Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Soup for a rainy night:

Edited to add: This recipe is a definite winner! I warmed up the carrot puree base at work, and stirred in the ginager juice, a glug of half-and-half, and it was terrific! The cardamom is a good addition - I might use more, but wrap it in cheesecloth or use a teaball, in the interest of avoiding the 'miscellaneous bug parts' garnish.

This is bubbling away right now. The lightning storm has mostly passed by, though there's still enough thunder to scare the kid - Daddy has taken him out of his room, and has bedded him down temporarily in ours, in a nest of pillows. I thought I would whip up some noodle soup for tomorrow's lunch, but was shocked to find that I had used up my fairly enormous stash of broth. We usually have gallons, practically.

But instead I am trying the carrot soup from Rachelle's recipe site. I don't have cream, but I have ginger and I boy, howdy, do I ever have carrots.

I also have celery. It's not called for in the recipe, but what the heck, I figured, and threw a couple stalks in. The smell of cooking celery instantly overpowered everything else, and filled up the entire house. I spent the next few minutes fishing diced celery out of the soup.

I dropped a couple cardamom pods in as well. I must remember to fish those out. They are not a pleasure to bite down on.

AND in the time it took me to write that, the carrots boiled dry. Just barely, though - I saved them from burning. Soon, I'll puree.


Okay, it's about half an hour later. I have pureed the carrots and their cooking water, and juiced the ginger (using a coffee filter and my tiny but mighty fist). The celery had no detramental effects, but the cardamom might have been a mistake - the pods open up in the simmering water and release their little spherical seeds. Which are dark green. And are too small to strain out of the puree. And look just a little like bugs. Or parts of bugs. Bug heads.

I sampled a little - it is tasty - and packaged it up for tomorrow. My plan is to cart the components to the office - soup base, ginger juice, my small pepper grinder, plus a carton of cream - and mix it together and heat it up for lunch with the boss.

So far, this recipe is a winner, since all it involves is boiling and Cuisine-art-ing. The ingredients are inexpensive, and my old knobby carrots have sprung to gorgeous, fresh blinding orange and a beautiful velvety texture. It's practically a metaphor.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A new sermon

by me.


(Thanks to Russ Dulaney, who shoots, edits and posts our sermons practically every Sunday afternoon, when the rest of us are taking our naps.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Instead of typing up my sermon notes so I can email them for review

I present the best blog post ever

warning: anatomical terms.
And some non-anatomical terms. And one vulgar diagram. On pink paper.

Also the phrase "like a rat up a pipe" which I cannot even type without snorfling.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Love's a mystery, but I'd do it again.

Ah, the magic of the cameraphone.

So we went into Baltimore to see the Pretenders. It was the Attack of the Suburban Dads - all squinting at their wristbands, then shrugging and taking their places in the hall to hop, nod and point.

As did we. My urban hipster days are far, far behind me...though I must say, Chrissy Hynde does give one a different vision, an aspirational vision, of older womanhood. Seriously - I came out feeling really inspired about my future as an old, artistic, iconoclastic mom.

Anyway, I had not brought earplugs, and the Suburban Dad to whom I am married was getting a little foggy from being so close (we were, in fact, very very close) to the speakers. (I want to point out that, when I was going to shows, no one carried earplugs. Not even people who worked in the venues.) (Which is why we are a little deefer than the current generation of music-lovers will be in 20 years.) Anyway, we left, like hundreds of other Dads, before the Hold Steady came on. Here I had figured we'd be out til 2am. Ah well - saves on babysitting, I guess. Perhaps I can use the savings on a couple black t-shirts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

6 ideas

1. Sundays aren’t important
That is to say: Coming to church on Sunday does not make you a Christian or constitute a spiritual life. A Sunday isn’t our one chance to save souls or glorify God. It’s not the one place to learn about God, commune with the Holy Spirit, or be challenged. In many ways, as we spend time, sitting still, thinking about or listening to people talk about God, Sundays run the risk of being the least spiritually forming day of the week.

2.Sundays are important
They’re our front door, our chance to host strangers and long-lost friends. They can give us a chance to reflect, which most of us rarely get (or take) during the week. They tell us how to make direct contact with God. They provide a chance to consider new ideas about God and the world; the combination of time with God and new perspective may open the door for transformation.

3. A journey together, not a presentation to an audience
We are not in the business of trying to sell anything, convince anyone of anything, or impress anyone, with our logic or with our artistry. Including God. A worship gathering has a bunch of living humans making contact with a living God, and even though we do our very best to plan things well and have a destination in mind, we cannot anticipate or control everything that happens. I don’t think we should want to.

4. It matters that we are all together in one place
There has got to be a difference between coming to church and hearing a sermon on a podcast, listening to Passion CDs in the car, praying in the shower. It has to matter that we can look one another in the eye, touch one another, and actually converse rather than monologue. Our bodies have to matter, and our proximity has to matter.

5. some things are beyond words
Not only is God beyond our logical comprehension – we are. The mundane world is. We need to make peace, deep in our souls, with the idea that God is worth a lifetime of study, service, prayer, digging, listening – and that we are not going to get to ‘answers’. Ever. Much is lost when we try to make God ‘make sense’. It’s not even a good marketing ploy, because smart people can see right through it.

6. The only decent ‘selling point’ in favor of a life with God is that you get to have a life with God.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back to School with the RevGals

It's time for a Back-To-School Friday Five!

1. Is anyone going back to school, as a student or teacher, at your house? How's it going so far?
Not exactly, though Eric performed at a huge Back-To-School Night last week (a huge success, since kids who wanted to see the show bugged their parents to take them, and so the school had a much bigger parent turnout than usual. Plus, the show kept the kids occupied for an hour, so parents and teachers could confab in relative peace. It was a really good idea! I would never have thought of it!)

Also, the big, brightly-colored ball of utter fabulousness that is Mystery Academy is all ramped up for the fall season, doing after-school programs at a ton of area elementaries. So, while no one's in a classroom for a full day, yeah, we did notice that it was September.

At our church, we treat fall as the new year - new fiscal year, new sermon series, new discipleship groups, and this year, a new way of structuring kids ministries for elementary schoolers.

2. Were you glad or sad when back-to-school time came as a kid?
Glad, I guess (though I imagine that I am gazing through the rosy gauze of nostalgia.) Certainly I was excited to go back to college...

3. Did your family of origin have any rituals to mark this time of year? How about now?
I remember going shopping - we lived in a rural area (to say the least), and so my poor, beleagured parents would pack me and my brother into the car for one whirlwind day of back-to-school clothes and shoe shopping at the glamorous and very sophisticated Harrisburg East Mall. We only went that one time every year, and so, every year, my dad would miss the exit. There we would be, sailing past the mall, keeping up with the traffic, unable to get anywhere near it. So every year, someone would shrug and say "I guess you can't get there from here, huh?"

4. Favorite memories of back-to-school outfits, lunchboxes, etc?
When I was going to kindergarten, I picked out the very best lunchbox from the display at the Rea&Derricks - a Superman lunchbox!

This one. (Lunchboxpad.com confirms that this is the design that was released in 1967. So that would be right.) Look at it! It's gorgeous! The shiny reds, the brilliant yellows...it's an excellent design.

The kids in my first grade did not see it that way. They made fun of me for having a boy's lunchbox! Why in the world would a lunchbox be a boy's lunchbox? Didn't everyone like Superman? He's super, for Chrissake - how could his appeal be limited to boys? Besides, it was mine, and I was indeed a girl (despite occasional speculation to the contrary) and so it must be a girl's lunchbox. Besides, it's the best one.

My exemplary reasoning did not sway anyone.
(And Mrs. Gross did nothing to intervene on my behalf, I now realize.)
I had the courage of my convictions at school, but broke down in tears at home.
But my mom did the best thing ever. My mom (though it could have been my dad) looked at the box, and had an idea. I chose a nice metallic gold, and we taped off some shapes and spray-painted the box. You could still see some of the great primary colors, but now they made colorful abstract patterns through dot and flower and heart outlines...even the word "LOVE" spelled out in masking tape on one side. It was completely original, one-of-a-kind, and mine. And no one ever made fun of it again.

(The whole gender question persisted, of course. When I was in second grade, I cut my own hair with my mother's layout scissors because I believed that would make me a boy. (Wearing a baseball cap everywhere hadn't quite done it.) This is reflected in my school pictures, where I am wearing a blue turtleneck, 1/16-inch bangs, and the most resentful look you have ever seen.)

5. What was your best year of school?
Second grade was very cool - I had a great teacher, Mrs. Murray. She loved golf and was allergic to grass. She read us Charlotte's Web. She was 6 feet tall, with enormously long arms and legs, and looked a little like Carol Burnett. I didn't know this at 7, but it turns out she was married to a notorious homosexual (it was the 60s, there were still people married to notorious homosexuals) and they had what my mother referred to as 'an arrangement'. I get the feeling that my parents were very fond of her, at least partly in spite of themselves.

Sophomore year of high school, I ran briefly with the Popular Crowd, which I enjoyed. Junior year, I accidentally gathered my own crowd of misfits, philosophers, gender-traitors and underachievers, which I enjoyed much more.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

by request:

Someone (can't recall who) a while back (can't recall when) asked me for the cold coffee concentrate recipe/technique that I had extolled last summer in this post. Well, of course, I couldn't tell her - now I just throw a bunch of grounds in a pot until it looks vaguely right and then let nature take its course in the fridge. The link in the old post is broken, and so I went to find another similar recipe online.

Well, either I've been doing it wrong for a year (hardly out of the question) or...something. Everything I can find on the webs is all "chickory this" and "whole pound of coffee" that and "12-24 hours on the counter at room temperature" (which makes my food safety antennae perk up with concern, or perhaps retract in shock.) My procedure is smaller and colder.

Okay, so here's what I do, for cold coffee for one or two.

grind some coffee - we get Ethiopian beans when we're flush, but I'll use whatever's hanging around in the freezer otherwise - medium to coarse, as you would for a french press. How much? Hell if I know. 1/3 cup, maybe? I'll check next time. This is a recipe in R&D. And for me, it's been really hard to screw up - regardless of exact amounts, it always makes, you know, coffee. But I will say it really is better with dark roast coffee, ground right then.

drop them into a small container - I use the carafe from my college-dorm-sized, 4 cup Mr. Coffee. Cover with cold tap water and stir.

Add about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (which is the same as I take in a large hot coffee) and 3 cardamom pods. Stir again if you want, or just put it in the fridge overnight.

To serve: stir to break up the floating biscuit of coffee grounds, and strain into a glass through a fine strainer (see note below) or through a paper coffee filter in a normal strainer.

Serve with or without ice, about equal proportions of coffee and 2% milk. You can compost your coffee grounds!

I think this makes regular-strength cold coffee if you steep it 8-12 hours, and some great massive strong stuff if you forget it's there and drink it 4 days later. NOTHING BAD HAPPENS IF YOU LEAVE IT FOR A WEEK. Yes, it is still delicious, even if you make it Sunday night and it sits in the carafe until Friday morning. I am serious.

About my strainer: I have this gold mesh conical strainer that I THINK is a tea infuser, which I THINK my brother left at our house, perhaps as far back as when he lived here many years ago. The closest image I can find on the web is this:
which is available from www.tealaden.com/. It would be very handy even if you never made coffee this way, or even tea, for that matter. It is indestructible and strains very tiny particles, and yet, surprisingly, is not that hard to clean. I definitely recommend.

People on other websites hasten to remind you, so I will too: cold-brewed coffee has more caffeine than coffee made with hot water - the heat breaks down the caffeine a little. I don't know if there's a caffeine difference between the 8-hour coffee and the 48-hour coffee. What's a little racing heartbeat among friends?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Friday Five on Sunday

1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?
Any private-ness that I may have clung to, in any area, has evaporated over the last few years. I've always been pretty much an open book by nature; I am the opposite of a mysterious woman. There's an old Peanuts cartoon where Lucy tells Linus that he should never try to put anything over on anyone, because he's transparent - he has "a glass head." Well, that's me.

2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?
Two Christmases ago, I had a baby. While I was on leave, the founding pastor of our church left (I mean, we knew he was leaving, it's not like he up and quit one day.) and we got a brand new pastor.

I returned to work with a 3-month-old son under my arm, undiagnosed postpartum depression, insane rage, boob trouble, and no freakin' idea who I was now or what I would do - I knew that staying home was sucking, but I had no idea how working would work.

So my first meeting with my new boss consisted of me crying for 2 hours. Not a little tasteful sniveling. I got snot on his sweater. No kidding. I had met this man exactly once before - you know, hmm, good choice, seems nice - and then I spent 2 hours snotting on him. (The New Guy had the unhappy task of telling me about an new policy that was going to be very, very hard for me to comply with; my old supervisor had been too soft-hearted to tell me.)

Well, after all that snot, it was clearly too late to make a good impression. There was no way to 'game' this. I had nothing to lose by being myself and speaking my mind - with The New Guy or anyone else. I have no image to maintain with my co-workers, every one of whom has walked in on me breastfeeding or pumping behind a closed door. Everyone in my congregation has seen me cry, drop the bread, heard me sing off-key, heard me curse.

Honestly, I do a good job - I don't want it to sound like I'm just some big shambling mound of snot and harsh opinions. I've always worked hard, and I think the last few years have made me a much better leader. I don't waste people's time, and I'm dependable and not just a mess of jello at work. I think it's an advantage that most of my work is nurturing and encouring, and working with art and artists - things might be very different if I had to be authoritative all the time, but I rarely do. And there has been astonishing grace for me with this community (even though I sometimes think of it as being nothing but critical....)

3. Masks, a form of self protection discuss...
Not an effective form, since the masks people choose expose much more than they protect. Really, there is no protection - no one hides stuff anywhere near as well as they think they do.

4. Who knows you warts and all?
Eric, of course. Beth. Chuck. (I have known these people for 28 years. As of this week.)
My brother. Saint Dad and The New Guy, who I have known for only a few years.

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
It's really just a couple of sentences, from the end of the catechism section of the Book of Common Prayer (ECUSA). To the removed observer, this could seem like an arcane bit of verbage, a little legalistic - but believe me when I tell you that this belief is central to my experience of God, church, and my ministry.

Q: Is God's activity limited to these rites?

A: God does not limit himself to these rites; they are
patterns of countless ways by which God uses material
things to reach out to us. (www.bcponline.org)

Well, thanks be to God.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sequestered in Baltimore


We are going to see the PRETENDERS!!!
in 2 weeks!!!
also The Hold Steady!

Please express your intense jealousy by volunteering to babysit. Thank you.
(actually, there's no need to be jealous, as the tickets were relatively inexpensive and they aren't sold out. www.Sonarbaltimore.com - if you scroll down to the show and click on Buy Now, it will take you to TicketMaster, where they will gouge you on fees but YOU WON'T CARE BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THE PRETENDERS!)

In fact, you won't care because you're going to be leaving the house sans toddler. In 2 weeks.
I should start napping now.

This made me feel better today:

All great deeds and great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. —Albert Camus

Monday, September 01, 2008

Peanut Sesame Noodles

My most requested recipe! A friend just called me to get this, and I thought I'd post it. I got it from the Washington Post food section, several years ago.

Boil a big pot of water.
Blanch 2 large stalks of broccoli for a couple of minutes, fish them out and chop them into bite-sized pieces.
Cook 1 lb of pasta (I usually use thin spagetti, but any long noodle works) in the same water. Drain.

Dressing: mix together:
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 + 1/4 teaspoons chinese hot oil (it's red, soybean oil infused with red chilis)
1/2 cup peanut butter (any kind)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, pressed

You can whisk that together, or, if you have a jar with a tigh-fitting lid, shake it together. It's kind of gross and clumpy, and seems like it will never come together... then it magically does! And it's all creamy and lovely!

Toss the dressing with the warm noodles and brocoli. Serve warm or cold. Top with chopped green onions, peanuts or sesame seeds if you want it to look fancy.

This is a great potluck dish - it doubles and triples with no complications; you can sub other things for the brocoli or skip it entirely; it's vegan (and MAN do the vegans appreciate it!), low in saturated fat, no cholesterol, about 35% of calories from fat.

Seriously, you have to try this. Everyone love it.