The Basics

I can’t remember how old I was when I got my Easy Bake Oven, but I do know it was my favorite present when I was kid. I loved that thing! I didn’t really dive into cooking and learning until I was in college, but I always had a basic grasp. Maybe you had similar jobs in the kitchen that I did: stirrer, ingredients fetcher, or egg cracker. Later, when I was old enough to use a knife safely, my job was always to make the salad. The things I remember making most are scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, Hamburger Helper, and cookies! Chocolate chip cookies, no bake peanut butter chocolate cookies, and Christmas cookies. Even though these things are some of the simplest things to make, I took for granted that knowing how to make them was a privilege!

When you go to college you have all these realizations that everyone didn’t grow up like you. When I started college, I realized not everyone grew up in Crazyland like I did. No one’s family is perfect by any means, but I realized some people actually grew up in Christian homes with parents that stayed married and homes that they weren’t afraid to invite people to because of the Crazylandness. But, I also realized some funny things! I met people in college who didn’t know how to wash clothes! I met people who didn’t know how to cook anything at all. Did you know some people don’t even know how to make sweet tea?!

Back then, in my not fully matured ways of thinking, I thought those kids were just spoiled and babied. In those days of thinking, I also thought nothing good came from my childhood. Now, I think those kids were blessed, and so was I. How great it must have been for those kids to always have clean clothes, tea already made, dinner cooked, to never have had to worry about anything that kids shouldn’t have to worry about. How great was it that because of having to take care of myself often, I did know how to do laundry and could give pointers to those confused college kids that didn’t? And the kids that grew up in Godly, christian homes, could show me what a family can look like.

The fact really is, no parent gets it perfect and most kids turn out okay! Not every latch key kid grew up in dysfunction, lots have the most loving parents ever. Every family has it’s quirks. Some kids who have everything have unloving parents. The ultimate truth is, whether you grew up in dysfunction or not, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.” Your past is a part of you, but it doesn’t plan, determine or define you, your present or your future. If you are a child of God and love him, He works it out! You encounter people that God uses to take care of whatever is missing. And despite how you grew up in your family of origin and what you learned to do and didn’t, we all have different gifts. I liked cooking from an early age, BUT most of what I know now is from practice and learning. Whatever you know or have perfected, you know it because someone taught you! Even if you have natural ability, someone taught you to perfect it.

So I say all of that ramblingness to say, in case you didn’t grow up with an experimenting spatula in your hand, today I’m sharing some basic “recipes” with you. Some simple classics that can be used all the time!

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
(from The Mixer Bible)

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (I used salted and decreased salt to just 1 tsp)
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 tbsp white vinegar and about a cup of milk. Put the vinegar in the cup and fill with milk to cup line. You can also use lemon juice. Buttermilk is best, but this is a good buttermilk substitute.)

Preheat over to 425. Spray your baking sheet or baking stone. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Use mixer on low (or hands) to mix in butter once piece at a time, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in buttermilk and whipping cream just until evenly moistened. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Makes approximately 16 biscuits. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool slightly and serve warm

Iced Coffee

I love love love coffee, BUT I can’t make myself put hot liquid in my body in the summer. Before I learned how to make iced coffee, during the summer I drank diet pepsi for my morning caffeine. I love diet pepsi, but nothing wakes you up in the morning like coffee! A friend’s dad from Boston told me how to make this. It’s so simple!

Brew a pot of coffee on Sunday night. Let it cool, then pour in a container that seals that you’ll probably only use for that, unless it’s glass because plastic stains. He just poured the coffee left in the pot after his morning coffee in a container each day. But since I don’t drink hot coffee in the summer, I just brew a whole pot on Sundays and use it all week. You can do whichever works for you. But whatever day you brewed it or started keeping the left over brewed, I’d only use it for 5-7 days. It looses it’s freshness after that. So each morning, or whenever you want iced coffee, fill a cup with 1/2 to 3/4 ice. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cold coffee. Fill to the top with milk, half and half, cream, creamer, whatever you like. I usually do a combo of milk and either flavored creamer or half and half. You can change the coffee/milk proportions to your taste, everyone likes their coffee different.You can add splenda or your sweetener of choice as well. Top with a straw (or not) and enjoy! Lots of people have asked for this recipe, so I share it with you. Never buy 5 dollar iced coffee again!

Sweet Tea

Everyone should know how to make sweet tea and some people don’t! Whether you’re a southern transplant or grew up on Red Diamond bought tea (which I’m not dissing, it’s good!), you should know how to make sweet tea! Several people have asked me how I make my sweet tea, so here you go. Never buy pre-maid tea again!

You can use regular tea bags or decaf. I use decaf, because I try not to drink caffeine at night. You can use any brand, Luzianne is a favorite and Lipton, I use Great Value, but like them all. Use family size bags. You need a gallon pitcher unless you want to make less, then use a 2 quart. In a medium saucepan place three family size tea bags for a gallon pitcher or two for the 2 quart pitcher. Add water to 3/4 full. Put it on the stove over medium low heat. You want a low boil, not a full rolling boil. Heat it until it starts boiling. Let it boil for about 3 minutes then turn down to low/simmer. Let it steep for an additional 5-10 minutes on low. If you are in a rush you can skip the steeping step (that’s fun to say), but it’s best that way. For a gallon use 1 1/4 – 2 cups of sugar. For 2 quarts use 3/4 – 1 cup of sugar. Totally depends on your taste. I know people that use more than 2 cups but that is WAY to sweet for me. I use just a little under 2 cups for mine. Pour sugar in pitcher. Pour hot tea over sugar and stir. Fill pitcher with cold tap water and stir again. Serve over ice! The first glass is the best. Ahhh (the sound you will make after the first sip).

Never regret where you came from. It makes you who you are. Use who you are to help others. Whether it’s sharing a skill, a hug, your ability to understand, or a recipe, share yourself with others. God gives us all different backgrounds and experiences so we can grow together, learn from each other, and all fit our crooked little puzzle piece perfectly in the body of Christ.

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