Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another quick update!

Sorry for the lack of blogging these last 2 weeks, we have been BUSY! I know I said I would write a proper blog next time around, which is this time, but I think that we'll have to wait till NEXT time to do that. Here is a breakdown of whats happening in ourbeckerfamily (yes, i just linked my own blog!)

-Harvest has officially started. Last Sunday actually. You don't even want to know what Trent's schedule is like, because it's painful even thinking about it. He is having a great time though, and is blessed with a hard working, respectful crew, so the long days don't seem as long as they really are (well, most days!). Also, the potatoes are BEAUTIFUL and DELICIOUS and BIG!

-While Trent was hard at work last weekend Ila and I drove to Boise to spend some time with family. Ila spent the first evening there playing in her kiddie pool and hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma.
We headed up to Terrace Lakes on Saturday, where my Aunt and Uncle have a cabin
and enjoyed some great time with two of my awesome cousins,
my Aunt and Uncle and my Grandma. My parents were there too, so it was one big party! The next day we drove another hour north to McCall, where we joined another Uncle and his girlfriend at her cabin on the lake and went jet skiing. My other 2 female cousins where there, and my cousins husband. It was a FANTASTIC day, full of all things summer. It was my first time jet skiing and I look forward to getting back out there next summer for more fun. There were lots of other great times had that weekend, like a rowdy game of Apples to Apples, sequence (my grams and I were the big winners!) swimming in the pool, bocce ball, BBQing and chocolate peanut butter milk shakes.

-We got back to Boise on Monday afternoon and spent the evening with my brother and his girlfriend. We had a delicious Salmon dinner with a tasty Rose' wine. Ila loves her Uncle Chris! We managed to take zero pictures of this event :(

-Tuesday was our Flesher family day. Ila and I went over to Trent's sister's house, and spent the day with them. Ila has 5 cousins there,

but the oldest was missing (off rafting the middle fork with Marma and Poppy!) and of course Aunt Tawna and Uncle Eddie. Ila had a great day playing with her cousins while Tawna and I had a great day catching up. The family evening wrapped up with a tasty spaggetti dinner.
Then, Uncle Eddie stayed home with his group of kids and Ila went back to grandma's house and Tawna and I went out for a sis-bliss (sister date) and saw a movie and got some delicious frozen yougurt.

-We're back on the farm now enjoying the summer. We've been swimming a few times at Crow Butte park, which is on an island in the Columbia River. Trent even got to join us yesterday for a dunk, which was GREAT!

-I've been walking with my neighbor Doris in the mornings and it sure feels good to get outside and do that everyday. Carrying and/or pushing Ila adds to the workout, and boy do I feel the burn!

-This morning Ila woke up with the most amazing bed-head ever. i had to document it, because it was just so awesome.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BBQ Beef Biscuits. by Nicole

If you eat meat and have kids, this is a GREAT meal for your family! If you eat meat and don't have kids, it's still a great meal! If you don't eat meat and do/don't have kids, this is NOT a great meal for you (can you tell that I have vegetarian and non vegetarian family/readers?!)

I got this recipe idea online, but of course, it was just too simple to leave it be, so here is my twist on BBQ Beef Biscuits

Prepare Biscuits but instead of putting them on a cookie sheet to bake, get out a muffin tin. Grease it up, and place the raw circle biscuit into the individual muffin spots and press the biscuit dough down, and up the sides of the muffins space. You should have a nice amount of space in the biscuit covered muffin tin for the meat mixture that will be placed in there.

Oh, and my biscuit recipe made 12 of these muffins, with just a bit extra dough left over (probably enough for 2 more biscuits, but we ate the dough instead!)

Now, move over to your stove and...

1 pound ground beef
1-2 T. minced dry onion OR 1/2 raw onion
1 t. oregano
1 t. parsley
1/2 t. pepper
1/2-1 t. salt

any other seasonings you think would go well with the meet.

once cooked, pour BBQ sauce (I HIGHLY recommend Bullsye original. It is tasty and free of HFCS ) on the meat. Once again, I failed to measure, but I just made sure that the meat was nicely covered but there was no extra sauce in the pan .

Now, scoop the meat mixture into the individual biscuit/muffin spots. You can really FILL them up too, don't fret it the meat up over the edge, it's no big deal. once you have all the meat filled in, you can sprinkle each one with a little cheese.

Bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Getting them out of the muffin slots it the hardest part, so make sure you use lots of grease and a fork ought to do the trick of getting them out just fine.


OH, and next time I'm going to add a bunch of veggie, finely chopped to the meat mixture, I think that is going to really kick these into the awesome category!

