Monday, September 24, 2007

Maybe I do love soy

A little known fact about me is that I literally hate soy! I truly despise the stuff in any form. I hate soy protein powder, soy beans (edamame), soy milk, and most definitely tofu and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. When I'm reading a product label, if I see the word "soy" it goes right back on the shelf. I know I am probably viewed as a bit of a health freak. I mean who else do you know with a gallon of coconut oil in her cupboard? Anyways, my dear friend and fellow health foodie Carol passed some information on soy to me a few years ago, and I have since abolished it from my family's diet with a vengeance. However, I have found a soy that I do like! Soy wax!

What, you say? Is she eating soy wax? Nooooo.

She's making candles with it!

I have been an avid candlemaker for many years now, making heavily scented container candles and votives. I have always used paraffin wax. But, I have recently been introduced to a new product - soy wax. It has many benefits, including the following:

- It comes in flake form, like a big bag of gift bag filler, which does not have to be cut. No longer do I need to hack apart 12 lb. slabs of wax and nearly kill myself!

-It is cheaper than paraffin. Paraffin, a by-product of petroleum, fluxuates in price as petroleum does. Right now, it is over $1/lb. but soy wax is less than $1/lb.

-It burns clean. Paraffin emits toxins as it burns, as evidenced by the soot on your jar and/or wall. These airborne toxins can get into your central air/heating system and be spread throughout your home. Nice thought, huh?

-It requires only one pour. Paraffin wax shrinks when it cools from liquid to solid, creating a deep crater in the center of my candles. This is remedied by melting more wax and pouring it into the hole one or two more times, but takes a good deal of time. Soy wax does not shrink when cooling so one pour is sufficient. Love that!

So, after reluctantly accepting the fact that soy might have something going for it, I attempted my first batch of candles with it. The results? Delightful! I made lemon pound cake scented candles (photo above) and they are so yummy! I wish you could smell this blog because they are delicious. The soy wax is so creamy and rich looking. I love it. The only disadvantage is that because it is so creamy, it tends to look more like a smoothie. That may be great for lemon pound cake, and creme brulee, but I might have to resort back to good old paraffin for some others, such as pomegranite, so I don't end up with what looks like purple jello mixed with cool whip!

So, the soy industry has me back. Like they needed me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome Fall

People say we Southern Californians don't have seasons. I beg to differ. This week, the weather abruptly changed from summer to fall. It is hard to believe that just 3 weeks ago the air conditioning couldn't keep up with the scorching 115 degree weather, and now it is 75 and sunny (to borrow the title from my friend Nancy's blog). The weather is downright sensational. Warm and breezy, with cool nights. The perfect time of year when you don't need your air conditioning or heater on. Ahh.

Well, fall weather does something to me...I get the urge to bake! For summertime breakfast it's "hey kids, get your own cereal or frozen waffles" but come fall I draw them into the kitchen with the aroma of freshly made muffins, homemade waffles, or pancakes with fresh apples. The coffee pot gets dusted off and my favorite coffee, decaf Starbucks Verona is sipped all morning. The yummy pumpkin or cranberry candles get lit. If fall does something to you too, then perhaps you'd like to try my fall recipes. P.S....they're healthy too! Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Apples
Serves 3-4

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. organic sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 T. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 egg, beaten
3 T. melted coconut oil or olive oil
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 medium apple, peeled and finely diced

Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine egg, coconut oil and buttermilk in a large mixing pitcher and mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir just till combined. Pour batter (will be thick) onto hot griddle. Immediately top each with the chopped apple. Flip pancakes and cook until done. Serve with real maple syrup. Recipe can be easily doubled.

Harvest Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 18 muffins

1/2 cup melted coconut oil or butter
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup organic sugar
2 eggs
1 can (15 oz)organic pumpkin (Trader Joe's)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup ground flax seeds or flax meal (Bob's red mill -Trader Joe's)
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 3 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or dried cranberries, opt.
raw sugar, opt.

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl - beat until well combined. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just till moistened(batter will be thick). Divide batter into 18 greased muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with raw sugar if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

End of Summer in Carpinteria

Beachfront property for $35 a night!

We just completed our last summer vacation - a week in beautiful Carpinteria. For three years now it has been our tradition to camp at this amazing spot starting on Labor Day. The crowds are gone but it still feels like summer...AHH. This was definitely one of our favorite trips this year. The campsites are awesome- right on the beach - with full hookups to boot! It is such a highlight to sit on the beach in the morning and evening - and if you have a steaming cup of coffee in hand there isn't a better thing. The town of Carpinteria is also completely charming. It is so much fun to bike or walk into town - there you can get yourself a coffee, a great burger at The Spot, or a fresh taco. I like to peruse the Thursday Farmer's Market. often picking up something to compliment dinner (like awesome tomatoes and fresh goat cheese - right Sabrina?). This year we were joined by the Brooks, Tubbs, Guyles, and Jensens. The Deshongs(Suz & boys) even came up for a night and bunked with us. A good time was had by all as we escaped the heat of the valley and savored the last few coveted days of summer in such a beautiful, relaxing environment. Drew has once again impressed us with his video skills, so be sure to click below and view his video/slideshow of the trip (again, turn the volume on). Well, now we're back to school and routine...but at least the memories of Carpinteria can still linger.

