Deliver us!

December 4, 2009 by Beth  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving

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704px-Georges_de_La_Tour_020In this funny moment in which my life has become nothing but Advent, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between joyous expectation and our sometimes desperate longing for deliverance. I’m in the midst of finishing another semester of classes, dragging my very pregnant self through my days, and joining with church and family in the season of Advent which prepares us Christians for the coming of Christ.

My students are growing weary with writing, presenting, and test preparation. Yet, I try to remind them (and myself!) of the good privilege they’re receiving in all this education. Their deliverance is coming final exam week.

I haven’t been walking without waddling for some time now. This kid is repeatedly bruising one of my ribs, and sleep is growing elusive. Yet, this is my fourth baby, and I do know that deliverance, in the very specific form of delivery, is coming. So I pray for the grace to treasure up these last few days of kicks and the ability to watch television without being coated with spit up.

Then there’s the liturgical season: my sweet kids have developed a new litany of their own, repeating “I want that,” in the face of television commercials and catalogues that slip through the mail to them before I can stash them in the recycling. My nesting has mostly taken the form of buying and wrapping gifts early, lest my kids be left without Christmas bounty while I’m in the hospital. And yet, the joyous expectation of Advent is still there in the middle of “I want that” and to-do lists. We light our candles in the evening and sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Ransom captive Israel! Though my oldest is only eight, I’m caught by years of memories of her singing the hymn with candlelight reflected in her eyes. And I’m caught by the beauty of the additions of her brother’s and then her sister’s eyes to that candlelit table and by the expectation of another pair of eyes watching the candles next December. Deliverance is coming with the baby in the manger, and it’s ok that said deliverance will include the joy of peeling back gift wrap.

The ransom of captive Israel is, of course, accomplished only because Mary was delivered of the baby Jesus. Joy and release, pain and promise, are knit together. Delivering babies, it turns out, works best when I stop fighting. So, I’m praying in this Advent for the grace to let go of all kinds of things. I know it’s controversial, but I’m ready to let go of what seems to me to be an increasingly false dichotomy between penitence and joy. If we don’t sing only Advent hymns this season, I’ll try to let the Christmas carols prepare me for Christ’s coming as well. If the tree is already up and the lights are already sparkling, I’ll try to view it, not as a violation of the season of penance, but as the unstoppable breaking in of the joy that is coming. Letting go has never been particularly easy for me, but it’s one of the chief spiritual lessons that God has used motherhood to bring into my life. I’m letting go of other things as well. The legal bondage of perfectionism. My stubborn refusal to accept that, for whatever reason, having the coats hung up instead of tossed into the hall is important to my husband. The need to figure out how to perfectly parent those kids of mine or to ban all suspect toys and suspect joy from our household. Penitence and joy, expectation and deliverance are knit together.

As an Advent-Christmas treat, we’re going to a concert of Andrew Peterson’s fabulous advent album, Behold the Lamb. The lyrics march us through the whole story of what God has done for us through the centuries, of joy and deliverance. Peterson connects our need for deliverance, our need for penance, with the joy of Christmas, and his lyrics plead with God to “gather us beneath your wings tonight.”

So, deliver me, Emmanuel.
Of grading.
Of this rib-kicking blessing of a kid.
Of the kind of waiting and expectation that precludes joy.
And, most of all, from the tyranny of sin and the terror of death.
Deliver us.

The Curmudgeon v. The Candle (of Hope)

December 3, 2009 by Camille  
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But when you hear and accept this it is not your power, but God’s grace, that renders the Gospel fruitful in you, so that you believe that you and your works are nothing. For you see how few there are who accept it, so that Christ weeps over Jerusalem and, as now the Papists are doing, not only refuse it, but condemn such doctrine, for they will not have all their works to be sin, they desire to lay the first stone and rage and fume against the Gospel.

Luther’s First Sunday of Advent Sermon

advent

I wish you could see what I see sitting here. In my reading nook. Next to me a sweet schnauzer warms my legs. In the next room, a gentle husband snoozes. Upstairs the sleepy preschooler has conked out for his Sunday afternoon coma, and the silly kindergartner tries his best to keep quiet in his own room. But I hear the leaping off the bed and the happy dancing directly above me.

