Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mother God?

Random thoughts for the Contemplative Service
This is an adaptation of an earlier post, so if you read the first one, you can just ignore this one lol)

I don't remember when I first started praying, it was definitely before I had the 'evangelical conversion experience'. I used to address my prayers to God without any real understanding of who God was. After I became a christian (walk forward at a Revival during 'Just as I Am', say a three point prayer and get a little emotional) most of my prayers were addressed to Jesus.

In my twenties I went though a very charismatic phase so most of my prayers were addressed to the Holy Spirit (or just spirit if I felt informal).

I still start my prayers different ways at different times, but I became aware a few years ago that my default setting was 'Father God'.

The words we use are important, they indicate preferences and prejudices and also set up expectations. Different organizations use different terms to mean the same thing to cast themselves in the best possible light. 'Illegal Alien' vs 'Undocumented Worker' or 'Pro-life' vs 'Pro-choice'.

Each of these terms carry subtly different shades of meaning.

When you shop at Target or go to Disney World you are not a Customer (even though you are buying a product), you are a Guest.

Some of these language issues creep into church as well. I've been in meetings where the Congregation has accidentally been referred to as the Audience. It was just a slip of the tongue, but I wonder what mindset it revealed about the role of the people in the pews. When I was young most Pastors had a 'Study' at church. Now most of the Pastors I know have an 'Office' at church and do their studying elsewhere, usually somewhere where the audience (oops I mean congregation) can't find them :D

So what has this to do with my prayers?

I believe that God displays qualities that we traditionally label as masculine and others we label as feminine. Isaiah says 'As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you and you will be comforted over Jerusalem' (Isaiah 66:13)

I have no difficulty using the phrase in a prayer 'God, as a mother you....' but when I tried to use the phrase 'Mother God' it tripped on my tongue and I felt uncomfortable. Even though I gave intellectual assent to God mothering me as well as fathering me, it still felt strange.

And so I prayed that way, out loud for one week. I prayed to Mother God, mainly in the car or in my office, and I noticed something. The content of my prayers shifted slightly. When I was a child I would ask my Mother and Father the same question but I would phrase it differently. The way I would talk about a topic with my Dad was different to Mom, and so it was with my prayers. I was still praying about the same situations and topics, but the shift in language caused a shift in emphasis and sometimes even a shift in request.

All of our ways of describing God fall short of who God is. God is beyond gender, so much more than only Father or Mother.

When I changed the metaphor that I was using for God, my way of relating to God changed.

What metaphors do you use when you pray?

What other metaphors might God be inviting you to use?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vacation Photos Part 1

Well here are some of the pics of the Caribbean Cruise :)

Just to explain, we were the first ever ship to dock at Falmouth, Jamaica. The dock wasn't completely finished, but the entire town came to see us arrive and was quite amazing.

There are also some photos on a couple of waterproof cameras (climbing the waterfall in Jamaica, snorkelling etc) which I will post when I get them!

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Rustic Bacon and Chicken Tart

It started from a picture in my copy of Cooking for Two 2010 by America's Test Kitchen. A recipe for Rustic Turkey Tart taunted me. The main ingredient was 10oz of cooked turkey, shredded. Now I am more than happy to roast a turkey for major holidays, but I don't make it a weekly occurrence so my fridge is not laden down with Tupperware of turkey calling out to be used.

(This is my changed version, not Cook's Illustrated original)

So, seeing as I knew I was going to be substituting Chicken for Turkey, I wondered what other changes I could make to make the Tart my own. The original recipe called for mushrooms, now I am a big fan of fungi, but Jenny - the neighbor I am teaching to cook isn't. I wondered how I could transform the filling to make it pleasurable on Jenny's palate. Well, once you start changing recipes it's amazing how far you can go, so here is my new adaptation (with notes and queries below). If you make it, let me know how you like it!

Rustic Bacon and Chicken Tart

Serves 2-3 and takes about 1 hour 40 to make.

