A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes

A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes

This budget recipe book was recommended to me a year or two ago when we had a rough patch before we sold our house, and I will have to look at it again as we are struggling to budget in our reduced circumstances.

It’s a good collection of cost-cutting ideas and clever, simple recipes, although obviously cooking from scratch where economically viable. (Sometimes it works out more expensive, since there is economy of scale with packaged foods.)

Please note though that it isn’t a Christian book (although oddly, she uses a Bible quote at the beginning). I don’t remember anything particularly offensive, but I followed Jack on twitter for a while and found her to be quite foul-mouthed and unpleasant 😦 I didn’t follow her for very long though, so hopefully I just caught her in a bad mood and got the wrong impression. She was, though, very political and very ‘liberal’ (in quotes because ‘liberals’ tend not to be very keen on liberty unless it suits their purposes, but that’s a discussion for another post!).

As always though, take the ‘meat’ and leave the ‘bones’.

I would love to hear any tips you might have for frugal homemaking and cooking, as well as any other book recommendations.

Recipe: Home-made Muesli

Shalom!
How was your Hanukkah? How was your summer?
I apologise for neglecting ‘The Messianic Housewife’ for so long.
Unfortunately, having been forced from our home by an unscrupulous landlord in the spring, I have been ill ever since with a relapse and am currently housebound/ partially bedbound. Your prayers would be deeply appreciated.

I would love to become more active here, posting more regularly. As a family, since my husband is not a believer, we have become less and less observant since we moved so far away from a Jewish community. I have been thinking of how I might do something about that, but it is really dependent on me getting well.

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you a very simple recipe for healthy breakfast Muesli (and if you prefer granola, it would be easy to convert it – just add a liquid sweetener to make it stick together, and pop it in the oven).

muesli

This couldn’t be easier!

I have been trying to wean my children off sweet sugary breakfast cereals, so occasionally I make my own healthy and naturally sweet muesli:

Ingredients:

3 cups oats, or
1 cup oats,
1 cup barley flakes
1 cup millet flakes (see which you prefer)

2 cups of mixed dried fruits (you can buy a bag of mixed fruits from the health shop, or select your own)

1 cup of desiccated coconut (if you / your children like it)

1 cup of mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, hemp, linseed etc.)
You can also experiment with quantities of low carb alternatives such as chia seeds)

1 cup of mixed nuts (if you / your children like it)

Something else that is recommended is cinnamon, if you like it, since it works naturally to stabilise blood sugar.

 

If you really need extra sweetness, try Agave*, erithrytol, stevia (wtih caution – it is reported to cause infertility and/ or miscarriages) or demerara (raw cane sugar, containing natural chromium, which also works naturally to stabilise blood sugar) rather than the processed varieties.

(*A note about fruit sugar: fructose is marketed as natural fruit sugar, but in fact it is just about the worst form of sugar available – think high fructose corn syrup – our bodies are just not designed to digest this in its processed form. In fruit, it’s fairly innocuous because the fibre slows it down, but it is still recommended to go easy on the fruit.)

Directions:

Mix together in a big bowl! Easy-peasy! You can store it in a plastic cereal container, or a glass mason jar.

Enjoy!

Pesach Cleaning

I learn something new every Pesach – about myself, about housework, about the nature of sin and cleanliness, and this year has been no different.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I felt that one of the lessons of Passover is that, no matter how hard we try, we can’t get rid of all the dirt (sin, for which yeast, leaven, chametz is a metaphor) on our own, because it is never finished, the dirt just keeps on coming.

This year, we are in the middle of moving house, so clearing and cleaning two houses. The new house is exactly that – a brand new build where nobody has lived before. I thought that this side of things would be easy, but I have been amazed at how quickly the dust and dirt has mounted up. We may not have much in the way of actual chametz here, but we certainly have dust and dirt!

At the old house, the revelations have been even more startling. Moving things that never usually get moved, like the cooker, has made me realise how the dirt collects in places we’re not looking, not paying attention to, and how once a year ‘spring cleaning’ may not be enough – much more thorough, regular cleaning is going to have to be a feature of life at our new place.

And the spiritual application, of course, is that we need to be making regular self-evaluations, regular repentance, and regular washing (by the Water of the Word).

I am reminded of the classic story of the rabbi who told his students, “Make Teshuvah (repent) one day before you die.” His students would respond with the question, “But how do you know when it is one day before you will die?” The answer of course is that you don’t know, so you must make Teshuvah every day!

Am I Jewish?

I was asked recently if I am Jewish. (When I told somebody I was Messianic, she said “Wow, I didn’t realise you were Jewish”) It was a rhetorical statement rather than a question so I didn’t need to respond to it directly. But the answer is yes… but no… but it’s complicated.

I came very, very close to converting to Reform Judaism (I looked at Orthodox Judaism too) some years ago but, in the end, I decided that it wasn’t the right path for me simply because Jesus was too central to my life and thinking to give up. But in the process of studying and being in Judaism I discovered that being Jewish is much more than religion – it is a people and culture (and country!) that I love, and so I consider myself Jew-ish.

