On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

You may have noticed that I write pretty much straight from my heart. When I put my fingers to the keys, I word vomit and don’t look back, especially when I don’t know how or where to begin, which is exactly what I’m doing now. Over the years of filling up diaries I have come to an automatic writing style of journaling that isn’t necessarily essay-worthy, but it’s from the depths of my soul. If I was blatantly honest with anyone it would be to paper, a computer screen, or Jesus.

So guess what?
You’re looking at a screen. 😉
You get to know my heart for a little while.

Lately, this enormously precious topic has been on my heart: prayer. The word makes some people wince, and others shrug. A lot of people would stop reading by now, because prayer is a boring topic that doesn’t make much sense, and isn’t really worth knowing about.

But it’s worth knowing. Let me tell you. It’s worth knowing.

Not only is prayer worth knowing, but it’s a vehicle to the One who is the source of your life. And He’s worth knowing.

There are several elements of prayer that didn’t ever really make sense to me for a long time either. For example, if God already knows my heart, why pray? and How do I know that my prayers actually affect anything?

I’m not here to answer those questions with a philosophical explanation, or even act like I know the real answer to what prayer truly does. Why I’m writing is to convey to you what I’ve learned over the course of the short 20 years I’ve existed in this crazy confusing world. Prayer is one really big thing that has impacted my life on so many truly, truly real levels.

It’s so hard to convey accurately what I’ve discovered about prayer. It’s been an interesting, and honestly perplexing journey over the past three years. But what I do know for sure are these three things:

  1. It affects you
  2. It affects your relationship with Jesus
  3. It affects others

So in the next few posts in this category, I’ll be diving into this topic of prayer and what I’ve come to know that has extraordinarily impacted my walk with Christ. I am still on a lifelong journey of discovering all the different, wonderful aspect of prayer, and I’m certain that I’ll never get to the point of fully knowing what it means to be in relationship-level communication with the Creator of the Universe.

But I suppose if I knew everything about things, life wouldn’t be so intriguing!

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears…For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:9-10 & 12

 

 

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Recipe 7: Molded Blueberry Dessert (Blåbärsfromage)

Recipe 7: Molded Blueberry Dessert (Blåbärsfromage)

My boyfriend and I racked our brains for what we should do for a fancy date while he was visiting me from 10 hours away. We’re both broke college students, so even though the rural area I live in has pretty nice restaurants for a decent price, they still kind of made us wince. Then we had the idea to borrow some of my mom’s fancy dishes, candles, and a couple of cute table cloths, and set up our own little restaurant in my grandparent’s gazebo. Mom packed up for us extra Swedish meatballs and a salad she’d made, and I put together this recipe.

Blog--recipe 7

Bless her heart, mom helped a lot with this one as I was on a major time crunch. It started out with putting together the blueberry gelatin base. But since I had bought canned blueberry filling, I used that instead. It was almost exactly the same thing, and tasted marvelous. Though sometime I should experiment with the difference. The next gelatin layer was more challenging. I scalded the milk, added the sugar and salt, then gelatin and water mixture, but I got impatient with its chilling speed and stuck it in the fridge while I took a shower. The next thing I knew, I was blow drying my hair and mom asked if the gelatin was supposed to be tough. “No, it’s supposed to be like molasses…?” I called down the stairs. And mom helped me fix that one. It ended up tasting great, and the texture wasn’t too shabby.

I chose to put pecans in the whipped cream mix, and I halved the maraschino cherries. They didn’t give an exact amount, so I did the abominable and improvised.
I’m terrible at improvising.
But it turned out okay!

Mom also helped by layering it all into the glass bowl and decorating the top with more pecans and cherries.

This dessert was a little thicker than a typical pudding, most likely because I had the whole thing in the fridge for a good hour, but all in all the dessert was thoroughly fantastic. My boyfriend loved it. We weren’t able to eat the whole thing ourselves, only a small serving each, because it was pretty filling. He and I definitely snacked on it later though.

I did share this one with my mom, even though I said I was going to keep it just for my boyfriend and I. She helped make it, after all.

She rated it three out of five stars.
My boyfriend rated it five out of five stars.

My rating: ★★★★☆

Prep time was maybe a half hour…I should stop trying to record the prep time because I never remember to jot it down in the moment.

I seriously loved this dessert, and I’m definitely making it again!

Recipes 5 & 6: Apple Pudding (Äppelpudding)

Recipes 5 & 6: Apple Pudding (Äppelpudding)

Recipe 5 looked ridiculously simple, like how could I go wrong on this one? In addition, upon reading it, this apple pudding looked exactly like the first recipe I’d done in this cookbook. Foolproof.

