Friday, December 30, 2011

Hardanger Lefse

I have no idea what Hardanger means. I do know that this recipe was handwritten by my great Grama, who I knew as Minnie Mama, and given to my mum who has now passed it on to me. It's a holiday tradition to at least have one big container of Lefse hanging around that people periodically sneak pieces out of when no one is looking. Typically, it's also tradition to avoid making Lefse as it seems to take up a lot of time, despite how easy the end product seems. This year, Kara, Mum and I decided to take on the task and made Minnie Mama's Hardanger Lefse, which took a lot less time than we anticipated.

Here is the recipe Minnie Mama left us:

Hardanger Lefse
Dough
1/2 Cup butter melted
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup (lilly white, for Canadians)
About 5 or 6 cups of flour (**See the gluten free flour mixture below!)

Filling
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
Cinnamon to taste
(* I generally add about half more of everything, so 1 1/2 cups of butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar, but that's just because I really like extra filling!)

Gluten Free Flour: If you have been searching high and low for gluten free Lefse, search no more. This recipe is easily adaptable and I just used the following gluten free flour mixture:
2 cups white rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
(I mixed up double of the amount above in a large zip lock bag.)


Instructions

  1. Mix the syrup with melted butter as it mixes best that way. 
  2. Then add sugar buttermilk, soda and salt. 
  3. Mix in about 4 cups of the flour into the first ingredients. 
  4. Continue adding flour until you have a soft dough - not too sticky. 
  5. The recipe says to let the dough rest about 1 hour. However, Minnie Mama usually made hers right after it was mixed, which is the exact same thing we did and it was just fine!
  6. Divide the dough into 7-9 balls. 
  7. Roll out each ball very thin on a cutting board, making sure to put flour between the dough and board. If you don't, it will stick. I promise. Also, try to make sure each half of the slab mirrors the other, it will help later on when you fold them in half.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees in the oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for 4 minutes or so, depending on how your oven bakes. The edges should be a light brown when it's done.
  9. As soon as a cooked slab is finished, put it on a wet tea towels and cover with another wet tea towel. 
  10. Continue this pattern until all 7-9 balls are rolled, cooked and sitting between layers of wet tea towels.
  11. Let it soak until they can be doubled over. If they aren't soaked enough, they'll break.
  12. While the slabs are soaking, mix up the Lefse Filling. 
  13. Spread a good slathering of filling onto each slab and fold in half, the long way. 
  14. Cut into bite size squares and store in an airtight container. 
Please comment below if you have any questions, 
or if I somehow seemed to miss something. 
If you don't know how to comment, 
look for the comment box below this post
Happy Baking!

*pictures to come later, with faster internet!*

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrate Bigger


It's incredible how crazy the Christmas hustle and bustle gets. Swept into a whirlwind of crazy shopping trips where you have to fend off a parking spot, to endless hours spent in the kitchen baking and cooking and eventually washing all of the dishes you just dirtied. There were parties to go to, gifts to wrap and cards to be stamped and mailed out. All of this anticipation building, growing, giving birth to a type of excitement we long for the rest of the year.

I too fall in the category of seeking out the Christmas excitement. I baked, cooked, cleaned, mailed cards, wrapped presents and went to my own fair share of parties. Yesterday, the Hubs and I joined 5.4 million other travelers who'd take to the air to find their final Christmas Destination. I expected to find grumpy security guards, wanting to finish their last minute shopping or gift wrapping. Maybe a disgruntled passenger, irritated at having to fly the day before the Big Day, Christmas. Instead, everyone seemed to have been swept away by the excitement of the Big Day. Regardless of age, race or religion, everyone could feel the almost tangible excitement and buzz as we traveled home to my parents' house.

As always, when the five sisters along with family and friends are re-united, the volume increased and the laughter begins. The excitement of the Big Day could be felt in conversation, eating dinner and even as we sat around the living room talking and catching up on the last year, you can't help but catch the contagious excitement that It was almost here.

Now, at 8:01am on Christmas morning, it has arrived. The Big Day. All of the preparations are done, everything is under the tree and we wait for our family and friends to arrive to begin the celebrations with us. The anticipation of something special is finally able to give birth to celebration as this Big Day begins.

Yet, this anticipation is not something new. It began so long ago and it's significance is so much more than baking, giving presents, throwing parties and sending out a Christmas card.....


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, 


and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”


So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (Luke 2:1:21 NIV)

Today we celebrate something a lot bigger than what goes on within our own homes. We celebrate something a lot grander than the best present we could ever buy. We celebrate the fact that God sent his son, his only child, to earth so that every human being would have an option for life. We each have the opportunity to live, not being bound by our own sinfulness. This Christmas, as the Big Day begins, don't forget there is something a lot bigger that we are celebrating. 


