Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear 2010, You make me vomit, you are the scum between my toes. Love, Alissa

Oh, it's love, it's hate. Who can say? That is pretty much how I feel/think about this year. I learned a lot, the heart wrenching way, and mostly vicariously. Holding out hope for others, and refining my hope at the same time.

In light of that, Sandra McCracken's "In Feast or Fallow" spoke/sang some good truths. In situation after situation, song after song, my heart was stirred to hope and cling to God.

God is good, in feast or in fallow. He is with us and His love comforts us.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." -Psalm 34:8

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." -Isaiah 46:4

I am so looking forward to the new year! Happy New Year!
Each year that passes, we are one more closer to glory, to eternity with Jesus. That makes me so happy.

(I hope my title reminds you of The Little Rascals.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

C is for Cookie, Christmas cookies!

Here are three of the recipes I used this week: sugar cookies, frosting and gingerbreadmen. 

Rolled Sugar Cookies
-6 tablespoons of butter or margarine
-1/3 cup of shortening
-3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
-1 tablespoon of milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-2 cups of all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat butter and shortening, add sugar and beat till fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Add flour and baking powder to beaten mixture, beat until well blended. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or till done. Makes 36 to 48.
Some of these are a little too golden :)

This recipe is from the 1981 edition of the plaid Better Homes and Gardens "New Cook Book." It is my fav, one of my favorite things about Christmas time. We at the Williams' house frost em' with butter cream frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting (from same cookbook)
-6 tablespoons of butter
-4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups of sifted powder sugar
-1/4 cup milk
-1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

Directions: In a small mixer bowl beat butter till light and fluffy. (Better Homes and Gardens is big on beating your butter till its fluffy.) Gradually add about half of the powdered sugar, beating well, Beat in the milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar, then additional milk, if necessary, to make frosting to desired spreading consistency. 
Add food coloring to make it festive! 

Soft Gingerbread(men) Cookies
-3/4 cup molasses
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1/3 cup water
-1/8 cup of softened butter
-3 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon ginger
-1 teaspoon cinnamon 
-1/2 teaspoon clove (I use a heaping half teaspoon, cause I love cloves!)

Mix molasses and water together. Add softened butter and brown sugar, mix. Add the dry ingredients and combine. The dough will be sticky. Refrigerate dough for at least three hours. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. 
I find that the best way to refrigerate the dough is by dividing it in half, then flattening it out on plastic wrap to about an inch thickness. Wrap and store it the plastic wrap. This keeps you from having to work the dough too much. 

Gingerbread angels!
I hope you have as much fun as I did!
Made and frosted over 300 cookies in the last 24 hours!
I realize that probably isn't fun for most people.
 What is sweeter than Christmas cookies? The joy of knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior!

Merry Christmas!!

Immanuel-God with us

I have so much to be thankful for! 

Today I spent a few hours playing church secretary (like old times) and redesigned the Christmas Eve bulletin. I was thinking about my favorite Christmas verses, and there are just so many! The plethora of these verses make me think of God's goodness, His sovereignty, and the infallibility of His plans and ways...and then the weights of this world lift and my worries cease to be. 

The verses I have been the most excited about this season are: 

Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel." and Matthew 1:22,23: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”"  

What a sweet thing it is that God is with us...may it be super-glued in my heart.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh what a blessed hope is ours!

Yesterday morning my parents visited my grandpa. My dad wanted to communicate how thankful he was for his father-in-law's support and how much he loved him. Thankfully, during their visit my grandfather was lucid enough to interact and my parents were able to have a meaningful interaction. As they talked, my dad reminded him of Jesus' love for him, while mom was misty eyed. And with heavy breathing grandpa said, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Dad said, "Yes, John 3:16." And grandpa continued, "And the seventeenth verse: 'For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.'"

Early last night my grandpa went home to be with Jesus, His suffering is no more and I can only imagine the joy that he now beholds. I am so thankful for a grandpa who knew Jesus as His greatest treasure, and even in his last years was continuing to hide God's Word in his heart. I am thankful for his support, his faithful prayers and his life. 

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."  - 1 Thessalonians 4:13&14

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This weekend, while on the phone with a beloved friend, I accomplished a life goal. I had never verbalized it as a life goal or written it on a list, but I can remember thinking "I want to do that!" whenever I saw such things. The satisfaction that I had on completion made me realize how momentous it truly was. The 30 minutes spent were well worth it!
It even bounces.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Zopf is for Sundays

In Blythe over Thanksgiving break, I made a new friend from Switzerland. He so dejectedly told me that there is nothing like Swiss bread in the U.S. My response to this was, I will make it! I did a bit of research online and found some different kinds of Swiss bread. One of the types of bread was called "zopf," which means braid in German-Swiss, the bread is braided. Zopf is traditionally baked on Sundays in Switzerland and is sometimes called Sunday bread, isn't that winsome!?

As much as I like the idea of zopf (Sunday bread, which is so cute!), I like zopf even better. If you like bread, do yourself a favor and get baking! I have baked zopf three times in the last two weeks, everyone has liked it. I have tried three different recipes and think I will share the second with you.

- 6 3/4 teaspoons of yeast (I'd go with rapid rise)
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1/4 cup of honey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 4 1/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons of butter
- 1 egg yolk

First, combine yeast and lukewarm milk. Stirring, allow the yeast to dissolve, the mixture will be a bit frothy. After the yeast has dissolved, add the honey and sugar and stir until it too is dissolved. Following this add the dry ingredients and melted butter, stir with a spoon. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, or if you want to avoid a mess, knead the dough in the bowl. Roll the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, cover said bowl with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm location for an hour. After the dough has risen, divide the dough into two equal parts. Create two long strips of dough, approximately 24 inches, keeping the strips slightly thicker in the middle. Braid the bread, this can be a bit tricky, it took me two tries to get it right my first attempt. If it is too confusing, you can do three strips and braid that way, tucking the ends in. Here is a diagram that was useful and some pictures of my attempts.

This was way too long!

Make an "X," put the right top corner down and the left bottom corner up, then turn the dough down so that there are four strips facing you.

Continually move the furthest left strip
under the strip that is furthest to the right.
Your braided dough should look similar.
Make sure you tuck the ends in tight!
My ends came out a bit as the bread rose and baked.
Let the dough rise for a half an hour on a greased sheet. After the half hour brush the dough with an egg wash, avoid getting the wash in the cracks. An egg wash is made by mixing a teaspoon of water with an egg yolk. This will give the bread a crustier shell, a beautiful sheen, and a deep golden brown color. Allow the bread to rise another half hour. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Finished product should look something like this. 
Hope you will try it out. Enjoy!