An Update

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What a wonderful last-of-2014 this has been! The past two weeks have been chock-full of family time, good memories, music, inspiring discussions, great friends, skiing, singing around the table, tasty meals, and SO much more. I am grateful for many things, and today I'm especially grateful for the amazing year God has given us.

I realized the other day (with chagrin) that I neglected to post my last two recipes of Ethnic Food Week... oops. :) Well, to be honest, neither of them turned out very well. One was Seafood Lo Mein, which was simply awful due to some really raucous seafood, and the other was Chicken Curry, which was just okay. The thing is, we've been quite spoiled by so many amazing curries made by Curtis' Indian classmate, so this one didn't make the cut. Oh well. :) It was such a fun project! And I'm loving the cookbook - America's Test Kitchen does a great job coming up with reliable recipes.

[coffee with the best sister in the world]

[Dakin Farm is such a cute little place... and so is the sis!]

[for these two starving people, the free samples were a life-saver...]

Happy New Year, everybody!

Recipe #4: Homemade Hodge Burritos

Friday, December 19, 2014

Whenever the boys are hungry and hankering for some comfort food, they usually ask me to make a Hodge. A hodge is simply an Adams version of a tasty, comforting concoction made from whatever ingredients are on hand, and it can take the form of anything - chili, soup, enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas, you name it. It probably originated from all the years we spent on Les Îles, when the size of the grocery store made cooking substitutions the norm...

Anyway, the ethnic recipe on the menu for last night's dinner was "Middle Eastern Beef Pita Sandwiches." But at about 5:00 p.m., somebody wandered into the kitchen to see what was for dinner, and asked hopefully if I might be making a hodge, at which point everyone starting clamoring for it. :) I was very happy to comply! And since I would have posted about the sandwiches, I'll post instead about the burritos I ended up making...

E's Hodge Burritos


4 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped 
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 lb colby-jack cheese, grated
10 fajita-sized tortillas
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish


Preheat oven to 400. In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp oil and add the onion. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the bell pepper and the beef, breaking it up with a fork. When the beef is browned, drain excess fat, then add all of the spices to the meat and mix well. Add the beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and cheese.

Oil a large baking sheet. In a small bowl, melt the butter, then add about 2 tbsp oil, stirring well to combine. Fill tortillas with the meat mixture, making the burritos as fat or skinny as you like. You can use bigger or smaller tortillas - remember, it's a hodge, so anything goes. :)

Place the burritos snuggled into each other in a row along the pan, putting any extra burritos along the edges if needed. Brush tops of tortillas with the oil-butter mixture, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the burritos look nice and crispy. Garnish with cilantro and serve with burrito accompaniments.

Note: A hodge is, by nature, adaptable. You can take the same ingredients (minus the tortillas), add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and more beans, and you've got a chili. Or smother the burritos in enchilada sauce and voila! Enchies. So... go ahead and use this recipe as a guide, and make the boys in your life happy with hot & tasty hodges! :)

Recipe #3: West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'll admit that this was another recipe that gave me many doubts during the cooking process. I love sweet potatoes, and I love peanuts, but in a soup together?? Nevertheless, it looked really interesting, so I gave it a try. And I am SO glad I did! Everyone absolutely loved it and said it was definitely a make-again. Curtis brought some to school today for a classmate, and his response was "I could eat this every day for a year!"

So here is the recipe for your cooking pleasure...

West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup


3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 tbsp peanut butter
black pepper
3 tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves


Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, coriander, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the broth, water, sweet potatoes, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low and cook, partially covered, until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until a desired consistency is reached - I think it tastes best to puree about half the soup, for a smooth consistency that still has body. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the cilantro, and serve.

Recipe #2: Colcannon Soup

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Colcannon soup is based on a traditional Irish dish of potatoes, cabbage, and leeks, and was a perfect fit for recipe #2 of Ethnic Food Week. The write-up looked tasty and quite intriguing, so, armed with a sharp knife and a roly-poly cabbage, I set to work. Just in case you decide to make this soup, don't be alarmed at the way the soup looks half-way through! I snapped a phone picture to prove the point - it doesn't look like a soup at all yet.

