Thursday, March 24, 2011

Forty Years Ago. Yesterday. And Gifts.

It was Christmas, forty years ago.

A young couple in our church decided that instead of buying Christmas presents for each other, they would give $500 to a local pastor to take with him to India on a short term missions trip.

That local pastor (who happened to speak at our church last Sunday morning), gave the check to an Indian man just starting out in ministry; he in turn, used the money to build a thatched roof church for his congregation of seven people.

Yesterday, Steve met with a dozen local pastors, including the pastor who had taken that check to India forty years ago. Joining their gathering—well, actually, the reason for their gathering--was the same pastor of that 7-member, thatched roof church who is in America for a brief visit.

This man still lives in India. He still pastors that same church.

But a few things have changed over forty years.

That church of seven has now grown to a church of 40,000. In addition, that pastor is in charge of all 35,000 Assemblies of God churches in his country.

pasmohan_prof dmohan

Steve was incredibly inspired by the opportunity to spend several hours with a Christian leader of that caliber; the event had a strong impact on him.

I, on the other hand, was inspired to think that an unselfish gift given forty years ago could be so instrumental in starting a church that has become a place of hope for thousands of people in need.

I love to see where generosity’s journeys end up.

And Speaking Of Inspiration . . .

I was also inspired by something I saw in our kitchen just recently. I’ve seen these particular items a million times before, since they make an appearance just about every morning. But for some reason, this time I stopped long enough to really look at them.

And I stopped long to be really thankful for a husband who starts his day with Bible reading.


And do you see those two kids in that drawing on the wall?


They are the blessed recipients of the guidance and nurturing of a godly and loving Dad who wouldn’t be the kind of man he is without his strong faith and his dedication.


Some gifts are given at Christmas and are used to build small churches in India. Other gifts are given every morning and are used to build the lives of children.

In a world that seems so hopeless and out of control, there are still many gifts to be given. There is still peace to be found. There is still hope waiting to inhabit the corners of our hearts.

We just need to remind ourselves sometimes, of the gifts and of the goodness that are still everywhere around us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pie, Oh Pie.

Last night some out-of-town blog friends took us out to a wonderful meal at the Kill Devil Grill.

If you’re ever vacationing in the area, this place is well worth a visit. It offers a cool atmosphere and fabulous food; in fact, Steve said the Rockfish dinner special he ordered was one of the best things he has eaten. Ever.

Sarah was especially entranced by the fact that they offered root beer floats and that the root beer was served in a real glass bottle. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

grill restaurant

Our friends, Cindy and Chlorita, had raved on and on about the restaurant’s incredible Key Lime pie and so Steve and I we ordered that.

My, oh my.

Or maybe I should say, Pie, oh pie.



(By the way, that is strawberry sauce on the plate and NOT ketchup. I wouldn’t want you to start pondering how in the world ketchup could possibly enhance the taste of key lime pie.)

Despite the multitudinous calories ingested, the evening was both fun and delicious and we are most grateful for the generosity and hospitality of our visiting friends.

And Speaking of Food . . .

A few of you dropped by the comment section of yesterday's Ramen Slaw post and left some tasty, creative variations on that recipe. (I love variations!)

I’ve copied those suggestions right next to where I posted the recipe; that way, if you decide to make it, the variations will be easy to find. I will try to also remember to do that in the future if variations or suggestions come in for any particular recipe.

And just so you know: you can go to the top of the Smithellaneous page to the search window and type in “recipes” if you want to find a particular recipe that has been posted in the past.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Recipe and Rambling: Ramen Noodle Slaw

This recipe has two things going for it. (Well . . . actually three.)

  • Thing One: It’s a make ahead recipe which means that you can compile the pre-made ingredients in about 30 seconds and have it on the table and ready to go.
  • Thing Two: It tastes really, really (did I mention really?) good.
  • Thing three: Whenever I serve it, I am always asked for the recipe. Which makes me happy.

So let’s get started with the recipe! And the rambling! (Non-rambling recipe is at the end.)

