Thursday, September 30, 2010

Slow cooker Sweet and Hot Apple Pork

How to make your kitchen smell like Fall!

• Nonstick cooking spray
• 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
• ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 (2 ½ pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork loin roast
• 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 (21 oz) can Apple Pie Filling (Lucky Lead Brand if you can find it)
• 3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1. Lightly coat a 5-6 quart slow cooker with the nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, combine the chipotle peppers, salt, pepper and paprika.
3. Rub mixture all over the pork.
4. Place pork in the slow cooker and top with the sweet potatoes, onion and pie filling.
5. Cover; cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
6. Remove pork from the slow cooker, strain the remaining cooking liquid into a medium sauce pan and then cover the pork with the remaining onion, sweet potato, apple mix. Put some foil over this.
7. Stir together 1 cup of cold water and 3 tablespoons of flour until smooth. Add to the saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
8. Slice pork and serve with apple mixture and sauce.

Italian Sausage Soup

Another quick healthy recipe!

8 oz hot turkey Italian sausage (I normally just use the whole package and double all the other ingredients )
2 cups fat free less sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
½ cup uncooked small shell pasta (I recommend De Cecco brand in the blue box)
2 cups bagged baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 tablespoons basil

1. Heat large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Remove casings from sausage. Cook about 5 minutes until brown and crumbled.
3. Drain fat from pan.
4. Add broth, tomatoes and pasta.
5. Bring to boil over a high heat.
6. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done.
7. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach until wilted.
8. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and basil.

Here be Dragons?

The phrase 'Here be Dragons' has crept into popular culture, the idea that early map makers would mark the unexplored portions of their maps with that phrase and an image of the mythical beast. The cartographers didn't want to leave sections of the map blank, and if no one had been there, it stood to reason that the area must be dangerous and terrifying and contain wild beasts.

The number of historical maps that contain the phrase 'Here be Dragons' in English? Zero. The number of historical maps that contain that phrase in Latin? Just one, the Lenox Globe.

A part of me was very sad when I discovered this through a chance google search for this blog post. The phrase seemed an affirmation of the belief that says the unknown is scary and dangerous, you are so much better off staying to the familiar, the well-worn path. Strange monsters and savage ideas are waiting for the person who ventures into the unknown, it's better not to risk it.

At the center of old maps was Jerusalem, the Holy City, Mount Zion. The Presence of God, located in the familiar, the comfortable, the known. To step away from the center was to step away from the Divine, to leave the presence of God. I've written about this before.

Jesus said 'if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.' (Matt 17:20)

When we have learned to identify 'Mount Zion' in our lives, we have the ability to move the mountain out to the edges, the rough places, the unknown. 'Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered'. Our Mount Zion is with us when we journey through the valley of the shadow of death.

When I imagine the landscape of my life, there are some areas that have definite dragons, places where I am scared to wander, but I can set my face to walk to those places when I am tethered at the center, when I 'carry' Mount Zion with me. There are Broken Relationships that need tending, Beliefs that need questioning and Attitudes that need confronting.

When you take a walk through the landscape of your life, what are the places you are avoiding? How can you carry Christ into those areas?

Points for making it to the end of this post, and bonus points if you recognized the totally gratuitous movie quote.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baaa Baaa Black Sheep?

(This post is part of my reflections for my Ignatian Spiritual Exercises Group)

'In the English language, Black sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within one's family. The term has typically been given negative implications, implying waywardness.' ~ from Wikipedia

I've spent a lot of this week mulling over some of John 10 and I need to write to try and give my thoughts some shape.

"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."

When I read this passage in the past, I had always fixed on the Shepherd (Jesus) and the Sheep (us). I had totally missed The Watchman who opens the gate for Jesus to come in. I started to fixate on who is the Watchman? Is it the Holy Spirit? Perhaps a reference to Ministers? I mulled it over for quite a while and then my mind wandered to the comic book series Watchmen and I sort of drifted on to other things.

When I revisited my scrawled thoughts again two new questions formed for me a) Who have been 'Watchmen' for me? and b) Who are 'Watchmen' for me now?

(I should say right now that the following list is nowhere near exhaustive!)

Reflecting on the questions brought up a lot of gratitude and a little sadness.

I think of my friend Sean (go buy his book!) who I have done life deeply with for years. I remember one special summer when we would get together every few days and share. He was wrestling with his demons and I with mine, and somehow together we made it through a stressful time by being two wounded people leaning on each other. Sean showed me the compassion of God.