Also, I recommend cooking at least one extra piece of bacon, because if you're like Ibs and I, well... that hot sizzling bacon disappears fast. :) Here is blurry Exhibit No. 1 of somebody grabbing a piece. [I decline to mention who placed the cabbage leaf on her head.]

And finally, here is the finished soup. Now, before you run screaming away after one look at this picture, let me put a disclaimer: the color really does look awful! In fact, I was thoroughly convinced that this was NOT a do-again recipe, until I took a taste. Yes, it is actually amazingly good! Just another easy, good-for-you soup that's perfect for a freezing winter day.

Now for the recipe...

Colcannon Soup


6 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and rinsed thoroughly
1 medium head cabbage, cored and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
9 cups chicken broth
5 medium potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
Minced fresh chives, for garnish


Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium-low heat until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered fat in the pot. When the bacon is cool enough, crumble it into small pieces.

Meanwhile, add the onion, leeks, and cabbage to the bacon fat and stir to coat. Cover and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook for about 1 minute.

Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until it has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rest of the chicken broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Portion the soup into individual serving bowls and, before serving, sprinkle with the reserved crumbled bacon and chives.

Ethnic Food Week!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I was in a little thrift shop the other day, and was SO excited to find America's Test Kitchen's "The Best International Recipes" cookbook, for only $2!

So of course I want to try out a bunch of the recipes... and I've decided that this week is going to be Ethnic Food Week. I'm going to try out at least one new recipe from the book per day, and let y'all know about them here. Last night was Day One: Mole Chicken, from Mexico.

It turned out quite well! We had it over potatoes with lots of guac. And lots of cheese. :) Here's my rendition of the recipe:

Mole Chicken


2 ancho chiles
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tsp butter
salt and pepper
3 lbs bone-in chicken pieces (I used thighs)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish


Heat the oven to 350. Place the ancho chiles on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and puffed, about 6 minutes. Remove the chiles from the oven and let cool; when cool enough to handle, seed and stem the chiles, and break into small pieces.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering . Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the toasted chile pieces, cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate and cook until the spices are fragrant and the chocolate is melted and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, raisins, and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chile mixture to a blender or food processor and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Season to taste.

Adjust the oven temp to 400. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and cover with the mole sauce. Bake, uncovered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 170 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest in the sauce for 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. Serve. Enjoy. Go back for seconds. Dream of how amazing ice cream would be after this meal...

All in a day's work

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I was doing dishes a few minutes ago when I suddenly heard the roaring and coughing of an engine out in the garage, and went to investigate. I found Curtis hard at work fixing our very-sick snow blower, in an effort to get the driveway cleared of nearly two feet of snow. By the look on his face, I think the roaring of the engine finally starting was a good sign. :) And yep, this is after already putting in a long day's work with the medical studies.

I snapped a quick (and blurry) pic...

By the way, this is what our trees looked like this morning, hence the need for the snow blower:

Absolutely Amazing Brownie Recipe

Friday, December 5, 2014

Knock-You-Naked Brownies
[picture courtesy of]

Ree Drummond has done it again! A few weeks ago I received her cookbook, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" as a gift from a dear friend (love you girl! :), and this recipe was the first one I made from the book. They were absolutely AMAZING. My family gobbled them up at record speed. Quote from Augs: "I think we need to have these on hand ALL the time!!"
So here is her recipe for your cooking (and eating) pleasure...


1 stick butter, melted, plus more for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/3 plus 1/2 cup evaporated milk
One 18.5-ounce box chocolate cake mix
1 cup finely chopped pecans [I used walnuts]
60 caramels, unwrapped [minus one that somebody snitched]
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-by-9-inch baking pan.

Begin by pouring 1/3 cup evaporated milk into a bowl with the cake mix. Add the melted butter and the chopped pecans. Mix the ingredients together - it'll be pretty thick!

