Monday, November 18, 2013

What's mixin' in the kitchen: Apple Danish

Fall reminds me of apple pie. I love the smell and the way a slice of fresh apple pie just feels like home. But pie isn't always the easiest to eat because you can't easily pack it in a lunch or put it on a napkin. However, apple danish tastes like apple pie and is easy to grab on the go. 

3 1/2 c. flour
2 egg yolks, beaten
3/4 c. milk
1 c. shortening
1 tsp. salt

6 c. apple slices, thin
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. butter

Mix flour and salt together and cut in shortening. Combine egg yolks and milk, then add to flour mixture. Roll out half the mixture on floured surface to fit 11 x 16 x 1/2 inch jelly roll pan. Place in pan. It can be difficult to roll out the dough into a perfect rectangle. After I placed the dough onto the pan, I cut around the edges and added dough to where there were any holes. 

I used granny smith apples because they are more tart and the recipe calls for quite a bit of sugar. I like to use a vegetable peeler for the apples. To slice the apple real thin, you could use a food processor or a manual slicer. It took 3 large apples to make 6 cups of slices. Arrange the 6 cups apple slices on the crust. 


Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Dot with butter. When dotting with butter, cut up cold butter into small cubes. I used about 2 to 3 T. butter here.


Roll out the remaining pastry dough and place over top of apples. You can see that I had to cut and add dough to a few places. No worries because the frosting will hide it!

Brush pastry with slightly beaten egg whites.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. The original recipe said 45 minutes but my oven seems to cook things more quickly and this was after 40 minutes. This was my first time making this but you can see that the pastry shrinks just a little bit, so next time I will allow a larger margin on the dough.

Mix glaze until smooth and spoon over pastry while still warm. The original recipe didn't have butter in the glaze but butter makes everything taste better. I personally like my frosting to not be so sweet but there are other recipes that make the glaze with egg whites and powdered sugar or you can just omit the butter. 

Cut into squares or diamonds when cool.

This recipe is from a church cookbook. The actual recipe was given by my relative. If you like what you see, you can find more family recipes at our family recipe blog:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happenings lately

I'm not an amazing seamstress but I can sew simple patterns. I have been meaning to recover our throw pillows for our couch and finally got around to it. 


The final product

Some of you may remember that a few months ago Isaac brought home two cows, Harold and Gertrude. Both of them got sick and although Isaac gave them medicine Harold died about 3 weeks after he was born. However, the good news is that Gertrude is still going strong! She has finally started to eat hay and grain although she still takes a bottle. She still looks pretty small in these pictures but I can tell that she is getting taller and putting on a little weight.

And here are a few recent photos of my darling Wyatt. He is walking now and is so proud of himself. He also loves to climb! He is so sweet and loves to take turns feeding cereal to each other. He is growing up so fast but I'm enjoying every minute of it. He got his third haircut from the barber a couple weeks ago. I hope that when we have a girl she will have this much hair!


Friday, November 1, 2013

What you need to know about pornography

Pornography. What comes to mind when you hear that word? A few words come to my mind: naked ladies, men, Internet, degrading, objectification, addiction, money. Some of those words probably came into your mind as well. But there are few other words that come to my mind that might shock you. I also think: teen perpetrators, incest, sexual abuse of children, Sarah, and Michael. Many conservatives and religious persons have been fighting the proliferation of pornography for decades. Others have argued that pornography is not a big deal, it's just naked people. And, what is so bad about the beautiful human body after all? Well, I understand why proponents of pornography didn't see the big deal years ago. Think about your father. Your father's first experience with pornography was viewing a play boy or penthouse with a friend who had managed to steal it from someone's secret stash. Pornography used to be just that, naked pictures of women. But pornography isn't just pictures. It is videos, sometimes violent videos. Sometimes videos of rapes and killings. Pornography includes sexual acts with children and animals. There is all sorts of crazy stuff out there now. And all pornography on the web is connected. While a child or adult may only want to view a typical sex act, that web page will have pop-ups and links to other websites. What at first is repulsive becomes interesting. What is interesting becomes attractive, and before you know it, that child or adult isn't just looking at a naked body. That child or adult is doing something illegal. And it isn't a one time thing, because it becomes compulsive, even addictive.

There is still some debate as to whether sexual addiction is a real thing. Let me tell you something. Sex addiction is real. Pornography addiction is real. And you should be scared. If you knew your child had easy access to cocaine or meth at 10-years-old, you would get your butt in gear and do everything in your power to protect your child. But instead, parents are naively buying their children iPads and phones with the Internet, not knowing that their child is one click away from a devastating addiction. Parents naively trust their children or parents aren't tech savvy so they have no clue as to what their children are viewing. These parents aren't bad parents. But similar to the manager of an employee who does something illegal, it is the manager's job to oversee and know what his employees are up to. It is the manager's job to catch things that don't seem right. As parents, it is our job to know what are children are up to. And if things don't seem right, we need to dig.

So what are the consequences of pornography? There are two trending articles floating around that can tell you about some of the effects. This article talks about how children and teens are becoming sex offenders. This article talks about how teens have a very distorted and violent view of what sex is. Those articles are great and they will disturb you, but you need to be informed.

