Corned Beef and Cabbage

Our annual St. Patrick's Day party is one of my favorite childhood memories. Every year my parents would throw a party to celebrate this fun holiday that has absolutely nothing to do with our heritage - just a fun excuse to get people together and eat great food!

This recipe has been in my family for years - I'm not even sure how long! Definitely 30+ ...and now it's yours! :)

Anytime I make this meal for St. Patrick's Day I am taken back to so many rich memories of dinner parties with my parents friends....running around and playing with the other kids, eating corned beef sandwiches the next day, and accidentally gulping down beer that I thought was water! I think I was about 6 years old and I started freaking out! Haha!

Just smelling the meat cooking makes me think of my dad...the spices and everything combined smell of him, to me, and bring me such comfort. Isn't it so strange how food - tastes and smells - can bring back so many vivid memories? I think music is the same way...I love that! 

We're keeping this tradition alive and having a party of our own this year! We're inviting friends and making it an early dinner party so family's can feel free to bring their kiddos and hang out for a bit without feeling like their kids are missing bedtimes. We are providing the corned beef, cabbage and potatoes and asking friends to bring a side or drink to share! I've listed some possible add on's after the recipe if you want to do the same. Since we want this to be kid-friendly, I'm going to put out a little craft for the kiddos to participate in. 

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Ingredients


Serves approx. 10              Cook time: 5 hours

  • 1 (6-7 pound) vacuum packed corned beef * 
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spices
  • 2 cans of beer
  • 5-6 Yukon gold potatoes 
  • 1 medium head of cabbage

Optional Add-on's to this meal:

  • Seedless rye bread with butter
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sliced pickles or sauerkraut 

* Notes: Select a piece of brisket corned beef that is fairly even all the way around with a layer of fat on one side. Do not buy if it is not a whole piece - separated or broken meat will not cook the same way. 

Instructions

  1. Open the package of meat, rinse under cold water and place fat side up in a large stock pot. Fill the pot about half way with water. Empty the package of spices that are packed with the meat into the water along with the additional pickling spices. 
  2. Add the beer to the water.
  3. Bring everything to a boil and then lower the heat until it starts to simmer. Cover the pot and simmer meat for about 4 hours or until tender enough for a fork to run through it.
  4. Remember to check the heat at least every hour to make sure the water maintains a slight rolling simmer. 
  5. When the meat is cooked, carefully lift it out of the water (so it does not break) and place on aluminum foil and wrap it up. Let the meat "rest" while you cook the potatoes and cabbage.
  6. Pour off about 1/2 of the liquid and place the potatoes with the skins on in to the water. Make sure the water is not fully covering the potatoes.
  7. Cover the pot again and cook potatoes for about 15 minutes. 
  8. Cut cabbage into quarters or eighths and gently lay on top of the cooking potatoes. Cover the pot and cook and additional 15 minutes. 
  9. By the time the potatoes are cooked the cabbage should be steamed. You want the cabbage to have a bright green color. Not raw but yet not fully cooked. Overcooked cabbage will not smell or taste great! The potatoes should be fork tender and have slight cracking. 
  10. To slice the meat, remove from foil and place on your cutting board, fat side up.  Slice against the grain, about 1/8th of an inch for each slice. If possible use an electric knife, but if you don't have one, a serrated knife will be fine. 

Do you celebrate this fun holiday in anyway? I'd love to hear your ideas! 

Top Hospitality Books from 2016

Oh hey MARCH! Wow....I meant to write this post in January, but other necessities pushed it to the back burner. I really wanted to share the books I read on hospitality last year that really impacted me. I hope you get a chance to read these books this year if you haven't already! 

Top Hospitality Books from 2016 // Natasha Red

 

For the Love

Jen Hatmaker

Thought I don't agree with all of Jen's theology, this book is phenomenal. It's the only book I've read from her and I finished it in 3 days. She talks a lot about developing community, deeply loving others, and how they do supper club. Meaningful, deep, and super funny!