2 carrots, peeled and diced.
1 small onion, diced
4 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup chicken broth/stock
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and Pepper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 round of store bought pastry (such as Pillsbury Just Unroll!)

You will also need, cooking parchment, saran wrap, a rolling pin and a rimmed baking sheet.

To make the filling:
  1. Saute the bacon in a skillet until the fat begins to render, add the onion and the carrot and saute lightly for 5 minutes.

  2. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and pour in 1 cup of chicken broth.

  3. Cover the skillet with a tightly fitting lid, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked. (I use an instant read meat thermometer to check!) If you are making this all in one session now is a good time to preheat the oven to 400F.

  4. While the chicken is cooking, put 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of cream to it and mix thoroughly until no lumps remain.

  5. Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks.

  6. While you are shredding the chicken, stir the flour cream mixture into the skillet and bring to a boil for a few minutes to thicken, stirring. Then reduce the heat while you finish the chicken.

  7. When the chicken is shredded and the sauce slightly thickened add the chicken back into the skillet. Also add the peas and the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
It should look something like this!

All of this can of course be done in advance and kept in the fridge.

To assemble the tart:
  1. Unroll the pie crust onto some baking parchment. cover with saran wrap and then roll out slightly until it is a 10 inch round. This will only take a few passes with the rolling pin, don't make it too thin or disaster could ensue.

  2. Place the rolled out pastry onto the rimmed baking sheet and place the slightly cooled filling into the middle leaving about 1 1/2 inches around the edge.

  3. Moving gently around the circumference fold the edge of the dough in over the filling pleating every 1 to 2 inches as needed. Don't be too rough or you will rip the pastry!
  4. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg white and then bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let sit on a rack for 5 minutes and then cut and serve.

You'll notice a little seepage from the Tart, I don't think I've managed one yet without something leaking somewhere, but it hasn't distracted from the yumminess and the parchment paper makes it easy to clean. If you want to make a neater presentation it is simplicity itself to slide it off the parchment onto a platter. Just cut and serve!

I'm happy with the recipe, but here are a few more thoughts to improve/modify.

  • Make your own pastry! I haven't done it that way yet because I wanted to make something that Jenny would feel safe making and the tart is scary enough without pastry making as well, but I'm positive that homemade pastry would taste so much better than the stuff Pillsbury makes.
  • To speed up the cooking of the chicken I have wondered about either a) using 4 chicken cutlets instead of 2 chicken breasts, or b) cutting the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make them thinner. They would cook quicker, there is room in the skillet, and as you are shredding them anyway the thinner cutlets won't matter. I think this technique could cut the chicken cooking time in half. I haven't tried it yet though.
  • I wondered about sprinkling about 1/2 cup of cheese on top of the filling before baking. In the original recipe they use goat cheese. That might be a nice possibility, or a nice cheddar.
  • Scallions or green onions might be an interesting substitute for the small onion, and come to think of it a leek might be a great substitution!

Well that's my recipe. If you try it let me know what happens :)

Friday, February 04, 2011

January Games Played

I managed 33 plays of 28 different games.... what were the 5 games that got 2 plays?

Chains of Fenrir - light, quick, and easily portable.

Kingsburg - I got the expansion for Christmas so I had to re familiarize myself with the base game...somehow the expansion is still in shrink...must open it soon.

Rattus - because a game where you are trying to give other people the Black Plague while you are avoiding it yourself is always fun...actually it is a great little strategy game that doesn't outstay its welcome.

The Resistance - a group deduction game like Werewolf, but without player elimination. Lying never felt so good!

Revolution - although it's basically a glorified Rock Paper Scissors, the amount of double think and screwage that goes on with this game is enjoyable!

A couple of games of special note this month that only received a single play:

Through the Ages - I finally managed to play a full game of this, it took Steve and I 5 hours to complete, and it was a real nail biting finish that I only lost by 7 points. As this was my first full game and my first play in 8 months I felt good about how I acquitted myself :)

Glory To Rome - a popular game whose cartoony graphics seem at contrast to its depth. I'm glad I finally got to play this :)