30 May 2011

Some people thought he was a rapscallion

I'm selecting poems for an American Lit class I shall teach this fall. This was too good to pass up.

by Ogden Nash

Once upon a time there was an Italian,
And some people thought he was a rapscallion,
But he wasn't offended,
Because other people thought he was splendid,
And he said the world was round,
And everybody made an uncomplimentary sound,
But he went and tried to borrow some money from Ferdinand
But Ferdinand said America was a bird in the bush and he'd rather have a berdinand,
But Columbus' brain was fertile, it wasn't arid,
And he remembered that Ferdinand was married,
And he thought, there is no wife like a misunderstood one,
Because if her husband thinks something is a terrible idea she is bound to think it a good one,
So he perfumed his handkerchief with bay rum and citronella,
And he went to see Isabella,
And he looked wonderful but he had never felt sillier,
And she said, I can't place the face but the aroma is familiar,
And Columbus didn't say a word,
All he said was, I am Columbus, the fifteenth-century Admiral Byrd,
And, just as he thought, her disposition was very malleable,
And she said, Here are my jewels, and she wasn't penurious like Cornelia the mother of the Gracchi, she wasn't referring to her children, no, she was referring to her jewels, which were very very valuable,
So Columbus said, Somebody show me the sunset and somebody did and he set sail for it,
And he discovered America and they put him in jail for it,
And the fetters gave him welts,
And they named America after somebody else,
So the sad fate of Columbus ought to be pointed out to every child and every voter,
Because it has a very important moral, which is, Don't be a discoverer, be a promoter.

Declared and saved and proclaimed

Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841

"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord,
"and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and I am God.
Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?"

-Isaiah 43:10-13

{image credit: Hubble Heritage photostream}

27 May 2011

Weekend linkage

Hahahaha. So eat your vegetables, now.

This is a superb lecture given at West Point last spring. Topic: America's need for creative, intelligent leadership, and the role of solitary reflection in forming such leaders.

Michael Horton on what the Bible really tells us (or doesn't) about foreign policy in the Middle East.

I just discovered The Civil Wars. The folky acoustic feel of Mumford & Sons, but with a stripped down sound and the added fun of a female vocalist.

This video, about a baby with trisomy 13 born to Christian parents, is so sweet, sad, and-- miraculously-- hopeful.

A laugh from McSweeney's: what Baroness von Schraeder may have told her friends after the breakup. Also from McSweeney's fried chicken injections. Pretty funny.

(Well . . . except that our food supply is starting to resemble just that. EAT REAL FOOD, PEOPLE.)

(Hopping off the soapbox now.)

26 May 2011

Despite my happiness

by Brad Davis
For good or ill, I am among the fortunate, the happy.
Who can refute it? I live on a five-hundred acre estate
kept by a crew I neither have to pay nor oversee.
I have never, involuntarily, gone hungry
or had to pawn rags to shelter my family. Never
have I been pushed to the point of longing
to bathe my feet in the blood of the wicked, who
by force impose their bent will upon the world.
What I think I know is that everything happens all at once -
privation, birthing stars, regime changes -
and some of it is not good, and how much is not good
is relative to the calculator’s point of view.
Certainly what appears to be true is how
what is not good never fails to inspire dangerous humor,
sweet dreams among co-conspirators, bitter lyrics
in absolutely beautiful songs – the kind of songs I like best -
songs deeply felt and aimed at making sensible
to a numbed, happy public – folk like me – the urgencies
of the discontented. And it is true, or I am
sufficiently educated to know how to say it, that
despite my happiness, I, too, cannot wait for the day
when earth steps free of her long bondage to decay
and I find myself, as though I were just
waking up, in a new body equipped with stable knees,
an unencumbered will, and desire like wisdom from above.

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!

Tomato Soup with Garlic Parmesan Croutons
“Shall we try another figure of the Lobster Quadrille?” the Gryphon went on. “Or would you like the Mock Turtle to sing you another song?”

"Oh, a song, please, if the Mock Turtle would be so kind,” Alice replied, so eagerly that the Gryphon said, in a rather offended tone, “Hm! No accounting for tastes! Sing her 'Turtle Soup,' will you, old fellow?”