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas from the McCoys




Merry Christmas from us to you!

Im Dreaming of a Red Christmas

Christmas is four days away. Can we all just take a moment to shout and scream and do the funky chicken dance in the privacy of our offices or homes. Four days. I'm sorry, but where did July or October go? Let alone December. Wasn't it just December 1st and I was wrapping presents and rearranging all of my Christmas decorations for the umpteenth time? Anyhow, It's now December 21st and Christmas is literally right around the corner.

Our little farmhouse is bursting with decorations...



Our stockings are hung BACK up as the Hubs and I celebrated a mini Christmas together last weekend:






This year, I got a bit creative. In one of the old sheds, I found an old screen. I washed it up a bit, but not too much since I didn't want to lose some of it character. I then took a wreath I got on clearance at Target last year (the very best time to shop for Christmas decorations) and used ribbon and a tack to secure it on the top of the window screen. And there you go: a Christmas decoration on a budget. The cute Christmas skate is a present from my sister-in-law, which she also made herself. Old skate + a bit of greenery + pine cone + ribbon = another very easy to do, rustic looking Christmas decoration.




Our tree is up, but unfortunately, I somehow did not take a finished picture of it. It'll come, promise. I am stuck on the color red. Red ribbons, decorations and everything. Our tree is decorated with a snowflake  and woodsy theme. 





Merry 4 Days till Christmas! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Whirlwindful Weekend

What a weekend! We packed in as much as we could in less than three days ( I really think weekends should be longer, especially around any type of holiday ). Since there is no snow on the ground, I've been feeling less Christmassy than usual. Everything is decorated, I have my delicious candles burning and I'm totally prepared for Christmas... but without snow, I almost feel like Christmas isn't really coming. I mean, it's only 5 days away and my level of excitement is only at a 3 or 4. Usually, I'm about to burst with an 8 the week before Christmas.

Our weekend was crammed full of 
goodness, Christmas, food and family:

FRIDAY:

We met our beautiful baby nephew, William, for the first time. He is so small and precious, I could hold him for hours. Don't worry, I didn't. We all took turns holding him and admiring how handsome he already is.



We also went shopping at the Mall of America until is closed and Santa had long since gone home. Being in the hustle and bustle of everything is always fun. I'm not a huge shopper, but around the holidays I love the decorated buildings, twinkling lights and constant stream of Christmas music.


SATURDAY:

After another quick visit to see Baby William, we spent the day baking our brains out. Okay, not really, but we baked 4 different kinds of candies (Yes, I will be posting pictures and recipes!) as well as some holiday cupcakes. The Hubs helped me and I'm not sure if he knew what he was getting into. I have a certain of doing things in the kitchen. Like when I bake, I pull out every single ingredient I'm going to use and then just put them away as I'm finished with them. It's a good way to make sure you didn't forget anything, but can drive a person crazy since it kind of looks like a disaster when you first start. I love it though. Lots of things boiling, mixing, stirring and so on, it's fabulous!



SUNDAY:

We had the Hubs' Grama over for brunch after church and a mini Christmassy celebration with her. We had delicious Puffed Pancake and watched the Minnesota Vikings lose yet another game. At half time we exchanged presents and I got a brand spankin' new Kindle Fire. (For those who might be a bit behind in technology, allow me catch you up: a Kindle Fire looks kind of like a large cellphone BUT you don't use it to make calls. you use it to read books, play games, store pictures or browse the internet. All in all, it pretty much rocks). The Hubs got a sweet Carhart work vest. It was a good Christmassy celebration with the Grams.

We also had to opportunity to go to the 4th Annual Teen Challenge Concert. For those who are unfamiliar with Teen Challenge, they are a faith based rehabilitation program that has incredible success rates and is absolutely transforming lives and families every single day. Check out their website for more info: Teen Challenge USA The entire stage was filled with people who are looking for a way out of their old habits, most of which find God through the process. A few of the members gave testimony to where they had been and where they are now going thanks to Teen Challenge. Every story brought tears to my eyes as they told of brokenness, being lost and wanting nothing more than to die. It was so moving.... AND (here's the kicker) Mac Powell, who is the founder and lead singer for Third Day, sang a number of songs with them. it was a phenomenal concert and I'd recommend everyone go see it next year (plus you're supporting an awesome cause!

So, that was the crazy busy and awesome weekend! I have 4 days of work then we are off on holiday to see the family! CANNOT WAIT!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Good & Bad

The Bad
1. Rainy weather this week. 
I moved away from the beautiful Pacific Northwest
and not having to deal with the winter weather
 is one of the major bonuses of not living in the Pacific Northwest. 
Rarely in Minnesota do we have consecutive dreary days, 
but this week was foggy, damp and wet. 