Granny's Buttermilk Biscuits

I'm not a fan of Bisquick. I prefer the taste of scratch biscuits and feel that the extra 4-5 minutes they take, is totally worth it.

So, here is the go to biscuit recipe that me, my sister, my mother-in-law and of course Trent's Granny uses. It's her recipe, and I'm sure its similar to many others out there, but our Granny's biscuits are the best! I think each of us make these a bit different, but here is how I do it:

2.5 c. flour (go ahead and use any mixture of wheat and white flour you so desire)
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt

sift (or stir) dry ingredients together.
Once mixed well, cut in:

1/3 c. shortening (I personally use coconut oil because we don't care for hydrogenated oil that is in crisco! I have not used applesauce instead, but it may work...)

1 c. buttermilk (now, if you don't have buttermilk and you want to make these, don't fret! You can always use regular milk and vinegar/lemon juice. i've done it and it works well!)

stir it up till it is moist.

dump dough onto a floured surface (about 1/4 c. or so) knead till easy to spread without sticking (this does NOT take long at all).

get your rolling pin out and roll the dough out, but make sure to keep it about at least 1/2 inch thick, but no more then 2/3 inch thick.

then use a round cookie/biscuit cutter and make biscuits!

Place them on a greased cookie sheet. rub the first side of the biscuit on the greased pan then flip it over.

Cook on 400 for about 12 minutes. Remove from pan immediately!

Hope you enjoy :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Neighbors. by Nicole

I've always been bless with awesome neighbors who were willing to share enough of their lives with me that I never felt like I was living next to strangers (which exception to S. Korea, and I'm going to chalk that up to the language barrier). I don't think I've ever taken my relationship with my neighbors for granted but I've never thought much about how great it is to know them!

Now that we live in such a remote area, I have really begun to understand just how important our neighbors are. The Lord has blessed us SO MUCH with our current neighbors, who happen to be our landlords as well. When Trent got his job, housing was provided. At first the farm didn't know where they would put us, since all the houses were full on the farm. I was a bit concerned about that as they tried to figure out where we would be living, as Trent and I packed up our belongings. When they called and told us they had found a place about 8 miles from the farm, on a neighboring ranch, I was relieved and nervous all at the same time. Those feelings didn't last long though, because the first time I met Doris and she invited us to church I felt super comfortable with the living arraignments. As we've gotten to know Doris and her husband Gary, and her son Eric (who is our other neighbor) & his wife (as of yesterday) Becky and Doris's daughter Annie (who is great, but lives in Pittsburgh!) we've kept on feeling blessed. They are amazing people.

Now that we have been here for 9 months (I know, the time has flown by!) I have really gotten to know my neighbors and they are amazing. I continually thank God for bringing us not just to Mercer, but to the McBride Ranch. They invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them, when they found out we didn't have plans. They have welcomed us into their home again and again for meals, good conversation and wedding planning fun. I've went to a bridal shower and we went to Eric's wedding yesterday. Doris has watch Ila for us, and she was such a support to me during the miscarriage back in April. Every time I spend time with the Hess family I walk away feeling loved and cared for. I have to mention here that Doris is also THE hardest working woman I know! It's so nice having neighbors that are friends, and we are so thankful that it's worked out that way.

These sort of things don't just happen though. You've got to be willing to put in the effort of getting to know people. I know that back in the day every one knew their neighbors, and you could borrow a cup of sugar or an egg, or ask them to watch your kids for 5 minutes while you did this or that. These days are not so much like that, as least not in the city. I know so many people who have no idea who their neighbors are, and I find that a bit sad. I realize that not all neighbor situations are not like ours. Not only do you have to try to get to know your neighbors, but they have to be willing to get to know you as well, if you are going to get anywhere. The only way to figure out if you have social/relational neighbors is to introduce yourself to them and show interest in them. Something that I continue to learn is that it is MUCH better to know something for sure (even if it is unpleasant like your neighbors wanting nothing to do with you, or that someone does not like you etc.) then to assume that something is a certain way.

I would like to encourage you to be a neighbor who cares and NOT to be the neighbor that wants nothing to do with your neighbors. What a blessing you may be to your neighbor if you access the friendly communal part of you.

Speaking of communal, stay tuned for my next blog, which will be about COMMUNITY.

(make sure you click on the "neighbor who cares" link for a special treat!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Catch up!

Here are some things we've been up to and that are going on.

-24 trip to Portland (actually Vancouver) to pick up our neighbor's daughter for her brother's wedding (yeah, that does sound confusing). Stayed with Aunt Jill, we had a blast and bonded over House Hunters International!

