Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Brocoli Your Kids will Fight Over

Serving a green vegetable that your 4 kids will inhale in minutes and ask for more is a victory I never deemed possible.  

Seriously, my kids will fight over who gets to eat the remains of this broccoli dish.  I honestly cannot take the credit for this SIMPLE recipe.  My 11-year old son figured it out. Rather than just giving you the recipe, let's take a walk out to my garden and harvest the veggie first.

Welcome to my Potager, aka kitchen garden.  Here we grow the finest veggies in the south.  Except when mom and pop haven't added compost to the soil.  Oops!  Things are looking a little stunted this winter.  I'll ignore that, as well as the weeds.  Let's find the broccoli.

I usually plant in rotations so that we always have broccoli growing in winter.  Because Louisiana winters are so sporadic in temperature, I sometimes have to harvest all of the broccoli at once.  When that's the case, I blanch it, then place it in an ice bath and finally freeze it.   Aha! These broccoli heads will do.

What else do we need besides broccoli? Lemons and butter.  That's it.  (I told you this was simple. I'm a homeschool mom. I need simple.) The secret is in the lemons.  Make sure you have a full, juicy lemon.  We prefer Meyer lemons.  If your lemon is small, use a couple more.  You also need the most important tool ever...

The zester!!!  (Excuse the lime.  Someone zested a lime during this process.)  If you don't have a zester, please stop right now and get one.  Check out a good one here.  I tried many years to do without this simple, efficient tool.  Take my advice, the kitchen needs this one!

So from farm to table, here's the recipe!


  • 1 Meyer lemon squeezed and zested (1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 3 heads of broccoli
  • 6-7 tablespoons of butter melted
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Cut broccoli into small pieces and steam until bright green and soft.  
  2.  In large bowl, toss broccoli with melted butter and lemon juice.
  3.  Sprinkle with lemon zest and a dash of salt and pepper. 
The magic lies in the amount of lemon juice and butter used.  Adjust recipe as needed.

Enjoy & thanks for stopping by! 

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

5 Things this Week

Here's what is happening on the Gary homestead this week in January!

1.  My sister had her baby girl!  She delivered a beautiful 9 lb 6 oz baby 3 weeks early!  The baby was in the NICU for a week, so that involved me not really being able to hold her (boo); but I did get to keep her other cute and adorable 6 children (yeah).  I had all of them a couple of times, and I actually kept her only brunette child, Lydia, for the entire week. She has to be the easiest because she doesn't talk and doesn't eat anything.  I am proud of my sister. She struggles sometimes with homeschooling all of these kiddos and maintaining her diabetes, but she's raising some extremely creative, sweet kids.  I am grateful to have such a close relationship with her and even more thankful that they live near me!  She is my favorite person on earth (Can I say that even though I have a husband and kids?).  I don't know what I'd do without her.

2.  Luckily the weather was great this week for having so many kids over.  I let them off of school one day and worked in the garden.  This garden.  I'm actually disappointed in my garden this winter. That's a first.  The soil is not really that great, so things just aren't growing well.  The organic fertilizer (fish meal) we're using is not kicking it.  We also use Bat guano and other organics, plus compost.  I need to give it more attention.  What's ready for harvest now is lettuce, carrots, beets and spinach.  I have a 2nd crop of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage growing. I'll be posting our favorite way to cook broccoli over here.  My kids fight over the last bites in the pot for that recipe.   

3.  I fried chicken for the first time in my life!  Not to toot my own horn but this chicken was 'Slap ya mama' the best chicken I've ever had!!  For my 41st birthday last week, Canaan gave me Cooking Like a Master Chef by Graham Elliot (we love watching Master Chef over here).  This recipe is Kung Pao Drumsticks with Ginger Honey and Toasted Peanuts on pg. 130.  I used slivered almonds instead of peanuts.  We also made the Coconut Rice that is in the book too.  That along with our famous kale salad recipe that, yes, the kids fought over!  They love the raw kale salad.  I used the almond honey goo on my kale too.  


