Thursday, October 30, 2014

Family Photos - sneak preview

Last week, for the first time in two years, we had professional family photos taken.
 

The pictures will not be edited and ready for another couple of weeks, but the photographer has shared a couple of sneak peak images.

The black & white picture of the girls is simply stunning - though I am admittedly biased. :) I can't wait to see the rest of the pictures, especially the ones of Baby Bo.

These were taken by Tonya Lewis Photography. If you like what you see, we highly recommend her. You can also check out and like her Facebook page here.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wedding sermon on Psalm 23

We had another wedding at our church this week. While I have not yet had a chance to download the pictures, I wanted to share the sermon itself with you all.

My husband preaches a brief, unique sermon at every wedding he performs. This one was probably my favorite one so far.



I'm thankful to be married to a godly man who exemplifies what he preaches.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Little Buddies


Stephen and Boaz are funny little buddies. Anytime I set Boaz in the high chair (just to watch us, not to eat yet at this point), Stephen pulls up a chair from the counter, sits across from him, and "chats" with his baby brother. They go on and on, back and forth. It's really cute and funny.



 Boaz definitely loves all his brothers and sisters, who dote on him daily.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Photos from my childhood - Part One

I was born in March of 1979 in what was then Eastern Germany, part of the Communist Block. My father was Hungarian, my mother German. They had met in my mother's home town while Dad was working there. I was the third child after my two older brothers, who were 1 and 2 1/2 years older than me, respectively.

When I was about 6 months old, our family moved to my Dad's little home village in Hungary. Thus, my earliest memories all date back to Hungary, and Hungarian was the first language I ever learned.



Our little abode was very modest compared to the standards of the Western world in the early 80's. To me, it was home, and I loved it. We lived in the back half of this "duplex" - in the above picture, everything to the right of the fence. The house was generally dark and narrow, and from what I can remember, it only had two rooms: the kitchen when one first entered through the door on the left, and a single bedroom beyond that, which is on the right in the picture above. We had electricity, but no running water or indoor plumbing. Water was fetched from a central pump on the main street. There was a well right in front of our door on our own property, but it was defunct, and we children were strictly forbidden to get anywhere near the pile of rocks and the deep pit that remained of the well.

 My mom painted this dresser, as she did much of our furniture.

I don't know how my mother managed with three little kids and no running water, no disposable diapers, no washing machines or bathrooms, but somehow she did, because we all made it. I'm guessing she did her laundry in a big wash tub with a washboard, because that's the way my grandma was still doing it as long as I can remember. The diapers I think she boiled in a large pot on the single electric stove plate we had in the kitchen.


My Grandma's house, in 2004

My grandparents lived just a few houses up the only street in this village. That is my Grandma's house above, where she continued to live even when we visited her there in 2008. By that time, the house had been upgraded with limited indoor plumbing, and my Grandpa had passed away and been buried in this same village where he was born and had lived his entire life.

This house brings back so many wonderful memories. My grandparents, as well as my great-grandmother, lived there my whole life. My brothers and I spent countless weekends there as children, and much of our summer breaks. I can still smell their pantry (which made up a large part of the house) filled with all sorts of dried and cured goodies, loaded each fall during harvest. My favorite were the fresh walnuts, spread in the attic to dry. I also remember shelling beans of every type and color with great-grandma, watching grandma kill and pluck chickens for dinner, and watching the men butcher a pig and process it into meat, sausages, etc all right there on the little farm.

 My uncle with Grandma. The ladder in the back goes to the attic, and I have climbed it countless times.

 Grandma in her pantry. By this time, she was an old lady and living alone, so it was no longer in its hayday.

I once tried to show Grandma that I could walk down the stairs to the porch backwards, but missed the steps, and tumbled down instead. I bust my head open and had to have stitches, which are still visible on my forehead today. 

When my brother, who took these pictures, told her he'd be sending these on to me, she made him wait while she put on her Sunday best. 

 I don't think this dear lady ever wore anything but skirts and dresses. It was a very different time, even just a few decades ago.

Grandma was a great cook, and we never lacked for delicious food at her house. My favorite were her cakes. She cooked everything on an old wood stove. 

The electric stove in the back was not there when I was a child. Rather, this big cupboard was against that wall.

 The wallpaper, on the other hand, was the same they had when we were little.

My Grandpa was strict (I remember he spanked me once for refusing to take a nap!), but according to my Dad and my own memories, he loved me dearly. Him and Grandma had two sons, then there were my two brothers, and finally at long last I was the only girl to come along. I remember watching him wash up and shave in the mornings, then he'd take his cap off the peg by the door, and head out to his day's work. In addition to their little subsistence farm, and their own little vineyard, both my grandparents worked in some sort of rock quarry. Grandpa would often bring home pretty glittery rocks for my brothers and I.

