Monday, December 31, 2012

Poh Taht

Macau, like Hong Kong, is owned by China, but it has some control over its own government. It used to be a colony of Portugal, so it has an interesting mix of Chinese and Portugese culture. They even have their own currency separate from China. Most of the people do speak Cantonese (a form of Chinese), and only .6% of them speak Portuguese as their first language. There are about half a million people in Macau living in an area a little over 11 square miles. (Every single country I look at seems to be more and more crowded. Just wait until tomorrow.)

Macau's economy is growing even faster than China's. This is significantly aided by the legality of gambling. 50% of Macau's income comes from it. Tourism is also very important to the economy. (Someone has to come gamble away all their income on vacation. Maybe it's a good thing that all the casinos in China are confined to 11 square miles.) Until 2009, 16.4 new hotel rooms went up per day. 3/4 of exports are of some type of clothing, so you can say it plays a major role in Macau's economy too.

The poh taht, or egg tart, shows the Portuguese culture alive in Macau. I thought mine came out very pretty, but I wasn't too thrilled with the taste of a sweet egg. My mom liked it. (She does have a sweet tooth.

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Poh Taht
makes 12
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp caster sugar*
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
2-4 tbsp water

4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
6 tbsp caster sugar*

Mix the flour, 4 tbsp sugar, butter, and water together. Once it is well combined, cover it and put it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, 6 tbsp sugar, and milk together.

Once the pastry is done, divide it into 12 balls. Flatten the balls out and shape press them into an oiled pan. (You can use a pan made for making tarts, or a muffin pan.) Pour some of the filling into each one. Bake for 30 minutes and then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and enjoy!

*If you don't have caster sugar, maple syrup can be substituted. Use 3/4 as much syrup as sugar, and omit the water in the pastry.


Card and Box Sets and Strawberry Granola

 I like to make my birthday cards with an origami box to pack goodies into for my friends. They are the perfect size for cookies, muffins, or ornaments. You don't even have to buy wrapping paper or anything. The best part is that they match the card. The instructions for the boxes can be found here. I used 12"X12" sheets of paper for the lid and 11.5"X11.5" sheet for the bottom.
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Here's a striped star card I made for my friend Kent's birthday.
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Here's a purple striped flower card I made for another one of my friends.

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Strawberry- almond granola tastes great along with a side of fresh strawberries. It makes me long for the summer time.

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Strawberry Almond Granola

3 c. oatmeal

1 c. almonds

1 c. frozen strawberries

½ c. honey or date paste

1 tsp strawberry extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the oatmeal and almonds until browned, stirring every 10 minutes. It took me 30 minutes to get it completely toasted. Meanwhile, microwave the strawberries until they begin to bubble. Let them cool for a few minutes, and then blend them with the date paste or honey and strawberry extract. Pour this mixture over the toasted oats and stir. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir and bake another 10 minutes. Let it cool. This would be really good with dried strawberries stirred into it.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Baba Ganoush

The West Bank is a territory in the Middle East. It's surrounded by Israel and Jordan, and also runs along the Dead Sea. It's 2,173 square miles with about 2.5 million people. East Jerusalem is part of this land, and Israel has fought the Palestinians over it. Technically it is Palestinian territory, but Israel sees it as disputed territory and the Palestinians as having no right to it. The whole situation is similar to that of the Gaza Strip. West Bank is just significantly larger.

The West Bank is made up of a lot of villages made up of farmers. The unlike southern West Bank, the northern part of the territory is fertile. Agriculture is very important for the economy. The Palestinians grow olives in the north along with other fruits, vegetables, and grains. Where crops can be grown in the south, the main product is grapes.

Before you go straight into making the baba ganoush, read my side note. If you want the traditional thing, go ahead and make the recipe. Just be warned that it's VERY lemony. Trust me. You've been warned. You can eat this dish with olives and pita or plain.

