Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pumpkin Bread in the Bread Machine

This pumpkin bread is really more a cake than a bread, and it tastes great with cream cheese or butter spread on it. I bake it in the bread machine on the "quick" cycle. The quick cycle runs for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread in the Bread Machine
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

I usually mix the ingredients in a separate bowl before I put them in the bread machine pan, just to make sure they are well mixed:
Mix the first 4 ingredients together, blend well. Stir in the baking powder, soda, salt, spices, and flour just until mixed. Pour batter into the bread machine pan and set on quick bread cycle.

When the bread is done, avoid dropping it onto its head when taking it out of the pan. Let cool on a rack or plate. This bread keeps well in the fridge and is nice and moist.

Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

So, after posting what we do with the pumpkin seeds, I thought I might as well post our favorite pumpkin pie recipe too. I just baked one today, it's just yummy !

The crust is for a 9'' pan, the filling is for two 9'' pies. I find it convenient to have one pie filling sitting in the fridge or freezer as making pie crust is really a matter of a few moments only, and so the second pie is always ready very quickly :)

Pumpkin Pie

For the crust: (for one 9'' pie pan)
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
Mix ingredients, knead into a ball with cold hands, spread in the pie pan.

For the filling: (enough for 2 pies)
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
Preheat the oven to 425F.

Beat eggs in a large bowl, add both kinds of sugar, mix well. Add salt and spices. Instead of the individual spices you can add 2 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice. Mix well. Add milk, cream and pumpkin puree, mix well. The mixture will be rather liquid. Pour into the pie pan.

Bake pie for 10 minutes at 425F, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is set.

Towards the Feast of Tabernacles

With the Day of Atonement come and gone, I hope you are all well prepared now for the final festival of the season - a week of celebrating and thanksgiving for the year's harvest. We are to remember that everything is given by Yahweh, and without His grace, there would be no harvest, no celebration, no life.

There is a connection between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Holy Spirit, too. Jesus visits Jerusalem on the Feast, and here is what John tells us about the last day of the Feast:

"On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" (Joh 7:37-38)

Thanksgiving is not restricted to the bounty we are blessed with from our gardens, but should include the gifts of the Spirit, all the teaching and guidance we are granted.

Fear the Lord, celebrate, and be thankful, people of Yahweh !

Friday, September 25, 2009

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

We had a voluntary pumpkin plant in our garden this year, to be precise, it was a pie pumpkin plant. It yielded 8 nice pumpkins, three of which I already processed. Of the first two, I kept the seeds for next year, since if you want to save seeds from pumpkins, you'd better take them from an early ripening fruit. Now, for the third one, I decided to roast the seeds and they turned out very yummy. Here is the recipe:

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

You need:
  • One medium sized pumpkin
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Scoop seeds out of the pumpkin (I usually just use my fingers to do this). Rinse the seeds you want to roast.

In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water. You need about 2 cups of water for every half cup of seeds. Then add 1 tablespoon of salt for every 1 cup of water and bring the water to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a cookie sheet. Spread the seeds out over the cookie sheet. Bake, preferably on the top rack, until the seeds begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool. Let seeds cool completely before eating. If your seeds are not gigantic, you won't even have to shell them, but can just eat them shell and all.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christian Courtship

I have come across this theme of "Courtship", or "Courtship versus Dating", several times in the past few weeks, and there was one thing that made me stop and think:

Whenever a young Christian lady or gentleman writes about it, they seem to feel the need to start out with a kind of "disclaimer", saying that courtship is different from family to family, or couple to couple, and that what follows are just some personal ideas, guidelines, or expectations. Then they usually continue by elaborating on purity of heart and body, and by stating that courtship differs from dating furthermore because it is meant to lead to marriage. Some writers mention their parents, how they supervise or guide the courtship process, others don't. Some hold that courtship is basically about finding the one spouse Yahweh has made especially for you, others don't.

While there certainly are things to say about the idea of a "split apart", and whether or not it is actually biblical, which I won't do here, and while there certainly is something to say about the role of the parents in the courtship process according to Scripture, which I will do later, what strikes me first of all is that Christians seem to lack a general, reliable and valid guideline for courtship. Nobody seems to know where to turn to to find such a guideline, and so they make one up, basically, and call it a family idiosyncrasy. Some read the most popular books on the matter that a quick search on amazon's website will provide, with titles like "Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World", "Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship", or "When God Writes Your Love Story: The Ultimate Approach to Guy/Girl Relationships". Others only involve the family circle in the matter, but overall, there seems to be a lot of guessing and praying going on, so that one may be led on the right path. Please do not get me wrong, praying is certainly an important thing when it comes to courtship, but in this case, it would still be a very personal matter, and most probably won't lead to a general Christian guideline on courtship.