The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and began, in a voice choked with sobs, to sing this:—
“Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
  Waiting in a hot tureen!
  Who for such dainties would not stoop?
  Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
  Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
      Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!
      Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!
  Soo—oop of the e—e—evening,
      Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

  “Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
  Game, or any other dish?
  Who would not give all else for two
  Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
  Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
      Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!
      Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!
  Soo—oop of the e—e—evening,
      Beautiful, beauti—FUL SOUP!”
 -from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

This soup is not green, nor did I serve it in a tureen. (I don't have one.) But it's most certainly delicious.

Creamy Tomato Soup
(my own invention)

2 28-oz cans Tuttorosso New World Style crushed tomatoes*
1/4 cup butter
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup granulated sugar
plenty of salt (start with 2 teaspoons)
freshly ground pepper to taste
dried basil and oregano to taste

1) In large pot heat crushed tomatoes, butter, half and half, and stock to a low boil-- just until bubbling. Stir occasionally while heating, to prevent burning and encourage the butter to melt.
2) Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
3) Add remaining ingredients. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Taste to make sure that there is enough salt and spices. Let simmer for 10 more minutes and serve.

Note: This makes a lot, so if you're only cooking for two people you will probably want to halve it. Or if not, you'll have lots of nice leftovers; it freezes well, too.

*I usually don't specify brands. In this case, the particular type is actually important, because crushed tomatoes vary wildly from brand to brand. Some are extremely chunky, others rather watery. Tuttorosso New World Style is like a very thick tomato sauce, not perfectly smooth, flecked with basil. Perfect for making into soup. I know there are probably other brands that have a similar texture, but I just don't know about them. :) Anyway, if you use a different type of crushed tomato, and it turns out to be chunky, you should puree it in the blender before using.

Shared at Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursday, and Fight Back Friday.

{image credit: the boastful baker on Flickr}

25 May 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: ten minutes in a rational manner

"I am not going to run away, Papa," said Kitty, fretfully; "if I should ever go to Brighton, I would behave better than Lydia."

"You go to Brighton! --I would not trust you so near it as East Bourne, for fifty pounds! No, Kitty, I have at last learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it. No officer is ever to enter my house again, nor even to pass through the village. Balls will be absolutely prohibited, unless you stand up with one of your sisters. And you are never to stir out of doors, till you can prove, that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational manner."

Kitty, who took all these threats in a serious light, began to cry.

"Well, well," said he, "do not make yourself unhappy. If you are a good girl for the next ten years, I will take you to a review at the end of them."

-from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

{image from the 2005 version of P&P}

23 May 2011

When the Lord binds up the brokenness of His people


For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it" . . .

And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water . . .

Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

-from Isaiah 30

{photo credit: dirk@bremen on Flickr}

21 May 2011

Weekend linkage

If you didn't know, the world is ending today. Some good thoughts from Eric Landry on an orthodox Christian's attitude towards Camping-ites.

Speaking of the world's end-- in case it comes by zombie apocalypse, the CDC has advice on how to survive. Thank goodness.

I'm so confused. Why do we need to teach three-year-olds to multiply? A NYT article on parents who take their (very young) children to Kumon for supplemental education.

Stephen Colbert does liturgical dance. Love.

So apparently there are noodles without calories. But . . .  but . . . why? If your body is hungry, it needs energy, not fiber!

Why we must speak the Gospel, with words and not merely actions. "We hope against hope that we won't have take the trouble to figure out how exactly to talk about the gospel—our unbelieving friends will 'catch' the gospel once our lifestyle is infected with it."

Evangelical Christians often speak of "a personal relationship with Jesus." But Fred Sanders asks, where does that phrase come from?

How not to run a church small group.  Too funny!

20 May 2011

The proud and the meek

A potter's hands

Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark,
and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

. . . [But] in that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

-from Isaiah 29

{photo credit: ejas on Flickr}

19 May 2011

O Lord, we wait for you


In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you . . .
O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
O Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.

-from Isaiah 26

{image credit: Steve J. O'Brien on Flickr. He lives in Wales and takes sweet pictures. Check it out.}

18 May 2011

I knew I loved pumpkin.

lets make some pumpkin piePumpkin . . . in pancakes, pie, muffins, cake, cookies. So delicious. I'd like to try it in baked oatmeal next.