2. All of our snow melted this past week. 
All 1/4 inch of it! It just doesn't even feel 
like the Christmassy season right now. 

3. Breaking my favorite Christmassy mug I got from the Hubs. 
It's a mini-tradition that he started several years ago 
where he buys me a new Christmas mug every year. 
I love them and this years was beautiful. 
Then I dropped it in the sink and broke it.

The Good
1. Getting a new favorite mug. For the second time.

2. Finding a new hair accessory that included feathers 
but was not pink or purple or with peacock feathers. 
Not that I have anything against peacock feathers
 (Pink & purple are a different story), 
but I was specifically looking for a monochromatic one. 
(Like the big word? aka: black and white.)

3. Making new lunch girlfriends. Kimbo & L.A. & Dan. 
My new lunch friends at work. 

4. 9 days till Christmas according to my Santa Countdown. T
hank-you desktop Santa. 

5. 8 days till I get to see my lovelies aka family. 
Oh, I just cannot wait!!! 8 days.

6. My nephew William Robert was born yesterday.
He's the third grandkiddo on my Hubs' side of the family
and as cute a button!
We're meeting him today for the first time!


Inspired by: Urban Nester

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Internet is Awesome

Date nights must usually be planned. Each week is quickly consumed with household duties, errands and get togethers with friends that sometimes cause being married to take a back seat. Sometimes, I find myself realizing I haven't taken the time to digest my day or the Hubs' day in like two weeks. Sometimes, I find myself realizing we haven't just hung out and laughed in a week or two.

Tonight was an impromptu date night as we headed up to our local coffee shop to use their internet. (Don't freak out, but we actually don't have internet at our house. I know, it's the 21st century but we are just a bit behind the times). Anyhow... So impromptu date at the coffee shop turned out to be the start of a fantastic evening of enjoying each others' company, reminiscing about when we started dating and looking forward to our future.  We chatted, laughed and hung out. He used the internet, I read my super cool new journal Bible (ah! It's so great!)...

Have you done that lately? Leaned into relationship with others? I know it's the Christmas season and there are a million and four things to do on your list before December 25th sneaks up on us (10 days, by the way). Despite the stuff to get done, don't forget the people. Don't forget what matters. Lean in.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Obsessed.

I'm officially obsessed. With parties. Due to the season, parties are kind of my thing. We had one today at work for our division, which was fabulous. With my only instructions being to include meatballs, I was given free reign. Can I get an amen?! Planning with no instruction just makes my insides tickle! I loaded up half of my Christmassy house decorations and brought them along to liven up the normally very boring room. I love snowflakes, anything red, christmas lights in any form and what the heck, let's through in a Santa (don't judge me, I know Christmas is not really about ol' Saint Nick, but mine is so cute with a little countdown till Christmas)... *sigh... What a great day! And I get to do it again Thursday and Monday and I'm sure I'll find some more parties to plan before the Christmassy month is over!

Here's some jolly decorations from today (complete with food, as all parties should include):




Sunday, December 11, 2011

First Family Christmassy Celebration

We celebrated our first christmassy celebration on the season with the Hubs' side of the family. Currently, there are only 2 grandkids (2 more being added this winter- no, it's not us doing the adding. I probably would have announced something so stinking awesome like that in a much bigger, grander fashion. Duh.). However, the 2 grandkids are now 4 and so much fun to celebrate Christmas with. They love the Christmas story, delivering presents to everyone's laps to be opened, helping opening everyone's gifts and so on. It was great!

Some of our fabulous gifts included: a journal Bible for me, chisel set for the Hubs, remote police car and classic Odessy cds for the kids and the list goes on.... It was a great afternoon! And the best part is that this is only the beginning! Next weekend, we celebrate with the Hubs' grama and the weekend following that, we are headed out to celebrate with my family. It's just the beginning of the great Christmassy celebration!!!


Words

Do you know what a wordle is? I'll show you, then I'll explain...

You take a website (like a blog), paper or any other large grouping of words and you dump them into this word generator at: http://www.wordle.net/. It will then generate this word picture for you. The bigger the word the more times it has been used.

The wordle above is from this blog. I obviously really like dogs, the Hubs, Christmas and the word 'just'. I suppose I should try to cut back a bit. It's just so easy and just so good.

Pretty cool, you should check it out sometime. Oh and I should mention, you can change the colors, font, direction of words and delete words. So plan to spend a bit of time with a wordle, they're great!

There is also a gallery that has wordles that others have created, here's a fun one. They took the constituion and dumped all the words into this wordle thingy (really technical, I know):


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Me

Yesterday was my 25th birthday.

