Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, October 03, 2010

To Thine Own Self Be True

Thomas Merton asked the question, "Can you be who you really are with the God who is?"

As I reflected on my life with God my answer to this question has usually been no, I can't. But not because I consciously made the decision that I couldn't be. Somehow over the years I had built up an idea that I needed to show God what a good little Christian I was and I did that by suppressing any negative emotions I may have had about God, about the circumstances of my life, or about others. And it led to staleness and falseness in my life with God.

For example, let's say I had a friend who did something that hurt me unintentionally. My conversation would go something like this:
God, I know I'm supposed to love my friend but right now I'm upset with her. Help me to love her and talk to her about how she hurt me.
But that wasn't the true me.

The true me wanted to say,
God! My friend is such a pain in the ass and I hate how she doesn't think about anybody but herself - she's so selfish and her selfishness pisses me off. Would you give her a smack upside the head for me?
Or perhaps it was during a period of my life when nothing seemed to be going right. My conversation would've gone like this,
God, I know you're good and loving so please help me in my situation. Give me hope that things will change.
My true self wanted to say,
God, it feels like you don't love me and that you don't care that I hate my life right now. Why have you abandoned me? Why do you delight in my failure? Help me!
God wants me to present my true self in conversation with Him. He doesn't want me to clean up my language or my thoughts or my feelings before coming to Him. He's most pleased when I open up my true self to Him trusting Him to resolve the problems of my heart. He doesn't want us to live double lives - one life inside our head, where we reside with all our true emotions, and another cleaned up version of ourselves with Him.

Since practicing the discipline of being totally honest before God, the relief I have felt has been enormous. And God has been so gentle and so tender in His dealings with me.

Honesty, as Stan Laurel would say, truly is the best policy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On Small Talk and Souls

I disapprove of the usual practice of talking "small talk" whenever we meet, and holding a veil over our souls. If we are so impoverished that we have nothing to reveal but small talk, then we need to struggle for more richness of soul.
--Frank Laubach Letters By A Modern Mystic

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Of Mouse and Things

On many a night Thorne gets read Goodnight Moon that classic children's book by Margaret Wise Brown. Her favorite activity while reading this story is to find the mouse. He moves about the room from the bookcase to the fireplace to the bowl full of mush. I'll ask Thorne "where's the mouse" and she'll hover her finger above various objects before stabbing the mouse with her index finger. So when we went to LACMA this week to peruse European art from the 1600's it was no surprise that this was her favorite painting - a still life by Abraham van Beyeren. Can you see why?

Thorne - 19 Months

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Human Rights Abuse: Diego Arria

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. -- Edmund Burke

I can't begin to imagine the kind of courage it takes to stand up to a dictator like Hugo Chavez; to watch as Chavez steals your property and then attempts to smear you as the enemy; to persevere in bringing reckoning to Chavez despite the destruction of your personal property and way of life; to keep fighting for the benefit of all Venezuelans. Fortunately, Diego Arria agrees with Burke and has made it his life's work to fight evil. We can support him by spreading the word of his plight; to not forget about what has happened in Venezuela and is continuing to happen. Oppressive governments hope we'll forget once the story is out of the news cycle. Let's not be so obliging.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Whenever you seek truth, you seek God,
whether you know it or not.

-- Edith Stein

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Thorne Laughs

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quote by Mother Theresa

Give yourself fully to God.
He will use you to accomplish great things
on the condition that you believe much more in His love
than in your own weakness.
--Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pork + Pears = Scrumptious!

Before I talk about the divine nature of this recipe, let me lay out the limitations of my kitchen:
I have approximately 3 1/2 feet of counter space. Actually less considering the electric tea kettle, the french press, 3 water bottles (the bane of my existence are all of Steve's water bottles - the man has a serious addiction to hydration), Thorne's sippy cups and a food scale all take up space. My oven and stove are of the miniature variety. I cannot have any other pan on the stove top if I'm using my 12" All-Clad skillet. There is simply no room. The pilot light won't stay lit for half the burners and the oven door doesn't close all the way. And yet. And yet, I can still make the most amazingly delicious recipes like this one. So if I have no excuse to not cook, then neither do you!