To make the marinade, mix together one cup of sugar,


1 cup of oil,


1/2 C cider vinegar, and 2 T soy sauce.


Please pay special attention to the picture in the top left hand corner which displays the fact that the bag I happened to choose contained a mere and measly 14 ounces of cabbage instead of the 16 ounces called for. However, since I am far too cheap to buy a second bag just to score two extra ounces of slaw, I just went with what I had. And all was well.

slaw edit

Find some scallions and chop ‘em up. Chop, chop, chop. Show no mercy.


Mix the onions with the merely measly slaw. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. (Oh yes. And don’t forget to stir all the ingredients around. In this picture, the stuff is yet unstirred.)


Pour the marinade over the slaw/scallion mixture, stir, and stick it in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

You are not required to visit with this mixture, or talk to it, or even open the fridge to sing songs to it. This is a very low maintenance slaw. It is happy to just sit in your fridge.

In the dark. Alone. Abandoned. Forsaken. Ignored. (But hey. It’s not bitter.)

Now. After you’ve worked through your guilt about leaving the poor measly slaw to marinate in the juices of its own self pity (ooh, that doesn’t sound too appetizing), grab a stick of butter from the Official Butter Compartment in your fridge and throw it onto a skillet.

At this point in the process, I always become inordinately fascinated with the melting butter and take many inordinately fascinated pictures of it. Because melting butter is just so fab!

(Well, it’s fab except for the fact that it doesn’t melt off my hips the way it melts in the pan. But I’m not bitter. About butter. Much.)


Now. Here’s the hard part. Buy some Ramen noodles.

I know, I know. That doesn’t seem hard for most of you, but for me? It was just a wee tad challenging. Because it seems that when one dashes through the grocery store in a hurry to grab things hither and yon to throw in one’s card so that one may drive pell-mell home in order to start compile a large meal for speedily approaching dinner guests, one is sometimes known to commit the semi fatal cooking foible of choosing the wrong kind of Ramen noodles.

Because who knew that Ramen noodles also came in cups? Not me, that’s who.

(See picture below for an illustration of how I was duped and sadly deceived by the familiar orange color of the Ramen package and why I grabbed it thinking, yes, even knowing for certain, that it was surely the product I was looking for. It wasn’t.

Bottom line? You want the product on the left.


Since my hubby was out running errands that day, I threw myself on his mercy and begged him to stop by the grocery store and get the correct Ramen noodles for me. Which he did. With a minimum (well, actually a complete absence) of any husbandly murmuring in the process. And may I just add that a mere half hour before that, I had also realized I was completely out of soy sauce?

(You’ll never guess who I called. )

Let me just say that it is a very dear, devoted and patient husband who will make two separate trips to the grocery store in the space of just thirty minutes to retrieve ingredients for a wife whose forgetful behavior eats into the very fabric of the efficiency of his very being. (Or something like that.)

Okay. Where was I?

Oh yes. We were mixing together yummy stuff which so far has included butter and Ramen noodles. The Ramen noodles, however, cannot be added to the melting butter until they are first thrown into a Ziploc bag and pounded heartily with a mallet or any other pounding utensil you might have. (Steve and Sarah were cooking together one day and Steve actually went out to the garage and got a real hammer. So feel free to pound with whatever sort of pounder makes you the most happy.

You don’t want the noodles to become all crumbly so just pound until they’re broken up slightly and not all clumped together. This is a de-clumping sort of pounding.


The next ingredient in this recipe is slivered almonds. And do you know what? I don’t think that I have even on single time ever purchased the correct almonds for this dish. Because what happens is that I always very efficiently write on my grocery list, “Sl almonds.”

And then I get to the store and I arrive post haste in the nut aisle. I stand by the selection of nuts and I squint up my eyes at my list in a usually futile attempt to read my own writing. And I stare at “sl almonds” for a very, very, very long time as I interrogate my scattered brain. Does “sl” stand for slivered or sliced? sliced or slivered? slivered or sliced? What to do? What to do?”

And every single time? I choose sliced.

And every single time? I’m wrong.