Divide the dough in half down the middle. Press half of it into the bottom of the prepared pan to make the first brownie layer. Bake until slightly set, 8 to 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and set aside.

While the brownie layer is baking, in a double boiler (or glass bowl set over a bowl of simmering water) combine the caramels and the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Stir occasionally until the caramels are totally melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the caramel mixture over the first baked layer, spreading so it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top.

Next, on a clean surface or a sheet of waxed paper, press the remaining dough into a square shape slightly smaller than the baking pan. Carefully set it on top of the chocolate chips. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the brownies cool to room temperature. Cover the pan and refrigerate the brownies for several hours to allow them to set.

When you're ready to serve them (or give them to someone you love!) sprinkle generously with the powdered sugar and cut them into large rectangles before removing from the pan. These are absolutely killer, my friends. Make them for someone you really, really love... or someone you want to love you back. :)

Winter Hiking

Sunday, November 30, 2014

We hiked Mount Mansfield yesterday, and it was absolutely wild! The temperature was well below freezing, and with a wind of about 40 mph, there was an incredible windchill. We all went bundled up as much as possible, with backpacks full of additional layers just in case - which we ended up needing. Starting the climb at past 3:00 p.m. meant that we would be hiking in the dark, so we all brought headlamps and had to switch them on well before we reached the top. But it was amazingly beautiful! The sun was setting as we climbed the aptly-named Sunset Ridge trail, and by the time we got out of the trees, it was totally dark.

Here are a few pictures...

At this point it began to get extremely cold, and our fingers & toes were muttering anxiously about frostbite, so we were happy to be heading down. :) It was a wonderful first hike of the winter season, and we are looking forward to many more these coming months!

Thankfulness Day 34: Last Thankfulness Series Post!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! 

It's been a great experience to do this Thankfulness series. Today I am especially thankful for my amazing brother Isaac who did it with me... we've had a ton of fun together as we've relived old memories, pondered the many things we're thankful for, and occasionally commiserated in that "uh-oh, I didn't post yet today" feeling. :)

And by the way, the end of the series doesn't mean the end of posting - both of us will be back here regularly, so stay tuned!

Thankfulness Day 33: A Thanksgiving Funny

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The weather forecast for tomorrow: 

Turkeys will thaw in the morning, then warm in the oven to an afternoon high near 165F. The kitchen will turn hot and humid, and if you bother the cook, be ready for a severe squall or cold shoulder.

During the late afternoon and evening, the cold front of a knife will slice through the turkey, causing an accumulation of one to two inches on plates. Mashed potatoes will drift across one side while cranberry sauce creates slippery spots on the other. Please pass the gravy.

A weight watch and indigestion warning have been issued for the entire area, with increased stuffiness around the beltway. During the evening, the turkey will diminish and taper off to leftovers, dropping to a low of 34F in the refrigerator.

Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, high pressure to eat sandwiches will be established. Flurries of leftovers can be expected both days with a 50 percent chance of scattered soup late in the day. We expect a warming trend where soup develops. By early next week, eating pressure will be low as the only wish left will be the bone.

Thankfulness Day 32: Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two years ago, the guys bought me a little leather copy of Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" daily devotional. It has changed my life. Seriously. Every day I read in it, and every day I am encouraged, convicted, and reminded again and again and again of God's unchanging Truths. Still can't figure out how I even survived before I knew of this book. If you don't have a copy yet, get one! Now! :)

I have been particularly struck by recent readings, specifically those that deal with Life in the Ordinary. What are we striving for? We must have the faith to live between the mountaintops, to grab hold of the promises that looked so clear on top of the mountain, and keep holding onto them even when we're trudging through Yet Another Valley.

From November 16th: "The great marvel of the Incarnation slips into ordinary childhood's life; the great marvel of the Transfiguration vanishes in the devil-possessed valley; the glory of the Resurrection descends into a breakfast on the seashore. This is not an anti-climax, but a great revelation of God.