I see our Christmas tree. Lit. A miracle in itself since just last night the sentimentally appointed pinester was dark due to a malfunction somewhere in its dozen strands of light. From my point of view, the Hubby divined the exact problem (blown light fuse) and fixed it effortlessly. Yesterday’s dead car battery, however, needed Geico’s help. And the vintage Lionel that usually circles the tree couldn’t be fixed without parts, so it waits for us next year. We were electrical Schleprocks yesterday.

But between me and the tree, I see, for the first time in our home, a single advent candle burning brightly. The Candle of Hope. I cobbled together a wreath of velvet leaves I made for Elise’s birth nine years ago and some wool leaves I cut from my old felted sweater. An evergreen of a different sort. All leaves intended for another purpose, resurrected for celebration.

We sang Christmas songs this morning at church. Imagine that — singing Christmas songs during the Christmas season. If you’ve never been a independent, fundamental Baptist, you have no idea what a gift that is. You see, Advent is a big no-no. And you don’t sing Christmas songs until the week of Christmas. Or maybe the two weeks before. And even then, the truly spiritual sing them almost grudgingly. Because Christmas is Catholic (i.e. pagan) and extending the Christmas season is commercial, we really should just ignore it altogether. The pious do!

I can’t even tell you how many Christians I know who refuse to celebrate the holiday at all. I think, in fact, Charles Dickens wrote a novel about just such a person.

But deep down, we want to anticipate and celebrate. We want an old ritual that connects us all to a Story grander than just our own. We want to sing!

Last night, we watched an old Ken Burns special on the Shakers – the mostly 19th-century agrarian sect which took in orphans and made the most simplistically elegant furniture imaginable. Burns’ hagiography brushed past all their ideological problems — that Mother Ann taught that Original Sin was sexual intercourse (and so they were celibate) and that God was both male and female with Jesus being the male manifestation and Mother Ann being the final female manifestation and Christ’s Bride. And, of course, that they must discipline their evil Body in order to let the wholly good Spirit reign.

Instead Burns highlighted their seemingly beautiful straining, struggling, and striving toward perfection. And in 1840 it looked like they had made it. They were booming. They were taking in the poor and homeless. Their industry and craftsmanship was admired and profitable. Their ethic, however, was tailored to a 19th-century agrarianism and could not survive life in the industrialized 20th century. And now in the 21st century, there are only three living Shakers left.

Sound familiar? It’s eerily familiar to me. Scarily familiar. In grad school, I read all about the Shakers and all the utopian sects born out of the Second Great Awakening (most of whom came from the Burned-Over District). And I empathize with all of them. I understand the appeal of perfection — that if I make my work (mothering, knitting, or homemaking) pristine enough and sincere enough, I’ll build an American ziggurat to God. I understand the appeal of the bifurcated thinking — that the industrialized world is evil and that my industrious domesticity is righteous. I understand the appeal of defining sin as out there instead of in here – that my containing evil makes my perfection attainable. I understand the appeal of being peculiar — that doing the hard thing and the unexpected thing will woo people to me/us/God. Whether the hard thing is celibacy or modesty or Scroogery.

What a different Story I heard this morning! That God comes to me and I don’t work my way toward Him. That His love is greater than my sin. That doing good comes because Jesus has made us good. That the first Advent guarantees the second. That Jesus is King. Now!

There’s no room for the curmudgeon in that Story!

The kindergartner has just been freed from his quietness. Daddy bounded down the stairs carrying him piggyback. And the preschooler followed with a big case of bed head. We all have the evening to rest together (and fix the lights on the tree again because another fuse just blew). Three years ago on this day we would have already been headed to a church service or a rehearsal or some such duty. Straining, struggling, and striving toward some illusion of perfection.

I laugh at the irony. Our reactionary anti-Catholic shunning of all things Advent has still duplicated the identical medieval religious feudalism. And our dispensationalist adventism won’t touch an extended celebration of the first Advent.

