About El Momma

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lebanese Grape Leaves

My most popular blogpost (by far) is my mother-in-law's recipe for lebanese grape leaves. It's from 2009 and it includes step by step instructions on what to buy and how to make grape leaves. She taught me everything she learned from her mother-in-law (who was from Lebanon). It's a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. I am honored to carry on the family tradition. 

Over the past 6 years, I've practiced this recipe a lot: holidays, family gatherings, birthdays, and just random times when I needed comfort food. I've learned tricks that speed up the rolling process and I've even cooked grape leaves in a pressure cooker. I stumbled upon the freezing method when I rolled too many one time and needed additional lamb shanks for another pot. I ended up freezing the extra rolled uncooked grape leaves and cooking them on another day. I found this method to work really well. The pot takes a little longer to start simmering, but the cooking time after that, is the same. 

To celebrate my father-in-law's 70th birthday, I wanted to make grape leaves for the whole family: 10 adults and many children. I started 3 weeks before and made the grape leaves in batches of 2 lbs of ground lamb. That's a little less than 2 jars at a time. I made 3 batches and I would buy the ground lamb each time before I wanted to roll. I rolled 5 jars total and that ended up being more than enough for all of us. 

Basically, I roll the grape leaves and store them in freezer bags or Tupperware in the freezer. When I am ready to cook them, I start with the lamb shanks first, and then dump the frozen grape leaves in the clean pots with the lamb shanks at the bottom. Add water to the pot and proceed with bringing the water to a simmer and covering the top with plates to hold the rolled grape leaves under the water. I follow the rest of the instructions. It works so well and makes cooking the day of, a total snap! 
El Momma ready to enjoy delicious grape leaves.

Click the link to access the original recipe and blogpost from 2009: http://elmomma.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-to-make-lebanese-grape-leaves.html?m=1

Friday, May 15, 2015

A New Season

We've been at Church of the Apostles Houston about seven months now...is that right? Time as flown by. We had our first Advent in the church on 14th street, we opened to the public, had our first Christmas Eve service, Ash Wednesday service, and first Lent. Our first Palm Sunday service was held at 14th street, first Holy Week- Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Wow.
A lot. Of. Firsts.
A lot of hope. A lot of love. A lot of sacrifice.

Being at Apostles (Church of the Apostles Houston) has been a life changing experience for me. It's the first time I have worked FULL TIME (outside the home) since birthing these four precious children of ours.  I came into this job carrying with me my experiences from our previous churches. That's, of course, a very natural thing to do. But, God changed me and altered my expectations for a church and a job at a church that is still in the church planting stage. He has been changing my heart and my responses along the way. And, I have been incredibly blessed while leading and waiting on God's timing.
Day to day, I am in and out of the office and still able to volunteer and be with my children. But, I also work very hard. God has blessed us with a band made up completely of members of our congregation. No paid musicians, no paid "sound guy". Just a team of lovely hearts who happen to be very gifted. 
The weeks seem to go by even faster than before now. And, I am grateful for time. 
I am grateful for my family. 
Without much protest at all, just as Advent was approaching, we moved churches. Church families. Our church home. It is a big deal. And these sweet people and my DH 
have jumped in wholeheartedly. It's made the transition so easy and full of blessings. 

I wanted to share this with you as we are entering summer and as I continue to write new music. Would you pray with me? That I will follow the Holy Spirit's leading when planning how to spend my time. And that God will begin to show me how and when I should finish songs. There are many and time with God and music is so critical to my songwriting process. Please pray that the time gets intentionally carved out and that God will bless that time. And, please pray for our church family at Apostles. Church planting is a very special time. 

Ecclesiastes 3 (ESV)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven"