What’s in a Name? And Queen Mary’s Salmon

For our 5th wedding anniversary, we enjoyed a couple of nights aboard the Queen Mary. Below is the photo I took of the booklet the hotel provided for our room keys.

Our room key holder

For one of our meals, I enjoyed the maple-flavored salmon dish.

Our 5th Wedding AnniversaryWhen we returned home, I decided to replicate it. Here’s the photo of my version, along with my recipe. 🙂 Brody likes to add black beans as a side dish to any meal, and the steamed broccoli and rice are often seen in a supporting role since for time’s sake, we like to prepare a large batch to keep in the fridge for snacks and sides.

Queen Mary's Salmon

Queen Mary’s Salmon

butter

1 pound of salmon

salt

black pepper

thyme

dill weed

1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup (The last time I made this, I used so little, I think it’s actually negligible… unless you have an extreme sweet tooth, you’ll like the dish just fine with very little or no maple syrup.)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Cut the salmon into serving-sized pieces.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet.

3. Sprinkle the fillets with the herbs.

4. Cook the salmon on medium heat for about 3 minutes.

5. Flip over the fillets and add the syrup and lemon juice.

6. Cook for approximately 3 more minutes. The salmon is done when the meat pulls apart easily, the meat is opaque and the juices are milky.

7. The skin comes off very easily after cooking, so I stopped removing the skin before cooking it. Now we just remove it as we eat. Here is a resource of tips for grilling seafood – some of these ideas translate well into pan-cooking, too. For additional tips, here is another site.

So, what’s in a name? I named the above dish based on our good memories of our 5th wedding anniversary trip. I’ve wondered from time to time how some items for sale in grocery stores came to be called “food.” This is especially interesting to me when I consider the conversations I’ve had with various people.

Some quote I Timothy 4:1-5 as reason to eat anything and everything.  True, these verses reinforce what Jesus taught in Matthew 15; that is, eating certain things does not defile us. Rather, the evil that comes from our hearts and proceeds out of our mouths defiles us. Based on these and other passages throughout the New Testament, we know that we do not need to apply to ourselves the dietary restrictions from the Old Covenant between God and the nation of Israel.

But, I do not think that I Timothy 4:1-5 extends God’s blessing to anything that someone has called “food.” For example, I could blend cardboard with water and spread the resulting mush on a cookie sheet and sprinkle sand on it. Simply labeling it “food,” does not mean that the concoction is nourishing. And I do not believe that such a mixture is included in the endorsement of I Timothy 4:4.

So, what to do? It’s biblical not to pass judgment on anyone for what he eats or doesn’t eat. While the topic is slightly different, we can find some principles to guide our thinking in Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8.

Romans 14 specifically is addressing a situation in which believers had differing views on eating meat which had been sacrificed to idols. Some believers could not eat meat without thinking about the pagan rituals and sacrifices which they had renounced. For them, their conscience was bothered by eating meat. So, for them, it was better not to eat meat. Other believers could eat meat without being uncomfortable at all since they no longer made the connection between eating meat and the idol sacrifices.

The Apostle Paul addressed this topic in I Corinthians 8 as well. He concluded both passages in the same way… if a person’s conscience is bothered by eating meat which was sacrificed to an idol, he should not eat meat. And if a person’s conscience is not bothered by eating meat sacrificed to an idol, then he can enjoy eating meat. But, he should be careful not to eat meat in front of others who may follow his example and then feel as if they had partaken of idol worship by eating the meat of the sacrifice. And neither the meat-eaters nor the non-meat-eaters should pass judgement on the other group.

So based on these principles, no one should pass judgment on others for what they eat or don’t eat. One of the verses my college Sunday School class memorized was Romans 14:17 “… for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So, I am aware that I should not evaluate someone’s life as being sinful based on what he or she eats.

But, I wonder if some of our Christian brothers and sisters would benefit from considering why they eat what they eat. For example, there have been times in my life that I have eaten for emotional comfort. The result of this, coupled with a lack of self-control, led to a significant gain in weight for me. If I struggle with a lack of self-control, I can ask God for help in overcoming that sin. And I can take comfort in the knowledge that Christ has already conquered that sin along with all other sins I struggle with.

If I eat for emotional comfort, I wonder why I’m turning to food instead of to God’s Word in times of sorrow or disappointment. According to Psalm 19, God’s Word is sweeter than honey, so why not pick up the Bible when I feel as if I need encouragement?

And if a believer is experiencing food-related health challenges, and refuses to change what or how much he/she eats, perhaps eating certain things or eating in a certain way has become a god to that person. That brother or sister in the Lord may benefit spiritually from praying for wisdom regarding his/her views of food. And making some changes in how he/she eats may result in some physical benefits as well.

Parents’ Sudden Increase in Intelligence at Age 40

In the last few posts, I’ve shared some of our approach to sugar and how it relates to our immediate and long term financial and health situations. Many people, my parents included, have been saying for some time that sugar is not good for us. But recently, I’ve paid more attention since my friend drew my attention to Dr. Pompa’s resources.

I do not agree with all that Dr. Pompa says, especially with respect to applying to us today the instructions God gave to the nation of Israel regarding clean and unclean foods. But, Dr. Pompa makes some great points about how our choices in eating directly affect our health.

We do not have the money in our monthly spending plan to follow all his suggestions. So we follow an approach that takes into account some of his ideas, while living within our means. For example, we cannot afford to eat 100% grass-fed beef regularly, so we simply enjoy beef less often. And since we both have a few more pounds on us than we’d like to keep, we are discovering that we can share a steak and be satisfied.

Recently, we enjoyed a delicious steak with our 1000 Day Marinade (page 144 of A Recipe for Survival). Also pictured are Grandma’s Green Beans (page 91 of A Recipe for Survival) and short-grain, sweet brown rice.

1000 Day Marinade and Grandma's Green Beans with rice

Now that I’m understanding better how more naturally-raised food helps us health-wise, I see what a blessing our food was as my brother and I grew up in Colombia. My dad worked hard to raise essentially all the fruit we ate, and his methods were natural and organic. I think the only time we bought fruit was at Christmas when we would enjoy the treat of apples since they were so expensive. Otherwise, Daddy raised papayas, bananas, cashew fruit, mangos, passion fruit, star apples and more. We even had a “jungle ice-cream” tree in our yard. That was a tasty fruit!

Most of the meat that we ate was raised in our backyard, too. Again, we were enjoying the benefits of free-range eggs and chicken meat, and I did not even know how good I had it!

Every Wednesday, we received our order of beets, carrots, and a head of lettuce. But that was all the fresh produce that we purchased. We raised the rest of it ourselves. I always thought that we were deprived since we ate such “boring” and “basic” foods. But now that I am interested in foods that help the liver and intestines, I’m seeing what a benefit the beets and carrots were, and how healthy we were by limiting our refined sugar consumption! How I disliked the beans and rice then, but now I value them! Because we had limited financial means, our parents made careful food choices for us so as not to exceed their income… and in the end, we were eating the most healthful diets possible. Limited finances can actually be a blessing if you are like me and can exercise more self-control at the point of sale than at the point of consumption.

Grandma said the other day that parents suddenly become very intelligent when their children turn 40. I told her, “Well, since I’m only 39, and I understand better what my parents were doing for us, just imagine how smart Daddy will be in a few months when I turn 40!”

When Brody and I eat simply, we can taste the natural sweetness of fresh fruit and don’t need a sugar fix from a more expensive and less healthful source. Dessert anyone? 🙂

A Bowl of Cherries

Remember that our Heavenly Father knows our needs before we ask. He has our best interests at heart, and He is supplying our needs.

If He has not provided enough funds to eat in a certain way, then perhaps it’s not in our best interests to eat in that particular way, whether it’s eating out at fancy places, eating fast food, or buying sugary drinks and snacks as rewards for ourselves throughout the day.

Matthew 6:7-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB) from Bible Gateway

7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9 “Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [f]evil. [g][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

Rice and Beans Until the Debt is Paid Off?

The administration page of our website shows us the words people use to search for a previous post or the Internet for a topic, bringing them to our website. One recent search caught my eye. The words were, “rice and beans until the debt is paid off.”

That search brought up a thought I’ve considered many times over the years. Why do we often think of ways to get out of debt? Why not employ those practices in order to prevent the debt in the first place? Why would we only consider eating rice and beans after we’ve created debt? If we feel as if “money is tight,” why not change our eating habits to stretch our grocery budget a little further so that we can buy our groceries without using a credit card?

Some friends have told me that they just don’t like beans. I understand… when I was a kid, I had trouble getting them down, too. But, in recent years, as I’ve begun to value living within my means and pursuing a healthier lifestyle, I’ve grown to appreciate the low-cost, high-nutritive value of beans and rice. And, it’s possible that how the beans are prepared affect the taste and texture. We really like the results of preparing beans according to the procedure outlined in Appendix B of A Recipe for Survival.

Since food preparation can sometimes be complicated in our household, and because time is limited with both of us working, the other reason I appreciate beans and rice is the simplicity of the dish. I can easily prepare a large batch of rice and a large batch of black beans, store them in the fridge and take beans and rice to work each day. The result is a simple, satisfying dish which fits into our budget and gives me the energy to work. An additional benefit is that I’m not eating food that will negatively affect my cholesterol numbers.

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But, if I have the time to prepare Sister’s Salsa (page 155 in A Recipe for Survival) and slice up an avocado, I can dress up the beans and rice and enjoy an even tastier meal. I suspect that anyone who says beans are not interesting has not been eating this version of beans and rice! 🙂

Simply the Best Rice and Beans

 

I absolutely look forward to eating the dish pictured above. Perhaps I have developed a taste for it because of appreciating the value of a meal that is nourishing and inexpensive. And perhaps, as I noted on the previous post, since I limit my intake of processed foods and refined sugars, I actually enjoy the taste of more natural foods such as this dish.

When Brody and I were paying off many debts, I quickly saw how much a packaged item in my grocery cart affected the final cost at checkout. Yes, I would have enjoyed some treats with sugar in them, but purchasing them would not have helped me pay off the debt and the sugar would have made me less productive throughout the day. Eating certain items is not sinful. But, for me, I would have sinned against my conscience to eat what was not necessary AND would make me less healthy, especially when I owed money to someone else.

This was true a few years ago, when we were paying off a dentist bill. The dentist graciously did all the near-emergency work for us even though he knew it would take us a long time to pay it off. We were blessed to benefit from a longtime relationship between the dentist and my family. I was the third generation of our family to receive care from him. May the Lord bless Dr. Dow and his gracious office manager, Alexis, for their kindness to us.

Since Dr. Dow was not charging us interest, I was very careful what we did with the money we were spending on anything besides regular payments to him. I knew he would not begrudge us our basic necessities such as nutritious food, but I did not feel right about spending money on ice cream or fast food instead of sending a larger payment to him in a given month.

God has promised to supply our needs and He is faithful to keep all His promises. But, how often do we begin to view our desires as “needs?” Sometimes, I think we begin to believe that we are entitled to certain things, such as “Food I Like to Eat,” or “Eating Out as Often as I Want To” instead of choosing to live within the means God has provided for us. Many people in the world eat whatever they can find to stay alive. Are we inherently better than they? Do we really deserve only certain foods which we enjoy? Are we so focused on the pleasures of certain items that we are unwilling to recognize nutritious food which is available to us within our means?

Now and then, Brody and I eat food that is a treat for us. We have not completely given up buying or eating foods that contain sugar. But we do not believe that we are entitled to have whatever we want to eat, whether or not money is tight and whether or not the item will hinder our ability to accomplish what the Lord would have us accomplish. If you are struggling with your health or finances, you may find that being willing to change your tastes may help you in both categories.

Here’s another way I like to use black beans. Since it requires more time to prepare, I don’t make this as often as the dish pictured above, but once in a while, we enjoy Beyond Basic Black Beans (page 90 of A Recipe for Survival.)

Beyond Basic Black Beans

The apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of being content whether he was well-fed or hungry – he knew that no matter how difficult life on earth may become, nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The trials Paul experienced were far more intense than the trying time of developing self-control to give up foods that don’t fit in the grocery budget or negatively affect our health. Paul actually went hungry; he didn’t just pass up the “food” that actually was detrimental to him.

Philippians 4:10-13 from Bible Gateway:

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak [g]from want, for I have learned to be [h]content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things [i]through Him who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

Cravings and Cleansings

Refreshing Veggie Smoothie

Back in December 2013, I mentioned a veggie smoothie pictured with our Thanksgiving meal. I promised to share the recipe eventually and now I finally will! We have a friend who works full time, and has special dietary restrictions that are different from her husband’s specific dietary restrictions. This means that preparing food that will work for them takes a lot of her limited time.

Sometime ago, she had shared with us how she was enjoying a veggie smoothie every morning. Her goal was to get some good nutrients into her diet early each day in case she became so busy that she couldn’t eat a nutritious midday salad. I listened to her basic recipe and then added some other ideas of mine.

Later, when shopping at our local Mother’s Market and Kitchen, I received a flier about Spring Cleaning (Daily Detox) which was based on an article from Delicious Living Magazine. Now my current recipe includes some of my friend’s ideas as well as some ideas from the Delicious Living Magazine article which was summarized by Mother’s on their flier.

The first time I made this smoothie, I was not at all sure I could convince Brody that it was edible. Many of our friends initially have wondered if it could be tolerable, and I admit that it sounds and looks weird, but actually it is tasty and we think it’s helping us! At the least, it is a refreshing snack that does not give me the sugar crash and cravings that a sweet drink (popular among most of the population) may give me on a hot day. Sometimes, eating a small serving of veggie smoothie is a great way to finish a meal instead of eating a dessert and other times, we start a meal with veggie smoothie as an appetizer.

Whether or not a person likes a specific food may be more dependent on how he/she views food rather than on whether or not the food actually tastes or feels a certain way. For example, some people eat in order to live and some people live for the pleasure of the next snack or meal. Many live somewhere in between the two extremes. From my experience, I can focus on eating in order to function the best I can or I can eat because I want the pleasure of a certain taste or texture. I sometimes ask myself if I am craving something merely for the pleasure of the taste or if the dish or snack reasonably can be expected to nourish, and not harm, my body.

Interestingly, when I eat fewer of the foods that do not help me, for example, fast food or sugary snacks or drinks, my taste buds adjust and more healthful food tastes better than before. After this adjustment, I can taste the fillers, additives and preservatives which I couldn’t taste before in the processed, packaged foods, and simple fresh fruit tastes sweet enough to be dessert.

Initially, you may think this smoothie tastes weird, but if you continue to eat it and also decrease your intake of sodas, sugars, processed, packaged foods and fast foods, likely, you will experience a change in your taste buds and actually begin to enjoy the smoothie. If you have been struggling with your health in some way, you may also enjoy some healthier days if you are willing to develop some new tastes and choose to cut back or give up the items you currently love which may or may not deserve the title “food!” 🙂

So, here’s the current recipe for our veggie smoothie….

Veggie Smoothie Ingredients

The only two items I currently use which I forgot to include in the photo are apple cider vinegar and daikon radish. The Daikon radish is white and has a peppery taste.

Veggie Smoothie

1 bunch of kale, without the woody, end portions of the stems or a head of lettuce or a bunch of spinach

1 bunch of celery

2-3 carrots, skinned

2-3 cloves of garlic

a chunk of a small beet, perhaps 1/4 of the beet

roughly 4″ of Daikon radish

1 small apple, seeds included

1-2 cucumbers

a splash of apple cider vinegar (I think this lengthens the life of the smoothie in our refrigerator)

a splash of water to help the smoothie out of the Vitamix

Sometimes, I’ll include some cabbage and/or Brussels Sprouts

Sometimes, I remember to include parsley from my very determined little plant! It survives even though I neglect my potted herbs on a regular basis.

I often prepare the smoothie in two steps since my Vitamix can’t hold all of the ingredients. Hence the two colors!

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I use a spoon for the final mixing in the container. Many friends and relatives have remarked that this tastes better than they had anticipated!

As I was writing this, I remembered some other analogies I’ve heard drawn between our physical appetites and our spiritual appetites. When I have become “too busy” to read my Bible on a daily basis, my appetite for reading it diminishes over time. This reflects the physical world… I have heard that if a person stops eating, eventually, he will lose his appetite. That’s an extreme scenario which I have not tested, but intentionally making changes in what I eat has changed my tastes as I’ve detailed above.

That also happens with my spiritual tastes. If I neglect my Bible reading, I lose my spiritual appetite for my spiritual food. As I pick it back up and continue reading and memorizing Scripture, my appreciation of the Bible increases and my desire to read and memorize it grows.

Here’s a Bible reading program I’ve enjoyed for a few years now. I like it because I can keep the Old and New Testaments fresh in my mind. When I used to read from Genesis to Revelation, I would go for months without reading some portions of the Bible.

Prof. G Horner's Bible Reading System

The other benefit of Prof. G Horner’s reading program is that I enjoy reading the account of something in the Old Testament on the same day that I read a Psalm about that account and possibly read an allusion to it in Acts or one of the epistles.

For example, I may read Genesis 12 on the same day that I read Acts 7. Or I may read Numbers 11 on the same day that I read I Corinthians 10. Or, on one day, I may read Psalm 34 and I Samuel 21. Psalm 34 is the song David composed after he pretended to be mad in order to be set free from his captors. Since I don’t always read all 10 chapters each day, I don’t have the same exact reading plan as shown at Bible Study Tools. But, I like to continually progress through 10 different sections of the Bible regularly.

If you are on Facebook, you may try searching for Prof. G Horner’s Bible Reading System. When Brody accessed it there a few years ago, he was able to print out 10 book marks showing which books of the Bible were in each of the 10 lists.

Just as our smoothie is designed to nourish our bodies and cleanse us from toxins, reading my Bible nourishes and cleanses me spiritually.

Are you willing to try the veggie smoothie? I’d be curious to know if anyone takes the challenge and experiences a change in his/her tastebuds just as Brody and I have.

How about starting a Bible reading program (if that is new to you)? Maybe you’ll experience a change in tastes there, too!

One of Prof. G Horner's 10 Lists

Celebrating the Sweet with the Sour

The Lord supplied our every need in June as we faced some very busy days while helping Grandma prepare for and recover from back surgery. We are thankful for all those who supported us through prayer, and we praise the Lord for His grace to us. I was particularly amazed that I didn’t miss any work and also didn’t get any of my horrible headaches. We were very thankful that my aunt and uncle were here and able to assist Grandma quite a bit. We were also thankful for the many doctors, nurses, aides and others who served Grandma and who continue to serve her in her rehab stage.

So, we made it through June and then my neighbors heard the unfamiliar sounds of my dusting and vacuuming, and a day or so later, our company arrived! We enjoyed a week with Brody’s parents.

Since we had more hands available, I was able to take some photos I usually can’t take on my own. For example, here’s an action shot! 🙂

Our Special Gluten-free breakfast

On one of the mornings, Brody prepared our Pancakes from page 86 of A Recipe for Survival.

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We discovered a gluten-free chicken sausage at Costco recently, so he added that to the special breakfast. On most of the other mornings, we enjoyed Quinoa Cereal from page 87 in A Recipe for Survival. Lately, I’ve been enjoying it with ground flaxseed, rice bran, cinnamon, raisins, chia seeds and goat milk. This morning, I skipped the ground flaxseed since we had run out and I didn’t want to take the time to grind it.

A gluten-free breakfast

One day, we packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed some time at the beach.

Beach time

Brody found some shells to add to his mom’s collection.

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Mom graciously allowed us to use her head as pedestal for the food for this photo of our Crackers, Chicken Broccoli Kale Slaw, and Lemon Cake with Strawberries and Lemon icing. We still have a few paper plates from our wedding reception, so we used them for our picnic.

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Here’s a shot of the first time I made the lemon cake with strawberries some months ago:

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To make the cake, simply follow the directions for Chocolate Cake on page  174 of A Recipe for Survival, but omit the chocolate and substitute hot lemon juice for the hot water. To make the Lemon Icing, put roughly 2 Tbsp of lemon juice in a bowl and then add powdered sugar until it’s the consistency you prefer.

We love the combination of the slightly sweet and slightly sour! It reminds me of June this year for us … we had some difficult days, but the way the Lord gave us all that we needed at every moment added sweetness to the sour moments.

Blessed be the Lord,

Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;

Therefore my heart exults,

And with my song I shall thank Him.

Psalm 28:6-7

Mother’s Day Musings and Cinco de Mayo Salad

Recently, I heard a pastor say that a Mother’s Day sermon was the hardest one for him to preach. Then he explained why.

First, he said he realized that many in his congregation were men, and therefore, would not ever be mothers, and he wanted his sermon to be applicable to all of his congregation. That is a great point.

Second, the pastor said that he recognized that many women in the congregation were unmarried and still were honoring the Lord in their lives even if they were not mothers. That is another great point.

Third, the pastor mentioned that some married women were not mothers for a variety of reasons, and that some women may experience grief for not having children. He said he realized that women are sensitive and he indicated that he wanted to be careful not to add to anyone’s pain. That’s another wonderful point.

Those are all excellent observations. However, I think there’s a more important reason a pastor (and other church leaders) should seriously reconsider their tradition of celebrating a secular holiday as part of Sunday morning services. The Scripture teaches that the purpose of the church is to evangelize the lost and equip the saved to worship the Lord. In other words, the main reason believers participate in the life of the church is to grow in their sanctification as they more frequently choose to obey Scripture rather than choose their own sinful desires. Whenever the church loses focus on helping believers to mature in their walk with the Lord, stagnation is at hand, and those church leaders have abdicated their responsibility as shepherds who will give an account for the souls of the people they are leading and guiding.

Whenever church leaders choose to celebrate a secular holiday on Sunday, they are demonstrating that the American culture has influenced the church. The reverse should be true: the church should be salt and light in the culture. Sadly, this is only one example that I’ve observed as I’ve watched the American culture creep into the church.

In my experience, the most striking example of the culture influencing the church is the elevation of entertainment throughout the entire morning service. In some churches, the desire to lead the congregation in laughter during announcements, throughout the sermon, and before the collection of the offering takes precedence over the desire to lead the congregation in revering and worshipping the Almighty. Or, those leading the music behave as if they were rock stars performing at a live concert.

Back to the specific question of church leaders celebrating Mother’s Day at church, I wonder how often the leaders consider what message they are sending to the rest of the congregation who are not mothers? If a church devotes an entire Sunday morning to addressing mothers, how is the church fulfilling its obligation to minister to all the believers in the congregation that morning? Some ladies who wanted to be mothers are not moms due to circumstances beyond their control. Is it reasonable to expect such women to return to church next year if they learned this year that the entire service was focused on how to be a better mother?

I used to think that only women might be hurt by Mother’s Day celebrations at church, but recently, a gentleman mentioned to me that he had skipped church on Father’s Day some years because he had felt inferior at church for not being a father. I hadn’t realized that men could be hurt, too, by how church leaders allow the secular culture to dictate the agenda for Sunday morning worship.

Honoring our parents is good and right. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. However, on Sunday morning at church, nothing should preempt the preaching of the Word for the edification of the entire congregation. Anything that distracts from that should be avoided.

I think that fathers should lead their children to honor their mothers in their family setting and mothers should lead in honoring the father in the family. I don’t think it’s the role of the church leaders to set aside valuable time for edifying the entire congregation on Sunday morning in order to do something the parents should be doing in their homes.

If a pastor feels absolutely compelled to preach something about mothers on the second Sunday of May, perhaps he should draw the congregation’s attention to the example of the Proverbs 31 Wife’s Children in verse 28. If the pastor spoke to the offspring in the congregation, he would be addressing 100% of his audience since everyone has a mom. Even if a person’s mom has passed away, a person can thank God for the one who gave him life and praise God for the one who shared Christ with him. If a person’s mom did not lead an exemplary life, a person could still thank God that He graciously protected him even in the midst of the trials he endured at the hand of his mom. And we can all recognize that others have influenced us as well and we can bless them for their impact in our lives. A sermon directed to children (whatever our ages) will include the entire congregation since we are all someone’s child.

With that as food for thought, let me share a recipe that Brody and I enjoyed on another day we like to celebrate in May… Cinco de Mayo!!!! We really enjoy Mexican food, so one day, I decided to imitate a green sauce we really liked. Friends of ours had drawn our attention to it, and while it was gluten-free, it still had other ingredients Brody prefers to avoid, so I developed my own Brody-safe version.

Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce

10 tomatillos without the paper-thin skins, washed, and cut into quarters

1 jalapeno pepper, without the stem, and washed

roughly ½ cup chopped cilantro

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp crushed dried red peppers if you want more heat

1. Add all the ingredients to your Vitamix or other blender and process them until well-blended.

2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce is the thickness you like.

