Gluten Free Friday – West Lynn Cafe Pasta Salad

The West Lynn Cafe used to be a very popular vegetarian cafe in Austin, TX where I was a college student years ago. I believe the restaurant closed a few years back and in its place now is the Cosmic Cafe! This pasta salad recipe is one that was popular at the West Lynn. It is printed in the Austin Junior Forum 1995 Cookbook called Changing Thymes which I own and use quite a bit. All I did to make it gluten free was use brown rice rotini pasta, and La Choy soy sauce (which is gluten free) in place of the tamari. You can buy wheat free tamari at natural food stores, but I didn’t have any on hand. We had two wonderful families over on Thursday for a barbecue, (6 adults and 11 children!) and this was one of the dishes we served along with grilled chicken, grilled salmon, grilled garden veggies, grilled pineapple, roasted potatoes, and fresh sliced tomatoes with a basil leaf, balsalmic vinegar, and parmesean cheese. Everyone’s contribution made for a delicious dinner!

West Lynn Pasta Salad

1 (16 oz) package GF rotini pasta
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 cup sliced black olives
1 cup toasted pecan pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped artichoke hearts (I used jarred/marinated ones)

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch (1/2 ounce) fresh basil

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Combine pasta, bell pepper, green onion, olives, pecans, and artichoke hearts, mixing well. Combine all dressing ingredients in blender. Blend until garlic is pureed. Add dressing to pasta mixture and toss until thoroughly coated.

Makes about 13 cups.

Kayla’s Hoppy Birthday

Kayla turned 9 on Tuesday! I got up at 6am to get things ready for a special breakfast, peeked into her room on my way downstairs, and discovered that she was already awake – reading her devotional book in bed, sleepless because of the anticipation of her special day.
“I’ve been up since 5:45!” she said.
I told her she would have to stay up there a while longer while I got things in order! I wanted her to find these carrots and note on her breakfast plate since 2 new bunnies were to be her birthday surprise a little later in the day – our compromise for the kitten she’s been wanting for years. (I’m not a fan of indoor animals, we have lots of friends with allergies, and an outdoor cat is out of the question because of the very busy street we live on! Chickens and rabbits….I can handle those….outdoors, in a cage, low maintenance, and the chickens even produce actual food! Wonderful!)

The next surprise was a new devotion book just for girls! Kayla is a faithful Bible and devotion book reader (hear her mama’s thankful heart!), and she has read her current devotion books over and over, so this seemed the perfect gift – especially for girls, with real life situations that girls and kids her age experience, related Scripture, and a suggested prayer.

Later, we took about an hour and a half trip north to pick up the bunnies. We got to meet Bob, who keeps a beautiful collection of pure bred Florida, Rex, and Holland rabbits as a hobby/side business – he’s an electrical engineer by day! He was so kind and taught Kayla the basics of holding, and caring for her new baby bunnies. (He also checked and double-checked that they were BOTH girls. We’re not quite ready for the bunny breeding business!)
On the way home, the bunnies were named Chelsea (white) and Isabella (black). They are just about 7 weeks old and will grow to about twice that size. Chelsea is much more rambunctious than Isabella, and Bob assured us they would stay more docile after getting used to being handled so much.
We also stopped at a local pet store where Kayla purchased their new hutch with the birthday money she received from her grandparents. She’s been a very happy girl the last two days – thoroughly enjoying the cuteness and cuddliness of her new pets! And WE have been enjoying the cuteness and cuddliness of our getting-much-too-big birthday girl!

Saturday Morning Sabbath

Full life…bustling summer…multi-tasking week.
Learning my limits…acknowledging my needs…listening to His voice.
Desiring to be obedient…leaving behind the undone…trusting.
Walking…breathing…sharing…observing beauty.
Reading…praying…casting cares.

Gluten Free Friday – Fudge Pops!

Just because we’re not exactly having a warm summer doesn’t mean that the kids aren’t searching the freezer for popsicles! I posted a couple of recipes for homemade ones last summer, so this year I’ll add a couple of recipes for fudge pops. I usually have trouble finding fudge pops that don’t have wheat starch or barley malt, so I was delighted to find a recipe for the in the current issue of Living Without Magazine. They are also dairy free – using coconut milk as the base. The fudge pops turned out delicious, so then I experimented a bit and made a batch we like to call Java Crunch Fudge Pops – after a favorite ice cream of ours.