Meal with Jesus

Tim Chester

I'm actually almost done with this one, but have read more than half and would highly recommend it. This book does a deep dive into scripture to show all the ways Jesus used food to connect with people and build His kingdom. It's fascinating, inspiring, motivating, and convicting. You'll get a lot of new inspiration and ideas for sharing a meal with others from this book. 

Life in Community

Dustin Willis

I had this book on my list for months and never picked it up because it looked really similar to a lot of thoughts on hospitality I had read before. However, I was SO wrong. It was sitting on a table of free books at our church and I picked it up and devoured it. One of the big take aways for me was a story about receiving a single serving tray as a wedding gift. He had no idea what they would do with one serving tray but the giver of the gift explained that it was to always remind them to prefer the other person before themselves and serve sacrificially. I think this is the heart of hospitality - that we are willing to sacrifice our space, time, resources for others to be able to love them well. 

The Finishing School

Valerie Woerner

Though this book isn't all about hospitality, she has several chapters that focus on this and even some practical worksheets available to help you think though who you want to invite to your home. This is a great overall personal growth book and has great points on hospitality and many other topics!

The Lifegiving Home

Sally & Sarah Clarkson

This was such a refreshing read! Both Sally and Sarah have a very conversational and inspiring writing style. You have probably heard me talk about this book before, as it has impacted me so much in my practical day to day homemaking. They highlight each month of the year and cast a vision for our homes that provides a welcoming environment for those who live there and those who visit. Tons of practical ideas for hospitality that align with the months/seasons too! 


There you have it! The hospitality books I read in 2016 and my recommendations. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are you going to put one on your list for this year? Let me know! 

Grain Free Protein Waffles

We woke up one morning last week and had a rather rough start. Needless to say, breakfast didn't get started until an hour or so after the kids woke up. After a few deep breaths and prayer, I decided to make breakfast special to reset our day on the right foot. Even small pleasures can make all the difference with our moods. I decided pancakes would be a good start. Reaghan loves herself some waffles and pancakes, but this morning she requested they be in waffle form ;) 

Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog

I really just whipped some things together and came up with a recipe that was super yummy! These waffles are naturally sweet from the banana, so no syrup is needed. Topping with fresh (or frozen and thawed!) berries is an easy way to make them fun for the kids without any syrup. 

Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog
Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog

These waffles are very filling, because they use so many eggs + contain protein powder! The use of almond and coconut flour also add a good amount of healthy fats and fiber to fill you up. I only ate two and was pretty full! 

Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog
Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog
Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog
Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 banana (freckled with brown spots) 
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional but we love the extra protein!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • Cooking spray 

Instructions

  1. Turn on waffle iron to start heating up.
  2. Blend all ingredients EXCEPT the coconut flour in a blender until smooth. 
  3. Add the coconut flour and blend again. 
  4. Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour about a 1/2 cup of batter onto iron. Close and cook fully according to your iron's guidelines. 
  5. Serve with a generous helping of berries and enjoy!

Notes: Makes 4 big waffles (1/2 cup of batter in iron) or 8 smaller waffles (1/4 cup batter). I can eat 2 small waffles with some eggs and be full! 

Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog
Grain Free Protein Waffles // Natasha Red Blog

What is your go-to meal to make things special for your family? 

Making a Lifegiving Home

We moved into our new home in April. Since then, I've been loving the process of cultivating a space that feels peaceful for myself, and warm and welcoming for those who enter. I've been finding a lot of joy in creating beauty in this space, since it's the first home I've lived in that truly matches my aesthetic. Sure, there are plenty of things I could change or add if we had the resources to do it all, but honestly, I kind of like not having the means to be able to do it all. It's growing contentment in me, and revealing where I am not content. Right now I'm loving the little by little progress to make this place a sanctuary for all the people who fill it. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

I've been working on a few projects to that end and I thought I'd share them with you today :) I recently finished reading the book The Lifegiving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson. So refreshing and inspiring! It's rich with truths about God's word as well as practical examples on how our homes can be havens for people. Sally and Sarah talk about how beauty in our homes actually provides a sense of belonging to those who are in the space. 

