Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Allergy Free Thanksgiving

Yes! It IS possible.

This year I made my very first Thanksgiving meal. This is the only time in my life that I have not celebrated the holiday with extended family. It was a marvelous day, hanging at home with my boys. It did feel a little odd to not have more loved ones milling about the place, though.

It is a blessing that I had never made an entire Thanksgiving spread on my own before. I didn't have to re-learn how to make everything this year. I'm hoping that T will outgrow his allergies in about six years. Thanksgiving 2018 may be problematic, as I suddenly figure out how to do everything with allergens. The challenge to make a holiday meal that was dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and soy-free was no different than making dinner any other day of the year. It just took longer.

Now for a review and recipes!

The turkey.

Ugh. I have such a love-hate relationship with turkey. White meat is icky. Dark meat is yummy. If only a turkey could be entirely dark meat.  I would be deeply satisfied to have no turkey at Thanksgiving lunch. I do so love a turkey sandwich for dinner Thanksgiving night, though.

My angst was compounded by trying to find a turkey that didn't have a bunch of chemicals injected in it. I found some {happy dance} but they were whole, 20lb turkeys {despairing sigh.} I refused to buy a turkey that would feed us for six months. I went to a local health food store and found turkey breasts {yes!} that didn't have anything injected in them {yes! yes!} but did have a wee bit of dark meat still attached {yes! yes! yes!} I then went to the check out with my little 9lb turkey. {dark clouds roll in} I placed it on the conveyor belt. {cue the scary music} Blissfully ignorant of my impending doom, I  happily congratulated myself for both hunting and gathering a worthy bird for our meal. It cost $55. {gasp. heart flip-flop. blink. look around in a daze. drop head in defeat.} I still bought the thing, though. It was either that or eat lunch meat. I had already looked in every other grocery store. I simply resolved to cook it up right and then eat rice & beans for a month.

Cook it up right, I did. My brilliant sister recommended I brine the turkey. She said I should find Alton Brown's brine. I asked who he was. She was horrified that I had never heard of dear Alton. And not eye-rolling, you're-so-dumb-horrified. It was a deep sigh, I'm-so-sad-for-you-horrified. I actually just had to google his name again to remember it. I did find the brine, though. And it is FABULOUS! Not only is it delicious, it is already allergy-friendly.  I didn't have to adapt a single thing. Click here to find it. Always cook your turkey with this recipe. If you have extra brine, like I did, you can use it in your mashed potatoes, or as the broth in soup. I actually used the left overs for both of those things.

That turkey was the gift that kept on giving. I still have half of it frozen in the freezer and we have had four meals with the other half. So if I divide the chest-pain inducing total of fifty-five dollars by eight meals, I only spent $7 per meal. Not bad, after all.

I cooked it in the crock pot in an effort to make it more juicy. It was okay.  I still don't like white meat. Unless it is smothered in veganaise and squished between two pieces of bread.  The crock pot also gave me room in the oven to make the other dishes. For crock pot cooking recommendations, click here.

Wow, I've been wordy. I have even been going back and deleting myself, but still this is a long post. I will try to double-time it through the rest of the dishes.

The mashed potatoes.

(I couldn't figure out how to make the white blob of potatoes look pretty, so here it is with some friends)
I discovered how to make delicious dairy-free mashed potatoes last year when T was first born. We were following a dairy-free diet at the time for abdominal comfort reasons. One of the women from our church brought us a delicious dinner that included mashed potatoes. She said she used chicken broth instead of butter and milk. Oh my! They were so much better than my own. I have been using broth ever since then. But since I had extra brine and it was so yummy, I used it and our version of butter.

The stuffing/dressing.

Hit it out of the park! I had never made stuffing before and I was thrilled with the results. I was particularly happy it turned out so well, because it took such effort to make.  I made my own bread a few days beforehand. I have not been able to find allergy-free bread, so I make my own. And I don't have a bread machine. My bread recipe is a combination of this one and this one. And since I love combining recipes, I did the same thing for the dressing itsself. I combined this with the traditional family one my mom handed down to me. The recipe isn't a secret, it just isn't typed up anywhere. Hopefully I'll remember exactly what I did and duplicate it again sometime soon.

The sweet potato souffle.

Meh. It was so-so. Egg replacer can only do so much. Also, I opted not to put the coconut & sugar on top. I didn't think it would be the same without the nuts. And it really isn't supposed to be a dessert. My boys liked it, but they never had the original, so they don't know any better. I'll probably try to do something different next year.