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Baba Ganoush
1 eggplant
1/4 cup tahini
1 lemon*
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the eggplant with a fork and cook it on a pan for 40 minutes. Allow it to cool before peeling. Meanwhile, juice the lemon and peel the garlic cloves. Add everything to the blender and blend. Store in a sealed container and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
*One whole lemon is WAY too lemony. I'd tone it down to about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

Key Fobs and Corn Casserole

I hate the time between Christmas and Spring. It's so cold and dreary. In the past few days we have accumulated TONS of snow. Ugh! It's so cold, but there is no Christmas to look forward to. I can't wait for all the snow to melt and the birds to come out again.

One good thing about winter is that you can cook more because you don't have to worry about the oven heating up the house. Here is a recipe for corn casserole. I made it last night because we had some company over. I don't know if they liked it or not, but I do know it's the only thing Harper had for dinner. (Other than the frosting on the carrot cake.) Enjoy!
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Corn Casserole
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 package of Jiffy corn muffin mix (8.5 ounces)
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks of butter, melted

Add all the ingredients in the order that they are listed into a big bowl. Whisk everything together as you go. Pour the mixture into a buttered 9”x13” baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

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Here is a easy to make key fob. To make it I used a key ring and two pieces of ribbon, one 1 inch wide, and the other about 1/4 an inch wide. Cut each ribbon about 10 inches long. Then cut another piece of the smaller ribbon about 2 inches long. Sew the smaller ribbon down along the middle of the larger one. Hem the ends. Loop the 2 inch long ribbon around the key ring, and pin it to the two ends of the large ribbon. Sew the two ends of the large ribbon together with the two ends of the 2" ribbon so that it resembles a key fob. That's it. Easy, right?


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mkatra Foutra

Comoros is an island in the Indian Ocean east of Africa. It's actually between Mozambique and Madagascar. The three languages spoken in Comoros are French, Comorian, and Arabic. It's a sovereign nation, but was under French rule until 1975. The Islamic aspect of it arrived far before the French. 98% of the people follow Islam now, but it is said to have arrived in Comoros through two nobles. Fey Bedja Mwamba and Mtswa Mwandze had visited Mecca while Muhammad was still teaching, and they brought the new religion back to the island with them.

The 800,000 people in Comoros are confined to 863 square miles. There are about 926 people per square mile. Almost half of the people are under 15, so the population is growing rapidly. Most of the people are of African-Arab descent.

I don't know if Mkatra Foutra is a breakfast dish or not, but it is a popular type of bread. I really liked it, especially the fast baking time.

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Mkatra Foutra

makes 8
8 cups flour
2 2/3 cups coconut milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
sesame seeds

Mix the yeast, flour, and salt together. Stir in the eggs and coconut milk until everything is well combined. Cover and let it rest for 1 hour. Preheat a pan to medium heat. Separate the dough into 8 pieces. (It's sticky, so be warned.) Flatten the dough onto the oiled pan and sprinkle it with sesame seeds. Cover the pan with a lid and cook each side until browned.

We did not have any coconut milk, so I had to make my own. It actually went pretty well. I used dried coconut flakes to make it.

Coconut Milk
2 cups dried coconut flakes
4 cups water

Bring the water and coconut to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Let it cool for 20 minutes and then blend it until the coconut flakes are all cut up and the water is white. Strain the coconut chunks out of the milk with a fine strainer. Enjoy!

Happy Kwanzaa

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Happy Kwanzaa! This week is Kwanzaa (the week in between Christmas and New Year's), and this year my friend Amber and I decided to celebrate it. Since neither of us really knew how to do this, we just told each other happy Kwanzaa, and I made her a card. Kwanzaa colors are green, red, and black, so here is a recipe for tropical green bananacream.

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Tropical Green Bananacream
1 cup frozen papaya
1 cup spinach
1 frozen banana
1/3 cup coconut milk

Blend everything together and enjoy!