So, let me tell you about my own experiences. I am a marriage and family therapist. I have worked with adult sex addicts and with sexually abused children. I do not work with sexual perpetrators. In my work with adults who struggle with sex addiction, I have seen grown men in agony because of the negative impact the addiction has had on their interpersonal relationships. An addiction to sex and pornography is not fun. It is risky. Some addicts get involved in illegal acts such as prostitution. They are often viewing porn on work computers and devices risking their employment. And it is all to chase a high. Medical studies have been done where they study how the brain of a sex addict reacts to pornographic images. The reward center lights up just as it would in a drug addict's or alcoholic's brain. And the worst part is that we live in a sexually addicted society. So even when the addict wants to become sober, he or she is bombarded with sexual language and images on the TV and magazine stands. When an alcoholic becomes sober, he or she can choose to not go to bars or walk near the alcohol aisle at the store. But most sex addicts will see sexual images while doing everyday things. They can't simply get rid of all computers and media. At some point, it will be there staring them in the face. So, recovery and sobriety become much more difficult.

People often think of sex addicts as perverts but they aren't. They are typically good people who have chosen a poor way to cope with depression and anxiety. Sadly, the coping strategy creates a whole other set of problems that only contribute to shame, depression, and anxiety. Many times, the addict will lose a spouse or partner because of the addiction. Although a spouse may gain an understanding of the addiction, it can still be difficult to learn how to offer support without enabling the addict. Many times loved ones just distance themselves leaving the addict and families are torn apart.

I want to make it clear that those who struggle with a pornography addiction can get help and lead fulfilling lives. However, the shame of a sexual addiction is very powerful and keeps many addicts from reaching out for help. There are many 12-step groups for sexual addicts anonymous and many counselors that are willing to assist individuals and couples who are burdened by this addiction. If you or a loved one struggle with a pornography addiction, I encourage you to seek help early. Although relapse is common, those who learn healthy coping strategies will find more peace and strength to cultivate rewarding relationships.

Now, let's talk about the kids. In my work with sexually abused children, I worked with two particular cases where pornography was the primary motivator of the sexual abuse. I'm sure that pornography has played a role in other cases but I cannot confirm it's involvement in the other cases. I remember when Michael came in. He was only four or five years old. A nine-year-old girl had sexually abused him. Everyone was very concerned because typically when you have a perpetrator that young, it means that child has also been a victim of sexual abuse. After some digging, the families found out that the young girl had seen a pornographic film that I believe belonged to her parents. She had simply been repeating what she had seen on a video.

Sarah is actually a victim of incest. Sarah was sexually abused by her older brother for years. Her brother viewed a lot of pornography in his room. It seemed as though, when he didn't have a girlfriend, the pornography would create such a strong craving to act out sexually that he began to coerce Sarah into participating in sexual acts with him. Little can compare to the devastation parents experience when they discover that one of their children has sexually abused their other child. This family was just destroyed by the news. It will be a while before they pick up all the pieces and move forward.

Now, I don't want you to think that all sex or porn addicts are going to sexual abuse or rape others. But it is a risk. Looking at pornographic images on the Internet could lead to your child becoming a sexual perpetrator, a victim of sexual abuse, a registered sex-offender, or a sex addict that struggles everyday to stay sober in hopes that he or she can have a fulfilling romantic relationship.

So what can you do as a parent?
1. Get rid of your own porn. If you have magazines or videos throw them away, burn them, just get them out of the house where your child could access them. If you view porn online, stop. When I'm on my phone or computer I'll find that sometimes accidentally pushing buttons takes me back to pages I've previously viewed. If you are viewing pornography, your child will be more likely to accidentally stumble upon it.

2. Get a program for your computer that blocks pornographic websites. Now, this type of software cannot always detect all pornography but it will help block a lot of it. This is primarily advantageous for keeping images from children who have never viewed pornography. If someone already has an addiction, be aware that if they are relapsing, they will more likely be able find a way around the software. So don't be shocked if the software is not successful in that situation.

3. DO NOT let your child have a personal computer in his or her room. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. A computer should be located in a central location in the home where their is constant traffic flow or supervision. I personally wouldn't let my child take an iPad into his/her room alone.

4. Avoid giving your child a phone with Internet capabilities and if you do, become tech savvy and regularly check up on your child. Let your child know that with the privilege of a phone, you as the parent get to monitor the usage of the phone. Don't lie or go snooping around. Tell your child upfront what the rules are and ENFORCE them.

5. Talk to your children about what types of movies and images are okay to view. Teach them the sacredness of the human body and that we respect the body. My friends showed me pornography when I was 13-years-old. These were kids from good homes. Because my mom had taught me that I shouldn't be looking at those things, I left that room and told my friends I wanted to do something different. There was no big scene. There was no shaming my friends, I simply walked away. Teach your children how they can respond when such situations arise because they will.

6. Make your place a home where children want to come play. If your house becomes a place where children can be creative and have fun, children will prefer to come play at your house. You will have more control over what movies are seen and what activities are going on if it is in your home.

7. Know the parents of the children who play with your children. The more you know their parents, the better you will be able to assess your child's safety or address problems if the children do things they shouldn't. Also get to know your kids friends, especially when they are teenagers. If you want to know who your kid really is, get to know your kid's friends and you'll find out. Teens are experts at portraying one persona at school and another at home.

8. Pray. Some of you might not be religious but I think you will become religious when you are raising teens! You will need all the help you can get! But seriously, as a parent there are things that your children will successfully hide from you. So pray to God that after you do what you can that He will help your children to make good decisions. Pray that God will help warn you when something isn't right. Pray for the strength to learn the truth about your teen. And pray that when difficulties come, and they will, that God will help you and your teen to know what to do to make things right again.

Pornography has real devastating consequences. For years, studies have shown that when children experiment with drugs or alcohol at young ages, they are more prone to become addicts. I think this is true for pornography as well. Internet porn seen for the first time at age 23 will probably have a different effect than Internet porn viewed at age 10. Recognize that these are different times and that you have to make adjustments accordingly. Protect your children, protect yourself, protect your home.

Note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of former clients.