Southern Cooking: More Deliciousness

Image by Patou Ricard from Pixabay

We are back and continue in my southern cooking cookbook from Macon, Georgia Church of the Nazarene, “Seasoned with Love”. Last week, we took a lovely detour and explored the wonderful world of hush puppies. Yum! Back on track this we, I bring you Southern Cooking: More Deliciousness. As a teaser, I am going to withhold the coveted Cheese Straw recipe till we get near the holidays. Oh yes! These are dandies and you’ll wonder why you haven’t heard of this before.

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Canned Strawberry Jam

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Hmm. I sat staring at the computer screen. Canned strawberry jam. Interesting. I leaned back in my well-worn office chair, and looked out the window. Maybe I should try it. How hard can this be? I quickly copied off the recipe, sat down and read it through.

Ashley from Practical Self-Reliance, made it all seem simple. Ha! She doesn’t know me very well. If she did, she would have talked me out of this adventure.

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The Plague Death of the Firstborn

Welcome back to today’s Time in the Word. I am finding it hard to finish this last devotion. The Death of the Firstborn is the hardest plague- people die. That is an attention-getter!

I know some folks may still struggle with God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. I tussle that around in my mind as well. I continued to read more and stumbled upon an article from Rabbi Markovitz, you can read that here.

Rabbi Markovitz explained, and I pray I will relay this correctly, that while we all have free will if we continue to make bad decisions, we lose the ability TO make the right choices. It’s an erosion of moral capabilities to make Godly choices. Maybe God gives you over to your desires for making bad decisions? Making good choices becomes a habit until it is natural, and the reverse is true of bad decisions.

Plague Number Ten: Death of the Firstborn

Scripture: Exodus 11-12:1-36, NIV

We left Exodus 10 with Pharaoh telling Moses NEVER to return. In Exodus 11, God shares with Moses one last plague, the Death of the Firstborn. Pharaoh will finally let Moses, the Israelites, and all that belongs to them, go. Moses also instructed the Israelites to go to all their Egyptian neighbors and ask for articles of silver and gold.

Moses goes to Pharaoh and gives him the bad news that around midnight, every first-born Egyptian, whether slave, free, or animal will die. There will be great wailing and anguish, unlike anything the Egyptians have ever known.

Moses makes the distinction that in all Israelite homes, it would be silent- not a dog will bark. God reveals to Moses that Pharaoh and his officials will come to him and tell them to go.

Moving on to Exodus 12, God instructs Moses on how to conduct the Passover and the Festival of Unleaved Bread. Applying lamb’s blood upon the door posts was a sign to the Angel of Death to pass by.

As we read, we can see the preparations for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread took about 4 days. Pharaoh had ample time to think and repent.

Midnight fell and death came calling. Pharaoh, his officials, and all the Egyptian people came to Moses and asked for all of Israel to leave.

All the gods

This last and final plague was a judgment on every single Egyptian god. This judgment included Pharaoh as well, as he thought himself a god. God keeps good accounts and repaid Pharaoh for the evil slaughter of the Israelite firstborn. Mocking God has serious consequences. Especially killing innocent babies and children.

Interesting Notes and Insights

  • Moses and Aaron continued to be obedient to God.
  • The Israelites were to ask for gold and silver from their Egyptian neighbors, thus returning to them what the Egyptians originally stole when they enslaved them.
  • The Passover became an excellent sign of Israel’s active obedience to God.
  • God alone delivered this plague.
  • God provided the Israelites salvation from death by the blood of a lamb.
  • We can be given over to our rebellion and bad decisions.
  • When God gives us direction, like the Passover directions, we must follow them.
  • God never fails at doing his part.

I wanted to share another chart with you. You can pick that up here,

Sharing bits of insight about the Ten Plagues has been a fun journey. God is so patient with us, he wants no one to perish. God gives us free will to choose to follow him or the world. Our decisions influence other decisions throughout our life. Choose wisely, friends!

