Gluten Free Friday – NYC GF Restaurant

Instead of posting a recipe today, I though I would tell you about a wonderful restaurant we went to while in NYC last Saturday. I’ve actually been there several times, and couldn’t wait to take my family. It’s called Risotteria and has gluten free pizza, paninis, risotto, and desserts. (Also gluten free beer if you’re interested!)) Located in the West Village area of the city – near NYU. We took a subway to Prince Street and walked several blocks down Bleecker Street. The address is 270 Bleecker.

Upon being seated – which sometimes takes a while since the place is tiny – you are given a tall glass full of long, hot, fresh, gluten free breadsticks – like crusty, buttery, brown “flour” stems standing tall in their vase. And these can be replenished as often as you like. The kids thought they were in GF heaven!

Kory had a cheese pizza. They have a very thin and crispy crust. Cooper ordered a turkey/cheese panini – like a grilled sandwich. Robert had the same – only his had gluten! (They are extremely careful about cross contamination, though.) I had the spinach, red pepper, and feta risotto – which is almost like orzo pasta, but really a dense-grained rice. Kayla had a sampler plate made of portions of all of our food. Everything was delicious and safe!

For dessert, the kids shared the cookie plate – three cookies for $8. Not inexpensive, but so fun to have your diet be so well catered to. The boys went for chocolate chip, and Kayla had the black and white cookie which was a cake textured lemon cookie dipped in chocolate and vanilla icing. So yummy….I, of course, had to sample each one for this research. πŸ™‚

And this is only one of MANY restaurants and bakeries in NYC that cater to special diets and allergies. Takes a little effort to get your bearings, but if you do the research ahead of time, you can have a wonderful dining experience in the city. Celiac Chicks is a blog dedicated almost exclusively to dining in NYC with Celiac Disease.

Winter Adventures

When we moved here, several people told us that the only way to make it through the winter was to get outside and learn to enjoy it. Well, our kids are much better at it than we are. (Although we did purchase his and her snowshoes last week!) They think nothing of getting on the gear and heading outside.
Their latest adventure is the building of this snow tunnel. I would guess that it is about 20 feet long and has a couple of “rooms” off the main corridor! Any hardcore winter camper would give this shelter the thumbs up. They started by piling up a long, tall mound of snow and then carving out a tunnel with various tools – small sand pails, and their hands. And the bulk of this was done in 5 degree weather! They were just so busy that they stayed fairly warm.
Another outing we took this weekend was to New York City to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. Since it was a Saturday, and there was not the usual commuter traffic, we left our house at 9:30am and parked our car on 42nd Street about 3 blocks from our theater and Time Square by 12 noon. Easy as pie! I saw the show in August with my sister and ever since have wanted to take the kids to see this spectacular production. Well, thanks to a very generous and thoughtful friend – who gave us several VISA gift cards recently – we were able to go! I even found half-price tickets on line so the total bill was less than $200 – which is almost unheard of! All of us were completely mesmerized by the show, and we even bought the soundtrack so we’ve been singing ever since! It was VERY COLD though – and windy, but so worth it.

Good Medicine

Robert and Kayla come in the door – back from a trip to the post office and grocery store.

Kayla: Mommy, we got you a surprise! Chocolate!

Me: Oh boy! Thank you….and dark chocolate….my favorite!

Robert: Yeah, the package said “Compare to Prozac.”

Me: Really??????

Robert: No.

I’m counting on the possibility that SOME of the effects are the same.
And placebos are fine with me! πŸ™‚

Gluten Free Friday – Coffee Cake

This is another recipe that my friend Sara E. passed along to me. We make it for breakfast mostly on special occasions like holidays or birthdays, but sometimes just because it’s so good!

Coffee Cake

Cake Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups GF flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk (soy, rice, almond are fine)

Sift sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter in small pieces into the bowl and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers until crumbly. In a small bowl, beat egg slightly. Add milk and vanilla to the egg and mix. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix well.

Topping ingredients: (I doubled Sara’s recipe)
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp GF flour
4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Mix dry ingredients well and stir in melted butter until well blended.

Butter an 8 inch square pan. Spread the batter in the pan and spread topping on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 375*. (Some of the topping should drop through the batter while cooking.)

Recipe for Disaster/ Prescription for Healing & Hope

Unhealthy Habits:
Perfectionism, Self-Sufficiency, Pride, Lack of trust, Failure to observe Sabbath Rest, Worry, Making Choices out of Fear, Desire to Control, Misunderstanding Grace, Too Much Time on the Treadmill of Performance, Running the Marathon of Life at a Sprint…..etc.

Related Symptoms:
Fatigue, Weariness, Depression, Despair, Fantastical Thoughts of Escape, Loss of Joy, Numbness, Tears…..

Petered-Out Perfectionistic Pastor’s Wife Pneumonia πŸ™‚

1 loving husband to provide, protect, and, create a new balance
1 Beth Moore Bible Study on Galations – Living Beyond Yourself
3 timely books full of wisdom: Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels,
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, The Pressure’s Off by Larry Crabb
Time to read and pray and sleep
Lots of Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb Music on repeat (Thanks to Romy’s raves)
Cessation of all appointments and extra-curriculars for 6 weeks
Hiking, running, coffee dates, dinners out, movies, and concerts with transformed husband full of sacrificial love and service (not that he wasn’t before – just times 100 now!)