P.S. For those of you who might not the show, the cute blonde "couple" on the park bench are actually not a "couple" at all. They are brother and sister!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Slideshow Tribute to Dottie

Here is the slideshow that Drew made for his Grandy's memorial service. It is in two parts because it was too big to be viewed all in one. It does have music, so turn on your speakers.

If you scroll down to the last post, you will find Rich's eulogy for his mom.

A Eulogy for Rich's Mom

Dottie in younger years

Last Saturday, we had a memorial service for Rich's mom, Dottie. We were fortunate to have many relatives come in from Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, Arizona, Washington, and Ohio. Rich delivered the following eulogy for his mom. It is long, so if you have the time, get a nice glass of iced tea and hear from Rich's heart.

On behalf of my sisters and our aunt, uncle and our families, I want to extend our heartfelt thanks for your being here today. Your presence and thoughts are a great source of encouragement.

We really aren’t here to mourn. God is great in his mercy and grace in all things. In all things He glorifies Himself, and in that our thoughts dwell – even in the passing of our mother.

My mom really loved my dad and she missed him so very much after he died. There was a void there that, of course, could never be filled. She needed all the love in her life she could get and she got that from my sisters. I want to publicly acknowledge and thank my sisters for taking care of my mother so well these past years since dad’s been gone. The Lord has uniquely situated Jamee to be able to come along side mom and take care of many of the necessary duties that come with these times. She was tireless in her care for her in the medical facilities these past three months. She dutifully learned from Dad and performed all that needed to be done to take care of Mom financially. She has been an excellent first-born daughter.

I also want to thank my sister Kristen who has effectively been managing two homes – Mom’s and hers – for many years now. This has been hard work but she has done it with joy and excellence. Mom’s house and house is one of the best looking on all of Canada Boulevard because of Kristen. She too gave great care to Mom in her last months of hospital care.

They both are great examples of lovingly providing for parents in their time of need. Thank you for taking care of Mom.

Well, it’s my honor to say a few words of remembrance of my mom. It is of course an impossible task to do the woman justice in this regard, but there are a couple of things I thought might be meaningful.

We are all given parents by God’s design to teach us and train us and it’s in two areas that my mom did well with her children that I’d like to relate.

The first was a great work ethic that I think may of hers and my dad’s generation, the greatest generation, had. She and my dad came out to California on their own after WWII and really had to be self sufficient and take care of themselves. I remember two times where my mom interjected this attitude into me. One was probably my first summer back from college and I was just sitting in my room one morning reading and relaxing, settling in for the summer. Well my mom comes in and essentially said, “What are you doing. Go get a job!" And that started a series of jobs working in hot, asbestos laden attics installing air conditioners and out in the hot sun working construction. Both jobs taught me the importance of hard work, and, more importantly, to study hard in engineering school because I knew I didn’t want to work in the heat like that the rest of my life. The other was in the same bedroom but five years later as I was contemplating several jobs offers I had after graduating. One was for a small construction company which didn’t pay too much but promised a good level of independence and responsibility. The other was for a place which paid a considerable amount more. Knowing the value of a dollar and what it took financially to live in our world, she looked at me – and I don’t remember the exact words – but was basically, “You idiot, take the job with the most money!” And that’s how I came to work at DWP.

The next thing I want to say about my mom may just be for me, but it’s one I hold very dearly. They say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well I love my mom for her cooking and I love good food because of my mom. There are three important food groups that my mother taught me to appreciate. The first is butter!

The saying in my own house is "nothing goes better with butter than more butter." My mother always had butter on the counter and used it well in her cooking. And she used it other interesting ways you might not of thought. We used to go to a restaurant (I think it was the only restaurant we went to) called Kiko's. It was a Mexican restaurant but interestingly – and you’ll never see this at any other Mexican restaurant – it had butter patties in a bowl on the table. Now, most Mexican restaurants give you chip and salsa, but Kiko's gave you chips and salsa AND butter. None of you have tried it but in honor of my mom you must try on a tortilla chip – just the right amount of carbs, salt, and butter.

It really comes from a cooking philosophy my mom had that she actually expressed as probably one of her last complete sentences. She was having trouble talking and eating in her last days and Jamee was encouraging her to get better so she could back to it. Jamee told her if she got better she could have potatoes and she could put butter on them. My mom said with great labor in her speech, “I like butter on everything.”

