Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Turn to Cook Dinner...

Jordan does most of the cooking... Partially, because he is super appreciative of the fact that I work a stressful job all day, but mostly because he's just awesome at it! We both love to cook, but he surpassed my skills a long time ago (something I've just recently admitted out loud to him, because I'm too proud). It's a running joke between us who is better at cooking what. For example, he can't beat my roast chicken, but I can't touch his risotto. We of course have our moments of tension in the kitchen. "Don't tell me how to..." is usually how it goes. But then again, our best date nights are perusing the market for ingredients that inspire us and leisurely cooking together, side by side, with a glass of wine and jazz music in the background. But tonight it was just me... together with some beautiful mushrooms... taking my turn to impress my other half... 

I was so proud handing the beautiful little tart to Jordan... waiting to hear him gush with compliments. He takes a bite and the first words out of his mouth were... "It needs salt."

(Sigh!) He was right. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paris... Dinner for Two... Wait.. What?

A dinner to remember for sure. Relais de l'Entrecote. We had been walking up and down the streets of Paris for awhile trying to decide where to eat, not wanting to waste a precious meal in Paris on a restaurant that was not worth our Euros. This restaurant had a line of people waiting to get inside... so we joined in assuming it must be worth the wait. Seated at our table we were surprised to find no menus. Here the waitress asks you one question, "Quelle cuisson?" (How do you want it cooked?) Service was table-side, and they heaped our plates with fries and slivers of sirloin steak covered in a rich green sauce. Delicious! Some of the best steak I can remember eating. 

Such a charming atmosphere! Everyone being served family style... plates overflowing with steak and fries. It felt like you were in a Parisian grandma's kitchen. Once we scarfed our plates down, the waitress came back asking us if we wanted more... so she heaped our plates full again. Who could resist? Accompanied with a bottle of wine, watching the Paris night life stroll past, we were in heaven.

Then the dinner check came. What we had assumed was a family style feast was indeed being tallied on our bill as 4 meals... that's right, we were those tourists... and I'm sure the subject of a great deal of laughter in the kitchen that night. We paid our bill and sauntered back to the hotel feeling quite fat and foolish having eaten for four. 

So although we highly recommend this restaurant. Be prepared to stand in line (as there are no bookings), and don't be fooled by the friendly face offering you seconds... unless of course you want to pay for it. 

Address: 20 rue Saint-Benoit, 75006 Paris. Tel: 01 45 49 16 00

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

For the Love of Coconut!

For most of my life I despised coconut, avoiding it at all costs. But I've come to realize that what I don't like is coconut flavoring. You'll never see me sipping a piƱa colada on the beach... I don't like it. (I know I hold a minority opinion on that one, but don't judge me.) But oh the difference between fake coconut flavor and the real deal!! I began to give coconut a second look while eating my mom-in-law's German Chocolate Cake (Jordan's traditional birthday cake). Delicious! And covered in coconut to my surprise! I then started to notice that my favorite Thai dishes were coconut-milk based. I love coconut curries. However, coconut stole my affection forever through the Aberdeen International Market. This street market comes four times a year, and its most anticipated delight is a macaroon. A fluffy warm pillow of coconut. Made fresh and hot right there on the street. Most foods need to be covered in dark chocolate to make me this happy, but somehow, this one has charmed me. 

More pictures from our visit to the market today and our spot of tea with friends afterwards. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Little Act of Rebellion...

Eggs for £3.70, please.

I consider myself a quasi-green-thumb, partial hippie-wanna-be. How uncommitted does that sound?! What I mean by this is I care about the earth, I wish I had a garden and chickens, sometimes I clean with vinegar (much  to Jordan's chagrin), but I don't have dreadlocks, and I prefer to shower twice a day.

I think living in Athens, GA during my University years started it all (it's quite a hippie town). What drew me in was Earth Fare. It happened to be the closest grocery store to my apartment, and it was a mini version (but on steroids) of Whole Foods. This is where I became obsessed with organic food. And it's a slippery slope... what started out as a selfish interest (my own health), slowly turned outward, and I began caring about the environment. I started to avoid plastic (milk came in glass bottles at Earth Fare), and I wanted to eat organic meat, not just for health reason, but because I wanted happy cows.

Not that any of this is unusual. I am, in many respects, a creature of my generation. These issues have become hot topics. Food Inc., and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (to name a couple) have brought our food crisis in America to the forefront of many people's minds. In Athens I was even using earth-friendly laundry detergent. You vote with your purchases. Yes, that detergent cost more, but I was telling the market that this was what I wanted to see on the shelves.

THEN graduate school happened. This had two effects. While in Boston for Jordan's Master's degree, we lived near an organic farm. I went from getting my milk in glass bottles (which I did think was pretty cool), to hand-picking my own organic green beans and blueberries. Talk about "vine-ripened!" I was hooked. The other effect was running into the problem of no longer being able to afford all the luxuries of green-living I so wished to choose. And I do mean "luxuries." (As a side-rant, there is a problem with the fact that these healthy choices for body and earth are not widely affordable. See the recent documentary A Place at the Table.)

