This Week of Vegan Meals

We tried several new vegan recipes this week and they were ALL very good!  They all came from this new cookbook I bought from Nisha Vora - The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook.

The first meal I tried from this cookbook was Tofu Tikka Masala because we already love Chicken Tikka Masala, so we wondered how the vegan version would be.  It was absolutely delicious!  It consisted of tofu that has been marinated in coconut milk, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne pepper.  Then, cauliflower, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and lemon and lime juice with seasonings of cumin, ginger, garam masala, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, sugar and cilantro.  The best part was the cashew cream!  To make that, I soaked the cashews and then in a food processor mixed in soymilk, lemon juice and sauce.  All this served over basmati rice.

The next recipe we tried was Chickpea Vegetarian Biryani, which is another Indian dish.  This was by far my favorite because not only did I have seconds at dinner, I ate it for breakfast the next day and again for dinner the next day!  The dish includes chickpeas, tomatoes, vegetables (I used carrot/cauliflower/broccoli mix), raisins, cashews, onions, garlic and basmati rice with seasonings of cardamom, cumin, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, turmeric, garam masala and lemon juice and cilantro.  You make a homemade Raita sauce to put on top, which is cucumber, nondairy yogurt (I used unsweetened soy), garlic and ginger, cilantro, cumin and garam masala.  Some spices I left out because I didn't have were fresh mint, fennel seeds and serrano pepper.

Then today, I made West African Peanut Stew over basmati rice and this one was another winner.  It was sweet potatoes, chickpeas, peanut butter, kale, tomatoes, garlic and onions over rice.  Again, many, many spices like all of Nisha's recipes so far.  Coriander, ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, cilantro, salt/pepper and lime juice.

Every recipe I've made in this book was a 5-star!  I can't wait to try even more recipes.  Nisha has a YouTube channel as well with great videos on cooking and a lot of ideas for batch cooking at the beginning of the week.

Part 2: 6 Things God Sheep Do

You can read Part 1 here that gives an overview of Matthew 25 and the 6 things that God's sheep do.

Let's review the 6 things God's sheep do:
  1. Feed the Hungry
  2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
  3. House Strangers
  4. Clothe Those Without
  5. Visit the Sick
  6. Come to Those in Prison

The above 6 things that Jesus defines His sheep doing are all for other people!  Selfishness has no place in God.  When you are truly are born again by the Spirit of God and have the mind of Christ - you won't be selfish.  You will think of others.  You will look out for your sister (or brother) in Christ.  Jesus did say that to "the least of these my brethren" in verse 40 we are to do these things, he was clearly talking about those in the faith, especially the least esteemed.  Oh, how opposite I've seen this.  I've seen the least esteemed treated with disdain, not allowed in the "best" seats and frankly not even invited.  God isn't like that and as we can clearly see here - His sheep aren't either.

Is your sister-in-Christ hungry, thirsty, needing housing, needing clothing, sick or in prison?  If you haven't ministered to her (or him for men), then you are not God's sheep according to Matthew 25.  Have we as women, become so focused on our own responsibilities that we haven't the time for doing these 6 things for our sisters-in-Christ?  I believe we are to help those within our sphere of life; those around you and in your circle.  A lot of people like to help people in Africa before they will lift a finger to help the sister sitting next to them at church.  God placed you where He did, in the town He did, for a reason.  That's your realm, your sphere and your territory of ministering to others.

If your husband isn't with you, you shouldn't be helping your brother-in-Christ alone.  I think that goes without saying but you never know these days.  Couples could do these things together and help a brother, but for this series, I'm concentrating on women helping women.

Feeding the Hungry
God has touched my heart many times in the past 20 years of being a Christian to bring groceries to a sister.  I can relay to you many times, some even late in the evening, that I went and bought groceries and took them to a sister in need without her asking.  Nobody knew I did these things, I didn't need glory or even need for others to know that I did them.  I cared about my sister and I obeyed the Holy Spirit!  I didn't even realize I was following Matthew 25 until recently because quite frankly, I never even heard Matthew 25 taught in church!  I've been in church all my life from birth (my dad was the Pastor growing up) and I don't remember a sermon or study on this very topic.  But isn't it amazing that despite not hearing it and despite somehow skimming over it in Bible reading over the years - that I still performed these things?  That's because when you are His, you do His Work, it is just in you to help others and have compassion on the hurting, sick and oppressed.

Give Drink to the Thirsty
This one is easy, how many times do we give someone something to drink if they ask for it when they are at our house?  I think we all could fulfill this easily.  However, it isn't just doing it sometimes, it is doing it whenever we are presented with it in our sphere.

