Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Kondo Sensei - One Year Later

Well.....we're nearing a year since the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake/Tsunami. 

Michael invited Pastor Yoshiya Kondo from Morioka Conservative Baptist Church to be the guest speaker today at our National Prayer Breakfast. 

Kondo Sensei grew up in a town in Fukushima. His home was 5 K from the plant. He shared about watching television on March 11th and seeing his friends, teachers, family, class mates running down the streets. He speaks of being allowed to go home for four hours.  He shared many stories and it was moving. 

Kondo Sensei is the coordinator of the 3.11 Iwate Church Network.  Teams go down to the most stricken coastal areas regularly. He said more than "things" - the people simply need someone to with which to talk.

Before the Tsunami communities were shut tight - very close knit. He said you could live in them for 20 years and still be considered a foreigner. NOW....communities are open...but he shared the people are still "closed" and "empty".  So his words to describe this area of Japan is "Open but empty".

For 20,000 March 11th was the day life ended. For those who survived but lost their family, homes, jobs, communities etc...March 11, 2001 was the day that time froze. They're stuck in a new and painful realith without hope. Many have committed suicide, many are considering it. Thus Franklin Graham's "Celebration of Hope" and "Tohoku Hope". Kondo Sensei and his staff are building relationships with these who have lost so much and are praying that the Holy Spirit will flow in to their lives and bring new life and hope. 

The Kondo family has a new baby born 2 months ago....I can't remember the Greek word they named him - but it means "flow in"... and is used in Scripture to describe when the life of Christ flows in and takes over our life....He shared  how the tsunami flowed in.....and left many empty...but we are believing for the life of Christ to flow in. May it be.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Oreo Cupcake School!

Happy 100th Birthday to Oreos. I used to love Oreos - Double Stuff. 

We made a treat today......we called it school.....In the absence of Oreos or Newman O's I asked Stacia to take apart some cookies. We put 1/2 in the bottom of a lined muffin tin.

I mixed up a cake batter and poured over the top of the cookies. 

This is Stacia's favorite part of helping me in the kitchen...though she valiantly tried to tell me she was learning a lot about mixing, cooking, being a Mom and "math stuff."

One by one...

They ALWAYS know when I'm baking....  We baked at 350* for about 20 min.  Let them cool. After the Prayer Luncheon we frosted... They WERE going to have the cookie TOPS on the top - but they vanished! Hmm...curiouser and curiouser!

The little clown actually is what prompted today's baking...because Stacia had it and said she needed a cake to decorate...I mixed up a cake and was thinking how long WOULD I bake cupcakes...did a google and discovered it was the Oreo's 100th birthday - I guess that means this was history too! 

To set the record straight we DID have Oreos when I was a little girl....that was just mean. ::snort:: 

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Sourdough English Muffins

I've written about my foray into Sourdough Mania . Thanks to Christina S. for giving me a cup of starter on 1 Jan....and here it is MARCH and it's still ALIVE.  I started with this recipe and lived at the GNOWFGLIN  site to learn about how to do this.  Check out the recipe for the gorgeous photos. I have more Sourdough Info on my recipe page.

I began to experiment. I used her technique and tried cast iron. Too done on the outside. I tried baking as I'd done with Uncle Bills - wasn't totally happy. I moved on to my Electric Griddle. PERFECT. I turn the heat to between 200 - 250 and do 7 - 9 min per side..... but I also have begun adjusting the SIZE of the muffins to ensure the middle isn't doughy.

After weeks of playing with cutting them with lids, or free forming them..........

And enjoying odd shaped, lopsided muffins.....

I decided to try a new technique....I would cook them in wide mouth lids......weighting them down as Uncle Bill instructed (See Uncle Bill's Whole Wheat Muffins).
YIKES they're blowing the pan off

Remember to grease the bottom of the pans if you are going to try this method
 I was so proud of my perfectly uniform muffins. I'd cut them before but when they bake they grow in alarming directions...so I was happy. BUT my family didn't LIKE them flat.... So next....

I baked them in the rings - without the weighted down bricks...they stay a smaller, round shape...but RISE nicely....though they are a bit lopsided since I remove the rings after I cook the first side (Or they bake into the things - what a mess).

Finally - the recipe that Michael says is "perfect". This is what I do....

At night (if I want to bake first thing in the a.m.) or first thing in the a.m. (if I want to bake right after school).....

1/2 C Sourdough Starter
1 C Milk (any liquid will work)
2 C Flour (fresh ground hard white is what I use)
*You can use add ins but my kids like them plain....well they eat them so fast I haven't tried fancy ones.

Let it sit for 8 hours. Dough will be SOFT but the flour will absorb the liquid as it sits and rises. 12 hours will make a kick you in tail sourdough....8 hours is what we like.

Preheat Electric Griddle to 200 - 250.

Sprinkle on dough:
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 T Honey

Sort of mix in with wooden spoon.

Oil a board. Dump the mess onto the board and knead until all is well combined.

Divide dough in 1/2.
Divide each piece in 1/2 - now you have 4 about the same size.
Divide each of those 4 pieces in 1/2 and you have 8.

