Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Lucky Girls and a Dal Recipe

(Scroll down for the dal recipe.)

I tossed some cumin seeds into the hot oil and waited until they began to pop before adding a pile of onions, garlic, and ginger. A spoonful of turmeric turned the fragrant mixture a deep golden color as the spicy aroma wafted through the house. Soon small orange lentils would soften into a lovely yellow as the dal simmered in my biggest pot. (Recipe below)

"I don't understand why they're called Lucky!" came the bewildered comment from my eight year old son. We were preparing to screen The Lucky Girls Movie during our church's fellowship time the next day. Why, he wondered, would these girls, these motherless and forsaken orphans, be considered lucky?

My mind wandered back ten years ago, to the months I spent in India, to little street girls, running about, barefoot, unkempt, begging for their next meal. Sadly, many of them are "owned" by well organized rings who take their "earnings" in exchange for meager fare and a little shelter. I remember a lovely Indian woman with whom I stood one hot afternoon in Dehli. She held in her arms a beautiful baby girl, obviously loved. As we stood talking, a turbaned man interrupted us. They exchanged a few words; in short, he offered to buy her baby. She refused. What would have become of that baby? What becomes of so many unwanted girls in India?

The plight of the girl child in India can be devastating. Girls will grow up, and, in order to marry, will need a dowry, something many impoverished families simply cannot afford. And so the girl becomes a burden to her family. In many circumstances, she is aborted, and never even given a chance at life. Many more young girls grow up in brothels, or in other forms of slavery, with no hope of an education, of freedom, of marriage, or of any independence.

My son, in his warm and safe home, surrounded by loving family, cannot fathom these things. But these girls, these Lucky ones, know what their fate could be. Having lost mothers, fathers, left alone or perhaps having become a burden to a relative, they've found a place where they're loved and cared for. They have found a home. In Sister Nectaria they have one who loves them like a mother. They're given the gift of an education, which will open up many opportunities for them. They are given safety and security, a hope and a future.

Sunday morning came. I dressed in my shalwar kameez, long pushed to the back of my closet. I wanted to share with my church family a little of my love for India, for her people, and specifically for her girls. Together with some friends we provided a simple meal of rice, dal, cabbage, and fruit. Our usually loud fellowship room became quiet as we listened to the stories of these young women. Afterwards many people thanked us for sharing The Lucky Girls with them, for allowing them to see this place, to hear these voices from the other side of the world.

I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to introduce others to this wonderful ministry in India. There are so many needs in this world, but this is certainly a worthy place to direct out attention, our prayers, and if we're able, our resources. There are many ways that you can be involved. Will you pray for the Lucky Girls, and consider how you can be a part of this project too?

You can watch the full, 15 minute film, here.

Masoor Dal

Oil or Butter
1 t Cumin Seeds
2 T Chopped Garlic 

2 T Chopped Ginger
1 Chopped Onion
1t Turmeric
1/2 t Cayenne Peper
1 Tomato, diced, or 1 can Diced Tomatoes

1 C Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
(I soak mine overnight with a little lemon juice, but this is optional)
6 C Water or Broth

2 t Salt

Heat the oil or butter and fry the cumin seeds until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until slightly softened. Add the spices and cook for another minute or two. Add water, lentils, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, until lentils are cooked and turning mushy. Stir occasionally. You may need to add a little more water if it's getting too thick. 

Adapted from The Curry Book

This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter
and Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


When we were in Mexico last month, I enjoyed the simplicity of preparing food for my family using only a few ingredients. I'm always a very "real foods" sort of cook, but without the luxury of my well stocked pantry, I was forced to take things a step simpler. That, and the fact that my kids don't eat refined sugar (for the most part), led to the creation of these frozen banana pops one hot afternoon. Raphael helped me make them, and referred to them as "Popper Banas". (I love this stage, where they talk pretty well, but still have those funny little ways of saying things!) So, Popper Banas were a hit in our family, and as I'm making them again today, I thought I'd share them with you. Enjoy!

Popper Banas
These are gluten, grain, and refined sugar free.
 They are vegan and also suitable for people on GAPS or SCD diet.

Ripe Bananas
Popsicle Sticks
1/2 C Coconut Oil
1/2 C Peanut Butter
2-3 T Honey
1/2 t Vanilla 
A Pinch of Salt

 3 T Cocoa plus 2 additional T. coconut oil
Coconut Flakes or Chopped Peanuts

Peel bananas and insert a popsicle stick a couple inches into one end. If the banana cracks a little, don't worry; it's going to freeze and won't be a problem. Lay the bananas on a tray lined with parchment or waxed paper, or a nonstick baking sheet. If you want to make your bananas go further, you can cut them in half and have shorter pops. Put this tray in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, until the bananas are very cold, if not frozen through.

