Friday, November 1, 2013

My Famous Stuffing

Hello out there!
YAY, I managed to only go a month this time before posting again. I'm gonna do once a month for a while I think, and when I get into that habit, maybe I can start adding more posts. We are now entering the holiday season, and therefore I thought it was high time to share my #1 secret holiday recipe. So, I'm not one to brag, but my friends tell me that I make the best stuffing ever. I would never say that myself, except that my friends have said so. So I'm only saying what I've heard from my friends.(Emma, anyone?) Anyways. I took these pictures two Thanksgivings ago, and now am finally using them. I hope it works in the written form. I always just eyeball stuff, so it's hard for me to put the recipe down on paper. Ok, here we go.

Step 1: The base of your stuffing is apples, onions and Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing.
Coarsely chop 4 apples, 2 medium onions and buy yourself a bag of stuffing.

Step 2: chop several stocks of celery, though I don't always use celery in my stuffing. Those happen to be my grandmother's beautiful hands chopping my celery for me. I won't get to see her this Thanksgiving or Christmas, which will be the first time in several years. 

Step 3: Place onions apples and celery in a large skillet on medium/high heat with a little olive or grapeseed oil. Have another skillet prepared because once you add the stuffing, you may need to split it between two pans.

Step 4: Meanwhile, moisten half the bag of herb stuffing with some water. It will take about 2 cups or more to really get all of it wet.

Step 5: Go back and check on your pan!!! Quick! Oh ok, its doing great. When the onions start getting translucent, add the moist stuffing to the pan. The picture on the bottom is post-stuffing. At this point you may have to split it between two pans. Turn the heat down to medium. Continue to stir.

Step 6: Now comes the delicious part. Pour half a pint of REAL HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM over the top of the pan full of stuffing. Go ahead, just DO it! Mix it in to the stuffing, and turn the heat off.

Step 7: Sprinkle generously with salt, ground Thyme, Garlic powder, Dill, Poultry Seasoning, just whatever good herbs you have on hand. Then give it a little dash of nutmeg.

Make this your own! I decided to add a little dollop of fig preserves to mix things up a little

Step 8: After all those luscious herbs are mixed in and the house smells heavenly, pour the mixture into two medium sized casserole dishes. Press into the dish. Wow, i'm getting hungry for some right now! 

 Step 9: Now, the final touches! Take about 2 1/2 cups of water and put it in a small pot. Add 1 packed cup of brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups of pecans and bring to a boil. After boiling for about 5 minutes or so, add 2 big tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a little water. Bring to a boil until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat.

 Step 10: FINAL STEP PEOPLE! Pour the caramelized pecans over the top of your stuffing. Admire it, smell it, sigh deeply with satisfaction. Now, place those casseroles into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best stuffing you'll ever eat, so my friends say.

My mother insisted that we take a picture with me holding the final product. Looking at this picture has just made me homesick. I will miss Christmas at home this year, but I must say that I am excited to have my family here in my new home. 

Well, I certainly hope it turns  out for you, and if not, shoot me an email or a comment with your questions and I'll try to help you out. I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving, and I'll be back with some more holiday posts. Blessings! ~ Maria Goff. 

Best Stuffing Ever

4 apples coarsly chopped
2 medium onions diced
1/2-3/4 bag of Pepperidge farm herbed stuffing
1 cup of chopped celery(optional)
2-3 TBS of olive or grapeseed oil
1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
Salt to taste
Garlic power, thyme, other herbs to taste
Dash of nutmeg
1 1/2 cups of pecan halves
2 1/2 cups of water
1 packed c of brown sugar
2 TBS corn starch


  1. Place apples, onions and celery in a large skillet with olive oil and sautee on medium-high heat until onions are translucent
  2. Moisten half the bag of stuffing with 2ish cups of water, and add to the skillet. Continue to cook while stirring the stuffing in. You may have to split between two skillets. 
  3. Pour half a pint of whipping cream over the top of the stuffing and heat  while stirring a few minutes longer. Add salt and herbs and remove from heat. 
  4. Pour into two casserole dishes and press into the dishes. 
  5. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add pecan halves. Boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Mix cornstarch with a little water and add to pecans. Continue to boil until thickened. Pour over casseroles. 
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until hot through. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We Made It!

