Mahafaly Bible Stories: Birth

Hello, it’s me again, the Traveler, and I have a story to tell you. It’s a story from a book of holy writings called the Bible. This book is a collection of many stories, and they have all been brought together to tell the whole story. It is the story of our ancestors, and our story. Let me tell it to you.

The story is called, Birth!

Birth

It came true! God’s promise to send the long-awaited One. He sent the Savior here to earth. This is how he came . . .

There was a young lady, Maria, who was a virgin. A young guy, Joseph, had already asked her parents to be her husband. But then, Maria got pregnant. She was pregnant because of God’s Spirit in her, even though she and Joseph had not yet been together. Joseph was lost. Now, he was a wise and upstanding guy. He didn’t want to shame Maria in front of everyone, but to separate from her quietly. 

So, he made up his mind on this. But then, one of God’s messengers appeared to him. It said, “Joseph, descendant of King David, do not be scared to take Maria into your house to be your wife. Though she is pregnant, the child in her is from God’s Spirit. In some time, she will give birth to a son. His name is Jesus. This is the Savior of all humans, who will make clean by blood the curse of all humans on the earth.”

Suddenly, the messenger left. With that, Joseph woke up and set about doing what the messenger had commanded: he brought Maria into his house and married her. And yet, they did not share the same sheet as those who are married, even though they were husband and wife—not until Maria gave birth. 

After a few months, they went to a town far away, Bethlehem. Maria gave birth to a son while out there in Bethlehem. After eight days, they gave this child the name, Jesus, as the messenger had said.

Now the story is getting good. A few weeks after that, they also went up to Jerusalem. There in Jerusalem was where there was the Great House of God, a place to sacrifice to him for people to make clean their curse by blood. But also, there in Jerusalem, was a particular elder, and old, old man, expecting the coming of the Savior upon the earth. When Maria and Joseph came to the Great House of God there, the old man came and took Jesus in his arms. And this is what this elder said, “I see the Savior God has sent. This is him.”

Joseph and Maria were surprised by the old man’s words about Jesus. Later, the elder blessed him. This is what he said to bless him, “This child has been chosen. There will be many who fall and do not follow him. But many also will rise, who follow him.”

Then, when the words of the elder were finished, they all left. Joseph and Maria went home, returning again to their town far away. This child grew up, got bigger, and became wise and only God’s goodness was with him.

And that is the story taken from the holy writings. 

Recipe Thursdays: Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Christmas morning is fast approaching!! 

I’ve posted this recipe before, but in honor of Christmas I’ve got to post it again! Cinnamon rolls are a critical part of my Christmas morning memories and tradition. I searched for several years of Nathan’s and my marriage for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe for us to use overseas, from scratch (I grew up on the pop-can ones!). 

But, I’ve always been so intimidated by trying to use yeast! When I read in this recipe that the author also found yeast intimidating, I knew it was at least worth a try. And it worked!! Now I’m a loyal fan! 

Chyella and I enjoy making this fun recipe each Christmas Eve, in preparation for a special Christmas morning. I hope you enjoy it too!

Merry Christmas!  

Recipe Thursday: Rich, Christmasy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

OK, time for a Christmas favorite! I first made this cake for a friend who loved chocolate and peanut butter together. We could never have imagined how rich it would be! After that, Nathan swore it off—he said he needed years in between eating it, lol. So we compromised and made it our Christmas cake. 

I follow this cake recipe pretty closely. The cake itself is incredibly moist—definitely a staple when you need a chocolate cake! The peanut butter cream cheese frosting is so fluffy and tasty, and the ganache really seals the deal. Enjoy!! 

My Manger

My God, my hope
My nothing less 
Than all.
Come quick, come fast
And land again amidst the roiling swell
Burning dove of Zion,
Reigning kind and friend to men.
 