On to the recipe: Pork Tenderloin with caramelized pears and pear-brandy cream sauce. I just ate this, but my mouth is watering reading the recipe again! This is a simple recipe to make but has the taste of extravagance. The perfect recipe for company. Sorry I have no pictures. The meal when ready is shades of beige so there wasn't much to look at. What it lacks in visual appeal, it more than makes up for in taste.

Here are my modifications to the recipe. I took a couple of the recommendations mentioned in the comments section to make it even easier to make:

1. I had a package of two pork tenderloins and I wanted to use both. So instead of creating a paillard of the pork, I left them whole. I brined them in 2 quarts of water, 1/4 cup sugar, and a 1/4 cup of salt for one hour. After patting them dry, I rubbed them with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. I browned them in some olive oil in a skillet and then put the skillet into a 450 degree oven for twenty minutes. The woman who recommended this adaptation said it should only take 12 minutes to cook, but probably because my oven door doesn't close it took longer.

2. I couldn't find pear brandy so I used plum instead. The check-out guy at Trader Joe's remarked that it was ironic I was using Kosher brandy on pork. quite. The plum brandy worked perfectly well. I'm sure a good pear brandy would've taken it up a notch, but the plum certainly didn't detract from the flavor.

3. I couldn't find pear nectar so I grabbed a 100 calorie can of pears that I then pureed in its syrup. I think it made about a cup of nectar.

4. Instead of cream I used 1/2 cup of whole milk instead of the called for 1 cup. One woman commented that the full cup overwhelmed the delicate flavor of pear. So I used a cup of pear nectar and only 1/2 cup of milk.

The pork came out juicy, the sauce was a delicious mix of savory because of the thyme and sweet because of the nectar, and the caramelized pears had a slightly buttery flavor. If I had to personify the fusion of flavors this dish creates I would say it was happy.

Now go make it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thank you Gypsy

My friend Gypsy gave Thorne this adorable dress. I love it because it's girly without being saccharine sweet. Thorne doesn't wear a lot of dresses so when I put this on her she'll twirl around the living room and then stop in front of the mirror and admire herself. Whenever she wears it I envision her as a WWII English child about to be sent by train out of London for the safer countryside. She'd have a note pinned to her with instructions so people on the way could help her get to her destination. Once in the country wilds she would get into much mischief and adventure. Thank you Gypsy for your excellent eye in little girl dresses!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thorne - 17 months

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Bastardized Version of Dak Galbi

My four favorite foreign foods are Korean, French, Thai, and Japanese. Of those, French is about all I'm comfortable making. Korean food isn't difficult to make just time consuming. However, there is one dish that is super duper easy to make because the key ingredient is available prepackaged in your local Korean grocery store refrigerator section. Dak galbi is traditionally made by stir-frying chicken in gochujang or chili pepper paste and then adding sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, and rice cakes.

Dak galbi was one of my favorite meals when I taught in Korea. Oddly though, I could never find it on offer in any Korean restaurant in Los Angeles. I found one place recommended on Chowhound but it was not to be - it had changed into a BBQ joint. So home is the only place I can get close to the taste I crave.

To make my version you simply buy a package of dukboki which are rice logs (or because that sounds slightly distasteful rice ovaletts) you then simmer in the provided packets of spicy red sauce. Dukboki by itself is a common street food in Korea eaten as a snack. But mixed with chicken and green cabbage or other vegetables it becomes a tasty and complete one pan meal. I have found the above brand, Pulmuone, quite good, but I'm sure others will work just as well.

Monday, April 26, 2010

So Good So Easy

I finally got around to making Smitten Kitchen's chewy granola bars and oh boy are they delicious! Not to mention super easy and super flexible. They're definitely better than any store bought granola bar and better even than some cookies. But the best part is that they are wheat and gluten free. Ever since I got pregnant my body cannot handle gluten or wheat. My joints and feet start to stiffen up if I eat too much of it. Try to find any baked good that tastes fantastic (besides no flour chocolate cakes and such) and has no flour. Difficult. So this is going to replace scones for me unless anyone can recommend an excellent gluten/wheat free scone recipe. I tried some quinoa banana bread, which was tasty but no substitute for a scone.