When your bananas are very cold (or frozen), melt coconut oil in a small saucepan. Turn off heat and mix in peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and salt. If you want to make chocolate pops, then go ahead and stir in the cocoa powder.  It should be a fairly thin consistency. Once it's all mixed together, pour it into a tall glass. 

Get your frozen bananas, and carefully dip each one into the peanut butter mixture. Hold it over the glass for a minute to drip off. The cold from the banana will harden the coating. Put the tray back in the freezer fora couple minutes, and then do one more coat. 

If you want to add coconut or peanuts to the outside, you'll need to have a shallow dish ready with your "sprinkles". The coating will harden pretty quickly, so after the second coat, quickly roll the whole thing into the coconut or chopped peanuts.

Freeze until solid, about an hour if they weren't  thoroughly frozen already. If they were, they should be ready to eat within a few minutes.

If you have a little peanut butter mixture left over, you can mix in the leftover coconut flakes and/or peanuts, scoop it onto a cookie sheet, and refrigerate until hardened. Voila... Coconut Haystacks!

This recipe is part of the Pennywise Platter carnival at the Nourishing Gourmet
and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


If you were hanging around our home today, here are a few things you might have seen and heard:

Today I asked Raphael if her were a good helper. He usually replies with something like "I'm good helper!" Today he answered "Sort of"! I've never heard him say that before, about anything, and it cracked me up. (I'd actually just been thinking about how he's past the stage where he'll enthusiastically help with anything. Now he likes to help with most anything I'm doing that involves kitchen appliances or water, but not so much if it is something like picking up toys!)
I love him.

We've been learning about ancient Crete, and thought it was the perfect time to do the volcano model that Grandpa Bill and Lou gave Peregrine for his birthday. The mountain is built and ready to be painted. Exciting times!

We had a visit from my brother Josh, sister in law Annie, and our new little nephew/cousin Jacob. He and Pearl really took to each other. One of my favorite parts of their visit was when Josh was holding Pearl and said "is that my phone vibrating or did she just poop?" (It was just his phone.) I love my new little nephew!
And speaking of new nephews, my sister Alyssa and brother in law Scott are going to meet their new son tomorrow! They've been in the very long process of adoption and were finally matched with a boy last week. We're all very excited and praying for a smooth transition for all of them. Peregrine is so, so excited to meet his new cousin, as they're close in age, but we'll wait until he's settled in a bit. 

There was a whole lot of whooping and hollering amongst Erik and the kids while I was making dinner.  Rough play with Daddy seems to be fun for all. Raphi even got a ride in a makeshift sling made out of a play silk. 

Squash Pudding for an evening treat. Finger lickin' good apparently. This was around the time that Peregrine and I had a conversation that went something like this:
Peregrine: When I grow up I don't plan to grow a beard. They're okay for some people, but not me.
Me: Oh, well, that's fine. Why don't you want to have a beard?
Peregrine: Well, you know, they kind of interfere with your face.
(And Erik pointed out that his face was his own and he was welcome to not grow a beard on it, until he got married. Then his face would no longer be his own.)
Thank you, my love, for the great beard you grow just for me!

I sat and rolled a ball with Pearl this evening, for the first time.  She loved it, and of course, had to see if she could get her mouth around the ball. Not quite, but she put in a good effort. Have I mentioned just how much I enjoy this baby? 

Lent is here, and we are trying to focus our hearts on Jesus. In the midst of a busy and often loud day, a candle lit during prayers has a calming and centering effect. (Theoretically at least!) It also reminds us of the One who is the Light of the world, and who can melt the hardness of our hearts. 

And speaking of Lent, here is our "Jesus Tree" and our paper chain counting down to Easter. We will read a story from the life of Christ each day, and put up the accompanying symbol, beginning with his presentation in the temple and ending with his glorious resurrection! 

Thanks for popping in for a visit! 

Friday, March 04, 2011

Week of Beauty: Spring

   Signs of spring are appearing here in the Northwest. I'm delighted to see my little crocus popping up, cheerfully defying the greyest of skies. Where I grew up, in Alberta, they used to come up through the snow, long before spring arrived. To me, they are a sign of hope, a promise of brighter, sunnier, and warmer days. And more than that, a reminder that out of muck and the dirt God grows beauty and grace. Beautiful indeed! 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Week of Beauty: Pearl

Sometimes the beauty of my children is overwhelming. There is something especially lovely about watching them sleep, when they are so peaceful, so unaware. I took this one day in Mexico. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Week of Beauty: Eggs

    There's a hay bale standing on end just outside my window. My silly chickens have decided it's the perfect place to lay their eggs. Each day they jostle for a turn atop the bale, and then sit there until their business is done. I was under the impression that hens liked to be a bit more private, but these girls apparently don't mind an audience. It's pretty convenient to see when eggs have been laid. I chose our layers so that we'd have a variety of colored eggs, and to me, they are truly lovely!