Saturday, June 25, 2011

Luggage Advice?

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  ~ Matthew 10: 7-13

I remember the first time I packed to go live overseas. I was moving to Slovakia for a semester. As I was packing I carefully wrote out a list of every item that was in my suitcase and my hand luggage. I think I made 3 copies of that list. One was in my suitcase, one was in my hand luggage and one was given to my parents (I'm not sure why!). Every sock, every book was carefully catalogued in case of misfortune.

I'm one of those people who have a tendency to over pack for a trip. I want to make sure I have what I need to cover every eventuality, which is of course, impossible. I also find comfort in surrounding myself with familiar items when I am in a different country. When everything around is strange, my need for security increases.

Jesus' instructions here scare me.

No money, no spare clothing,  no staff for protection.

When I think of my journey through life in the light of this command I reflect on the 'baggage' I carry. The money makes me think about the achievements I have earned - the things I use to bolster myself when I feel nervous, 'Remember Peter, you have a University degree, you can do this!'.

Clothing makes me think of the roles that I step into. The different ways I present myself to other people depending on who they are and the response I want to elicit from them.  I notice it when someone asks me 'What do you do for a living?' My response varies according to the situation. 'I work for a church.' or 'I'm a musician.' Sometimes I'll be even more mysterious in my response 'I'm a composer' or 'I help people encounter God'.  Each of these are true to varying degrees and generate very different responses. Each of them also minimizes what I do. I am more than the various roles I place myself in.

The command I struggle the most to identify with is the one to not take a staff. People used the staff to help them in their journey and to protect them.  I wonder what I use to help my journey and to protect me? I know that I sometimes use humor as a way of deflecting situations where I feel uncomfortable. Humor can become a way for me to avoid emotions I don't like. I may think I am protecting myself, but I am also in danger of avoiding the very thing that may lead to growth.

What baggage are you carrying with you to ease your walk through life?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making Ricotta - easy and delicious!

It may seem mad to be making Ricotta when you can buy it so cheaply, but this tasted so good and was a cinch to make. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe.

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

You will also need a large saucepan/dutch oven. A candy thermometer. A colander, a bowl and some cheesecloth - all things I conveniently had lying around the kitchen.

Put the milk, cream and salt in the saucepan and heat the mixture to 190F stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. 190F is just below boiling.

When it reaches 190F take it off the heat, add the lemon juice and give it a couple of slow stirs and then DO NOT TOUCH IT for 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined colander that you have placed over a large bowl to catch the whey. After about 2 hours it will look something like this.

Keep the Ricotta in the cheesecloth (the curds) and dispose of the stuff in the bowl (throw the whey away LOL)

You can eat the Ricotta immediately, but if you have any left put it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will firm up the colder it gets.

The recipe makes about 1 1/4 cups of Ricotta, and it tastes fantastic just lightly spread on some good bread.

You can make the Ricotta with 3 1/2 cups of milk and only 1/2 cup of cream. It will not taste quite so indulgent but still very yummy.

Thank you smitten kitchen!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Something different for the grill - Lebanese Beef Kebabs

These are quick to cook and really yummy. Recipe from Saveur Magazine.

1lb ground beef chuck
4 tbs finely chopped parsley (I normally blitz it in the food processor)
4 tablespoons finely chopped sun dried tomatoes (food processor again!)
4 Tablespoons Aleppo Pepper - if you can't find this see the note below.
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium yellow onion, grated and drained in a strainer (food processor again)
Kosher Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Wooden skewers that you have soaked in water

About the Aleppo Pepper. If you cannot find it or do not wish to purchase it then you can use the following substitution. Use 4 parts sweet paprika and 1 part Cayenne. For the above recipe that works out at approximately 3 1/2 Tablespoons of Sweet Paprika and 2 1/2 Teaspoons of Cayenne.

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly together.

Form them into long sausage shapes around each wooden skewer. I normally cut the skewers in half so they are about 5 inches long, I find them easier to handle on the grill and the shorter ones less likely to disintegrate.

Place them on a hot grill for about 3-4 minutes a side depending on thickness.

Make sure the grill is hot and the grate oiled. Don't move them too quickly or they will stick and fall apart.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Poetry

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

Sunday, June 12, 2011

May Games Played

This post is really late. I've found it hard to get motivated to post recently, I'm not really sure why, just the season I'm in I guess.

May had 17 plays of 14 different games.

Three games had the dubious honor of being played twice in May:

Condottiere - bidding to take control of regions in Renaissance Italy. Nothing really stands out for me about this game, though it was quick and slightly more devious than expected at first glance.

Letters from Whitechapel - one player has the dubious honor of playing Jack the Ripper, killing a different victim each night. The rest are policemen trying to hunt him down and stop him returning to his lair.

Here is a crazy video about the game

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game  - a two person cooperative card game that I cannot see what all the fuss is about!

So, were there any games that did stick out this past month?

Blue Moon City - made it back to the table for the first time since I've been keeping records. It was nice to play it again and I hope I don't wait years before it returns to the table.

Dominant Species returned but still didn't get a full play. I find this game rather overwhelming, there is so much going on. I need to sit down with the rulebook myself and try and get a better feel for it.

May 2010 I played 33 boardgames. 17 for 2011 is rather disappointing, but partially the result of not hosting Memorial Day gaming this year.

Oh well - hopefully June's statistics will be better.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Perfection versus Morality

I had the privilege of listening to a discussion about Perfection, Wholeness and Morality today. I didn't contribute I just let the words soak in and then mulled them over during my evening run.

Matthew 5:48 says:

"Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect"

Or does it?

The word translated as perfect is the word Telios which can be better translated as Whole or Complete.

I think telios leads to morality, but morality does not always lead to telios. The church's definition of morality has changed a great deal over the centuries. We would consider a man who owns slaves as immoral, but that has not always been the church's view. As a child I knew Christians who considered going to the movies as immoral. We may laugh at their position now, but it makes me question what actions that we consider immoral now will be viewed as acceptable in the future.

There were times in my life when I was very concerned with pursuing morality. Anything immoral in my life was rejected. Locked away in a corner of my psyche and not touched for fear that it would contaminate the good.

By rejecting those parts of myself I lost the ability to be telios. The shadow side of myself can teach me many valuable lessons, but I have to be willing to embrace the immoral part and bring it into the light and listen. It took me time to realize that acknowledging and accepting the parts of myself that I labeled immoral was different from giving myself a license to act upon them.

By accepting that there are parts of my life that I would label immoral it allows me to speak to them and listen to them. They have become warning lights on the dashboard of my life. When I discover one is flashing, it is an indicator to stop, look deeper and examine what is going on in my life.

Morality is just a pale reflection of the beauty that is Wholeness.