Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A couple Fridays ago, we had a Nehemiah Project Work Day here at YWAM Turner Valley. The Nehemiah Project is our base’s department that is dedicated to the renovation of our buildings, and the care of our property. God has given us a great location, and we want to care for what He has provided for us. Just as Nehemiah led the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, leading to fresh devotion of God’s people, we want to renovate and expand our capacity in preparation for what God wants to do here.

You may wonder what this all has to do with cookies, and admittedly, the answer is “not a lot.” On our recent work day, staff and students spent hours clearing brush and preparing some of our property to be made into a river-side park. It was a day of gruelling work for everyone…and I was in the kitchen making snacks. I’m convinced I got the best end of the deal, though everyone had a lot of fun and got lots of work done! In the morning I made these Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies, and in the afternoon I baked Homemade Pretzels with Buffalo Cheese Dipping Sauce and Honey Mustard. Yum. I got both recipes from Smitten Kitchen. I don’t think you can go wrong with a single recipe on that site!

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Cream together butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Add this to butter/sugar mixture. Stir in oats, raisins and chocolate chips. For the oats, I used a pre-mixed variety of porridge oats, flax seed, and wheat germ. These gave the cookies a really nice crunch, and kind of makes you feel like you’re eating something healthy.
  2. Chill the dough. I’ve never done this with this sort of cookie dough, but I did as I was told, and they turned out great. Apparently this makes them turn out a bit thicker after baking. Heat the oven to 350°F while you’re chilling the dough. Scoop cookies onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, and press down ever-so-slightly with a fork. Cookies should be about 2 inches apart to avoid a cookie pizza.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, taking the cookies out when golden at the edges, but looking a little underdone in the middle. Let the cookies sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack (this heat from the pan finishes the baking of the cookies).

* This makes an awful lot of cookies…if you’re just making them for your family (presuming you don’t have seven children), cut the recipe in half, or bake the full amount and then freeze some, if you have the will power to do so.

** Michael Packard got to use a chain saw during the work day! He also managed to scorch the end of his beard, eyelashes, and eyebrows by getting too close to the fire as he burned what he was chainsawing!



Musical Monday

I (Michael) have said before that my biggest addiction is music. I have a hard time describing what exactly it is about music that I am addicted to, but lately I find that I am easily influenced by the poetry of well-written lyrics. Sometime I just want to be lost in my own thoughts, and meditate on what God might be saying to me. To facilitate those times, I have been listening to more ambient music. The following are two artists I found on Noisetrade that have been the soundtrack to my times of study and meditation. Enjoy!

Lowercase Noises (http://www.noisetrade.com/lowercasenoises)

Wilhelm (http://www.noisetrade.com/wilhelm)

In-Between Coffee Cake {A Recipe for Spring}

Spring has been teasing us for the last month or so. One day is bright and sunshiney, the next is snowy and miserable. As we long for summer and warmth, these in-between-days not only make us grumble as we pull out the rubber boots, the snow shovel, or the sandals (depending on the day!), they affect what we want to eat. Just like we’re in-between seasons of winter and summer, we’re in-between hearty soups and light salads, potatoes and watermelon, hot chocolate and lemonade. If you find yourself in this place, this might be the recipe for you.

I made this Plum Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Cardamom Streusel last week. I made it the evening before serving it, and as I baked, the snow was falling as though it was Christmas. In the morning as I photographed the cake, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. I know plums aren’t in season – I had the good fortune to find some quartered plums in the freezer – but I imagine that you can replace the fruit with whatever you have on hand. Peaches would be delicious, and even spring rhubarb and strawberries could be a good substitute. I highly recommend making the cake the day you serve, but be warned; it is a bit on the time-consuming side, so afford more time than you think you need. I made this cake a year and a half ago for a dinner party, serving it the same day as I baked it, and the taste and texture was even better than the cake I made last week. I recommend this cake for spring, as the denser crumb brings all the comfort of winter, while the summer fruit reminds you that one day, the snow will melt and the sun will shine and you can put away your winter boots for good.

