Saturday, October 15, 2011
My husband is constantly giving me a hard time for eating random things that we have in our pantry. I’m not really the type of person that can dig up any other group of ingredients and then suddenly I am writing a cookbook. Instead, I’m constantly putting together “meals” (using the word “meals” very loosely) that kind of go together, if I’m lucky. Mostly, though, they just sort of suffice and I’m able to choke it down.
Here’s a sample of my weekly eating schedule:
Black Beans straight from the can.
Day-old rice. Cold.
Cold chicken breast dipped in cold mashed potatoes.
You get the picture.
And this, was one of those meals. Grilled cheese and berries. Fresh, seasonal berries from the Farmers Market with sharp Cheddar Cheese on Squaw bread. And actually, it was pretty delicious. See the thing is, is that I just don’t have time to make something. I’m always running around like a crazy person and then suddenly I’m famished to the point that I don’t have enough patience to actually make something good. So, I have meals like this.
I haven’t really thought this was an issue until recently. I’ve started reading the trilogy the Hunger Games, and as I’m reading it, I realize that the two main characters at the beginning of the book are eating a berry and goat cheese sandwich. Awesome right? Wrong. These people ARE STARVING. As in, they literally have no food, live in a town where people die of hunger daily, and this is all they could drum up.
I read on.
I begin to make a list of things in this story that stand out about the way these people live their lives. Is it just me, or do these seem a bit familiar?
1.) They eat anything they can find, most of the time it doesn’t go together and sometimes it’s stale. It’s ALWAYS COLD.
2.) They don’t shower often.
3.) They must walk REALLY QUIETLY otherwise they are afraid that they will wake a sleeping beast.
4.) They make friends with a mocking jay, a bird that sings the same song over and over again…and again…and again…
5.) They look totally different with make up, and it’s a once in a lifetime occurrence.
6.) If a sleeping animal is near by, they sit in the same position for hours, waiting for the animal to wake up.
7.) They are disturbed in their sleep by loud noises.
8.) Getting up before dawn is a normal occurrence.
9.) They name their children after food. (Chocolate chip cookie anyone?)
10.) When they do get a hot meal, they stuff their face because they have no idea when their next one will be.
Moms, can I get an “AMEN??”
Friday, October 7, 2011
Well, that’s a little dramatic if I’ve ever heard it. I mean, am I right? No one falls in love with a frosting.
But this week has been a bit dramatic. I don’t consider myself a tech person at all, but am a firm believer and supporter of Apple. As a family we use their products, but this wonderful company (via the hard work of my husband) also happens to put food on our table, diapers on our child, and gives us a reminder to be innovative, creative, and do it all with integrity. And so when the news of Steve Jobs passing came to our home, I was speechless. I don’t mean to be all sappy about someone that I have never met, but it’s what he represented, and the opportunities that our family has had through the company that he started that got me all teary eyed.
And I did what we all did. I googled Jobs and I looked at speeches, quotes, YouTube videos and I acted like he was some sort of hero. And in many ways, he was. And still is. And yes, before you start commenting about how reports say that he didn’t give enough to charity, or that he was rude and mean, or maybe even the story of his child that he didn’t confirm right away, please hear me when I say that I can’t think of a hero that hasn’t fallen and then rose above. And isn’t this, this falling and then getting back up again, isn’t this what it means to be heroic? To put on your cape and to soar over the heights?
But after a bit of browsing the massive amounts of google webpages, tweets and status updates, I came across a chilling headline. Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS has decided to picket the funeral of Steve Jobs. Never mind that they announced this through their iPhones (ironic much?), but my mind couldn’t get past the hate of this group and their quest to destroy the legacy of a
And so I went to their homepage and I began to weep for the hatred that was flowing out of that place. My mouth hung open and I could. not. find. words.
Because, in the Bible Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and the people of Jerusalem who, like Westboro Baptist, are missing the point.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ “
As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Jesus uses the words stones here to describe physical, literal, stones that were being thrown at “wrong-doers.” For whatever reason, the Pharisees felt the need to condemn. To judge. To criticize. And do it with the name of the Temple, the House of God, the place of worship, as their endorsement.
Hello, Westboro Baptist.
And Jesus, he beats them at their own game and he speaks of the house of God and the stones that have built it, and what the future hold for them.
It’s a two-fold metaphor here: the religious system that the Pharisees followed so very closely was built upon stones of rules, rituals, and were tightly packed into what seemed to be a non-movable prototype. And they built their temple with these very stones, and their hearts reflected this hard nature. And in all it’s glory, their temple would be destroyed and all that would be left, were
Stones instead of building. Stones instead of a heart flowing of blood and love and grace and kindness.
And Jesus points out that these same stones are thrown at people. That the rules, judgements and regulations that they use to condemn are the same stones they’ve used to build their house of worship.