The recipe set out to prove me wrong and did a great job of it. Maybe I was just super tired and wasn’t thinking straight, but I really didn’t understand what they were asking me to do after a double-take. A couple of triple-takes later, I called my mom over. Now my mother is an excellent cook/baker, and as I’ve stated before, she spoils us with her scrumptious dishes. But even my mom had to re-read the directions a few times. Finally, she realized that I had misinterpreted it, and essentially ruined part of the effect that would have made it different than the first recipe. But we went with it and put it together as if I’d done it right all along. (I had put butter into the applesauce mix instead of leaving the melted butter for browning the bread crumbs)

Way to go, me.

As soon as the timer went off, I grabbed it and virtually slid it across the stove, took a quick picture…

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…and let my family eat whatever they wanted from the pan at their leisure as I went about preparing the next recipe because I was certainly not putting this one on my blog. But soon enough I had to start putting equalizing limits on portions they were taking because it was a hit!

They even rated it, quite immediately: ★★★★☆

I didn’t agree, but they insisted.

It tasted a little less goopy and oatmealish than the first recipe, so I figured it was an improvement. But a four out of five? I mean, I’ll go with it.

The next recipe was named exactly the same: Apple Pudding

After these 6 apple dessert recipes, I’m certain I’m a pro at peeling and cutting apples. Overall, I’ve cut, peeled, sliced and/or cored 9 pounds of apples. That’s 30 granny smith apples.

Throughout the second apple pudding recipe, I learned about steaming, scalding, and double boiling. I had to steam 4 pounds of quartered apples in sugar, which basically just meant I stuck them in a pot on medium-high for 15 minutes. The moisture from the apples mixed with the sugar minorly exploded at 12 minutes however and left a sticky disaster all over the floor and stove.

Meanwhile, I browned butter and breadcrumbs. Once the apples were ready, I rationed the breadcrumbs in inconceivable layers that were required. It was just mostly a mess. When this was in the oven for an hour, I made the vanilla sauce, which is actually a recipe all in itself in the book. This was the tricky part.

Scalding is pretty simple also: I stuck light cream in a small pan and stirred until it was just barely boiling at the edges and I could see thin amounts of steam. I had an egg, egg yolk, and sugar mixed and ready to add to the scalded cream as soon as it was removed from the heat, then I moved this to the double boiler, which is essentially a pot with another half-pot inside that rests on the top. It’s a double boiler for the reason that what’s getting heated doesn’t heat too much for the effect. I stood there constantly stirring for what seemed like an eternity, but a little less than an eternity because I was multitasking and browsing Pinterest. Once it got thick enough that it could make a good layer around the metal spoon I was using, I removed this again from the heat and added vanilla. Once this cooled, I folded in whipped cream I’d prepared in advance. I was pretty proud of that folding I did. So proud, I deemed myself a professional folder inner of all vanilla sauce and whipped cream duos. But then I spread it across the apple pudding prematurely and it melted all the fluffiness.

This wasn’t the reason, obviously, that it didn’t taste great though. It was just more bland than previous recipes. My family couldn’t decide on a rating for it, and I never tried it myself because I had been in the kitchen for 2 hours baking and snacking on so much food, I just felt fat for simply thinking about trying another dessert.

The average would have been a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but again, the half-star issue. But based on their reactions to it, I’m going to round down.

My rating: ★★★☆☆

A brief ode to having no available coffee:
Today I also learned
that one can make
chocolate milk
to look like
coffee
for pictures.

20 random facts about me (in case you’re curious)

I don’t like coffee, but I am a huge fan of teas and Caribou’s coffeeless coolers.

I have had 26 cats at once.

I’ve been to five different countries and most of the States.

I stood there in horror as my boyfriend picked a bat off the ceiling of a cave in the Amazon jungle.

I love Disney and Pixar movies.

Two of my high school teachers are still some of my best friends.

I worked in the fields detasseling, derouging, and/or pollinating for five stinkin’ years.

I’ve played the piano for fifteen years. (doesn’t mean I’m good though)

Never been to Florida or Hawaii. Someone please take me.

I can’t stand the feel of photograph paper or styrofoam.

My favorite books are “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, and “Outlaw” by Ted Dekker.

I love jr. mints and yorks.

If I was to have a completely different life I would be a professional ballerina and potter living in New York.

I sang my first solo when I was 4.

I dislike politics.

Out of 40-50 students at a puppet boot camp when I was 11, I won the first place trophy in puppet competitions plus many other awards.

I love Anne of Green Gables and I swore I wouldn’t marry anyone except Gilbert Blythe, and then a modern-day Gilbert came into my life and became my boyfriend.

I want to go to Sweden as a missionary.

I can write in Dwarvish.

There’s nothing in this world I love more than Jesus Christ, my Savior and King.