This isn't really a Kwanzaa recipe, but it's a good way to use up any leftover pumpkin puree from the holidays.  I made it for my mom on her birthday, and she loved it. It's pretty healthy too especially if you make it with wheat bread and low fat evaporated milk.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

8 slices whole wheat bread

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 eggs

1 ½ cups evaporated milk

½ cup chopped pecans

¼ tsp vanilla extract

1- 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

extra pecans for topping


Spray a large baking pan with Pam. Cube the bread into one inch squares and place them along the bottom of the pan. Whisk together the sugar, seasonings, evaporated milk, pecans, pumpkin, and eggs in a bowl. Pour this over the bread cubes. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next morning top the mixture with more chopped pecans and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.


Friday, December 28, 2012


Bangladesh is located southwest of India. It's bottom tip borders Myanmar, but the rest of it is bordered by India and water. Speaking of water, there is a lot of it in Bangladesh. There are 500 miles of waterways in 700 rivers. In addition to this, the average annual rainfall is 235 inches. This causes flooding. Lots of flooding. In 1998, Bangladesh had the worst flood in modern history. 2/3 of the country was under water, 1,000 people died, and 3 million people were made homeless. This is nothing compared to Noah's flood, but in modern contexts it is massive. In addition to all this water, Bangladesh is also pretty hot. Temperatures have never gotten below freezing, and the climate is tropical.

75% of Bangladeshi people live in rural areas. Only 2% of them own TVs. Also, on average, only 43% of adults can read. About 54% of men are literate, but only 32% of women are. I don't know when these statistics were taken, but hopefully they are higher now.

The most interesting thing I learned about Bangladesh was that their national fruit is the Jackfruit. The thing is HUGE. It is the world's largest fruit, weighing up to 110 pounds. That's a massive piece of fruit for a tree to hold. It's said that they taste like bananas, and are kind of like pineapples. I kind of want to try one now.

For today's breakfast, I had chapatti, oranges, and tea. The chapatti is a little different than the chapati I made for Uganda. The recipe turned out better, and I liked the taste more.

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makes 6
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
warm water

Mix the salt and flour together. Add enough warm water to make a soft dough, about 1/2 cup. Knead the dough until it's smooth, cover it, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Form the dough into 6 balls and roll each out about 6 inches across. Cook on a pan heated to medium heat, about 45 seconds per side. Serve with mandarin oranges and tea.

Rye Crackers and a Knitted Sweater and Hat Set

I made this sweater and hat set for Harper and her doll for Christmas. The big hat fits Harper, and the sweater and smaller hat are for her 18" doll.  Here's how I made the sweater on a knitting loom:

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1. Make the back: Cast on 17 "e" loops onto a small loom. Purl back along the row. Knit 33 more rows of "e" loops, and end in a purled row. Finish off by threading yarn through the loops and tying a knot on the end.

2. Make the front: Cast on 9 "e" loops onto a small loom. Purl back along the row. Knit 33 more rows of "e" loops, and end in a purled row. (This is the same method you used for the back.) Finish off by threading yarn through the loops and tying a knot on the end. Do this two times so you have 2 front panels.

3. Make the sleeves: Do the same thing you did for the front and back panels, but start on with 11 cast on loops. Make two of these.

4. Sew the tops of the front panels on to the top of back panel with yarn. Make sure you leave space for the neck. (I put it on the doll as I worked to make sure the head had enough room.

5. Sew the bottom 3/4 of the sleeves into a long tube, leaving the top open. Connect the top side of each sleeve to where the front and back panels meet. Sew along the sides of the front and back panels and the armpit. You've finished your sweater

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Rye Crackers

½ c. rye flour

1/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 tbsp apple sauce

2 tbsp milk

½ tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the milk and apple sauce. Knead into a firm dough and roll out as thinly as you can. (I used #1 on a pasta roller.) Cut into shapes, prick with a fork, and bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Silq bil Dahi and Ftaat

Libya is a northern African country. Since it is part of northern Africa, there is a lot of influence from the Middle East. To me northern Africa seems like a completely different world from one of the more southern countries like Ethiopia or Ghana. they are mostly Islamic, and the official language is Arabic. Their food is even closer to what I made for places like Lebanon and Iraq than what I made for Togo or Zimbabwe.