House Strangers
If we do these things to those in the faith, then why would they be called strangers here?  I suppose maybe it means if we see someone who is a Christian that needs a home, like say their house caught on fire or they lost their job or got evicted.  But does this mean we physically house them in OUR home?  I think in earlier times this was normal but in our days, I don't think it is safe.  I would rather try and provide a place for them, like a hotel, so they would be housed.  I've always felt uncomfortable with anyone staying in my home besides my own parents.  I've heard too many stories among Christians where a child was molested by another "brother" that stayed with them in their home.  I always played it safe in this regard.  I don't think I have personally come across someone needing to be housed.  We live in America which is probably why I don't see this, but in other countries it is probably more common to find others needing housing.

Clothe Those Without
I've given away so many clothes to sisters, even currently, although I don't know that I actually gave clothing to someone naked and without.  I suppose when donating to charity or the Salvation Army, you are contributing in some way to fulfill this.  If presented with a sister (or brother), who was truly in need of an article of clothing, I feel that I would supply it but I can't remember a time where I've seen that.  

Visit the Sick
Having had a rough life physically, I understand the degree of hurt that you can feel when no one comes to visit you when you are sick.  For the majority of my sicknesses and hospitalizations over the years, no one came to visit.  There was about 2 times I remember someone came and that meant the world to me that someone actually cared enough.  During the other times no one came, I cried asking God why nobody cared enough to come visit me.  God told me that He had touched people's hearts to come but they refused.  Now, whenever someone we know ends up in the hospital, we go visit them.  A lot are shocked that we come and we tell them the story of how we felt being alone with no visitors!  So, it has become my mission now to make an effort to visit the sick, especially in the hospital.  Just this past year alone, we've been in the hospital visiting 5 times those we are close to.  One of the people we visited ended up passing away, a very dear friend of ours.  I remember what he said to us when we came to visit him yet again, he said: "I know that if anyone would come visit me in the hospital, it would definitely be you all."  He was hurt that hardly anyone came to visit him as he was slowly dying and I understand that hurt in some ways.  There is nothing like being in a hospital bed scared by your condition and finally see who your true friends are.

Come to Those in Prison
There was a brother in our church many years ago, that got away from God and ended up in jail.  Although, I couldn't go visit him, my husband did.  That's the only person I've known in prison who has lived in our town.  Currently where we live, I don't know any.

I tried to tell you what I've done in each of these situations to give you a better idea of what you could do.  God told us to EXAMINE ourselves.  We need to constantly examine ourselves against the Word of God - do we do the things God said we would do if we were His?  Do we refrain from things God said His refrain from?  Who are we really serving?

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. 

Feel free to leave a comment explaining what you have done or situations you have faced involving some of these.  I still have a lot more to share, so expect a few more posts on this series.

Part 1: 6 Things God's Sheep Do

I'm embarking on a series of posts about these 6 things.  We will give a brief summary in this post and then future posts in the series will go more into depth.

There needs to be a reformation within the churches before it is too late.  Too many people are being spiritually abused and oppressed.  Too many people are needing help and not finding any.  Too many people are hurting with no solace or comfort.  God needs us to do His Work and be His hands.

There are 6 things that Jesus said that His true sheep do.  What are they?

  1. Feed the Hungry
  2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
  3. House Strangers
  4. Clothe Those Without
  5. Visit the Sick
  6. Come to Those in Prison

These things are so important to God that we do, that He says if we don't do them, we'll actually be thrown into everlasting fire!  I think this should definitely cause us to stop, look at these verses and really think about this.  

Matthew 25:31-46 KJV

31  When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 

44  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. 

Notice, God separates them and calls those that do these 6 things SHEEP and those that did not GOATS.  Which one would you be?  The ones that did these 6 things are the righteous; the true sheep of God.  We need to heed this because we will be held accountable to God's Word.  We as women, need to understand and do these things if we want to truly be who God calls His sheep.  We can't sit back and wait for someone else to teach us, we need to study and understand the Bible.  Churches may not preach this, does that mean you get a pass with God?  No, you'll be a goat Jesus clearly says in Matthew 25!  Dig in the Word Sisters - be able to give people an answer when they ask you about these things.  Lack of knowledge in these things is so prevalent among women and one reason I started this series.

In Part 2, we will go further into depth.

Mother - Most Valuable Job EVER!

I absolutely loved Dave Ramsey's response in this call about mothers staying home with their kids!  He talks about how his wife hasn't made a dime in her life - she's been a (full-time) mother for 33 years and a grandmother.  Being a mother is the most valuable job you could ever have!!  Go Dave!

My Natural Approach to Colds, Flu, Bronchitis and Strep

I've been into natural health since I was a teenager!  Yes, it's been a long time and a passion of mine.  However, I didn't get into full-fledged herbalism until several years ago when I encountered a slew of health problems and got desperate and tired of being sick and tired!  I've gained a lot of experience, knowledge and practice with natural health and over the years found what works for us.

