Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I love to bring produce in from the garden and use it in my meals. Since I started growing hot peppers last summer, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with hot sauces and tonight I made one that was really good! Here’s the recipe:
An assortment of hot peppers (I used four red Hungarian wax peppers and 8 orange Bulgarian carrot peppers)
About a cup of vinegar (sorry, I didn’t measure, just poured to get it to the right consistency)
About a cup of brown sugar (again, I didn’t measure)
3 sweet potatoes, baked til soft
2 ripe peaches
Slice the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. I wear rubber gloves when I do this so I don’t burn my hands! Chop peppers and put together with all the other ingredients in the food processor and puree. Store in the refrigerator and use with rice and beans, curry, or whatever you like to put hot sauce on.
We had it with Cauliflower Curry tonight. I’ve had people comment on how delicious that curry is so here’s the recipe for it as well:
2 onions, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, sliced
1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons Patak Hot Curry Paste
1 bunch cauliflower
5-6 russett potatoes (any kind is fine, that’s just what I had tonight)
1 can coconut milk
1 can chick peas
1 can diced tomatos
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes
salt to taste
salt to taste
Saute the onions and peppers in the oil til soft, add the curry paste and enough water to keep the onions and peppers from sticking. Cut up cauliflower and chop potatoes. Add to the onion/ pepper/curry sauté. Add a little more water if needed. Cover and simmer on medium to low heat til potatos are just soft. Add coconut milk, chick peas, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice. Cook about half an hour on low. Serve over rice with a variety of condiments. We like to have small bowls of chopped mango, raisins, coconut, sunflower seeds or peanuts, yogurt, pineapple, and of course the hot sauce to accompany our curry.
The secrets to this curry are the Patak curry paste, coconut milk, and cilantro. You can find the Patak's and coconut milk in the international aisle of most grocery stores. Food Lion even carries them. Delicious!
And one last recipe…..After posting about making Pesto, several people asked me for my pesto recipe. If you know me or have been in my kitchen, you know that I don’t use recipes very much. I may start with a recipe but usually end up adapting it to my own taste, and after a while, I just wing it and cook by feel! Here’s the original pesto recipe that I used from the Moosewood Cookbook. I vary this somewhat each time I make it but this is a good starting point:
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 large cloves fresh garlic
½ cup pinenuts, walnuts, or almonds (I usually use walnuts)
¾ cup fresh grated parmesan (parmesan in the can will work fine, too)
½ cup olive oil (add more if the pesto seems too thick)
Salt to taste
Combine everything in a food processor and whiz til it turns into a smooth paste. Toss with hot drained pasta.Happy eating!
Friday, August 25, 2006
On the fourth Friday in August, 2001, we spent our first full day in
That very first day, August 24, Coty, Jonathan, Thomas, and Joel were involved in a pretty bad car accident. For a description of the accident and our response to it, as well as some pictures, go to http://www.expository.org/cameroon/accident.htm
The short version of the story is that Joel was hurt the worst. We thought he had broken his leg and we were in the middle of nowhere with strong warnings to avoid any Cameroonian medical clinics because of unsanitary conditions and the threat of AIDS and other infections. God guided us safely on the seven hour car ride to our destination, eventual safe health care for Joel at the Baptist hospital in Mbingo, and reassurance that the accident was part of His purpose for us! Truly, it was a God-designed start to an incredible year.
I will never forget the almost tangible feeling of being enveloped in God's loving arms on the dark drive back from the Mbingo hospital to the Baptist Center in Bamenda along a mostly deserted Cameroonian road in the back seat of a pickup driven by a fellow missionary we had just met, my now stitched-up son and right-hand daughter in the seat beside me. I knew, in a way I had never known before, that God was with me. I felt His peace was flowing into me. It is an Ebenezer stone memory for me of God's guiding, protecting, caring, tender, constant presence in the midst of a situation that I would never have chosen for myself. Oh, but how thankful I am that he gave me that incident, led me through it, and taught me more about Himself than I would have learned had the road been smoother!
A few things that came about as a result of the year in
Erin met Luke; Jonathan learned to ride a horse and a motorcycle and his life was impacted in a way that has led him toward study of international relations; all the boys saw real poverty and gained a different perspective on possessions; we made some lifelong friends and gained a love for
It is very hard to even imagine what our lives would be like now if God had not guided us where he did five years ago. It is a joy to know that He had it all planned from the very beginning and that our time there accomplished His purposes in our lives and the lives of others for our good and His glory. Makes me wonder where I’ll be five years from now! I’m glad He knows.
But you know, it really was a great time....so I'll leave the cap on the red pen and resist the urge to edit this time.
Since this is the last (and only) week this summer that the boys are all home at the same time, we took a couple of days and went to the mountains. We stayed one night in a great bed and breakfast near Linville Falls and had great time with our guys.
