2012
Happy Mothers' Day
To All Mothers:
Wishing you all a wonderful Mothers' Day. Hope you will have a peaceful day with family...and maybe sneak outside for a little gardening or walk later?
To All their Children (young or adult):
May you always remember that it was your mother who introduced you to unconditional love and caring. And she gave you the knowledge that real love isn't always easy.
Remember, no mother ever raised any child without directly sacrificing something of themselves.
And, may you always honor your mother for that.
Mothers' Day 2012--Harvest Hills Farm--Outside the porch--the garden's planted and the vines beyond are starting to burst.
Mothers' Day 2012--The little black dots are cattle and calves!
Posted by Karen
at 08:58 CDT
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Drs. O'Mara made the paper
I know this is a bit of personal indulgence, but--Donna Vickroy captured what we feel is the essence of a strong marriage in this article.
We've spent virtually our entire adult lives as both married and as physicians. Our farm is indeed our parallel career path and evolves out of the same value system and respect for life, reason, logic, belief in eternity and faith in God.
Posted by Karen
at 08:35 CST
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Something beautiful that I must pass forward
This email is being circulated and the photos are so beautiful I thought I'd do my part by re-posting on the blog. Thank you to the unnamed photographers who shared these pictures for our reflection.
What a ride huh ! ? ! ....P@ V.
Posted by Karen
at 18:06 CST
Friday, 7 October 2011
Some beautiful thoughts on an Autumn Day
This is one of those beautiful "forwards" I received as an email from my sister. Who knows it's origin--though I thank them for putting it together--and I wish to pass it forward to you...
ENJOY YOUR DAY
A Birth Certificate shows that we were born.
A Death Certificate shows that we died.
Pictures show that we live!
Have a seat. Relax . . ..
and read this slowly.
That just because two people argue,
It doesn't mean they don't love each other.
And just because they don't argue,
It doesn't mean they do love each other.
That we don't have to change friends if
We understand that friends change.
That no matter how good a friend is,
they're going to hurt you,
every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that.
That true friendship continues to grow,
even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.
That you can do something in an instant
That will give you heartache for life.
That it's taking me a long time
To become the person I want to be.
That you should always leave loved ones with Loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.
That you can keep going long after you think you can't.
That we are responsible for what
We do, no matter how we feel.
That either you control your attitude or it controls you.
That heroes are the people
who do what has to be done
when it needs to be done,
regardless of the consequences.
That my best friend and I
can do anything or nothing
and have the best time..
That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're
down will be the ones to help you get back up.
That sometimes when I'm angry
I have the right to be angry, but that
doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had
And what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
That it isn't always enough,
to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes, you have to learn
to forgive yourself.
That no matter how bad
your heart is broken,
the world doesn't stop for your grief.
That our background and circumstances
may have influenced who we are, but,
we are responsible for who we become.
That you shouldn't be
so eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life forever.
Two people can look at the exact same
Thing and see something totally different.
That your life can be changed
in a matter of hours
by people who don't even know you.
That even when you think
you have no more to give,
When a friend cries out to you,
you will find the strength to help.
That credentials on the wall
do not make you a decent human being.
That the people you care about
most in life are taken from you too soon.
That you should send this to
all of the people that you believe in.
I just did.
'The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything;
They just make the most of everything they have.
Posted by Karen
at 16:11 CDT
Updated: Friday, 7 October 2011 16:15 CDT
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
What Goes Around, Comes Around...
I am posting this little story sent to me by a friend--it's making its way around my email contacts, and definitely worth repeating here...a good insight for this first day of Lent, too!
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.
There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
'I want to repay you,' said the nobleman. 'You saved my son's life.'
'No, I can't accept payment for what I did,' the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel.
'Is that your son?' the nobleman asked.
'Yes,' the farmer replied proudly.
'I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.' And that he did.
Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia.
What saved his life this time? Penicillin.
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill .. His son's name?
Sir Winston Churchill.
Someone once said: What goes around comes around.
Posted by Karen
at 06:36 CST
Updated: Thursday, 10 March 2011 08:53 CST
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