Hunker in my hurting heart;
Make refuge, 
Hiding, humble in the crowded cave.
Boom out to all with ears to hear
Your joy for all the worlds:
You’ve stayed your hand,
You’ve stayed with man.
My God, my God
Come dwell again in me.

Recipe Thursday: My Dad’s Turkey and Dressing

Thanksgiving is coming up! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It was one of my dad’s favorites too.

Now, on the subject of turkey, in my circles I’ve noticed two main comments around turkey: 

  1. I don’t really care for turkey—it’s too dry.
  2. No, I’ve found the perfect way to make turkey. This is the only way to make it!

Anybody with me on this? But, unless you’ve had my dad’s turkey and your perfect way is his way, then I’m going to have to disagree with you 😉 My dad loved turkey and dressing so much that when he was a bachelor, he used to make the full Thanksgiving meal for himself all throughout the year. He truly mastered it. So many amazing Thanksgiving memories with him and our family every year. 

And, so special, Dad once wrote out in detail the way he made the turkey for our dear friend Kristi. Now we have the recipe just the way he did it, in his own words. I’ve added some of my own notes to the bottom, which I made when my lovely friend Jodie made her turkey this way a few years ago.  

And now, I would have to say, my sister, Nathan and I have also mastered the turkey. Molly can do it all by herself! And she handles the lovely table arrangements.

Also, another note, you must enjoy this recipe with TONS of cranberry sauce!

And we’ve also enjoyed adding the Baker favorites to our traditional Thanksgiving, as we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving together many times since our marriage! Maybe we’ll share those recipes later! 🙂

I hope you enjoy it! We do every year!

From Dad: 

I BUY A 20 POUND FROZEN BUTTER BALL TURKEY. IT TAKES ABOUT 2-3 DAYS TO THAW OUT .

TAKE OUT THE HEART, NECK AND LIVER AND COOK IN A LARGE POT UNTIL SOFT AND PUT THEM IN THE REFRIDGEATOR OVER NIGHT.

I COOK THE BIRD ON 180 DEGREES OVERNIGHT FROM 11 PM TO 7AM.

I PEEL 2 LARGE SWEET ONIONS AND PUT THEM IN THE TURKEY RIB CAGE.

I CUT UP 2 STICKS BUTTER AND STICK THEM IN ALL THE SKIN FLAPS AND UNDER THE WINGS AND LEGS.

I SPRINKLE SALT AND PEPPER, POULTRY SEASONING ALL OVER THE BIRD. THE INGREDIENTS ARE: THYME, SAGE, MARJORAM, ROSEMARY, BLACK PEPPER AND NUTMEG.

NEXT I DOUBLE WRAP THE BIRD IN 2 LAYERS OF HEAVY DUTY FOIL.

I FOLD  2 MORE SHEETS OF FOIL TOGETHER AND PUT IT IN THE BOTTOM OF THE COOKING PAN. 

PLACE THE WRAPED UP TURKEY, BREAST DOWN, ON THE PAN, WRAP THE  2 FOIL SHEETS AROUND THE TURKEY AND PUSH IT DOWN NICE AND TIGHT, ADD 1 MORE SHEET OF FOIL OVER  THE TURKEY THE PUSH DOWN TIGHT.

(YOU PROBOBLY THINK I HAVE A LOT OF REYNOLDS WRAP STOCK IN MY  401K,  BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO SAVE ALL THE  TURKEY BROTH AND MELTED BUTTER AS IT IS USED  IN EVERY PART OF THIS MEAL, FROM GRAVY TO DRESSING.

IF EVERTHING WORKS OUT THE TURKEY WILL BE FULLY COOKED AND SITTING IN 3 TO 5 INCHES OF GOLDEN STOCK BY MORNING.  POUR THE BROTH INTO A  LARGE BOWL AND COVER.

NOW FOR THE DRESSING.

I USE 1 BAG OF SEASONED CROUTONS AND 1 BAG OF CORNBREAD CROUTONS.