The climate and natural resources in Libya are similar to places in the Middle East. It is dry and hot because 90% is in the Sahara desert. It also has the most oil reserves in all of Africa. Educational standards are even higher than they are in other African nations. (Not that every Middle Eastern country has good education.)

I enjoyed Libya's breakfast of Silq bil Dahi and Ftaat. When I first saw the recipes, I was a little scared, but they turned out very delicious.

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Silq bil Dahi
serves 4
12 chard leaves
4 eggs
olive oil
lemon juice

Saute the chard leaves until slightly wilted over medium heat. Make 4 holes between the leaves, and crack the eggs in them. (Be careful not to crack the yolk.) Cook the eggs over medium low heat until set. Cover the pan with a lid and take it off the heat. Let it stand for 2 minutes and then drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the egg and chard. Serve with warm ftaat.

makes 16
5 cups flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt

4 tbsp cornmeal
3 tbsp olive oil

Combine the flour salt, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Slowly add water to form a soft, but not sticky dough. Knead and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for an hour. Meanwhile, combine the paste ingredients. Mix well and set aside.

Knead the dough again after an hour and separate into 16 balls. Let them rest 1/2 an hour. Flatten each ball about 1/2 inch thick and spread a little paste onto 8 of them. Take one of the balls you did not put paste on and press it on top of each of the balls with paste. (Kind of like making a paste sandwich.) Let these rest another hour.

Finally, oil a round plate. Roll out each 'sandwich' really thin. Then fry them one at a time on a pan preheated to medium heat. Flip after 30 seconds, and peel off the top layer. Now you have two pieces of bread from one. Cook each side an additional 30 seconds and then place them in a towel to keep warm. Do this for the rest of the dough. You should end up with 16 pieces of ftaat.


Maple Syrup + Bacon + Popcorn= YUM!!

Did the title of this post take you by surprise? Well, you are just going to have to wait until the end of my post to see what kind of wonderful I'm talking about.

First I'll share a recipe for a smoothie I made this morning. Today's breakfast from Libya called for chard. I had some leftover and decided to make a green smoothie.

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Swiss Chard Smoothie
a few swiss chard leaves
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup milk
2 ounces of frozen orange juice concentrate

Blend all of the ingredients together and enjoy!
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Here are two thank you cards I made from new paper I got for Christmas. Santa spoils me too much. I not only got cute new winter/ Christmas paper, but also matching stickers. The mittens are too adorable.

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And now what you have all been waiting for: maple bacon popcorn! Epic, right? Everyone who tried it loved it. Who would have thought that such random ingredients would make something so amazing?

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Maple Bacon Popcorn

3 tbsp maple syrup

10 cups popcorn

8 pieces of cooked bacon

1 tbsp bacon grease

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper


Spread out the popcorn on a baking sheet. Top with the salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon over top. Mix the maple syrup with the bacon grease. Heat for 10 seconds. Pour over the popcorn and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Togo is a country in West Africa that used to be a colony of France. It's a narrow country wedged between Ghana and Benin. Within this 21,925 square mile strip of land there are about 6.7 million people and 40 different ethnic groups. French is the official language, but Gbe languages, Kabiye, and Kotocoli are commonly spoken. Most of the people still follow the religions of their ancestors. About 1/3 of them are Christian, and 1/5 are Islamic. Half of the people live below the poverty line, and the life expectancy is very low. There is only one doctor for every 25,000 people.

Kenkey is a type of fermented steamed dough eaten in Western Africa. You can either lat the dough sit for a few days, or mix in vinegar after allowing it to sit overnight. You cook them like you would tamales, and they have a similar texture. They are usually made of white cornflour, but I had to use yellow.
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8 cups cornmeal (preferably white)
1 tbsp vinegar

Mix the cornmeal with enough water to just dampen it. Cover and place it in a warm place for 10 hours. After it has sat out, mix the vinegar in with it. Knead the dough into two balls. Bring one cup of water to a boil and stir in one of the balls. Stir constantly for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the other dough ball. Divide the mixture into 32 balls and wrap them in corn husks, banana leaves, or tin foil. Steam them over a pot of boiling water for 1 hour. Allow them to cool before eating.