But whether you slice ‘em or sliver ‘em, I am of the firm opinion that nuts should be roasted before eating because they taste so much butter. So I just throw them on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes at 350 degrees before proceeding.


To the butter, nuts, and noodles, you now add 1/2 C sesame seeds. You will add these last because they burn easily. (So keep a close eye on ‘em and sauté just a couple minutes while stirring.)


Now just so you are fairly warned, this next step will present a major challenge to your self control.

Dump the whole butter/noodle/nut mixture onto a paper towel to cool. While it’s cooling, see if you can keep yourself from grabbing a handful of the wonderful concoction and stuffing it in your mouth. Because I guarantee. You can’t. This mixture is just way too wonderful for any sort of non-ingesting to take place.


When the mixture is cool, gather up the sides of the paper towels and make a sort of Paper Towel Funnel and pour it all into a gallon Ziploc. Put the bag out of sight for safe keeping because if you walk by it for the rest of the day, you will be compelled (not to mention forced) to stop and take a spoonful. And then? The lovely mixture will be all gone. (Don’t ask me how I know.)

So I’m just saying--store said bag in a secure facility. (Fort Knox would be good.)

When it’s time to serve your detectable dish, merely retrieve the (forsaken, sulking) marinade mixture from the fridge, add the crunchy stuff from the Ziploc bag, stir and serve.

You will love it. I promise.


Funny side note:

When Steve arrived home (the second time) with Yet Another Ingredient That His Wife Forgot, he was accompanied by a cute little girl. A cute little Girl Scout girl. A cute little Girl Scout girl who was on a box of cute little Girl Scout Cookies.


Even though I’m not a huge fan of coconut, I had one little ol’ cookie, just because I felt compelled to support the efforts of Girl Scouts everywhere. (And also because the coconut was accompanied by chocolate.)

So there I was, munching my cookie while surrounded by a huge box of Ramen noodle cups and a huge box of regular Ramen noodles when Mike, the guy from our church who was working on our bathroom, walked by. I said, “Mike, we’ve got plenty of space at our dinner tonight if you think you can join us.”

He took one suspicious glance at the box of cookies and another wary look at the multitudinous quantities of Ramen noodles and (for some completely unfathomable reason) said that he had other plans.


He doesn’t want to come to a dinner where the menu includes two kinds of Ramen noodles and a box of Samoas? What’s wrong with him? (Actually, he really did have other plans but I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself when I thought how the whole dinner prep thing must have looked to him.)


Alrighty then. Here is your non-rambling recipe. Enjoy!

Ramen Noodle Slaw
(I got this recipe from my friend, Leanne, in Smithfield.)

Blend Well

1 C sugar

1 C oil

1/2 C cider vinegar

2 T soy sauce

Pour marinade over:

1 16 oz package shredded cabbage slaw mixture

6 scallions, chopped

Mix well. Refrigerate at least hours or overnight.


1 stick butter

3 packages Ramen noodles, broken in small pieces (discard flavor pack)

1 C slivered almonds (can roast in a 350 oven for 5 minutes for extra crunch and flavor)

1/2 C sesame seeds (add these when the noodles and almonds are about browned as they burn easily)

Let this mixture cool on paper towels and then store in Ziploc bag. Add to slaw mixture just before serving.

Mix well before serving. Serve with slotted spoon.

Edited to add:

Here are a few variations to this recipe that came in after I posted this recipe.


Deb: I also have a MN twist...I use the "Oriental" flavor packet from the noodles instead of the soy sauce(don't have to worry about having it on hand).I also mix everything just before serving! Love the narratives with the recipes, always makes them better!


Sandy: If you add grilled chicken to the ramen noodle slaw it can be a great meal in the summer time or any time.


MN Mom" Ok, I am going to give you the MN version of this salad, which is similar. No butter, so the calorie count is definitely lower.