Fudge Pops

3 cups unsweetened coconut milk (Whole Foods now offers this in the dairy case – in cartons!)
1/2 cup honey or agave
1/4 (heaping) cup of arrowroot starch or cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (chopped)
1 Tbsp coconut oil (or 2 Tbsp nut butter)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine coconut milk, honey/agave, cocoa powder, arrowroot/cornstarch, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat – whisking until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in baking chocolate, coconut oil, and vanilla. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Java Crunch Fudge Pops

2 cups coconut milk
2 packets instant decaf coffee granules
1 1/2 cup hot water
1/4 (heaping) cup arrowroot starch or cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 0z unsweetened baking chocolate
1 Tbsp coconut oil or nut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Heath Bar pieces (available in bags on baking aisle)

Heat 1 1/2 cups water in saucepan, and dissolve coffee granules in hot water. Add coconut milk, arrowroot/cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to boil over medium heat – whisking until thickened. Remove from heat and add baking chocolate, coconut oil, and vanilla. Let cool and stir in Heath Bar pieces. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Set Sail!

That was the theme of this year’s Crosswalk youth camp, which we have felt privileged to be part of for 7 years now. To kick off the camp, Allyson, the director, arranged for the entire staff to go for a “three hour tour” on a beautiful schooner sailboat! (Probably not the correct terminology…you sailors can correct me!) We left from Gloucester, MA harbor and sailed out into the bay. It was quite windy (17 knots), and there was a lot of concern about seasickness, but most of our “crew” did just fine. Kayla had the most difficult time. Not really sick, but very scared – she kept her head buried in my lap for almost the entire 3 hours. Not sure if the later tummy ache was from being hunched for that long, or true seasickness!
Kory was one a a few who volunteered, at different times, to raise the sails. I think everyone was surprised to discover how incredibly difficult that can be!
Then it was back to the Gordon College campus where camp is held every year. The campers (there were over 500 this year!) stay in dorms and eat in the cafeteria. This is a highlight for our kids, who love the endless and daily supply of french fries available at nearly every meal! The chapel is used each morning for “Morning Celebration” and then every evening for worship.
In line with the theme, Captain Crosswalk Chris and First Mate Tommy greeted campers each morning with much comedy!
Robert gave the daily verses for “quiet time” each morning, and then the youth dispersed to meet alone with God and then with their individual Bible study groups. Robert was also responsible for leading all of the chaperones in a morning Bible study, and leading them in the rec time immediately following. After lunch, he had a few hours to himself to finalize and talk through the sermon for evening worship. 6 Bible studies, 6 sermons and lots of silly games….whew! The sea and sailing theme lent itself well to the sermons which were mostly from the book of John. And Robert was able to use some footage from Zac Sunderland’s solo circumnavigation of the globe. Zac is the youngest person to ever do this – and happens to be a Chirstian – and a homeschooler!
And even Kayla, who isn’t old enough to be a camper yet, got in on the action when, on the last day of camp, they sang the beloved “Moose Song.” This was a camp favorite last year!

There was a moose…he liked to drink a lot of juice
The moose’s name was Fred….he liked to drink his juice in bed
He drank his juice with care….but he got it in his hair
Now he’s a sticky moose….he’s a moose-a-full-of-juice

Hidden deep spiritual meaning, of course. 😉

“Mega Relay” is always on the Friday afternoon of camp. Cooper’s Bible study actually won in the junior high category – not only the actual relay, but also the spirit stick! (This is Coop’s first year to be a camper.) Here he is in the “chariot race.” He wasn’t so happy about being the smallest in his group and kept trying to convince me that there were kids older than 12 and 13 in his group. Turns out he was wrong – they were just incredibly BIG 12 and 13 year olds. Even Celio, his adult male leader said, “They are even bigger than me!”
Here’s Kory and teammate Ashley doing the 3-legged race portion of the relay. I loved watching Kory work with his team. He wore a huge smile the entire time, was TOTALLY “in” to the competition aspect, and was helping and encouraging his teammates the entire time – pure joy shining from his face!
And then we had to say goodbye. While Robert, Kayla, and I packed the van, these guys all threw the football in the parking lot. My boys are so blessed to have guys like Ben, Mike, and Tommy – older and godly guys, to laugh with, play with, talk with and learn from.