Stollen Bread Pudding and Pillows

 I made Sydney pillows for Christmas to match her room. She has this old bench that used to have three red pillows on it. Since her room is green and purple, they didn't match. The bench has just been left plain with no pillows or anything. It kind of looked sad.

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 Now Sydney's bench looks comfy and decorative. I really think she liked them.

We had a lot of leftover Stollen from yesterday. I didn't want it to go to waste, so I made some bread pudding out of it. It was a hit. I definitely recommend trying it. If you don't have stollen, normal bread will work too.

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Stollen Bread Pudding
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp melted butter
1 ½ cup evaporated milk
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
stollen bread cut into ¾ inch slices to cover the bottom of an 8X8 pan

Spray the pan with cooking oil. Line the bread along the bottom, covering all the cracks. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and evaporated milk. Pour this mixture over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next morning let it come to room temperature. Then bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012


When I think of Christmas, I always think of Germany. It just seems like Christmas there would be magical. MY dream is to go to the Christkindl Market and look at all those crafts.

On Christmas Eve German families traditionally bring in their Christmas trees. The mother decorates it secretly while the kids are sleeping, and the children are called in to see it at midnight. Then the family reads from the Bible and sings Christmas songs.

The children leave letters to Christkind on the windowsill. She comes on Christmas Eve dressed in a white robe and crown. She's supposed to be a messenger sent by the Christ Child. Christkind brings gifts as does the Weihnachtsmann, or Christmas Man. The latter is the German version of Santa Claus. Children also get gifts from der Nikolaus on Saint Nicholas Day in their shoes. Those kids must be elated for December to come. (Look how many people come to bring them gifts.)

Since I can't be in Germany today, I figured making a traditional Christmas breakfast would have to do. I chose to make stollen. Stollen is a traditional German Christmas bread eaten for breakfast on Christmas morning. It's kind of like a fruit cake in the fact that the dried fruit is soaked in wine before baking. (I used orange juice.) Keeping the bread (once cooled) in a paper bag makes it taste even better. I heard it tastes best after a couple of days.

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1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten

1 cup of a mixture of dried raisins, cranberries, and currants
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest

2 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup almond slivers

Heat the milk to 110 degrees. Stir in the yeast, ½ cup flour, and vital wheat gluten. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for an hour. While the dough is rising, combine the dried fruit with the orange juice and zest. Let this sit for at least an hour as well. (The longer, the better.)

After the hour is over, combine 2 ¼ cups of flour with the salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in the egg, starter, and butter. Finally add in the soaked fruit. Knead for five minutes and then put in an oiled bowl, turning to coat it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 45 minutes. 

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll it into a 2 inch thick oval. Sprinkle the almonds in the middle, and fold the sides to meet in the middle. Press them together, and let the dough rest for another hour, seam side down. Keep it covered with the plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the dough onto a stone and bake for 40 minutes. Turn the stone around halfway during the cooking time. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2

New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

2 In those days Caesar Augustus(A) issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.(B) 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.)(C) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem(D) the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him(E) and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel(F) of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.(G) I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior(H) has been born to you; he is the Messiah,(I) the Lord.(J) 12 This will be a sign(K) to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace(L) to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.(M) 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.(N) 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God(O) for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child,(P) he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.(Q)

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
makes 24
¼ cup chocolate chips
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup sorghum flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp of ground chia seeds mixed with ¼ cup water
1 cup applesauce
½ cup peanut butter

Mix flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and sugar together. Stir in the peanut butter, chia seeds, and applesauce. Stir until it’s well mixed, and then mix in the chocolate chips. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon onto a buttered pan, flatten, and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls
recipe for Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Make the dough (you can sub the sorghum flour with oat flour for a better taste). Roll the dough into balls and freeze for 1/2 an hour.

