Almonds, Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut

20100916almondsFor five years the Chief and I lived in a rural and agricultural area of California.  We lived in a small town of Kerman about 25 miles outside of Fresno.  The town is surrounded by vineyards and almond orchards. Neither the Chief nor I knew much about how almonds were grown until we lived there but we quickly discovered the United States is the largest producer of almonds in the world.  In 2013 the U.S. produced 80% of the world’s almonds!

Almond Orchard
Almond Orchard

California has often been called the breadbasket of the world. In fact, the California Department of Food and Agriculture notes that California is the world’s fifth largest supplier of food and agriculture commodities. Living in central California I can attest to driving miles and miles and the only view was food being grown as far as the eye can see.  It is really quite amazing!

But the almond tree caught me by surprise.  First, the locals say “a-mond” as if the “l” is silent.  In the Midwest we are a little nutty and say “all-mond”.  My speech always gave away I wasn’t a local!  Add in my husband’s slightly southern twang … and you get “aaaa-mond”!

Almond Tree in Bloom by
Almond Tree in Bloom by

“I said to the almond tree,
‘Sister, speak to me about God,’
and the almond tree blossomed.”

Greco, famed Greek-born Spanish painter

The almond tree has lovely blossoms and were a sign to me that spring had sprung.  However, I must say my biggest surprise came in the fall when the trees are harvested.  Let me put it this way – there is a lot of shakin’ going on!sweet-almond-mandaline-300x300Machines move through the rows of almond trees mechanically and fiercely shaking the tree causing the almonds to fall to the ground. The nuts are raked into windrows and allowed to dry naturally.

PikiWiki_Israel_7025_Amond_blossomHarvesting was my least favorite part of the almond growing cycle because the process fills the air with a dull-driving sound of the machinery and dust from the process billows for miles around.  This is the time I had to close up my windows and just wait it out.

But oh the end product … so tasty, healthy, and wonderful to use in baking.  Did you know Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums and peaches?

I like almonds for the simple fact they are very good for me.  I’ve inherited high cholesterol and almonds are believed to help lower cholesterol, help reduce heart attack risk, help build strong healthy bones and teeth and a whole lot more!
crushed almondsRecently I tossed a whole big bag of almonds into my food processor and let ‘em go.  I ended up with these tiny chopped nuggets of nutrition.  Here are just a few recipes we sprinkle with almond goodness.

healthified baked oatmealBaked oatmeal is a staple at our house! Sprinkling in some chopped almond really give this already healthy dish an even bigger boost.

granola panfulAdding slivered almonds to my homemade baked granola is a no-brainer.

Granola bowlThe nuts stay crunchy and really enhance the flavor of the granola.

Nuts can be pretty expensive depending where you buy them.  I always buy in bulk and have found to have an excellent selection for good value.  Click HERE to check them out!

Scripture cake panfulAlmonds are a must-have in my Scripture Cake.
The Bible has a lot to say about almonds.  You can find many scripture references to the blossoms and the nuts, including this one.

They are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—Ecclesiastes 12:5

 Sometimes I feel like a nut … and I always keep almonds, pecans, and walnuts handy for the moment!

Happy Baking!

A few fun facts and health benefits of almonds can be found here:

Revelation 5:13, In-Depth Bible Study

Revelation 5-13 Rabbit
We are just about ready to finish up another year at Community Bible Study. The class I attend started out last August studying the book of Revelation.  Through the years I have heard a lot of comments from people who say they are “too scared” to study Revelation.  Or those that say “I can’t understand it so I’m not even going there.” 

When our leadership decided on this study for the 2014-2015 study-year,  we feared that many wouldn’t attend.  But guess what happened?  Just the opposite!  Our class numbers increased almost every week right to the end of the study!  The time was and is ripe for understanding all we can about God’s plan for now, the end times, and all eternity.

Revelation 5:13

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be blessing and honor and glory
and might forever and ever!”

I love this particular scripture because it tells us all of the created order—no matter their location—pay homage to the Father and the Son.

From Genesis to Revelation God breathed out the scripture to give us a road map for life under the sun.  I encourage you to get into an in-depth Bible study … it really is life changing!

Have a blessed Sunday,


Blueberry Puff Pastry, Broccoli Straws Breakfast Quiche, Soul Food Ephesians 4:31

Rachel CactusHappy Friday!  I took this picture last year when visiting family in California.  When I read this scripture from Ephesians this morning I thought of the prickly cactus that can represent the hurtful things in our life like bitterness, anger and wrath.  But the little yellow bloom reminds me the Apostle Paul tells us to reverse anger with forgiveness, loving kindness and tenderness.  That way we can reverse our anger before it gets too prickly and hurts others!

What are your plans for the weekend ahead?  Here are a couple of suggestions for your Saturday morning breakfast of Sunday brunch.

Blueberry Puff Pastry
Blueberry Puff Pastry

Blueberry Puff Pastry is very fast and easy to make.  Even better, gets the kids involved in helping you weave the dough!

Broccoli Straw Quiche

This colorful Quiche is made from broccoli straws and carrot sticks. It is healthy and a great addition to your weekend brunch menu!

Have a blessed weekend and Happy Baking!

Taste and See In NYC

Catherine Speaking2
A couple of times in the past 18 months I have told you about Hephzibah House in NYC.  In my blog post  Giving Glory to God I wrote about our friends Catherine and Russ and their journey to becoming Directors of Hephzibah House.

C & C Decorating the tree Last Thanksgiving my sous-chef dish washing mom, the Chief, and I traveled to Hephzibah House and spent 10 days doing a variety of tasks including painting their dining room, preparing and serving a full Thanksgiving meal for 75 international students and decorating the house for the ensuing Christmas season.

Vernon knows his way around a kitchen!
Vernon knows his way around a kitchen!

Two generations of “The Buck Family” from Franklin, Tennessee joined us and together our families served in a fun and unique way! Vernon is the family patriarch and has a heart for serving others which he and his wife Linda are passing on to his children and grandchildren!

This time I spent at Hephzibah House last fall was a spring-board for an opportunity to return for the annual women’s spring tea. I was honored to be the featured guest speaker.

So, this past week my sous chef dish-washing mom and I flew to NYC and spent a few days helping to prepare for this year’s spring tea.  Joining us were other friends of Hephzibah and from this picture you can get a sense for the fun time we had in fellowship and work.

Kristi laughingMy sweet mom is the busiest one of this bunch as she is preparing vegetables for the hors d’oeuvre tray.  Kelly (on my left) and Kristi (at the end of the table) and I are much more interested in a little laughter.

Sulima and Vivienne copySulima and Vivienne are on staff at Hephzibah House and are beautiful woman of God inside and out.  Sulima has been on staff there for 15 years as head housekeeper and she has a servant’s heart if I have ever seen one!  Vivienne is one of the woman who work at the front desk and she shared a devotional with me that touched my heart in a way that has left me anxious to write about it.

Alice and CatherineI presented a program titled “Taste and See”.  Through stories and scripture I encouraged the women to study Scripture and share The Word of God in their circles of influence and especially with their children and grand children.  We had lots of fun making a virtual Scripture Cake and speaking the Scripture that goes along with it. The house was filled with woman who love the Lord and each other.  What a blessing it was to be counted among them!

scripture cake closeupAt the close of the presentation I shared a bite of Scripture Cake which I had made for them.

Thank you Hephzibah House and the women who support it for opening your loving arms to my sous chef dish-washing mom and me.  I love you all!

~Blessings, Catherine




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