Monday, October 26, 2015

The Origin & Meaning of the Peace Sign

So many modern children's items are covered in the "Peace Sign"
The "Peace Sign" is a current fashion trend - especially amongst school-aged children. Sometimes, it's seems difficult to find a children's outfit or toy that that  doesn't have a "Peace Symbol" on it. Everyone seems to want to display it. And, in a time when our country has been involved in wars for a dozen years and counting, peace is a very attractive concept!

But, as Christians, have we thought about where the Peace Sign originates, and what it means to display it on our clothes or vehicles?

An internet search on this topic is most interesting. A cursory search will tell you that the sign originates with the Anti Nuclear movement of the 1960's (or, starting with 1958).  And, since this theory is an attractive one to many, it is repeated over and over again on various websites.

But, that theory of the origin of the "Peace Sign" is a quite impossible, since the "Peace Sign" as we currently know it long predates 1958. It cannot have been invented in 1958, because it was in use in the 1930's. It was one of the logos of the German Third Panzer Division in World War II.  Personally, I cannot imagine wearing a Nazi symbol as an emblem of "Peace." When I see stuffed animals and cute little flowery stickers covered in "Peace Signs" it looks to me much like having the same items covered in little Swastikas - not at all attractive or peaceful!

And, it seems possible that the symbol may have come from the even older rune used in German Paganism.

Others have noted that the "Peace Sign" looks like a Christian Cross turned upside down and desecrated (broken), as a sign of disrespect. There are theories that it may have an anti-Christian origin, and that its use indicates a desire to obtain peace by ridding the world of the Cross of Christ.

The truth is, we cannot be sure where the "Peace Sign" comes from for sure.

But, there is one thing I DO know - it is a Counterfeit.

The true and only symbol of Peace for Christians is the Cross of Christ. It is the only true representation of Peace between God and Humankind, as well as Peace among humans.

If you are a Christian, please prayerfully consider the use of the "Peace Symbol" in your home.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Vegan & Gluten Free Slow Cooker Freezer Kits (Dump Dinners)

Vegan & Gluten Free Dump Dinners - Freezer Meals for Crock Pot
Slow Cooker Kits are also known as "Dump Dinners." They're meals that you can assemble on one day by simply putting the ingredients into a Zippered Freezer Bag or Plastic Freezer Container. Then you have them ready to thaw and dump into a slow cooker on a busy morning. This allows you to get a lot of Freezer cooking done quite quickly in one assembly session. All of these recipes can work that way! : )

I made all 9 of these meals in less
than 1 1/2 hours total- that included time to label the freezer bags and time to clean up.

This post includes shopping list, assembly directions, and links to complete recipes. Although I think of this plan as making "9 Meals," in reality, many families will find that these meals stretch out to more than 9 evenings.

These are great kits to stock a freezer to prepare for baby, or for those busy times when cooking just isn't practical. You can serve these all for more than a week of easy menus, or you can work them into your vertical meal planning. They're frugal, healthy, fast, easy, vegan and gluten-free! : )

If you buy the ingredients and make a big pot of Yachni Sauce (which takes only 20 minutes) you're ready to assemble some or all of these nine dump dinners! (if you're making ALL of these recipes, you'll need a "Vat" AND a "Double Batch" of Yachni Sauce - recipes below)

Here is the shopping list
Canned & Jarred Goods, & Grocery
3  large (#10) Cans of Diced Tomatoes with Juice (OR 21 (15oz) cans OR 12 (32 oz) cans)
3 regular (15 oz) Cans Diced Tomatoes with Juice
2 (6 oz) cans of Tomato Paste
1 (26 oz) can of Spaghetti Sauce (such as Hunts)
1 Can (15 oz) Kidney Beans
1 Can (15 oz) Black Beans
5 Cans (15 oz ea) Chickpeas
4 Cans (15 oz ea) Black-Eyed Peas
5  Cans (15 oz ea) Butter Beans
1 Jar (48 oz) Randall's Great Northern Beans (or 3 cans any brand, 15 oz ea)
1 Can (15 oz) Quartered Artichoke Hearts
2 Cans (4 to 6 oz each) Mushrooms
Capers (2 - 4 T Total) or Green Olives if you prefer
1 Large Bag of Rice (enough to feed your family for at least 2 of these meals)
Minced, Jarred Garlic (or Garlic Paste)
Grated, Jarred Ginger (or Ginger Paste)

4 (12 oz) bags Frozen Diced Onion (or 6 cups diced fresh onion)
2 (12 oz) bags Mirepoix Mix  (or 1 Cup each, Celery, Carrots, & Onion, Diced)
2 (12 oz) bags 3 Pepper & Onion Mix (or 1 1/2 Cups Red Bell Peppers & 1 1/2 Cups Onions,
 cut in Crescents)
1  bag frozen Sweet Corn, or equivalent canned if you prefer (you'll need 2 cups of corn)
1  (2#) bag frozen Green Peas
1  (2#) bag frozen Green Beans
 3 (12 oz) bags Frozen Cut Okra

1 Large Eggplant (approx 1 #)

Olive Oil
Bay Leaves
Dried Parsley
Ground Cumin
Taco Seasoning (Store bought or Homemade)
Italian Seasoning
Lemon Juice

Label bags with name of entree, date, and defrost (these all defrost 24 hours in a plastic box in the fridge)  & cooking instructions

I usually write something like:
"Chili, 3 Nov 15, Defrost in Fridge 24 Hours (48 hours for larger bags), Crock Pot on High 3 hours"

First, Make your Yachni Sauce - while that's simmering, you can start assembling the first couple of meals (instructions follow Yachni recipes. If you prefer, you can make the sauce the day before when you have 20 minutes, and have it all cooled in the fridge & ready to go when you're ready to assemble. 