Thank you for joining me here, today in Time in the Word.

Strawberries

Image by Jorge Lujan from Pixabay

Last week I told you we’d take a break so I could deliver some fun picnic pie recipes. I lied. Instead, I will share a strawberry shortcake recipe along with a few others. If you were looking to pick strawberries locally this year, Beaver Creek is closed. I heard that several folks went to Herron Lake.

Picking strawberries can be fun. Especially if you take a few friends. On the other hand, minding the younger kids who are more interested in eating than picking can prove to be a patience challenger. I opted for the quick and easy- bought strawberries on sale at the store, two flats.

At first glance, you might think that was dumb, but after you look at the amount of time you have to spend driving, the ghastly price of a gallon of gas, keeping your kids happy and entertained, and then your time picking… well, it just seemed quicker to me to drive down to Edgerton Food Center, buy two flats and call it a day.

Get to work

I have been married to Mr. B for over 30 years and have known him for 34 years. Mr. B is a highly productive person, so when he saw me bring home two flats of strawberries, he saw the “work” sign turn on. I was in no such mood to start topping strawberries. That was going to be peaceful after the grandson went to bed chore.

Nope! He insisted that the strawberries needed to be topped and sliced. I relented and told him to go ahead and top the berries, but he would have to stop there. I would slice and work on the jam in the evening. The evening of slicing and canning strawberry jam turned into a fiery adventure. I will save this story for next week.

Strawberry shortcake

I love strawberry shortcake. I don’t care for the sponge cake variety, just regular, good, old-fashioned strawberry shortcake dough. As a newly married housewife in 1992, I thought Bisquick® was a great all-purpose mix. Bisquick® was my favorite strawberry shortcake mix for years. Until I found this recipe from Lynette at Cleverly Simple, https://www.cleverlysimple.com/easy-homemade-strawberry-shortcake-recipe/.

Reading over her recipe, I thought it was quick and easy. All the ingredients were in my home, so nothing was going to stop me. I made up my adaptation to Lynette’s recipe. Her recipe inspired me to make some changes to suit my dietary demands- no sugar!

Homemade Honey Strawberry Shortcake- Michele Bruxvoort

Once again, my recipe was adapted from Lynette’s original recipe at Cleverly Simple.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons PLUS 1 tsp. honey*
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream- OH YES!

Directions

Preheat your oven to 425° F. Mix together your dry ingredients, and cut in butter with a fork into the dry ingredients. Mix the honey and heavy whipping cream in a separate bowl and then add to the dry ingredients until mixed- don’t over-mix. Spray a 9-inch pie pan and pat in the shortcake dough. Bake for 12-15 minutes. *Honey tends to brown bread and cakes quicker, so watch closely! Slice in pie wedges, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and plenty of fresh strawberries!

A few more Strawberry Recipes

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Enclosed below are a few more recipes from some cool cooking and baking sites. You’ll have to use your computer to check them out:

  1. Strawberry Bread- Taste Of Home https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/strawberry-bread/
  2. Strawberry Jam- without pectin- Practical Self-Reliance https://practicalselfreliance.com/strawberry-jam-without-pectin/
  3. Strawberry Pie- The Pioneer Woman, https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a35917337/easy-strawberry-pie/
  4. Strawberry Lemonade- Tastes Better From Scratch, https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/strawberry-lemonade/
  5. Spinach Strawberry Salad- Yummly, https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Spinach-Strawberry-Salad-2711122?prm-v1
  6. Strawberry Sauce- Sally’s Baking Addiction, https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-strawberry-topping/

That should keep you busy for a bit! I went on a rabbit trail of sorts when I started reading about pectin and making jelly and jams. Stay tuned for my Pectin article. I think you’ll be surprised how much pectin is and isn’t in certain fruits!

Till next time! Here is to good food, good friends, and a good life.