Here is one last Christmas ornament. I made it by cutting 2- 12X1 inch rectangles of paper, 2- 10X1 inch strips of paper, and 1- 8X1 inch strip of paper. You line all the tops of the strips up and staple them together. Then you line the bottoms up, so that the larger strips have to bend a little. Staple them too and attach a ribbon to the top.
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Tahini Cookies Two Ways

It's the day before Christmas. It's time for some last minute cookie baking before you jump in the car and head out for church. You can enjoy them as you drive past all the houses with their beautiful (and sometimes tacky) lights.

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Chocolate Tahini Cookie
makes 1 dozen
2 cups oatmeal
¼ cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup date past or honey
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 bananas
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup tahini

Blend the oatmeal until it makes a flour. Whisk the egg. In a bowl, mash up the banana and add the tahini, whisked egg, and date paste.  Stir well. Add the dry ingredients. Scoop out 2 tbsp at a time onto a greased cookie pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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Cinnamon Tahini Cookie
makes 1 dozen
2 cups oatmeal
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup date past or honey
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 bananas
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup tahini

Blend the oatmeal until it makes a flour. Whisk the egg. In a bowl, mash up the banana and add the tahini, whisked egg, and date paste.  Stir well. Add the dry ingredients. Scoop out 2 tbsp at a time onto a greased cookie pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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I made this for one of my friends who loves tea. It's an oatmeal box decorated with tea paper and tea bags that I tacked on to it. I finished it off with a stocking filled with an extra tea bag.

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Boas Festas!

If you lived in Guinea-Bissau you may be told that tomorrow. It means Merry Christmas. Tomorrow morning carolers will begin the day by going around singing songs of the Savior's birth. Cards and gifts are exchanged either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day just like in Western countries. People go to church to pray on Christmas Day all decked out in new clothing. After church a yummy dinner is prepared.

Everything I read about a Bissau-Guinean Christmas seems similar to Western celebrations. It is a past colony of Portugal, and must have gotten some influence from them. Only about 10% of the people are Christian, but Christmas is still a national holiday.

Atapa is a common dish in Western Africa. It is made out of sweet potato and either cassava, millet, or sorghum flour. I couldn't find a recipe, so I sort of made up one. What I came up with looks similar to the pictures I saw, so I'm assuming I did something right.

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1/2 cup sorghum flour
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato

Cover the sweet potato with water in a pot. Bring it to a boil and cook for 30 minutes, or until very tender. Drain the water and mash the potato up. Put the pot over medium heat and slowly stir the flour into the potato until thick.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Kosovo is a baby country- the second youngest in the world. It was formed just in 2008, and is not even recognized as independent yet by neighboring Serbia. The people are mostly Albanian with a few other Balkan ethnic groups. I chose to make Lakror (another name for burek) because it is a popular dish in the area. This one is made of spinach and cooked in a pan instead of an oven. I recommend my earlier cheese version, but this is probably because I don't like spinach.

Christmas in Kosovo is not celebrated by most people as a Christian holiday. 95% of the population is Islamic. Only about 3% is Christian. Those who do celebrate Christmas do so for 2 whole weeks. It spans from Christmas like we celebrate in the States on December 25th, through New Year, and to the Orthodox Christmas on January 7th.

A traditional practice is buzmi. It is a ceremony where a branch is burned in the fire. Afterward, everyone goes to church. It is supposed to bring everyone together and back to the home.

The Muslims in Kosovo don't get left out of the fun, especially those in the capital city of Pristina. The city is mostly Muslim, but you will still see Christmas lights and decorations on every street. The Muslims don't go to church, exchange gifts, or spend time with their families like the Christians in Kosovo do. Instead, they love to party.

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fillo dough, as needed
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/8 tsp salt

Combine the egg, spinach, salt, and yogurt. Oil a 7 inch skillet and cover it with a piece of fillo dough. Put the pan over medium heat. Spread oil onto the sheet of fillo, spread some of the spinach mixture over it evenly, and fold the edges of the fillo over top of the mixture. Put another sheet of fillo over this and start the practice over. Do this until you run out of spinach mixture. Cook until the bottom is browned and then flip to cook the other side. (Be careful not to lat the eggs drip out while you're flipping it.) Cook until the bottom is browned too and serve.