Essie's Cooking

My Adventures in the Kitchen

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I suppose joy and sorrow are the two great inspirations for song in our world. It has long been this way. In the Christian vision of the world these two themes are inextricably linked. We worship the Lamb who was slain, and who will forever carry the scars of His love. We believe it is important for the Church to sing songs that give voice to both of these themes; thus we present our eighth project. Suffering is real and grievous, and it is an obscenity of sorts to deny it in our preaching or our songs. But Christians believe that while suffering is real, it is not ultimate. We believe there is a “joy beyond the sorrow” and we sing to mold our hearts around this reality. We believe our songs should honestly cry out with the voice of lamentation even while knowing that “our shepherd good and true is He, Who will at last His Israel free, from all their sin and sorrow.” We long for the church to grow in both her freedom to cry and her freedom to hope and pray this collection of songs may serve that end.

Rev. Kevin Twit

Filed under joy sorrow

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Well it’s only been a year and a half since I last posted, but considering I have two followers, I doubt my lack of blogging seriously affected anyone.

In that year and a half, I feel like I have grown up so much.  But I also realized that I need to grow so much more.  As I sit in my room avoiding homework and gazing out my childhood bedroom window at my neighborhood with a mere six months left of being a teenager, the world is a terrifying, beautiful, exciting, disgusting place that is calling my name.  I keep hearing in my head Belle’s phrase: “I want adventure in the great wide, somewhere.  I want it more than I can tell!”  And that’s exactly how I feel.  I don’t want to go back to college, I want to go to Europe- to visit the birthplace of Shakespeare, see a few shows in London, float down the river in a gondola in Venice, marvel at the art in Rome, ski the slopes in Switzerland, live a few years in a flat in Paris…  I don’t think that’s asking too much at all!  Anybody want to fund my globe trotting?  No?  Alright then, I guess I’ll have to go back to the freezing winter of Chicago-land and hit the books once more.

One of the things I miss the most up there, besides my family and the familiarity of home, is my freedom to cook whenever at whatever I want.  There’s not a whole lot of supplies in my dorm kitchen plus I don’t have the money or the space to keep basic ingredients such as flour, eggs, butter, sugar, etc.  So this break, I cooked more in three days than I have in three months and I absolutely loved it.  

Meal 1: spaghetti carbonara, salad, and fresh homemade bread.  Pasta dishes are some of my favorite entrees to make because they are so easy to make!  Just boil some water, dump some noodles in the water, sauté some veggies, whip together some sauce-or, if you’re feeling lazy, just dump some pre-made sauce on the noodles-garnish artistically with cheese and everyone is impressed.  The homemade bread, forgive me if this is vain and prideful, was delicious.  Warm enough to melt the butter and honey, it had a crispy crust and a soft inside.  I have no idea who gave my mom the recipe for this Italian bread, but it is a recipe I’m going to make sure I take when I eventually move out on my own.

Meal 2: pork loin, leftover salad, mashed potatoes, strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream.  Just like the bread, the pork loin marinade recipe is another one I want to make sure I keep.  The pork was tender and flavorful, a treat to eat.  The strawberry shortcake was another easy recipe-if you haven’t noticed yet, I like to keep things simple, it means less stress in the kitchen-because it uses Bisquick as its base.  Add some sugar to the strawberries, and top it off with your whipped cream of choice.  I decided to make some of my own because I had left over whipping cream from the sauce for the pasta that I knew no one in my family would use.  Just add two tablespoons of powdered sugar and a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract for every cup of whipping cream and you have a tasty topper for your desserts.

Tomorrow I leave to head back to the winter of Chicago.  I can’t believe my break is already over.  The week has simply flown by.  It’s been a good week, I mean, I got to see CATHY RIGBY IS PETER PAN.  How many people get to see a 60 year old woman play a 12 year old boy?  The song “I Won’t Grow Up” has never been more appropriate.  I also was able to catch up with friends that I had not seen or talked to in months.  I’m going to miss them and Cincinnati food and being able to cook and bake… Oh well, as my daddy likes to tell me, a college degree is a status symbol.  If you don’t have one, you really won’t go far in life.  So it’s time to go back and work on achieving that status symbol so that I can make it.  Goodbye Cincinnati-I’ll see you in nine weeks.  Don’t miss me too much.