4 TO 6 STALKS OF CELERY CHOPPED 1/8” TO 1/4” SATAUED WITH THE COOKED ONION FROM THE BIRD CUT UP

TAKE ALL OF THE MEAT OFF  THE TURKEY NECK, CUT UP THE LIVER AND HEART, PUT ALL OF THIS IN THE BLENDER ALONG WITH SOME BROTH AND PURREE IT. THIS LOOKS AWFUL BUT IT GIVES A GOOD FLAVOR TO THE DRESING.

PUT THE 2 BAGS OF CRUTONS IN A PAN AND ADD SOME BROTH

THE ONIONS AND CELERY AND THE PUREED MIXTURE AND STIR AROUND

AND ADD 2 TO 3 CANS OF CRÈME OF CELERY SOUP.

ADD POULTRY SEASONING AROUND TO TASTE. THE DRESSING SHOULD BE FAIRLY WET.

COOK IN THE OVEN UNTIL THE TOP IS BROWN AND CRUNCHY AND THE BOTTOM IS SOFT BUT NOT WET,

 LET ME KNOW HOW IT ALL TURNS OUT!

From Tessa: 

For the poultry seasoning, I just use poultry seasoning from the store—I think he included the list of ingredients in case poultry seasoning wasn’t available.

The goal is 180 for 8 hrs. You’ll want a poultry thermometer to plunge in in the morning just to be sure it’s done. We have typically pulled it out then, drained out much of the broth (for dressing, gravy, etc.), but left the turkeys wrapped in the foil for most of the day while we do other cooking. Sometimes we’ve put them back in for a warm up later on—right before serving. I think as a family we’re used to eating the turkey at room temp, and we don’t mind that (since it’s cooked), but if you want it hot you’ll want to reserve time at the end for putting them back in—just be aware when you put them back in that that can dry them out.

We don’t put our stuffing in the turkey, so we don’t stuff them and then put them back in—but we need the broth for the stuffing, so we drain it out and then close up the foil. Sometimes if you’ve done the foil well you can poke a small hole near the bottom and pour out a lot of broth without even opening up the turkey, and I usually do the poultry thermometer through the foil, so as to keep the turkey sealed for warmth.

The foil is really important. You’ll want to put two pieces side-by-side and fold them together (connecting them on the long side, sort of like a hem), and lay that in the bottom. Then put the turkey on that (in a casserole dish or on a baker or something). Then, do the same thing again (two pieces, folded with a hem), and lay that over the top, then connect the top section and bottom section with the same kind of hem . . .  does that make sense? The foil is really important for making lots of broth and keeping the meat moist—because turkey has such a tendency to be dry.

Good luck!

Recipe Thursday: “Greek Tacos”

Mmmm, this is a favorite!! This is a whole meal with several elements: garlic naan, sautéed chicken, cucumber-dill yogurt, and lemon rice

First, the naan. Here’s the naan recipe I use. This one took me a little while to get the hang of—especially how to gently flatten and stretch the dough balls—but it’s worth trying a few times to get the feel of it in your hand. And don’t forget about kneading some crushed garlic into the balls and putting butter in the pan and on top of the cooking naan (so on both sides). Delicious!

Next, I make cucumber-dill yogurt. I use the recipe at this link—I’ll also copy it below because there are some other recipes on the link as well. 

FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE

  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup plain low-fat or whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use non-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.”

Next, we also cut up a chicken breast and marinate it with (loosely): 

2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp turmeric
2 cloves fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp fresh dill

I put the cut chicken in a bag, add the above ingredients, and shake it around, then store it in the fridge until later. When I’m nearly done cooking all the naan, I put this oil, spice, chicken mixture into a pan and sauté it. 

Finally, we make lemon rice, according to this recipe. I usually leave off the last three ingredients because I often can’t find them.