Thank you so much for your prayers and your ears and your emails. This seemed the best way for me to describe my current battle. I know you’ve been there too.

A few things I’ve been listening to:

He loves through every changing scene,
Nor aught from Him can Zion wean;
Not all the wanderings of her heart
Can make His love for her depart.

Love cannot from its post withdraw;
Nor death, nor hell, nor sin, nor law,
Can turn the Surety’s heart away;
He’ll love His own to endless day.
by William Gadsby

Rock of Ages
by Sandra McCracken

Rock of Ages, when the day seems long
From this labor and this heartache I have come
The skies will wear out, but You remain the same
Rock of Ages, I praise Your name.

Rock of Ages, You have brought me near
You have poured out Your life-blood, Your love, Your tears
To make this stone heart come alive again
Rock of Ages, forgive my sin

Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Bind your children til’ your kingdom comes
Rock of Ages, Your will be done

Rock of Ages, when in want or rest
My desperate need for such a Savior I confess
Pull these idols out from my heart embrace
Rock of Ages, I need Your grace

Rock of Ages, broken, scorned for me
Who am I that You would die to make me free?
To give me glory, You took the death and pain
Rock of Ages, my offering

Rock of Ages, “It is done,” You cried
The curtain’s torn and I see justice satisfied
Now write Your mercy here on my heart and hands
Rock of Ages, in faith I stand

Rock of Ages, my great hope secure
Your promise holds just like an anchor to my soul
Bind your children with cords of love and grace
Rock of Ages, we give You praise

Bedtime Conversations

In her dark room, tucking Kayla into bed for the night…..

Kayla: Mama?

Me: Yes?

Kayla: Why didn’t Jesus just run away or take Himself down from the cross when people were trying to kill Him?

Me: Well, He didn’t want to go through with it – it was very hard for Him, but He did it because He loved us so much. He knew that if He didn’t take all of the punishment for our sin, then someday we would have to. It was a gift to us because of His love.

Kayla: I thought so.

Perfectly timed with something I have been reading this week….

“This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all.”

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, p.40

Christmas Catch Up

We left a little earlier for our annual trip to Texas and Oklahoma this year. For the first time ever, we traveled on Christmas Day and got to spend the day after with my whole family. Here we are at my dad’s house with sister Melissa and her three kids, sister Melinda – home from Abilene, and brother Stu – home from Palm Springs, CA! We had fun with these self-timed shots in my dad’s front yard. Notice the sandaled and bare feet…..we had ALL warm sunny days on this trip! So thankful…….
This was really NOT a vacation as we hit the preaching/fundraising/reporting circuit soon after. This year we added a couple of churches to the tour – Texas Oaks Baptist where our good friend James is now the pastor and Northridge Baptist – Robert’s sister’s church. We met James and his wife Cathy at Manchaca Baptist about 15 years ago. They helped out in the youth department and had me over for dinner every Monday night while Robert was in San Antonio for seminary. Their family has been such an example of faith and friendship to us. And yes, Robert got to drive James’s Cobra Mustang from the church to the Texican after the service – but I did beat them in the rented mini-van….just for the record. πŸ™‚
The reason for our early arrival in Texas was what I’ve been calling “The Wedding of the Century.” My dear friend Miss Riggs was married to Jack on December 29th. (If you still don’t know who Miss Riggs and Jack are, you can get their history here and here.) So, directly after preaching in Austin, we headed south to San Antonio for the rehearsal and dinner. Our entire family had a part in the ceremony – Robert performing the ceremony, the kids were attendants, and I read a poem/hymn. (This has become my all-time-wedding-job…poetry reading!)
The wedding was just perfect and also a fun reunion with a few folks from my past. The happy couple honeymooned in Costa Rica, but made it a point to come and see us in San Marcos for dinner before we returned home to MA! We could not be happier for them and felt so privileged to be a part of their special day.
Next we headed west to Hondo for a few days at Robert’s parent’s home. We actually do get a little rest here….Robert’s mom made many wonderful meals and gluten free treats, and washed our clothes while Robert’s dad took the boys golfing two days in a row! They LOVED it. Not sure if it was the actual golfing or driving the carts, but they were highly entertained. The downside of this visit was that Kayla got a terrible stomach virus. I was up a whole night with her, and she was so weak by the morning that she couldn’t get herself out of bed to get to the bathroom. Poor thing – she slept almost the entire next day. Grammie and Paw Paw’s house would be the best place to be sick though – plenty of help and freedom to rest.
Next we drove for 12 hours to get from Hondo to Tulsa where many of our good friends from our UHBC days now live. Aaron and Shemaiah Murphy hosted what I think was our largest gathering yet of former students and their families – around 40 people total – and mostly children under the age of 7! Yikes! Miraculously, it went very smoothly and we all had a great time catching up on each other’s lives. This photo was taken at the end of the evening when just a few folks were left! Thank you, Murphys!