But I’ll light my Candle of Irony on another day. Today is the Candle of Hope.

This is what is meant by “Thy king cometh.” You do not seek him, but he seeks you. You do not find him, he finds you. For the preachers come from him, not from you; their sermons come from him, not from you; your faith comes from him, not from you; everything that faith works in you comes from him, not from you; and where he does not come, you remain outside; and where there is no Gospel there is no God, but only sin and damnation, free will may do, suffer, work and live as it may and can. Therefore you should not ask, where to begin to be godly; there is no beginning, except where the king enters and is proclaimed.

Reposted from A Time To Laugh.

The Dress Project

October 10, 2009 by 1mama  
Filed under Loving

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So I’ve been wearing the same green dress for the last five days to participate in The October Dress Project, a project that started from the inspiration from The Little Brown Dress and The Uniform Project. It’s a month of ‘fasting from our clothes’ in efforts to re-prioritize and think creatively with the things (in this case, clothes) we’ve been given.

A few disclaimers: 1) I’m not nearly as fashion-forward as most of the women are who are wearing their dresses for one year and because their dresses and accessories are so versatile, they never look like they’re wearing the same thing day after day, and 2) I’m not one of those super-hip, super eco-friendly, re-purpose everything sort of gals. I’m a mom of 2 and a grad student on the side, but I figured that even though I don’t buy many clothes for myself (still trying to get that pregnancy weight off!), that there’s something to be gained by wearing the same dress every day.

What, you ask, is the point of wearing the same thing every day? For starters, it’s a practice in reorientation. Though given the stage of life I’m in — mother of two little ones — I don’t normally spend much time on my appearance, wearing the same green dress every day enables me still care about my appearance — after all, I try to make the same thing look different each day — and to learn to care about my appearance through the lens of stewardship. I admit “retail therapy” has appeal; even buying small, inexpensive things like red nail polish can instantly make me feel better about myself. Not only am I being prideful that I’m being frugal by only buying nail polish but I’m also finding my satisfaction in things at some level, so you can see, I’m a mess. But, wearing the same dress every day helps reorient that default position of my heart — finding satisfaction by outward things, whether clothes, or nail polish or what other people think of me — and in turn, leaves room for much more. It reminds me that I don’t need much, that I don’t need a closet full of clothes and that a green dress can serve as my ‘daily bread’. It inspires me to be creative with what I have rather than longingly flipping through magazines wishing I had ‘that’ thing.

My green dress isn’t going to change the world, and it probably won’t change my immediate community — after all, most of my friends think it’s pretty cool, if they even notice I’ve worn the same thing the last several days in a row. And it likely isn’t going to change my life that I begin to really enact the art of the commonplace in my daily life — again, my life is besot with little sticky hands and dishes! and laundry! — but I do hope that my practice of wearing this green dress will cause me to pause and consider that when I’m quick to complain to instead think not only of the copiousness of what I’ve been given, but also of what I can offer and with small means and imagination, how something ordinary can become beautiful and new.

Reposted from The Lion Rampant.

A Quiet House, a Laptop, and a Glass of Wine

September 16, 2009 by rylee95  
Filed under Loving, Theology for Moms

*sigh*

I could almost end the post there. But that would be so entirely out of character of me. A title and a sigh? Too brief. Lee don’t do brief. That much is likely obvious at this point.

So here I am. In a quiet house. With a laptop on my . . . well . . . lap. And a glass of wine beside me. Merlot. It’s only a tiny bit, but it’s there. Nice. Relaxing. The quiet. The wine. My warm, humming, lap-dwelling, purple-plastic-encased friend and my thoughts. *sigh*

I had a stupid crazy day. A roller coaster day. One that needed to end this way. With my older two off to a Halloween party with my husband and Ruth asleep upstairs at the early hour of 6 P.M. It’s so quiet. So very quiet. I’m rarely alone in the house. Not that I’m truly alone right now, the lull of Ruth’s white-noise machine coming through on the monitor reminds me of that. But I am mostly alone. Alone enough. In my own house, so I can wear sweatpants and a fleece pullover and thick cozy gym socks and no shoes and no makeup and messy hair. I can feel the tension that built up all day seeping out of me. With each breath, my lungs expand a little fuller, my shoulders drop a little lower, my blood pressure follows my shoulders.