25 years. If I did my math correct, I'm pretty sure that's a quarter of a century, but that just doesn't quite sound right to me.

Since I am an adult, missing work is not really a viable option any more. However, the second I was done with my responsibilities, I slipped away a bit early to rush home. The Hubs had a dinner date planned to my most favoritest restaurant possibly ever. P.F. Changs. If you suffer from Celiac or just need some good grub - you must go. Google it and find the closest one to you and go.

They even have a small gluten free dessert that I enjoyed with the Hubs. 
Just because it was my birthday!


After our dinner date, we had the Hubs' family over for dessert and gifts. The Hubs was ooober proactive this year and no cooking was required as he ordered a beautiful flourless cake from our local Wholefoods.
The food, fellowship and of course presents were all wonderful. It was a great birthday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wild Dogs

Somehow early mornings have the capability of escalating to craziness quicker than any other time of day. Maybe it's the groggy stage of mind, before a good cup of coffee or warm eggnog chai has hit the blood stream. Maybe it's just me. Perhaps you remember the dive bombing killer bats, if not, please refresh your memory, it's a worthwhile read: Bats & the Bees. Well, this morning is another morning to go down in the books as a bit crazy.

It snowed this past weekend. A whole whomping 3 inches. Not a huge deal, but the Hubs had to go do some snow removal which means a 4:30am alarm. I heard him get up, make some coffee and for some reason, Remington started barking. Yes, he's a dog and I know that's the normal sound that dogs make. However, our dog doesn't bark. If he's frustrated or sad, then he will. Not when he wakes up in the morning and is hanging out with the Hubs in the kitchen. I heard the Hubs take Remy outside. Exactly 5.7 seconds later, the door opens and slams shut again. I thought to myself, "Wow, Remy must have gone to the bathroom quick...." Silly me.... A couple of seconds later, I heard the Hubs yell my name.

Let explain something about my husband. There are different tones of voice that the Hubs uses. Yelling at now 4:35am generally means, get your butt out of bed, get your butt dressed and get your butt out here. Point taken. I have never - literally never - flown out of bed so quickly. I ran to the kitchen, were the Hubs quickly explained that when he had taken Remington outside, he'd heard coyotes around the house. [Quick side note - we have at least 2 active coyote dens in our 200+ acre backyard. Coyotes are normal, but not that close to the house.] So, he thought coyotes were outside, but he was wrong. They were dogs. I'm sorry, what? Coyotes are one thing, simply because they generally spook easily and you can run them off. Dogs are a whole different ball game considering that they are generally used to people, are territorial and not afraid to attack. So, we had two dogs running around our house.

At this point, I'm picturing all of us not leaving the house, being held hostage by two wild dogs who are ready to eat us at a moment's notice. I apparently had forgotten the get dressed part when the Hubs had yelled at me from the kitchen so I ran back to the room- dressing for battle. I ran past the front living room window on the way to our room and one of the dog's beady eyes caught my attention and scared the living daylights out of me. I may or may not have had a wee, tiny panic attack as I got dressed.

Dressed and ready for however we were going to handle this. I turned on the front porch light and saw the two dogs. They were beautiful, with huge brown eyes and long furry coats. Obviously hunting dogs, they both had orange and leather hunting collars on. Both of their tales were hiding between their back legs and they were scared out of their minds. Their paws were coated with chunks of ice and dirt. Their furry coats were matted with dirt and burrs. They were the least scary dogs I could image and instantly I switched into animal rescue mode and wanted to just give them a warm bath and feed them.

Thanks to Remington, being our first dog ever, we have at least 2 of everything. We grabbed our 2 leashes and tried to coax them to the back of the house so we could catch them. They refused to leave the front porch. So we went to them and they came up to us right way, so happy to see us. Catching them took absolutely no effort as we just walked up and attached the leash. We also have 2 kennels (well actually 3, but we only needed 2 this morning). We put both kennels in the mudroom and put the dogs inside. Instantly, they laid down and relaxed. Too exhausted to care and too tired of being scared, they laid down. On their collars we found the name and number of their owner. At 4:50 (the earliest I have ever made a phone call), I called their owner who answered on the first ring.

Come to find out... the dogs had run away at 10pm last night and their owner had given up searching at 1am. He lives at least 5 miles away from us and they had wandered all the way to our house. He had special ordered these prime hunting dogs, Long-haired German Pointers, from Michigan and there are only 400 of this breed in the entire USA. He came and picked them up 30 minutes later, so grateful that they had ended up with us.

Welcome Monday. I've been up for 3 and 1/2 hours and it's just past 8am. Let's see what else you have in store for us!

Hope you have a great Monday!

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