I actually use butternut squash most of the time. It tastes the same, sweeter if anything. And it's cheaper! I bought a lot of butternuts in the fall, roasted them till soft, pureed them, drained the puree of excess water, and froze the whole beautiful lot in quart bags.

Anyway, I just found a new reason to love pumpkin. This mask made my face-- which is very cranky and sensitive-- very happy. And I looked very silly while I had it on, so if you're easily amused, you have to try it.

Soothing Pumpkin Face Mask

(originally from Endless Beauty by way of Crunchy Betty)

2 tablespoons cooked mashed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried milk powder

Whisk together till smooth. Slap it on your face, laugh at yourself in the mirror, and leave it on for 20-30 minutes. Clean up and moisturize.

{photo credit: abbiekay on Flickr}

Well Written Wednesdays: It threads through forests


The birds have started singing in the valley. Their February squawks and naked chirps are fully fledged now, and long lyrics fly in the air. Birdsong catches in the mountains' rim and pools in the valley; it threads through forests, it slides down creeks. At my house a wonderful thing happens. The mockingbird that nests each year in the front-yard spruce strikes up his chant in high places, and one of those high places is my chimney. When he sings there, the hollow chimney acts as a sound box, like the careful emptiness inside a cello or violin, and the notes of the song gather fullness and reverberate through the house.

-from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

{photo credit: shima1313 on Flickr}

17 May 2011

Improvements, always

Brown Egg Shells

I'm a tweaker. There are very few recipes I don't change as time goes by. Sometimes it's to suit the occasion or what I have in the fridge, sometimes because I am simply curious.

This is my current favorite quiche recipe. I used to make it another way, but this is far simpler and quicker, mostly because I ditched the crust. So now it's better for you, with more protein from the eggs and more vegetables, and as a bonus it takes less time to cook because it's not as "deep." Leftovers also make a perfect breakfast on the run.


Edit 1/12/11: I don't use ricotta anymore, and I increased the ratio of eggs to milk. The quiche stays together better and is also cheaper.

Rich and Savory Quiche
(my own original recipe, thank you)

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (a mixture of strong hard cheeses like colby jack, sharp cheddar, or Parmesan is best)
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch or flour

8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk 
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
generous grinding of black pepper
your choice of spices and herbs*
2-3 cups chopped cooked broccoli**

1) Preheat oven to 350. Coat large quiche dish (mine is 11 inches across) with nonstick spray. If you haven't such a dish use two glass or ceramic pie plates.
2) Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and add diced onion. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and soft.
3) Toss together grated cheese and flour in medium bowl. Add eggs and whisk briskly until combined. Add milk, salt, Dijon, pepper, and any other spices; whisk to combine. Stir in broccoli and onion.
4) Pour into prepared dish/es and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until firm in center. Remove from oven and let sit 10-15 minutes before slicing. Refrigerate any leftovers.


*Fresh herbs work great here. I tossed in a good half cup of chopped Thai basil and cilantro last time. A pinch of paprika is always nice, too. But if you'd rather leave it plain, it will still be delicious.
**Or whatever cooked vegetable you please: spinach, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms asparagus, cauliflower, russet potatoes. This is your chance to use up leftovers! I tend to have cooked broccoli around, so into the quiche it goes. Of course, if you don't have any leftover veggies already, you can cook them specifically for the quiche. Just make sure that your chosen vegetable is not watery, because if it is, the quiche will also be soggy.

{photo credit: robertolsenart on Flickr}

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

15 May 2011

no frigate like a book #2

Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking by Kate Calquhoun. I love food and I love history, so this hit the spot. :) Super interesting study of Britain's culinary history, plus scads of relevant social and political history. Pictures and diagrams, too! Great for anyone who likes nonfiction.

First Family: John and Abigail Adams by Joseph J. Ellis. Quite enjoyable. This chronicle of John and Abigail's long, fruitful, and often tempestuous marriage includes lots of excerpts from their letters, which inspired me to write more often to my friends and family. (I can't say I have done a stellar job at that, but I'm trying.)

Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende. Totally fascinating, especially if you love complex character studies, which I do. Allende's novel fictionalizes the real-life Spanish woman Ines Suarez, who helped to found the kingdom of Chile. Having been born in Santiago myself, I particularly enjoyed hearing the account of the city's early days. Love, violence, and adventure aplenty. I should mention that some scenes can get pretty steamy-- colonial South American not being the most chaste of places-- so if you object to that sort of thing in your literature, you've been warned.

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. Wow. I think I need to read this one again. Talk about complexity of characters . .  and so many of them! Isabel Archer is someone I'd like to meet, a woman of charming yet tragic idealism. I feel as if I only caught a quarter of the themes, but even those were gripping. And James' wordcraft is of course excellent, if convoluted at times.

To the Last Man by Jeff Shaara. This historical novel about WWI held my attention from start to finish. More than I can say for The Guns of August, which I abandoned halfway through because I couldn't keep the names or places straight. To the Last Man was a far better read for me, because I remember people, not just facts. Giving literary personalities to important figures like Pershing and Richthofen cemented them in my mind. The one gripe I have about Shaara's work is his odd use (non-use) of conjunctions. I kept wanting to grab a red pen in order to add "and" to a sentence. Here's a typical example: "The general looked around, took in the scene, handed the telescope to his orderly." I want "and" before "handed!" Oh well. Obviously, Shaara had no problem becoming a best-selling author, grammatical quirks and all. :)

13 May 2011

Weekend linkage

For those of you inclined to read ingredient lists and make your own beauty products, here's how to make shea butter moisturizer. I did it. Super easy, works like a charm and has only four ingredients-- woo!

Did you love Little House growing up? I did and I still do. Here's an NPR article on Wendy McLure, who just wrote a book about her adventures immersing herself in Laura's world, The Wilder Life.

Silk ties are great. Silk ties with pretentious frogs are even better.

A post on Passionate Homemaking about why moms need to pick their priorities. It's applicable to anyone overwhelmed by all the "should dos" on her list.

Oh brother. Apparently brides across the nation are endeavoring to make like Kate and be royal.

Is standard English education going down the tubes? This author says yes. Sad but true, if the pathetic excuses for essays that I helped to grade in college count for anything.

Vote: who had the best Civil War facial hair? Enough said.

Just for laughs: theologians ancient to modern made over in the Lolcats vein. Calvin and Aquinas like you've never, ever seen them before.

11 May 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: Inaugural Edition

Once upon a time I had this series called Mellifluous Mondays, in which I'd post a poem every Monday morning. That lasted for almost two years, then somehow receded into nonexistence. But I still love words! Prose or poetry, fiction or not. Words have been like magic to me ever since I could read them-- which, I think, was about the age of four.

So I am instituting a new series, Well Written Wednesdays. :) No longer limited to poetry, this is simply going to be a weekly selection of skillfully crafted words. I begin with two excerpts from Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.


Wherein, then, lay the [quality] that made the young man's heart beat with a kind of retrospective excitement?  It seemed to be in Madame Olenska's mysterious faculty of suggesting tragic and moving possibilities outside the daily run of experience.  She had hardly ever said a word to him to produce this impression, but it was a part of her, either a projection of her mysterious and outlandish background or of something inherently dramatic, passionate and unusual in herself. 


Overhead, Handel's March swelled pompously through the imitation stone vaulting, carrying on its waves the faded drift of the many weddings at which, with cheerful indifference, he had stood on the same chancel step watching other brides float up the nave toward other bridegrooms. "How like a first night at the Opera!" he thought, recognising all the same faces in the same boxes (no, pews), and wondering if, when the Last Trump sounded, Mrs. Selfridge Merry would be there with the same towering ostrich feathers in her bonnet, and Mrs. Beaufort with the same diamond earrings and the same smile--and whether suitable proscenium seats were already prepared for them in another world. After that there was still time to review, one by one, the familiar countenances in the first rows; the women's sharp with curiosity and excitement, the men's sulky with the obligation of having to put on their frock-coats before luncheon, and fight for food at the wedding-breakfast.

10 May 2011

Unforgettable, unregrettable lemon tart

You won't regret this tart.

(Unless you hate lemons or are scared stiff by cholesterol . . . in that case you will regret this big time, because it contains 6 lemons and 10 egg yolks! Also, I usually stick with whole foods but I don't mind bending the rules on occasion for the sake of an excellent dessert. So this recipe contains refined flour and sugar.)

