Sunday, August 31, 2008

Adventures in Pastry

Pastry and I have this interesting relationship.

Sometimes it comes together great as in the Turkey and Ham Pie I made on Boxing Day.
From Christmas 2007

And at other times it's more of a challenge.

Yesterday was one of those 'Other Times' :(

I was making Pizza Rustica All'inglese from 'How To Be A Domestic Goddess' by Nigella Lawson.

It's basically a full pie with a pizza type filling. Well my filling was wonderful, (a mixture of ground bacon, ground pork, cheese, green onion and seasoning) but my pastry was being very uncooperative yesterday. It wouldn't roll out without splitting :( I added extra moisture when I needed too, and added extra flour when I needed too but it still was a challenge.

I eventually baked the pie and it came out looking like this.

It really was a real pain to make, though the spring form pan definitely helped.

I do have to say that the smell of it baking was wonderful and made the kitchen feel all nice and cosy, and it sliced beautifully.

The cold leftovers are supposed to be delicious too - I'll find out today.

I'm not sure if it was worth the level of labor intensiveness, maybe if I keep practicing my pastry it will get easier :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Who Jesus Isn't

I've posted this a year ago at my old blog, but it bears repeating here because it's so funny.

It's very interesting to think about all the things that Jesus wasn't, that the church seems to be. Republican. Rich. Prejudiced.

Or consider this song by Martyn Joseph

"He Never Said"

A Tale of Two Meals

I've been watching a lot of a British Cooking show called Two Fat Ladies recently. One show they made a very interesting dish with Salmon that I decided to duplicate as I want to try and eat more fish in my diet.
Here is the salmon fillet, resting on a bed of orange slices, poaching lightly in red wine with a covering of more orange slices. (Poach the salmon 3/4 covered, I just took the lid off for a better photo.) The recipe also called for a little nutmeg which seemed odd, but I decided to do what it said. The kitchen smelled very Christmassy!
Served with a nice salad! Yummo!

On Friday I stopped in a store called Ten Thousand Villages
It's a wonderful store full of fairly traded goods. I picked up a new cook book called 'The World of Street Food' One recipe that caught my eye was a Tunisian Tagine

I was familiar with the Moroccan Tagine which is a stew cooked in a specially shaped pot with a conical lid, but not the Tunisian Tagine which is very different and almost resembles a Fritata.

I first made a ragout from Onions, chicken, tomato paste, cannellini beans, breadcrumbs, cheese. Paprika and Cinnamon.

That was then put in a baking dish and had beaten eggs poured over it and placed in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Served with a green salad - very yummy (though I would maybe omit the cinnamon next time as it seemed to overpower the taste)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hanging out in Houston

My friend Michael has been here visiting the past few days. So we were hitting the high spots.

Coffee Shops.



Houston Zoo.


Here are some fun pics.

(Click on the pics to see them Full Size)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why Men and Women do different Gymnastic Routines!

I haven't watched a single second of the Olympics, but a friend sent me these clips and I thought they were hilarious.

1) If men did the same floor routine as women.

2) If men competed on the asymetric bars.

3) If men competed on the beam.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Spiritual Where's Waldo

In the popular 'Where's Waldo?' books, Waldo is always in plain site on the page, but there is so much other distracting stuff around him that he's difficult to locate. There may be other people that look like him in the picture, and you might only be able to see a part of Him and he might look different to what you anticipate.
In the Contemplative Service yesterday we talked about God's presence in our lives. There are certain places that people go to where they say they encounter God. Beaches, Mountains, Churches etc can all be possible places.
There are other places we go to that are just part of our everyday existence. The grocery store, the office, the kitchen etc. Most of the time in those places we are not particularly mindful of God, but we believe he is there even if we do not experience him.
There are still other places that we find it very difficult to imagine God being present at all. These are normally defined by moral judgements we might make regarding the location.
Something in us says that 'For God to be in those places is an outrage.' We may make a theological leap to say that yes God is there, but we believe God is frowning and judging.

The bible seems very clear that we cannot get away from the presence of the Divine. Take Psalm 139:7-12 for example:

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute— you're already there waiting!
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.

Wherever we go, God is already there.

I believe that theologically, but sometimes it is difficult to see.

Friday evening I was out to dinner with Steve when one of our friends drunk dialed him. We were rather concerned and eventually found out that he was at a Strip Joint in town. We drove over there to get him and brought him back home and put him to bed - it was quite an adventure.

I was praying on the drive over that he would be aware of God's presence in the midst of the Strip Club, and that God would keep him safe. I found myself asking the question that we have asked the Contemplative congregation to sit with this week: "Where are you present in this moment, God?". The simple answer came back to me that God was present in that moment because Steve and I were there to take care of him.