-Ila fell on her face twice in a week. First time she bloodied and bruised her bottom lip, second time bloodied and bruised her top lip. Both times she cried a lot.

- We're gearing up for harvest, I'm totally not ready to be a "harvest widow." this will be my first year with a full season harvest. I thought last years 3 weeks were long...

-The rat problem seems to be taken care of. The bunnies are out in full force but they hop and that is cute.

-Trent and I started a new devotional series, which will take us about 3 years. We're pretty excited about, and I'll share more about that later.

-Ila is talking, talking, talking. She loves to talk. I like when she talks to her toys and stuffed animals. My favorite is when she kisses them though.

-Yard project is finally at the plant the grass seed place. You may think we are crazy to plant grass in July in the dessert, and we are.

-Enjoying the church we've been going to and it's in Prosser, so it makes for much more enjoyable and Sabbath like Sundays.

-Trent's parents came up for the 4th of July weekend and we had a GREAT time with them, working, playing and just being together.

-I'm making new friends and loving this place more and more. I think it's strange that it seems to take about a year to make friends....back in the day it took 3 minutes on the playground to make life long friends!

I think that is a decent enough catch up. Next time I'll do a proper blog!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Almost effortless mac n' cheese. By Nicole

That's right, you heard it here, a macaroni and cheese dish made from scratch, that is almost as easy, and much tastier, then boxed mac n cheese (not that I don't like that stuff, because I really do have a weakness for it). What is nice about this mac n cheese recipe is that you don't have to make a roux, which can be difficult to get right. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

-Put a pot of water on to boil.

-grate 2-3 cups of the cheese of your choice (I like monteray jack, or colby jack. Sharp cheddar is good too, but I find it a bit bitey (that sharp sensation in your jaw) for my taste)

-Get some macaroni cooking (if your water is ready of course). Shells, elbow, spiral or some shape you like. I would steer clear from the long, skinny pastas though.
Okay, now that you have got that going, get a pot out and put in the following:
(this is the part where I admit that I don't measure how much of each thing I put in, but I'll give you a ball park idea. You don't need to measure it either, just dump it in!)
-oregano (1-1.5 t.)
-garlic salt (1 t.)
-celery salt(.5 t.)
-paprika (.25-.5t.)
-pepper (white or black, or a mix, .5 t.)
-2 T. cornstarch (I measure that one, and I suggest you do the same)
-1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
-2ish T. butter

-start stirring right when you turn the heat on (and make sure your cornstarch doesn't lump up. If it does, smash each lump between your stirring device and the side of the pot).
-Stir it till it boils, and it should be kind of thick.
-once it boils, take it off the heat and add grated cheese. Stir till it is a nice cheese sauce.
-by now your pasta should be done, drain it and add to the sauce.
-stir it up.

Now you have 2 options. You can eat it just like that, and it is creamy and delicious! Or you can pop it in the oven, covered with more cheese and bake it. I can't honestly say that baking it makes it better, because we are always ready to eat once it's done (i mean I make while we are all hungry and waiting for lunch/dinner, so why would I take that extra 20-25 minute step?!). But it is probably tasty and has a nice crispness to it. So, if you have the time/desire to go the extra mile, pop it in the oven @ 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finishing what you start. by Nicole

I find it humorous that I started this blog several days ago with just the title. I then saved it to finish up at a later date. Ironic much?

I really am excited about finishing something Trent and I started on July 5, 2010 though. We set out to read The Holy Bible in a year and it feels WONDERFUL to say that we did it, and with a few days to spare!

As this was our second attempt to do this in our short married life of 3.5 years, it feels GREAT to complete. It also is awesome knowing that I have finally, after 9 years of being a Christian, read the entire Bible! It would have been nice to say that years ago, but I sure struggled with books like Isaiah, Chronicles, Ezekiel and Revelation (to name a few), as most new Christians do. I had a firm understanding of the happenings in the Bible, but everything seems to fall into place so much more concretely now that I've read it all.

I'll keep my thoughts and pondering on the entire Bible quite short for the time being (because there is just so much!). I just want to say that I sure learned a lot about humanity (thanks Isrealites) and God's never ending lovingkindness.

I highly recommend The Bible, it sure is a great book. And like many books out there, it is worth finishing! I know that it can be confusing because within The Bible there are 66 books, so it may seem like reading a few will suffice, but would you have only read the first 5 books of The Lord of the Rings??? Yeah, I didn't think so :)

Also, I recommend finishing what you start. It is rewarding and helps us grow and mature into better people, and I think that is a win, win, win kind of deal.