Saturday, June 20, 2009

Amaretto Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts

Brownies from scratch - yes you read that right! I am baking and not out of a box. The Ukrainian people inspired me to cook! These brownies are AWESOME and not too hard. I don't put the walnuts in because Matt does not like nuts and I forgo the powdered sugar, they are just extra calories that can be avoided. I feel like a real blogger now since I am posting a recipe. Enjoy!

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
1 1/2 cups walnuts
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a 9 by 9 square baking pan with parchment paper, making sure paper hangs over the edges. Grease paper with butter so the brownies don't stick. Melt butter and chocolate over a double-boiler and stir gently until smooth and shiny. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk together eggs, sugar and amaretto in a mixing bowl until combined. Pour in chocolate mixture and continue to whisk until combined. Gradually add flour mixture, then add walnuts and incorporate with a wooden spoon. Transfer batter to baking pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the pan. When done, invert onto a cutting board, remove paper and cut into squares. Garnish with powdered sugar and serve.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

FINALLY, I posted mission trip pictures

Thank you ALL for your prayers. We had a wonderful trip and could not have asked for more. Sorry it has taken so long, but it has been a little crazy since we have been back, but it was worth it. Matt and I had a great time and LOVE the Ukrainian people! We definitely want to go back

We stayed in Belgrod most of the time in a home and ate at the Second Baptist Church for breakfast and dinner. We would depart from the church after breakfast to smaller villages to do medical and VBS ministries. We usually ate lunch at the church we were working in. Side note - I keep talking about eating b/c I felt like that was all we did. They were all wonderful cooks and the food was great and fresh. Mainly bread, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, cherries, sausage (like Peperage Farm), chicken, steak, borsh (spelling), and last but not least Ukrainian pancakes. They were fired biscuits with cheese in the middle. YUM!!! Bread, potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes were at all 3 meals!
So back to the mission part - At these village churches Matt and I would help with medical and VBS if there were a lot of people, but if there were not we would walk down the streets in the villages with an interrupter and let people know there was a doctor at the church and games for the kids. People were always very open to it and usually went. We only met one old man who said he was communist.
We left the Belgrod group and met up with the Nickolaevka team. They were staying at an orphanage and had the same daily routine except they ate at a restaurant for breakfast and dinner. The restaurant had cereal as an option which as most of you know is my favorite meal (that and hot dogs). While in Nickolaevka we visited the hospital and then with the kids at the orphanage where we were staying. The children between 9 and 12 years old and were SO well behaved. We did not spend a lot of time with them which was probably a good thing, I would have gotten too attached. We had one more VBS and medical clinic Friday morning outside of Nickolaevka and then it was off to the seminary in Odessa to meet the other team.
The Baptist Seminary in Odessa is very nice and has such a wonderful story. It started in 1989, but the communist era was not over until 1990. It continues to grow and they continue to build more to accommodate all of the students. It is mainly funded by the Baptist Convention in the U.S. Both teams, the translators, and seminary students had a final dinner together that night. The next morning it was a 6 hour ride to Kiev to catch our plane home on Saturday. We ate out in Kiev for dinner and that was pretty cool. Kiev is their capitol city and is much more modern than where we had been. There was a lot of new construction and various other signs of growth.
Here are some of our pictures, I hope to have more from our group soon
This was baggage claim at the Odessa airport. It was about 30 feet from the runway :)

These guys were from Syria and Jordan. They are attending the Baptist Seminary in Odessa and use to be Muslim, but converted to Christianity and plan to go back to their countries to be preachers. Pretty cool huh?

This is Vika - one of our translators who was so sweet. She has only been taking English for 2 years and does way better than I would after taking Russian for 2 years!

This was an apartment building near a park in Nickolaevka, it has the soviet union symbol on it. You would see that occasionally.

2 little girls that game to VBS in one of the villages outside of Nickolaevka (we are not sure of the name). The little girl on the right was only wearing undies. We only saw this with her, but it was still so sad. I am sure she had clothes, but did not want to mess them up while playing?

On the right are our host family and on the left was our main translator Victor. The mom Lidia was an amazing cook and SO sweet!

This was the view from one of the pastor's house in Pivdenne. He lived in the country on a bay of the Black Sea. Absolutely beautiful.

This was our host family's house and their grape vines. Everyone had grape vines. Their house was very nice for the area and had indoor plumping which not everyone had. They lived in Belgrod.

These were some children in VBS at First Baptist Church in Belgrod. The church was over 130 years old and a more typical looking church throughout the country

This was the church and more grape vines.

This was more or less Second Baptist Church in Belgrod. It was not typical at all. It was by far the nicest and biggest Baptist Church we saw while there. Obviously the Orthodox churches were big, but when the government forces you to be Orthodox, it's amazing who all shows up.

And last, but NOT least cigarette warning labels in the Ukraine!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We Leave Tomorrow

This will probably be my last post until we return on Saturday, June 13. Actually I probably won't post anything until at least Sunday since I'll be a tad tired. Matt and I are packed and ready to go. I think our only concern are the flights (not a huge fan of flying, get that from Rex), but other than that we are really excited!

I do have an update about our street evangelism, I think I misunderstood what we would really be doing. We will go a day ahead of the group and let the village know our team will be coming for medical care and VBS. It won't be bad at all!

Please keep us in your prayers!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.
Proverbs 3: 5-6