What brings me to this place? The place of extreme tension that needed release? I’m not exactly sure. I don’t know what made me crazy today, I just know that I was.

We had a wonderful Friday and Saturday. My used-to-be-imaginary friend came to visit with her cute, cute boys. The three older ones had a great time playing together, the blue-eyed visitor eagerly and comfortably exploring most every nook and cranny of our home in search of more and more of what I’ve discovered is an excessive amount of toys and treasures. My toddler-girl only barely tolerated all my lovin’ on the baby-boy visitor, but I reveled in it. My future mom-to-many preschooler did more than her fair share of lovin’ on the baby too. Well, lets face it, we all did. I imagine it was most intense as our own last baby just turned 18 months and with that turn has now left babyhood in her rear-view mirror.

It was glorious to get simply to sit and chat with a bona fide grown-up, one who is a mom of wee ones, like me. One who is a Christian, like me. One who hops up immediately to tend to her crying baby, like me. One who doesn’t think I’m stark raving mad for still nursing my toddler. One who thinks. Really thinks about things, who had a thinking life before children and looks forward to thinking more when her children are older. One who joined my husband and me in our coffee extravaganza yesterday.

Online chit-chat is wonderful. I love it. I love my message board. I love my imaginary friends, and truly do count them among my real friends, contrary to what I call them. I know they’re real. They know I’m real. And we have a real relationship. And I don’t know how I would have made it through my parenting years, particularly the last 20-plus months without them.

However. Nothing can replace that comfort of being face-to-face with someone who gets you. Someone who looks straight into your eyes as you talk, indicating she’s listening intently, encouraging you to say more. Encouraging me to say more, when this blog is my best attempt at making my stories brief. No matter how well you can express your feelings in writing, no matter how expansive your pantry of emoticons is, it’s not the same–it can’t be the same–as sitting with another flesh-and-bone human being and exchanging thoughts, ideas, stories, laughter, coffee-coffee-coffee, dinner, screaming kids, loud cymbals crashing, and more electronic toys than you ever thought a semi-crunchy mom would allow. It can never be the same.

God came in flesh and bone.

I didn’t mean to go that direction when I sat down to my laptop in my quiet house and with my glass of wine. None of this was what I planned to say. But here I am, staring it in the face. As I ponder the difference between this long-distance, two-dimensional medium of relating and real (IRL) human interaction, theological implications bubble up. I think it’s my job. I typed flesh and bone and WHAM! Incarnation popped into my head. Well, I’m not sure if it would WHAM if it simply popped in, but at any rate, I was staring it in the face. Scratch that. I was staring Him in the face. God. In flesh. To earth come down. God is incarnational. In-flesh-y. For the sake of not only our sin, but also for our sensual nature, God put on flesh to be amongst us IRL. Real, tangible, concrete, face-to-face. And in that encounter, we are given a full-on view of God, his nature, his character, his personhood. God has still left some things to mystery, for sure. But in Christ Jesus, we see our fullest possible view of God. We needed it and he gave it to us.

This is how we operate. We need the tangible. Something is lacking in both our relationship with God and with one another if we don’t have the concrete, tangible, taste-touch-smell-see encounter with Him or with one another. God knew this (well, of course He knew it, he’s God!) and came to where we could see him and touch him and smell him–and think on that, he did smell: first century Palestine, sandals and poor sanitation, donkeys and all that–and did his best work amongst us and for us. And he continues to relate to us that way, in-flesh-y. He meets us there in the sacraments in a way we can see and taste and smell and splash and accidentally pour down the front of our favorite church-y maternity blouse. He knows we work best through our senses–even poor, sensory-dull me–and he accommodates that sensory nature of ours: meeting us in flesh and in water and in bread and in wine (even if it is Welches’ and not merlot) and in people.

