Monday, December 31, 2012

Oliebollen (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)

Oliebollen are a Dutch New Year's Eve tradition, but for years I've done without because a gluten free, egg free, dairy free version simply didn't exist. I minded but didn't think I could do anything about it.  Finding ways to make traditional recipes Joy-friendly was a challenge, especially when the traditional recipes were written in a language other than my own.  But this year, as my brother and cousins and husband went to Grandpa's house for oliebollen, and Littlest Brother and I stayed home (He can't have wheat either), I decided I would give the recipe search one more try.
I've discovered that by searching for vegan recipes I can find recipes that are egg and dairy free, even though I am by no means a vegan! (bacon wrapped dates are on the menu for later tonight) So I searched for a vegan Oliebollen recipe, and found one.  A few tweaks, and it was also gluten free.  An hour later, I was enjoying fresh Oliebollen, complete with corn-free icing sugar.

and the recipe...
1.5 cup all-purpose gluten free flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend already contains it)
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP sugar
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1.5 cup warm (120-130*F) water (Hint: warmer than a baby's bottle, but not as hot as a hot shower)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
oil for frying
powdered sugar

How it works:
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
2. Add the warm water and lemon juice and mix until well blended
3. Cover with a tea-towel and set in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
4. Heat the oil for frying.  You want it really hot.  We used our little deep fryer, though you could also use a pan with an ample amount of oil in it.
5. Spoon the batter in small amounts into the hot oil.  When one side is cooked (browned), turn the Oliebollen over to cook the other side.
6. Set on paper towels to drain.
7. Enjoy with powdered sugar

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Fun

In our family (meaning, in this case, my parents and siblings) we have a Christmas tradition in which each sibling comes up with a "to share" gift.  This gift is always edible and is cleared with mom beforehand to make sure we get food from all the food groups.  Then, as we open gifts on Christmas day, every so often we will open a "to share" gift and share it around. By the end of gift opening we are all quite full.
This year David and I decided we were doing veggies and dip.  But we didn't want to just do a veggie we did a veggie tree!
My favorite were the little yellow stars.  We made them using a Linzer tart cutter.  David cut out the big star for the top. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Grief