And so I am wondering: Why do people not turn to the bible for guidelines in this very important matter ? Why do they rely on their own, or some author's understanding, rather than turning to the one and only reliable guide that Yahweh graciously placed in our hands, His Word ? Well, I do not know why, of course, but I would like to mention here on my humble blog a few things that Scripture says about "courtship".

"Where do we find instances of courtship in Scripture ?", was my first question with which I opened my ESV. And I did not have to look far into the book, because there are only two explicit examples of young men acquiring their brides, if we exclude the cases of Esther and Ruth, as both do not really apply these days: Hardly anyone becomes queen by winning a "beauty contest" anymore, as in Esther's case, or is ransomed by her kinsman redeemer like Ruth. The two cases I am talking about are both to be found in Genesis: I am talking about Isaac and Rebekah (Gen 24), and Jacob, Rachel and Leah (Gen 29). Whatever else we find in Scripture concerning betrothal and marriage guidelines, mainly in the case laws, are regulations as to whom not to marry (which amounts to "close kinfolks") and what to do if someone tries to avoid taking responsibility for a woman he has made his wife.

"What do these two cases tell us about courtship ?", was my next question. Comparing the two cases, you find that both Isaac and Jacob are to take wives not from among the Canaanites, but from their own people. This is decided by their parents: Abraham sends a servant to get a wife for his son from his own people, and Jacob is sent to Rebekah's brother by his parents to find a wife there (and be safe from the wrath of his brother). In both cases, the sons end up with wives they love very much, Jacob even loves Rachel so much that the many years he has to work for her just fly by for him.

So there are two clear biblical directives to glean from this:
  1. We are to marry amongst kindred people. Paul repeats this for a more spiritual context in 2Co 6:14, saying "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.".
  2. Parents play an important role in choosing the future spouse, or at least in choosing the family this spouse is taken from.

If this is the case, then parents should again turn to Scripture and figure out what the qualities of a good husband or a good wife for their children would be.

Since all Christians are using the same source to find those qualities, Yahweh's Word, the list of godly qualities should not differ too much from Christian family to Christian family anymore, and as long as a young man or woman marries amongst like-minded, kindred people, both sides should know what to expect as well as what is expected. Such a list would also enable parents to easily weed out possible suitors for their daughters, and to advice their sons properly on whom to court or not to court. If compiled early on, such a list will help parents to raise their own children properly, so that their children both show these qualities themselves and learn to value these godly qualities above all else.

I will outline a few basic qualities/ general principles here, without going too much into detail, starting with the qualities of a godly husband. The Scripture references do not claim to be exhaustive, as Yahweh's Word is full of examples of godly behavior that serves as role models for ourselves and our sons and daughters.

A godly husband should
  • be God fearing, as the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Psa 111:10, Pro 1:7; 9:10), so that he may discern the will of Yahweh (Pro 14:8, Rom 12:2)
  • be a prudent man who is able to lead his family both practically and spiritually in the ways of Yahweh (for a call to prudence, see, for example, Pro 10:5; 13:16; 14:8; 15:5 and 24; 22:3, and also Amos 5:15; for leadership, see Gen 3:16 as well as Tit 2 and 1Cor 11:3) ), so that it might be well with him and his children after him (Deu 4:40; 5:33; 6:3 and 18; Jer 7:23), so that he can present his wife unblemished on the last day (Eph 5:25-27), and so that his house may be faithful even after his death, that he can say confidently with Joshuah "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Jos 24:15).
  • teach his children in the way they should go, day and night (Deu 6:7; 11:19; Psa 78:5; Pro 22:6)
  • be able to support his own, so that he may not be worse than an infidel (1Ti 5:8)

A godly wife should
  • be God fearing as the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Psa 111:10, Pro 1:7; 9:10; 31:30), so that she may know about her role as a wife and mother (references will follow below) and learn quietly in all submissiveness (1Ti 2:11)
  • be submissive to her husband, i.e. follow his lead practically and spiritually (Titus 2:5, 1Pe 3:5-6), and love her husband and their children (Titus 2:4)
  • be willing and able to run her husband's household affairs prudently, economically, readily and effectively, so that he can safely trust her with this task (Pro 31:10-31)
  • be modest and pure (1Ti 2:9-10, Tit 2:5, 1Pe 3:3-4)

Finally, what is the conclusion of my little study here ?
As far as I can see it, Scripture tells us that parents need to take an active role in the process of choosing a spouse for their children if they wish to follow biblical guidelines, and should not reduce their help to gently guiding or supervising a courtship process. For sons and daughters, it means that they need to trust their parents to do what is best for their children, and that they are sure to value in a future spouse what is good in Yahweh's eyes, not in the world's opinion.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Preparing for the Day of Atonement

The days that lead up to the Day of Atonement are days of reflection...

