Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tomato Basil Egg Bake

We often have scrambled eggs for breakfast, but this is a flavorful egg bake that I reserve for a low-glycemic index supper. Of course fresh herbs always taste best, but you can easily use dried basil if you don't have fresh (see photos). You could also omit the feta cheese, or use whatever kind of milk you have on hand. But the sun-dried tomatoes are a must!

1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 c oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
8 eggs
3/4 c rice milk
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c shredded mozzerella

Saute shallots until soft. Add tomatoes and 2 tbsp basil; stir one minute. In large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, feta, and salt. Mix in tomato mixture. Pour into a greased 9x13" pan and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Top with mozzerella and 2 tbsp basil.

Bake another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown. A knife in the center should come out clean.

You may need to broil it for the last couple minutes to melt the cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chivalry... Significant or Just Awkward?

I do love when my husband opens doors for me or carries things for me or pays for things or speaks up for me. But to tell you the truth, neither of us really knew how to "do" chivalry when we hooked up. We are still learning it together. Many practices of chivalry have been lost over the generations. So we are learning.

In our five years together thus far, I have slowly become more comfortable letting Shane "take care of things." It's strange to go from driving your own car all the time all over the place, long trips included, to letting someone else have the wheel. (Especially when they aren't as cautious as you...) It's awkward to have someone ask you if he can get you something to drink, when you have two legs and are perfectly capable of getting it yourself. It's not that I didn't learn chivalry from my dad. He was pretty good at it. It's just that I grew up in a culture where I wasn't taught the value of it. I adapted the mindset of "I can do anything you can do. So I will." Even my high school job as a grocery bagger/carry-out/stockboy reveals that. Looking back, I guess there was a reason most of the other carry-outs were guys.

Marriage has taught Shane a lot about chivalry, too. He is learning to simply notice. He's really good about being chivalrous when he knows he's supposed to be, but he is learning the heart behind the actions. Take opening doors. He used to always walk ahead of me, never behind or beside me, even if I was carrying loads of stuff through a big parking lot. He didn't care where I was or how I was managing. Same thing with bike rides together. We couldn't talk or interact at all because Shane felt a need to stay far ahead of me. He would happily fly along while I just felt lonely! His goal was to get where he was going as fast as he could. However, if he ever would come upon a door, a light bulb would turn on and he knew he was supposed to open it for me. Smiling from ear to ear and bursting with pride, he opened that door wide... and then wondered why I was taking so long to get there!

The more we get used to the attitude of chivalry, the more we like love it. The acts are great, but the heart of chivalry is a special kind of care that only a man can show and only a woman can receive. Just because I like to receive chivalry does not mean I'm weak. Just because Shane likes to offer his strength does not mean he thinks I'm weak. Male and female we were created, the collective image of God Almighty, chivalry being one way of reflecting such magnificence. When I am allowed to be a woman, I feel valued and respected for who I really am. So I am willing to face the awkward moments and allow chivalry to happen to me.

Marriage has been a good teacher of chivalry to us. Parents have taught us a few things. But some things only time can teach. I have learned chivalry from the UPS guy, the Mormons, and also some of our male friends. Over time, I have noticed that most of these men most of the time do not cross the threshold of our house unless my husband is home. Hear me right... it wouldn't be a huge deal to me if they did come in for a minute. I have just noticed that they usually don't. This is a courtesy that I have come to appreciate. For whatever reason -- maybe the simple human intuition that most men are physically stronger than me -- I really appreciate, respect, and trust these men more when they go the extra mile of standing out in the cold to deliver something or leave a message for Shane or whathaveyou. Showing the appropriate care for someone, in this case chivalric care, can sometimes mean intentionally maintaining a boundary -- however unnecessary!

And sometimes chivalry is necessary, even heroic. I thought this article was brilliant: "If we can all agree that the kind of culture we should aspire to live in is one in which men and women protect and honor each other in the ways that they can—and not one in which men are pushing past women and children to save their own lives—then that is progress that women everywhere should support."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Roast Chicken

This is my favorite recipe for roasting a chicken. Simple and delicious. Isn't she beautiful?

4-lb whole chicken
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 onion, peeled
1 c chicken broth

Combine in a small bowl:
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse chicken and pull off excess fat in cavity. Dry with paper towels. Loosen skin from chicken breast with fingers. With a spoon, spread half the butter mixture under the skin; rub the rest on top. Sprinkle with rosemary. Place onion in cavity and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and pour broth into pan. Cover and roast one hour. Uncover and roast 40 minutes more, or until juices run clear when pierced. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Mommy, you're bossing."

There are just three of us here and it's close quarters so when things heat up, we all feel it pretty hot. And now, when the heat rises it's not uncommon to hear, "Mommy, stop bossing. You are bossing, Mommy."

It all started one evening when we were in the kitchen and Shane was washing dishes and I was putting the leftovers away. Shane said something like, "I don't want to give him two vitamins and I don't have to. I'm going to keep giving him one." And I said, "No... if you're going to GIVE the vitamins you will GIVE him two, because that's how many he needs at this age."

At this point we are facing each other and three-year-old Z comes running in between us saying, "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy!"


"You're bossing."

"Bossing? Where did you hear that word?"

"You're bossing. I will show you!" ...runs away and runs back... "See? It's right here. You're bossing."

And holds up this book...

...which had been read to him for the first time just that morning and quickly thrown aside.

My heart sunk. How is it that this little mind can learn a concept so quickly from a book and apply it to life, when it takes this bigger mind so much longer to unlearn it?