"The tendency is to look for the marvelous in our experience.... It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us. If we do not want medieval haloes, we want something that will make people say -- 'what a wonderful man of prayer he is! What a pious devoted woman she is!' .... It takes God's spirit in us to make us so absolutely humanly His that we are utterly unnoticeable. The test of the life of a saint is not success, but faithfulness in human life as it actually is."


Thankfulness Day 31: Memories from Mesa Verde

Monday, November 24, 2014

We have so many great memories from time spent in Mesa Verde last year! Here are some very random pictures... 

Like father, like son

Almost to the top...

Time for a quick rest!

Surveying the valley floor

Apparently there is more than one way to get off a rock.

Love him.

Yours truly

Thankfulness Day 30: The Wisdom of the Elderly

Friday, November 21, 2014

"The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." Prov. 16:31

We love you, Nanny Rose. :)

Thankfulness Day 29: Cross-Cultural Living

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I am so grateful for all the opportunities we have had as a result of ten years' worth of traveling and ministry. One of those opportunities has been to live cross-culturally and experience many different (sometimes extremely different!) kinds of people, places, foods, customs, and languages. It has provided a unique worldview for us, has caused us to have a deep and genuine love for people, and has helped us to be flexible and easygoing. I wouldn't trade our experiences for anything!

Example:  our annual stay in Amish country, while Papa does intensive counseling with those who have come out of Amish and Old Order Mennonite cultures.  Through extended periods of time living among them,  we have developed lasting friendships and have been invited into their inner circles.

For the last 5 years, Curtis has expressed much interest in setting up a medical clinic in one of the more isolated and under-served Amish communities; we all share the love he has for these warm, down-to-earth people.  None of us knows yet where God will open doors for each of us to spread the gospel, but we look forward to serving Him wherever He places us!

Thankfulness Day 28: Our Resident Dove

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I just couldn't resist posting pictures of this naughty little dove who hangs out on our back deck... the Hairy Woodpecker knocks down seeds from the feeder, and this bird-sized vacuum cleaner is provided with a handy lunch. He (or she?) shuffles back and forth on the deck, coos at us through the window, and seems to enjoy taking naps in the snow:

I am so grateful for all the wildlife we have around here (and thanks to Augs for taking such great pictures)!

Thankfulness Day 27: Curtis

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Curtis' birthday today!

What an awesome, incredible blessing God gave us when He put Curtis in our family. 
Amazing brother, best friend, confidant, leader, encourager, gifted evangelist, tender-hearted, strong, fun-loving, discipler of many, fellow coffee lover, solid man of God, future Doctor...
The list goes on, and on, and on, and on.

Now in his second year of medical school, Curtis is well on his way towards medical missions, with an unshakable heart for the lost and an unquenchable love for God's Word. Curtis is well-loved, well-respected, and much looked up to by everyone around him for his rare strength of character and integrity. 

He has already had an impact on many lives at medical school, and looks forward to serving God through missions in the future. But Curtis firmly believes that the Missional Life doesn't start when he becomes an M.D.; God calls every one of us to be a missionary, right where we are. It isn't about traveling to a far-away country where the people don't look like you. It is about being salt and light, serving the Body of Christ, and winning souls for Him, right HERE.

Curtis knows what he believes and where he's going in life. I am so thankful to be his sister, and to be by his side, witnessing first-hand the greatness of God and the powerful effect of one man following the ways of Christ.

Happy Birthday, Curtis!

P.S. If you'd like to leave a comment to wish him happy birthday (a great idea!), just click here.

Thankfulness Day 26: An Early Birthday Party

Monday, November 17, 2014

It is Curtis' birthday tomorrow, so the rest of us have been conspiring together for a while, and yesterday we threw a surprise birthday party for him! It was organized by one of C's study partners, and we all had a blast, even if it was SO hard to keep it a surprise. :)

 Ike & Ibs putting up some Christmas decorations

 And the party begins!

 Three of Curtis' classmates - Dale (in the black), Trishul (in the red), and Asaad on the far right.

 Asaad & his wife Jasmine, and Eric with one of his kids

 Lighting the candles, with help from Joanna (Eric's wife)

 Still working on the bonfire...