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I started a new blog!  It’s going to be about my college search, so it will probably be updated more often…  Here’s the link:  Enjoy!

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Every time I watch Food Network, I get the urge to cook!  Today, I saw the Barefoot Contessa make some amazing looking sandwiches with a rotisserie chicken she bought at her grocery store.  Now my goal is to go to Kroger’s and get myself some chicken…  Hopefully there will be some amazing meals to come!

Filed under food network barefoot contessa rotisserie chicken

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I wanted to make dinner tonight and I had the perfect meal in mind.  I was going to make tilapia served over orzo with fresh basil, tomato, carrots, and onions in it with sauteed asparagus on the side.  For dessert I wanted to make a sugar-free yellow cake and icing.

That didn’t happen.

I was missing half the ingredients I needed:  orzo, fresh basil, asparagus, sugar-free icing (we buy it in a container).  I was just going to go to Kroger and buy what I needed, but my dad convinced me to make do with what we had.  At first I wasn’t too happy about that, I mean I had the perfect meal planned!  But Kroger was not an option, so I had to compromise.

The tilapia was the main course, we had a package of the frozen fish in the freezer and it is extremely easy to cook.  I found a recipe on for a lemon garlic tilapia.  We had nothing garlic flavored, so mine became lemon glazed tilapia.  Next time I make this meal I would add the garlic to add another dimension of flavor to the fish.  But all in all, the fish was tender and yummy.

The first thing to go was the orzo.  We had brown rice already cooked in the fridge, so I used that instead.  To make it taste fresh, I sauteed half of a red onion in extra virgin olive oil and then put half of it in a wok pan.  (The other half will come in later) After the onion, I diced half a red pepper and sauteed that in the same pan that the onion had been in, I think it enhanced the flavor of the red pepper.  That also went in the wok with the rice and onion.  For some extra color and flavor, I tossed in half a can of diced tomatoes.  The juice from the can made the rice taste fresh and new.  A week of watching Food Network taught me that I needed to unite the flavors on a plate.  Each item is not an island, but the the plate should have some unifying feature to bridge the gaps in the flavors.  For this meal I chose lemon to be my unifier.  I squeezed some of the leftover lemon juice on the rice (not very much at all) to unite the flavors of the fish and the rice.  After adding a little salt and pepper, I let the rice heat up in the wok on low heat.

Next thing to go was the asparagus.  I really wanted a nice, crisp, green vegetable to add to the flavor of the tilapia, but we only had canned and frozen green beans.  Although I wasn’t thrilled about cooking with either one of them, I went with the frozen because I thought I could make them taste fresh and new.  I decided that I would saute the green beans instead of boiling them.  I put them in a pan with olive oil and butter and the other half of the cooked onion.  Like I said above, I wanted to unify my dinner so I added some lemon juice on the green beans too.  The lemon juice added a zing to the green beans that I really enjoyed, it is something I would do again.

The final thing that had to be changed was the dessert.  I didn’t feel like making a cake with no icing and I couldn’t make my own icing because my parents don’t eat sugar, so any icing made with powdered sugar is out.  Instead, I decided to go with a strawberry shortcake recipe that I found on Betty Crocker’s website.  It was super easy to make because I used a pancake mix as my base.  However, it presented a problem because our milk was soured.  Thankfully we had almond milk in the fridge, so problem solved.  My next stumbling block was the fact that I had very few strawberries to work with.  My solution was to make tiny little biscuits and put a small amount of strawberries on top, I had to be very frugal with my strawberries.  I topped it with some sugar free whipped cream that I found in the freezer and served it right out of the oven.  It was delicious.  The only thing I would do differently would be to cook the shortcakes a little less time because mine ended up being a little dry and very brown on the bottom.

All in all, I overcame the pantry with some creative assistance from my Dad.  I liked the taste of the meal (the lemon juice definitely tied the entree together) and the dessert had the perfect touch of sweetness.  It was a light meal, just that kind that you want on a hot, humid summer day. 

Filed under Tilapia strawberry shortcake rice green beans substituting

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More to come…

I went to Houston to visit my grandparents and came back with lots of pictures of food!  And a “new” cookbook- Betty Crocker’s original cookbook that I found for only five dollars at an antique store!  I am so excited to start using it.  But the main purpose of this post was to let you know that I haven’t forgotten that I have a blog and that there will be pictures of food of some sort being put up in the near future.