Use the same bag of cole slaw, but instead of chicken Ramen, use beef, and the flavor packet gets included in the dressing which is 1/3 c. cider vinegar, 1/2 c. canola oil, and 1/2 c. sugar, mixed well and refrigerated. Ramen noodles are broken up just the same, but instead of sesame seeds, I use 1 c. toasted sunflower seeds, and 1 c. toasted slivered almonds. One bunch chopped green onions also. I often add a cup of dried cranberries too for color. There is no need for cooling, just mix the ingredients together just before serving. I get requests for this one whenever I serve it."


PFC: Here in Pittsburgh, we do it a little different I use Rice Vinegar instead of cider ( its is the only recipe I use Rice vinegar for so it last a long time!) I cook the Ramen noodles, I do not use the flavor packet. I save it for annother day. I mix it together the night before using 1/2 of the dressing, then add the 2nd half right before we serve it! And I am way to cheap to buy Slivered almonds, I always go to the store with the intention of buying them then I see the sunflower seeds just as yummy and cheaper and I always use them!! Still Yummy!! It is my mothers favorite!! Although I do have an ongoing argument with my best friend over whether the noodles should be cooked, I always cook them and she does not! It is always a hit no matter what!


Catherine: I make a lo mein with ramen using a very similar recipe but I dump the noodles into boiling water for a minute or so and then saute lightly in oil with cabbage (or wilted left over lettuce), green onions, shaved carrot and slivers of ham or chicken.

Comment Corner

Thank you to everyone who signed in yesterday after my morose Monday missive and said such sweet and encouraging things. You just plain ol’ made me smile. Smithellaneous readers are the best!

Also, I just hate it when I spell words wrong and it just occurred to me a few minutes ago (after reading some of your comments where you spelled "bonny" correctly) that I had misspelled that word in yesterday's post. So I have gone back and edited it. And now I feel so much better.

This question was left in the comments concerning Nathan and Meagan’s engagement photo: “Meagan's purple dress is so cute! Would you mind asking her where she got it?”

Here is Meagan’s response: I got my dress from Macy's in the junior department on sale in August of 08. I actually bought it for a friends wedding. Who would have thought that I would be wearing for my own wedding/engagement? :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Discombobulated Mother Of A Wee Bonny Lass

Last week was tough for me on several levels and it left me just a little discombobulated. And out of sorts. And down in the dumps. And stressed. And tired. And even a wee bit cranky.

I even went so far as to break a new world record for myself and wrote only one post in five days. Since I am the Original Overly Frequently Posting Post-er (722 posts in the past two years), that was quite a long stretch of such minimal posting.

And then I said to myself, “Oh, woe is me. No one cares if I post or not. I’m really not sure that I’m cut out for this blogging gig. Maybe I’ll just throw in the towel.”

Every time I sat down to write, the General Malaise-Imbued Discombobulatory Distress would hit me in full force and my psyche would turn to Jell-O. My brain would cease emitting coherent thoughts. My mind would become paralyzed by the paucity of anything witty or even remotely interesting to say.

And then I convinced myself that no one cared if I blogged or not, and that it was all a big ol’ stinkin’ waste of everyone’s time to even come here and I had nothing important to contribute to the blogging world in general or to people’s lives in particular and therefore I should just trudge off and hide in a cave somewhere and eat Chocolate Bavarian Cream Filled Krispy Kreme doughnuts (and also malted milk balls) until the end of time. (And yes, that was a run on sentence. In case you were wondering.)

However. After the twenty-third doughnut, it occurred to me that cave-hiding and doughnut ingesting were not all they were cracked up to be.

So I have emerged from the cave to write another day.

And whether anything coherent or interesting or even quasi-amazing ever emerges again onto this page, I’m just a little bit hooked on this place. And on all of you--my dear and loyal readers.

And so that is my Monday morning missive. I’m not sure that I have the emotional/mental wherewithal to write anything longer at this point, but I did want to get a little something posted so that my World Record of Non Posting did not get added to by yet another day.

And Since A Picture in a Post . . .

. . . always makes the reading journey a bit more pleasant, here are a couple shots I took of my sweet Sarah (who I must say was very patient and compassionate with me during my down time) on St. Patrick’s Day.

She is such a lovely wee bonny lass, beautiful on the inside and out.

st patrick collage