Monday, March 23, 2015

Snow Day Biscuits: A Mixture of Thoughts

Today was a snow day for most of the schools in eastern MN and western WI--I'm sure the last one of the season.  At least I hope I'm sure of that!   Hmmm...the weather report doesn't sound promising for the next few days:  freezing rain, possibly more snow, and then MAYBE this mess will melt and we'll be into spring.

I work at a Christian elementary school and at the church as the administrative assistant; I've only worked there since late October 2014, and I loved it right from the start.   Of course, I work at home, too, as the supervisor of domestic operations.   It's a job I love and have enjoyed nearly every day of my (so far) 36+ years of marriage.

But today was a snow day, so I stayed home.   What a treat!  

I spent the whole morning puttering around the house tweaking things, putting up the last few wall things, and digging through the old trunk where all the doilies are laid out in lacy perfection.

And I just now finished making a batch of Quick Mix.  

Ready to make Quick Mix!
Dry ingredients & shortening
Cutting in the shortening

The mix is easy to make and much nicer than store-bought!     This is enough to fill a gallon jar.  

This is the frugal homemaker's version of Bisquick.   I've been using this mix for years (three decades!) to make quick biscuits for strawberry shortcakes and chicken & dumplings.  Dear daughter makes cheesy biscuits (the kind you get at Red Lobster!).  

These recipes come from the "Make A Mix" cookbook by HP Publishing, c1978.   I've found several of these large, old paperbacks at secondhand stores.   You can find them on-line, too.   


The only messy part is putting it in the jar!

8 1/2 C. flour
3 T. baking powder
1 T. salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 C. powdered/dry milk
2 1/4 C. shortening

In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients OR dump dry ingredients in bowl and whip with a whisk to fluff it up.   Use a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening until it resembles coarse crumbles.   Spoon into a large jar with a tight-fitting lid.   Makes about 13 cups dry mix.'s the BEST part.....the recipes that use the Quick Mix!



3 C. Quick Mix
3/4 C. milk or water

Preheat oven to 450; grease a baking sheet (drop biscuits only).  Combine mix and liquid; stir ONLY until liquid is blended -- do not over-stir.   *  Drop by large spoonfuls onto prepped pan--12 lumps.  Smooth the tops a bit so there aren't any pokey pieces sticking up (they burn).  Bake for about 10 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  

Cheesy Biscuits:   Add 1/2 C. grated sharp Cheddar.  
Dumplings:   Make as directed but drop the biscuits (carefully!) into a pot of boiling soup or stew -- cook 10 minutes UNcovered; then cover & cook 10 more minutes.
Citrus Biscuits:   Wash an orange and a lemon, then add the zest to the dry Quick Mix, replace part of the liquid with orange juice; then add the liquid to the dry ingreds and bake as usual.



3 C. Quick Mix
2/3 C. milk or water

Proceed as above to the *.  Let dough sit for five minutes (don't skip this step).   On a lightly floured countertop, knead dough about 15 times, then roll to 1/2-inch thickness.   Use a floured biscuit cutter to make 12 biscuits.   Place them on an UN-greased/buttered  pan; bake for 10-12 minutes (golden brown).

Cinnamon Biscuits:   brush rolled dough with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar & cinnamon.  Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, then slice into 1/2-inch slices.  Bake 10-15 minutes.  Glaze
Pizza Rolls:   Divide dough and make two "pizza" crusts.  Top with your fave pizza toppings.
Pot Pie:  Use as a top crust for your fave meat or chicken pot pie.



1 C. Quick Mix
1/4 C. cornmeal or flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C. milk

Preheat oven to 400; lightly grease a baking pan.   Combine Quick Mix, meal/flour and salt.  Add liquid to form a dough.   Knead about 12 times until dough is smooth.   Divide dough into 6-8 chunks; roll out and transfer to prepped baking sheet.   Bake about 15 minutes (longer if you like them brown & crispy).  



3 C. Quick Mix
2 T. sugar
1/4 C. butter, melted
1/2 C. milk or water
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400; set aside an UNbuttered baking pan.   Combine mix and sugar.  In a small bowl, combine liquids and egg.   Add to dry ingreds, stir with a fork until barely moistened.   On a floured countertop, knead 8-10 times then roll out to 1/2-inch thickness.  Use a 3-inch round cutter to make biscuits.   Bake for 10 minutes (golden brown).   Cool

Top with sliced strawberries (add about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar for a really neat flavor!) or blue- or black- or raspberries that have been LIGHTLY macerated (that is very lightly mashed) with a few teaspoons of sugar.  Add a dollop of home-whipped & sweetened cream.  



oil for frying (start heating right away)
1 C. Quick Mix
1/2 C. flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C. milk or water (scant)

Heat oil to 375* in a deep skillet.  Combine dry ingredients.  Mix well, then add enough liquid to make a soft dough then knead it 10-12 times.   Divide into 8 balls, roll each out to about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thickness.  Cut in half, then dip into hot oil.   Fry for 2-3 minutes until brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels and serve IMMEDIATELY.   Great with homemade chili spooned over the top or for a different kind of taco salad (tear bread into bite-sized pieces, add lettuce and all the taco fixings you usually enjoy).  