Survival: Part Two-Water Purification- LifeStraw®

Image by Bruno Henrique from Pixabay

Who knew talking about survival would take us this far? Last week I covered the unboxing and use of the recent purchase of my Berkey®. I didn’t want to leave you without another equally capable water purification system. Today, in Survival: Part-Two Water Purification- LifeStraw®, we review the great selling points of owning a LifeStraw® water purification system.

Personally speaking, I see Berkey® for home water filtration use (they do make a smaller portable Berkey® for on-the-go) and LifeStraw® for mobile, backcountry water filtration (it also has in-home pitcher filtration). Each product stands out on its own!

Image by Jaesung An from Pixabay

LifeStraw®

I imagine you have heard of LifeStraw®. LifeStraw® began in 2005 with its iconic water filtering straw, LifeStraw®. This little water purification gem looks like an oversized straw, but it holds a life-saving water purifying system.

I have an excellent LifeStraw® YouTube video, which you can watch here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuJpgN1oCxQ. LifeStraw® is renowned for its humanitarian work within countries whose water supply is contaminated. In the above video, LifeStraw’s® Head of Brand, Tara Lundy, says, “LifeStraw® exists to make water safe to drink.”

Water contamination comes in the form of:

  • parasites- in specific the Guinea Worm
  • bacteria
  • microplastics
  • dirt
  • turbidity

LifeStraw® works very hard with the Carter Center to irradicate the Guinea Worm disease. The results have been phenomenal. To understand why eradicating Guinea Worm disease is important, let me tell you how it infects its human host.

The Guinea Worm

Image by ajanafstad from Pixabay

Known as Dracunculus medinensis, the Guinea Worm parasite infects your body through water fleas that have contaminated water you’ve drank.

These water fleas are infected with the Guinea Worm larvae. The larvae are ingested and make their home in the small intestine, where they grow up to two to three feet.

Once fully grown, the adult female migrates (this is the VERY PAINFUL PART) and seeks her way out of your body, anywhere, through the skin.

When the female is ready to exit, she excretes an acidic chemical that bores an exit hole through your skin and then emerges.

Most people have the worm removed from the legs, feet, and arms. It is extremely painful and debilitating, taking several weeks or months to slowly remove the worm. The method for removing the worm is to take a piece of gauze and continue to wrap the worm around the gauze, till the worm is completely removed.

LifeStraw® Products

LifeStraw® has a variety of home and what I call backcountry products, you can see them for yourself here, https://lifestraw.com/collections/all:

If you were looking for an at-home dispenser, LifeStraw® Max or LifeStraw® Community would be your choice- volume for cooking, drinking, and body cleaning. This delivers high volume water output so sharing with your neighbors could be easily done.

The Max and the Community or a simple Pitcher

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

LifeStraw® Max, according to their website:

  • This high-flow system instantly purifies water without the need for electricity, battery power, or chemicals.
  • Removes viruses, bacteria, parasites, and microplastics and includes an advanced carbon filter that reduces lead and chlorine.
  • Portable and compact, use with a pressurized water system (tap, water pump, or gravity system) to provide safe drinking water for up to 400 people per day.

LifeStraw® Community, according to their website:

  • Protects against viruses, bacteria, parasites, microplastics, dirt, sand, and cloudiness
  • Independently lab-tested, durable, and BPA Free
  • Includes Ultrafiltration Membrane with a lifetime of 26,000 gallons – enough for 75 people for 3-5 years

The Pitcher, LifeStraw® Home 7-Cup, would be great for simple drinking water needs. This Pitcher easily fits into your refrigerator and has an anti-slip silicone bottom, useful for making great coffee! Check out my coffee article series here, https://www.mandyandmichele.com/coffee/.

Filtered down

In the end, water is life! Whether you choose a Berkey® or a LifeStraw®, you can’t go wrong. Be prepared for an attack on American grocery systems and water delivery systems. Help your neighbors and possibly your entire community, with a water purification system!

