August 8, 2017

Great American Cookie Company Icing Copycat Recipe

And if you don’t think that’s a sexy title, you’ve got rocks for brains.

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Ladies and gentlemen.

It is here.

I scoured the interwebs, I tested recipes and variations of those recipes. I went to multiple stores to get just the right ingredients. I sighed. I (nearly) cried. I bashed my head against the steering wheel. I drank a real coke.

They said it couldn’t be done. They said “nearly” was “as good as.”

They were wrong.

This is the end of a personal odyssey lasting years. To crack the secret of the Great American Cookie Company’s icing.

Anyone can make a giant chocolate chip cookie. That’s no big deal. Anyone can pop open a can of premade frosting and call it good. But that’s not good enough in this household. To be a legit cookie cake (or double-doozie) it has to be the real GACC icing. There is no substitute.

At least, until now.

Like I said, there were other recipes consulted and multiple tweaks made. You won’t find this recipe anywhere else. This is the one, y’all. Posted on August 8, 2017.

Without further ado (and I am all about making as much ado about this as possible, I feel like I just won the Olympics. I may even feel empowered enough to take on Mazzio’s Ranch) here it is: the recipe

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons merengue powder
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk (approximately)
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Combine wet/wet-ish ingredients in large bowl. Gradually incorporate powdered sugar and merengue powder alternatingly. Beat at high speed until stiff. It will be VERY stiff. *This makes a lot of icing. Enough for a two-layer 11x14 cookie cake with a thick center layer, and then some.

January 11, 2017

Recipe Post: Chicken Noodle Soup

Honestly, there’s nothing really exceptional about this recipe, except that it works. I don’t make my own bone broth or my own noodles or anything. But, if you want a solid go-to chicken noodle soup recipe, this is the one. It’s really easy, and when Miss G gets a bit older, it’ll be a good one for her to help me with. I tend to make my chicken noodle soup more stew-y than soup-y, so bear that in mind.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breasts (I use frozen) - 2
  • Box of chicken broth
  • Water, as needed
  • Carrot, large
  • Celery stalks, 2
  • Seasoned salt – 1/2 tbsp
  • Pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic powder – scant 1/2 tsp
  • Package of egg noodles

Directions:

Take a large pot and put in the chicken breasts and chicken broth. Add water as needed until chicken breasts are covered. Simmer chicken breasts until cooked through (for frozen, I leave it for about an hour). Chop carrot and celery. Remove chicken breasts. Add vegetables and seasonings to broth. Shred chicken and add back to broth. Bring to a boil. Add in desired amount of noodles. boil noodles according to package directions. Turn off heat and let set 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

October 19, 2016

Final Election Thoughts

Not “final” because I won’t talk about them again (you aren’t that lucky) but “final” in that this is the conclusion/culmination of near 18 months of reading, watching, talking, praying, and, yes, listening.

I think unless you’re a hardcore partisan, everyone would admit we have some really horrible choices this year. And I mean of the candidates actually on ballots, not the wishful thinking write-ins. (Let’s be honest, they are wishful thinking spoiler candidates. Even if we like them. They won’t win.) So what do we do? Blame the two party system? Blame representative democracy? Blame the media, blame the people who didn’t vote last time, blame whatever whatever. The problem isn’t the systems we use. World history tells us the law of entropy rules over the entire course of human history.

We’ve never had an election like this where there wasn’t at least one basically decent person to vote for. And that should matter, decency, more than whether or not which guy (or girl) will give us more stuff. So for my friends who are frustrated because “in the past not voting or voting 3rd party was throwing away your vote, but now it’s supposedly okay,” looking back over past situations, I still believe that was the case. We’ve haven’t faced this kind of Sophie’s Choice for president in my lifetime. It’s 2016, and everything is awful.

Now it’s October and I’ve been asked 235 times, by friends and by total strangers, “Well then, who do YOU think we should vote for, if you’re just going to be negative and critical?” So, staring down the barrel of Election Day, this blog is my answer in four parts (keeping in mind I’m strictly speaking about one single item on the ballot and assuming you will vote on the rest):

A) We need to stop with that question. We ask it because we want a quick and easy answer. I don’t see any quick and easy answers. At least, it wasn’t quick and easy for me. You may not believe me, but I’m actually very glad to see pretty much everyone I know voice some kind of opinion this year. Even when I disagree. Even when it’s been rude (yes, sometimes it has). At least people are caring and talking. Like I said the other day, we should absolutely keep talking and sharing ideas. Otherwise I think social media is 75% wasted. But I think we should stop saying “So tell me who to vote for” looking for a one-sentence concession, and actually read and listen to what people are saying. Then be convinced in your own mind.