And we do this every day. We have stones that have built our faith, our outlooks, and our interactions with others. But do we use these to condemn or to give life? Do we kill and destroy?
Because at the beginning of the Bible God creates the world and he creates humanity in his own image. And we so are born as creators.
Of electricity, delicious dishes, surfboards, paintings, and even iPhones.
And it’s a little too ironic for me to stomach that the tools that one man created that truly has brought so much good to people, is being used for a tool of condemnation of his own life, death and family that survives him. Shame on you, Westboro Baptist.
And shame on us if we let this kind of behavior go on.
And again on my fellow Christians who allow these stones to be the representation of a God that we know to be loving, gracious, and redeeming.
And so in the name of innovation, creation, and using the tools we’ve been given for good, let us create. And share. And raise our hats to those who have paved the way, and through grace, encouragement, and love, let’s help clear the path for those that are yet still to come.
Even if you only have a few ingredients.
Because at the end of the day, if Westboro Baptist pickets my funeral, I’ll know I used my stones for good, for the glory of God, and their hard-packed hearts will be pissed off at the reality of this. Picket away. Destroy me. I’ll take it as a compliment.
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
-Steve Jobs 1955-2011
Easiest Frosting Ever
1 Cup of Sour Cream
Brown Sugar to taste
Start with a tablespoon of brown sugar and then mix vigorously with a spoon until brown sugar dissolves. Taste. Add more if necessary. Spread on your favorite pumpkin bread and delight and enjoy!
Friday, September 30, 2011
My son is a savory kinda guy. Can’t get him to really eat fruit at all, but LOVES rice and chicken. So I guess I’ll need to start perfect my savory recipes. And today, is my first go at it. I guest posted today over at Brandy’s site, Nutmeg Nanny! Go over and check it out, and be sure to check out the rest of her recipes as well. Can I get an “amen” for Carrot Cake jam?
Thursday, September 22, 2011
You see, in order to grow, lobsters must shed their tails. He, or she, must leave behind part of themselves so that they may grow into what they are destined to be. This process, called “molting” occurs 4-5 times a year, averaging about 20 times in their lifetime. And it’s then, that we find their shells on the beach, washed up and waiting for a wave or a photograph, and it’s only a remnant of what size, and shape, they used to be.
Down below, these lobsters are hiding among the rocks and laying low. It takes about 6-8 weeks for their shells to become hard and to serve as protection from the harsh world in which they live. So they wait, and they sit. And they keep to themselves and they grow into their new shell. It takes time for that outer shell to become hard enough, and when it is, they are ready to venture out. But this new shell only lasts a few months and then the process begins all over again. They don’t cling to their current self.
They need to grow.
So they leave behind part of who they are.
“At issue here is the question: ‘To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?’ Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of it’s waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting form the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me…The world’s love is an always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain “hooked” to the world-trying, failing, and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what if offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.” - Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: a Story of Homecoming
Monday, September 19, 2011
The word “dessert” comes from the Old French word, “desservir.” It means to “clear the table, and serve.” And before sugar began to be manufactured, dessert was merely honeycomb and dried dates. But for a long time, dessert was only served in the presence of the wealthy and even then it was only on special occasions that people got to indulge. Why? Because the price of sugar was so expensive that it could not be wasted or taken for granted.
Growing up, we took road trips to visit friends and family all over the country. My parents were teachers with the summers off, so my sister and I piled into the car with them and we traveled. There were long trips, hot trips, short trips, and trips where the suitcases that were strapped to the top of the roof were rained on. But no matter what, we kept going. My dad has always said it’s important to show up for people, to travel to them, to show them that you care about them and their lives. And so we went.
And we now live in an age where we are busy and don’t have time, traveling costs money and we don’t have any. But we also live in an age where we have a cornucopia of options to connect with people. Facebook, twitter, instagram, email, snail mail, face-time…need I go on? So we are given ways of showing up for people, even when we can’t be by their side. It’s absolutely is a poor substitute, but it will do until we mark our calendars and save our time to go and see people, to show up for them, and to show them that we care.
But lately, I keep seeing posts, tweets, and other ways of communicating that are negative, puts others down, and just downright take friendships for granted by treating others with little to no respect. I fear that we are not clearing our tables and serving others.
Sugar used to be something that was costly-not wasted, and savored and treated as special, but has now become a mere lump in our coffee or a bit of a cookie that we didn’t bother to finish. I fear that all too often we are treating each other as such. Not you? Kudos. You are a better man than me. But for me, I want to take each friendship in, and savor it. I want to actually get to know those that I converse with on twitter and read their blogs, and I want to show up for those people that have been there for me in my life. Because friends are worth too much to take for granted.
The apples were because first I was going to make it be a cinnamon apple pie, but it failed. Pretty picture though!
