Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: "O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
- Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

You can’t get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that’s joy.
-Ann Voscamp

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Art to Share

Here are a couple more of Molly's pieces. I particularly love the dog, and I'm also amazed at the improvement in her people.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Canning Venison

This past weekend, Dan and I canned venison. It was my first time canning meat, but was actually very easy (though time consuming), and the results are delicious!

First, sweet-talk your hubby into helping. :)
Gather everything you need before you begin, preventing any last minute scrambles. You will need a pressure caner with rack, straight sided (wide mouth) pint jars, lids and bands, a jar lifter, magnet wand or tongs for lifting lids out of hot water, a wide mouth funnel, kitchen timer, plenty of wash cloths and kitchen towels, canning salt and some MEAT!
You may have read about canning meats, and (if you're like me) it may have scared you silly. Don't be afraid! This really is easy. The family I learned this from has been preparing and eating venison this way since they were itty bitty, and I've had my share of it as well. It is well worth the effort.
Wash all equipment in hot soapy water, using regular dish washing liquid. This includes the jars. Soak the jar lids in hot water until ready to use.
Pack your cubed meat into the jars leaving one inch of head space. We didn't pack ours quite as full as we could have. I was a bit afraid of packing them too full. We used all of the meat that people would usually grind into burger. I love all venison as long as it's NOT burger, so this works out well for us.

Add 1/4 tsp. canning salt to the top of each packed jar, wipe rim with clean, damp cloth, cover with lid and screw band finger-tip tight.

These handy little wands with magnets on the end are great for picking the lids out of the hot water.

When the jars are packed, load your canner (with approximately three inches of water in the bottom). You want enough water that it won't evaporate, but you do not want to cover the first layer of jars. Some people put a second rack on top of the first layer of jars before adding the second layer. If you don't have a second rack, just stagger the jars so each jar on the second layer is resting on two jars from the first layer.

If you have two canners, yay for you! You can make a double batch!

Now for the hard part. ;) Drag you rocking chair right into your kitchen, and grab a really good read. You're going to be here a while!

Leaving the steam escape valve open, exhaust you canner for about six to eight minutes. This means that steam should be coming out in a steady stream without breaks for about six minutes before you close the valve and begin building pressure in your canner. When the pressure gets to 10 lbs., set your timer for 75 minutes. Now settle in with your book, and keep watch over your canner, keeping the pressure as near 10 lbs. as possible. Don't allow it to fluctuate too rapidly, as this will create a vacuum that will such the liquid out of your jars.
At this point you may be wondering, "What liquid?" It's magic, I tell you, magic! The meat has a LOT of liquid in it without you having to add any. It makes it's own heavenly broth as it cooks in the jars. That broth is one of my favorite results of this whole process.
It may take a minute or two for you to get the pressure to stay relatively steady. Just adjust your flame little by little until it levels off. When the time's up, turn off the heat and wait. And wait...and wait...(I'm not very patient, especially this close to the end. I just want to see the results!)...until the pressure is at zero. You don't want to release the pressure quickly for two important reasons. First of all, the steam is HOT! And very importantly, if you do, you'll cause liquid to be sucked out of your jars. This could definitely interfere with your jars sealing properly, and you'll loose all the wonderful broth. And it is wonderful, I tell you!

We had to break into a jar when it was still warm. Oh, it was so good! The broth was wonderful, perfectly salted. The meat was oh so perfectly tender. Pressure canning absolutely transforms tough meats! You just won't believe it...until you try it! :) Enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Girl

My girl has been busy photographing and scanning her art work lately. She would really like to share some of it with you all. She's one of the neatest people I know. It's pretty awesome to be able to say that about a daughter who's going to be a teenager in a few months!
Her main interests are art and horses. She's really good with animals, and I think would be a great dog trainer some day - perhaps even a horse trainer, which she's expressed a bit of interest in lately. She's persistent, patient, steady, methodical, organised, and courageous. These are all qualities that I wish I had more of, so they're very easy for me to admire in her. She confesses that she's never been afraid of anything except getting in trouble. Yep...but I don't think she's really very frightened of that either. ;) Just kidding! She's a great girl to have around, and I'm just so hugely thankful for her!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dan's First Deer

Dan got his first deer this year! It's one awesome animal, too. We're just so thankful to God for the meat. We really needed it, and so it's just such a blessing that we were able to get so much with this one big guy! It's a big bonus that Dan was able to get such a nice big buck. He was about 220 to 230 lbs. and thirteen points. Dan's pretty tickled that he got his first deer at 46. This was his third year hunting.