B) Which is point B. Be convinced in your own mind. Whatever you are going to do, do it with all your heart. The Bible is clear on this. Even though it boggles my mind how much saying “vote your conscience” pisses people off, that’s actually what the Bible says. If we aren’t talking about things like murder and adultery, the Bible says that we should act “fully convinced in our own mind” so that we can have a clear conscience. And by the way, it also says that doing things without a clear conscience is a sin, which is why our conscience is convicting us about it. Read Romans and James. So if you vote, or don’t vote, or write-in, or anything, do it because you are fully convinced it is what YOU SHOULD be doing. If you feel like you have to hold your nose (or your vomit) and vote for someone anyway, because you just have to, that might be the sign that you shouldn’t. Not because of who you are voting for, necessarily, but because you can’t do it with your whole heart.

C) Repent. I’ve been preaching this to myself for a while now and am continuing to do so until November 8th. (Or 28th, as the case may be.) We have horrible choices at the top of the ballot. I think this meme pretty well sums it up: 14600863_1324556830936449_5716318283315586400_n
We can point fingers all we want, but the truth of the matter is, we’ve brought this on ourselves. And I say this as someone who has worked many campaigns in the past and has been trying to stay informed and engage in conversations since then. And I’m speaking as a member of the American church. We’ve done this to ourselves.
Not because we didn’t abolish the Congress and establish a theocracy. Not because we allowed for individuals to hold different convictions before God (whether they realize they are before God or not). I don’t think there’s a single straight line from Point A to Point B. But none of us can look around and say “Hey, I’ve been living as a hermit on a mountain doing nothing but pray for the welfare of my country for my entire life, so my hands are totally clean.” That’s not how it works. Read Daniel 9.
We need to repent. We need to repent for whatever part we, individually, played in coming to this point. I won’t pretend that this election is only one small blip in the course of human history. It’s still a decision over the leader of an entire country, and biblical stewardship theology says that because we are the ones making this choice – even the choice to not choose – we will be the ones held accountable for that choice. So know that I am not being flippant here. Which leads me to:

D) Vote (or don’t vote) in such a way that expresses that repentance before God. If you are fully convinced that Person A or Person B is “God’s Man/Woman for America”…well, you probably aren’t even reading this, actually. On the off-chance you are, I’d encourage you to peruse the Old Testament regarding the people God raised up as national rulers. P.S. – they often weren’t Esther or Joseph.
But outside of that, whatever you do convinced in your own mind, I encourage every believer to vote or don’t vote this year in a spirit of repentance. If you think you can vote for one of those people and do that, then do it. If you think you have to abstain completely, then do that. If you will do that by going 3rd party, then by all means.

I realize these last two sections might come off as arrogant. I hope you believe me when I say that this isn’t easy for me to write. When I’ve heard this in the past, I refused to hear it. So this is still a concept I’m working on accepting, even while I acknowledge it’s truth. It’s also why I don’t plan to vote for anyone at all. For myself, I can’t see voting for any of my options as a way of saying anything but “I see your big neon WARNING sign, God, but I’m going to keep on doing the same thing I’ve always done and just hope you’ll make it all right in the end.” It would be like me jumping off a ten-story building and trusting God to “make it right in the end,” which of course He would – he’d let me just go ahead and die and go to Heaven so I couldn’t influence anyone else with my stupidity.

That’s part of what motivates my non-voting. I’m not voting in the hopes that by doing so, my repentance will stay God’s hand in the destruction of our nation. Because I see it coming. I see how we have decayed internally to the point that down is up, wrong is right, male is female, exploitation is empowerment, and life isn’t life unless we decide we want it to exist. We’ve embraced Moloch and shrugged and said, “until we can overturn a Supreme Court decision or woo people with affection, we will just let the child sacrifice continue.” I see the black flag sweeping the Middle East, pushing into Europe, and coming our direction. I think of the world my daughter will have to face with a lump in my throat. Not because “I don’t believe God is in control,” but because we live in a sinful world that He already told us will have to get to the brink of self-destruction before He gives us a brand new one. I don’t want to hasten that in any way.

I’m still doing a lot of personal reflection and soul searching and praying on this issue on a daily basis. I know there are areas in my life where I personally need to “be the change.” I don’t say this as someone who has arrived at perfection, to quote a familiar voice. I’m sharing this with you as a coworker and fellow sojourner. Take it or leave it. But I am hopeful you at least consider it.

Sorry this was so long.

July 28, 2016

That time I saw Harry Potter in the Psalms

FinalHogwartsCrestMonoIt’s a testament to how deeply ingrained the Harry Potter universe has welded into my adult life that I always seem to find a relation to it for most situations. I just got around to reading a little about Ilvermorny, the American wizarding school in the Potterverse, because my life revolves around youtube nursery rhymes these days and things like that tend to become very Last Week by the time I see them.