On one of our hikes we found a great swimming hole, complete with stream fed cold tub. BRRRRRR! We hung out there for awhile,
some of us, literally. The swinging was accompanied by a few Tarzan yells and anxious moments when I wondered if they'd let go of the rope before crashing back into the rocks on the other side.
Our last hike took us to the top of Hawksbill Mountain where we had incredible views of Table Rock Mountain and Linville Gorge. I love hiking with my guys. The banter along the trail is always amusing. I laugh A LOT!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Andrew arrived home safe and sound from his
We’re looking forward to the next few days with all five guys home before Jonathan leaves for
I crept as quietly as possible out of my bedroom hoping no one would hear me, wake up, and perhaps want to go with me. I felt like being alone. I put in my contacts, found the golf cart key, my Bible, and a beach towel, and slipped out the back door. The salt air was warm and humid. I unplugged the golf cart and flipped the switch to reverse, hoping that the hum of the air conditioner inside would drown out the beep of the golf cart as I backed it away from the house. I put it in forward, switched on the headlight and headed out onto the empty street. I was a stealth beachgoer, sneaking away unnoticed, going to a show I wanted to experience alone that morning.
I was ready to be an observer, to watch pen in hand, scribbling almost illegible notes in the dark. I wanted to see, really see the sunrise in all its glory and force myself to describe it as carefully as I could. That’s something you can only do alone because if someone is with you, you have to talk about it. I wanted to be quiet.
As I drove the four blocks to the beach, I noticed the waning moon above. Only the smallest sliver was lit, but I could see the rest of the round ball, dim above the bright crescent. The illumined sliver was like icing on the edge of a cookie. I imagined a big hand, God’s hand, dipping the moon cookie into shimmering icing, pulling it out and placing dipped cookie with shining icing in the sky. Venus, the morning star, was an icing drop down below the moon. Treats He put in the darkness of the predawn day for those up early enough to enjoy.
I reached the beach access, parked the golf cart, and walked up the steps and over the dunes, down onto a deserted beach. The sky was dark, and the familiar stars of Orion’s belt hung in the eastern sky above the ocean. A bank of cumulus clouds met the horizon, their billowy shapes dark against a darker sky.
I spread my towel on the soft sand and sat down to wait. The beach was completely empty. The light from the end of the fishing pier, eight blocks north, shone out over the water. The waves crashed and roared. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the sky began to lighten and a dull peach glow lit the underside of the clouds closest to the horizon. The first people I noticed were tiny, dark silhouettes far down the beach.
The cloudbank was an audience, its face toward the sun, its back toward me. As the sky slowly grew lighter, one billowy tip of a cloud face began to brighten as it reflected the still hidden sun. Orion’s stars began to grow dimmer. A casual walker with his coffee ambled onto the beach to share the show.
The sun was still below the horizon, but the sky grew brighter, casting the cloudbank into higher relief, its dark gray backside toward me. The peach backdrop below the cloudbank hugged the horizon and began to spread, lighting the narrow strip of firm sand at the edge of the breakers.
An airplane taking off from the airport to the north swung out east over the ocean giving sleepy travelers a sneak preview of the sunrise. The plane banked, turned, and headed landward. A few moments later, another plane headed east and followed the same course. Those travelers had seen the sun and the shining faces of the cloud audience, but I was still waiting, watching as the colors grew more intense.
Activity on the beach was beginning to increase. A blinking yellow light atop a green John Deere Gator signaled the approach of a beach trash man. He drove slowly toward me, stopping now and then to pick up beach trash with his extendable claw grabber. A runner passed. A gull flew over. A shirtless man walked out onto the beach, shoes in hand to test the water. As he stood at the edge of the tide, the waves crashed over his feet. “Come earlier tomorrow,” I thought, “and see the whole show.” But he didn’t seem to be there for the sunrise show. He stood still, gazing out over the water, not looking toward the sunrise at all. I wondered what – or who – he was thinking of. Did he have a friend, a loved one, a buddy somewhere on the other side?
The clouds were whiter now, though the sun was still hidden. The aqua sky was brushed with pink streaks. The dull peach light had turned to yellow orange brightness. The glowing contrail of a distant plane heading west streaked the sky. The pilot, perhaps all unaware, was painting the morning sky. The clouds were now fringed with light.
Then a fisherman stepped onto the beach. He carried a long surf-fishing pole in one hand and a kitty litter bucket in the other. A chair with straps like a backpack was slung over one shoulder. It clanked as he walked. A long canvas bag hung over his other shoulder. He set down his chair and bag, thrust a PVC pipe into the sand, and slid his fishing pole into it. He opened the litter bucket and took out his tackle box and camera. He unfolded his chair and then began to assemble the canopy that he carried in the bag.