Next week, we scrounge up some yummy pie recipes for summer picnic fun!

Till next time, here is to good food, clean water, and a fun Fourth of July! Celebrate freedom!

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The Plague of Darkness

Welcome back to today’s Time in the Word. We have two plagues left—the Plague of Darkness and The Plague of Death of the Firstborn next week. Hard to imagine we started our journey through the plagues in late winter, and here we are in mid-summer.

God is performing his supernatural wonders in nature’s realm, methodically attacking the very gods that Pharaoh and all of Egypt hold dear in their Egyptian religion. This is true of our lives as well. God never leaves any stone unturned. Anything that draws us away from Him becomes a target. What god do you worship in your life? Entertainment? Alcohol? Porn? Lying? Stealing? What you worship is where you spend most of your time and money.

Plague Number Nine: Darkness

Exodus 10:21-29, NIV

This plague of darkness was interesting. In the plagues before, Moses and Aaron always went before Pharaoh. However, in this ninth plague, God instructs Moses to stretch out his hands before the sky so that ALL of Egypt would be dark and FEEL the darkness. This plague took place at midday and caught everyone’s attention. Where any Israelite lived, they had light.

Pharaoh summons Moses and tells Moses they are free to go- men, women, and children but tells Moses the livestock must stay behind. Pharaoh always has conditions and never fully complies with God’s request.

Moses counters Pharaoh’s conditional nonsense and tells him “every hoof” must be allowed to go, as they are an important part of worship.

God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh tells Moses they can’t leave and Moses should not return to the palace. Pharaoh threatens Moses with death the next time Moses sees Pharaoh’s face.

Egyptian god or goddesses the plague confronted– Barnes Bible Chart pdf:

  • Re– the sun god
  • Amon-re– the sun god
  • Aten-the sun god
  • Atum– the sun god
  • Horus– the sun god, Egypt’s first national god, spanned 5000 years
  • Thoth– the moon god, inventor of writing and creating languages

Interesting Notes and Insights

  • Moses and Aaron continued to be obedient to God.
  • Moses is instructed by God to perform the summoning of the ninth plague without giving Pharaoh a heads up.
  • The Plague of Darkness lasted three days.
  • Where ever the Israelites lived there was light.
  • Pharaoh relents to all of the Israelites leaving but is firm that their livestock must stay.
  • The plague happened midday.
  • No Egyptian could see or move about during the plague of darkness.
  • Isn’t it interesting that God wanted the Egyptians to FEEL the darkness?
  • Total darkness for three days messed with the Egyptian’s psychology and sleep cycles. Maybe bringing on depression and certainly a fear of not knowing what was going on.

When I think about the darkness being so dark and dark you could feel, I wonder if this is what Hell will be like? Feeling cut off from God and having total knowledge of our hard heart and sinfulness lead us to live in Hell eternally. Weeping and gnashing of teeth. This should drive every Christian out and share the gospel. Jesus wants no one to perish!

Can you imagine how shocked the Egyptians were? To know the gods, they tirelessly served was worthless. Nothing could be done but to bow in submission to the one true God.

Unfortunately, bad leadership can bring a whole nation astray. This is being played out in America right now, and believers are the small points of light in the darkness. How are you shining today?

Next week, The Plague of Death of Firstborn. Thank you for joining me here in Time in the Word.

The Plague of Locust

Welcome back to today’s Time in the Word. Pharaoh had shown some remorse with the Plague of Hail. Pharaoh admitted that he had sinned, God was right, and Pharaoh and his people were wrong. However, Pharaoh and his officials hardened their hearts and refused to let the Israelites go.

I have no doubt that God gives fair warning to all. He has a line in the sand; when you cross it, get ready! God knew Pharaoh had no respect for God as GOD. Pharaoh only knew his little “g” gods through his Egyptian religious upbringing.

God has been working in the Egyptian’s natural world with supernatural force. Challenging Pharaoh, his occult practicing officials, and the Egyptian people.