Back to the recipe. I made a few adjustments to her recipe. Instead of six tablespoons of butter I used Canola oil and for the sweet liquid I used all maple syrup since I was making these for a vegan friend. For the fruit/nut component I chopped up in the food processor 1/2 cup of apricots, 1/2 cup dried cherries, and 1/2 cup of crystallized ginger. I also added 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup shredded coconut. And I included the peanut butter which gave it that extra layer of divine goodness.

For the next round I'll try olive oil and honey and maybe almond butter. The possibilities are endless!

If you make these, let me know what you included.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Makes My Blood Boil

This Wall Street Journal editorial makes me want to spit nails. They detail the treasonous and treacherous behaviour of "The Gitmo Bar" - those lawyers who represented gitmo detainees. But they did more than represent them, they actually gave them intelligence and propaganda against our military and government through their lawerly perogatives. Actions which are against the law for starters. The lawyers actually hired private investigators to take photos of the CIA interrogators of KSM and then gave those photos to the detainees. Eric Holder and his DOJ appointees are SYMPATHETIC to this type of behaviour and they're in power sculpting policy. The article also highlights those detainees the Gitmo Bar got released. They went on to continue their terrorist activities. Well done Gitmo Bar!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lenten Fast is not passing fast enough.

This Lenten season, Steve and I decided to give up all TV and movie watching at home. Lent is F-O-R-T-Y DAYS people! We're hardly into the season and I WANT MY TV NOW. Partly why I chose this particular fast was to see how addicted we were to our down time, our hour or two of escapism. The answer is VERY! Would someone please kick me in the head the next time I have this crazy idea. We're seriously tempted to give up now and get one more fix in before starting again on Sunday. I then remind myself the fast is obviously working if we're feeling this way so my spine stiffens and I step away from that line of smack called instant play on Netflix. I REALLY do not want to go through with this fast, but I also don't want to be a quitter. I'm expecting some AMAZING spiritual results from this discipline (God, I'm talking to you).

Thus far, Steve and I have filled the time with endless games of Scrabble (and by endless I mean it feels like they never end). Despite my affinity for words and my spelling prowess, Steve beats me. He beats me with three and four letter words -words that belong in a first grader's vocabulary. The man has a knack for getting all the double /triple points for letters /words. As anyone who's ever played Scrabble knows, three or four letter words can kill the game. They don't stretch out far enough to allow for more than one or two new words. Steve likes to think he's making the game more challenging this way. I, on the other hand, am more magnanimous and will create longer words to keep the options open. My strategy is obviously failing.

Tonight we're list making what all we can do with the time not spent partaking of our drug of choice. If y'all have any good ideas, do pass them on.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Prayer for Lent

You say you cannot be silent when stung with pain?
I would not have you silent.
I wish you to give thanks.
It is this way which repels Satan
and brings you help from God.

St. John Chrysostom, 4th century

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Funniest Class Moment

My first day of class in The History and Systems of Normative Ethics with Dr. Horner. Love it so far. Anyway, he's talking about some woman he knew at Oxford whose husband taught there. He described her as having "a foot shaped mouth." So she's at this party talking to another woman when she blurts out, "you're in my husband's episiotomy class!" I guffawed, 'cause, well, I've been awfully close to that reality. I then laughed harder when I saw this young, single, serious guy lean over to the young, single, serious guy next to him and mouth "What's an episiotomy?" The other young man looked just as confused and shrugged. Out of 30 students, only two of whom are female, I'm pretty sure I was the only one who "got" the funny based on the silence that followed Dr. Horner's utterance.

Update: I think I should've made more clear that the woman meant to say "epistemology" not episiotomy. Now that I've beaten it dead, I will clear off.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Words*

Thorne's first word: Hi!
(I love that her first word is a social one that connects her to others. And she says it forcefully with crystal clear enunciation. It fits her personality too as she's happiest with lots of people around her. Though, I'm still confused how two mostly introverted people created such an extroverted socialite.)

Thorne's second word: Die.
(Her usual lead up to the word is da-da-da-da- DIE! She says each da clearly and succinctly and then shouts out "DIE!" She says it over and over once she gets started. I'm not sure what to make of this. I presume it's simply her interpretation of bye. It can be a bit disconcerting waking up to her yelling "DIE" in our general direction.)

*Thorne did say dada and mama before all other words.