While we do not hold that the Feast of Trumpets marks the new year according to Yahweh's decrees (Exo 12:2 tells us otherwise, and the New Year tradition of the Jews is a postbiblical tradition rather than grounded in Scripture), the Scriptures do tell us that the Day of Atonement, the sabbatical rest and the "affliction" that goes with it are "a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places" (Lev 23:31).

What is this affliction about ? This question is easy to answer if you re-read Lev 16: Israel was to make atonement for its sins in a very particular manner, atonement that included propitiation for and expiation of sin. And while the sacrificial laws were ended with the Last Sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we are still afflicted by our shortcomings before Yahweh and should use the Day of Atonement to reflect on how the process of progressive sanctification has been going this past year.

Since this reflection should need some time if the following affliction it is to be sincere and honest, don't waste these days, but prepare well. September 28th will come quicker than you think. Maybe you start out by re-reading the Letter to the Hebrews along with Leviticus 16... just a suggestion.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Feast of Trumpets

Tonight at sundown, the Feast of Trumpets will begin, and with it the seventh month, the month of Tishrei, and the Sabbath - there is a lot to celebrate indeed this weekend :D

The Feast of Trumpets marks the beginning of the most sacred month in the biblical festival calendar, and so we should be preparing ourselves for this. The harvest is coming to an end, and the time is here for reckoning, feasting, and particular thankfulness.

If you wish to read up on the biblical background for the Feast of Trumpets, let me refer you to Lev 23:23-25 and Num 29:1-6.

If you wish to read up on instances in the Old Testament where trumpets play an important role, try the passage about the theophany on Mount Sinai (Exo 19:16 and 19), the destruction of Jericho (Jos 6:16), and the prophet's references to trumpets as warnings of judgment to come (Jer 4:5 and 6:1, Ezek 33:3).
In the New Testament, it may be a good idea to re-read Revelation, chapters 8 and 9. And while you are reading this, remember that Christ will only return at the blast of the LAST trumpet (1Cor 15:52), and that with a trumpet call, He will send out His angels to gather the elect (Mat 24:31).

Happy Feast of Trumpets to you all !

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Time Is Near

For all of us who do not celebrate the pagan holidays of modern day Christianity (Easter and Christmas, mainly), the holiday season is already about to begin ! What Thanksgiving is to most Americans - the official start of the Christmas Season - the Feast of Trumpets used to be to ancient Israel, and it still is for bible believers today. How so ?

Well, the Feast of Trumpets, celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishrei, marks the beginning of the most festive month in the Hebrew festival calendar. During the month of Tishrei, we celebrate the last three of the biblical feasts or holy days, namely the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles as the "glorious finale", so to speak. After these feasts, which also mark the end of the harvest season, we will have no big feast until the new year begins with the month of Nisan and the Passover is upon us again on Nisan 15th.

I suppose that many out there, like our family, are struggling to a degree to find a suitable way to celebrate the biblical feasts. Since we are no Jews and do not follow Jewish traditions, we do not look to the Jews to see how they celebrate the biblical feasts and emulate what we see, but instead, we look to Scripture and the meaning of the biblical feast in question, and then do our best to give the feast the spirit of its original meaning. You can imagine that many of the things we do are family idiosyncrasies, but I guess every run-of-the-mill Christian family has its own idiosyncrasies that show when they celebrate Christmas or Easter, even if there are a lot of common traditions out there, so this is no great surprise.

Let this be enough for a short introduction though - I will talk a little more about the Feast of Trumpets and its meaning in another post. For now I hope that you will feel supported if you, esteemed reader, are amongst the few people out there who also follow Scripture instead of the traditions of man :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obedience is saying "Yes, right away"

I have been following a discussion online the subject of which I won't disclose because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. What struck me in many, many of the posts made concerning the given topic, though, was that so many women, young and older, keep saying "I have to study this further before I act on the matter" when they find an ordinance in Scripture that sounds uncomfortable to them.

Rather than being on the safe side and obey first, and continuing the process of understanding the ordinance while you are already following, i.e. obeying it, they choose to continue in disobedience until they "understand fully"...

This is not obedience. Obedience does not require that you understand why something is commanded by Yahweh. Just like my 2-year-old: She doesn't understand that running into the street is dangerous, yet she has to obey us when we forbid her to do so. If I waited for her to understand why she shouldn't run into the street, and until then let her do as she pleased, I would end up with a dead child, no doubt. No way !

I wish I could tell all these women all this straight into the face, but I know they will just call me "unloving" and reject the advice, so I use my blog to say it, and hope that whoever is meant to read it, will read it. I guess if people are resistant to Yahweh's commands and his yoke is burdensome for them, then they aren't among those few that are chosen anyway...

Monday, September 14, 2009


Hi there,

Welcome everyone to my brand new blog :)

This will be the place where I post tidbits from the life of a happy wife and mother of soon two, and where I plan to share recipes, gardening successes and failures, and other things of importance in the life of a conservative Bible-believing family.