Once everything is done, we put a naan on our plate, spoon some yogurt on top, and add rice and chicken. Then we roll it up and enjoy!! If you can find feta cheese, this is also delicious to add. 

This is one of our favorite meals! Enjoy!

Resource Spotlight: Preschool Fun from home!

Tessa here, with a few fun preschool resources that have been a lifesaver for us during this time! Chyella was loving her French preschool here in Toliara, and thankfully has been back in school for the month of October! During the “confinement” as we have called it here, we found these great websites for educational worksheets and videos! These links work for me here in Madagascar, but may not work for you if you’re in the USA—sorry about that! Just Google the names and that should work, and let me know if you have trouble 🙂

Thanks to my friend Jodie’s recommendation, we used Talking Letter Factory and Talking Word Factory videos to introduce basic alphabet and reading skills—Chyella watched these repeatedly last December and learned her letters–woohoo!

We worked through this “Letter of the Day” worksheet series from Preschool Mom twice! 

Great “Read the Alphabet” curriculum from This Reading Mama. We haven’t really tapped into all the resources here, but our favorite worksheets in this reading series are the “Color by Sight Word.”

And speaking of sight words, this whole series of “Meet the Sight Words” videos from the Preschool Prep Company has helped Chyella a ton with learning the blends and lots of new words.

We also have some favorite books—the Jesus Storybook Bible of course, and God’s Very Good Idea. This last one is a new addition and Chyella loves it!

Also, here’s a fun shot of Chyella trying a sidewalk chalk obstacle course we did–thanks to a friend, Caroline, for this idea on Facebook! 🙂

Recipe Thursdays: Chicken Pot Pie

This is one of those recipes that has evolved over time. It started with a turkey pot pie recipe from my friend and first Mada roommate Melody–thanks Melody! But we always used chicken. Hers had a biscuit topping, which was tasty, and then a few years ago I switched to a pie crust top and bottom. I also switched to that canned veggie assortment of peas and carrots . . . just to make life easier! But the main thing about this recipe is that it’s very forgiving!! It’s one of those you can use at the end of the week to get rid of extra veggies—that’s one of the reasons I love it! Here’s what I do:

Ingredients – Filling:

  • Five garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast or pack of tenders
  • 2 T olive oil
  • any extra chopped, fresh veggies you want to use
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth (or water and bullion cubes)
  • ½ cup sour cream (or ½ cup heavy whipping cream + ½ T vinegar)
  • ¼ cup corn starch

Directions – Filling:

  1. Chop the garlic and onion, and begin to sauté it in a big pot with the oil. 
  2. After a minute or two, lay the chicken breast or tenders in the pot and pan fry them.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper, a chicken bouillon cube, and any spices you like. 
  4. Be ready to add oil or a bit of water to make sure nothing burns.
  5. Break up the chicken as it cooks. 
  6. Add any other fresh vegetables you’re including: chopped green beans, fresh carrots, chopped potatoes, chopped zucchini. 
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through and browned just a bit, add about two cups of water (and maybe another bouillon cube) or chicken broth. 
  8. Add the canned carrots and peas.
  9. Take ½ a cup of the hot broth out and mix in ¼ cup of cornstarch, and then mix back into the pot. 
  10. Mix ½ a cup of sour cream into the pot. 
  11. Turn off the stove and add the mixture to the pie crust in the casserole dish. 

Then, here’s the pie crust recipe I use. I almost always have salted butter, so then I just leave out the teaspoon of salt. Make the crust sometime during the day and then have the two “disks”—the dough balls of the pie crusts—in the fridge. 

Once I have the filling made, I roll out one disk, press it into the bottom of a 9×9 casserole dish, and put it in the oven at 190 C. After about 10 minutes, I pull the casserole dish out, spoon in the filling, and then roll out the other disk and lay it on top. Then I put it all back in the over for another 30 minutes or so. Sometimes I put on the top grill for a few minutes at the end to brown the top.

This is one of our favorites! Enjoy!