The name I took (Shoshana) is now an integral part of my identity. As the convert Ruth said, your people will be my people, your God will be my God. So in the simplest Ruth-ite sense, I consider myself one with the Jewish people even if I am not recognised as such.

But more than that I realised that, through Messiah, I am grafted in to the Olive Tree of Israel, as are all believers, whether or not they recognise either themselves or natural Israel as in any way connected.

I have taken a lot of Judaism (sabbath, the festivals, food and music etc) back into my Christianity, because I love it and I believe it is good and true. A lot of people don’t like it but I’m not about to conform to please people. And for a long time, I agonised over having one foot in both camps, but now I’m comfortable in that position.

I consider myself to be standing in the gap, a repairer of the breach. The nation of Israel and the Jewish people need the support and friendship of Christians, now more than ever. Those of us who are in the mainstream church can and should be a voice for Israel and the Jewish people for as long as they are able to be. The church, meanwhile, needs to rediscover the roots of its own faith in Biblical Judaism and it needs to be restored to the truth of Torah.

As I explained to a new believer recently, the antinomianism of the modern church is a very new phenomenon. The Roman Catholic church believed in law, but it believed that having the ‘keys of the kingdom’ meant that it could discard God’s Law and replace it with its own. The protestant church rejected that claim, but traditionally divided God’s Law into moral, ceremonial and civil / judicial, and kept only that which it considered to fall under the category of moral law. Messianic believers on the other hand see no basis for such a division.

Increasingly though, and very sadly, even so-called evangelical churches are becoming antinomian, crucially misunderstanding the nature of the Law, the nature of sin and the nature of sanctification. I was told recently by an evangelical group that ‘Christ put an end to the Law’, adding that the Law was only for Jews. That really is a twisting of the truth that Messiah fulfilled the Law, setting us free. It is not Law that we need to be freed from, however, but sin (Why would gentiles need to be freed from Jewish Law?!). But thanks to the so easily misunderstood writings of Paul, taken out of context, these misapprehensions persist.

Rediscovering Home

I have been thinking a lot lately about how very deeply blessed and privileged I have been to be able to stay at home to be a full time wife and mother and homeschool my children. I know many women who would have loved to have that opportunity, but were denied it. I thank God for my sweet, kind, generous husband who recognised how beneficial it can be for a family to have the wife and mother at home, and that it was worth giving up a second income for.

And yet I have found ‘homemaking’ frustratingly and discouragingly hard, and as much as I desired to be ‘domesticated’, it has been a struggle because I have both a lack of practical knowledge and a lack of natural talent in this area.

I have realised that I have allowed my heart to slowly drift away from my home and family, and as a result I have looked elsewhere for satisfaction, fulfilment, status, recognition and ministry.

But I can also pinpoint the time when my heart began to grow cold – it was when I lost my fifth baby in a row, and I realised that I would most likely never fulfil my dream of having a large family (which was integral to my overall vision).

I started my married life with a vision of very old-fashioned, traditional, back-to-basics homesteading, based on a mixture of Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons (and if I’m honest that’s still my vision and ideal – I love the videos from Homestead Blessings, for example), and my vision was encouraged by reading Mary Pride’s provocative books ‘The Way Home’ and ‘All The Way Home’, amongst others, which advocated many of the things I was aspiring to.

But my reality has been very far away from that dream – I’m living a frustratingly fast, modern life which, although we escaped the city, does include regular trips to town for activities (which I’m beginning to question the value of), and sadly doesn’t include having access to any land at all.

I still haven’t learned how to cook properly or knit or crochet or quilt! So the result has been overwhelming discouragement. Perhaps it was all just a silly dream?

And yet, I feel as though somehow I have abandoned my first love. I seem to have looked for God and ministry in all the wrong places, and finally He is drawing me back, and turning my heart back to my home, back to my husband, back to my children.

I spent years as a young wife and mother desperately searching and hoping and praying for a Titus 2 mentor, but there were none, not a single one. Nobody in the church, or in the Messianic congregation, were living out anything like the traditional Titus 2 role at home. So mothers like Mrs Ingalls and Mrs Walton were my role models.

Now I am in my 40s I realise that, whether I like it or not, whether good or bad, I am setting an example for young wives and mothers. That is an awesome responsibility, and I don’t want to let another generation struggle the way I did.

So as much as part of me has been longing to escape ‘failure’ – the failure of my dream life to match reality, I realise I need to make teshuva, to turn around and go back the way I have come, and find the peaceful, gentle path I was searching for all along.

My own particular vision of Godly womanhood may not be at all what young women are looking for or would aspire to at all. In a way, it’s irrelevant because that’s not the life I’m actually living.

But this is the way it is described in Titus 2:3-5:

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

I’m really just feeling compelled to meditate again on this passage and what it means, and I hope that, despite all my flaws and failings, my life and my lifestyle, such as it is, will be achieving those things and giving young women something realistic and truly Godly to aspire to. And may the word of God not be blasphemed.

Shabbat Shalom!

