Monday, October 31, 2011


If you've seen the tv show Gilmore Girls (no longer on tv) you know that the fictional town it's based in is called Stars Hollow. It's a VERY small town, where everyone knows everyone, there are events and traditions that happen every year, and they have regular town meetings to make decisions about these activities. There have been quite a few times since moving to the small town where I live when I have felt like I live in Stars Hollow. One of those times was the other night when I went to a bonfire co-sponsored by the town and the county parks department. It reminded me of the annual Firelight festival on the show. Probably one of the main differences though is that we have a very limited number of businesses that are open all year, since we have such a large summer population. I don't recall much mention of Halloween on the show, but I imagine it would be a fun community event in Stars Hollow. Here, we sign up to be a house for trick-or-treaters. I debated it for a while because in my adult life I don't get too excited about Halloween and trick-or-treating. I'm not necessarily against it, and I know it's fun to dress up, I just think maybe we could be doing something different than spending money to get kids all jacked up and fat on candy. So anyway, despite my feelings to the contrary, I decided it would be a good way to participate in the community, so I signed-up and bought some mini bags of pretzels to give out. They came in a pack of 35. And I had less than 10 kids come to my house. Three of them were kids from the church, and one of them was surprised that I live here (at the church) so it may have been worth it just for that and the opportunities for other community families to see the fun, youngish, female pastor. Worth it? I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dinner Guests

Last night I had one of my local clergy colleagues and his wife over for dinner. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while, and I'm kind of embarassed it didn't happen sooner, but I'm glad it finally did. It was great to get to know each other better and share stories. And it really helped to know that I am not alone in the challenges I face, because I've been facing some big ones lately. I enjoyed cooking for some people (instead of just myself) for a change. I didn't make anything too fancy or complicated, but it turned out well. I did salad and turkey chili, which I've made before. But I also tried some new things. I made homemade biscuits, and a pear cranberry crisp. The biscuits tasted great but I cut them a little small I think. The pear crisp was reallllly good, definitely one to make again. It's amazing the difference sharing a simple meal can make.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cranberry Craziness

Yesterday I was getting my hair trimmed and my stylist told me about a Cranberry Festival that was going on this weekend in a town not tooo far away. She warned me to get there early if I decided to go. I didn't have much else going on this weekend and got my sermon done early so I decided to head out there this morning. I didn't get up and going too early this morning so it was at least an hour after the festival opened, and wow were there a lot of people there already! Despite fighting the crazy crowds (seriously I could not believe how many people were in this teeny town!) I had a good time browsing through tents of crafts and handmade items, and got a few things for myself and a few Christmas gifts. I enjoyed some funnel cake, cranberry ice cream (never had it before) and pumpkin fudge (all very healthy choices - haha). I also tasted some wine from a local south Jersey winery and bought a few bottles to bring home. I stopped at a few stores on the way home to get a few more crafty things (got some ideas at the festival), some baby gifts, and a storage bench that I've been wanting to get for the foot of my bed for a long time. I think it was a successful outing!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baby Steps

So even though I have some ambitious cooking goals for this month, I decided to start off easy and just try some basic things that I've just never made on my own before. The wheat bread I posted about earlier this week that I tried in my breadmaker and then finished in the oven turned out ok, but a little on the dense/doughy side. I'm guessing because even though it had risen pretty well in the machine it got condensed again a little when I transferred it to the oven. So it's edible, but not great. I've been eating some of it, but I think some will probably end up feeding the birds. ;) The next thing I tried was meatloaf. I'm not sure that I've NEVER made meatloaf before, but if I have it's been a loooong time. Because I don't eat beef, I made it with ground turkey, and instead of making one big loaf, I made two smaller loaves so I could freeze one. I think it turned out pretty tasty. Another recipe I tried was for baked apples and butternut squash. I LOVE butternut squash (and just discovered it maybe two years ago), but I decided to adapt this recipe a little and make it with sweet potatoes instead. It reminded me of the side dish my aunt always contributed to Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious, and gave me plenty of leftovers. It also gave me some more confidence that I can adapt recipes when needed. I'm definitely not someone who can just make up a recipe or throw stuff together and have it turn out great, but at least I know I don't always have to stick with the recipe exactly as written. I will probably try this last recipe again in the future with the squash instead of the potatoes, but for now I have other plans for my butternut squash!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Try, Try Again

Today I tried using my breadmaker for the first time to actually bake a loaf of wheat bread. I've used it before, but just to make dough. Unfortunately, something happened and the machine either burned out or blew a fuse or something (still trying to figure that out) and I couldn't finish the baking cycle. It appeared that it had mixed everything together and the dough had risen, and it just needed to be baked. So I tried taking it out of the machine and putting it in the oven to bake. I'm not sure yet whether it worked, I think I have to wait for it to cool to test it. I also started a new knitting pattern today. I have some friends who I need to make some baby gifts for, and I decided to try some new items/patterns instead of making the same stuff I always do. In the (unlikely) chance that they read this, I'll have to wait until they get the gifts to post about them more specifically. These two things I've tried today are very small in the grand scheme of life, but it got me thinking about willingness to try. I think that maybe a big reason so many people are afraid to change or try new things is because of the possibility of failure. Nobody likes to fail, myself included, but if we live our lives out of fear we miss out on endless potential experiences. I think most of us could probably work more at trying new things, large and small.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thinking About Food

So I just spent an awesome few days talking and learning about ethics and theology related to food production and distribution and hunger, visiting farms, and hanging out at a lovely camp in the woods with some old and new friends. I already had an idea for what to try through my blog this month and after my retreat I'm even more excited about it. I'm going to spend the month doing a lot more cooking and trying out new recipes, especially for produce in season. I know it's not realistic to try a new recipe every day or even every other day, but I'm going to try as many as I can this month. I already have several books and recipes sitting on my shelf and my mom just happened to recently get me a subscription to "Healthy Cooking" magazine, so I shouldn't have a hard time finding ones to try.