What a great week of fun and fellowship! I didn’t want to come home! While the Krumrey men stayed very busy, Kayla and I had the difficult job of lounging at the beautiful nearby beach, hanging out on campus, going to see an afternoon movie, drinking iced coffee, shopping, and resting in our dorm. (Did I mention that our “dorm” was actually a 4 bedroom apartment with a living room and full kitchen?!) OK…I did actually stay pretty busy with making gluten free goodies and meal substitutions when we couldn’t eat what the cafeteria served, as well as training for a new homeschool program we’re starting in the fall, but it was still vacation-like being away from home and with lots of fun people!

10 years ago today….

…on a beautifully clear and sunny day, with the bluest sky I have ever seen, the Krum family drove across the New York border into Massachusetts after a two week trek from Oklahoma. They came to plant a church!
And so today we celebrate the faithfulness and provision of the Lord in our church, the life of our family, and the countless individuals who have been a part of Mercyhouse through the years. What an adventure it has been…what an opportunity to trust and know the Lord like never before. What a special family He has provided…what a body of worshippers intent on bringing Him glory…what a wonderful “kingdom outpost” as Robert likes to say. We give Him thanks for the privilege it has been to be a part of His marvelous and miraculous work here in New England!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-22

Cousins, Cookouts, Country, Cape Cod…Craziness!

Our kids love to have house guests, but none have been more anticipated than these…..the Etheredge cousins from Texas! I think they started the countdown way back in January when we left THEIR home in Austin. I was equally excited to be able to spend time with my sister Melissa. We missed you, Melinda! Yes, we are ALL “Mel” and we have a “Stu”, too… old minister friend of ours just used to call us “Mel, Mel, Mel, and Stu when we walked in the church doors. 🙂
As soon as they got off the plane and we made the hour long trek back to our house, we had a cookout to celebrate Kory’s 14th birthday. We invited a few other friends to join us as well – so these are not ALL cousins! This is Cody – one of Kory’s good friends and fellow homeschooler.
Cooper provided the campfire music in his effortless style….Journey, Bon Jovi, and Greensleeves! He continues to amaze us with his natural guitar ability. (Cousin Jonah and Cody also got their turns…lots of talent here, folks!)
Next morning we took advantage of living nearly ON TOP of the Norwottuck Rail Trail which is a wonderful bike trail accessible near our house. It conveniently passes behind Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble, so we stopped for gluten free ice cream sandwiches, iced coffee, fraps, and book browsing before heading back home.
On several evenings there were performances by all of the cousins serving as either actors and actresses, writers, stage managers, or directors. The performances were usually held on our trampoline and were like variety shows – short vignettes, skits, music, and poetry – the Alcott family would be proud! They did a wonderfully creative and witty job on each.
The next morning Cooper and Jonah went on their “Quest” hike – a requirement on their list of challenges to complete before turning 13 next spring. They hiked 6 miles from The Notch to the Summit House of the Holyoke Range. It took them about 4 and a half hours. Us moms met them at the top with lunch and taxi service back to the house. Robert and friend JJ were the fearless guides.
Saturday was the 4th and we enjoyed the town parade. Highlight: running into the street to gather as much candy as possible that is thrown from the various police cars, tractors, and firetrucks!
Later, it was volunteering at the carnival before the fireworks and collecting donations for next year’s show. (Our church always provides volunteer staff for this!) Then we all gathered for a picnic dinner and waited for the show, which I think is always very spectacular for a small town, and this year even more so, since we were celebrating our 250th year!
The last few days of our time together as the big HIGHLIGHT as well was……getting to go to Cape Cod for 4 days! We stayed in the wonderful vacation home of some sweet friends which just happens to have a pool! Imagine our daily dilemma: Pool or Beach? Oh well…how ’bout both! We’ll swim in the morning, eat lunch, head to the beach, and then swim some more when we get home. Tough life, I know….
(And pictured above, those sweet friends are treating this entire crew to ice cream! Thanks, Dan and Sarah!)
The beach was wonderful and we actually had SUNSHINE! WE haven’t seen our friend the sun in quite a while here in New England, but it seems that the Texans brought a bit of their heat to share with us and we were VERY grateful!