You can form these on your own - pat out about finger width...but I now plop wide mouth lids on the griddle. Spray the insides of them. Pat each piece of dough into a round shape and plop in the ring. (I don't bother waiting for them to rise as they get all out of shape - and I don't have time).  Cook for 7 -9 min - depends on your heat.  Use some tongs (took me three times to figure THAT out OUCH)...flip.

Most of the rings will slide right off. Remove them. Cook another 7 min.

Cool on wire rack. Then score around the middle with a fork and split them open. I put them in bread bags when they're cool and split.

I usually make a double batch - 16 a day. We eat them for breakfast. I like to grill mine (soaked in balsamic vinegar) with some turkey and Swiss cheese....crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside.... I have broiled them with garlic and cheese....

After doing this for a few weeks it becomes second nature. I used to get up and start the computer and a load of wash. Now I get up, feed the starter, start the dough, turn on the computer and start a load of laundry...then I grab the Bible and retreat!

The beauty of this recipe is it's flexible. Figure out what YOUR family likes. You can use any flour, any liquid (water, milk, coconut milk, soy milk, buttermilk) and you can add all sorts of add ins - I plan to try cinnamon and raisin when I get ahead of the demand around here....but use a variety of seeds.....

Add ins I've tried:

  •  double batch: 1 tsp cinnamon during first step, in second step add a  handful of craisens or raisens, increase honey to 1/3 C
  • double batch: add 1 tsp with flour, increase honey to 1/3 C
  • Add some chocolate chips (kids ASKED) when you add honey etc
  • double batch: add 1 tsp of  Italian herbs and handful of dried onions with flour
  • Throw in a couple of T of flax or poppy seed with flour

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Uncle Bill's "Whole" Wheat Muffins

Uncle Bill was known for his English Muffins. This is how I learned to make English Muffins over 20 years ago. One year for Christmas he gave me a dozen empty cat food cans, ends removed  and he and Grams cried as I tried to figure out a purpose for the gift and to graciously accept it. Later he produced the recipe, which follows.

You will need TINS made from cutting both ends out of cans you have opened…. Tuna cans, small olive cans etc.  Just make sure the tin cans are not to tall.


½ cup    HOT tap water
1  cup    WARM milk, half & half, or other
3  tbs.     Sugar, honey, or artificial sweetener
1  tb        Salt
1-2 pks.  Dry yeast dissolved in 2-tbs. HOT tap water


1 cup   sifted white flour
1 cup   sifted whole wheat flour

1.    Pre-heat oven to about 175-200.  TURN OVEN OFF when temperature is reached.
2.    With electric beater on HIGH, thoroughly mix the first FIVE ingredients.
3.    Add mixed flours to the liquid a large spoonful at a time and thoroughly mix.
4.   Cover the bowl with the sponge and place in the oven and let rise until doubled.  If the sponge falls don’t worry.  It’s still useable.


4 tbs.       Softened butter or margarine
¾ cup      Sifted whole wheat flour
½ cup      Sifted white flour

1.      Pre-heat oven to about 175-200.  TURN OVEN OFF when temperature is reached.
2.      Add the final three ingredients.  Mix thoroughly utilizing as much flour as possible.  If the dough doesn’t seem to have the right consistency, add additional flour until satisfied.
3.       Turn dough onto floured board.  Knead for 5 or 6 minutes.  Roll.
4.       Cut muffins with tins and place on a greased cookie sheet.
5.      Place cookie sheet and muffins in over and let rise to top of tin.  (Some muffins wonb’t rise as high as others.  So there is some inconsistency in muffin size.)


1.        Pre-heat oven to 350
2.        Place another cookie sheet, bottom down, on top of the tins and muffins.  Weight the cookie
           sheet down with a brick or something similar.
3.        Bake for 20-25 minutes.
4.        Remove brick or weight and cookie sheet.
5.       Turn each tin and muffin over.  (use a pair of pliers.)  Gently push each muffin of of tin onto
              the cookie sheet.
6.        Continue baking muffins for another 20-25 minutes.  When the muffins feel hard-crusted to
              the touch, they are done.
7.        Remove from oven and let cool.  When cool store in a covered container of some kind.  When
              covered, the crust will soften.

In the absence of bricks...yes there ARE muffins under that baking sheet! 

We did love these. Why did I quit making them? I got tired of a drawer fully of cat tins and bricks.

Our family grew and I thought I'd never keep up with the demand...bread was easier.  I switched to baking lots of breads and rolls. That worked.

We moved to Japan....finding time to bake bread and all the ingredients I needed was a challenge. I began to buy Thomas English Muffins and realized all liked them better than bread...  For a once in a while treat I was fine with buying them...for a staple I wanted more control of the ingredients. I also noted that several LOVED sourdough...and this reminded me Michael had asked me decades ago to learn to bake with sourdough...but it was intimidating.  I decided 2012 was the year to learn how to bake with sourdough and begin baking muffins again.

Check the "sourdough info" link under recipes for more info on how to start a sourdough starter.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...