And a concert by Eric. There were also many games of ping-pong, plus invigorating discussions, much consuming of Trishul's world-famous cooking, and reminiscing over good memories from this past year. It was a wonderful time, and we look forward to many more like it.

Happy early-Birthday, Curtis!

Thankfulness Day 25: Guests from Afar

Friday, November 14, 2014

I am so thankful for good friends who travel all the way from Texas to see us! A few days ago we were privileged to enjoy the company of these wonderful people:

[partway up Stowe Pinnacle]

It was so good to connect with them again, share stories, and hear about what God is doing in their lives. Fellowship with like-minded believers is a rare thing here in Vermont, so these times of encouragement are precious to us.

And of course, a visit isn't quite complete without a game of Speed Scrabble...

Thankfulness Day 24: SNOW!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

[photo taken by Augs]

Thankfulness Day 23: Fellow Puzzlers

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yes, we did make cupcakes after working on this thing for hours! :)

Thankfulness Day 22: Biblical Teaching

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What a whirlwind these past two weeks have been! Between the Islands trip, guests from Texas, the GMHC conference trip, keeping up with normal life, and about two hundred other things, I have been quite busy. I am very thankful for early mornings in the Word, long discussions with family members as we drive, and three amazing days of conference messages. 

There are two themes that stood out to me in the conference - the first is faith, and the second is trust. A couple of things that really spoke to me (from my notes):

"God will give you what you need to be faithful to Him.... God is still doing amazing things in the lives of normal people." (from Dr. Kent Brantly, ebola survivor) What we must do is trust Him and let Him rule our lives, and He will provide what we need in the right time.

Dr. Cook gave an excellent message on finding God's will for your life. He explained that the sin of Adam and Eve came down to self-direction - doing what they wanted and deciding for themselves what they would surrender or obey - and the sin of Cain was similar, deciding for himself what to sacrifice.

My favorite message of all was given by Dr. Tramonte. "Religion and our own 'good works' get in the way of God's love working through us.... You don't know grace if you are still performing, trying to please God.... If you want to get right with God, let go and let Him love you." Wow. How often I need to remember that, to remind myself that it isn't about what I can do on my strength. On my strength, I can do nothing.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to hear Biblical teaching. And here is one more picture, something else I am very thankful for... Mexican food!!

[oh YUM.]

Thankfulness Day 21: A Young French Friend

Monday, November 10, 2014

A couple weeks ago I mentioned Etienne -- a young boy from Les Iles de la Madeleine. I love practicing French with him, his laugh is super contagious, and he always has a positive outlook on life. Here's a little snippet of video to give you an idea of what a Madelinot accent sounds like... :)

Thankfulness Day 20: An Amazing Conference

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Global Health and Missions Conference has been just as amazing as ever this year. We got here yesterday and have been enjoying excellent messages ever since, interspersed with meeting interesting people, networking in the vendor hall, and having amazing times of worship in a crowd of thousands. There is much to write about and I will share my notes here soon, but for now, here are a couple of quick pictures. Disclaimer: they were all taken with a phone, so please pardon the blurry quality :)

Looking out over the main auditorium

Christian Medical and Dental Association members' ice cream social
(and yes, dinner was Chick-fil-A...yum)

Dr. David Stevens interviewed Kent & Amber Brantly this evening. It was fascinating to hear Kent's story of how God has worked in his life, and the opportunities he has been given to share the Gospel through the Ebola crisis.

Thankfulness Day 19: Memories from Pike's Peak

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I was looking through some old pictures the other day, and came across these. In the spring of 2013, we were driving across the U.S. and one of the stops was Colorado. Well, since we were already there, and since it was a Sunday afternoon, we decided to drive up Pike's Peak...

 A quick snowball fight on the way up

After a while, things started getting really interesting:

There were occasional large patches of ice and snow on the road, so we were very thankful for Papa's good driving!

The views were absolutely spectacular.

 Here we are, finally at the top!




And last but not least... the world-famous donuts!
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