Friday, February 15, 2013

Balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts and apples

I made this recipe last night to accompany rosemary pot roast. (The pot roast was another new recipe that turned out well.) Sorry, but the Brussels spouts/apples didn't last long enough to get a photo. Plug here for a local store--Ah love--that sells olive oil and vinegar. The store is fabulous because you can go in, get a little cup and a little chunk of bread, and try out all the varieties of olive oil and vinegar. For this recipe, I used Ah love Laconiko Greek lemon olive oil and green apple white balsamic vinegar. The olive oil is incredible--I just drizzled a little of it on some angel hair pasta to make sure it was as incredible as I thought it was last night. It is. And the vinegar? You could drink it. Not kidding. I'm imagining sprinkling some on strawberries and kiwi fruit, maybe with some shredded mint. In my humble estimation, roasted veggies have no equal, and with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar . . . heaven.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples

2 cups trimmed fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 large honeycrisp apple, cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Toss Brussels sprouts, apple, olive oil, salt and pepeper in a large bowl; place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment (be sure to spread pieces apart). Roast at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until just tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar; return to oven and roast an additional 5 minutes or until tender.

Source: The Professional Palate

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

   “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.”   
Isaiah 58:9

While I have both feet firmly planted in my non-traditional Bible-based practice of Christianity, occasionally I look back over my shoulder at my long-standing Catholic roots. Like today—Ash Wednesday. I sometimes miss the rhythm of the liturgical calendar, days like Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the period of preparation for Easter.
Last week in community group, our group leader talked about the value of fasting as a method of prayer and staying focused on God’s sovereign grace. And in my head I was already thinking about Lent and what I had traditionally done as a Catholic. In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is a day of fast. My community group leader’s suggestion gave me the perfect opportunity to try fasting within the context of my current church while honoring the tradition I grew up with. So today I’m fasting. I’m nearing the 24-hour without food mark. Yes, I’m getting hungry and my stomach is growling but I’m keeping focused on the reason for the fast. It’s all good.

This morning my eye caught a Bible verse I have on my bulletin board—Isaiah 58:9. And wondering about the context for that verse, I read all of Isaiah 58. A strange coincidence—part of the chapter is about fasting and how we should approach it.

I went to a noon Mass at my local Catholic church because I wanted to stay focused on God today and I wanted to go to a liturgical Ash Wednesday service. And yet another amazing coincidence—in his sermon the priest quoted Isaiah 58—the exact verses I had been meditating on this morning. I guess God wants me to pay attention to Isaiah 58. I hear you, Lord, loud and clear. Isn’t it amazing when He works that way?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I’m reading a book entitled The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. I’m only about 20 pages into the book so I have no right to say anything at all, positive or negative, about the book. But I can say that I bought it because the title was amusing. I’ve bought books in the past for much weaker reasons than that.
Blah, blah, blah . . . positive thinking bores me, seems so doggone. . . um, positive. Women who wrap themselves in Saran Wrap, the Mary Kay champion sales people who drive pink Cadillacs, Joel Osteen whose teeth are unnaturally white, that dental hygienist who talks the entire time she’s cleaning your teeth. You know who they are—the saccharine cheery people who seem like the embodiment of smiley faces, blow-up dolls overdosed on Zoloft. They give me a massive headache.

Then there’s me. I curse, I go through the drive-through at McDonald’s just to smell the French fries, I tell stories of heartbreak and misery, I presume things are bad and getting worse, I love days that are overcast and drizzly, and I love Jesus because He saved me knowing that I would never be able to accomplish it myself.
There is a lot of bad shit in the world. There are blizzards and tsunamis, wars and disease, and horrible people who kill people I love. But here’s the thing—in the midst of the bad shit there also is wonder and kindness and grace. There is a God who loves us and there is the beauty of nature and people whose spirits soar. So in the midst of these blessings, why would I focus on the pain and bitterness? Why see scarcity in the midst of so much abundance?