Tag Archives: food

Alert & On Guard

Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly….Be alert at all times. — Luke 21:34, 36a

Read: Luke 21:25-36 (Yes, this is the same reading as yesterday, but it bears re-reading.)

Ponder:

“Sometimes it seems as though we spend our lives waiting. Daydreaming about an upcoming vacation, worrying over a medical test, preparing for the birth of grandchild-our days are filled with anticipation and anxiety over what the future holds. As Christians, we too spend our lives waiting. But we are waiting for something much bigger than a trip, bigger even than retirement or a wedding: We are waiting for the return of Jesus in glory. Advent heightens this sense of waiting, because it marks not only our anticipation of Jesus’ final coming, but also our remembrance of his arrival into our world more than 2,000 years ago.”  — Anonymous

Reflect:

What lies heavy on your mind and heart today? What worries are you harboring and nurturing? What needs to be let go so that God can infuse your very being with expectation, hope, and joy?

If you find yourself hurrying through this season with too much to do and not enough hours in the day, do something quite counter-intuitive: sit still and do nothing. Simply be. The to-do list will still be there, and maybe some of it will turn out to not be worth doing anyway. Maybe some of it doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of the cosmos.

Be alert. Be ready. Watch for those “God-sightings” in your home, during your worship and time with friends, and even waiting in the check-out lane at the grocery. An encounter with the Divine might be just around the corner or down the next aisle. Look for God in the ordinary and extraordinary. Trust me…God is already there.

Thanks-living:

Consider calling up a friend to go for coffee or tea. Make a date with your spouse, partner, or significant other. Make special time to spend  one-on-one with your child or children. Write your parents a letter. Attend an extra worship service or Advent event in your community of faith. Find one thing to do that requires your complete presence and attention. Put those to-do lists aside and experience some joy and anticipation.

What I Did:

Last night my spouse and I were invited to have dinner with friends. Sure there is more work to be done in this season than we have hours for, but we gladly accepted their invitation, and what fun we had! Not only did Liz prepare an amazing meal, but we had conversation, laughter, and a rousing game of “Words with Friends” that we’ll savor for days to come. Thank you, Liz and Tom, for giving us the invitation and permission to simply “be” for an evening and enjoy the gift of friends and fun. Truly the love, grace, and spirit of our Lord was with us all.

Photos by paralog and Minette Layne. Thanks!

Thanksgiving with the Girls

This blog began last November as a way to increase gratitude and turn everyday life into a lifetime of thanks-living. I wanted to learn to live more gratefully, fully, and simply and encourage others to do likewise. The journey has been one both of learning and celebration. We may have a national holiday here in the USA called “Thanksgiving,” but living with gratitude and thanks all the time sure does trump a single day’s remembrance.

But since it is “Thanksgiving Day,” and since I have so much in my life for which to be thankful, I don’t want to neglect the chance to be especially grateful right now in this present moment.

For the first time in many years my mother and both of my daughters were gathered with me around the table. Our dear friend Debbie joined us, too. I was able to cook up a traditional family feast without massacring the turkey or ending up with lumps in the gravy. It was a good time; however, it came at a price.

My mom took a lot of risks to fly up here. Her health has been tenuous for a while now, but thanks to the good folks at Delta Airlines and her friend, Greg, she braved the journey. It has been wonderful to have her here, and she even made us one of her awesome pecan pies for dinner.

My wonderful husband also paid a price. It is his tradition to travel to New England to be with his family at Thanksgiving. Pastors have a tough time getting away at Christmas, so if you want to spend a holiday with family Thanksgiving is the window of opportunity. Because my oldest daughter had surgery and could not travel, Mr. Wonderful Husband suggested I stay home with her and have a holiday with the girls. When I mentioned flying my mother up, he was completely supportive because he realizes how precious time with family is and how seldom I am able to see my mother (who lives in Tennessee) and have both daughters home, too. I am grateful that his family understands why I stayed home this year.

So the day has been joyous. It has been fun. It has been a bit bittersweet, too. Gathering around a table spread with all the good foods that have been a part of my (and my daughters’) childhood, with my mother seated next to me, with prayer, laughter, and much joy has been better than any Hallmark sentimental moment.

I am thankful for family. I am thankful for traditions that bind us together. And, I am thankful that on occasions tradition can be broken or altered through acts of love and caring that are truly gifts of the heart. Thank you to my family–all of you–for the gift of this Thanksgiving Day.

What about today meant something really special to you? To whom do you need to say a special word of thanks?

And as my Thanksgiving gift to you, here’s my recipe for Tipsy Taters (a decadently delicious take on candied sweet potatoes)

Tipsy Taters

You will need–

Enough cooked and sweetened yams for the number of folks you want to feed (or a large can or two of yams)

1 egg

brown sugar to taste (I use about 1/4 cup with sweetened canned yams or more for fresh)

spices to taste (I use cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg)

somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup Kahlua or other good coffee liquor

2 to 4 tablespoons melted butter (margarine won’t cut it–don’t even try)

Mash and mix these ingredients and place in a greased casserole dish.