I think of my friend Joy back in the U.K. Another person I leaned on heavily when I was wrestling with some of those deep questions of 'Who Am I?'. I lived in her house for 9 months and felt a great part of the many ragamuffins she had gathered around the table. Joy showed me the abundant grace of God.

I remember Duncan, my university Chaplain. Another person who went beyond the the demands of his job by welcoming me into his home. His gentle presence shaped me and gently showed me another way from out between my rigid thinking and theology, and he did it with kindness and humor. He was also responsible for starting me down my journey of Ignatian Spirituality. Duncan showed me the mystery of God.

I remember (with a little sadness) my friend O.B. He became someone who's wise counsel I valued for many years. It's amazing how a chance assignment as roommates lead to a friendship that traveled around the world. I'm a little sad because he seems to have distanced himself from me now. I recognize that friendships ebb and flow, things die when they need too, and so I grieve a little for the loss of what was. O.B. showed me the majesty of God.

Michael was a 'God send'. I was in a new country and I prayed for a friend. We only ever lived in the same city for under a year, but somehow we've stayed connected at a deep level. He shows me the laughter of God in so many ways. We are brothers from different mothers.

Scott was a Speaker at a ski retreat I was leading worship on. A bad patch of ice meant that I spent my days sitting in the ski lodge chatting with him. Somehow the Speaker became the Friend, became the Therapist, became the Brother. There are not many people who will respond with calm compassion and a hot cup of tea when you tearfully call them at 3:30am. Scott's compassion and insight blesses me. He has supported me and been a cheerleader for me even when my journey has taken turns he might question. It is humbling to have someone who always believes the best of you.

Jerry is a work colleague. His knowledge, creativity and humbleness astound me. Like Scott and Duncan he has been another person revealing another way to God in my life. He has a refreshing 'earthy holiness' - he can be quoting inappropriate lines from The Office one minute, and profound thoughts from Ignatius of Loyola the next. We are very different and yet so similar.

Steve has shown me the love of God in a way I never thought possible. He has opened up my understanding of where God is and what it means to live with integrity in this world. He calls forth the best in me and embraces the worst in me. I am more fully 'me' because of his presence and his love in my life.

There are more people I could list, but the thing I noticed is that only 2 of the people listed above live in Houston. I've had many 'Watchmen' in my life, but I do find myself longing for some more present close by. I have many wonderful friends here in Houston, and all of them, whether they know it or not, reveal something of God to me, but I find myself longing for something more tangible again. Maybe the Ignatian Group I am facilitating will somehow become that for me.


"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

In the past when I've read this I've focused on verse 10 ', and have it to the full.', but this time verse 9 has caught my eye. It's the phrase 'he will come in and go out'. I found myself wondering what side of the gate is 'inside' and which is 'outside'. I found myself imaging sheep facing each other through a gate and both sides encouraging the other to step through the gate so that they can be 'inside'.

In my spiritual life I think I've become so turned around that I no longer am sure whether I am in or outside. I wonder if the litmus test is verse 10? You know you are inside when you are experiencing life in all it's fullness? I know that as my spiritual journey caused me to embrace the fact that I was a 'black sheep' within the flock of God, I found life getting infinitely richer. But I also worry that if the only test for 'inside' is 'life to the full' then have I made the spiritual journey ultimately self serving? My needs, my fulfillment? Maybe asking questions about 'inside or outside' are the wrong questions.

I find myself returning to my thoughts from over a year ago about how I think the church has become good at the wrong thing. We weren't created to issue pronouncements about 'Good' and 'Evil'. In fact God did not even create us to know the difference between the two. The tree was there but we were clearly told "Don't Touch". It seems that now we have eaten of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil we want to make sure that everyone knows it. We issue our statements, declare opinion as fact, and leave the garden untended. We're too busy talking to go walking with God.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

This is so good, easy, and makes the kitchen smell great!

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

• 1 cup low sodium beef broth, divided
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
• One coarsely chopped onion
• 5 garlic cloves (peeled)
• 2 x 28oz cans whole tomatoes, drained
• Cooking spray
• 3/c up half and half or ½ cup whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 500F (this is not a typo, really!!!)