I love this perspective on what I guess I would call home decor. Now, "decor" isn't just to fill the walls or have something nice to be complimented on when a friend comes over. The whole idea is redefined so that you really are designing a home of respite and welcome to those who enter. My perspective has shifted from wanting things just because they are beautiful, to wanting them because they have beauty AND purpose. 

I've written before, in my Pursuit of Less series, that I like to keep things minimal. I don't love looking at too many things, which is why most of our toys are hidden, and the ones that are out are really inspiring to me and the kids. It's also why every addition to our home is weighed for it's value - like do I really want this, because it will be something extra to clean ;) 

Inspired from this book - here are a few of the recent changes I've made in our home and intentional function of each. Nothing is particularly life changing - but I thought they might give you a starting place as you seek to make your own home a place of refuge and meaning for the people who fill it. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

I cleared off a lot of the clutter from the side of our refrigerator and just kept what mattered most to our family. Reminders to pray for missionaries, our meal plan, my work out plan, and a scripture memory verse calendar from our church's preschool ministry. This is right next to our chopping block, as you can see at the bottom of the picture. This makes it super easy for me to glance over for some discipleship content to talk about with Reaghan or to know what to pull out of the freezer for dinner. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This wall has been so many things since we've moved in. I wanted to do a chalkboard here based off something we used to do in our old house, and something mentioned by Sally in the book. I love the idea of having a place to write encouragements, verses, or welcomes to dinner guests. It changes with the holidays with minimal banners and chalk art. For example, for Thanksgiving we had a leaf banner that said "happy fall" strung across the chalkboard and people wrote their gratitudes when they came over on the chalkboard. 

Just below the chalkboard is a wire curtain hanger from IKEA that we are using to hang up kids artwork. 

To the right is our kitchen table and to the left is Reaghan's activity tables with some velcro on the walls for different educational charts to cycle through. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This little Montessori-inspired shelf is one of my favorites. I can just plop Everett down in front of it and he will start grabbing baskets and playing. I love that it's all at their level and invites them in to play. I keep mostly educational books on this shelf - our Usborne books, or our "read-aloud" books (this is a Charlotte Mason principle I just discovered...simply spending time during the day reading to your children). 

This shelf is constantly evolving. In fact, since taking this picture, I've put all of Everett's toys in a drawer in our entertainment center and now have a free basket for something new. I also am cycling out the letter puzzle and bead toy. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

Over the years we have printed Chatbooks of vacations and one a year with family memories. This has become one of my favorite purchases during Christmas time. I wanted a way to keep them displayed in a way that would invite visitors to flip through them. It's a way for people to get to know our family's story a bit better and just be filled with joy from the cute baby pictures! It also reminds us to spend time remembering the past of our family story as we continue to live in it. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This is the wall that you see right when you walk into our home. It's a small entry way. I needed somewhere to "catch" all our things when coming and going. We got this bench from Overstock and I threw some pillows on it. In the future, I'd love to get some bigger pillows with inspiring phrases and even some pillows to change with the seasons - but that's for the future! ;) 

The basket on the right keeps adult shoes, and the basket on the left keeps Reaghan's shoes. The middle cubby is for my purse so it's out of the way. I love this little space for Reaghan to sit down and put on her shoes/put them away herself. 

Right above this we have two clear command hooks that hold our keys and a white IKEA picture ledge that has yet to be really filled. I'm still deciding what I want there - but definitnely a sign with a message of welcome to guests. Let me know if you have ideas! 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This tray sits here for dimension on the table but also as a reminder to put others first and to serve. It's a reference to a story in the book Life in Community by Dustin Willis.

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

Clean and simple! I didn't want a lot of stuff on top of the entertainment center especially since the TV is so big. Under the candles I have two books - one called "Until the Whole World Hears" which is a historical missionary book from Cru, and one with lots of pictures of Italy - both reminders to pray for the lost and an invitation for others to look through them if they wish. 

