Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Key to Unlock the Door of Hospitality

My house is too small. They won't have a place to park. The carpets are always dirty. Sit on the floor? Are you kidding me? I can't cook. What if I run out of things to say......

Why be hospitable? Do people even need your caring words or actions?

Are people hurting today? Yes. Are they thriving or are they in survival mode? Do they have peace or are they in need of peace? Can you offer them a glass of water?

I'm not known for my hospitality. My mother is a gracious person. I don't have any excuse.....except one. Perfection. I want things to be perfect. And they aren't......ever. My desire for perfection doesn't even come from wanting to please others as much as it comes from my own pride. Ugg. The ugly cards are out on the table now.

Martha, just call me Martha.

But when I consider those I think about hosting I know that they need ME. They need the love of Christ that I can share that day. They need a loving touch or a listening ear. They need to relax and have a moment away from the demands overwhelming their lives. They need a meal.....any meal. A friend recently got excited when I invited her to come over "one day soon." I told her I wasn't sure what I'd cook. She quickly responded, "Grilled cheese would be fine! I just want to come visit!" It really isn't my food she longs for, it's His food she knows she'll get!

Another friend wants to come over. She has never been here but she likes some of the things that consume my time. She just wants to sit and be encouraged, she wants to take a deep breath and slow her pace.

As I prepared for our wonderful fellowship yesterday with my Polish friend, Maria Rybarczyk, I knew that I wanted the focus to be on her, not the food. I bought some fruits, cubed some cheese and set out crackers. We made a delicious punch and had hot coffee and tea available. The table looked bare so I thought about buying a few pretty flowers but I didn't have a lot of time to run out and get them. As I walked into my kitchen I saw some (old....I'm being honest now) "silk" flowers in a vase. (I really feel like I'm using the term "silk" loosely.) At that moment I felt God say to me, "Jan, this isn't about perfection and you have only Me to please. Wash the old flowers, put them in a vase and set them on the table. This day isn't about your idea of beauty. It is about showing them My Love. Just love."

The day was full of dark skies, strong winds, hard rain, impressive lightening and powerful thunder. The phone began ringing as two o'clock approached and I braced myself for regrets. Instead I had requests for: driving instructions, permission to bring a friend, and "Is there anything you'd like me to bring?" Everyone showed up and they were all on time! They brought smiles, umbrellas, diaper bags, excitment and anticipation. We all sat in my livingroom and compared our circle to what the early church must have been like huddled in the catacombs. What a wonderfully glorious day it was.

They sat on the sofa, diningroom table chairs (that don't match the table and were bought from an old army kitchen), the floor....even the inexpensive folding chairs I bought to use outside! There was laughter, some tears, many hugs and prayers. We sang aloud a few songs that have guided and strenghtened Maria....and we sang them a capella. Talk about missing perfection. But I'm certain the angels were singing along too.

My friends (from all walks of life and many not knowing anyone else before coming over), left refreshed. They looked more filled and complete than when they first walked in the door. They were built up and ready to "go forth."

The kitchen was not as clean as I would have liked. A few prep things I had planned to do never got done. My little projects even sat in their places unashamed, waiting on me. It was obvious. She didn't get her whole "look" finished.

But now I know. We weren't really going for "my look." We were going for His look. And since He is Perfection, what was I worried about after all?

IF He is my Boss (and He is!), then I need only concern myself with the assignments He puts before me and they are never too much or too hard.

My friends relax when I relax. And before I know it the meal is finished and they're drying dishes and putting them in my cupboards. (Never my intention or desire by the way!) But they smile and say, "Wow, we're a lot alike. I'd put my such-and-such here too if I were you." Then we're laughing and I'm understanding that they just want to be my family for the day.

They got a lot more than nourishment at my table. They got loved. They felt cherished and listened to and the ride home is an easier one because they know I care about them and they have another sister looking out for them. The harsh world is a little less harsh because they felt loved and not with a love that is superficial....but with God's love, the Perfect love.

"But when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears." 1 Corinthians 13:10

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13: 13

Be the balm that is needed, the oasis that is desired, the friend that is loving and available.

I am tossing the pride of my own need for perfection. My Boss expects obedience, not my simple plan of excellence.

The world is in too much need to wait for us to finally get over ourselves. Set aside personal agendas and Love One Another! The time is nigh.

Can I count on you?

Can He count on you?


Jan aka The New Mary

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mom's Love Rub

Mom's Love Rub, the healing and moisturizing lotion that treats so many things has a home.  Read The Story of Mom's Love Rub at:


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Corn Cake aka Cornbread

Some time back I was asked to talk about cornbread.  The yummy deliciousness of my southern life.  The crumbly, golden yellow bread that makes me smile throughout the whole meal.  The butter soaking bread that sits at the edge of your plate, waiting to be noticed and appreciated.