The sky was turning lighter, a faint white-yellow behind the clouds now, and I began to wonder if that was all I would see. Perhaps the sun would remain hidden behind the clouds until it rose high enough to shine above them and I wouldn’t really see it ascend from the horizon at all. I stopped watching to read my Bible. 2 John, 2 Chronicles 31, the story of Hezekiah…..I was immersed in the reading but something made me stop and look up. The glowing orange ball of the rising sun was sliding up at the edge of the sea and the sky. Small cloud shapes dotted it as it became larger and rounder. And then the top of the ball slid into an envelope of clouds above and just as quickly as it had popped into sight, it hid itself again behind the clouds. I had almost missed it. The sky grew brighter and brighter and rays began to shine out on all sides of the clouds - above, to the side, and below.
The sound of a diesel tractor disturbed the quiet. Down the beach its black smoke colored the morning air. The tractor was driven by another one of the beach trash men on his early morning rounds, collecting trash from the cans along the edge of the dunes. He hopped off the tractor and dumped the contents of the trash cans, crushed soda cans, food wrappers, broken beach toys and other cast-offs from yesterday, into the dumpster on the trailer behind the tractor. I watched him and then turned back to watch the sunrise, hoping he and his noisy, smelly tractor would drive away. But he didn’t. I started to feel mildly annoyed at this disturbance when I looked back at him and saw that he, too, was here for the show. This wasn’t just his morning duty. He was a sunrise spectator like me. He had his camera in hand, taking picture after picture of the clouds in their brilliance. I looked down the beach at the fisherman. He was doing the same thing. Trash man, fisherman, walkers, and sedentary watchers like me had all joined the cloudbank audience that morning.
The sunrise show passed its climax. Gray, peach, orange, and yellow blazed into the white heat of another August day. Time to go home. Time for a run, then coffee. I gathered my towel and Bible, mounted the steps and climbed over the dunes to the golf cart. I had to wait for a car, two cars before crossing the street this time. The four block drive was not stealthy this time, but shared with others, up and about their morning business.
As I drove back, I felt richer for sitting on the beach for two hours. I was blessed by the beauty of the sunrise, a daily free and glorious gift from the ever creating hand of God, a gift that shouts praise to Him but that goes unnoticed, at least by me, most days. I was very glad I had gotten up early.
I was glad I had gone alone, too, but decided that the show should be shared tomorrow. I drove home hoping I’d have some sunrise companions that would join the fisherman, the trash men, the walkers, and me the next morning. If Joel or Matthew would come along, then instead of solitude and silent watching and recording, we could notice things together. We could talk about colors, point out cloud shapes, and ask questions about the waning moon, the planets, and the sun. I could share the gift, and hope that their thoughts, too, would turn to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the painter of every sunrise, the one whose glory is declared by the heavens.
"...He has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber and like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat." Psalm 19:5,6
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Jonathan, Matthew, Joel and I came down to the beach to see Mama and Daddy for the weekend. It's been perfect beach weather. The boys have been swimming.....
and me....well, just give me a chair and a good book and I'm happy!
I have many childhood memories of Surfside. My grandparents lived here when I was young and we visited them often. The beach house, now owned by my parents, still smells like my grandmother, Franny. Everytime I walk in I feel a little like I've stepped back in time. Much has changed down here. The area is much more built up and commercial than it used to be. But, I still love to come down here because some things never change....washing off the sand and salt in the outside shower, smelling the salt air early in the morning, walking to the pier, eating lots of good food, slowing down. I always go home feeling refreshed in body, mind, and spirit.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Now, I'm passing that delight on to Matthew. He loves pesto and asked me if I'd teach him how to make it. We have had a bountiful harvest of monster basil this summer - the biggest basil leaves I've ever seen due, I think to mushroom compost. Matthew and I just harvested more and now he's going to get his pesto lesson! The aroma of basil, olive oil, and parmesan cheese will waft from our kitchen for the next few hours as my able assistant and I chop and blend. I should have plenty to freeze for those winter days when green basil plants are a memory. And I bet you can guess what's for dinner tonight!
Monday, August 14, 2006
I hope blogging will also be an opportunity to share Ebenezer stories. The idea of Ebenezer stories has floated around in my brain for years since the very first Ebenezer night at our church in Massachusetts way back in 1990 or so! We sat around that old sanctuary on wooden pews, Jack and Barb, Jan and Dave, the Bonsignores, Babcocks, and others and shared stories of God's faithfulness...faithfulness that had brought us to where we were that evening. A year or two later we had another Ebenezer night and I remember the Duncan's story and others. I have so often thought back to those stories and many more that I've heard.....and lived since that time.
1Samuel 7:7-12 (read it!) tells the story of a victory of the children of Israel over the Philistines and of the setting up of a memorial stone as a reminder:
"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, 'Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.'" 1 Samuel 7:12
Stories are like that Ebenezer stone - reminders of God's help. I would not be where I am without Him, but I need reminders. I need stories. I need Ebenezer stories. So, I hope to write a few Ebenezer stories - and whether they are stories of mundane daily events or happenings of great import - I pray that they will be reminders that "hitherto hath the LORD helped me. "