Find the recipe (it’s copyrighted) at: www.finecooking.com. Photo above is my own.

Thankful for These 29

Yesterday was my (Helen’s) 29th birthday. Strange to think that I’m in the last year of my twenties, but I am so thankful that God has brought me to the place I’m at now. Ten years ago I was in my first year of university, miserable, and though I had grown up in the church, I had no personal relationship with God. Fast forward ten years, and I am a full-time missionary, teaching the Word of God, and am (imperfectly) pursuing the Lord with my life. I have so much to be thankful for. Here are 29 things I am especially thankful for as I embark on this last year of my twenties:

  1. My relationship with God. I cannot be more thankful that the Lord pursued me and turned my life around as I surrendered to Him.
  2. A husband that loves me, loves God, and is incredibly servant-hearted, yet can be so silly!
  3. I am thankful for the family I have in Christ. For people who have come alongside me to encourage me and walk with me as I grow.
  4. I am thankful for family, period. My family loves me and hopes the best for me.
  5. I am thankful for the friends God has brought into my life, friends that have been instrumental in my walk with the Lord – friends who showed me what it meant to have a relationship with God.
  6. My niece! As I turned 29, she turned four-months old, and I get to cuddle with her today! My heart is happy.
  7. I am thankful for the ministry God has given me. If you had told me two years ago that I would be teaching the Bible in three-hour stints, I would have laughed at you. I’m thankful that God has given me a love for teaching and for His Word.
  8. I’m thankful for our students. They’re so awesome and fun, and they love Jesus so much.
  9. YWAM Turner Valley. Once again, if you had told me two years ago that I would be doing missions in Southern Alberta, I would have laughed at you. God brought us here for specific reasons, and I am excited to see those reasons continue to unfold.
  10. Dreaming. We love dreaming about what the future will hold, and we especially love it when we feel like we are dreaming God’s dreams for what He wants. Exciting!
  11. The Word. I am so thankful that God revealed Himself to people who wrote as the Spirit instructed. I’m thankful for a very tangible expression of the character of God.
  12. God’s provision. When I look back on the last year, I can say with confidence that God is my Provider.
  13. I’m thankful for the people who support us through prayer and through finances. How could we do what we do if people were not listening to the Lord and coming alongside us?
  14. I’m thankful for health. Struggling for years with health is no way to live, and I’m thankful I don’t have to live that way any more.
  15. I’m thankful for Spring! We probably will get another snow fall (let’s be realistic), but the sun is shining and the temperatures are getting warmer!
  16. I’m thankful for the opportunity to go to Thailand this summer! To experience outreach with my best friend, and to see what God is doing in that nation is so exciting!
  17. I’m thankful for the roof over our heads. Our room here is bigger than our first apartment in Toronto, and though it may be chilly from time to time, it’s our home.
  18. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be in Edmonton over Spring Break! For the chance to see friends and family and rest.
  19. Rest. I’m thankful that God wants us to rest, and that He demonstrated rest for us.
  20. I’m thankful for baking. I’m glad God created me to love to bake, especially to celebrate others!
  21. Creativity. I’m so glad God has given me a love for creating things.
  22.  I’m thankful for tea! And oatmeal! And breakfast!
  23. I’m thankful for the beauty of the mountains, and that I only have to walk a few minutes down the road to be able to see them behind YWAM Turner Valley’s buildings.
  24. I’m thankful for our car. Total God story. Thank You for providing, Lord!
  25. I’m thankful for camping, and the hope of making this summer a camping-Thailand-camping sandwich.
  26. I’m thankful for the friends I have around the world. That’s the beauty and pain of YWAM – you meet amazing people, and then they go back to Norway, to Nepal, or to California.
  27. I’m thankful for Skype! And parcels to/from the corners of the earth!
  28. Did I mention I have the sweetest husband ever?
  29. I’m thankful for the hope I have in Christ. That I am never alone. That He died and rose for me, and that I get to spend eternity with Him.