We’ve been up in Yellowstone this past week—unbelievably wide-open space sunrises and sunsets everyday. Just to keep you up to date: my computer crashed the day before we left, and I wasn’t even able to let you know what happened. But we’re back at it, with posts changed now to once every two weeks. Keep us on your mind!
I like green things: asparagus, broccoli and cabbage. I also like green mountains, green emeralds and even Kermit the frog! That’s why we are doing a spinach gratin this week. A gratin is any vegetable baked in a sauce with a topping of cheese and/or bread crumbs. The sauce is usually a bechamel, but other sauces are also used. And if you are thinking ahead while reading this, you are right; a potato gratin does not require a sauce. A potato gratin makes its own sauce when the potatoes begin to fall apart and thicken the milk and cream. Spinach won’t do that, so we will make a bechamel sauce for this gratin.
You will need:
1 12 oz. bag of frozen spinach Ground Nutmeg
4 Tablespoons Butter White Pepper
1 1/2 cup Milk 1 cup grated Asiago Cheese
Salt 1 cup Bread Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Flour
1. Grate the cheese. If you do not have Asiago, most any hard white cheese will work, such as: Parmesan, Romano, Gruyere or Swiss. Don’t pack the cup; just let it fall softly into the cup unless you really like cheese.
2. You should have bread crumbs in your freezer. But if you don’t, you can make some quickly in your food processor.
3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
1. In a sauce pan, melt three tablespoons of butter. Save the fourth tablespoon of butter for the spinach later. Add three tablespoons of flour to the butter. Stir and cook over medium heat for a little over a minute. This mixture we call a roux (pronounced “roo”).
2. Add the milk and whisk until the sauce thickens. If it becomes too stiff add more milk.
3. Season the sauce with salt and white pepper to your own taste. That means taste it! Start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and keep tasting until you like it. Add a pinch of nutmeg. This we call a bechamel.
4. Stir in the grated cheese. Now the sauce is called a Mornay sauce, one of the Whitesauce children. Set the sauce aside.
5. Melt one tablespoon butter in a large skillet or saute pan over a medium heat. Add the spinach. It can be thawed or in a frozen state. The twelve ounces of spinach is not critical. You could use up to 16 ounces if you have big eaters. Twelve to sixteen ounces of fresh spinach will work well also. Stir the butter and spinach over the medium heat until it is defrosted and the excess water is boiled away. That’s all we are concerned with in this step. We are not trying to cook it.
6. When the spinach is thoroughly defrosted, and you don’t see any water in the pan, remove the pan from the heat. The spinach should still be moist.
7. Taste the spinach to see if it needs salt.
8. Pour about 3/4 Mornay sauce into the skillet and stir it together. If all of the sauce is needed, add it, but it is likely that it will not be. Save the excess in the refrigerator. later in the week, reheat it and pour it over any hot green vegeable.
10. Pour the contents of the skillet into any kind of uncovered baking dish.
11. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top.
12. Bake until the bread crumbs are beautifully browned. About thirty minutes.
Food for Thought:
For most of us who were born before 1960, to think of spinach is to think of “Popeye, the Sailor Man.” As Sampson’s hair was connected to his strength, so Popeye’s cans of spinach were connected to the bulging muscles which enabled him to repeatedly rescue his sweetheart Olive Oyl.
Strength—much touted, much needed in these perilous days. I speak especially of spiritual strength, the kind that comes not from long hair or spinach, but from the power of God.
This year I’m studying the Bible with Precepts, and we are delving into II Timothy. What a book! It is filled with admonitions to be strong. Paul challenges his young disciple Timothy to boldly preach the whole truth of the gospel, no matter what people say; to stand on the truth of who God made him to be; to be strong in the grace that is found in Christ, and to suffer hardship according to the power of God.
As we drove through Yellowstone Park this past week, we saw stunning sign after stunning sign of God’s power—from the hidden volcanic power evidenced by the countless bubbling mud pots to the granite strength of the Grand Tetons that cleave the sky.
And that is the kind of power God offers us if we will but seek it, his very own power for every situation in our lives.
The strength of faithfulness
The strength of being who God made us to be
The power of God
Post Note: “If you think you’re too small to be effective, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.”