Grandpa knew I loved sunflower seeds, which are abundant in Hungary, and which they grew themselves. He would spend his free time all week long shelling sunflowers one at a time, so that by the time I came on the weekend, he would have a little cup full sitting on that cupboard, waiting for me to eat them. After he had worked so long and hard, I would put the cup to my mouth, and "drink" it down in no time flat. Yet, he never did tire of shelling them again the next week. 

My brothers and I had a favorite snack he would make for us, called "Little Soldiers". Basically, Grandpa would take down a piece of smoked pork fat from the pantry, cut it into small cubes, top each with a dollop of mustard, salt them, and we'd pop them in our mouths as quickly as he could make them. We also loved roasting the pork fat over an open fire at night. We would let the fat drip onto thick slices of white bread until they turned into crunchy pork rinds we would eat with fresh tomatoes and peppers from their garden.

My parents soon moved to the big city nearby, but we continued visiting our grandparents every week until we left Hungary. More on that next time.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lactation Cookies (grain free, gluten free, whole foods, THM S)

This will be the last recipe post for a while... I think... :)


These are seriously tasty - like a macaroon. The peanut flavor does not come through because I don't much care for peanuts. If you like them, feel free to substitute some or all of the butter in the recipe with peanut butter. You can also sub it out with almond butter if you prefer.

And as far as being effective - well, I had several before bed last night, and let's just say my chubby baby has been feasting royally ever since. I wasn't sure if it was possible to make a lactation cookie without the obligatory oats, but for me personally, this is even more effective than my standard, oat-based recipe.


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bGTKWMfFRRY/VDn5lNVAB9I/AAAAAAAAKjc/664NCakbo4o/s1600/lactation%2Bcookie.jpg

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cheesecake Recipe (THM, whole foods, grain and gluten free)

Cheesecake has got to be one of my favorite desserts. As a child, I was put off by the name - it's the same in German, and to my childish mind, eating a cake made of cheese didn't sound appealing at all. But once I tried it, I was hooked.

Since I am following the "Trim Healthy Mama" plan to get back to pre-pregancy weight, I wanted to come up with a version that was grain free (i.e. no graham cracker crust), and used only low glycemic sweeteners in moderate amounts, while not compromising taste. (Please note: I follow THM without using any of the funky "on plan" sweeteners.)

In addition, I did not just want to create a cheesecake substitute, but rather something that was delicious in its own right. A cheesecake that would convert those who were not yet fans of it.

Not to be singing my own praises, but this did come out pretty awesome, as confirmed by my ravenous in-home taste testers. It certainly doesn't taste like I am missing out on anything. The crust in particular was simply delicious. I like it better than the traditional graham cracker crust. 

And - hold on to your hats - I even created a recipe card at the end of this post to make it easier to print the recipe. At least that's what I hope it will do. I am not exactly computer savvy, and if there is an easy recipe plug-in for Blogger, I have yet to find it, so I made a recipe card instead that can be printed as an image. Please share your feedback with me on this. Is this working for you? Does it help?

Cheesecake 
(THM, whole foods, grain and gluten free, paleo)


Pie Crust (adapted from the Coconut Pie Crust in this book, which I highly recommend)

3/4 cup blanched almond flour
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Toast the coconut in a pan over medium heat until fragrant and just turning golden. It seems like this is an unnecessary step, but it really does bring out the flavors of the coconut so much more, and it only takes a few minutes during which time you can measure out the other ingredients. 

Combine the almond flour, coconut, salt, and coconut sugar in a bowl; mix well. 

If the coconut oil is solid, melt over low heat. Stir into dry mixture along with the vanilla extract.


Press the crumbly pie crust mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes until crust is set and golden. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.




Filling

2 - 8 oz blocks of cream cheese at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raw, unfiltered honey (local is best)

For the filling, I just reused the bowl from the crust mix - it caused no issues whatsoever and saved a dish, so feel free to do the same :)


Beat all filling ingredients well until smooth (a stick blender works best). Pour over pie crust, and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes until the middle is set.

 


Carefully remove cheesecake from oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then, carefully run a butter knife along the edge between the cake and the springform pan; then open the pan and remove the outer ring.

Cool the cheesecake to room temperature, then move to the fridge for several hours or overnight to set completely. Enjoy!

(Makes 8 servings. If you are following the THM plan, this is an S dessert)


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YhnGBkSzdZY/VDa3Ms9p-OI/AAAAAAAAKis/3hF3Ytf1Sis/s1600/cheesecake.jpg

And - another exciting techy update: I have simplified my blog address to www.stevenandersonfamily.com, which will automatically redirect you to my page on Blogger here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

History is repeating itself



Top left: Solomon and Isaac, today
Top right and bottom left: Solomon and Isaac eleven years ago
Bottom right: Stephen and Boaz

They all look so much alike - and all equally cute/handsome (if I do say so myself).