Monday, January 31, 2011

What Do You Get When You Combine Pumpkin, Mushrooms, Quinoa, and Yogurt?

Several months ago I came across this recipe for pumpkin French toast (and corresponding recipe for pumpkin bread) and desperately wanted to make it. I’m a sucker for basically anything with pumpkin, and I love treating myself to special breakfasts on the weekends when breakfast won’t interfere with sleep (since sleep wins every time). This weekend, two of my girl friends came to town, and I finally got to make the pumpkin French toast! It was pretty much amazing, and I’m kind of excited to try turning any (every?) kind of quick bread into French toast. The pumpkin bread recipe gave us a nice, dense loaf of bread, so we had no problems with it falling apart while dunking each slice in milky-eggy-cinnamony goodness.

Then, for lunch, we tried Real Simple’s Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with Mushrooms and Sweet Potatoes recipe. Also a win! It was my first time to make quinoa and the girls’ first time to ever hear of quinoa. Surprisingly, it was very easy to cook! The trickiest part (once we found it, which was an adventure in and of itself) was rinsing it since all my strainers’ holes were too big. But we solved that by putting the quinoa in a coffee filter and running the water through that. Then it went into a small saucepan and cooked just like rice.

Marinating the chicken in the yogurt made it super moist with a lovely flavor, and my favorite part of the meal was the roasted sweet potatoes and mushrooms. Wal-Mart didn’t have shiitake mushrooms and they were out of creminis, so I substituted regular mushrooms and baby bellas, and they tasted great! The only thing I will do differently with this meal next time is make more sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

Up next week: Butternut squash, which is already on my counter so I cannot change my mind.

Sweet potatoes and mushrooms, fresh out of the oven!


Ready to eat! (Too bad chicken doesn't photograph well. Or too bad my plates are white.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Singing the Women's Part

I had a new experience today in chapel. We sang one of those songs where the guys and girls split, singing completely different lyrics and melodies, for much of the song. Neither part is really the lead--we just take turns with who sings what. I have always sung that song either led by no one, or led by a man who naturally sings the guys' part, leaving the women in the congregation to band together from our seats and hope we come in at the right time and can hear each other well enough to carry the tune correctly. This morning, however, the worship leader was a woman. And for the first time in my life on a song that split like that, I sang with the worship leader the entire time and sang the girls' part the entire time.

There are other songs where the women's part leads and the men echo, and I've usually seen the male song leader sing the female part along with the women. Which kind of makes sense but also sounds a little weird.

Now, I have nothing against men or male worship leaders. But my experience this morning in chapel was refreshing--and kind of validating! This once, I wasn't just singing the extra part that wasn't important enough to have a worship leader, and I wasn't singing the women's part that still had to be led by a man so the song wouldn't fall apart.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In Human Form

by Walter Brueggemann

from Prayers for a Privileged People, 153-154

On Reading 1 Samuel 16:11-13

You are God, high, lifted up, majestic.
As we say, “Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory . . .

You are high and lifted up;
it dazzles us that you work your will
through human agents—
those whom you call and choose and empower,
even the weak, the lowly, the nobodies.

You are high and lifted up;
it stuns us that you have worked your will
through such human agents as David,
the runt of the family,
almost left behind and forgotten,
and you called him to power and
obedience and success.

You are high and lifted up;
it staggers us that you have worked your will
through this Jesus of Nazareth,
he of no pedigree,
he of no form or comeliness,
he who emptied himself in obedience;
and you have raised him to new life,
before whom every knee shall bow.

You are high and lifted up;
it astonishes us that you work your will
through human agents like us,
people of little consequence and
limited capacity.

You call us beyond ourselves;
you send us beyond our imagination;
you empower us beyond our capacity,
and we become your agents in the world,
day by day doing justice and mercy and compassion.

At the end of the day we still say in astonishment,
that you are high and lifted up and majestic.
We are your creatures,
and we give our life back to you,
filled with gratitude,
eager for the rest that only you can give.

It’s impressive—it’s dazzling, stunning, staggering, astonishing—that the high and majestic God not only stoops to notice us and cherish us, but also calls us to enact God’s own will and character. And not only calls us to such an unachievable task, but enables us to do it.

Who are we to make the ruler of heaven’s will come true on earth?

Over Christmas break, we spent a couple days with my cousin and his family. I volunteered to make some puff pastry pinwheels for our Christmas Eve dinner, and as I started to put the pinwheels together, little Addy pulled her stool up to the counter and excitedly offered me her services. Could I have made the pinwheels without Addy’s help? Absolutely. Could I have made them better and more quickly without her help? Probably. But letting her help—and teaching her how to make puff pastry pinwheels—was more important than efficiency or showing off my cooking abilities.

I imagine that us helping God accomplish things is a little like Addy helping me make pastries that day. God doesn’t need our help. God is far more capable than we are of doing justice and mercy and compassion. But maybe the relationship is more important. Maybe our being useful despite our feebleness is more important than a flawless outcome or a pristine process.

The Christmas Eve pinwheels turned out wonderfully regardless of the sous chef’s youth and inexperience. When I reach the end of my life, I hope that I will have done a good job with the responsibilities God has entrusted to me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and hurt a lot of people along the way, and I’m bound to mess up some more. But I hope that the end result will be a good one that will make my sovereign proud.