For Topping (get ready to sin and sin boldly)–

Mix together brown sugar, sweetened flaked coconut, and chopped pecans using enough to liberally cover the contents of the dish. Melt 1/2 cup butter (again, no margarine please) and Kahlua to taste. Pour melted butter and Kahlua over sugar/coconut/pecan mixture and stir until you have a lumpy but not overly moist mixture that can be sprinkled liberally over the yam mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes (topping should be bubbly and browned but not baked to a crackly crisp). Enjoy!

In Praise of Soup

Nothing for me heralds the transition from autumn to winter like soup on the supper table. A good soup is warming, filling, and frugal. A pot can be whipped up using cans relatively quickly, can simmer all afternoon, or  can simmer in a slow cooker from morning ’til night. The aromatic scent of spices fills the house and beckons all to pull up chairs to the table. Add salad and bread, and the repast becomes a feast.

Guess what we had for supper tonight? If you guessed soup, you’re invited over for an amazing bowl of curried sweet potato and lentil soup, along with a spinach, apple, walnut, and cranberry salad. My spouse’s homemade whole wheat and white bread rounded out the menu. And if you live too far away for leftovers, click here for the recipe we used.

As a busy clergy/writer couple, we look forward to slow cooker soup meals at the end of busy days. We use lots of beans, brown rice, fresh vegetables, and ethnic spices. Because we use fresh seasonal ingredients and try to buy our legumes in bulk, most recipes are quite frugal. We keep stock and leftovers in the freezer to add to soups, decreasing food waste. Another benefit of soup is that many recipes can be easily and quickly expanded if a need exists for a few extra bowls.

Last night, for example, we enjoyed a big kettle of “loaded potato” soup (minus the bacon bits). The recipe is simple: combine a sauteed onion and crushed garlic to taste, a five pound bag of russet potatoes chopped, flavor with salt and freshly ground pepper, and add enough veggie stock to just cover the potatoes. Once they’re soft, add chives, up to two cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream). We use a potato masher and and enough skim milk to reach a consistency that’s thick, creamy, but still sporting potato chunks. Yum.

Other favorites are tomato, butternut squash, vegetable, black bean, split pea, and vegetarian bean chili. We’re always open to try new recipes, and this time of year we eat soup, salads, and sandwich combinations several times a week.

I am thankful for good food, especially for the food we are able to purchase from local farmers and markets, and share with generous friends who garden. I am also grateful for the warming and comforting properties of soup suppers when the temperatures drop and nights become longer.

A meal doesn’t have to be time-consuming and expensive to be good for you, tasty, frugal, and local. Soup makes a fine option for entertaining because it’s easier on the cook. Try putting together a couple of soup options, a few loaves of bread, and a hearty green salad the next time you host guests. Better yet, make it a “crock-luck” soup party and let everyone contribute something for the table.

What are your favorite soups? Feel free to share a recipe!

Photos by erin.kkr, jeffryw, and Qfamily. Thanks!

In Praise of Home Grown Tomatoes

I am thankful for home grown tomatoes–those orbs of deliciousness that taste so much better than their bland grocery store counterparts. If you grow tomatoes you understand. For weeks you watch them hanging green on the vine, and your mouth begins to water at the thought of tasty sun-warmed fruit on bread with mayonnaise, or in Caprese Salad or in salsa or in sauce or in juice. Maybe the best way to enjoy one is to bite into it like an apple, fresh off the vine.

As the old song goes, “There’s only two things that money can’t buy–true love and home grown tomatoes.”

Not familiar with “Home Grown Tomatoes”? Here’s a link to a YouTube version by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. Enjoy! Oh, and as you’re eating your next home grown tomato, don’t forget to give thanks.

Photo by Dave Stokes used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Thankful for Potlucks

Yum! Yum! It seems like any time you get a bunch of church people together for a luck meal, you are truly going to get lucky. I thought Lutherans had the corner on the potluck market, but tonight I attended a meal preceding  a gathering of our local Fellowship of Churches and found that not necessarily true.

One of the true joys of potlucks is sampling a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Unlike going to the food bar at your local Ryan’s, Hoss’s or other “pitch ’till you win” trough and tea restaurant, a certain level of decorum still abides. Folks tend to play nice and not be too hoggish, waiting patiently and trusting there will be plenty even if you’re bringing up the rear of the line. How many times at a church potluck have you eyed that last tasty spoonful left in the dish but not had the gumption to take it? After all, “mom-wisdom” generally says “don’t be a hog and take the last bite; leave it for someone else.” I guess that’s why so many dishes go home nearly empty rather than scraped clean.

One feature of potlucks is the distinct presence of comfort foods. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a potluck where there hasn’t been at least one jello salad or macaroni and cheese bake. It’s an opportunity to tote out your best artery-clogging recipes to share with others — unless you happen to be a major “kill-joy” like me who tends to take spinach salads or vegetarian lasagna. Think about it: fried chicken or spinach salad. What would you choose?

The very best thing about potlucks is that there always seems to be more than enough food and way more than enough variety. Like Jesus with the loaves and fishes, folks are fed aplenty and there are always some leftovers. Just as birds of a feather flock together, folks and food find common ground and full bellies.

For Further Reflection

What’s your favorite potluck contribution? What’s the best dish you’ve ever sampled at a potluck meal? Care to comment on the worst?

Be sure to give thanks for the opportunity to gather together and share communal meals. It sure beats dining alone on a can of soup!

Photo by Tobyotter used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!