2. Combine ½ cup of broth, brown sugar, vinegar and soy in a small bowl.

3. Place onion, garlic and tomatoes in a 13x9 baking pan coated in cooking spray.

4. Pour broth mixture over tomato mixture.

5. Bake at 500F for 50 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

6. Place tomato mixture in a blender and add remaining ½ cup of broth and half and half/whipping cream.

7. Process until smooth. Garnish with cracked pepper is desired.

Slow Cooker Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

Here's something yummy and different :)

Slow Cooker Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

• 2.5lbs pork tenderloin
• Salt and pepper to taste
• ¼ onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
• 2 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 12 oz cans (or 3 cups) Dr. Pepper or any other caramel colored soda – not diet!
• BBQ Sauce to taste – usually at least 18oz
• Hoagie rolls
• (Purchased coleslaw if desired)

1. Put pork, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and Dr Pepper into the slow cooker.

2. Cook on low for a minimum of 4 hours. Check tenderness, if pork shreds easily, shred pork with tines of two forks. Continue cooking at least another 30 minutes.

3. Drain excess liquid. Coat pork, to taste, with BBQ sauce and cook another 30 minutes.

4. Serve on Hoagie rolls topped with slaw if desired.

Slow Cooker Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

Here's something yummy and different :)

Slow Cooker Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

• 2.5lbs pork tenderloin
• Salt and pepper to taste
• ¼ onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
• 2 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 12 oz cans (or 3 cups) Dr. Pepper or any other caramel colored soda – not diet!
• BBQ Sauce to taste – usually at least 18oz
• Hoagie rolls
• (Purchased coleslaw if desired)

1. Put pork, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and Dr Pepper into the slow cooker.

2. Cook on low for a minimum of 4 hours. Check tenderness, if pork shreds easily, shred pork with tines of two forks. Continue cooking at least another 30 minutes.

3. Drain excess liquid. Coat pork, to taste, with BBQ sauce and cook another 30 minutes.

4. Serve on Hoagie rolls topped with slaw if desired.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are we there yet?

The LORD had said to Abram,

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
"I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him

And so began quite a journey.

Haran ----Canaan----Shechem---Bethel---Negev---Egypt---Negev---Bethel---Hebron

And that's just in chapters 12 and 13

Set up the camp, live for a while, tear down and move on is the rhythm of the nomadic lifestyle. Don't get too fixed to the view outside your tent because it is soon going to change. Don't be surprised if you return to a place where you've camped before, but realize that although the camp ground may be the same, you've changed. We grow on the journey, and, like impatient children we long to cry out

'Are we there yet? When do we get to the promised land? When do we get to stop moving? I'm tired of carrying my tent. Haven't we been this way already? Are we lost? I'm hungry.'

My experience of the Spiritual Journey is remarkably similar, as are my complaints. I tend to be less willing to move spiritually however, ripping up spiritual tent pegs leaves me with the fear that my tent is going to collapse, that somehow I am journeying into Apostasy rather than Faithfulness....

... and sometimes I do wander the wrong way, but the God who led me this far will not abandon me in the desert of my own making.

...and sometimes what seemed like Apostasy from the outside is actually a new land overflowing with Grace and beauty and experiences with God that I could never have dreamed of when I was sitting in my tent staring at the plain before me with fear and trepidation.

If I want to be certain of every step, convinced of every path, then I will never leave my campground. My entire spiritual journey will be lived in small repetitive circles, never daring to venture into the wilderness.

I am embarking on a journey that begins tomorrow. I am facilitating a group through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The journey takes about 40 weeks of reading, reflecting, praying and sharing. I last made this journey 2 years ago, and it caused me to encounter God in new ways. This time, although I have a greater idea of the route. I also know that I am a different person. I need to not just visit 'familiar camp grounds'. Instead I need to trust the path and and see what I need to see.

I don't know yet what tent pegs will be the hardest to remove. I'm not sure where the landscape of my life is the most unyielding and inhospitable. I do know that the journey will take me to all those places if I choose to hike the difficult trails.

And I do know that I journey following a trail guide who has been this way before and knows the landscape far more intimately than I will ever know it.

I just hope that when I start asking 'Are we there yet?' - for at some point I know I will complain, that I don't let my complaints shield me from the wondrous beauty of the journey. I'd hate to miss the sights because I'm whining.

Happy Trails.

Words to remember

Where you are (however unchosen) is the place of blessing.
How you are (however broken) is the place of grace.
Who you are, in your becoming, is your place in the Kingdom.

from 'Inner Compass' ~ Margaret Silf

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poetry for the Soul

Imaginary Career - Rilke

At first a childhood, limitless and free
of any goals. Ah, sweet unconsciousness.
Then, sudden terror, schoolrooms, slavery,
the plunge into temptation and deep loss.

Defiance. The child bent becomes the bender,
inflicts on others what he once went through.
Loved, feared, rescuer, wrestler, victor,
he takes his vengeance, blow by blow.