The pumpkin pie.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! This turned out so well. I found an incredible vegan pie crust recipe. Click here to get the recipe. So yummy! My husband fell in love all over again. Adapting the traditional recipe you find on the side of the can was otherwise easy with coconut milk & egg replacer. And the whipped cream on top? That would be the thick stuff that floats to the top of the cans of coconut milk, whipped with sugar.

If I can pull together a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn't kill anyone, you can too!

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

National Adoption Awareness Month

Our adoption consultant, Tracie posted the following on her blog. She gives great information on what to do when people around you are adopting. To go directly to her blog, click here.

Support, Love, Serve, and Celebrate

It’s easy to know what to do when a family is about to give birth to a child. If you’re a good friend, you throw a baby shower; you might even help clean or watch kiddos when the expectant momma is nearing the end of her pregnancy. You might volunteer to watch any other kiddos when she goes into labor. You might start a meal calendar so she doesn’t have to cook those first two weeks home with a new born. We’ve been doing this forever, we know what to do.

When a family enters into the adoption journey, we sometimes forget that they need the same, if not even greater support. 

Adoption takes a community. It takes a family of friends and loved ones gathering around to support, love, serve, and celebrate with a family that is growing through adoption.

Adoption is costly. Many families who have said yes to adoption are not sitting there with a pile of money ready to go. You can help by giving.
(And let’s just dismantle the notion that you shouldn’t have to give to an adoptive family because it is their choice to have a child, just like you don’t give to pay for the hospital bill of a family giving birth to a child. Rubish! It’s not the same thing at all. As one dear friend of mine has said for years about serving and giving and loving well, “You don’t have to, YOU GET TO!” It’s a privilege to give and support adoptive families, and I challenge you to give it a try. I’m 100% sure you will be blessed!)
-Give Financially: Most families are able to set up ways for others to contribute that give the donors a tax deduction for charitable giving. It can be as easy as 300 people donating $100 can cover the cost of an average adoption.
-Give of your Talent: I’ve seen artists, photographers, jewelers, you name it… donate services or products to sell for adoption fundraisers. One of my clients had a friend donate bracelets and this simple little jewelry sale raised $1000, then to top it all off her uncle agreed to donate an additional $5 for every bracelet sold! My son raised $5000 for our international adoptions by donating his time as a photographer doing family photo shoots in our local community, he was 15 years old. Anyone can give!
-Give of other Resources: Donate flight miles for travel, discounts on hotel or hotel points, donate a condo or time share in the area where the family is traveling, host an adoptive family in your home if they are traveling to your area. One sweet family was welcomed into the home of a widow after they called churches in the area where the daughter was going to be born to see if anyone might be willing to host them. They ended up developing a life-long relationship with this sweet woman. Having a place to stay at no cost to the adoptive family can save the family $1000-3000. What a gift!
-Help with Fundraisers: Adoptive families often fundraise through hosting garage sales, benefit dinner, or other community events. Donate to yard sales, volunteer to cook for a fundraising dinner. Help gather  or donate items for an online auction or live/silent auction at a fundraising event. Auctions can contain donate items or services. (Be creative: babysitting services that include bringing pizza to feed the kids, hair cutting, massage gift certificates, house cleaning, whatever your gift or talent, GIVE!) 

Adoption is a journey of the heart. It is emotionally exhausting. A family who is in the process of adoption needs to be supported by love and friendship.
-Listen- Be part of their journey by listening. Sometimes having someone listen is the most precious gift an adoptive parent can receive.
-Pray- Pray for an adoptive family as they prepare for adoption and welcome a child into their home. Pray for financial provision, pray for emotional strength, pray for God to direct every step of their journey. One adoptive momma recently shared with me that her friend were hosting a “Prayer Shower” both before baby and after baby’s arrival. What a precious gift!
-Ask-  Ask the simple questions: “How are you doing?” or “What can I do to help?” and insist on an answer.


