26 December 2009

African Peanut Stew



We've only ever posted one other East African recipe here, so we thought it was about time to try something again.  The recipes are very similar in their ingredients and spices, which isn't surprising.  We liked this one quite a bit.  I'm not sure how authentic using the food processor is, but it sure makes it nice and smooth!  So here's the recipe... give it a try!

African Tomato and Peanut Soup
 
1 T oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t minced ginger
1 ½ t cumin
1 ½ t coriander
½ t cinnamon
1 pinch cloves
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
4 ½ c water
1 t salt
1 pinch cayenne
1 c unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 T peanut butter
1 T cilantro
 
Heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook 10 minutes until browned.  Add garlic, ginger, and spices, and cook for 3 more minutes.
 
Add tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot.  Cook 5 minutes.  Add water and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  
 
With processor or blender, blend in batches almost to a puree.  Taste, and add cayenne if desired.  Add peanut butter and half of the peanuts and whisk.  Top with cilantro and extra peanuts.
 
Serves 6

23 December 2009

Christmas

It's a fact. Christmas next year will look very different for our family. No white Christmas, no need for hot cocoa after cutting down the tree, no big family dinner.  In a way, we are excited. Christmas doesn't exist based on these things that make it seem familiar and "right". Yet we do treasure these things in our hearts and they will be missed.

In light of this, and the desire to well root our children in their home culture, we had a blast this month creating Christmas memories for them and enjoying our last cold Christmas for a while. Take last week for instance.

Sunday night we took the kids along to the student council Christmas party. No one does a white elephant party like a group of high schoolers! Among the creative gifts was a fire alarm, all ready to be plugged in and flipped on! We're waiting to see who is missing the alarm, however...

Tuesday we took the kids to a surprise dinner at Wendy's to use some certificates we had.  After filling them up on french fries and chicken nuggets, we spent an hour driving around town looking at Christmas lights. There are a few houses here that were so much fun for the kids.  One is done by a former teacher at the high school, and they open up their driveway so you can drive through. We saved this one for last... and drove through twice!

Then on Wednesday, the day I've been trying to keep just for the kids, I had a cookie decorating party for them. We had nine moms and nineteen kids come through to have some Christmas fun with us. The kids had a blast, the floor didn't collapse, and everyone left loaded with sugar. It was a wonderful time to spend with friends that we cherish and will miss next year.


On Friday night we had dinner with the Corman's, our missionary friends that have been amazing mentors and encouragers while we are in this stage of preparation.  We always have a time before we travel to other family to celebrate Christmas as our own family of four together, and we often have someone over on our "Christmas Eve".  So we had some African Peanut Soup (I'll blog that recipe soon), some chocolate pudding sundaes (had to do something with the leftover sprinkles from the cookie party!) and had a little time under the tree and exchanged presents.

Kaeden and his chocolate pudding sundae


Here are the five kids!  What a happy bunch!


Joel and his special new scooter... what a treat!


Merry Christmas from our family to yours, whether it is cold or not, whether your house smells of fresh tree or the box it came it, whether you are surrounded by many or few.  We hope you find meaning in Christmas despite all these things, and that your new year is blessed.

16 December 2009

Our little Christmas caroler

At MOPS yesterday the older kids entertained us at the end of the meeting with a few songs. So of course I, the proud momma, was right there with the camera. Faith had been practicing all week and was very excited. So without further ado...
video
Here's their second song, Jingle Bells. As you can see, Faith is very serious about her bell ringing!
video

07 December 2009

Being "Good"

Me:  "Faith, you are my favorite girl.  I love love love you!"
Faith:  "No, Daddy is my favorite.  More than you."

Ouch.  I have to say I kind of earned that one though.  Our Monday didn't start off too well.  Life here in the Frazier house during the day has probably been more correction that approval lately while I am home with the kids.  It is hard to teach patience when I seem to have so little, and it's hard to teach the kids to play nicely with each other when I choose the to-do list over them.  

It hasn't just been another school year this fall.  Kenya is looming before us.  Faith has noticed... she asks some nights who is coming for dinner, and is disappointed when it is just us.  She asks about what she can bring, what Kindergarten will be like, and who will be there.

But I am also very aware of the importance of a little bit of normalcy in my kids' lives this year.  It seems like a fleeting year to us, but I know it is not to them.  Joel is learning an incredible number of concepts as he grows from 2 to 3, and Faith's character is being molded as she grows from 4 to 5.  I don't want the kids to remember this as the year that mommy was too busy to play, too busy to teach, and too busy to have fun.

There isn't going to be any settling into routine this year for Jim and I, as our preparatory focus is constantly changing.  I realized the other day, however, if I didn't claim a little routine for Faith and Joel, that May would come all too quickly and I would have some ground to make up with them.  Last week, I made Wednesday their day.  We stocked up on library books and spent the morning reading all sorts of fun stories.  This Wednesday will be their day too.  I don't check email, I may not answer the phone, I don't check anything off my list, and we talk, play, and go on adventures together.  It is my hope that my actions and choices as a mom will be shaped by this practice to make our other days better too.

It is hard to be "good" in all the relationships in our lives all at once: with God, our spouses, our children, friends...  I think something or someone always seems to be in need of some "catch up" at one time or another.  But I do know if we strive to honor the Lord in these relationships, his grace is so much bigger than the mistakes we make.  

"The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:10)

A festive weekend!



This first picture is a good summation of our Saturday.  It started out with our yearly Chrismas tree cutting.  We are lucky enough to live somewhere that we can buy our permit for $10 and go into the national forest (a designated area, of course) and choose our own tree.  It ended with the Woodland Park Christmas parade.  Jim is in the parade with the student council kids from the high school, so our kids are lucky enough to have never attended a Christmas parade, but to always be in it!  Faith has been in three and Joel in two now.  This is the first year they dressed up as boxes along with daddy and walked the whole time!  (Last year, the double stroller was decorated.)  Sadly, there are no pictures from the event, but they gladly dressed up later to pose with the tree!

We spent Sunday putting up the rest of our decorations on the tree.  Faith and Joel loved it even more this year, and it was an absolute delight to watch them remember the ornaments and tell stories and bask in the glow of the tree.

I think the kids hung up more than half of the ornaments, while mommy and daddy repaired some old ones and took pictures.

Here's their finished product!

This is their early Christmas present.  My (Heather's) Grandmother paints china.  I have more than twenty china ornaments... one for each year of my growing up and a few there afterward.  The kids are starting their own collection now, which we will treasure for a long time.  This year she painted trains, much to Joel's delight!


01 December 2009

Uncles

This Thanksgiving we got to spend time with my (Heather's) brother Andrew. One of the things that I love to watch in my children is how they take to their extended family. We don't get to see many of our family members very often, but the kids seem to just pick up where things left off, even if it was a year since they last saw someone... a trait that is comforting to me as we approach living at an even greater distance from family.

I especially love to watch Faith and Joel with their Uncles. The kids are blessed to have three (crazy-but-not-too-crazy!) uncles that love to spend time with them and love to have fun with them. The picture above is just a small snapshot of that. Andrew rode around the backyard on a bicycle with Faith on his shoulders for almost a whole afternoon! The delight on Faith's face was just priceless. What a blessing our family is for our children!