In other news, both our does (rabbits) had their babies, one today and one yesterday. They're behaving like typical first time mothers. They have no idea what they're doing. It's kind of nerve wracking for me. One of them is keeping hers in a nice little nest, deep in the straw, but didn't pull any fur for them. We had to pull some for her, but she didn't appreciate it and wanted to bite us. We didn't get enough to help much. The other pulled a ton of fur, and stays in the nest a lot, but isn't keeping them in any kind of group. They're all spread out around the nest box. We've raised litters in all kinds of weather, but I'm not sure if these first timers are going to be successful. I pray that they are. If things go well, I'll try to get some photos up soon.

That's about all there is for now. This weather really gets me in the mood to bake, so I've been in the kitchen pretty regular lately.
Stay tuned for my daughter Molly's art work, and canning venison!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Painful Debate and a Word About Compassion

Following is a debate that a FB friend started (and a copy of my comment). It has so far gotten 80 comments, and caused some people to "unfriend" others. How sad. The comments ran anything from, "Who do you think you are?" to, "I totally agree" and anything in between. I decided to post the "debate" question and my comment here. I'm not looking to start a debate of my own, and I certainly don't want anyone "un-blog-friending" anyone. I just decided I had something to say. I know that many people have personal experience with this or (as I am) are very close to someone who does. I do not want to make light of that in any way. That pain is HUGE. I wish that we who are Christians would learn compassion. I wish I had learned it before it was too late for my friend. Actually, I hope and pray that it's not too late. I hope that she can find healing and be at peace one day. I hope that anyone who reads this needing the lesson I learned can learn it from my mistake. And for anyone who is in the kind of pain I describe here, I have learned my lesson. I would be happy to talk and pray with you.

The debate:
So just for debates sake, lets say you are pro-choice. You believe women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies. What happens when another human being becomes involved? You wouldn't allow a woman to choose to kill her CHILD. So now lets just say that the "fetus" you are carrying happens to be a female, where is her right to choose?

My comment:
In essence, I agree with the fact that abortion is a horrible thing and shouldn't ever happen. However, I think the one thing missing in this debate is compassion for those who've felt compelled to make that choice, and for those who love and sympathize with them. I know this from experience. I used to think only of sticking up for what was "right" - the problem is that in doing so I hurt a woman who carried secret pain bigger than anything you can likely imagine unless you've been there. She'd heard so many comments like mine that she felt hopelessly worthless and that God couldn't possibly forgive her. What I said was like stabbing a knife in her already broken heart. Of course, I didn't know it at the time. She just lashed out at me about how women should have a choice, and how could I be so unfair as to say that when a woman is raped she should not have an abortion.
I didn't find out until later that I'd added to her immense pain.
I could have said the same thing, but with compassion and understanding, adding that we have a God who is full of compassion and love, and forgives us for Jesus' sake. Instead I gave the Enemy the opportunity to attack her further, and imbed the lie deeper that she was nothing, worth nothing...
She later tried to commint suicide and is as of yet steeped in alcaholism and depression, lied to all the time that she's worthless and nobody could ever love her.
Don't forget the pain that these women suffer every day of their lives. Tell the truth, but with compassion. Who really cares if people decide you're morally right, the question is are you sharing the Love of the Savior with them? Are they being healed and set free? Do you truly love others like you love yourself?
How I wish I could take those callous words back, and instead share the miracle of hope and healing through Jesus with her...
Thanks for starting this very worthwhile discussion! :) Blessings!