Vat O' Yachni


1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (or up to 1 cup, depending on your taste)*
2 12oz bags frozen chopped onions (or 6 cups fresh chopped onion)
2 Tablespoons Garlic

Then add:
2 #10 cans chopped tomatoes with juice (OR 14 (15oz) regular cans OR 8 (32oz) cans)
4 Bay Leaves
1/3 cup dry Parsley
6 Tablespoons (one small can) Tomato Paste
2 teaspoons Salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Pepper

Bring to a simmer, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Ready for use immediately, or may be frozen in 4 batches (5 or 6 cups per batch) for future use.

Double Batch Yachni
(for smaller freezers or smaller families)

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or up to 1/2 cup, depending on your taste)*
1 12oz bag frozen chopped onions (or 3 cups fresh chopped onion)
1 Tablespoon Garlic
Then add:
1 #10 can chopped tomatoes with juice (OR 7 (15oz) cans OR 4 (32 oz) cans)
2 Bay Leaves
3 Tablespoons dry Parsley
3T Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Bring to a simmer, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Ready for use immediately, or may be frozen in batches (5 or 6 cups per batch) for future use.

*To be authentic, these dishes traditionally have a LOT of oil. If you like less or none, it will still taste good (I've made it with none) but it will lack some authenticity.
The great thing is that they're all Vegan AND Gluten Free (assuming you buy your ingredients carefully) and they can be made Oil free if you like. Of course, if you're not gluten-free, you can always serve some bread with these - whether Garlic Bread, Naan, Corn Bread or another appropriate favorite.

Assemble these first two while the Yachni Sauce is simmering:


1 Bag 3 Peppers & Onions
1 can each, Kidney Beans, Black Beans & Chickpeas, Drained
3 Cans Tomatoes with liquid
2 Cups Corn
3 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning (store bought or Homemade)
1 Spoon Garlic 
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 3 - 4 hours on high. 

Eggplant Stew
1 bag 3 Pepper & Onion Mix
2 cans Mushrooms, Drained
1 Eggplant, 1/2" dice
1 can Chickpeas, Drained
1 - 2 teaspoons Rosemary
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 Can (24-26 oz) Spaghetti Sauce (or Sub a combination of Tomato Sauce & Tomato Puree)
1 large Spoonful of Capers (2-4 T) or Chopped Green Olives
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 5 hours on high.

When Yachni Finishes, use it to assemble these

Greek Bean Soup ( Fasolia Yachni )

1 (48 oz) Jar Randall's Great Northern beans (or 3 regular cans) with liquid
1 bag Mirepoix Mix
4 Cups Yachni Sauce 
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 3 - 4 hours on high.

Greek Giant Beans ( Gigantes  )
5 Cans Butter Beans, Drained
1 Bag Mirepoix mix
3 - 4 Cups Yachni
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 5-7 hours on high. 

Greek Green Beans ( Fasolakia Yachni )
1 (2# bag) Green Beans
6 Cups Yachni 
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 3 - 4 hours on high.

Greek Okra & Tomato Stew ( Bamies Yachni )

3 Bags (12 oz ea) Cut Okra
6 Cups Yachni 
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 3 - 4 hours on high.

Indian Chickpeas in Ginger Sauce over Rice

3 cups Yachni Sauce
2 Tablespoons Fresh Minced Ginger
1 Tablespoon Fresh Minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander Seed
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamom (generous)
Black pepper to taste
*Optional Heat of your choice - a little cayenne or a broken dried chili pepper
3 15 oz Cans drained Chickpeas (or equivalent home-cooked)
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 3 - 4 hours on high.

Indian Spiced Blackeye Peas over Rice

4 cans Black-eyed Peas (or 6 cups home-prepared), drained
3 cups Yachni *
1/4 cup fresh Ginger Paste (I use the jarred kind)
1/4 cup minced Garlic (I also use the jarred kind)
2 teaspoons ground Coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 teaspoon ground Cardamom
 - Heat of your choice maybe added if desired, although the Ginger in this recipe already adds a fair amount of spiciness.
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 3 - 4 hours on high.

Peas & Artichokes Yachni
1 Bag (2#) Green Peas
1 Can Artichoke Heart Quarters, Drained
6 Cups Yachni
After thawing
On cooking day, Slow cook for 3 - 4 hours on high.

That's it! You've assembled them all!