Which is why I’ve decided to give up sweets except for once a week. I’m on a quest to remind myself to savor the sweet things in life. Once a week to sit down, and actually savor and enjoy the dessert that I took the time to make and to decorate. And sit with my husband, and take our time as we savor each bite. And this pie was my dessert last week, which I feel is a very appropriate reminder to be kind, to show up for people and to cherish friends. Because sharing a cup of coffee is one of my favorite things to do with those that I love.
And in the spirit of truly getting to know you better, I’m dying to know:
Who did you most recently have coffee with? or Who do you love having coffee with the most?
Let’s spread the love.
(Recipe heavily adapted from Nestle)
Cinnamon Dolce Latte Pie
1 pre-maid graham cracker pie crust
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 bag cinnamon chips
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1 tablespoon instant coffee (my coffee was REALLY strong, so add more or start with less depending on how strong your coffee is)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat oven to according to the instructions found on your pie crust. Cover bottom of pie crust with a single layer of cinnamon chips. Pour one tablespoon of the sweetened condensed milk onto chips. Bake according to package instructions. While baking, put the rest of the cinnamon chips (minus a few for garnish) plus 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream into microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Repeat until chips are completely melted and whipping cream and melted chips are uniform. Remove pie crust from oven, and pour mixture into pie crust. Let cool in fridge overnight.
Right before serving, combine the rest of the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and instant coffee into mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium to high speed until fluffy and sugar is dissolved. The whipped cream with turn coffee-colored. Put fresh whipped cream on top of chilled pie, add the second tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon chips for garnish. Serve and enjoy,
Monday, September 12, 2011
So it turns out that we have grapes in our backyard. Grapes. I knew we had lemons, oranges, and rosemary, but I had no idea we had grapes. It was a normal afternoon around here, and Chip was crawling all over things, falling down, standing up, falling down and then he had one too many falls and got real cranky. And, like a lot of us, he needs a bit of fresh air when this happens, so we take a nature walk out in the back yard.
So we are walking, and I’m telling Chip all about what we can cook with these things that are growing in the yard, and Chip is listening and swatting at the lemons, and grabbing the leaves, and I look up and that’s when I see them. Grapes. Real, legit, grapes. In our backyard!
And so I begin taking pictures, and as I’m inside contemplating what I’m going to do with all of these grapes, I see a recipe in Real Simple that seems easy enough, and so I get to work. The recipe is easy, and it’s delicious. It’s a win-win on all fronts. And although I altered it a bit because of the things I had on hand, my joy in doing this project was not in the recipes. It was in the photos.
You see, I’m a words girl. I love to write. And therefore, my default, I’m a pictures girl. Because sometimes, there are not words to capture exactly what you are looking at. Other times, words can only describe the way that you are feeling. And this, is what I am passionate about. This connection between words and photos, of beautiful food, people, and places.
The tagline for my blog has always been: “A reminder that unlikely things can come together and make something beautiful.” And it’s true. Baking is textures, colors, and flavors that seem to have nothing in common but when combined perfectly, they make something beautiful and delicious. I love the colors of food, the blessing we have that we live in a place and time that we can eat it, the occasions that people have to enjoy it, and the Biblical truths that food represents. But I love mostly that it’s a reminder that sometimes life throws you curve balls, and we wake up to something new each day, and things don’t always seem to fit together, but if just give it some time, things usually turn out to be something beautiful. And if it doesn’t? We must remember that there is hope that it will.
Recently, my husband has taken a new job as worship leader at a church and this has allowed me to stay at home with Chip. We couldn’t be more excited about this new season. And it’s in this new season that I hope my blog can be a place for these photos, to try new things in the realm of food photography and food styling, and a place for stories. Words and photos, with a proof of beauty and the hope for it when we can’t always seem to find it.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m not that good at making up recipes? I end up wasting too much food, and when I’m hungry, I’m hungry. And frankly, I don’t have the patience with myself to try out new combinations. I’d rather enjoy a well-seasoned recipe that has been tried and tested by someone whose gift is just that, and then I can indulge, cry over it (it’s happened), and then photograph it.
I know I have lots to learn, but I hope you’ll join me in this new adventure. Thank you in advance for letting me walk with you and you doing the same for me.
Recipe barely adapted from Real Simple Magazine
Grape, Sage, and Ricotta Toast
1 large bundle of Red Grapes, seedless (ours had seeds, but I just bit hard enough and pretended like I didn't notice)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
ricotta cheese for spreading (the amount will differ depending on one's presence)
baguette of choice
salt to taste
pepper to taste
4-5 sprigs of sage
Cut sage into small-ish pieces. Wash grapes, and then toss them in olive oil, sage, and salt and pepper. Pour all ingredients on to an un-greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, or until the skin splits open. While baking, cut baguette into slices and toast them until golden brown. Remove grapes from oven and spread ricotta on to bread slices. Top with grapes, sage, and salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, and add a bit more salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
These would go wonderfully with a glass of dry white wine for an at-home happy hour.