September. The official first month of my favorite season, the bane of school children, and the month that everything changed.

When I say that everything changed, I don't mean that almost everything changed, or that it was a big change in my life, but no big deal, no I mean quite literally that absolutely everything in my life changed. I'm telling you, NOTHING about Texas is the same as North Carolina, especially the BBQ.

Now as I reach the one year mark, I wanted to take some time and reflect upon my first year of married life. 

First of all, I still miss home. In fact, I think I miss it more now than I did when I first moved here. I miss it more now, because looking back on the year I can see how uninvolved I am now in my parents lives, my brothers and my best friend's life. I miss it more now, because I can appreciate now what I had because I no longer have it. I think I will always miss home. I'm just a sentimental person, and our family is so close, it is hard to realize that their lives are no longer a part of mine. It's part of life though isn't it? I have to leave my family and cleave to my husband as we form our own home and our own family.

Our own family. That has been the biggest struggle of this year. My husband and I have hit the one year mark of our marriage, and the dreaded one year without conception mark. It is painful, even now, to think about it, and to write about it. Never did I think that I would ever face this predicament. God has seen us through. I have had some very sad days, and a very heavy heart, but still God is good. He has a reason for withholding conception, and we just have to trust Him completely.

I have learned many lessons this year, through this trial, but also just in general:

Lesson 1: 
 I have learned, this year, that trusting, hoping, and having faith does not necessarily mean happiness. I can trust, and have faith, and still be sad, still ache, still long and yearn. If I let those emotions turn into anger, bitterness, and cynicism, then my heart is sinful.

OH! How I want a child of my own! But OH, how much more I want God. Sometimes it's the most painful things in your life that drive you to Him.

Lesson 2:
Never have I seen how much I need Him more than I have this year. Never have I so often faced my weaknesses and my sins.
And the more clearly you can see the depths of your sin, the more clearly you will see the glory in the cross! 

Lesson 3:
I have learned this year just how selfish I can be, and just how ungrateful I can be. Gratefulness is and contentedness were hard lessons to learn. But not so hard when you see what wonderful blessings you have. Speaking of sister and her husband and their children.


Living down the street from Evangeline has been just a blessing and a gift. God knew I would need some family to get me through the loneliness of moving to a new town and marrying my complete opposite. He knew I would need children, almost like my own, to comfort me through the difficulties of infertility. He knows all my needs, and how graciously He has provided. I have enjoyed my sister and her children so very much, and it has been the perfect comfort for me through some hard times.

My quiet time has been so important. I am so thankful that we have had a solid routine this year and that together we were able to read through the entire Bible. I could not persevere through change, conflict, and waiting without God's word reminding me that He is good, He is faithful, He loves me, and He is ENOUGH.

My husband is the greatest blessing of all. He is patient, so so patient. He is kind and understanding. He is tender. He has been there to listen, to hold me, to scratch my back in the middle of the night and to correct my bad behavior and praise the good. He has challenged me, and he has not coddled me in my sin. He has had high expectations of me and has made me see Christ more clearly. 

If I have learned anything this year, it's that my husband is an ever present, tangible reminder of the gospel. The more I get to know him, the more I am assured that I not only married the right person, but was given a gift beyond all expectations, that I can never deserve. He may be quiet and understated, but he has more passion for the gospel than anyone I've ever known. And so I celebrate. I celebrate the day that this amazing man kissed me on the lips for the first time, and made me his own. How proud I am to be his. How glad I am to belong. How blessed I am to spend my life serving Bruce.