I hope that hits the spot at dinner the way it does around here.  

Quick Mix for Frugal Homemakers

For just a few minutes' work, I've just made about six dinners or side-dishes (depending what I make).   I like making things from scratch.   And I like the feeling of thriftiness that comes from making things myself and experimenting with old recipes to give them a new twist.  

I think King Lemuel's mother would approve.   She told her son what kind of woman to marry in her famous description of a godly wife called "The Wife Of Noble Character" .... in these verses from Proverbs 31:

The wife of noble character .... 
 is like the merchant ships bringing her food from afar.
gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family....
sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks,
 sees that her trading is profitable; her lamp does not go out at night,
can laugh at the days to come ....
watches over the affairs of her household,
doesn't eat the bread of idleness.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Two Things About Life and Your Legacy

While going through my recent bout with ovarian cancer, I spent many moments thinking about our friend Job.   And what-all he went through all because Satan was jealous of Job’s love for God.   

Job inspires most Christians.  We sit back and discuss his patience. And –oh my!—his faithfulness!   He's a remarkable person.   All his friends blame him for what's happened.  Even his wife gives up.  He’s alone in the fight.   His only comfort is a broken piece of pottery to scratch his itchy skin.

But LOOK at the ripples on the pond of Job’s life!    He lived THOUSANDS of years ago, and we are STILL looking at his example of trusting in God—no matter what!

Another person worthy of consideration is Uncle Mordecai.   His niece/cousin Esther (queen of Persia) is nervous and waffling on her duties and M says, “how do you know that God didn’t put you here at just this time for this exact reason?”   Obviously Mordecai is aware of God working in the lives of the Hebrews.

And King David—hunted down by his predecessor or later on when his son attempts a coup—writes psalms crying out to God, wondering if God can (or will) hear his cries for mercy.  

Ripples into Eternity
I used to say I was glad that my life was so unremarkable that it would never be recorded in a book like the Bible, where millennia later people would be dissecting my words and actions the way we do the patriarchs. 

And then I catch myself, because there ARE ripples on the pond of my life that will (I hope!) go out forever into eternity.  

How do I know that I’m not just like Esther and that God has given me this cancer for “such a time as this.”   I don’t know God’s purpose in this.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a king put a price on my head and be hunted down like a rabbit, like our brother King David.    But as surely as he wondered, so have I:  
     “Are you there, God?  Did you hear my cry for mercy?" 
     “Of course You heard me, because You're God and You know my thoughts."   

And that's followed by a sigh of relief, "I know that You have me in the palm of Your almighty hand."

I’m so thankful God prompted David to write his psalms and also that He's gifted me with the ability (and desire) to write, too, for certainly reading how others have handled stress and challenges encourages others, too. May God use my words to bring hope and balm to your soul, too.  

I want to point other people to Jesus.    Through my words and actions.    And boy, that isn’t really very difficult when thing are going along swimmingly.

The true test is in the battle.   And then you have to really suck it up.   I mean, a battle for your faith.  Like kill or be killed. Because that is essentially what Satan is after.  He wants to kill your love for the Lord and take your soul eternally—prisoner.  

This is life or death.  Satan's in it to win it.  He's putting everything he has into making you his eternal prisoner.    A temptation here.   A slippery slope there.   Doubts.  Aspersions.  Beckoning.

Well, not this girl. 

Some years ago, I commented to my Sunday School class and held up the Bible:  “these were real people.”   Look around boys and girls:  they were flesh and blood like you and me.  They laughed and cried, cuddled with their spouse, got fed up with naughty children and irritated by slackers.

Real people.   On display for eternity.   The foibles.   The false starts.   The stupid choices.

So think about that for a second.   Jacob—four wives—12 sons and a daughter.  Think there was some household fighting going on?   Real people.   

And David.  Sure, the dude could write some awesome poetry, but come on:  he’s a class one adulterer, conspired to kill his lover’s husband, had a son committing incest and another son committing fratricide and another son leading a coup for David’s kingdom.  And an infant son who died not long after birth.   Real people.  Real heart aches.  

Our friend Job and his un-named wife.  They had 10 children.  Each one dear to their parents in ways we can surely understand.  Every one of them.  Wiped away in one day.   Nothing in my family laundry can compare with the agony that must’ve been to Job and Mrs. Job.    Her sorrow must've been overwhelming!   “Curse God and die.”  Those were children she had surely nursed and changed diapers; I used to think she was just a heartless witch to say such a thing to her hubby, but she’s a real woman, her heart had to be broken.   We can’t imagine losing ONE child, and they lost all ten—in one day.  How do you deal with pain like that?