Is it any accident Jesus didn’t come to earth in the time of mass media? Well, it’s God we’re talking about here, so that’s your first clue that it was no accident. No. God came at a time when in order to share good news with someone, in order to share any news with someone, you had to be with that someone. Sure, you could write a letter, but even that letter had to be delivered by someone sent from me to you with a message you could likely see written all over his face in the form of JOY. You can’t text joy. You can’t chat joy. You can’t post it, put it in a thread, or even emoticon it. :) That is not joy. It looks the same as happy. And kinda happy. And gee I just smiled thinking of you. Even my favorite, :bounce (with the little smiley-guy bouncing up and down on a couch) that’s not joy. Eyes glowing, tears glistening, body shaking, that’s joy. Or at least the start of it. Voice higher, faster, brighter; hands gesticulating wildly, knee bouncing. More joy, with some excitement thrown in.

This is how God made us to interact: three, four, eight dimensions, all at play, communicating, relating, being together. It’s a necessary part of being human. It’s the fullest way of being friends. It’s God’s fullest way of being God. With us.

Hunh. That didn’t go where I though it was going to go. My wine is gone, my laptop is making my lapsweat, and I just heard the mini-van door close, indicating my house will only be quiet for about another thirty seconds. But I thought. And I’m relaxed. And I’ve gained a greater appreciation for my God and for my crazy, loud, boisterous, smelly, dirty, cute, sweet, bouncing, joy-filled, exuberant children. And for my husband who is every bit flesh and bone. Human. And wonderful. Praise be to God He made us to be with people. Smells and all.

Eating like an Immigrant, Part VII (final): Summary

September 6, 2009 by joannabug  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving

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So, after the long ramble, here’s the simple bit. I would love to know what you all think, or your ideas along these lines.

  • Identify your local immigrant cultures. Where I am now, it’s Hispanic food, but there’s also a small Asian and Middle-Eastern population. There are so many amazing and inexpensive Hispanic restaurants and grocery stores with amazing and exotic foods and spices. Look around you!
  • Identify your inexpensive food sources. Down here, it’s an international farmer’s market in Atlanta, & we’re doing CSA boxes with a friend. In Pennsylvania, there are urban farmer’s markets scattered all over major cities. And through this, make inexpensive staples/seasonal foods the basis of your cooking explorations as much as possible.
  • Experiment with spices.
  • Feel free to substitute similar ingredients, using things that are available where you are, or ingredients that your family likes. We can’t eat things too hot-spicy, so we usually make things flavor-spicy instead, if that makes sense.
  • Save yourself time when you can by doubling what you need.
  • Use food as a learning experience.
  • Practice hospitality as you’re learning.

Cross-posted from In Search of Lost Time.

Eating like an Immigrant, Part VI: Education and Culture

August 31, 2009 by joannabug  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving

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Participating in the My Kitchen, My World challenge has reinforced to me how much foods preserve and pass on cultural identity. You can learn so much about a culture by the foods they eat and how they eat their meals. I’m thinking at the moment of the communal nature of Ethiopian food, sitting together at a small table together, with a large round of injera flatbread spread across it, and stews for all to share as everyone tears off pieces of the bread to scoop it up.

The resonance between food and identity is so powerful. The PBS documentary I mentioned earlier, The Meaning of Food, discussed a recent cookbook, In Memory’s Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin. It consists of recipes passed around by Jewish women at a concentration camp. Separated from family, home, and sustenance, they wrote down their recipes as a way of preserving and passing on their culture. I haven’t read it yet, but I find the concept incredibly moving.

As my kids grow, I imagine many interdisciplinary teaching moments coming out of cooking foods of different countries. I really want to (eventually) design a course for the home-school co-op that I’ll be teaching at on food and music of different cultures. As you cook, you can bring in ideas about another country’s situation or needs, as well as people you might know who serve in that country.