Make sure you chill the tart thoroughly before slicing. And if you have leftover curd, which you probably will, try it on scones or with sliced strawberries.

This took me a while to make the first time, but most new recipes do. The second time, it was a snap. A tart crust should be a quick affair anyway, since overworking makes it tough, and this curd recipe is extremely easy. The most time-consuming part is zesting lemons. :)

Zesty Lemon Tart
(crust here, filling here, with my own twist)

Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
2 large egg yolks*

Lemon Curd Filling:
juice and zest of 6 large lemons (make sure you squeeze every last drop of juice out of them!)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
12 tablespoons butter

For the crust:
1) Stir together flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Cut in butter quickly with pastry blender, until resembles coarse crumbs.
2) Add egg yolks and stir to bring together in a ball. You may need another yolk-- I did the second time I made this-- it just depends on how big your eggs are. Try not to overhandle the dough. Just use a flexible spatula and/or your hands to form it into a cohesive ball.
3) Coat a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan with nonstick spray. Press dough into prepared pan and freeze for at least 60 minutes.
4) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large piece of foil. Remove crust from freezer, and press foil (buttered side down) firmly onto crust and up the sides. Bake 25 minutes. Peel away foil, and press down any bubbles that have popped up. Bake 5-8 minutes more, until nicely golden. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For the lemon curd filling:
1) Place all ingredients except for 6 tablespoons butter into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly** until it begins to thicken and bubble gently. Reduce heat to low, and keep whisking! You don't want it to stick or burn.
2) When it has thickened enough for the whisk to leave visible "tracks" in the curd, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining butter, one tablespoon at a time until completely melted and incorporated.
3) Let cool for a while, so it isn't steaming hot. Pour directly into the (completely cooled) tart crust, or pour into a glass bowl and keep in the fridge until crust is ready. Either way, cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let finished tart chill for at least 8 hours before serving.
4) If you have texture issues, you might not like all the zest in this curd, and you'll want to strain it before cooling. But I love lemon zest and hate laborious straining, so I skip that step. :)

*Don't discard the whites, of course. You can use them-- and those from the filling-- to make candied nuts or macaroons, or if you aren't in the mood for sweet things, simply use them for a super-high-protein version of omelets, quiche, or scrambled eggs. Delicious options abound.
**Or, if you're like me, "really frequently." I just don't do "constant" whisking, not when it lasts more than two minutes! Fussypants techniques = irritated me.

{image credit: Nick Nieto on Flickr}

09 May 2011

The things you see at Panera . . .

Across the room there's a salad-eating girl who looks like Kristen Stewart. No sign of vampires, though, so it must not be her.

Right beside me sit five twenty-something dudes in pinstripes and polos, armed with two laptops and a plethora of smart phones, talking business in a Very Intense Manner. They are really amusing me for some reason. I feel like they were buddies in college and, after graduation, decided to start a company so they wouldn't have to break up. (Come to think of it, I've seen them here before, and I don't even come to Panera very often. It must be their office!)

Two Presbyterian ladies lamenting the sad state of their synod, or maybe it's just their congregation? I can't tell. At any rate, something is exceedingly lamentable, and they seem determined to fix it.

So, apparently wearing shorts so skimpy that your pockets stick out from the hem is the cool thing this summer. I am so NOT on board.

Finally . . . mango smoothie. I recommend.

Coconut and curry

On Saturday evening I had the honor of hosting a party for Julia, one of my best friends, who is getting married in less than a month. We-- her maid of honor (and sister) Angela and I-- decided to go with a Thai theme. Julia loves Thai food, and the bright colors and fresh flavors seemed appropriate for such a happy occasion.

Mind you, my house contains nothing remotely "Asian" in appearance, so we had to do quite a bit of decorating to achieve our theme!
We were pretty pleased with the results, though. :)

For dinner we made vegetable spring rolls with two dipping sauces (spicy peanut and sweet hoisin) along with a scrumptious chicken curry. Wow, this curry is definitely a keeper! I think a lot depends on the quality of your ingredients, so please find as authentic a curry paste and as pure a coconut milk as possible.

In pursuit of those authentic ingredients, this party provided me with an excuse to visit the Asian grocery store in Lancaster, which I've been meaning to do for a while. I felt very . . . white.