When I was a little girl my mother said that I called cornbread cake.  What a smart girl I was....   This stuff can be so delightful that you'll want to call it cake and eat it for dessert but don't do it.  Put it on the plate, let it sop up the gravy, break it up and put it on top of your beans and rice and save room for dessert.  (Dessert is an event in itself!)

But how to make it?  And NOT use a boxed kit?  Well lets see......Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and let the fun begin!

Those of you who already know me know we'll be starting with the basics.  Get out the corn.

What?  I see a look of concern on your face.  You did know that cornbread was made with corn, right?  Oh,  not that corn?  Bless your little heart, I bet you think chicken comes from the grocery store too, right?  Well get out your cornmeal and jump in when you're ready.  But I only thought it fair to show you the truest form of good ole' fashioned cornbread, Darlin'.

Put it in the mill (if you have one) and make your cornmeal.  If you don't have a mill but would really like some fresh-as-a-newborn-babe-cornmeal, then next time you come over for coffee, I'll send you home with a few cups.  See how pretty that looks?

You'll also need some regular flour and I like to use whole wheat flour.  Only the best, you know.  And yes, it gets milled too. 

 You'll want some farm-fresh eggs from a sweet little hen...

Can't you tell just by looking at those eggs that the hen was a happy girl walking her way around the farm, visiting with the girls, finding crunchy bugs to chew on and casting sweet glances in the direction of that no-good rooster?

Moving right along....this wasn't really meant to be a romantic recipe after all.

Measure out one-half cup of sugar
one teaspoon of salt

I use Real Salt.  It is our favorite.  Can you see the minerals in it?  I buy it in a large bag and just keep refilling my small shaker.

And you'll need your trusty baking power (aluminum-free, please) 

While you're busy getting your supplies together, measure out two cups of water and one-third cup of powdered milk. 

Put all of the ingredients in your mixer (that's my Bosch in the background...thanks, Mom! a million times over!) and mix for two minutes.

Grab your large cast iron skillet.....the one your grandmother left you in her will or the one you wisely purchased at that amazing garage sale and put two tablespoons of bacon grease in it.  This is the moment I'll hear plenty of you shouting....I don't keep bacon grease!  We try to stay away from those kinds of fats!  Only hillbillies eat bacon grease!  You have just entered Hillbilly World, Friend.

Put your skillet into the oven and let the skillet get hot.  The grease can't help but melt.  It will be your job to see that the bottom gets covered with the grease once it is completely melted.

Carefully take out the very heavy, very hot skillet.  Pour in your cornbread batter and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  You'll know it is finished when the top is golden and your mouth is watering.

Now that looks mighty tasty, doesn't it?  Can you see why it makes good cake too?  Put a little butter on it and then drizzle some honey over that.  Oh, Babe, sit back and savor the moment....Corn Cake has just arrived.

Thank you again, Jonny.  You take amazing pictures of your Moma cookin!

The easy-to-read version, dull but easy-to-read:

2 cups cornmeal
2 cups flour
1/2 sugar
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups water
2 eggs
2 tablespoons bacon grease

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all ingredients except for bacon grease in mixer.  Add bacon grease to skillet and place in oven to heat.  Evenly spread out grease and pour in batter.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Love Sauce

Once upon a time, in a very big city, there was a fast-food place that a young girl liked to eat at.  There were only two in this very big city and they were quite a distance from one another but both were very tasty and enjoyed by the girl.

Like a creature of habit, the girl always bought the same thing.  A grilled burger on a lightly toasted bun with grated cheddar cheese and Sauce.  Oh, the Sauce.  Happiness joined these two: the juicy burger and the yummy Sauce.  And when the girl ate there, she joined in the happy union....and savored the moment.

Then one day the girl moved away.

Far, far away.  Like when you discover it's hard to visit as often as you'd like and your heart starts hurting.

The body can always move.  The heart often remains.

The girl decided that life was going to be only as good as she could make it so she set out to make it tasty.

Tasty is important.  Never forget that.

Burgers, even juicy ones, can be made.  Lightly toasted buns, grated sharp cheddar cheese....all these things can be had.  But the Sauce!

So....on a dark and foggy night the girl set out to reunite herself with the moment of Happiness between Juicy Burger and Sauce.....as they had come to be known. 

Call it fate.  Call it destiny.  Call it desperation on a mission.  Yummy Sauce was achieved and forevermore became known far and wide as LOVE SAUCE!  (Can you hear the angels singing???)

Love Sauce....a hush falls over the room.

Love Sauce...the mouth begins to water.

Love Sauce....a smile escapes the lips.

Love Sauce....Reunited with the Juicy Burger!

And now, many years later after a long bout of soul-searching, the girl, almost as young as she was in the former days.....only younger now because of the joy in her heart, decided to share this piece of Happiness with you. 

You will accomplish this great feat with unexpected ease.  You will pass it on to future generations.  You will slather it on your burgers and pile high the mountain of grated cheddar cheese.  You will become known far and wide for your great culinary skills.  You will sing my praises...if you don't happen to already.  And you will shout with exclamations of joy when the Great Burger Day comes and you can once again make Love Sauce.

