Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Comfort Food

I am so tired. I am so, so tired. I am so tired I do not even have energy to manufacture even the tiniest fit of Drama Drama to add a bit of black fizz to the mundanity. It is File Audit week at work, otherwise known as Eff All You, We Are Spending The Whole Day Reciting Rows And Rows Of Tiny Little Numbers And We Do Not Have The Mental Energy To Handle Your Urgent File Requests Or Loan Deadlines Week. I have about as much energy as the soggy dead worms that I did not avoid stepping on this morning.

So I am going to be lazy and give you a recipe. A slow cooker recipe no less. I used a recipe from a neat cookbook I found at the library ... sort of ... except that I pretty much changed everything in the recipe except the title. Eg, the original receipt calls for making meatballs out of ground lamb. Which would probably be delicious, but ground lamb is not really happening in our kitchen! But what I fixed was good, so I'll give you that.

Serves: 2 (very hungry people)

Somewhat more than 1/2 lb pork roast or stew meat, cut in nice big chunks
1/2 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced
To taste: ground coriander, cumin, red pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with liquid
Small handful dried apricots, chopped
Small handful raisins

If desired, brown meat, onion, garlic, and spices in a skillet in some oil. Whether you brown it or not, dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on LOW all day (or 7 to 9 hours) till tender. Serve with couscous.

This would probably be very delicious if you made meatballs (I would put some of the seasoning in the meatballs, and some breadcrumbs and maybe an egg) and browned them, and then added the tomatoes and fruit. Bell pepper would probably also be good if you had it to hand. The original recipe called for dried currants as well as for apricots and raisins but there I am only willing to buy so much dried fruit.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You Have To Be Pretty Darn Self Absorbed...

... to write a blog post this long all about ONESELF.

I am. I am, I am. Sorry.

It is hard to believe that DH and I have been married for nearly 5 months. In a way, it surprises me how short a time we have had together ... living together is much less of an adjustment than I was expecting.

Not that it isn't still fraught with all kinds of drama.

I am the kind of person who likes to live life on the edge. As in, I borrow about 10 books a week from the library AND I read them. ALL of them. WOW. This week I was thrilled to discover some ancient cassette tapes featuring performances of Hamlet and Macbeth by old-timey actors such as John Gielgud and Alec Guinness. You know, the actors who still have that resonant, moist, radio quality to their voices (listening to which is the audial equivalent of biting into a rich, booze- and fruit-laden holiday cake), with truly astounding precision of diction. This was truly a find, because my car (which was born in the same year I was) plays cassette tapes.

So I really enjoyed listening to something truly absorbing on the way to work, as opposed to NPR's discussion of Oprah's latest big news, or the type of news stories discussed on the Godless Rock Stations, which are a sure way to erode the moral sensibility.

Then, inevitably, disaster struck. Wednesday morning I was late getting out the door, due to my distressing lack of professional attire. Dennis had already left for school--with his cellphone responsibly turned off, of course, because DH is nothing if not responsible. And of course my car would not start, because of course I had arrived home right in the middle of a soliloquy and had to stay in the car, turned on so that I could enjoy the heater, until the end of it, so that I had completely neglected to turn my lights off afterward, despite the index card taped to the inside of my windshield that says in large block letters TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF, YOU IDIOT (except that DH crossed out the "idiot" part).

So I had to call and tell my boss that I wouldn't make it in to work. And then I had to call and cancel the doctor's appointment I had scheduled for that afternoon. And then I had to cry for three hours, because I am self-absorbed enough to really be upset by my explosion of incompetence. I still have this arrogant need to, if I can't be brilliant in a creative way, at least handle mundanity competently.

I should explain at this point that, since moving to Iowa the last week of July, I have left my lights on (and run down my car battery) four times, and locked my keys in the car once. That's just car-related incompetence, not general incompetence, which happens on a daily, if not hourly basis.

So I was basically a mess by the time Dennis got home. I told him what happened, and he did that thing where he stops and thinks how he wants to react to a situation. So he decided to treat it as not a big deal at all (which I guess it wasn't, put into perspective, which I don't have). Which really did a lot to defuse my heaped-up store of agony untold, and help me to face the evening with an acceptable amount of sanity.

