Archives for August 2011

Why I need a nap (and all about my new piecrust recipe)

(Psst: don’t forget to go enter this drawing to win a $100 gift card from Country Crock.)

A whirlwind session in the kitchen this morning produced:

  •  7 quarts of sliced peaches
  • 3 quarts and 2 pints of applesauce
  • 1 peach pie (for the freezer)
  • 1 leek/eggplant quiche (lunch today)
  • 2 apple pies (1 for freezer, 1 for dinner tonight)

Thankfully the kids helped me for about an hour, or my kitchen time would have gone on all day instead of just three hours!  I am really excited to tell you about an adaptation that I discovered recently to my push-in piecrust recipe.  The original recipe is on page  _____   of Family Feasts. (Have any of you tried it?)

Anyway, I’ve been reading recently that coconut oil is better for your health that most other oils (excluding olive oil).  And since the original piecrust recipe in my book calls for regular oil, I decided to try substituting coconut oil instead.  YUM!  The flavor is wonderful, and the texture is light flaky perfection.

For those of you not familiar with the original recipe, this is not one of those tetchy roll-out piecrusts.   All you do is heap the dry ingredients right in the pie pan, mix, add the wet ingredients, and form into a ball.  Then you simple flatten the dough and push it up the sides of the pan.  The piecrusts that you see above were made by my 13 year old son.  Here’s the recipe:

Easy Push-In Pie Crust

Makes one crust

Prep time: 10 minutes or less

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Measure the above ingredients right into an 8 or 9 inch pie pan and mix with a fork.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil  (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup milk (decrease milk to 2 tablespoons if you are using vegetable oil)

Using your hands, mix all ingredients until  ingredients are evenly dispersed and you can form the dough into a ball.  If your dough looks very crumbly, you can add a dab more milk to help everything stick together.  But don’t overdo the milk.  Once everything is well combined, your dough should feel smooth and a little oily, not sticky.

Press the dough out towards the edges of the pan, working it until the entire pan is covered.  This step will take several minutes, especially the first time you make this recipe.  But once you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll find that you can form a crust in  less than 5 minutes. At this point you can treat your crust just like you would any piecrust.  I usually top my peach and apple pies with a crumb topping.


More about coconut oil:

New York Times: Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World

Huffington Post:  Coconut Oil Benefits



a summer day fishin’

I feel like summer and I have some unfinished business, and I think one of the reasons is that we’ve only gotten up to grandma’s cabin twice this summer. But at least we’ve had a little time there. Here are some pictures from a recent day spent trout fishing in a little winding stream in the mountains. You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them. I love the fact that we have a place with some history that we visit each year, a place that I hope all the kids will remember when they are adults.


I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

Motherhood: It Takes Faith

It was a terribly low point in my daughter’s life.  She was struggling to trust that God really knew what was best for her life. After all, what kind of God lets a child’s mother die, leaving her at the mercy of strangers? Strangers who would come to lead her onto a plane away from everything she ever knew, to begin a different life far away?  To be honest, it didn’t make much sense to me either. But here we were in the first months after she came home, staring that new life of hers in the face. A new life in which her body lived in the home of these pale strangers, while her heart longed for her first mom who was now in heaven.

Six months home and it seemed that her misery with this new life would never abate. At one point I grabbed her hands and looked into her eyes. “I know it’s hard to believe that God is good, that He really truly knows what is best for your life. It feels like He gave you bad, not good. I know you will see good someday. But until then, I will believe for both of us, OK?  I will have faith for you, even now when you can’t.”

I’m not sure if my words really lodged in her brain– after all, she was new to English, having spoken another language for nearly a decade before coming to us. But she seemed to calm at my words, at my heart-felt promise that she would have faith again some day, that she would find joy, even though now it seemed her wounded heart would never mend.

As I gripped her hands I remember trying to imagine a life where I truly believed God was cruel, that my fate was in the hands of someone who didn’t care about me. That life looked more barren to me than dead volcanic rock. It tore my heart to think that my child was there, feeling that all was hopeless, that God was not on her side.

And so I spoke hope for her future.  But even as those words fell fierce from my lips, I knew it wasn’t the power of my faith that would save her.  No.  Not my feeble faith.  What had really happened was that peering into that bleakness made me look back again at the God I knew.  The one who loved both me and my daughter with an unendingly wise love. I realized afresh that no matter my frailty, no matter my daughter’s pain, He was up to the task of drawing her back to him. I knew without a doubt that I could trust the God who loved both of us to bring us both out of that place.

And He has.

He has.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD;  Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.  (Ps 27:13-14)


Has mothering impacted your faith journey? I’d love to hear about it. If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, please visit the lovely ladies below who also wrote today about faith and motherhood.

Easiest pickles ever

I’ve been raving about the pickle recipe that I got from Foodie With Family. I decided to make a video to show you just how easy it is.  Four or five pounds of pickling cucumbers should be enough to fill 4 quart-size canning jars. Since you don’t have to heat-process this recipe, you don’t even have to use canning jars. Clean old pickle jars will work just as well.

(Note:  Someone asked if I use pickling spice in this recipe, as mentioned in the above recipe because it was not mentioned on the video.  Oops, sorry! Yes, along with the garlic cloves and dill seed, I also add 1-1/2 teaspoons of picking spice to each quart jar.)


How to make Claussen-style fresh pickles from Mary Ostyn on Vimeo.