Or–closer to home–cooking immigrant foods could be paired with hospitality. Many of you have immigrants in your community–one way to reach out to them could be to cook them a meal, perhaps one from their country. Or ask them to teach you how to cook one of their traditional meals.

Also, for us, a meal from another country has become a cheap substitute for travel. Or anticipation of future travels, if we’re in an optimistic mood. We’ll make a meal from a particular country or region, and then watch a film from that country, or watch a Rick Steves lecture. Or try other pairings–a meal and a book (I just finished reading Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy and am indulging in its sequel, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy, and find myself wanting to cook Italian food many nights, especially since she stops the narration occasionally to give a few seasonal recipes), a meal and music (Shepherd’s pie and some Irish folk music?), or a meal and an art exhibit.

Recipes

Here are a couple of fun food and culture pairings we’ve done–of course (a recipe I mentioned in the last post) there’s pairing the Pixar film Ratatouille with ratatouille.
The Godfather movies with antipasti.
Tapas with Rick Steves’ travels to Spain

Cross-posted from In Search of Lost Time.

Eating like an Immigrant, Part V: More on Convenience

August 24, 2009 by joannabug  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving

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I know that these posts are interconnected, but I wanted to revisit an idea I mentioned earlier, the ideal of convenience.

When you’re making food from other countries/immigrant cultures, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes we’ll make a Mediterranean antipasto platter with good bread, meats, cheeses, vegetables or a salad (maybe tabbouleh or a couscous salad), and olives. On a hot summer night, it feels so exotic and fun, but incredibly easy. Or French onion soup (in the crockpot) and croque monsieurs (fancy French grilled cheese sandwiches).

It also saves effort to either double or triple what you’re making and freeze it (or eat it for lunches) (I guess this works better in small families like ours). Or use it for more than one purpose, like ratatouille as a stew the first night (I always crockpot it), over spaghetti the next, and on top of toasted bread as bruschetta another night. Also, if you get a fun ingredient–say, a bunch of fresh herbs, or some unusual vegetables–find a couple of things to use it for, so it doesn’t go to waste if you don’t need it all for one recipe.

Recipes
Ratatouille: recipe and five ways to use it
Simple French onion soup

Cross-posted from In Search of Lost Time.

Eating like an Immigrant, Part IV: Staples

August 17, 2009 by joannabug  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving

Recently, I’ve been doing a blog challenge called My Kitchen, My World, in which bloggers pick two countries to “visit” a month, make a meal from the country, and blog about what they’ve done. Here’s a link to the countries I’ve “visited” so far.

It’s really fun, but I don’t always plan ahead, and don’t have the energy for an “extra” grocery store trip. So, a lot of times I’ll google the country’s name along with the ingredients I have in the house. This really has brought home the fact that a lot of cultures use the same basic ingredients–rice, pasta or bread, beans, lentils, common vegetables and herbs (often grown in one’s own garden), widely available meats or fish–but are distinguished by their use of spices to flavor the foods. So, for me, having good spices in my cupboard is an investment that actually makes a lot of sense (and you can get good spices for not too much, if you look at ethnic stores, like I said above). Good spices can be combined with inexpensive ingredients, like beans, rice, and in-season vegetables, to make incredible and economical meals.

And use what you have on hand–especially with good spices. Sal, a first-generation Sicilian friend of ours freezes bits and pieces of leftover meats, and then he makes the most amazing tomato sauce you could imagine from whatever he has in the house. That could be a whole ‘nother post, creative ways to use your leftovers, but I don’t want to make this series too long. I feel like if I get another meal out of leftovers, it’s like getting a free meal. Think about soups, stews, egg-based dishes, fried rice, and so forth as ways of using up small bits of leftovers to make another meal. Or you can repurpose leftovers: old bread as french toast (or if you’re PA Dutch, hutzla), strata, ribolitta, or bread crumbs.

I’m about to order the Mennonite cookbook Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook which encapsulates some of these ideas, especially cooking with staples even in exploring exotic cuisines.

Recipes

*This post includes our family recipe for Hutzla passed down through several generations.
*Ribollita is a great way to use up leftover bread (you can freeze some and save it, if you’d like) as well as bits and pieces of vegetables.