Be sure to follow proper freezer safety, chill the bags thoroughly as quickly as possible, and freeze them. Don't put several warm bags in a big pile in the freezer where they might not chill clear through, but space them out to chill & freeze thoroughly.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Mom's Caramel Corn (Vegan)

Mom's Caramel Popcorn (Vegan)

About 25 years ago, my sister was in a club called "Mothers' Group." One of the activities they did each meeting was having a snack, and sending each member home with a copy of the recipe. I often went with her, and this was one of the recipes that was shared. It became a family favorite, and I often made it for our Mom - who loved it. Hence the title "Mom's Caramel Corn."  Today would have been Mom's Birthday - so I thought this was the perfect time to share a favorite recipe of hers.

I veganized the recipe, but it still tastes the same.

Mom's Caramel Corn

Put 15 cups popped corn in a very large pan, or in 2 9x13 pans
Expect to use about 2 1/2 to three bags of popcorn if you prepare yours the way I prepare mine)

Heat in Caramel Syrup in saucepan over medium heat 
until bubbles form on surface, stirring frequently:
1 cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Vegan Buttery Spread, such as Earth Balance (recipe originally called for Dairy Butter)
¼ cup Light Corn Syrup
½ tsp Salt
Remove from heat and stir in
½ tsp Baking Soda (this will significantly lighten the color of the caramel as you stir it in)

Pour Caramel Syrup over Popped Popcorn in Pans, 

Bake 200 degrees Fahrenheit 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to break up clumps and evenly coat corn. This step crisps the caramel on the corn.

Cool briefly (just so it doesn't burn anyone) & munch! This is exceptionally good while still warm, but you won't be disappointed with it when it's cold, either ; )

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Bible or the Constitution

My Mother's Bible, and her Copy of the Constitution
There has been much discussion lately about whether it is right for a Christian - inside or outside of public office - to put his Faith first, or if he should subject his Faith to the law of the land.

First, let me say that the Constitution was written  and enacted - by and large - by devout Christians. There really should be no conflict between the Bible and the Constitution, because the Constitution itself was written in subjection to the Bible. The conflicts that have arisen between the "Bible and the Constitution" have generally been between the Bible and modern human authorities acting inconsistently with the Constitution.

There is NO place for a Christian disobeying a law that is consistent with Biblical teachings just because we don't like that law
But, let's suppose that there is such a conflict. How should a Christian resolve it?

There are two options:

The First is to obey the law, while declaring "I don't like it, but I have to do it. After all, I believe in God in my heart. Outside of Church, I have to obey the law, regardless what I think personally."

Secularists will declare that this is the only freedom a Christian has - ignoring the First Amendment's promise of "Free Exercise" and asserting that instead the Constitution promises "Free private thoughts."

We all know what happens when this sort of logic is taken to its extreme end.  We heard these arguments when war criminals tried to defend themselves at Nuremberg. In fact, nearly every large-scale evil in human history has been excused by those who committed it because "I'm just obeying orders" or "It's the law of the land."

In reality, if we put the Constitution ahead of the Law of God, we have violated the First Commandment, "Thou Shalt Have No Other gods Before Me."

Any loyalty that comes ahead of God and causes us to sin against Him violates the First Commandment, and is Idolatry.

The Second option - the Only option for a Christian, is to "Take up your Cross and Follow Me."

This means we have an obligation to obey God no matter the cost. Regardless of personal risk - including imprisonment or death - Christians MUST obey God.

"We must obey God rather than men".

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when faced with the ultimate penalty, we must be willing to declare,  ". . . Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

This is, by far, the most difficult option. And, even those of us who believe it is the right thing to do risk having our courage to do it fail us when we face the earthly consequences of obeying God. We must rely on God for supernatural ability to obey Him despite painful earthly consequences, so that we may obtain the "Crown of Righteousness." 

This is the example set by Jesus Himself, by the Martyrs, and by many modern heroes of civil disobedience.

Some would argue that such an attitude makes one unfit for public service - that anyone who serves his country must put the Constitution before the Bible. But I would argue that putting God first is the ONLY thing that makes one fit to truly honor the Constitution. Without Godly men applying the law, our Constitutional government would become the most corrupt of all systems.

As John Adams put it "[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

The Founding Fathers were quite vocal in their support of the Bible above the Constitution.

Many of our laws could be carried out by computer. There is no pragmatic reason, for instance, that sentencing of criminals couldn't be done by a computer algorithm. As a society we choose to have human beings use their wisdom, which comes from God, in applying the laws. This is why computers aren't chosen to do these sorts of tasks. 

If there is no ultimate Reference for morality, then the majority - whether of the Supreme Court or of the populace - can mandate immorality. We've all seen in the past where that sort of logic can lead. Jim Crow, Dred Scott and the Nuremberg laws all had popular support, and were, at least superficially, "lawful." But, any modern person who claims that those laws should have been followed just because they were enacted is declared to be advocating an unconscionable position. Hindsight is often 20/20.

I want to be totally clear here - I am not in any way advocating rebellion against authority. That is a great sin. I am advocating OBEDIENCE to a Higher Authority.

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