I leave you with one piece of advice to engaged or newlywed girls:
TAKE ALL THOSE SILLY EXPECTATIONS INGRAINED INTO YOUR PSYCHE BY ROMANTIC BOOKS AND MOVIES AND THROW THEM IN THE GARBAGE! He's not going to read you poetry by firelight or save your life in the rain, but he will take out the trash, and he will stay up at night and listen to you, and he will hold you while you cry, and he will dance with you even when everything in him loathes it. Being married is the best. Enjoy it!

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Waiting Game

Every woman, every person rather, has their little hopes and expectations. One woman waits for the perfect beau, the other for a black gown and mortar board cap. Some dream of adventures in foreign lands, still others of comforting the cries of orphans.

My dreams and expectations seem to change quite a bit from year to year, though there have been some that have stayed constant. At one time in my life I thought i'd be a famous  writer. Some time later, I thought I would be a missionary in the third world, caring for orphans most likely. I thought I might be a teacher and someday a wife. I longed to be a wife. The amount of time that I waited for this in my life seems like forever. I feel like I waited more than half my life for that day in September. I'm a wife now. I find myself living the dreams I once had of keeping house and taking care of a dear man. It was worth the wait, and now the waiting is done. Right?


There is another dream I have; one that I have carried with me as long as I carried my dream of wifehood. my dream of motherhood. I've been taking care of other peoples children since I was thirteen, and have loved every minute. Now I am married and my arms ache for one who resembles me and my love. I yearn for a wee one who belongs to me and comes from my own flesh.  I took it for granted that my own would just come along right away. I assumed that three our four months into marriage I'd find myself "with child." Not so. Here I am 8 months later, looking for every excuse I can find for why I'm still barren.
    "Bruce was on antibiotics for a while, that probably didn't help." "I wasn't really tracking very well the first    
    few months." "Well i'm a very small woman, maybe that has to do with it." "Some people just take this   

Suddenly as I find myself facing that time of the month again, I find that there are no more excuses. It seems painfully clear that God simply does not will us to have children right now. The question cowering in the back of my brain, trembling and to scared to even materialize itself is, will it EVER be His will?

 Bruce was not sick this month. It was a textbook month for us. So as the time draws near, many feelings flood my heart. I dread the results, and yet I can't hardly wait for them. I'm constantly looking at my belly in the mirror wondering if it looks different. I'm constantly analyzing my body and trying to decide if anything really feels different. One day I think maybe I'm a little nauseated, the next day I'm a little extra tired. Then I throw it all aside and bitterly exclaim that it won't matter because I'm probably not pregnant anyways. Then five minutes later I'm noting that my dreams have been more strange than usual. 

So I wait, I wait for my fertile time, then I wait for enough time to pass so I can take a test, then I agonize over when exactly to take a test, then I'm disappointed and the whole waiting cycle starts over again. I'm tired of waiting. I'm so weary of wondering and hoping and not knowing. Then a verse came to mind. 

"They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up on wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint." 

What's He talking about? I am WEARY! Then I noticed that it didn't say that those who wait on conception will renew their strength. It didn't say that those who wait on a husband will renew their strength. It said that those who wait ON THE LORD will renew their strength. It occurred to me that this whole life that God has given us is nothing but one big waiting game. But what are we waiting for really? If we are constantly waiting on the things we think will give us earthly satisfaction we will just continue to wear ourselves out. If we wait on JESUS though, He gives us strength. He sustains, and He satisfies, like nothing else will. 

So this month I think I will let that dreaded day come and go and whatever the results, I will remember who I'm really waiting on, and look to Him for strength and renewal to keep the faith and keep trucking on through the next month, and the next, and the next, and the next....

Thursday, November 15, 2012

He Is Better

Hello Again!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. The good news is that Bruce and I finally found a new place. The bad news is, now we have to pack up and find furniture to fill our new TWO bedroom apartment. What a blessing! Through all the struggles and frustrations of looking for a new apartment, God taught me a lesson. I thought it was hard enough to be going through all the newly-wed challenges, plus apartment shopping and then add a little homesickness and you have a big mess. That is what I was. My husband is so patient!