Whenever we get sick with a virus (almost always is a virus, rarely bacterial), this is my routine to help bolster our immune systems and get us through the virus as quickly as possible.  Sometimes it works the first day and knocks it out and other times I'm late giving the herbs and we suffer a bit more but still shorter than if I hadn't given herbs.  You can find the links to recipes for some of these in this post.

At the first sign - very first sniffle, sore throat or any other sign indicating we're on the verge - I start giving these:

  • Echinacea - a tincture combination of the whole plant (Purpurea) and root (Angustifolia)
  • Umcka - a tincture of Umckaloabo (Pelargonium sodisides 1x)
  • Elderberry syrup - I make this homemade and it lasts several months in the fridge
  • Thyme cough syrup - I make this homemade and we use it at night for coughs
  • Probiotics - keep gut flora healthy!  I like Garden of Life's Probiotics for Kids.
  • Mullein tea - as needed for chest congestion and coughs
  • Garlic/Onion Soup - I make a potent soup with garlic cloves and onions and it tastes good and packs a punch!

I give the Echinacea, Umcka and Elderberry 2-3 times every day.  I only give the probiotics every other day.  Then, I make sure we eat vitamin C rich foods and/or take some vitamin C.  We stay away from cow's milk during times we have a cold, so we don't get thick mucus.  If need be, we do the netipot or natural salt/baking soda water nasal spray to cleanse nasal passages (use distilled water only!).  If there is a sore throat, we do Throat Coat tea at the first sign of it.  We also do sage gargle rinses a few times a day and/or warm water salt gargle rinses.

We also wash hands any time we touch our eyes/nose/mouth and I disinfect door handles, faucet/toilet/sink handles and keyboards and mouses!  Also, we make sure to drink lots of water to flush it all out.  I make sure to have the house at at least 40% humidity in the winter, so constantly running humidifiers helps keep our membranes moist and will also help with congestion. 

Diffusing essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus and tea tree helps purify the air.  If congestion is really bad in the nose but especially if in the chest, we do steam baths under a towel with boiling water and eucalyptus oil.  It not only helps open the passages, the eucalyptus coats the bronchioles to PREVENT bacteria from adhering!  If the cough needs help thinning during the daytime, we do use Guaifenesin tablets with lots of water.  At night, we use the thyme cough syrup to stop that tickle and if we wake in the night, we use more and/or Ricola original herb cough drops, which are my favorite.  You ought to read the story behind Ricola, but I will tell you the 10 herbs in the drops are: 

Lemon Balm
Linden Flowers
Wild Thyme

Other common sense things to do would be wash bed sheets and pillowcases dailyDisinfect your toothbrush daily with Listerine.

*I only give Tylenol or ibuprofen if there is unbearable pain or fever over 102.

Doing the above things, we have survived strep throat, flu, colds and bronchitis without prescriptions drugs or antibiotics.  If anything doesn't get better or shows sign of bacterial instead of viral, we see a doctor but it usually never gets to that point thankfully!

Keeping your immune system strong throughout the year as well helps.  You can do that by eating healthy foods, taking a multivitamin and watching your stress levels.  Also, we sanitize every time we get in the car - either from church or the store, etc.  Then, when we get home, we wash our hands.

Most importantly - PRAY and get some SLEEP!  

Removing Burn Stains on Stove Top

I've had these burn marks on the stove, probably a year or more and I've tried everything and just gave up and dealt with them being there.  I tried magic eraser, Softscrub, all-purpose cleaner and bar-keeper's friend and nothing worked.  I finally decided I couldn't take it anymore and set out to go to war with these stains and eradicate them.  Several places online shared about using baking soda and peroxide and though it did work some, I still had to do it twice (letting it sit the second time longer) and I had to scrub and use a butter knife for the parts that nothing was going to get off.  I'm so happy it is all gone!!  Talk about oddly satisfying - this made my week.

I put about 1/4 cup of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl to make a paste. Then, I put it on all around making sure everything was covered and let it sit for 30 minutes. I scrubbed with a stiff cleaning brush and then used a butter knife to get up the stubborn burns.

Monthly Meal Planning & Shopping

We used to shop weekly, then we went to biweekly and now we do monthly grocery shopping.  We do make a trip to the local store whenever we need bananas or salad but everything else is bought once a month at Aldi and Kroger.  I made a meal plan for 4 weeks and then I went through the recipes and made a list and checked it with what we had on hand.  Here was the menu for this 4-week period, which is January 18th - February 14th.