The wicker tray holds books and Bible study materials. The drawers are organized with toys, DVD's and more photo albums I'm not sure what to do with yet ;) 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This gallery wall is going to transform in the next few months. I have been sitting on it for a while, not sure what to do with it. I think I'll keep the layout, but will be changing pictures out. I want this to be a wall of remembrance - much like the stone of remembrance in 1 Samuel. The wall will hold milestones and special significant times in our family. I'm sure I'll post on Instagram when I'm finished! 

So as you can see I'm definitely still in process! But I wanted to share with y'all how I try to make my home a place of refuge and welcome, especially since we spend so much time here! I hope it gives you some ideas, and I definitely recommend The Lifegiving Home if you haven't already read it. 

How I will implement the ideas in this book throughout the year:

Each chapter centers around a month out of the year. Sally and Sarah share their thoughts on the month and the opportunities there are for hospitality and traditions. Each month I plan to open up to the chapter corresponding with the upcoming month. I'll lay out a plan for new traditions I want to try out based on my highlights and notes taken in the book. Follow along on Instagram to see how I use my home for serving both our family + those outside our home! 

Everett's 1st Birthday - Peter Rabbit Party!

Everett's party was last weekend and we had the best time. I think 1st birthday parties are just the best - they honor so much. From the parents who got through that year, to the community aka our village who stood by us, and to honor the baby as well! We really wanted to honor the Lord and what He has done in our relationship with Him through Everett's pregnancy and life this first year, which I'll share a little more about at the end. 

Peter Rabbit 1st birthday party!

FOOD

Deviled eggs

Blackberry mini pies

Smash cake 

 Veggie tray with ranch and hummus 

Annie's bunny grahams

Pumpkin tree peter rabbit pouches -- I originally wanted these but couldn't find them so I just got regular applesauce pouches 

Water

Peter Rabbit 1st birthday party!

For the snack table, I kept it really simple. I had picked up the teal pom poms from the Target dollar section months ago and didn't quite know how I would use them for the party. I ended up just using them like little cabbages on the table for dimension. I already had the teal fruit baskets, and had some silk veggies from a wreath I found at my mother-in-law's. I pulled some baskets in from Reaghan's toys and an antique watering can I use in our home for decor, and it was done! 

ACTIVITIES

I had some coloring pages on Reaghan's activity table for kids to color, and eggs filled with candy outside to find! I originally wanted to order little plastic carrots (like these) but didn't have time to order them. I just grabbed some old Easter eggs from our closet and they worked perfectly! 

DECORATIONS

We had a pretty small budget for this party, and I was pretty excited that I was able to keep everything to about $50. A big help with this was that Jordan's family loves Beatrix Potter and had a lot of things to contribute! We already had the book, plus a stuffed Peter Rabbit that we own. 

I made some cabbages to frame the wall around the chalkboard using coffee filters. I followed this tutorial - super easy! Then I filled out some stats on Everett for our chalkboard, and hung up his monthly photos on the wire hook we usually use for hanging artwork. It was the perfect spot for it right above the snack table. 

Jordan's Gran gave me this adorable tin right before the party. She had bought it from Beatrix Potter's house in England and held on to it for years! I was so excited to get it! 

Then I put out a few little tea cups, which Jordan's mom let me borrow. Aren't they sooo cute?

Of course I had to hang a sign on the front door ;) And added a little rabbit to our porch, also something of my mother-in-law's! 

DEDICATION

We dedicate our babies to the Lord at their 1st birthday parties. Our church has a dedication that we follow, and it helps us put a stake in the ground for that child's life. To say in front of all our friends and family that we are committing to raise this child in the Lord is a weighty thing, and it helps to have those people there to affirm that and keep us accountable through the years. 

In addition to the dedication, I read Psalm 145 and shared some of my heart. Those words feel too tender to share here, but I will leave you with our prayer for sweet E and some fun pictures from his smash cake, which he didn't smash, haha! 


Our prayer for you, dear Everett, is that you would grow to be a brave and mighty man of God, full of integrity and strength, tenderness and compassion. I see you laying your life down as Jesus did, fully surrendered to the God who made you, your whole heart captured by His beauty and grace. What a privilege to be your mama, to be your daddy. You have brought peace unexplainable and joy uncontainable. We can’t wait to see the man you become.