Family of N

Speak Up By Doing

Posted in Faith by Laura on January 24, 2010

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.

Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Prov 31:8-9

I was unquestionably pro-life before I ever looked at abortion as a religious issue. Logic alone seems like enough to bring me to the conclusion that killing in the womb is as bad as killing outside of the womb. I mean, seriously. If I go into a convenience store and open up a candy bar and eat it, I’m stealing, right? Even if I never took the candy bar out of the store. I honestly don’t see how the location of a baby has any more influence over whether or not killing it is wrong.

But as I’ve seen more and more Scriptures in light of the issue of abortion, I’ve become increasingly convinced that my response to that understanding is in fact a spiritual issue. God doesn’t just call me to defend justice with words; he also calls me to act justly. He doesn’t just call me to decry abortion and then tell a single, pregnant woman, “good luck.” (“Keep warm and well-fed.”) No, he calls me to do something!

I say all of this with conviction, but without ever having done anything either. I’m not sure I ever really knew what to do. But I’ve recently seen some great ideas for things that ordinary people — you and I — can do to reach out and help these tiny babies who cannot speak for themselves. Won’t you join me in prayerfully considering the many ways in which you can put your pro-life views in action?

50 Ways to Help Unborn Babies and Their Mothers
More Ways to Support Life
The Horror of Abortion — and What We Can Do About It

Miscellaneous Homeschool Links

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting by Laura on January 18, 2010

This has been sitting in my “Drafts” box for months, collecting lots of dust and not so many links. It occurred to me today that I could always post this link list now, and if more miscellaneous links came up, share them later. (Genius!) So, without further ado, here are some un-related homeschooling links that I’ve found most helpful:

Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Curriculum
Writing Composition
Composition Project Ideas
Dealing with Homeschool Bullies
How Experts are Made
Effective New School Years

5 Reasons to Keep Chicken Stock Stocked

Posted in Food, Frugality by Laura on January 11, 2010

The Professor and I roast whole chickens regularly, more as an excuse to make mashed potatoes than for the sake of the meat. After one of these meals, no mater how exhausted I am, I always force myself to stick the carcass in our slow cooker to make stock.* This means we always have homemade stock on hand.

Now, I’m not going to spend this post telling you why you should make your own stock. (Although, did you catch that this stock was made from chicken bones I was going to throw away anyway — as in, virtually free? At the grocery store, that much stock would cost you around $7!)

But, ahem, I’m not going to tell you that in this post. This post is an ode to chicken stock in any form, and a reminder to me that our freezer (or pantry, if necessary) should never be lacking this staple.

    1. Together with a frozen package of cooked, shredded chicken, it makes Chicken n’ Dumplings a weeknight meal.
    2. Together with a frozen package of cooked, shredded chicken, makes chicken vegetable soup** as sophisticated a culinary endeavour as a dump cake.
    3. Makes egg-drop soup*** the go-to elixir for anyone in the house who gets sick.
    4. You can have gravy**** with those mashed potatoes.
    5. You can use some of the stock in a yummy dressing to go with the roast chicken. I use Harmony’s recipe.

Below are my recipes from the easy dishes made with chicken stock:

*Overnight Chicken Stock
To a chicken carcass, add 8 cups of water, a couple bay leaves, some peppercorns, and remnants of onion, celery, or carrot if you have any. I like to cut up the bones some and add vinegar if I remember — this helps the bones release all those healthy nutrients. Then set the pot to low and forget about it till morning. (At which point, the overpowering smell of rich chicken stock will remind you again.) Strain and freeze.
**Might-As-Well-Be-Dump-Cake Chicken Vegetable Soup
Combine chicken, 6 cups stock, 6 cups tomato juice, and frozen soup veggies in stockpot or slow cooker. Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Cook for 2-10 hours.
***Egg-Drop Soup
Heat 6 cups chicken stock; season with salt, pepper, soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, and sesame oil if you have it. Beat 4 or 5 eggs in a separate bowl. When the stock reaches a boil, stir in eggs using swift strokes.
****Rich Chicken Gravy
If you scatter onion slices around your roast chicken before putting it in the oven, the roast chicken drippings make it a rich gravy. Remove all but a 2 Tablespoons of drippings from the roasting pan. Over high heat, mix 2 Tablespoons flour into the drippings in the roasting pan. Cook for a few minutes; you want the flour to brown some. Add 1 cup chicken stock, stirring over high heat till smooth and thick. Season to taste and strain.

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Chicken ‘n Dumplings

Posted in Recipes by Laura on January 4, 2010

This is a lazy-man’s adaptation of a heavenly recipe by Cook’s Illustrated. The original recipe (available here) is far better, but on days when I don’t have time to make fresh stock and pick chicken meat off the bones (read: every day since Savannah was born!), I make it this way, and it’s still a rather tasty dish. I always have stock in the freezer and often already have the cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer, too. When those two ingredients are on hand, this dish comes together pretty easily.

Stew Ingredients
3 stalks celery, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
oil for sauteeing
4-6 cups chicken stock
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbs flour
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken meat
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup milk (or heavy cream for special occasions)
1-2 Tablespoons buttermilk, or to taste
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves, or dried parsley to taste
Dumpling Ingredients
2 cups soft white wheat flour (cake flour or all-purpose flour will work fine)
1 Tbs baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk (or milk)
Preparation
1. In a large stockpot, sautee onions, celery, and carrots in oil until soft.
2. Add chicken stock; bring to a simmer.
3. Mix 4 Tbs unsalted butter with 6 Tbs flour. Add to stock/vegetable mixture. Cook until thickened, then add chicken, milk/cream, a splash of buttermilk, thyme, and peas.
4. Meanwhile, make dumplings: mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Heat the butter and buttermilk to a simmer (we use the microwave). Make sure the milk mixture is hot — this makes a big difference in the texture of the dumplings.
5. Add buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork until it just comes together. (Do not overmix.)
6. Roll dough into ~ 18 round balls and place on top of the chicken stew. Cover with a lid and simmer until the dumplings are done, about 15 minutes.