Adoption is hard work. Seemingly endless paperwork, traveling to welcome a child, traveling home, adjusting to life with a new family member. You can help ease the strain.
-Give Time: You can give the family time to complete paperwork by helping watch other children during the home study process, give the couple a “date night” so they can connect and work through adoption decisions and planning.
-Child Care: If a family is traveling they may need support at home. Help with child care while they are away from home, or volunteer to travel with them to watch their child/children there. When they get home, this support is needed more than ever. Even a couple of hours a week volunteering to take other young children to the park, or even overnight for pizza and a movie, allows the new adoptive family to have time to bond and rest.
-Household: I’ve had adoptive families share with me that some of the most loving gifts they have received are gifts of service: house cleaning, providing meals, mowing the lawn, or other household projects. One family shared that their friends got together and gave their home a “deep clean” while they were out of state for their adoption. What a blessing to come home to a clean house! Another shared that she had a friend come over several times a week just to wash and put away dishes, help with laundry and other household chores. Larger families have been blessed by having friends manage their family’s carpooling needs to school, lessons, practice, etc.

Celebrate with the family and rejoice with them over their new arrival. This is easy and so much fun!
- Baby Shower: Yes, an adoptive family needs a baby shower too! If the family is adopting an older child or children, they need a shower too! Clothing, toys, you name it, they need it all! This can be before baby or after baby comes home as a welcome baby time!
-Meal Shower: So many great options for making this easy with online signups via websites like Meal Baby. Restaurant gift cards can be ordered and given through a website like this as well, so that out of town family and friends can share in this gift! This is one of the best gifts ever for an adoptive family.
-Food Shower: Fill an adoptive families cupboards and freezer with food, give a grocery story gift card.
-Hand Me Downs: Yes, we want your gently used baby/child items! Good quality car seats, strollers, baby carriers, clothing! Give it! A number of families (including my own) have been blessed by last minute drop offs when the adoption happens fast and there is not time to have a baby shower!


You may not be called to adopt, but we are ALL called to LOVE and you can be part of an adoptive family’s life for a lifetime of giving, supporting, loving, and celebrating. It doesn’t have to stop with the airport welcome committee. It CAN’T STOP THERE! Over the years we have been blessed to have many people give, serve, love, and celebrate way beyond our “Welcome Home” party.

ADOPT:  Yes, you can adopt an adoptive family. We have been blessed to have been adopted by some very precious people over the past few years. They have chosen us, adopted our children, taken on the role as extra grandparents, aunties, and uncles. They have given financially to us, sent gifts to our children, and prayed for us faithfully. If you are “too old” to adopt or “too young” to adopt, but have a heart for adoption, I urge you to adopt a family. You won’t regret it.
GIVE RESPITE: Give the gift of your time to baby sit whether for an evening so adoptive parents can have a date, or for a weekend to give them time to get away and reconnect. This is invaluable to any adoptive family.
SERVE: You can give of your time and talents. We have a wonderful young man who contacted us sharing his heart for adoption. He said, “One day my wife and I want to adopt, but for now we want to be available to serve your family.” He went on to share that he was talented as a contractor and would love to be available to do little fix it jobs for us. He’s been such a blessing!
WELCOME AND INCLUDE: Invite adoptive families over for dinner, include them in play groups or mom’s outings, call and text and let them know you continue to pray for them.

It’s never easy to ask for help, so it is my hope that this article will be helpful for adoptive families to share with their family and friends as a tool to help communicate their needs. I pray that those of you reading this who are not adopting but long to support adoption, will grab ahold of some of the ideas here and implement them. And be creative, this is just a guide, a tool to help you start! 

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reece's Rainbow Update

My, but I've been a blogging fool lately.

Don't worry, I will soon fall off the map again and quit flooding your inbox. I thought you would like some follow up, though, on Reece's Rainbow.

Here's the message from them:

Thank you to Cultivate Wines! We came in second place and won $10,000 for our waiting children. Thank you to all of you for your votes each and every day! We have been blessed by your hard work on our behalf!

They used the money to put $1000 towards each of ten children's adoption expenses.

Remember, you can also find out information from Reece's Rainbow by going directly to their website: http://reecesrainbow.org/

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Provision and Pursuit

*note - after hearing from local police officers at my MOPS group today I will no longer be using my family members' full names on this site. If you know me personally, you know their names. If you don't know me, you don't need to know them.* Oh! and I am sooooo glad I am not on Facebook. 


I love the way God provides for all our needs. Even the seemingly "silly" ones. Especially the small ones, actually. What blows me away, though, is when the provision is so clearly set in motion long before the need arrives. His sovereignty just thrills me. I revel in stories of God making impossible links.