The second major food group is beef. My mom’s pot roast was a thing of beauty and I’ve never found its equal. The meat had this great, juicy, sticky feel on your teeth. The potatoes were served in halves and had this golden roasted look to them that just perfectly sopped up the gravy. I think that its unique look and taste could only be duplicated in what I now believe are my mom’s magic pans and that most important of all cooking ingredients - love.

There are many other dishes I could speak of but I’ve saved the best for last. My wife Karen is a great cook as well and she has collected and perfected many of my mom’s classic recipes. Most of the recipes have “Dottie’s” in the title, like Dottie’s cool whip dessert, or Dottie’s potato salad. But of course the supreme classic was my mother’s spaghetti sauce – the liquid love. You’ve never had a sauce like it. It took two days to make. I’ll always remember at the end of the first day of simmering I would come home form school and just have a bowl of it with a piece of white bread and , of course, butter.

About 17 years ago Karen attempted to duplicate the recipe. She had first sat down with my mom and received this oracle of a recipe directly from my mom. I will never forget the evening I came home and Karen, having produced her first batch, was waiting for me at the back door with a spoon full of spaghetti sauce. I took one mouthful, swallowed and exclaimed, “now my mother can die.” I immediately called my mom and told her of Karen’s success in duplicating the sauce to which she exclaimed, “now I can die!”

My Uncle Carl and Aunt Betty are here with us from Ohio. They are the last two of the 9 Oprisch kids. This year has been especially hard for them and my cousins as they have lost three of their siblings and parents since January. My Uncle Joe and Aunt Lou and now my mom. I myself have now lost four of my family members in the last nine years. My dad nine years ago, my son Brady, my mother-in-law Wanda, and now my mom. But that’s how it is. Death is a part of life. It’s the last scene. My two good friends Jim and Kai, and myself all bought our houses a little over nine years ago kind of right in a row. Me, then Jim, then Kai. As it turned out not too long after that, that my dad died and then just a few weeks later Jim’s dad died. I turned to Kai’s dad at Jim’s dad’s funeral and said, “Donny, you know there’s a pattern starting to develop here.” That’s kind of the point. Death is inevitable and people naturally fear the dying of the body that accompanies death.

I shared a story with my Dad shortly before he died about the woman who went to Jesus for her sickness. Saint Luke, who was a physician, suggested in his gospel the woman was not helped because her condition was incurable. I told my dad that it was a little like his condition at the time and in the end that was my mom’s case too. The story reads:

25Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well." 29Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?" 31But His disciples said to Him, "You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, "Who touched Me?"' 32And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction."

That is the good news that is true and that provides a great sense of peace in any situation, even to one that is dying. That good news is, of course that Jesus saves from spiritual sickness as well as physical.

Now, indeed God could cure anyone at any time of his or her ills but it is more amazing that he can and does heal men from their sin. Sin is disobedience, and God says in the bible all men are born with it. It is a greater disability that any sickness because it separates God from man. Just as the woman couldn’t heal her physical sickness she also couldn’t save her own soul.

The Matthew 5 passage that was read is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The point of Jesus teaching there was to show salvation was not by human achievement. It was for those who are poor in spirit; those who mourn; those who are gentle; those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In other words it is for those who are humble in recognizing their utter spiritual bankruptcy apart from God; and those who mourn over their sin and repent; those who are controlled by the spirit. Most importantly, it is for those much opposite than like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who where self-righteous. Salvation is for those who seek God’s righteousness rather than attempting to establish a righteousness of their own. It is not for those who attempt it to get to heaven by their own efforts of doing good or religious activity. Salvation is by divine accomplishment.

Jesus provides the cure to sin for those who believe. The woman did and Jesus pronounces her well when he says, “your faith has made you well”. In fact what He was saying was that the woman’s faith also led to spiritual salvation. Because of her salvation she could “Go in peace." She was no longer separated from God and no longer at war with God.

The passage my Cousin Gary read today also speaks of this peace through Christ’s death on the cross. Saint Paul says,

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and then:

6For when we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Jesus died to pay the penalty for guilty sinners. Anyone that puts their faith in Jesus, and believes that it is true, then God sees that believer as free of sin as Jesus himself. The sinner receives this gift of God’s grace by faith alone. The bible says:

Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not as a result of works, lest anyone should boast.

The gift of salvation is not received, nor is a person declared right by God by any kind of religious activity or good works. It is by faith alone. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Well, I hope this is great news to all of you. The bible again says in Romans 10:9-10,13:

9That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation... 13For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Just as the woman called on the name of Jesus, so can we and be saved and have present and eternal peace from God and in God! Isn’t that a great hope: Peace with God. It is my hope, and my hope for all of you here today, and was my hope for my Dad and Mom. Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will had trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Thank you.

****Stay tuned for a new post with the slideshow from the memorial service! Drew did a terrific job chronicling her life, but I need his help to get it on you tube and onto the blog!