Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let Me Take a Minute....

to share what's on my heart today. With Thanksgiving right around the corner and food abundance for most Americans, I have been thinking about my friends in Liberia, West Africa.

For those who know us personally, you know we have adopted Teddy from Liberia. For those who just stumbled upon this blog, our journey with Liberia began a couple years ago. Our adoption took longer than expected but during that time many unexpected things took place that we had no idea were coming. One being the extent we would become involved.

I had always wanted to go to Africa. Since my earliest memory, I believe I was 9 years old, I had told my mom that I wanted to be a missionary there. I think for me it started with the National Geographic magazines that talked about this place very far away and television shows that grew my curiosity. 29 years later that dream became a reality for me. I was flying to Africa for my little boy.

Back up a year....While waiting for adoption paperwork to be finalized, I made my first trip to Liberia to visit our son. Then there was another trip. A month long trip to be exact. This was the trip I needed to become a "sold-out" advocate for Africa. For orphans, widows, child soldiers, special needs and the hungry. And before the adoption went through, there was yet another trip to this war-torn country.

So, what does 3 trips to Africa have to do with a cooking blog? Nothing really. But cooking is about serving food to those we love because it is a gesture to let them know how much we care about their well-being. One of the best parts of my day(in Africa) was when we ate. I saw Teddy devour his food like there was no tomorrow. It felt good to provide that for him. I love it when my kids are fed dinner and bathed and tucked into a comfy bed. These are 3 things that children in Liberia, and most of Africa, live without every day.

I have made so many friends with people from Liberia. They are no longer a face in a magazine or someone on a public education channel. They are my friends. I care about what happens to them. I want to see hungry children eat. This Thanksgiving will you help me feed them? We have started a project called the Rice Bowl. This project will feed hungry families in Liberia. It will enable people to eat at least one meal of rice a day. In fact, if you donate just one dollar, 2 people will eat for one day! And the best part is 100% of ALL MONEY goes directly to feeding people! Please help us feed them!

If you wish to donate (any amount) please click here

This is a picture of one of our meals at a cookshop in Liberia. Eating in the picture is Mark (on left) he is our sponsored grown-up son. Teddy, our adopted son and Alfred (on right) my taxi driver/friend.

A family we gave rice to. If you would like to sponsor a family like this with a full bag of rice and receive their picture please email me.

a typical cookshop meal, rice and fish

Friday, November 6, 2009

Spiced Pineapple Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup salad oil
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coarsely shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 can (8 1/4 ounce) well-drained, crushed pineapple
3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted (half of which can be whole wheat)
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (finely)

In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add oil, sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until mixture is thick and foamy.
Stir in zucchini and pineapple (gently).
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts.
Stir gently into zucchini mixture until just blended.
Spoon batter into 2 greased and flour-dusted loaf pans.
Bake in a 350ยบ oven for 1 hour or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centers come out clean.
Let cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

Zucchini Bars

3/4 cup margarine
1 cup coconut
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup walnuts
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar

Cream margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla, flour and baking powder. Mix thoroughly. Stir in coconut, zucchini and walnuts. Spread batter evenly in well-greased 9x13 pan. Bake 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Frost while still warm.

Cinnamon Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 tablespoons milk

Mix all ingredients together and spread on bars.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Carrot Cupcakes

I finally had some free time to make a recipe with my pureed carrots that I was experimenting with. A few posts ago I experimented with pureeing my carrot peelings from canning carrots. I came up with a dozen or so bags in the freezer and set out to find out if I could use this in exchange for shredded carrots. I found this recipe at Week of Menus. This recipe called for one cup carrot puree, exactly what I had frozen. I made them today and I am glad I did. The cupcakes are tasty! I think I found a good way to use up my puree. The kids will be glad to see that I tried a new recipe today!

Carrot Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cups corn oil (or canola or some other vegetable oil)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup shelled walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup pureed cooked carrots
3/4 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pan with liners.
2. Sift dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger) into a bowl. Add oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
3. Fold in walnuts (optional), coconut, carrots, pineapple, and raisins.
4. Scoop batter into prepared liners. Set on middle rack of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
5. Cool on a cake rack. When fully cooled, ice with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(enough for 18 cupcakes) (this frosted over 2 dozen for me)
6 ounces of cream cheese frosting, room temperature (3/4 of your standard 8 oz block)
6 tablespoons of sweet butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if you have vanilla bean, you can substitute a whole scraped vanilla bean in lieu of the vanilla extract - then also add a teaspoon of whole milk.)

1. Cream together cream cheese and butter with a mixer. Slowly mix in confectioners sugar. Continue to beat on low speed, slowly until all the ingredients have come together. Do not be tempted to beat on high speed -this adds too much air; rather beat on low speed for a longer time for a truly creamy frosting.

*On the Week of Menus blog she has great pics of how she made her cupcakes. I just scooped the frosting into a ziploc bag and squeezed it out on top, after all, five hungry kids and one starving husband will be home in about 2 hours and they will disappear! :) No fancy frosting needed here! Be sure to check out her site though!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Making Applesauce

Making applesauce has been a long time favorite for our kids. Not because it tastes so good,(which it does) but because they have an all-day free pass to hang out with our good friends until the job is done. The kids usually help with picking apples and taking turns at cranking out the fresh sauce. Here's the kids gathering apples for us.

And Darla, smiling at the basket of apples they brought in. I think she was still smiling at the end of the day! :) Make sure to wash your apples before cooking. They are actually more dirty than they appear. Just toss them into a sink of cold water and rinse.

After washing, cut apples into quarters. Put into boiling water until skins and pulp are soft and start to look like they are seperating, Remove from water. We use a big spoon with many small holes in it. Darla is using it in this picture.

We put the apples through a Sauce Master. (Not too sure if it is REALLY called this but it sounds good so we'll go with it.) This little piece seperates the pulp from the seeds and peelings. Great tool and makes less work. I also have this tool that I can add onto my KitchenAid Mixer and that really goes fast because their is no handle to crank. Here's one of the kids starting our first batch of sauce.

We added sugar to taste. It is alittle messy and sticky but well worth it at the end of the day! We make a few 5 gallon pails and can them later at home. I guess the "how-to can applesauce" can be another post.
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