And now in cast, cold, empty space, alone.
Yet hidden deep within the grown-up heart,
a longing for the first world, the ancient one.

Then, from His place of ambush, God leapt out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I need to be careful watching the sun rise

The sun rises over lush green hillsides. The light suddenly breaks over the mountain and rolls down over the landscape transforming it from black and white to glorious technicolor. The landscape comes alive after the velvety embrace of night.

Melody soars over the landscape as the scenery begins to dance in a joyous celebration of life.

'This is who I am, this is what I was created for' it exults in celebration.

'I can do no more and strive for no more than what I was created to be. Anything else is just pretense. The tree cannot be a rock, the stream cannot be a sparrow.'

As the light embraces the landscape it is ever changing. As the sun moves areas of shade begin to blaze, the fiercest brightness becomes muted as the kaleidoscope of living rotates across the land. The roll of hills is transformed into a phrase of melodic beauty, a fragment that is echoed in different textures and shades as the various colors of the orchestra play along with it. The light on the landscape is ever shifting, ever dancing. The melodies and colors interweave and dance. The song of the evening, so different and so similar to the morning, is heard again until the darkness embraces the land and rest welcomes it into its cool dark embrace once more.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Art of Leavings

We talked about Leavings this weekend in the Contemplative Service. Life is full of them, so we need to leave well.

Leavings can be Geographical, Relational, Belief Systems, Behavior Patterns:
  • I left Norwich, England.
  • I left an unhealthy friendship
  • I left the belief that God was pleased when I felt guilty
  • I am leaving the pattern of always believing someone is going to tell me something negative when they ask to speak to me.

As you can see from my list above, some Leavings are simpler than others, some are one time events whereas some are ongoing.

Early on in this service we used the following Liturgy:

A Litany of Leaving
Gen 12:1; Jonah 1-2a, 3a; Matt 13b; John 8 10-11; Psalm 139: 7- 12

Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you.”

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight?

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai saying,
“Go at once to Nineveh, that great city and cry out against it”
But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there!

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt.”

If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute –
You’re already there waiting!

Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.”
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”

It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to You:
Night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to You.

The interweaving of different biblical accounts of Leavings combined with the Psalmist's experience of the presence of God seemed to work well.

As I was reflecting more on Leavings, I think they fall into 4 categories, and I've enlisted the help of a group of talented rabbits to explain what I mean:

1. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

(the 30 second Bunnies present 'Gone with The Wind')

Some things are easy to leave. We put them to one side and move on with barely a second thought to whatever we have left. I must confess that I've only seen G.W.T.W. once, but when I was thinking through this post, Rhett's line was what sprang to mind.

2. "...and if you don't get on that plane, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

(ok, so the quote wasn't in this 30 second Casablanca, but it was still a great little clip.)

There are some leavings we agonize over, is this the right decision or not. We know that our leaving will impact our lives in ways we cannot foresee. I need to realize that any leaving, even a pleasant one, has an element of grief to it. Any emotions that are connected to what we have left behind are going to 'flap lose in the wind' for a while.

3. "I'll never let go, Jack. I promise."

(This is definitely a more palatable version of Titanic.)

Some Leavings are not of our choosing. These can be some of the most difficult to accept and the hardest to grieve.

4. "I wish I knew how to quit you."

(Bunnies running wild on Brokeback Mountain)

Some things are practically impossible to leave, even when staying is destroying us. Belief systems, addictive behaviors, unhealthy relationships can all have a hold on us that require supernatural intervention to break.

Fortunately we have a God who not only loves us, but never abandons us. No matter how far we may leave, we cannot leave His presence.

Is there any place you can go to avoid My Spirit? To be out of My sight?
If you climb to the sky, I'm there! If you go underground, I'm there!
If you flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, I'd find you in a minute –
I'm already there waiting!
Hear Me say to you, “Oh, I even see you in the dark!
At night You're immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to me;
Night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to me.

What leavings come to mind as you read this post? How was God present to you in the midst of them?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

August Games


I never posted the games I played in August :( I'm such a slacker.

August had 35 plays of 19 different games

Top games of the month with 3 plays a piece were Dominion, Felix - the cat in the sack and Ta Yu.

Nothing very extra ordinary in that what games from August stuck out for me?

Marracash made it back to the table after a very long absence and was very enjoyable. Building market stalls in the old city and acting as a guide to tourists is a fun way to make a profit. I know how to play the game, but there are so many ways to make money in this gem I've not quite worked out the strategy yet.