Jesus is already providing  family identity for our adopted child. I have been asked three times in the last six weeks what ethnicity T is. Today a woman at the Korean grocery store about fell over when she found out he was my biological son. She thought he was Korean. And not because of the embarrassing white thought that 'all Asians look alike to me.' She IS Korean. She knows what they look like.

T snarfing down a Korean cracker.

This double provision is so delighting me that I smile every time I think of it.

First, I'm getting practice answering people when they ask me about my child's race/ethnicity/heritage. This is new territory for me. I would have thought I would be better at it since I have thought about it so much. But it's different to think about how you're going to respond and then actually responding when caught unawares.  The second provision is that our child(ren) will have an older sibling that he/she/they can relate to. Just like he/she/they may face embarrassing questions and stares, his/her/their big brother T does, too.

T knows he belongs, he's just trying to figure out if he can grab that umbrella from his brother. Or eat my face.


God has been mercifully revealing some things that need to change in my life/heart. Mainly one thing, really. That is my lack of loyalty, love & real relationship with Him. I have fallen into a superficial life of Christian habit. I have been reading my Bible, but not in an effort to know Him more. I have slipped into outright prayerlessness. I go to church begrudgingly. I write tithe checks out of habit.

But I never saw the decline. I didn't even realize what had happened. Just like some people allow their marriages to rot to the point of becoming something in name only, I had become a Christian in name alone. Thankfully. Yes, thankfully, God did not allow it to stay stagnated there. He has used a number of Scripture passages to convict, enlighten & revive me. Here is one:

Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us,
and He will heal us;
He has wounded us,
and He will bind up our wounds.

He will revive us after two days,
and on the third day He will raise us up
so we can live in His presence.

 Let us strive to know the Lord.
His appearance is as sure as the dawn.
He will come to us like the rain,
like the spring showers that water the land.
 Hosea 6:1-3 HCSB

I love this whole passage, but I'm going to share the word study I did of the word in verse 3 that is translated here, "strive." I wanted to know what "strive to know the LORD" looks like. First, here are a few other translations:

 So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. NAS
And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah. ASV
And let us have knowledge, let us go after the knowledge of the Lord. BBE
Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. NKJV
The Hebrew word is transliterated Radaph. It means to hunt, pursue, chase after. The first time it was ever used in the Bible was in Genesis when Abraham rescued Lot after he was kidnapped. It is a rather strong, perhaps even violent term.
Imagine someone just kidnapped a family member and you are hunting that person down. What sort of energy and focus would you pour into your pursuit? What would distract you from reaching your goal? What hardship would cause you to stop short of saving them?
Do you pour that same energy and focus into your quest to know God? Does only the extraordinary serve as a distraction? Is the only thing that stops you from digging into Scripture a life-or-death difficulty?
I know my answers are rather pitiful "No's." Some days I grant God just the ebbing energy left right before I fall asleep. Pretty much everything serves as a distraction from my time seeking to know Him. Chores, internet, children, books, etc., all serve as effective roadblocks.  I don't wake up and say, "If I only accomplish one thing today, it will be making an effort to know my Savior." Brushing my teeth is of greater importance to me than striving after the knowledge of Jesus.
But now that I am aware of my misplaced priorities I can (and am) asking God to fix that. I am also putting forth greater effort to know Him. Even when I'm tired. Even when I don't feel like it. Though I am not in a full-blown hunt mode yet, I am picking up steam. Hopefully soon I'll be sprinting by, eyes focused only on my King, striving to know and love Him above all else.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I went on a date with N last night. We had a blast attending the symphonic orchestra. The show started at 2000, (8pm) which is usually N's bedtime. He took a bath before hand. But instead of changing into pajamas, he dressed in his vest and tie.

We heard Gershwin, John Williams, Tchaikovsky, Mackey and many more. We didn't last through all the numbers, but were able to drink in about 2/3rd of the evening together before sleep demanded its dues.  N thrilled at seeing all the instruments. His favorites were the trombones and french horns. We sat in the balcony so he could dance & sing while causing the least disturbance.

The best thing? It was free! I highly recommend checking with the music department at the college or university near you. See if they offer any concerts for the public. We had a wonderful time together. Hopefully this becomes an annual treat.

That would be lotion in his hair. The one danger of bathing before the symphony. The grimace is the new smile.

Though N was truly excited, our attempts at a real smile failed even when vertically oriented.

Finally! A real-ish smile! It took a lot of work to get a non-squinty grin out of this kid.

A shot from the balcony with the symphonic orchestra warming up in the background.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.