Early on a Sunday morning we headed to Stillwater where Robert would be preaching both morning services and then reporting on our church here in MA to the Sunday school classes. The Meffords surprised us by driving from Edmond for the service – we weren’t planning on seeing them until that evening at their house where we would be staying for the next two days. We all – all 12 of us – went to Mexico Joe’s for lunch. Kayla went home with them and got some “girl time,” the boys went to Sam Smith’s house for some “guy time,” and Robert and I hung out at Panera Bread having coffee with a few old friends from church there.
Being at the Mefford’s was definitely a highlight for us! The kids had so much fun with each other. Tamyra treated me with a morning together at the gym (ran 4 1/2 miles on the treadmill!), a visit to the spa (a pedicure AND a facial…heavenly!), Starbucks on the way home, and then dinner (Charlestons) and a movie (Marley and Me) with the husbands! We didn’t want to leave! We love and miss you lots Meffords! Thank you!
We had a VERY short, too short of a visit with the Graf family in Georgetown on our way back into Texas. Sherri was SO sweet to make me a special birthday dinner – a beautiful table setting and eveything! (Forgot to get a picture of that!) And on my actual birthday, (that I get to share with Elvis and Anne C. πŸ™‚ ) Robert arranged for us to spend the night in a bed and breakfast in Wimberley, TX. We left early in the day, (my dad kept the kids) shopped in the quaint town, had an amazing lunch at the Leaning Pear, checked into our beautiful room, went to dinner, and then to a concert at Blue Rock – which is the home of Billy and Dodee Crockett. Does anyone remember Billy Crockett? He was a Christian musician/guitarist/recording artist back in the day. Robert and I used to go to his concerts when he appeared in the Austin area. Anyway, he and his wife now own a huge beautiful home in Wimberley that doubles as a state-of-the-art recording studio/concert venue. We saw an artist named Vance Gilbert that night along with my sister – it was her birthday gift to me. Vance is a truly amazing musician/vocalist – we were blown away!

So, those are the highlights – but there were some very low points as well. One of which was losing a dear friend of ours from Oklahoma. Her name is Marsha and she is the mom of another dear friend of mine from Stillwater, Deborah. We planned to visit Marsha and her husband in Edmond while we were at the Mefford’s. Marsha called the morning of to say that Gaylord had been in the ER all night after having been sick the day before. That was Monday the 5th. Tuesday evening (we were back in Texas by now) we got several urgent calls. One was from Tamrya to say that Brent had been called up to surgery from the ER (he’s an ER Dr.) to help prepare someone for surgery. When he entered the room, he saw Deborah and realized it was Marsha who he was to prepare for surgery – she had suffered a severe aneurysm. Brent reported that the prognosis was not too good and she died two days later on my birthday. We were shocked and greatly saddened over this sudden loss and we could only imagine the great loss Deborah and her family were experiencing. Marsha was a great and godly lady. Just last January she and Gaylord had us over for lunch – a wonderful baked potato bar. Then they took the time to ask us how we were doing, how the church was doing, and to pray for us and our family. She is the one who introduced me to the book The Shack which I read immediately after her recommendation and was deeply impacted. A few years back she emailed me when she knew Robert was out of town just to say she was praying for me knowing what it was like to be alone at home with small children. A wonderful woman with a heart for ministry and full of love and compassion for people. She will be missed, but she is finally with the love of her life – her Lord.

And there were other very low points – some of which I may post about here soon. Some are still in progress and are painful, but of course the Lord is accomplishing His purposes in me and pain is oftentimes a part of that. I am completely exhausted from the pace of the last few months and years. I have been prideful and driven and have not trusted the Lord in several areas. I am learning again and for the first time what it means to be a child and not a slave….

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Galations 4:6-7

All for now…..have a good week!

Gluten Free Friday – Brown Sandwich Bread

We have just returned from a three week trip to Texas which is why I have not had time to post. I have been working on this bread recipe for a while, though. It was inspired by the Oct./Nov. issue of Living Without Magazine which featured several different bread recipes. I took one for a brown bean bread and adjusted it quite a bit. It makes a really nice tasting, slice-able sandwich bread. I still can’t get it to rise quite as much as I’d like, but I’m posting it anyway. If you have GF bread-rising tips, just let me know!

Brown Sandwich Bread

2 1/4 cups GF flour mix (I use rice/tapioca/potato)
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup flax meal
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp (or 1 packet) granulated yeast
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp molasses
5 Tbsp honey, agave, or maple syrup
1 tsp cider vinegar
4 Tbsp canola oil or butter
1 cup warm water

Mix all dry ingredients together – flour mix, almond flour, flax meal, xanthan gum, salt, brown sugar, yeast. In a separate bowl mix liquid ingredients together – eggs, molasses, honey, vinegar, oil, and water. Add dry ingredients to liquid and mix well – about 4 minutes. Pour dough into greased loaf pan – 8 or 9 inch. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes – until doubled in bulk. Bake 45 minutes at 400*. Cool and slice thin with serrated knife.