Saturday, June 24, 2023

Fresh Herb Cheese Ball

 I've had an herb garden for years. In fact, I rode my bike to our local greenhouse, before I had my driver's license, to purchase herb plants. I'm not sure why I was so infatuated by herbs, but I nearly memorized my mom's herb book. I loved the smells and textures of herbs. It was such fun to weed among such lovely plants.

An herb garden was one of the first additions I added to our property when we moved here. I've moved it to different spots, but found I was most likely to use the herbs if they were on a pot on my porch. 

But still, I rarely actually cooked with fresh herbs. I occasionally picked a sprig of rosemary or made a batch of basil pesto, but I was far better at growing herbs than using them. 

Until last year. 

One of my daughters was spending the day at my parent's house, and my mom was making a simple cheese ball with fresh herbs. She came home with the directions and suddenly my pot of herbs was being snipped repeatedly to make herb cheese ball. She loved making it so much that when winter came and our herbs died, she adapted the recipe to use dried herbs. But we were all delighted when spring came ,and she could use fresh herbs again.

This recipe can be adapted with whatever herbs you have. She likes to have at least three kinds. The amount of herbs is approximate. She simply picks a few sprigs without measuring.

Fresh Herb Cheese Ball

1 8oz pack of cream cheese

1/8 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon each of chopped basil, chives, oregano, parsley, thyme, and rosemary

In the winter, use a teaspoon of dried herbs.

Edited: I should have specified that this recipe is more of a spread or cheese ball. We eat it on crackers. If you want to use it for a veggie dip (which is also delicious) add more mayo and be sure to let it sit out of the fridge a bit to soften the cream cheese before serving.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Sisters' Spring Reading Challenge

I struggled to read at the beginning of this spring. I'm not sure why I felt so distracted and listless when it came to books - it is an unfamiliar feeling. But eventually I got over my slump, and I read quite a few books that I loved.

Note: The photos on this post were taken just a few weeks before the birth of Charity's baby boy. Not sure how much reading Charity will get done this summer. Maybe more than usual - maybe far less!

This post contains affiliate links which give me a small bit of credit with no extra cost to you. 

Sisters' Spring Reading Challenge

1. Read a book that is longer than your average read. 

Charity - Middlemarch by George Eliot

Long books are delightful as long as I have the time to really embrace the story. Eliot wrote a fascinating novel about family, love, and money set in the fictional town of Middlemarch. I found that I needed to patiently allow the author to introduce me to the cast and weave the plot for a few hundred pages until I was entrapped. Step into nineteenth century England with patience and before long you will not be able to put the book down!

Gina - Island of the World by Michael D. O'Brien

I knew exactly which long book I wanted to read. A blog reader had sent me Island of the World after I told her that I had been searching for a copy, since I had heard rave reviews of it. But I found the book intimidating. Not only was it long (over eight hundred pages!), it is also sad. I've cried over a number of novels set in World War 2, but this book is a level of gut-wretching sad I found hard to read. Set in the Balkans, Island of the Word follows the life of Josip Lasta. I'm only about halfway through, but if it wasn't for this challenge, I wouldn't have gotten that far, and I plan to continue working on it this summer.

2. Read a book about motherhood or a book that has a mother as the main character.

Labor with Hope by Gloria Furman

While preparing for the arrival of our baby, I found this book a beautiful way to explore what the Bible says about childbirth and pregnancy. Furman takes you through God's Word and show the hope and eternal analogies that are found all throughout the Bible. 

Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies by Hillary Morgan Ferrer and others

The authors of this book suggest that we as mothers need to be firmly grounded in truth so that we can help our children navigate the many voices in our world. They give a thorough overview of the many isms that we encounter, such as self-helpism, naturalism, and skepticim. I love that the authors are firm on truth in a loving way and use humor to lighten a heavy subject. 

3. Choose a bookshelf, count the fifth book from the right and read it. 

Charity - How Beautiful the Dusty Road by Alison Stoltsfus

A nurse's memoir of serving refugees in Bangladesh. Join the author on her journey of learning to love the people of another religion and ethnicity while finding her heart is sometimes miles away. I easily slipped into her world and found her skill with words made me grieve it was such a short book.

Gina - A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry

It always takes me a while to get into Berry's novels. The plot moves slowly and there are so many characters, though the more of his books I read, the more I'm becoming attached to his fictional Port William community. A Place on Earth is set during World War 2 and I was saddened by the unhealthy ways that the characters reacted to grief without the hope of Christ. Yet Berry's skill as a writer and how well he shows life's reality and the gift of the agarian community means his books stay with me long after I finish the last page.

4. Choose a word or phrase in the Bible and look up five or so verses that contain that word and read them in context. 

Charity - Trust/Refuge in the Psalms

The last few months I have been strugglign to surrender and trust the Creator. That led me to read all th passages in Psalms that speak of trusting God and/or taking refuge in Him. Writing down teh verses that appliedto me in my journal was so encouraging and is a place I can keep going back to on hard days.

Gina - Word

What does the Word say about the Word? That question sent me all through the Scripture, searching what God said about His Word. What a rich gift we have been given.

Other books I've loved this spring:

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

Coming Home to Roost by Dorcas Smucker

Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler

Will the Circle Be Unbroken by Sean Dietrich


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