4.  I don't know if it's because I've been studying the book of Ecclesiastes or if it's because I'm 41, but I'm suddenly under the intense awareness that time is ticking!  Every time I go to the gym I listen to Mark Driscoll's sermons on Ecclesiastes.  I finally finished the 18th sermon this week!  It all was so incredibly great.  I highly recommend men and women alike to listen to them.  My pastor just preached along the same line from the book of James that our life is a vapour.  God has work for us to do and it is time to get busy.  I recently shared at a lady's event the impression God has left on my heart that it's time for the church to wake up, get up and use the gifts He's given us to begin serving him.  I feel empowered and ready to do just that!  

5. Now this pic above is from years ago, but I might be able to still kick my leg up there!
One of the best things happening over here is starting business with my great buddies, Courtney Aillet (pic above) and Paige Hamilton!  Courtney and I have been friends for 15 years. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined working together to sell awesome products and empower women to fulfill their dreams.  Paige is a dear friend who is an excellent writer.  She is currently writing a book to encourage women with PCOS and blogs at Hormonally Speaking.  We both have dreams to professionally blog and generate an income while encouraging women!  I was able to meet with both of these great women this week to share and generate ideas.  We have lots of great things starting! 

What's going on this week in your life?  Seriously, I'd love to know!

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Monday, January 11, 2016


We hear and see OMG constantly.  What does "taking the Lord's name in vain" mean to you?

During a family gathering, an adult approached my 11 year old son and asked him this question. "What does it mean to take God's name in vain?"  His response was the classic,"Saying OMG."  I think the adult answered, "No, it means saying G-Da**.  That's what it means."  Hhhmm, not sure if there is a difference there.  This story was repeated back to me on our way home.  I wish I would have been around for that conversation.  Not that I don't agree.  I do. But it means so much more, and my kids received an ear full on the way home that night.  

Webster's defines VAIN as:  of no real value, empty, futile, blasphemous manner

It's one of the 10 commandments to not say God's name in vain.  Jewish people won't even write it!! Now Christ doesn't "elevate" this in the gospels like he does for adultery, murder, etc.  I wish he had.  For me this is one of those 'sit as His feet times' where I would ask, "Now what about this Lord? What do you have to say?" Thank God for the Holy Spirit and His word, right?  There are many examples in the New Testament that hone in on this commandment. Let's take a little look.

Jesus is constantly rebuking the Pharisees.  What about when He tells his disciples to not pray on the corner like the religious?  In Matthew 6:5 He tells them, "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full."  They were saying God's name in vain!  Do we too try to be eloquent in our prayers aloud before others to the point we are more concerned with what others think as compared to hallowing His name?  This is of no value to God.  It is empty.

Here's another example.  Have you ever had someone speak about God in vain to you because they know you are a Christian? I've had drug addicts want something from me and begin talking about God because they know I'm a Christian.  One girl went on and on to the point that it was such a mockery I actually prayed to God afterwards that if she was really insincere to show me.  She went to jail the next morning.  We have had some employees try to manipulate us by speaking about God when they've been laid off for breaking big rules. We hear it all from "I want to go to church now" to "How can a pastor fire someone?" to "I'm born again, can I get my job back?"  Do not mock the God of Israel.  Scary.  This is blasphemy.

Another common way that I am guilty of vainly speaking of God is when speaking "churchenese". Ouch.  Have you ever used God as an excuse?  "Oh, I'll pray about it."  Now don't get me wrong, at times our hearts are sincere and we mean it and we actually do it. There are big times we need to respond with that statement, but responding to a friend about going to the movies is not one of those times. I'm all for praying without ceasing, but let's not use God as an excuse.  Let our yes be yes and our no be no.  

Everything about God is holy, including His name.  How do we pray, and even more importantly, how do we teach our children to pray in His name?  Jesus teaches us to pray in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9 "...Hallowed be Your name."  Even Jesus specifically explains how holy His name is.  (Before I became saved, I vainly repeated this entire prayer weekly during Catholic mass.  It had no meaning to me; just an empty, repetitious prayer.) Hallowed means sanctified, set apart.  And name in Hebrew means the manifestation of someones character.  Praying "in Jesus' name" is not a magic formula just to end prayers to get what we want.  Strong's Concordance says "Thus "praying in the name of Christ" means to pray as directed (authorizedby Him, bringing revelation that flows out of being in His presence." ("According to Hebrew notions, a name is inseparable from the person to whom it belongs, i.e. it is something of his essence. Therefore, in the case of the God, it is specially sacred" (Souter).)  