That's a nice simple answer, and it gives me a nice 'warm' feeling, but it raises the question 'If Steve and I had not shown up would God have been absent?' It seems arrogant to suggest that I would have to be in a place for God to be there!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I drive to the strip club, you're there!
If I drink myself under the table, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings to the far corner of my misery,
You'd find me in a minute— you're already there waiting!

No matter where any of us may go, God is already there waiting.

The problem is, I'm having trouble 'seeing' him in some situations. It's like playing 'Spiritual Where's Waldo'. Waldo is hard to see because so many other people look similar, and often you can only see part of him in a different position to how he normally is.

Maybe that's the key here.

My presuppositions of how God 'looks' and 'acts' get in the way of me seeing him in some situations. Every person in the strip club is made in the image of God and reflects Him somehow. My presuppositions and judgements make that image even harder to find.

The challenge is to keep looking.

So, let's spend the week asking ourselves 'Where are you present in this moment, God?' and hopefully He/She will surprise us.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm a backing singer with the band

This guy is giving a concert this sunday night at my church, and I'm one of the six backing vocalists.

You ought to hear him hit the High C at the end of this song. Incredible!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dvd cases as art.

Whilst trying to decide how to store and display DVDs Steve and I found these cool storage racks at Ikea. This is a lot cooler than shelves. Now the DVDs form art :)

(The slight curvature on the pic is caused by my cell phone camera.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Never Read Poetry Before Breakfast

Never read poetry before breakfast
The pre-caffinated brain has not erected its defenses
In its post-slumber lethargy it transforms
a poet's vision into a template for living

Never read poetry before breakfast
or on your morning commute you will suddenly notice
the butter-drenched glory of the morning sun
you may be distracted
by the hypnotic rhythm and cadence of language
as captured in your morning emails
The reheated familiarity of your leftovers
may explode like fireworks on your tongue

If you absolutely must read poetry
handle it with care.
T.S. Eliot should only be read on a lush green hillside
overlooking an idyllic flower-laden landscape
Only attempt Wilfred Owen whilst in the velvet embrace of the blackest thunder storm
And if you are an amateur literary enthusiast
Do not, I repeat do not tackle Mary Oliver's beautiful word chisels
Lest your palisades crumble
letting her red bird haunt your daily existence
And her imaginary deer roam through your afternoons.

Never, never read poetry before breakfast
It will ruin your whole day

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Fun With Breakfast Food

Why did I never think of creative pancake eating before.....I could start a new artistic culinary trend!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Half-full of Sound and Fury and Signifying Nothing!

Eduard blew into town yesterday.
The picture makes him look like a fairly mean swirly dude, but the reality was one huge anticlimax. It was fun seeing the manic shoppers in Kroger thinking that the Apocalypse was on its way, thinking they could survive if they bought 100 cans of tuna fish. What surprised me was that about 1 hour before the storm was due to hit, I did a quick run to the store to buy yeast (everyone needs yeast to survive a storm right) and there was a massive line at the donut shop!
There's nothing like hot sugary baked goods to sustain you through the end of the world - or maybe they were just buying them for there flotation properties.

Saddest of all were the weathermen who were obviously crestfallen that Eduard could barely blow over a plastic garden chair. I saw one clip where the camera crew were focused on a puddle in a Wal-Mart parking lot!!! Now that is quality news reporting.

The church offices were closed just in case, so I spent a large portion of my day reading books for my spiritual direction class. I finally finished the first one on Ignatian Spirituality - which started off promising but got very dry, and I've just started The Practice of Spiritual Direction.

My two new words for the day (courtesy of the new book) were 'Kataphatic' and 'Apophatic'- words so uncommon that Merriam Webster online doesn't have them.

So after reading, I got on to my next task of the day - baking (hence the need for fresh yeast)
We have a choir potluck tonight and I was requested to make my Blue Cheese and Walnut Bread for it. It's a yummy loaf, but as you can imagine it is fairly time consuming to shape and bake, so the Eduard served me well there.

I also threw together a quick chicken and shrimp stir fry.

I've always had trouble with leftover rice clumping. This time I spread the leftover rice out to cool and then put in in a Ziploc baggy. When it came time to stir fry I just massaged the baggy to break up any clumps. The stir fry came out very very yummy!

I then closed out the day by watching 3 movies.

1) A Home at the End of the World - Colin Farrell did an excellent job.

2) Running With Scissors - very confusing compared to the book.

3) Bride and Prejudice - Jane Austen reimagined as a Bollywood musical!

It was a good day - thank you Eduard!

Monday, August 04, 2008

A strange job for a church musician!

I spent most of today listening repeatedly to a cover version of
'I Want to Know What Love Is' so that I could transcribe the backing vocal parts onto manuscript paper so our church choir can sing it!!!!!!

I get paid for this??????

Here's the original video for your viewing pleasure, so grab your honey and lets slow dance!