Sal’s Sicilian Sauce

Well, it’s more of a process than a recipe, following what his mom taught him. He freezes leftover meats–pork chops, sausage, beef, etc.–and then when it comes time to make his sauce, he browns the meats, adds a couple of large cans of crushed tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, Italian seasoning and a pinch of red pepper flakes, and maybe some diced veggies (celery, carrot, etc.). He cooks it for an hour or so until everything is tender, and tastes to see how sweet it is, and adds wine, and some sugar, if needed, and cooks it down if its too runny.

Then he sautees a whole pile of onions and garlic in olive oil, and adds it (which is really good–all of the tomato sauces I’ve seen call for it at the beginning, but this is really tasty), mixes it in, and cooks it for a very few more minutes.

Meanwhile, he boils pasta al dente, doesn’t rinse it, and when he’s getting it ready to serve, he mixes the pasta and a cup or two of sauce in one bowl, and serves the rest of the meat sauce on the side, for people to pour on top.

I had some last night–we had made up an entire soup pot full of it and froze it into several containers. It had chicken sausage, kielbasa, smoked pork loin cut into teeny cubes, and little bits of ham–not a ton of any one meat (they were all leftovers I had frozen before), but they each added distinctive flavors to it.

You can see Sal (and his famous sauce!) here.

Cross-posted from In Search of Lost Time.

Eating Like an Immigrant, Part III: Economy and Convenience

August 10, 2009 by joannabug  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving

When we moved, our income changed along with our family size, so that eating out regularly wasn’t a good choice. In Pittsburgh, we had a slew of inexpensive and fun ethnic restaurants we would visit together. Athens, well, it isn’t quite the same. At the same time, I realized that if I cooked more exotic foods at home, it would make it feel more like an adventure than a sacrifice. The two kinds of foods we loved the most were Indian and Thai foods. So I focused on learning to cook Thai and Indian food, and found that there are simple and economical meals for both of those cuisines.

In doing some reading, I realized that most food cuisines are based on what’s locally available. It feels almost redundant to write that, but look at recipes for bouillabaisse, for example. It was originally based on the leftover small fish that got caught in fishermen’s nets. Now, people argue about the authenticity if you don’t use particular kinds of fish, etc. But then, it was a matter of what was there, what was inexpensive, what was not wasteful, what was convenient. It can be easy, again, to get lost in the web of Authenticity, and not use what’s at hand. For immigrants, many didn’t have the luxury of their old local ingredients, and had to adapt to the availability of foods in their new country.

Along this journey, I found a fabulous Thai cookbook, Quick and Easy Thai: 70 Easy Recipes, written by a woman who lived in Thailand, learned to love the food and culture, and then came back to the US where a lot of the more exotic ingredients were hard to come by. The cookbook is written with both common ingredients that can replace the more unusual ingredients, as well as the more authentic option, if you have access to it. For example, she suggests replacing wild lime leaves or lemongrass (common in Thailand) with grated lime or lemon peel and a little extra lime or lemon juice in the recipe.

I haven’t actually used it, but a similar cookbook–but for Indian food–is 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices. It uses five common spices–cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, mustard, and turmeric–as the basis for numerous Indian meals.

Recipes

I adapted these basil rolls directly from the Quick and Easy Thai cookbook, as well as the ideas for the zucchini and squash curry that I paired with it that I blogged about in this post.

Cross-posted from In Search of Lost Time.

Seeds Family Worship Winner!

August 7, 2009 by kristen  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving, Teaching, Worship

RANDOM.ORG spoke, and the winner is comment #41, Megan.   She wins a full set of CDs from Seeds Family Worship.

If you didn’t win, and you want some Seeds CDs of your own, use the coupon code KSTEWART09 – that will take 20% off your order until January 10th, 2010.   Each CD comes with two copies, one to keep and one to share.   You can also access the songs online through their website and start using them right away with your children.

Thank you, Seeds, for sponsoring this giveaway and for sharing great scripture songs with us!

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