And yet these people—their lives, their foibles, their sins—held up to us many millennia later.  And how they handled these sorrows and aches and stupid choices inspire us one way or another and give us hope and help us SEE GOD’s mercy and love for us.

How does my life stack up?  What if people a thousand years from now read about me the way we do about Bible people, and they were discussing how I walked through this valley of cancer?   Will they consider me an example of unswerving faith in God's goodness?   Or will they shake their heads in disgust at my pathetic fear and worry?

My life IS a book to my family and friends:  they read me as surely as we read about Tamar or Rahab or Bathsheba.  Surely there are people in my life who are affected by the choices I’m making in how I handle myself through this cancer-journey I’m on.  They notice if I do or don't trust God as the source of my hope.  My life is an example to them.   It's quite easy to mouth the words "I trust in God"--it's quite another thing altogether to actually LIVE like you believe what you say.     

I know that God has a plan for my life, and it has boggled my mind to think of the Creator of the Universe is using me for some part of His plan.   Me?   Little ol' me?   No kidding:  a friend wrote a short message when I was first diagnosed; she said, 

"Deb, THIS is a part of God's plan for your life."

If that doesn’t stop you in your tracks—nothing will.   It sure did for me.   Wait. A. Minute.   THIS is part of God’s plan?   CANCER?

"Oh but Deb, trust Me.”   
Over and over in the Scriptures God says this to His children.  And we modern-day Christians shake our head in disbelief at their stubborn refusal to do so.  How could these ancient Hebrews witness the parting of the Red Sea, walk through there while it was held back (for petesake!!!), watch the sea close over Pharaoh's army a few minutes later and then a couple days later whine and moan about cucumbers and onions back in Egypt where they lived in slavery?

Hovering overhead is the pillar of cloud and fire.  God's visible presence.   Should've been reassuring to them and a CONSTANT reminder of Him. Right. There.   And yet they complained.

And I've thought pretty high thoughts about myself.  "Well, I would NEVER be so dumb.  If I saw the Red Sea part like that, I would for sure be thankful and NEVER complain ever again."

Oh really?

Would you stop and think about that for a second.   We always (!!) think when bad things, this couldn't POSSIBLY be part of our Lord's plan, that somehow God let things slip up when (after all) we had this hand-shake contract (ie, “I’ll believe in You, God and You’ll just only send really great things my way = money, success, no problems, etc”)—what?

ALL THINGS HAPPEN . . . ALL.  ALL.  ALL.   All things happen for the good { Good Good Good } of those who love Him who have been called according to His marvelous plan.  

God says, "My dear child, this is good for my plan, let Me take care of this."  

On those nights when my legs were aching and twitching in pain, I thought of our friend Job.   And I. Was. Refreshed.   I was refreshed by HIS STRUGGLE.   By his FAITHFULNESS.  

Cool.  Job's faithfulness helped me.  But never forget Job--a real man, a father, a husband--lived through the real agony of losing everyone and everything.   Do not for a second think it was easy just because his faith remained strong.  He hurt.  His spirit was crushed.   He loved those kids!

Here I was whining because of some pains in my legs THAT I KNEW (!!!) was short-lived (that evening and maybe the next). And here was our friend Job....his children DIED!!!   My pain, lasting a few HOURS, compared to that?   What did I (really?) have to complain about?   It seemed so small in comparison.

And THEN . . . . heart-stopper . . . . then I thought of JESUS.  He was completely innocent.  Separated from his Heavenly Father and the glories of heaven, come to Earth--because of Me and my selfish, sinful choices!!!  

How could I even THINK of complaining in the face of those facts? If Jesus didn't curse his accusers or the soldiers nailing him to the cross--and he was completely innocent of any wrong-doing--how in the WORLD could I lay around and whine about anything?  

Not that suffering is fun or thrilling or in any way/shape/form something I want to go through again (ever!), but when I think of what Jesus did FOR ME—well, this is where Paul says “consider it pure joy….”  that I have a Savior who loves me that much.  


1) Having a c-a-n-c-e-r diagnosis made me pause and evaluate how I'm spending my time, where I'm putting my effort.  Suppose I only had five years left?  Or a year?   What do I want to spend my time doing?   What is the best for God's kingdom?   Does it bring glory to God when I write on my blog?  I'd like to think so, but really:  I don’t know.  Is there any value in these articles I post?   So, please, let me know.

2)  The other thing is that I want to encourage you to make a conscious and well-thought out effort to consider the legacy you are leaving behind someday.  Will the ripples of your life make a difference the way King David has every time we read the psalms?  The way Paul does whenever we read the epistles?    The way Tabitha/Dorcas did when she made coats for the poor?
Ripples don’t happen on their own.

Get out there.  Get in the water.  Splash.  Dive in!   Or stand on shore and throw stones into the water.  But start DOING something.  You can’t make ripples on a pond without stirring up the water.   Some way. Some how.  

Go!  Share your life and while doing so, share your faith.  

Add some ripples that bring glory to God!