3. The sauce can be used to cook chicken or simply to add flavor to a Mexican chicken dish.

Sometimes we cook the chicken in the sauce….

 Chicken in our Gluten-Free Green Sauce

But I like the taste of the sauce better when we simply pour it over cooked chicken in our Mexican concoction:

 Our Gluten-Free Cinco de Mayo

To simplify our meal preparation, we usually maintain a supply of cooked rice, beans and chicken in the fridge and then flavor them in different ways throughout the week.

One of the yummy ways we combine the chicken, beans and rice is to rewarm the ingredients and then:

1. Spread a thin layer of cooked rice on a plate.

2. Add some black beans.

3. Add some cooked chicken and the Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce.

4. Sprinkle on some cheese.

5. Add some Taco Sauce (page 159 from A Recipe for Survival) or Sister’s Salsa (page 155 from A Recipe for Survival.)

6. Add some fresh, chopped cilantro and lettuce, along with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

7. Sometimes, we include a batch of chips, made from the Tortilla recipe on page 115 of A Recipe for Survival.

April Thanksgiving: Great Things He Has Done

This year, my birthday celebrations included a gift from God… Brody received a promotion at his job! He had been applying to this position in various locations around the country for about 18 months, and finally the position became available here at his own office. He applied again, and this time, received the position. We found out on my birthday! We praise the Lord for His kind provision for us all these years through Brody’s previous position and for His blessing of a new position which Brody loves. It’s a natural fit for his abilities and will give him opportunity to grow in new ways as well.

I immediately thought of Psalm 126 when we found out about his promotion. While this Psalm is specifically about the Israelites’ return from captivity, I can relate to their joy and praise to God for the great things He has done for them as well as for us. This definitely seems like a dream come true; I had even said to Brody 18 months ago that if the position were available at his local office that would be wonderful! So far, he’s enjoying settling into his new office and responsibilities and is very thankful for the support of his coworkers.

One of Brody’s coworkers jokingly mentioned that as the newest arrival in the office, he needed to bring in a cake, and that carrot cake was his favorite. Since we had already developed a carrot cake recipe that works for Brody, he said he would bring it in. Another coworker, overhearing the conversation, asked if the recipe is in our book since he already had purchased a copy of A Recipe for Survival. When Brody mentioned this conversation to me, I decided it was time to post the photo of our Brody-safe carrot cake along with the instructions to modify the Chocolate Cake on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival. So, while he’s busily baking, I’m preparing this post. 🙂 He’ll take the cake to work tomorrow, and we’ll see how the office likes the recipe!

Gluten-free, Corn-free, Potato-free Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Follow the recipe on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival for Chocolate Cake and make these modifications:

A Recipe for Survival Modifications for Carrot Cake

If you have any questions on the modifications, just ask for clarification! Enjoy! And remember to thank the Lord and praise Him publicly for the great things He has done for you.

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, 

We were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter

And our tongue with joyful shouting;

Then they said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us;

We are glad.    Psalm 126:1-3 NASB

Family Memories in February and Best Brussels Sprouts

This year, February marked a time of meditating on my family’s heritage. Brody and I reached the point of being willing to part with a fairly large electronic device from the 1960’s which I had purchased in an estate sale while living in Kansas. The beautiful and (still working) record player by Magnavox was actually two good-sized pieces of furniture since the second speaker was detached from the playing unit and also served as storage for records.

We didn’t take a picture of the player and speaker since a local electronics dealer was willing to buy them sight unseen. Housed in lovely wooden cabinets, the player and speaker were both beautiful to behold and useful for playing the old records I had received from both of my grandmas. However, Brody and I thought it wise to sell it while still in working condition. We did not want to spend time trying to find the parts for the old electrical tube-style components when the time came to fix it.

I had a set of records from the collection I received from my dad’s mom which I still had not listened to. I wanted to hear this particular set before we sold the record player since this set of records played an important role in my family’s heritage:

Record Set

As a teenager, my dad was often tasked with watching out for his younger brother. Uncle Phil really enjoyed listening to this account of how God used the lives and deaths of Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian to reach a group of people in Ecuador who had not yet heard the Gospel. Both my dad and Uncle Phil remember listening to this account over and over. Both of them became missionaries, due in part, to the examples of these five men. I had heard from my dad and Uncle Phil about this record set and the impact it had on their lives, but I had never taken the time to listen to it until just recently. When I think of how God used my experiences as a missionary kid to shape me, I am thankful for the impact God allowed this record set to have in my dad’s life.

Now and then, I search Google for “Elliot” or “Saint” to check on how the widow of Jim Elliot is doing and how the son of Nate Saint is faring. Recently, I found an interesting blog, ClearingCustoms, with a little update on both. This blog documents very well the sources used in writing the article, in case readers are interested in learning more about the lives and ministries of the Saint and Elliot families.

The above blog refers to Shadow of the Almighty The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, by Elisabeth Elliot. In early February, we discovered Brody’s copy of this in a box in our garage, so I finally read it.