Recipe: Thrown together bean pie

lentilbeanpie

photo source: the vegetarian society

 

I would have liked to make a special meal for shabbat last night since it was also Rosh Chodesh, but it turned out it was such a busy day and I had forgotten to get the meat out of the freezer, so I treated my family to a vegetarian version of the British staple, Shepherd’s Pie (which is traditionally minced lamb topped with mashed potato, and I usually make it with chopped carrots and peas. Cottage Pie, conversely, is made with minced beef.)

Ingredients:

2 tins of green lentils

1 tin of butter beans

1 tin of spicy mixed beans

1 jar of tomato-based pasta sauce

a few chopped tomatoes

Potatoes for 6 people

optional: butter / milk / cheese

mixed herbs

Method:

1. We like our potatoes unpeeled, so we boil and mash them in their jackets. So peel if you want to, and chop roughly. Boil (approx 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces)

2. Place the lentils, beans, tomatoes and pasta sauce and mixed herbs in an oven-proof dish, heat in the oven at 180 degrees while you wait for the potatoes. (Alternatively, you can use a saucepan to heat the bean mixture to save using the oven).

3. Drain and mash the potatoes. If you like, you may add a small amount of milk or butter to make the potatoes more creamy. This makes it easier to spread over the base, but it isn’t necessary. (leaving these out makes it a low-fat, vegan recipe)

4. Take the bean dish out of the oven and place the mashed potato over the top of the bean mixture, making sure it is completely covered. If you eat cheese, you may like to top the potato with grated or thinly sliced cheese.

5. Transfer the dish to the grill on a medium heat to crisp up the top of the mashed potato and melt the cheese.

6. Serve with peas or petit pois.

Voila!

It’s one of my most favourite, quick and easy family meals, and even though my family aren’t vegetarian, I didn’t get any complaints and everyone cleaned their plate (which is unusual)!

Variations include a selection of vegetables instead of beans and lentils, vary your types of beans, mix lentils and vegetables. Have fun and experiment and see what you prefer. The lentils give quite a good ‘meaty’ texture for people who aren’t usually vegetarian.

 

Cleaning Deadlines

We have a property inspection tomorrow morning. It’s one of the many down sides to renting. But as much as I’m dreading it, there is nothing like an externally imposed deadline for motivating you to get things done.

So although there is still work to do today, the house is looking tidier and cleaner and more organised than it has done since we moved in.

What I’ve realised about housework (and here comes the metaphor) is that, like sin, and the leaven that represents sin at Passover, it’s a relentless battle.

You can’t rest back and assume it’s conquered. Maybe there is a sense in which it is conquered once and for all in the heavenlies (and I think that my own personal heaven will be a self-cleaning & self-tidying house!), but in the gritty, earthly here and now, you have to wash daily, battle it constantly and never give up.

Shabbat and Passover & the Feast of Unleavened Bread represent little windows into a heavenly future time when we’ve come into the fulness of the Kingdom.

May your Kingdom come, Yeshua!

Preparing for Passover

Cleaning is not really my forte. As much as I’d like to be domesticated, it doesn’t come naturally at all.

I’m also slightly drowning in stuff and boxes after moving house, and wondering whether I will ever get on top of it.

But thankfully, Passover is about more than cleaning. I can’t help feeling that preparing spiritually is just as important as, if not more important than the practical side of preparing by removing the physical chametz.

If there’s one thing I have learnt over the years of being Messianic, it is that I cannot remove the chametz – the leaven, representing sin – myself. That is the real point of Passover though from a New Covenant perspective – Yeshua came to take the leaven away because our efforts always fail to bridge the gap. I’m mixing metaphors in there, I know – the metaphors aren’t perfect, they’re just supposed to be pictures to help us understand the spiritual realities.

How do you get ready for passover?

Preparing for Passover

Ten Steps to Preparing for Pesach

Preparing Spiritually for Passover

 

Chag Purim Sameach!

I really wanted to experiment with some Persian cooking for this Purim but as it turned out, it was a very busy week and didn’t have a chance, so in the end we had chicken (and vegetable for the vegetarians among us) korma as our Purim meal.

We did manage to make Hamantaschen – chocolate flavour this time!

But I am still interested in learning about Persian cookery, so perhaps by next year I’ll have something appropriate to make.

What do you eat at Purim? What have you had this year?

Not all the traditions are ‘kosher’ but parties are nice! Did you get together with others for fellowship?

How do you celebrate?

Time to Plan Passover Cleaning!

I’m hearing it a couple of days late, but the report is that there is no Aviv (ripe barley) yet in Israel, so a second month of Adar, called Adar 2, is added. So this is what you might call a Jewish ‘leap year’, with 13 months.

So that means that it’s around 45 days to Passover (a few less now, I think, maybe 43?)

The command is to remove ‘leaven’ or ‘chametz’ from the home, but most people will do a thorough ‘spring clean’, working on the basis that there may be ‘chametz’ hiding somewhere!

We have Purim inbetween of course, but I think that now is the time to start planning, if not actually cleaning in earnest yet 🙂

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