Monthly Archives: October 2013

From the Kitchen: Homemade Butter

Okay, okay, I can’t wax eloquent about “I remember the days when a pound of butter was only $X.XX.”  BUT – I do remember that butter didn’t cost over $3.00 for a pound!  I got fed up at butter prices and tried a little experiment.  I had some leftover heavy whipping cream from some sweet treat I made, and decided to make butter.  I’ve done it off and on as a kid, and was pretty sure I remembered how it was done.  Sure enough, butter!  Well, when I discovered that I could buy a quart of heavy whipping cream at Central Market for less than $2.00 while butter everywhere was $3.00 or over, I figured it was a no-brainer.  So here’s how to make your very own butter!

HOMEMADE BUTTER

Yield: 1 quart gave me slightly over 1 lb of butter by weight

1 quart heavy whipping cream, brought to cool room temperature

1 CLEAN glass jar (I use an old jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid)

1 CLEAN container to put the butter in

1 container to store the buttermilk

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It’s easier to make the butter if you make it in batches.

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Pour approx. 1/4 quart of heavy whipping cream into the jar, filling the jar no more than 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full.  Put the lid on tightly and start shaking.  It takes approximately 15-20 minutes to make butter this way.  Your cream will froth up, and eventually reach the “stiff peak” stage and will seem like it won’t go any farther.  Keep shaking, and it will start to break down.  Suddenly it will seem like it becomes clumpy and liquify – this is the butter solids separating out from the buttermilk.  Continue to shake until the butter has pretty much clumped together without a lot of butter bits floating independently in the buttermilk.  Open your jar and pour the butter and buttermilk into a fine mesh strainer that is set over whatever container you want your buttermilk to be stored in.  Carefully press on the soft butter with a spoon, trying to solidify the mass of butter and release any pockets of buttermilk from the mass.  Then scrape the butter out of the strainer and into your storage container.  If you have a butter mold, ramekin, or custard dish, your butter can be pressed into this and molded as such.

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Place the butter  – well-wrapped – into the refrigerator to harden.  Enjoy!

P.S.  You can add some salt to the butter while it is still soft if you prefer salted butter.

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Bare, Revisited

“because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:5-6

We have debated for over a month (more like a month and a half) as to whether or not we should post the post entitled “Bare”.  I feel that I should post it, so have done so, but now I want to post an update to our current situation.  I’ll try to touch on all the points I made in the previous post.

We are still feeling kind of isolated – that hasn’t changed.  However, we are becoming good friends with another seminary family.  They have been a real blessing to us.  Guy is also trying to reach out to find a “few good men” with whom he can have accountability and camaraderie.

The exhaustion is still here, and Jessi has been sick all week.  She is still working early shifts and working long hours, but does have the weekends off (which are never long enough – ha!).  Guy has a new job that has him working Monday thru Friday only, and he is home by 6:30 every evening.

Due to increased hours (approx 40/week) for Jessi and the new job with set schedule for Guy (28 hours/week) plus being a 10-minute drive/4 miles away, we are seeing better money flow.  We have also started working some with a financial coach to help us budget and come up with a debt reduction plan (still in the works).  Jessi made the decision to drop most of her classes, which has freed up time to work.  All of this came about after a dental situation for Jessi hit crisis point.  A tooth that had broken during the move to seminary started hurting badly.  She had to have a root canal.  We are fortunate that the dental office is working with us on a payment plan, but that has added to our debt load.

Also, Jessi is starting to pursue the idea of starting a home-based business, doing custom quilting, crochet, and knit work.  The seminary is having a craft bazaar in December, so she is hard at work, trying to make enough items to sell to bring in some money this way.  She has been approached about making a quilt for a local couple, and has some ladies interested in her making them some potholders.

We are not out of the woods by any shake of the imagination.  We need to get rid of debt, pay off Guy’s (and Jessi’s) tuition for this semester so he can attend classes next semester.  We are saving up the tips from Guy’s job to come home for Christmas – something that we both agree is a huge must for us.  We need encouragement as we continue through a very tough, discouraging, burdensome road.

We do apologize for the long silence on the blog.  Jessi is hoping to pick back up with blogging weekly as things adjust to new schedules and endeavors.

Prayer Requests:

*  Financial.  We are close to having the funds needed to come home for Christmas.  Pray that we will not only get these funds, but that we will be able to save up a little spending money for our time home.  Also, that we can get a budget created as well as start a debt reduction plan.  Money to pay off our current tuition and funds to start paying for next semester.