In seminary I took a course called "Pastor as Person".  It was a required course for all students and most of us took it in our second year. It was all about how being a person, a human being with feelings, emotions, and experiences, affected our pastoral identity. It affects how we preach and how we interact with people. All and all it was a very interesting class taught by a stellar professor. It came to mind this year as I sat in our Christmas Eve service at church.
I've never looked at Christmas through the eyes of a grieving mother before.  I couldn't.  Not before I became a grieving mother.  Sitting in church listening to the pastor talk about the hope and expectation of a baby, a tiny bundle of hope coming, hurt.  It hurt a lot. Listening to the pastor talk about labor and delivery, reminded me of the baby that I would not deliver.  And I wept.
I wept for my baby who was already home with Jesus and I wept for all the babies who weren't home with their mothers and fathers this year.  The babies who were called home far too early for our liking.
And I do you approach Christmas with a sensitivity to all that hurt?  How do you a preach a Christmas message of hope and new life to those who are mourning the loss of life?
These (and others) are questions I ponder as my pastoral identity continues to be shaped. These are questions that I hope I can keep in mind if and when I ever get called to lead a congregation on my own. Because Christmas should bring hope to everyone.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Throughout the month of November many of my friends have been posting daily "thankful" statuses on facebook or on their blogs, listing a different thing that they are thankful for every day, in no particular order. I was not that on top of things and didn't participate in the 30 days of thankfulness this year, so now I've decided to make a more cumulative posting of things that I am thankful for in no particular order.
1. I am thankful for my husband David.  He is super supportive and loving and I would not have gotten through these last few months without him by my side.
2. I am thankful for the beautiful hoar-frost outside my window this morning.  It's our first hoar-frost of the winter and it reminds of why I like winter.
3. My parents.  They have been super gracious about letting David and I live in the apartment attached to their house and finding work that we can do around the house so that we don't have to pay rent in a monetary fashion every month.  Without their generosity we would not be able to live in Canada.
4. I am thankful that David got accepted to Tyndale.  This will hopefully allow him to get a student visa and may streamline the immigration process.
5. I am thankful for my computer.  It allows me to stay connected with the outside world even when I can't get out. It even allows me to do some Christmas shopping online.
6. My team of doctors.  For the most part, they believe in me and aren't going to give up on me any time soon. Sometimes they even have answers for me as to what is wrong with me and know how to fix it.
7. Beans and rice.  On a limited budget we eat a lot of beans and rice.  I'm thankful that they are such a versatile dish and we can season them in many, many different ways.
8. Free health care.  With my health concerns, even in the past few months, I have been to the hospital/doctor many times. If we were living somewhere where we didn't have free health care, we would be bankrupt by now. Instead, the financial costs of my hospitalizations were something that we didn't have to worry about.
9. Facebook.  Yes, sometimes facebook can be addicting and I can waste too much time on it, but it allows me to stay connected with people I care about, stalk those who happen to cross my newsfeed, and even brings me occasional interesting news articles.
10. Advent. I love Advent.  Not as much as I like Lent and Easter, but still a lot.  I like the season of waiting and hoping and preparing.  I like the constant reminder of Advent that we are living in the "already, not yet" time.  Christ has already come once, but he has not yet come the second time.
11. My brothers.  Even though they can be annoying sometimes and don't always do what they know they are supposed to, they often do help out when I need them to do something that I either can't do or am simply too lazy to do myself, like blowing up my big exercise ball so I can bounce on it or move heavy boxes for me. On very rare occasions they'll even help without being asked.
12. Books.  Since I am not taking classes right now I'm enjoying a reprieve from academic reading and enjoying pleasure reading for the first time in many years. Reading books allows me to escape into a world of fantasy and fiction, even if just for a short time.
13. The public library.  Without the library I would not have access to hundreds of books for free. David and I go to the library every other week or so.
14. My parents' cars.  Because my parents are awesome they let us borrow their vehicles regularly. This allows David to take me to various appointments, grocery shopping, etc.
15. Modern medicine.  Even though I dislike taking drugs, I take a lot of them every day, just to keep me on an even keel, prevent seizure, help me sleep, keep my digestive system from having spasms, and make up for the vitamins and minerals that I don't get from food (ie: calcium).  And then there are my emergency medications such as my epi-pen that have saved my life more than once.
16. Traditions.  Traditions help keep some semblance of continuity and sameness, while allowing for variation.  Since this is David's and my first Christmas as married couple, we are developing some of our own traditions such as our beautiful Advent calendar that I picked up at Operation Christmas Child and giving our gifts on Dec. 6 instead of Dec. 25, and holding on to some older traditions from my family such as hanging brass ornaments in the window.
17.  A warm, dry place to live.  So many people in the world don't have that and David and I are blessed with ample room that is warm and dry.
19.  Church.  Even though I don't always see eye-to-eye with the institution of the church as set up by mankind, I am thankful for the Church as a whole - the body of believers that are the Church universal.
20. In the same vein as number 19, I am thankful that I am free to attend church without risk of prosecution.  I don't always make it to church as often as I'd like (mornings are sometimes rough for me and if I'm too tired I stay home), but I'm thankful that I have the option.
21.  Friends near and far. I don't mean just the "hi! How are you doing?" "Fine and you?" type friends, but the friends that let me be painfully real and honest and vulnerable with them and who do the same with me, even if it is only over facebook.
22. Alpacas.  Even though I sometimes don't want to get out of bed to take care of them in the morning my life would not be the same without these furry, wonderful creatures. Especially the babies.  They are always up to some sort of mischief or another.
23. Indoor swimming pools.  I love swimming.  If I had been born a fish I don't think I would have objected. Indoor pools let me swim year round.  I just wish there was one closer than an hour away!
24. Emma.  Emma is a horse that lives nearby that I am allowed to ride whenever I please. The only condition is that I brush her before and after. She provides much relaxation to me.
25. Easter.  Easter is my favorite holiday of all.  I start counting down for Easter as soon as Easter is done. I love the gospel of Easter so much!

That's all for tonight.  I'm getting sleepy and my fingers are hitting the wrong keys more often than the right ones...