Now in Scotland, with the Master's degree and farm far behind us, pushing through Jordan's PhD, finding myself with the least amount of buying/voting power yet, I have to set aside (for now) much of what I wish I could do (no more earth-friendly laundry detergent for sure).  However, I can't completely suppress the wanna-be green-spirit. I desperately hold onto a few principles. I may have to choose the non-organic or the non-recycled paper products most of the time, but I always buy free-range, organic eggs. Jordan cringes at the price, laughs at me, and turns a blind-eye all at the same time as I reach for the carton of eggs that cost £3.70. I don't know why I can't let this one go. Call it my little act of rebellion...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Piece of Pi

Shocked! This is how I felt when I read the last chapter of Life of Pi. Genuine shock! I can't remember a story that took me off-guard as this one did.... and it took me about three days to get over it. The only other story that took me three days to get over was Munich (but that is a movie so I'm not counting it). I read through most of the book enjoying the peek into India and the scenic description of boring unending days at sea (somehow not boring as described), and I assumed the author's hidden (or not so hidden) message was "all religions are the same." Although the story does propagate this message, Yann Martel has something much more poignant to say, and it illuminates so clearly what our increasingly pluralistic culture thinks about God. What fascinates me about this story is that a person will have a drastically different reaction to the end depending on his view of God. It cuts right through a nerve of your belief/non-belief, leaving you feeling vulnerable and adrift at sea...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Meditation on Mary

Meditation on Mary
(Perhaps a little late in posting, but the following is a meditation Krisi gave at church during Advent.)

God always does what He promises.  He always follows through. Our job is to believe Him.
Mary is a woman remembered and revered through every generation.  There is no woman more famed than her. Yet our knowledge of her is extremely limited. She was a poor girl living in Nazareth. She was betrothed to Joseph.  And she had found favor with God. Her story in many ways mirrors the story of Elizabeth, her cousin. Both Mary and Elizabeth are told by an angel that they will bear a son who will play a major role in the salvation of Israel.  

However, there are striking differences to their stories as well.  Zechariah and Elizabeth in many ways are what we would expect for the parentage of a divine agent. They were both from a priestly line and were righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all His commandments. In contrast, there is no background information on Mary’s life previous to God’s intrusion. We are not told why Mary is favored - only that God had chosen her for a divine task. Perhaps the gospel writers are trying to emphasize the free gracious choice of God to use Mary for His purposes. God is at work here, not mankind, to execute His salvation. Zechariah and Elizabeth are a picture of Old Testament Judaism, but Mary is a picture of something new.  She is not presented to us in relation to the law. Our picture of Mary is that God chose her, and she consented to His plan. If Abraham’s faith was the start of the Old Covenant, Mary’s faith was the start of the New Covenant.

Luke’s account of Gabriel’s message to Mary quickly shows that this Child is unlike any other. Here the story drastically veers from Gabriel’s promise to Elizabeth. For this Child of Mary will be called Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end. Mary is troubled and pensive when she hears this message. Unlike Zechariah who was fearful and required proof of God’s promise concerning the birth of John the Baptist, Mary ponders this strange message and tries to understand its meaning.  She does not question God’s fulfilling of the promise; she merely asks the means by which this miracle would occur since she was a virgin. Gabriel tells her that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit, and then offers her a sign – Elizabeth who was barren had conceived in her old age. This would be the sign to Mary that nothing is impossible with God.

Mary asked no further questions and made haste to see Elizabeth. It would have been a 50-70 mile journey for Mary to reach the hill country where Elizabeth lived. This great distance gave her time to ponder over all she had heard. But rather than doubt setting in, her faith grows stronger.  When she reaches Elizabeth, her joy is overflowing, and Scripture records her song:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And his mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His offspring forever.”

Mary believed that what was happening to her was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and Israel. Hundreds of years had passed since the prophecies were spoken, and she was going to watch God’s faithfulness unfold. He was going to overturn the dreadful norm. The rich and the proud would be brought low, and the hungry and poor would be remembered. God’s grace had come.  And she believed that He would accomplish all that He said.

When we remember Mary and her belief that ushered Christ into this world, we should consider that perhaps the most difficult moment of faith was not in accepting the angel’s words initially. Perhaps even you and I would accept the message of an angel. But Gabriel departed, and she was left there alone. She was left with a task of telling Joseph that she was pregnant in a community that could execute her for conceiving out of wedlock.  She had to wrestle with Simeon’s prophecy that her child was appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel and that a sword would pierce her own soul. How difficult it must have been to understand her twelve-year-old son who stayed behind in Jerusalem while they frantically searched for him for three days. She watched Jesus do the miraculous, but she also watched Him called blasphemous and insane. And oh the struggle to reconcile God’s promise to her while she watched her Son, the Son whom the angel had promised His kingdom would have no end, executed on a cross.  In these darkest moments, with no angels around her, she had to believe that God would still do all He had promised. She had to remember all those things she had treasured and pondered in her heart. This is the Mary that we remember whose faith endured the deepest crisis. The woman who clung to Gabriel’s promise, “Nothing is impossible with God.”