So after we pulled through all of that and finally found a place, my husband showed me this video.
Matt Chandler was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor three years ago and was given three years to live. It's been three years and he's still alive. That is beside the point. His attitude towards this shocking news is simply this: Thank you God! Thank you for considering me worthy to display your goodness and your excellence and your glory in THIS. Not just when miracles are happening and we are blessed, but even when things are terrible and don't FEEL good, YOU ARE STILL GOOD!

He spoke about Hebrews 11 and how so many are commended for their faith. At the end he talks about  those who shut the mouths of lions, and who overcame terrible odds, but then it says some were beaten, some were shipwrecked, some were sawn in two and both groups of people showed great faith.

First of all, wow are my little trials BEANS compared to how people have suffered for Christ or what? Secondly, not everyone gets miracles and blessings all the time. Sometimes we suffer. I want be known as someone whose faith withstands the trials that come. I want to be able to stand up and say God is good, and excellent and beautiful and glorious no matter what the circumstances may be. I want to be able to say that God is sufficient, God is BETTER even than any thing, any circumstance, any ache or pain that there is in this world.

I also read an article in Table Talk magazine this week that spoke about pursuing contentment. It was dealing with the issue of covetousness, and how the heart issue is contentment. I have been so guilty lately, not of covetousness, but just of wallowing in my little list of things I wish were different. Um, Maria, THINGS AREN'T DIFFERENT!!! And you can't change them. You can only change YOU. That change that I need, it's contentment. So I've been on a crusade to pursue contentment. What a change it has made. How much more joy there is in life when you just choose to be thankful.

I sure do miss home....but I have the best husband in the whole world. So instead of being mopey because things here are different and mom and dad are far away, I choose to look at my hubby and let the goodness of the Lord fill my heart like wind in an open sail.

p.s  Here is a little preview of my wedding pics courtesy of Mark Elkins Photography.

There's a lot of love here :) 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Still Not Home

Still Not Home

White, and wispy all at once, she saw it coming fast
planning, working, calling, making, hoping she would last.
Then it came, and she emerged in white from head to toe.
Veil blown by balmy breezes, bright and all aglow.
She looked him in the eyes, she felt her spirit soar.
Home never felt this close before.

That white and wispy dream it carried her so long.
It buzzed and rang inside her ears like a lovely ringing song.
Day after day the song wore off, and then she faced her life.
She was happy cooking, cleaning, being a little wife.
I must be home, she thought, and sat down with a sigh.
But something in her yearned and longed, and made her want to cry.

The days grew long, and sometimes dull, the wispy dream had left.
She felt a little lonely, a little bit bereft.
Perhaps something was missing to make a home out of her house,
Perhaps she needed time to find her place, 
and get to know her spouse.
But time went on and on and on, she knew that wasn't true.
There was no thing, no time, no spouse
 that could stop her feeling blue.

No place, no person, nothing here on earth could fill and satisfy.
No place would ever fill her heart, and stop the need to cry.
No apartment, house or hut could make her feel at rest.
No roof would satisfy the longing that weighed upon her chest.
The only thing, she realized, that would fill her to the brim,
Would be when she saw God and went to her eternal home with Him.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life Goes On...

Apartments, friends, feelings, schedules, routines.

These are all things that I am discovering, learning, searching for and understanding in my new life here.

Apartments. My husband and I have been searching diligently for an apartment. It is so difficult to find the line between being good stewards of our money and yet finding somewhere we can feel at home. We don't mind living somewhere that isn't the nicest place, but we would like a place where we don't wake up in the middle of the night because the roaches are having a party in our kitchen, you know?