Let us get down to business now.  Are you prepared to begin impacting the world with more love?

Assemble you supplies and start your engines.

You'll need only a few things to make your great mark in the Book of Tantalizing Tastes:

1 cup of ketchup, a very good brand, if you please
3 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke
Bowl and spoon

Mix the two together until they are one.  Lick spoon.  You're done.

You are now a Graduate of my Tantalizing Taste School for Masters.

What?  Did you forget to send in the application for acceptance to this great school no-one-anywhere-has-ever-heard-about?  Did you not enclose your check or money order?  Are you suggesting you just got all this for free???

I guess I'll let you slide this one time....if you make this one deal with  me.  Use my Great and Wonderful recipe frequently and herein and forevermore refer to it as the great Love Sauce that it is and spread your fair share of love in this world.   The Good Lord knows we sure need it!

A message from the Dean of Culinary Education (that's me after all):  
You may at any time adjust the measurements given.  I just wanted to get you on a roll.  More, less, whatever you want.  You're the Boss, I only pretend to be the Boss.  I found out I don't really like being the Boss.  It's too demanding and bossy.  It really doesn't pay that well either~

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mocha-Walnut Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache

What a lovely, deliciously, chocolaty time of year.  With Valentine's Day approaching, I decided to look up some yummy treats that my family might like.  We all enjoy homemade goodies so this was a fun project.  Come in the kitchen with me and we'll whip up something tasty.

This recipe-posting is dedicated to one of my very sweet daughters, Miss All-Grown-Up, who happens to live a long way away.  I miss you, Sweetheart, and wish I could make this for you today.  We'd share a sweet cookie-bar and a hot coffee over a loooong conversation.

Today I'm making a Pillsbury recipe:  Mocha-Walnut Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache.  The bars have three distinct layers which are prepared and cooked separately, one on top of another.  It is very easy to do and your children can jump in and help you.  (Trust me, if they don't help you in the beginning while you're putting this together.....they WILL help you in the end by eating it!  Maybe now's a great time to tell them the story of The Little Red Hen...)  The recipe is designed to be quick and easy and does so by using refrigerated sugar cookie dough.   Feel free to use your own sugar cookie dough recipe instead if you'd prefer. 

2 1/2 cups of very finely chopped walnuts
6 T. sugar
6 T. melted butter
1 roll sugar cookie dough (or make a batch of sugar cookie dough from your personal favorite recipe!)
2 T. instant espresso coffee granules (the recipe called for 1T. but 2T. gives it more of the coffee flavor)
1 t. home-brewed vanilla (my own personal addition)
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate baking chips
1/4 cup plus 2T. whipping cream

It's a great idea to get your supplies together.  It makes the work go smoothly and you can live out your cooking show fantasies.  (That'll be our little secret.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir your walnuts, sugar and butter together in a bowl until completely mixed.
This is where I decided to add my homemade vanilla.  (Now you need to know how to make your own delicious vanilla!  We'll get to that soon.  It's easy, only a bit time-consuming and you know it is homemade goodness.)

Press the mixture evenly on the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 pan.

(Here's where I'd like to tell you that I followed the directions exactly and wasn't as pleased at how they came out of the pan.  I'd suggest spraying the pan before layering.  It's what I plan to do next time.)
Bake for 8-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Cool for 30 minutes.

While that is cooling, begin to prepare the cookie layer.  In a large bowl, knead the cookie dough and espresso granules until blended.

Drop spoonfuls of dough evenly over the walnut crust.    Gently press the dough together over the crust.  Bake for 20 minutes.  (The recipe said to cook for 20-25 minutes but I think 25 is a little long and makes the cookie too crunchy.)  Let cool for 30 minutes.
Finally the ganache.....What a wonderful word.  It rolls around your mouth much like the chocolate itself!  And it isn't hard to make but very impressive.  

I prefer to make my ganache in a double-broiler, which I also have to make.  If you don't have one, make one like mine.  I put a glass bowl over a small pot of water and let the water heat up and melt my chocolate chips.  The other option is the microwave but I don't like microwaves so we don't happen to have one.  

Add the chocolate chips and the whipping cream to your bowl and heat it slowly.  

Your chips will begin to mix and the whipping cream will blend right in.  I stir constantly because the transformation tends to happen quickly.  Stir until the chips and cream are one happy family.  

Spread the chocolate ganache over the bars.
Refrigerate for one hour.  Cut the bars into 24 servings (6 rows by 4 rows) or smaller if you'd like dainty servings that don't seem to add as much cushion to your thighs.  I'm just saying.....

They're delightful and delicious with a hot cup of coffee or an ice cold glass of milk.  Divine.

ps.  Licking fingers is allowed.

***Thank you to Jonathan Anderson for taking the pictures.  Your work is always the best!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas
from the Nellis family

Wishing you many blessings this holiday season!