Bossing. Okay, yes, that's what it is. Thank you, little wise man, for pointing it out. And all I can think is, I don't care if I'm right, I don't want this child to learn that "bossing" is okay. Especially wife to husband. I am a miserable mess when it comes to this, but there is only one thing I can do about it now.

The vitamins take a back seat and I look down at the little one. "Yes, you are right. I am sorry for bossing Daddy. You let me know if I do it again, okay?"

Then I look up at the big one. "I'm sorry for bossing you around. Will you forgive me?"

Not because I'm really sorry but because I know I should be... and because it's more important for this child to know how to humble himself than to defend himself in an argument.

Maybe someday my heart will catch up with my head and I will feel more sorry?

Maybe God knew that having this mirror of a child was the only way I could learn his way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Granola Bars

These taste more like "bars" than "granola." They are chewy and moist and sweet. I used Ashley Jorgensen's recipe as a basis and then changed a everything to my preferences. I make them a lot!

2 c coconut palm sugar
1 1/3 c natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1 c agave nectar
1 c butter, melted
4 tsp vanilla
6 c oats
4 tsp sesame seeds
2/3 c ground flax seed
1 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c chia seeds

In a very large bowl, mix ingredients together in the order listed (the melted butter will allow you to mix the peanut butter and agave).

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread mixture into pan.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Let cool, then use a pizza cutter to cut into bars. Makes 48 bars.

They're great as snacks or dessert! I like to make a lot and stick some in the freezer.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What To Do About Pain

It's a wonder that pain -- in and of itself -- cannot kill.

A friend had a migraine for so long and so severe that she lied on the floor crying and telling her husband she thought she was going to die from the pain.

I have never said those words, but I have felt that pain.

Pain would like to convince us that it has the power to kill in all its agony. Pain can do many things, but kill it cannot do. In fact, if you can feel pain, you are most certainly alive.

Not to brag... but I might be one of the most "alive" people you've ever met. Yep... I like to live what they call "life to the full."

You should try it. (Just kidding.)

No, pain can't kill anyone. But it can do lots of other unpleasant things... It can cause shivering, muscle spasms, vomiting, and, if prolonged, it can cause you to lose your mind.

In the hours of deepest pain, how was it that Jesus did not lose his mind? I know he didn't lose his mind because he was able to pray for others. I think he kept his sanity by defeating the fear of pain. He did not allow pain or the certain coming of pain to make him fear. If he would've given way to fear of pain, he would've come down off that cross. But in those dark Gethsemane hours, knowing pain was coming, I believe Jesus made a conscious decision not to fear pain.

Wouldn't it have been so much easier for Jesus if his death would've been instant, without the pain of crucifixion? But then, what kind of hero would he be for us without having to face our fear? The fact that pain itself cannot kill becomes an even scarier thing than if it could. If pain could kill, one would at least have a peace knowing the end of the pain was coming. But it's even scarier to think it will go on indefinitely... Indeed, that is the scariest thing about pain: It lasts. Until you die.

For a lot of us, that means pain could last a long, long time.

The only way I am able to handle this thought without losing my mind is to rest on the surety of my eternity with Jesus:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  (Revelation 21:4)

My comfort is in my assurance of salvation I have through Jesus Christ. I belong to him. For me, pain will end, and in the spectrum of eternity the pain that I experienced here will one day seem short.

Still, there are days when it's just hard.

Fear of lifelong earthly pain can still cause a person to lose their mind, especially in the middle of it. Chronic pain became long enough and frequent enough for me that I needed to start consciously deciding not to fear pain/life. I do not want to lose my mind; there are other people who depend on me to not lose my mind.

Here is how I overcome the fear that pain hurls at me: I tell God "thank you."

Thank you, not just in this circumstance, but for this circumstance.

Thank you that it can't kill me.

Thank you that I need not fear it, because you are with me.

Thank you for taking care of my family.

Thank you for the treasures of darkness you can give me only in such dark pain.

Thank you for humbling me.

Thank you not just that this bout will eventually end, but thank you for now. I have a pillow. I have water. I have a bedroom. This moment is sacred.

Thank you for the loss of time with my people.

Thank you for all I have lost because of this pain.

Thank you for this pain.

Many people say that you don't need to thank God for pain or loss or injustice. That God does not require the hard thanks. This thought might be consoling, but I declare with Paul that I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation. I don't have to thank God for it, and I might not always practice thanks as well as Paul did. But when I fail to give the hard thanks -- perhaps the most important thanks -- my peace is stolen and my joy is stolen and quite frankly I lose my mind.

Maybe this is a treasure of darkness that can only be understood after you go through it.

What I know is there are many ways experts have found to deal with pain. For example, medicines to prevent it and Botox to numb it and chiropractic to get at the physical root of it and counseling to get at the emotional root of it and deliverance to get at the spiritual root of it. So we pray, then do what seems good to enable us to function despite the pain.

But even after all this has been done, if you are still alive on this earth, you will find out that there is still pain. Oh, yes! It comes back in one form or another.

All of these dealings with pain can be good and make us healthier in some way and we should do them if we can... but the deepest "root" to pain will never be fully yanked out until we are yanked off this planet and taken home to heaven for good. The important thing is to not let pain take our mind. We must fight to keep our joy. And giving thanks for the now always precedes the joy.

So, you may not think it's necessary to thank God for everything. But this giving thanks in the middle of pain is my crazy sword, this is all I've got. I have a Father who continually gives gifts to me and I intend to find them... in every station.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Orange Sweet Potato Bake

Why didn't anyone ever tell me that sweet potatoes and oranges taste good together?

Such a perfect match, I don't know why I never thought of this before. The recipe came from The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook by Cybele Pascal. I will be making it again.