* Health.  Jessi has been under the weather for the past week, making her miss work.  Pray for healing.

* Social.  That Jessi and Guy can find wonderful Christian people for mentors/accountability partners.  We realize that this has been missing from our lives for a long time.

*  New business venture.  As Jessi steps out into a new business venture, that she will not only have available training, skill and supplies that she needs, but that she will be able to reach a good customer base for her products.

*  Unspoken.

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Bare

“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.  Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.”  2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Friends,  it’s time that we level with you – bare our souls and hope for a compassionate ear.  We are struggling.  We are struggling mentally, physically, and financially.  You could probably also say that we are struggling spiritually.

Mentally:  We came down here with expectations that we would find a community of believers on campus who would welcome us, encourage us, take us under their wing, etc.  While everyone is friendly, and we have several acquaintances, I (Jessi) at least still feel isolated and lonely.  I don’t feel like I have a real friend that I can share all with or talk through a problem or a struggle with.  I feel like the only solution I have is to withdraw into my little cocoon, yet I know that this isn’t healthy either, so I’m lost.  And anxious.

Physically: We’re tired exhausted.  We’re either working very early shifts (Jessi) or late shifts (Guy) and not getting enough sleep.  It’s nothing for one or both of us to come home during whatever small break in our day we have and take a nap because we have no energy to do what we need to be doing – studying, fixing dinner, cleaning the house.  Jessi isn’t eating well because of school/work schedule and financial straits.

Financially:  I’m so tired of requesting prayer for finances, but we’re almost underwater.  Between no support from churches or family, jobs that don’t pay much, and shortage and uncertainty of hours per week, we’re not getting bills paid and are struggling to keep ourselves fed, clothed, and housed.  We visited Guy’s job because, while he’s requested more hours and has cleared much of his schedule in order to be available, the hours he gets vary widely.  We’re fortunate if he gets 21-22 hours, but we’ve had to face a few weeks of 11-14 hours per week.  Jessi is maxed out right now at 19 hours a week due to her class schedule.  We’ve applied for food stamps, but since we’re both students (and surely we’re getting support from somewhere to help us since our bills, etc. are higher than our income) we must work at least 20 hours a week to be eligible – per person.  Jessi is strongly considering dropping classes this semester (if we can get at least some of the tuition cost dropped), and definitely next semester so that she can work.  We are taking advantage of a food ministry on campus, but they can’t even provide enough food to last a family through the week, much less provide meat, dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  We can’t pay for any car work that may need to be done, we can’t pay for any dental issues that may arise, we can’t pay for any doctor’s bills that would come for Guy (Jessi gets medical care through VA) or medicine for either one of us, and we can’t pay for anything like new clothes or new shoes.  We yearn to get our debts paid off, so that we don’t have them hanging over our heads anymore.  We’re bare-bones now:  we don’t have anything left to cut out, unless we can learn to live without running water, electricity, and heat/A/C (which the seminary won’t let us go without).

Spiritually:  First and foremost, I want one statement to be heard loud and clear: WE ARE PRAYING about our situation.  Second, we are trusting God to provide for us, and are trying to lean hard upon Him during this time.  That being said, we are still fighting to understand, fighting to be strong, fighting to keep faith in the midst of all of this.  God’s been calling us to change a lot of behaviors, attitudes, and thinking, and we’re wanting to follow Him.  But our spiritual armor is getting quite soot-blackened from Satan’s fiery darts.  We’ve got charred holes in our cape.  Our shield is dinged and pitted, and the metal is wearing thin in places.  We need encouragement from those around us, people who will come alongside us in this journey, with more advice than “Just pray about it.”

Prayer Requests:

*  Finances.

*  Decisions regarding education.  Jessi is strongly considering either dropping classes this semester or just not returning to school in the Spring due to financial stress.  However, this will put her student loans into repayment, so we’re not sure that this will be much help, either.

*  Decisions regarding our future.  We’re still trying to figure out where God wants our ministry to be and what we are to do when there.  He is showing us some things, but we’re still working through some others and searching yet more.

*  Health.  We are tired, constantly stressed, and feeling like we’re never getting enough sleep.  Our bodies will only handle so much of this before we start getting sick.  Please pray for burdens to be lifted and sickness not to happen.

*  Peace and joy.  It’s hard to find joy in trials, yet we are commanded to do so.  Please pray that we can learn to approach our circumstances with joy, and find God’s peace in the midst of our storms.

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