I was challenged by the lives and devotion of all the missionaries mentioned both on the record set and in Shadow of the Almighty. I also was encouraged by the epilogues quoted in the above-mentioned Clearing Customs blog.

My parents served the Piapoco tribe in Colombia as linguists and translators for most of the years in which they lived in Colombia. My parents’ main focus was to translate the New Testament into Piapoco and teach them to read and write. Early in my childhood, my family would travel to the Piapoco village two to three times per year and live with our Piapoco friends for four to six weeks at a time.

Living in their village during these times helped me know from a young age how simple life can be. When we stayed in the village, we lived as much like the Piapocos as possible. For example, we lived in a house made of mud and palm leaves,

Our Little House on the Colombian Prairie

my parents cooked over a wood fire,

Our Simple Kitchen

and we washed our clothes in a bucket with a toilet plunger to provide the agitation. Using the stove above was easier on my parents’ backs than using a fire on the ground level, and the bucket and toilet plunger system was easier than hauling our clothes down to the creek and back.

Clothes Washing Brigade

Washing Clothes in the Kitchen

My Piapoco friends had very, very few material possessions and few comforts that are so common in the the U.S. But, they still found joy in life.

Fun Times with Friends

Now and then, when I find myself tempted to complain about my life, I remember how difficult life is for most of the people of the world.

Dish Washing Time

Simply having clean, running water in my kitchen so I can cook and wash dishes is an unheard of luxury for the majority of the world.

And now for the connection to February! My parents recognized that living in the Piapoco village meant my brother and I would leave some of our luxuries behind at the missions center for those weeks. So, they instituted some traditions during our stays in the village so that, along with the difficulties unique to the visit, we also had some special, fun traditions unique to our time in the village.

Perhaps my favorite special tradition was to celebrate Valentine’s Day every other Sunday while we were in the village. All four of us made Valentine’s Day cards to exchange. My mom reused two heart-shaped cardboard candy boxes, one red, and one pink, both from Russell Stover, each “Valentine’s Sunday” to deliver a special candy bar to my brother and me. So, my brother and I grew up with multiple Valentine’s celebrations throughout the year. Perhaps that’s why both he and I still enjoy celebrating special days multiple times! Since he and his wife were matched on eharmony on the 17th of April in 2007, my brother celebrated the 17th of every month after that by giving her a gift!

Now that I’m married to Brody, we have the additional celebration of his birthday on Valentine’s Day. The first year that we were married, I didn’t want Valentine’s Day to overshadow his birthday. So, taking strips of paper and my calligraphy pen, I wrote out 25 reasons I loved him and then hid them, with a little bit of candy, all over the house and the car over the course of several days leading up to his birthday. His enthusiasm over finding the notes showed me that I had stumbled onto a great yearly tradition for us. Since then, I’ve planned the 14 Days of Birthday Celebrations from February 1 through the 14th each year.

Birthday and Valentine's Celebrations

As his diet has changed, I’ve had to prepare different goodies for him instead of buying him candy. One year, I developed the Birthday Danish recipe (page 164 in A Recipe for Survival.) At some point, I’ll take pictures of this recipe and post them; for now, here’s a much more healthful recipe….  🙂

BEST Brussels Sprouts

BEST Brussels Sprouts

Your taste buds will rave!

1) Wash and halve the sprouts.

2) Melt enough coconut oil in a metal pie plate or something similar to coat both the sprouts and the pan.

3) Add the sprouts to the pan; stir to coat them in the oil. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 Tbsp lime juice.

4) Broil the sprouts until they are the desired color, stirring and turning them from time to time for even browning.

5) Enjoy the BEST Brussels Sprouts!

 

Our Short Lifespans and “Shorties”

Gluten-free Portable Shorties

Recently, Brody read The Conviction to Lead, by Albert Mohler. He read parts of it aloud to me and very few of Mohler’s points impacted me as much as his reminder of our short lifespans.  He shared in this book that he keeps a replica of a human skull on his writing desk to remind himself of the passing of time. What a great reminder! Our short time on earth will soon be over. I was challenged to consider what I’m doing with the rest of my time before eternity begins for me.

This year, I’ll turn 39, and since my mom passed away before she was 49, I recently wondered if I, too, had entered my last decade. In reality, any one of us could enter eternity at any moment as a strong earthquake reminded me a couple of weeks ago. Just as I can’t control the shaking of the earth, so also I do not have any control over the length of my life. I’m glad that the One who does control all things is good and righteous, and therefore, can be trusted.

So teach us to number our days
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

May I live more wisely each day, with the Lord’s help, applying His Word to my life.

Some years ago, I visited a friend in Asia. While there, I loved sampling the local cuisine. My favorite item was a snack, often served with tea, or carried on a day trip as a bite of on-the-go nourishment. I tasted a few different varieties, but they all had three things in common:

1) a filling of spicy meat

2) a breading holding it all together

3) a very cute appearance, either little cylinders, roughly 2″ in length or little cakes, roughly 2″ in diameter.

The tasty treats were either baked or fried and I still remember them fondly these 8 years later!