I like to do a big casserole on Saturday and have the leftovers (L/O) on Sunday.  Fridays are pizza days, frozen or homemade.  I like to have a Mexican night on Tuesdays and then a meatless night once a week, either vegetarian meal or breakfast for dinner meal.  We only eat red meat once a week, unless we have a kielbasa meal.  On days we have appointments that may keep us out for a few hours, I don't plan a meal to cook; we eat out.  It is just less stress for me that way!  A lot of the meals are very easy, instant pot meals.

For breakfast and lunches we do oatmeal, burritos, PB bread, protein bars, quesadillas, tacos and whatever else we crave depending upon the month.  Snacks are fruits, vegetables, string cheese, nuts/seeds, PB, homemade muffins/breads/cakes, tortilla chips, bean dip, etc.

We spend $360 a month on groceries, mostly all food but I do buy some non-food items like paper plates, ziplock bags, hand soap and napkins.  Soap, shampoo, toilet paper and all those type toiletry items and vitamins/supplements, we have a separate budget for called our "necessities", and it doesn't come out of the $360 we spend on groceries.

Cash Envelope System

I was using plain, cheap white envelopes for cash purchases but I was tired of them tearing and getting all bent up in my purse.  I came across these from Clever Fox and I absolutely love them!  They're waterproof, tear proof and hold their shape very well and even come with budget sheets and a zippered bag to keep them in.

Last year we started going back to using a debit card and cash envelopes after I got tired of being a paycheck behind on paying bills.  Although we paid off our credit card twice a month, I just kept having stress about it not being money we actually had that 2 week period.  Some months I would spend more and be stressed if we would get enough to pay it off.  I never paid a dime of interest.  I also have received over $2,000 in cash rewards since having the credit card but at what cost?  I may get $50 back a month but it's so much easier to overspend when using a credit card - so it wasn't helping!

Now, we only spend what's in the bank and we only use cash for local purchases like food, gas, etc.  It is less stressful and I actually think it's fun to do the envelopes.  Even the kids take part by stuffing the envelopes when we go to the bank.

Here are the categories I have cash envelopes for, although I only use the first 6 categories regularly.  The others are occasionally or hopefully one day categories.

Cash Envelope Categories

Gas (Car)
Home Maintenance
Car Maintenance

Bev's White Bread Recipe

I've been making this the past year or so and let me tell you, it is the BEST from all the breads I've made.  I will make it for other people as a gift and they all love it too.  I always use a Bosch mixer for my dough and then bake it in a convection oven.  I don't get good results when using a conventional oven or any other mixer, but you can try!

*Tips - I use expeller-pressed canola oil and the only flour I love is Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour.

Bev's White Bread

  • 1.5 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 3/4 cups warm water
  • 6 cups unbleached flour
  • 1.5 Teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil

In the Bosch mixer, put the yeast, water and honey and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add in 3 cups of flour evenly around on top of the water mixture.  Then, add oil and salt evenly around on top of the flour.

With lid on, turn the Bosch mixer on to the first setting and let it incorporate the flour into the water.  Continue adding flour until the dough licks the sides clean.

Turn up to highest setting of 3 and let knead for 4-5 minutes.

Remove dough from Bosch onto a floured surface and divide dough in half.  Place each half in a greased bread pan and press down.

Warm oven for a minute or 2 to just get it warm, then turn off.  Place both bread pans with dough in oven and let rise for 45 minutes or until the dough is 1/2 inch above the pans.  Then, bake for 30 minutes at 350.  Remove pans from oven and then bread from the pans and let cool.

New Blog Makeover & What's Coming Up!

I couldn't come back and see the same old look on my blog that I've had for years, so I redesigned it and gave it a fresh look!  Many more new things to come!  I put a list of things I'm planning below.

What's coming up:
  • Newly designed FREE printables for the home, budget, homeschooling, etc.
  • Organization posts
  • Devotional posts - hot button issues and encouragement 
  • Podcasts
  • Meal planning & recipes posts
  • Our travels - pics of our trip around the US!

Grand Re-Opening of Christian Homekeeping

After taking a year blog sabbatical, I felt the time to reopen this blog was now!  I know some of you emailed me wondering if I had blocked you because you got a message saying "open to invited readers only", but I didn't block you (never would do that unless you are a harasser LOL!).  Google just gives that generic message whenever you put your blog private.  I put the blog private thinking I was done but recently I felt to start it up again and it seems good, so here I am!

I have an enormous amount to update you all on with our lives, to write about and share!  I will try to keep it at one post a day. 😄  I say this thinking I will have the time to do a post a day, but we'll see how things go as I fit blogging back into my daily routine.  I missed you all and I missed writing and sharing what I've learned, tips for the home and encouraging you in the role of being a woman and a keeper of your home!  I think we need more of that today than ever!