Food for the Soul
"While the world may judge our children against the temporal standards of intelligence, appearance, money, power, and fame, God will judge them by their hearts -- 'The LORD does not look at the same things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart' (1 Samuel 16:7b). We are raising our children for God's approval." -- Clay and Sally Clarkson, Educating the Wholehearted Child
Oh how we need to remember this! As we make decisions for our children -- how they will be educated, what activities they will be involved in, who we let them spend time with -- we need to always keep in mind that it is hearts we are cultivating. If our highest aspirations as parents is that our children will get good grades so that they can get into a good college so that they can get a good job and "be happy" then we have completely missed the mark of what parenting is supposed to be. We have to ask ourselves where our parenting time and energy is going. Is it to make our children look good on the outside -- good looks, popularity, fitting in, hopes of a good salary, and "happiness" -- or is it spent on our children looking good on the inside -- hearts that love the Lord, desire to serve others, and long to fulfill their God-given potential?
What are your deepest desires for your children? What are your deepest desires for yourself?
Food for the Tummy
Out of everything I have ever made, my husbands favorite -- by far -- is Homemade Soft Pretzels. I am not sure why he loves them quite so much, but he does, and if pleasing him is that easy, I'm all for it! We've now made these a number of times and I have to admit, they are tasty!
Soft Pretzels (from Martha Stewart)
- 2 cups warm water, 100 degrees to 110 degrees
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 large egg
- Coarse or pretzel salt
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- Pour warm water into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a small bowl, combine water and sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
- Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about 10 times, or until smooth. (Note from Janet: since I don't have a stand mixer and I read somewhere that a wooden spoon would work just as well, I tried it. It turned out great! Just mix for a minute or two after it looks combined.)
- Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. (Note from Janet: I found that greasing a baking sheet does nothing! I was constantly trying to scrape pretzels off the bottom. Then I tried parchment paper and it worked wonders!) Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each), and wrap in plastic.
- Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. (Note from Janet: Again, at the advice of someone else, I rolled my dough out on an UNfloured surface. Perfect!) Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; 8 will fit on each sheet. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda. Reduce to a simmer; transfer 3 to 4 pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
- Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for 2 days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.