One day toward the end of my visit, my friend’s friend invited us to stop by for tea. I honestly thought I knew what these treats had been called in previous days. But, when my friend heard me say for the second or third time, “Please pass the shorties,” she whispered in my ear, “They’re called “Short Eats.” I was a little embarrassed, but not too much since I thought “Shorties” were an appropriate name – perhaps more fitting – due to the cute factor of the tasty treats’ appearances.

Recently, I had fun making my own version of Shorties, and thought I’d share the results with you.

I started with my Chicken Curry recipe, and then used my Tortilla recipe (page 115 in A Recipe for Survival) or Naan recipe to enclose the meat. The lighting in this photo didn’t show the deep color from the turmeric very well; I’m still figuring out the best ways to photograph the yummy food. It always tastes better than it looks!

Gluten-free Chicken Curry

The first time I made the Shorties, I melted some coconut oil in a frying pan and then tried to roll out my tortilla recipe.

Gluten-free Tortilla Dough

But, since I experimented with coconut oil as a replacement for some of the butter in the dough, the tortillas fell apart much more quickly due to the lower melting point of the coconut oil.

Tortilla preparation

Rolling out Tortillas

I also tried rolling out a rectangular shape of the dough in order to slice the long Shorty into many small Shorties.

Shorties Prep

That didn’t work out really well, so I tried making a little rectangle and making the Shorties individually.

Wrapping up Shorties

After a few attempts, I found the fastest way was to follow the basic pattern I used when making Birthday Danish (pages 164-166 in A Recipe for Survival.) I rolled out one circle of dough, added a little filling and then placed another round bit of dough on top of it, pinched the edges together and eased the Shorty off the counter and into the hot oil.

Filling Shorties

Frying Little Shorties

Frying More Little Shorties

I quickly gave up my attempts to make the Shorties super cute for a tea, and chose to make larger ones that still tasted great and took less time to create.Frying Larger Shorties

My neighbor answered my call for help to photograph my progress for the blog so I wouldn’t smear tortilla dough and chicken curry all over my camera. She suggested that some fresh cilantro would taste yummy with the Shorties; we tried it and loved it! Thanks to my friend and also to Brody for their help in the photography!

A few days later, I used the Naan recipe to make a different version of Shorties.

Shorties in Abundance

The bottom of anything made with the Naan recipe browns very nicely compared to the top.

Baked Shorties

Some tasty tea, cashew nuts and fresh fruit rounded out our mini meal of Shorties. My friend and I enjoyed the fruit of our labors and then shared them with our hubbies.

Shorties and Tea - a Great Mini Meal

These portable and nourishing snacks have a very short lifespan in our home!

 

Spicy New Experiences and Chicken Curry

I continue to make progress in memorizing Job 38:1-42:6. Earlier this year, Brody and I had a new experience for both of us when thieves broke into our rental car, and I had a new reason to be thankful for having memorized Job 38. The thieves got Brody’s carry-on bag with our computer, 3 copies of A Recipe for Survival and several other items, but Brody got their license plate! When I had some trouble falling asleep that night, I recited Job 38 to myself, and verse 15 took on a new level of meaning for me. When I think about the burglary or other situations, I remind myself that God is the One who sees all and knows all, and those who sin against me will answer to Him one day.

An undercover officer called the next morning to thank Brody for noting the license plate and to ask if we could pick the owner of the vehicle out of a lineup. We knew we couldn’t, but were thankful to have helped the officers a little on the cases they’ve been working on for two years.

If variety is the spice of life, then we had a spicy start to our year!

Here’s a spicy recipe we’ve been enjoying lately. When I first prepared it, I thought something crunchy would help improve the texture, so since then, I’ve served it with almonds or cashew nuts. We’ve received great reviews from friends and relatives who taste-tested it for us. I added the cashew nuts in a most unartistic way for the photo, but it tastes better than it looks. 🙂 And fresh fruit is always a tasty addition to a meal, particularly a spicy one!

 

Chicken Curry with Cashew Nuts and Grapes

Chicken Curry
(I used the techniques described in A Recipe for Survival to adapt this from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1996, Meredith, Des Moines, Iowa, editor: Jennifer Darland Darling. I also used some techniques based on comments by The Gangrel on this recipe from All Recipes. My blend of spices was also influenced by a list of ingredients on Grandma’s old container of curry powder from Schilling. I chose coconut oil since my friend from Asia mentioned that she and her friends often use powdered coconut milk to thicken curries, and because I’ve heard that frying foods in coconut oil is better for us than using olive oil. I’m still learning about and experimenting with new oil options!)

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 big bay leaf
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 Tbsp rice flour
1 Tbsp water

1. Melt coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add all the spices and garlic, cook and stir 30 seconds.

2. Cook the chicken until browned, or use cooked chicken to reduce the cooking time.

3. Add chicken broth (I use the liquid from cooking the chicken in a crockpot) and celery.

4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

5. Combine the tapioca flour and rice flour in a small cup. Add water and mix well. Slowly add flour/water mixture to the skillet, stirring as you add the mixture.

6. Cook and stir for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is of the consistency you desire.

7. Serve over rice with cashew nuts or almonds.