Small World also hadn't been on the table for a while. It's fun using flying Tritons to take down some Bivouacking Elves :)

Currently for this year Hive is still in the no 1 spot with 20 plays, but Werewolf is close behind at 18.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Veggie Stew

This is one of the quick recipes I am teaching today :)

Vegetable Stew
(Serves about 4 depending on appetite and accompaniment)

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 cloves of garlic, smashed (or use the pre-chopped stuff)
• 1lb Crimini mushrooms (halved) - or use baby bella, or white button.
• 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• Salt and pepper
• 1 can chickpeas (15 oz) drained
• 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 large can diced tomatoes in puree (28 oz)
• 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped.

1. In a medium pot over medium heat, sauté the garlic and mushrooms in the oil for about 3 minutes.

2. Add the zucchini and onion to the pot and season the veggies with the salt and pepper. Sauté another 5 minutes.

3. Add chick peas, cumin, tomato and chopped rosemary. Bring to a bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

What can you do with it? Well I have been known to serve it with rice, or use it as a simple side dish or even serve it with potato cheese pancakes.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is currently bubbling away in my Slow-Cooker, so easy yet so good.

2-3 chicken breasts (about 1lb)
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 10oz can red enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4oz can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of water
1 14.5oz can chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 10oz package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Tortilla chips

Put everything into the slow-cooker except the tortilla chips. Cover, and cook on Low for 6-8 hours or on High for 3-4 hours.

Remove the chicken breasts, shred them with a fork (or fingers) then stir back into the soup.

To serve, put some soup in the bowl and sprinkle some lightly crushed tortilla chips on top.

I also often swirl in a squirt of lime juice into the soup too.

Simple, but delicious!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A Burnt Offering Unto the Lord?

With the very specific instructions regarding Burnt Offerings in the book of Leviticus I'm surprised that the church has not created a 'Grilling Sunday'. Worship would happen in the parking lot with people all around their makeshift altars. Of course we already have the equivalent of the Protestant/Catholic divide, only here it would be Propane/Charcoal. I can foresee denominations forming around issues such as Brickets, Hickory, and Mesquite. I'm quite sure plank grilling would create its own cult as well.

In case you can't tell by my random musings above, on Saturday I went out and bought a grill.

First step - assembly!

The top of my 'altar' resting on its foam packing.

Various other parts strewn over both tables.

And after a couple of hours wrestling with screwdrivers and locking washers, behold!!! The only question was, would it fit through the door to the patio.

I connected up the Propane and we had heat. I was unable to test it yesterday as I had a surprise party to go to, so I rushed home after church and fired up the grill for the first time.

Now, regular readers of my blog know that I am almost fearless in the kitchen, elaborate cakes, 8 hour Cuban pork loin, complex pastry creations, fondant icing, you name it I've probably tried it. But there is something about grilling that is fearful for me - which is precisely why I bought the grill.

Men who would never darken the doors of the kitchen except to grab a beer from the fridge go almost Neanderthal at the grill. Women are banished as cooking over the fire is man's work. This is a stereotype of course, but the thing about stereotypes is that they do exist somewhere.

Anyway there is something in my internal thoughts that tells me I would not be good at grilling because I am not a 'Man's Man' - of course I have no idea what that term even means, but as I still can't even comprehend the rules of Football let alone understand its appeal, my internal thoughts have a foothold.

To conquer this I purchased this steel altar of masculinity.

And for its maiden voyage I made the following:

Chipotle Burgers

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used Angus 80/20 as you don't want the meat too lean)

2 Chipotle Chiles from a can of Chipotles in Adobo Sauce (Separate the rest into sandwich bags and freeze)

2 Tablespoons adobo sauce from the can.

3/4 teaspoon ground oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3 minced green onions

1 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mix all the ingredients together and form into 4 hamburger patties - chill for 30 minutes. If you make the patties slightly thinner in the middle than the edge then they won't balloon up during cooking.

They took about 7 minutes on the grill.

So how did it go? Well I was pleased that they weren't burnt and they weren't raw either. I cooked them over slightly too high a heat so I had a few more flare ups than expected, but I didn't lose any parts of them down into the heart of the grill and I was pleased that they were still moist when cooked.

My next attempt will be a Caribbean Pork Tenderloin, so if you hear a firetruck approaching the Heights, don't worry, I'm just conquering my fears and cooking dinner :)

I've met this woman many times :)

Having worked for churches most of my adult life I know how scarily accurate this is!