Some of Pharaoh’s officials believe in the God of the Israelites. I’m sure Pharaoh noted this, and perhaps Pharaoh is making it uncomfortable for these thinking few.

What is a locust?

What is a locust? A locust is a large grasshopper that resides on almost every continent in the world. Locusts are known for their innate ability to respond chemically to changes in their environment and through the sight or touch of another locust.

Only in the “gregarious” phase does the locust begin to swarm. Once in this phase, the locusts grow at a phenomenal rate and hop in their swarms from one vegetative area to another; eating every plant in sight. This vegetation destruction causes social, economic, and international problems. Check out this great article about locusts here, https://www.livescience.com/locusts.html.

In preparation for writing these devotions on the Ten Plagues, I read several articles, many non-Christians trying to debunk the historical evidence of stories from the Bible. Many claim natural occurring incidences.

Plague Number Eight: Locust

Exodus 10:1-20 -NIV

God instructs Moses to go and speak with Pharaoh. God immediately tells Moses that he has already hardened Pharaoh and the official’s hearts. The hardening of their hearts serves a purpose:

  1. To show all of Egypt that God alone is God- there is no other.
  2. The children and grandchildren of the Israelites will have stories to reflect upon and continue to build faith in the Lord.

Moses questions Pharaoh as to how long Pharaoh can remain stubborn. If Pharaoh refuses to let the Israelites go and worship, a plague of locusts comes within 24 hours. Wall-to-wall locusts are everywhere, eating every piece of vegetation they can find. This means whatever the hail left, spelt and wheat will be destroyed! That’s all the food they had left in the fields. YIKES!

Moses and Aaron leave the meeting. Pharaoh’s official’s lay it on the line, pointing out most of Egypt is destroyed. How long do we let Moses and this god do this to us?

Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron back and tries to compromise; asking the women and children to be left in Egypt, leaving the men to go worship. Pharaoh insinuated that Moses had evil plans for the Israelites. And with that Moses left and summoned the locust with his staff.

Egyptian god or goddesses the plague confronted– Barnes Bible Chart pdf:

  • Serapia- god that protected Egyptians from locusts

Interesting Notes and Insights

  • Moses and Aaron continued to be obedient to God.
  • Moses is performing the act of summoning the plagues.
  • Pharaoh begins to relent through the influences of his officials as well as seeing the suffering of his Egyptian people. But will it be enough?
  • You can see Pharaoh moving through the stages of grief: anger, denial, bargaining.
  • God, through the plagues, has moved through supernatural displays in nature: weather, environment, seasonal crops, animals, and physical affliction.
  • What remains, of the wheat and spelt crop, will be eaten by the locust. This now places all of Egypt in dire food supply straits.
  • The Israelites remained untouched, unaffected by plagues four through eight.

Can you find plagues in your life? What is happening in the world around you? Is God getting your attention by eliminating things in your life?

Next week, The Plague of Darkness. Thank you for joining me here in Time in the Word.

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Survival: Part Two-Water Purification Continued

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Welcome back to the continued Part Two- Water Purification. We’ve been discussing ways to prepare for survival. I introduced to you the Berkey® Water Purification system and shared, from their website, great reasons to invest in a Berkey.

I recently purchased a Berkey. and so far, everyone in the house enjoys the excellent drinking water the Berkey® provides. For many years I have used a PUR® water pitcher. I gave a reverse osmosis system a try and didn’t care for the “taste” of the water.

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Survival: Part Two-Water Purification

Image by rony michaud from Pixabay

Welcome back to, Survival: Part Two-Water Purification. I hope you enjoyed last week’s article. These articles are to help you prepare, not cause worry. This week we will cover two excellent water purification systems: Berky® and LifeStraw®.

Before we get started, neither Berkey® nor LifeStraw® has paid me to review their products. I did purchase a Berkey® and will speak on my experience with that water purification system.

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