Coconut Chicken Curry
(original recipe from Eclectic Recipes)

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 large white onion, diced
2 small russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
4-5 cups chopped cooked chicken*
salt to taste (I used at least 1/2 teaspoon)

1) Heat oil in wide, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, potatoes, and garlic. Stir for one or two minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook (stirring occasionally) until onions are translucent.
2) Stir in coconut milk and curry paste. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until sauce has thickened a bit and potatoes are soft.
3) Stir in chopped chicken and salt to taste (add more curry paste if needed). Let chicken warm through. Serve with rice, Thai basil, cilantro, and green onions. We like brown basmati rice.

*I poached boneless, skinless chicken thighs. It's very easy. Of course, you could also use cubed uncooked chicken, and add it in with the potatoes and onions. I just prefer to cook it first, then chop. And if you try to cook all that stuff at once, it takes longer.

06 May 2011

My favorite new smoothie

Okay, I am loving dairy kefir. It's the easiest kitchen project ever-- even easier than sprouts, and that's saying something.

Thus far I've only used kefir in smoothies and as a substitute for buttermilk in pancakes. I am not sure that I'd enjoy it straight. But it makes a fabulous, tangy, creamy breakfast smoothie. I mixed up this combination of ingredients this morning, and it was really great. Kefir for probiotics, almond butter for added protein, flaxseed for omega-3s . . . everything together for scrumptiousness.

Banana Almond Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup dairy kefir (plain whole-milk yogurt if kefir freaks you out)
1 banana, frozen and broken into chunks*
1 tablespoon almond butter 
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
splash of vanilla extract 
drizzle of raw honey
pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon
3-5 ice cubes

1) Add all ingredients to blender, in order given.
2) Blend on low speed, stirring with spatula if needed to create vortex, until ingredients are fairly well broken up.
3) Switch to high speed to finish blending the smoothie. Pour into a tall glass and serve immediately.

*We like to freeze overripe bananas in chunks, because they make thicker smoothies. You could use a fresh banana if you want, or if you don't have one already frozen.

Shared on Fight Back Fridays and Fresh Bites Friday.

Weekend linkage

Yes, the royal wedding was entertaining, but what happened in the Abbey afterwards was even more so.

More humor via Youtube: a trailer for Jesus People, "The rise and fall of America's worst Christian pop music." It's especially funny if you grew up listening to such stuff. I did, alas.

I always love Wondermark, but this past week has been especially ridiculous: The Tinkerer's Handbook explains how to occupy yourself with useless projects. The advertising section made me roll with laughter.

Also in the Victorian vein, an interactive game to test your social skills. Thoroughly amusing whether you're right OR wrong.

Something serious to wrap it up. Two good, Biblical takes on Osama bin Laden's death. One from John Piper, one from Michael Horton.

03 May 2011

Just some good bread

Yesterday I went to Miller's Natural Foods, an Amish-run natural grocery/bulk foods store near Bird-in-Hand.* It's a bit of a hike so I try to make the trip as infrequently as possible. :) Among my purchases yesterday-- rice, walnuts, banana chips, and other such glamorous items-- was a small bag of organic steel-cut oats. I had never used them before but thought it was about time they entered my kitchen.

When I got home, I decided to use some in this oatmeal bread, which I discovered some time ago but in which I've simply substituted rolled oats. Well. The steel-cut version was even better.

This bread makes no claim to authentic Irishness. It does, however, make a serious claim to authentic deliciousness. Perfect alongside vegetable sausage soup, with a salad, or toasted with butter and honey. We're both big fans of this one and I really should bake it more often.

Irish Ploughman's Oatmeal Bread
(originally from Prudence Pennywise)

2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
1 large egg

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9x5 bread pan.
2) Stir flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.
3) Whisk yogurt, milk, and egg together in small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
4) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until tests done. Remove to wire rack and let cool in pan about 5 minutes, then invert and let cool on rack completely. Eat while fresh-- for some reason, perhaps the baking soda, it gets a little bitter after a few days.

*If you're not from Lancaster, yup, that is really the name of the town. We have some good ones around here.

For us and for our salvation

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end. 
-from the Nicene Creed

{image credit: Scriptorium Daily}