Not sure why…but Kayla loves to be buried every time we go to the beach. She’s the one with eyes closed near the ground! Kory and Robert didn’t make this trip with us, since Kory had a baseball tournament and Robert was preparing 6 sermons for a youth camp we’d be heading to in a few days.

And then the dreaded day arrived! We had to say goodbye…and it seemed they had JUST arrived. Can’t believe how quickly 10 days passed. Robert and I took them to the airport without our kids, so that we could get a coffee date in on the way home. While sipping our Starbucks I got a tearful phone call from Kayla….”Mommy, I miss them so much already. I feel so sad. Can you come home and snuggle with me? I need a hug.” And then the next day….”How long do you think I will feel sad, Mama?”
What a blessing! To have close relationships with family, to long to be with them, and to grieve when they leave. And to have a sister who is a kindred spirit in many ways. And in the ways we differ in temperament, I learn so much from hers!

We miss you guys, and can’t wait to see you in January!

Gluten Free Friday – Farm Fresh

This will be our 8th season (I think) to be a part of a CSA – a Community Supported Agriculture farm called the Brookfield Farm. The season runs from June through Thanksgiving and provides and abundance of fresh, local, and organic fruits and vegetables. And not only that, but other local farms, dairies, etc. have begun to sell their products right in the farm shop allowing me to also buy local yogurt from grass fed cows, local duck eggs, beef, pork, chicken, goat cheese, milk, and even locally canned, fermented carrots, sauerkraut, beets, kombucha, and locally homemade popsicles! Really, we are so spoiled in the area of good, local, organic food that it is hard to imagine ever living in a place that didn’t offer this amazing selection.
This photo turned out a bit blurry, but you get an idea of what it looks like in the farm shop. The chalkboard tells you “What’s in your share” and then you bag your own veggies accordingly. Usually the board announces what veggies are available on the tables and whether or not you can fill a whole plastic produce bag or a half or a third, etc. with that particular food.
The other table in the shop holds all of the “greens.” I’ve had to learn to use lots of different kinds of greens and still am not very good at anything but salads! I usually end up steaming the kale and chard, freezing it, and using it in soups at a later date.
I have never been a fan of beets – probably because the only kind I was ever exposed to were the canned ones from the grocery store. Robert, on the other hand likes them and grew up eating beets from his own family’s garden. They are still not my favorite, but I am slowly acquiring a taste. We can get quite a few of them in the farm share, so I decided to look up some new ways of cooking and serving them. This recipe comes out of The Martha Stewart Cookbook which has several recipes for any kind of fruit or veggie you can imagine.
Puree of Beets

1 small bunch of beets (4 to 6)
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp heavy cream or Creme Fraiche
zest of 1 orange (I thought this made it “too orange-y” and would use much less next time!)
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the beets in cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Peel the beets and puree in a food processor. Stir in vinegar, cream, orange zest, salt, and pepper. Serve warm.

The kids did OK with eating this dish, but I think beets still remain near the bottom of the list of favorite veggies in this house!

On a wall in the farm shop is another chalkboard letting you know what veggies and fruits you need to pick yourself – things like strawberries (see kid pic above!), raspberries, herbs, sugar snap peas, shelling peas, snow peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes, tomatillas, and even a wonderful variety of flowers. Two weeks ago, we were able to pick a quart of sugar snap peas, and I found another Martha Stewart recipe to try…

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas

4-5 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 pounds sugar snap peas, strings removed
1/2 tsp sugar
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet and saute the peas until tender, 3-4 minutes. ( I cooked mine a bit longer.) Sprinkle with the sugar and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Sugar snap peas are one of my absolute favorite vegetables! I had some beautiful pea plants started in my garden, green and growing nicely up the twine trellis I created for them. Then the greedy groundhog found his way into the garden, and he along with his growing family, decided to gobble them all up. And, unfortunately, they didn’t stop there, but devoured the green beans and broccoli as well. I’m down to mint, itty bitty alpine strawberries, jalepenos, and tomatoes! Why don’t groundhogs eat mint???? There’s PLENTY of it to go around! Thankfully, we still have our beloved Brookfield Farm which somehow remains organically free of groundhog gumption!