Maybe it was because I just read about the Ilvermorny school and did the sorting quiz (Thunderbird, if you’re interested) but while I was reading Psalm 107 in my Bible study the other day, I noticed it was arranged in a quad-cycle, four stories ending with an overall summary. And, in the way that the Hogwarts/Ilvermorny houses are set up to describe most anyone who comes to them, I would imagine many people could see themselves in one (or more) of the stories in this psalm.

The first story is about those – “some” – who are wanderers. They are in the desert, hungry, thirsty, looking for a home. Their spirits are withering, their souls are fainting. They are seeking spiritual enlightenment and peace for their souls. They chase mysterious writings like scant trails in the sand, and mystical visions like mirages on the horizon. They never lead to water, or rest, or the deep, soul-satisfying peace they crave. Finally, they cry out to Yahweh, and he hears them, and rescues them from their distress. He leads them on the path out of the desert, the path He created before the world was made, and to the City. Not just a village, but a real City, with the well of Living Water, that whoever drinks it will never be thirsty again. Their thirsts are quenched, and the hungry find all kinds of good food.

The second story is about “others” who are in prison, in chains, in gloom and despair. Their spirits are broken from hard labor. Whether from ritual, regulation, or man-made religion, they have forged more chains around their ankles than Marley carried – by trying to create their own standards of behavior, or by submitting to chains others have locked around them. Instead of freedom, they are captives. Instead of joy, they are depressed. They invest their entire beings into the hard labor of living under these chains, and still they fail. And when they stumble, no one will bend to help them up, for fear of stumbling also. Their spirits have been broken by the hard labor of living in bondage. Finally, they cry out to Yahweh, and He hears them, and rescues them from their distress. His yoke is easy, His burden is light. All the work necessary was finished before they were even born. He brings them out of darkness and gloom, and breaks their chains apart. He breaks down the bronze slavers gates, and he cuts through the iron prison bars. They are free.

The third story is about the ones who are longing for death. Lifetimes of overindulgence lead to self-destruction. They’ve done it all, tried it all, been it all. Seeking fulfillment, they only found stomachache and heartache. The emptiness inside them was never filled, and now it’s all they can see. Even the idea of eating is unappealing, since it might make them live a little longer in this misery. They are staring into the Abyss, and they are ready to get it all over with, and jump. But, oh thank God, they cry out to Yahweh, and He hears them, and he saves them from their distress. His Words are filled with life and hope, and He sends his Word to them and heals their aching souls, and saves them from the Abyss.

The fourth story is about others who have everything they ever wanted. Their dreams are fulfilled, their goals met, their ambitions reached. They look out over everything they own and have accomplished and feel on top of the world. They are the masters of their souls, the captains of their fate. And then the world turns against them. Everything that gave them security suddenly fails, or attacks them. They can’t stand on their own two feet. Their wisdom and talents and skills no longer solve all their problems. Even their bodies betray them. They lose their solid ground. Then, they cry out to Yahweh, and He hears them, and brings them out of their distress. He calms the storm and stops the waves pounding against them. He gives them real safety and security, and guides them to the harbor they longed for.

Do you see yourself in one, or several, of these stories?

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Are you seeking? Are you trying to understand the mysteries of the universe? Do you sense the presence of a Higher Being but you aren’t sure how to relate to Him? Have you tried mystics and gurus and books claiming to unlock the ‘secret’ messages of life, and still find yourself wandering aimlessly in the desert? Cry out to Yahweh, and He will put you on the path of Truth.

Are you in prison? Have religion and tradition broken your spirit? Do you try so hard to be a good person, and yet at the end of the day, are left wondering why it still feels like you haven’t done enough? Is your spirit crying for freedom from the hard labor of being ‘good enough’? Cry out to Yahweh, and he will break your chains and deliver you from gloom.

Are you at the end of your rope? Do you have regret – deep, grieving regret? Do the things you once enjoyed no longer give you pleasure, even simply eating? Does it feel like there’s nowhere to go from here, and oblivion would be better than seeing another sunrise? Cry out to Yahweh, and He WILL heal you and rescue you from the Abyss.

Are you at a loss? Has the solid ground beneath you become a pitching ship, a hostile sea beating you down? Have your investments in property or in people turned to dust in your hands? Are you suddenly faced with your own mortality and realize you’re unprepared? Cry out to Yahweh, and He will bring you security that can never be lost or stolen.

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“Let them give thanks to Yahweh,
for His faithful love
and his wonderful works
for the human race”