Recipe 4: Apple Pie (Äppelpaj)

Recipe 4: Apple Pie (Äppelpaj)

Today was one of those days where I woke up and just really did not want to go for a run. But remembering I had apple pie downstairs having cooled from last night, here I am, consuming apple pie and toffee philosophy ice cream. I suppose now I have to run. But not until I finally write this post.

The apple pie was pretty easy to put together, just as the last three recipes have been. However, I was really confused by the crust; the recipe demanded that I “spoon batter over apples in pan.” And the word “batter” here is very accurate, because it wasn’t at all like the dough I anticipated roling out into cute pie crust designs. Made of butter, sugar, egg, flour, salt and baking powder, it definitely resembled a near cookie-dough consistency. But oh my gosh it was the best pie crust I’ve ever tasted. It was so sweet! It was basically like sugar cookie-covered apples.

Spooning the batter on top didn’t seem right, but I did my best anyway, and it got me really nervous that it would burn in weird, sharp and jagged places. But because it contained so much butter, the batter smoothed over and created a fluffy bread-roll appearance across the top of the pie.

Unfortunately, because I left it out overnight to cool, the fluffiness collapsed in on itself, so it doesn’t look quite as attractive in the picture. Regardless, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

In the actual apple mix, the option was to include either chopped pecans or walnuts. Walnuts are cheaper so that’s what I chose, even though they’re not my favorite. But I couldn’t really taste them, and I doubt my brothers even noticed they were there.

The recipe suggested serving the pie with whipped cream, but I was out of that, so toffee philosophy ice cream it was. The two didn’t go together too badly.

If it wasn’t for needing a rating, I probably wouldn’t have let my brothers also have apple pie for breakfast (because that’s so unhealthy), but I guess it ended up being a great decision because they rated it really well. (Though it took a bit to get it out of them because they wanted to rate it an R or a 10/10. They knew what I meant.)

Again, I totally forgot to track the total prep time. The thing was in the oven for 35 minutes, and I probably spent a half an hour putting it together.

My rating: ★★★★★

(This was again after 4.5 stars, but when I explained that I couldn’t do a half star, they told me to round up. I have very supportive brothers.)

 

Recipe 3: Baked Apple Dumplings (Drottning Ã„pplen)

Recipe 3: Baked Apple Dumplings (Drottning Ã„pplen)

The apple dumplings are supposed to be served with rum sauce, (the recipe for it is included below this recipe in the cookbook), but considering the age of my family and the fact that we have no rum in the house, and I was not about to go through the efforts to purchase some just for this recipe, I served the dumplings without the sauce. It made sense, then, that my siblings said it ought to include something else with it, and I like their suggestions a little better: cinnamon sugar on top, or sugar included in the dough. It could also be served with ice cream, as each of the apple dumplings are similar to what mini apple pies might taste like.

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After the last recipe, my family was pretty eager to try another one of the desserts I put together from this cookbook. And they were certainly not disappointed.

This recipe takes quite a bit of time to put together by yourself, but in the future I could easily throw together the dough and the cinnamon sugar for the inside of the cored apples and set them out as an apple dumpling bar for them to put their own together themselves.

Total prep time…I don’t have a clue. I kept getting distracted with other interesting things like Pinterest and how unacceptably cluttered the baking counter was. But I can imagine it took about 30-40 minutes, not including the 55 minutes the dumplings were in the oven.

Altogether, this was a fun and simple, (though time-consuming) recipe. It turned out really well and I would love to make it again.

My rating: ★★★★☆

My siblings told me I ought to put four and a half out of five stars, but I have no idea how to create a half-star.

Recipe 2: Apple Crisp (Äppelpudding)

Recipe 2: Apple Crisp (Äppelpudding)

This recipe was all rainbows and unicorns. The Apple Crisp was definitely a hit for my family, and they all immediately loved it.

Essentially, this dessert was very easy to pull together, and didn’t take any longer than about 20 minutes of prep time, (not including the 60 minutes the dessert was in the oven). I used six granny smith apples in an 8×8 inch glass cooking pan, and at first glance I thought it was far too full, but it ended up being the perfect amount. The crisp sprinkled  in a thick layer on top consisted of sugar, flour, baking powder, and butter. Over that was poured a cup of water. I figured that was too little, but not by any means. In fact, it may have been just a tad much. But in the end I think it worked out really well.

The recipe suggests using whipped cream when served, but, for future reference, if served warm (recommended), the whipped cream melts beside it. Plus, the serving is already so filling, the whipped cream in addition was almost too much.

My rating: ★★★★☆

The only reason I’m not giving it a five out of five is because all the rest of the seven members of my family said it was a four out of five. And that was explicitly because my mother is an excellent cook and she spoils us with her heavenly food 24/7.