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Country Crock Recipe Makeover and Sweepstakes

Do you ever wonder how you can encourage your family to eat better, and really enjoy it? Recent USDA guidelines suggest that half your dinner plate should consist of fruits and/or vegetables.    I was recently invited by Country Crock to make over a meal that is a family favorite at our house in a way that incorporates more vegetables and less saturated fat.  I picked a yummy recipe from my mother-in-law (Family Feasts, page 106) and used Country Crock instead of the butter in the recipe.

I am a die-hard butter-lover and honestly didn’t expect the recipe to turn out quite as good with Country Crock. And truth be told, while cooking, I could tell that the Country Crock churn style spread smelled a little different than butter would have– enough that I wondered how the final product would turn out. But the recipe turned out just as good as usual– everyone gobbled it down and wanted more. I served it over rice.  Then I added steamed broccoli and fresh cherry tomatoes on the side. Broccoli is a veggie that most of the kids at our house enjoy.  And who can complain about the yummy sweetness that resides in freshly picked cherry tomatoes?



Grandma’s Mushroom Chicken
Several times when my children have spent time with my sweet mother-in-law, she has served them this easy chicken dish. They all love it, even the mushroom-haters. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

Serves 6
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

1 medium-size fryer, cut into 10 serving pieces, or 2 to 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
1 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms(or 2 small cans, drained)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the skin from chicken pieces. Place pieces in a baking dish that can fit them all in a single layer.
2. In a medium-size skillet over medium heat, melt the butter (Country Crock). Add the onion and cook until onion begins to soften, stirring a few times. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir. Add the broth and curry powder and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the mushrooms and cheese, stirring until the cheese blends in. Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour.


If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it.  Or if you’d like, tell me how you encourage your family to get their daily share of fruits and veggies. And here’s some really fun news: each comment posted will be an automatic entry into a random drawing for a chance to win $100 gift card.


No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a)      Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b)      Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c)       Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d)      For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.  You may enter between August 24 – September 30th. (NEW EXTENDED DEADLINE!) Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.  You have 72 hours to get back to me, or a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here Promotions & Prizes Page


Note:  I was compensated by Country Crock for this post.  Country Crock will also be providing the gift card to the winner of this sweepstakes.  The opinions posted are my own.

Make it yourself

I don’t know about you, but I get happy when I discover a recipe for something that I can make myself for less money (and/or better quality) than in the grocery store. Here are a few recent ideas that I’ve tried or am planning to try out soon:

How about you?  What’s your favorite ‘make-it-yourself’ idea?

Need bookshelves?

Today while wandering around town to celebrate our 25th anniversary  (love ya, honey!) John and I ventured into Borders bookstore in the mall. As you may have heard, Borders is running a going-out-of-business liquidation, and being book lovers, we wanted to check it out.  We did find a few books.  I’m trying to get a bit of Christmas shopping done early, so I was pleased. But in wandering the store, we also learned that the liquidation included almost everything, right down to the bookshelves. We have just been talking about John building some new shelves to replace the old particle-board ones in our family room.  We’ve just recently enlarged the family room by removing a small bedroom.

We ended up buying three 8-ft tall/3-ft wide bookshelves for $100 each.  They have seven shelves each, six of which are adjustable. John will still be building us a custom window-seat/bookshelf combo on one wall of the room.  But the purchase of ready-made bookshelves for two other walls will save John a huge amount of time and labor.  Yay!   We’ll soon be able to get our books out of boxes on the floor! The only problem?   We have to wait til they call us to say it is OK to come pick them up.  Hopefully we’ll hear back from them in a week or two.

If you happen to live near Borders and are in need of bookshelves in your own home, you might check it out.  They’re selling several different types and sizes.  They’re simple-looking, industrial-grade and fairly light-colored, with a birch-looking veneer.  The words you see at the top are just cardboard inserts that can easily be taken off.  I think the shelving will work really well for our space.


You know all of my fears, there’s nothing Your eyes can’t see
When I tried to give up, Lord, You never gave up on me
I give You all of my hopes and dreams, I lay them down
Of all the places I’ve looked You’re the one truth I have found

Life-giving, grace-filled parenting

Yesterday evening I sat down to catch up on my blog-reading. Often when I’m skimming through to get caught up, I think ruefully that I need to trim my list. But invariably in reading I find treasure after treasure after treasure. This evening I want to share four such finds with you, from four different friends, all adding wisdom to a common theme:  how to parent our children in a life-giving grace-filled way.


  • First, my dear friend Carrien shares her mission statement. Ever written one? I think mine would be similar to Carrien’s if I did. Exceedingly inspirational.
  • Leila is a person whose blog I discovered fairly recently. She writes about self-control, and its centrality both in raising children of character, and in finding joy in the midst of doing that important work. Insightful.
  • Then there’s Hannah’s post on loving our children. The feeling is often easier than the actual doing, and Hannah’s post offers loving, encouraging exhortation to do the work that only we can do for our children.
  • And finally there’s Jess, writing about soul care— how we as parents can stay fueled ourselves so that we continue to have energy to reach out in love to our precious children.

Usually my intentions are right.  And by God’s grace there are moments most days where my actions are congruent with my greatest goals and longings in life as a mother. But it is so easy to let days slip past in an endless waterfall of tasks, with not enough time spent on that which is most meaningful.  And so I appreciate these wise reminders.  They encourage me to straighten my back and begin again tomorrow with a good will, being confident of this: that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.