Friday 7 October 2011

Wise Words for Friday . . .

I would wager that most of us grew up in homes where the words please and thankyou were abundantly used. we were taught to use them. It was completely normal for us to be taught polightness and manners, and not just in family situations either. I was taught as a child to thank anyone who had done something for me, or who had given me a gift. I was also taught to say please anytime I wanted anything.

It can be really hard though . . . to be grateful for things that seem totally unfair and when it appears that our Heavenly Father just isn't listening to our pleas and prayers and granting the desired outcome. Sometimes it's just easier to choose withdrawel and denial over an active participation in life.

It may seem at times like everyone around is us experiencing an abundance of God's blessings, whilst our own situations continue to spiral downward. Expressions of thanksgiving and praise can all but disappear from our vocabularies. We wallow in our own pain, unable to express joy to others who are experiencing God's blessings and abundance. Outwardly we try to be happy for them, but inside . . . it's another story. We spend our days wondering why our lives and family sitations haven't turned out better than they have . . . gratefulness being replaced with self pity.

There is a way you can turn that around though. It is simple and it is what works for me. Make a list of things you have to be thankful for, no matter what horrible things you may be experiencing at the moment or whatever unexpected challenge or unwanted change you are experiencing in your life. There is always some good in each of our lives . . . even if the bad seems to outweigh it. Practice praying your way through the good things, giving thanks to your Heavenly Father for any benefit, no matter how small. Somehow the bad stuff will not seem to be so big anymore. It won't have disappeared . . . but it somehow won't seem as important as it once did . . . and you will have found little pockets of joy and peace in all things.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:15-18

Just my thoughts this morning . . .

Oh boy Indian Summer has left us with a real bang!! We are now back into cold, rain and wind. I have resisted putting any heat on as a matter of course. Our gas and electric are going up in cost this month, but Todd's pension is not and so we can't really afford to pay more. We will have to keep that thermostat down and those lights off for as long as we can! We are still trying to fix the problems caused with our bank and still have not gotten bank cards etc. Hopefully today we will be able to go into town and get some sent out. It is amazing to me that here we are two weeks after that fella at the bank ticked the wrong box, and we are still unable to access our funds. We went in on Wednesday as we had been told to do . . . and it still was not sorted, so were told to wait until Friday. This just isn't good enough . . . but taking the blessing in all things, at least we haven't been able to spend and will have saved some up, hopefully!

We had a delicious supper the other night. I had some aubergine, courgettes and lovely slicing tomatoes from the garden that I wanted to use up, and I thought to myself, why not a gratin . . . You will only need about half of the cheese sauce you make for this. Why not make a lovely Macaroni Cheese for two with the remainder? All you need to do is stir in some macaroni (about 1 cup dry cooked) a handful of cheese and then pour it all into a buttered baking dish, top with a bit more cheese and some crumbs. Bake until bubbly and golden brown. Easy peasy, lemon squeasy! (Makes a perfect lunch or pop it into the freezer for an impromptu supper on another day!)

*Aubergine, Courgette and Tomato Gratin*
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
Printable Recipe

This makes a lovely after work dinner. Rich and delicious . . . I think I would call this moreish . . . Make sure you serve it with plenty of crusty bread to sop up all the wonderful sauce.

1 medium aubergine
2 medium courgettes
2 large slicing tomatoes
1/2 a quantity of cheese sauce (save the rest for something else)*see recipe below
salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 220*C/450*F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with some olive oil. Slice the aubergine and courgette into 1/2 inch thick slices and lay them out onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Dust with salt and pepper and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 8 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and flip over. Brush with some more olive oil and roast for another 8 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Slice the tomatoes into thick slices. Take a baking dish and spoon a few tablespoons of the cheese sauce on the bottom. Fill with one layer of the roasted aubergine, the courgettes and the sliced tomatoes, using half of them. Add a layer of cheese sauce. Layer on the rest of the vegetables and finish off with the rest of the cheese sauce. Dust the top generously with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano Cheese. Bang it under moderately heated grill for about five to six minutes until golden. Serve warm with plenty of crusty bread and a green herb salad.

*Cheese Sauce*
Makes 2 cups
Printable Recipe

I love the simplicity of this sauce. It was one of the first things we learned to do on my chef's course. It's very versatile and, with a few variations, a good basis for many other dishes.

2 TBS ounces butter
2 TBS plain flour
2 cups whole milk
1 fat clove garlic, peeled and lightly bruised
salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg to taste
8 ounces strong cheddar cheese, grated
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled

Put the milk in a saucepan with the garlic and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan without browning. Stir in the flour until smooth and cook for one minute, stirring. Slowly add the heated milk, cooking and stirring until smooth and thickened. Stir in the cheeses until all are melted and the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. The sauce is now ready to be used in any variety of ways.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Devilled Chicken!

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