I don't mean for this post to be condemning.  I am as guilty as the next.  Thank God we serve a merciful God. Let's examine our hearts, chose our words carefully and not speak of God in vain.  Did he die in vain? No!  Let our speech about Him be in the utmost sincere respect, love and honor.  By doing this we set a good example for our children to honor His name.  

"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart."  Luke 6:45

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Somewhere along the way I began calling my oldest daughter a "handmaiden of the Lord".  I have no idea why, but I think it began when I started training her to serve, help around the house and keep her heart in check before God.  There are a lot of things Chap and I do incorrectly as parents, but one thing that we have naturally accomplished, due to God's grace, is train our girls to tend to the needs of others.  I always had the concept of teaching them to wait on and serve their Dad because one day they will serve their husbands.  I don't think that I naturally waited on and served my husband in the beginning.  It was something I had to learn.  I don't do it grudgingly but out of love and honor.  It is a honor to serve Chap, and by serving him, I'm doing it as unto God.  I want to teach my girls to do the same.  Little did I know that others have observed this.  Here's the impact it has had... 

The other evening we had a friend over who grew up in a split home and did not have a close relationship with her father.  She actually is struggling in her current home life.  After dinner, Chap gave Ruth one simple look.  Ruth caught it right away.  I didn't even notice.  (She can read her Dad like a book.)  She immediately got up and cleared our guests' plates and the table.  This is a routine thing, so I didn't give it much mind at all.  A week later when I called my friend to see how her marriage and family were, she shared what that one glance and act of obedience without words did for her.  When she observed it she was touched by a Father's love for his daughter and a child's love for her Father.  God spoke to her and said, "This is how you were supposed to be loved by your Dad. Even though you didn't receive it, this is how I love you and have always loved you."  She explained that by that one revelation, she was set free in an area that has positively impacted her marriage. Praise God!  I love how that one act glorified my God and set someone free!!

The above picture of Grace is HUGE in our family.  Little do you realize, but that one picture represents a rite of passage for her.  For years, Chap has come home in the afternoon and sat in his comfy chair. We always hear him say, "Ruth, how about a cup?"  She makes his coffee, knows exactly how he likes it, and serves it to him.  Grace is now big enough to make her Dad a cup of coffee too!  (Maybe too small to carry it though.)  I tell them this is a HONOR and they believe it!

Service to others is bigger than HUGE!  Whether it is to dad, mom, siblings, friends, strangers.   It's what Christ modeled to us when He washed his disciples feet.  He did it out of love, honor and respect for his friends.  Now, if I can just get my girls to serve their brothers like this!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Holiday Recap

The holidays are almost over!  No more staying up until midnight and sleeping in until 9 a.m. for this mama!  (I type that in sorrow.)  We had a wonderful holiday break and enjoyed Dad being home with us for 2 weeks!  Here's the synopsis.

Holiday Crafting...

Holiday baking (can ya'll believe how big she is getting?!)...

 Holiday partying (annual Eden Scapes party at Bailey's)...

Christmas Eve with the families...

 All makes for some TIRED kiddos!

 Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  God bless you and your family this new year!!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Raw Kale Salad

We typically try many recipes for a single vegetable that we harvest from our garden.  My goal is to keep cooking each veggie in a variety of ways until we finally scream, "Eureka!"  Or in other words, "This is a recipe that EVERY member of the family likes!"  For a mother of 4 kids, this is priceless. A typical meal will most always find some veggie pushed off to the side of the plate.

This kale recipe is one that I stumbled upon several years ago at the library, and yes, every member of my family loves it!  The fact that all 4 kids will eat raw kale is a winner in my book.  Kale is such an amazing, dark leafy green for you that helps create more of an alkaline environment in your body, thus decreasing inflammation.  It provides Vitamin A and K and is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  This recipe is adapted from one by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD that is served at a True Food Kitchen out West.  I don't recall the cookbook but  True Food  will probably come the closest.