Sometimes this makes me mad that Dennis is so capable and so deliberate in his responses. Because, you know, I could use some of that! I have the emotional maturity of a six-year-old. My life is a constant string of NOW. And sometimes, NOW is great. But more often (because I am imperfect and wicked, and so is the world) NOW is not so great. And if NOW is all I can see, then, by golly ... it is not a pretty sight. I spend probably about 75% of my waking life either furtively walking around the edges of depression, hoping to stay peripheral, or CAUGHT IN THE PIERCING FANGS OF CRUEL DESPAIR, O Agony!

Anyway, the point of this whole story is to say how very, very much I respect my husband. He is one of the most thoughtful, deliberate people I know. He prays almsot every day that he would be Christlike in the way he loves his wife (me!), and that, my dears, is HUGE. (It makes me cry a lot, but then I cry ... a lot.) And it makes me really want to be more deliberate in the way I relate to him as well--less time reacting out of emotion and more time relating out of truth. I'll let you know how that goes. If nothing else, well, I can definitely see how God is using me to grow Dennis (my gosh, I HATE that).

I am just amazed by the grace and wisdom God has given my husband. He is so good -- Dennis is not exactly what I would have described as the ideal husband for myself a few years ago, but I cannot imagine a person who would be better suited for relating to me individually. I guess God knows what He is doing!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Think About It

Jesus said:

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

Matthew 13:44-46

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Visit From My Girls

Updates did not happen this weekend because I was enjoying a super-special visit from my girls! Mom and my sisters graciously made the 11-hour drive from Tennessee to Des Moines in order to spend a long weekend with me.

Well, almost. They broke down in Bloomfield, IA, and my Super Amazing Husband brought them the rest of the way. On the way there he got a frantic phone call from his Fluffy Witted Wife, who had locked her keys in her car at work. There was much drama, but eventually we were all safely home and enjoying my first attempt at split pea soup (with, of course, lots of hot sauce for yours truly).

We had such a wonderful weekend. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see them! We talked, we laughed, we cried (or at least I did -- everyone needs a hobby, right?), we consumed WAY too much sugar. I think half of the Christmas goodies that I sent with them "to share with the boys" probably disappeared before they made it home!

Seriously, though, my sisters are a delight and such good company. And my mom was full of godly encouragement to love my husband and to believe the Bible.

Dennis spent most of the weekend studying (or maybe he was afraid of all the silliness fizzing around) but he did manage to get in on some of the fun! He read us some of the awesome book that he is in the middle of (more on that later).

For those of you who didn't get to meet "my girls," Martha took lots of pictures this weekend. So my blog is going high-tech with pictures!

My sister Helen, who is 9, is learning the piano. She played some nice things on Dennis's little keyboard, but mostly she had fun with the obnoxious sound effects!


Me and Helen. Thanks for the shirts, Jenny and Kevin!

I am SO EXCITING that I took my family to the LIBRARY on our visit. WOW! This is Martha (15) enjoying a book on horse biology that she found.

This picture is from my wedding, but I wanted everyone to see how pretty my sisters are

and also my mom :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Church Cookbook, Part II

So I had another Drama Drama weekend (been having a lot of those lately) and did not update Tuesday. Instead you get another Wednesday Recipe.



      6 T. butter, melted
      6 T. flour
      1 tsp. salt
      1/8 tsp. pepper
      2 c. milk
      1 can tuna

      Into melted butter, blend flour, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in milk; stir until thickened. Add tuna and serve over biscuits.

This recipe is actually from my Grammy. She still makes it occasionally. We had this a lot in my parents' house growing up because it is super super cheap. It is actually not too terrible a dish, just not good. It is one of the strangest meals I have ever eaten--probably because it is very bland and very tuna-y at the same time. If you should desire to recreate this dish at home, DO NOT put as much salt in as the recipe directs. You may also have better results if you stir the milk into the flour paste over low heat until it thickens. My mom served this over rice instead of biscuits.

In other news, I am reading Michael Horton's Putting Amazing Back into Grace. It has been on my to-read list for over a year, so I am stealing my husband's copy to read during my lunch break at work. If you haven't read it, I highly, highly recommend it. It is a great, thoughtful introduction to the basics of Reformed theology -- what they are, and why they even matter -- and it is just full of the Gospel.

I am also super excited because my girls (Mom and two younger sisters) are coming for a visit this weekend! I even took a day off work to enjoy them for longer!

Should this cake happen?