Friends. Thank you Lord for letting me move nearby my sister. what an amazing blessing that has been. However, when you move to a knew place, you want to find connections, people you will see on a regular basis. In Morehead, I had Lambeth, of course, but I also had other friends that i'd run into at Wal-Mart, I new my hairdresser really well, and had other people that knew me around town. I want that community feeling here. I want my butcher to smile when he sees me coming, and I want to find my regular hair salon. I want to run into friends in the grocery store and when I'm on a walk. I want community. This takes time, and I'm not a very patient person. Yet, He is always faithful to provide, so I don't have to worry about it.

Feelings. So many new feelings. Homesickness comes in waves but less frequently now. Joy is constant. Happiness I feel whenever my hubby is in sight. Contentment fluctuates but increases with time. I am struggling with selfishness now more than I ever have. I never knew how spoiled I was until I got married. I have been shocked at how often I find myself upset and when I analyze it realize that I'm just not getting my way. God give me grace! And he does. Frustration and inadequacy come fairly often. Learning new roads, new stores, new everything can be frustrating, but at least they speak English here. I can't imagine what it's like for a new missionary transitioning into a whole new culture. Inadequacy I have always struggled with. My husband does such a lovely job of lifting me up and reminding me of the gifts God has given me. He also reminds me that it is GOD'S SPIRIT in me that does all the good and not me by myself.

Schedule and routines. This will come with time as I learn what my husband needs from me and what I need to accomplish during the day for my house and for my Herbalism program. No! I haven't abandoned it. I'm still working at it. And all of this comes with a need to learn how to balance my activities with the distraction of constantly available internet. I'll get used to it. I did in college.

Thank you Lord for helping me, and indwelling me with your Spirit, so that I might not lose hope and lose strength.

As the sun is full of light, 
the ocean full of water, 
Heaven full of glory, so my heart be full of thee.
Give me thyself without measure, 
as an unimpaired fountain, 
as inexhaustible riches. 
Come as love, that I may adore the Father, and love him as my all;
Come as joy, to dwell in me, move in me, animate me;
Come as helper, with strength to bless and keep, directing my every step;
Come as beautifier, bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos;
Magnify to me thy glory by being magnified in me, 
and make me redolent of thy fragrance.
~ From a puritan prayer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dinners for Two

Hello friends!

A new challenge has presented itself in my new married life: cooking for two! I have spent the last fifteenish years cooking for anywhere from 4 -16+ people. I was not sure how I could reprogram my brain to cook less. I find myself buying large amounts of food, dividing it into portions and freezing it. It's kind of like being in college again. That was a three year window where I cooked for one! Although there were times then that I cooked for a lot more than that. Some of you may remember the famous Friday night dinners. So I find myself making little pots of soup, and chopping pork loins into four big chunks. It's kind of fun making a meal and then seeing if there's any left over. Tonight I made roasted pork loin with a pineapple glaze and a side of fresh steamed green beans and mashed potatoes. Yum! I can't wait to eat it :)

Here's a little how-to for roasted pork loin for two!

  1. Take a full sized pork loin (1.79 a lb at Kroger this week!!) and chop it into four large pieces about four to five inches long. Freeze three pieces and save one out. 
  2. Place the piece you saved out in a pressure cooker pot with olive oil, sprinkle it with seasoned salt and garlic powder and brown it. 
  3. Then put the rack in the pressure cooker and 1 1/2 of water and a little salt. Put the lid on the cooker and bring it to full pressure. Cook it for about 12 minutes in a manual pressure cooker, 10 in an electric one.
  4. Meanwhile, place three finely chopped rings of canned pineapple in a small saute pan and add a tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/4 tsp of fresh grated ginger. Add two tablespoons of water and simmer for a few minutes until thickened.
  5. Let your pressure cooker fully release the pressure before you open it. Open it then and slice the pork loin, put it back in the cooker to stay warm.
  6. Place fresh, rinsed and snapped beans into a steamer pot and steam for twenty minutes with salted water. Top with a couple pats of butter...VOILA! Delicious dinner for two :) Enjoy!