Kale is so easy to grow, and the seeds are so tiny and numerous that we usually end up with a good size crop with plenty to share.  It grows during our mild winter and is ready to harvest for the holiday season, thus being a great dish to bring for Thanksgiving and Christmas parties.  The clincher here: it's a dish that most people will remark over and will always ask for the recipe. (That's why I'm including it here.)  I usually double the recipe because we love it so much.  I also save some of the lemon vinagarette in a mason jar for salads later in the week.

Raw Kale Salad

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 bunches of kale, ribs removed and leaves torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a mason jar, whisk or shake together oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, and mustard.
  2. Add to kale in a salad bowl and toss well to coat.
  3. Let salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Add cheese and toss again.
  5. Cover leftovers (which there most likely won't be any) and refrigerate for up to 2 days. 
It's that easy!  And that good!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

5 Things This Week

    Here's what is happening at the Gary's this week as Christmas approaches:

1.  This is what our table usually looks like on a Saturday.  We love being around our workers, our friends.  These 2 men fit both of these categories.  They have worked for us for several years and are sadly returning to Mexico for the year.  We will miss seeing them at church and at our home.  I have loved opening our home & hearts to them and am grateful for the cultural experience they've brought to my family.  Jose's wife (who still lives in Mexico) made us authentic Mole.  The first time Jose brought it to me I placed it in the pantry, waiting for the day we had a group of Mexican friends over to teach me how to make it.  When that day came, I took it out and discovered mold!  (I was supposed to freeze it! Horror.)  They took me to the store and bought Mole in a can.  They shook their heads as they ate it. I think the translation came out that it was equivalent to us eating Ragu out of a jar. Yikes!  Jose has since brought me a new bag of Mole and it is in the freezer.  He asks me every time I see him when I'm cooking it.  To Mole and Mexican friends!  Adios amigos!

2.  This winter fort.  The kids tell me, "Mom, it's not a winter fort.  It's just a fort."  But I won't hang out in the fort if it's not cold (too many mosquitoes) , so I call it such.  Yes, I hang out here a lot. They have little benches to sit on around a 1 foot in diameter fire pit.  This hangout is located in the far back of our property, tucked away in the tree line.  It's equipped with a "potty" (plant pot), blacksmith shop (above pic is Canaan building it), first aid kits, sitting area and fire ring.  The back opens up to a horse pasture.  Sometimes we slip under the fence to hike and visit horses.  To be noted:  I have found lots of chicken feathers back here!  Those bandits that ate my chickens.  They must have been hanging out here when it was a summer fort.

3.  The garden is crawling slowly right now.  We're feeding it with fish emulsion fertilizer to help the plants out.  Right now we have broccoli, spinach, beets, carrots, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, lettuce, arugula and cauliflower.  We're harvesting almost half of that list.  Canaan has perfected cooking broccoli with lots of butter and Meyer lemons.  The kids actually fight over who gets the last of it!  Brussel sprouts are not doing well at all.  (Sad.)  They did great last year and tasted awesome. The guys are really into glass blowing right now, so they hurry and help in the garden in order to quickly return to the shop.  

4.  I was actually able to sit in on the end of the girls' dance classes this week before they let out for the holidays.  They did awesome, and I was so proud.  It always takes my breath away to watch Ruth dance.  Grace is doing aerial silks with gym.  She wasn't planning on doing this class but we had trouble with the schedule.  She was disappointed as she says she's "waited (her) whole life to do bars"; but she is enjoying the silks class.  She might change to ballet in January. Ruth is in Trainee D classes where they dance 3 times per week.  She has a great group of friends and loves ballet!  They are preparing for pointe this year and have daily home exercises.  

5.  These guys.  They have turned into glass blowing junkies.  They live, breathe, and if it were possible, eat glass.  They've been selling their glass at our monthly art walk downtown.  (Right now Canaan's in the shop making his teacher pendants for Christmas.)  I was brought to tears when Chap showed me what he had made Canaan (see pic above).  Our kiln is pretty big, so it is hard for Canaan to open, so Chap made him an insulated blanket with plywood and wire for him to put his small pieces in.  I watched Canaan make a spinning top and ornament when we had our Open House a couple of weeks ago.  I was blown away at how good he has gotten!  He's so cute to watch with his own torch and supplies (you can guess what he's getting for Christmas this year). Oops, he's walking in from the glass shop.  Gotta go before he reads this!