Friday, November 20, 2015

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

This is a cinnamon intensive cookie.  

Penzeys sells a Vietnamese cinnamon that is rich and delicious.  I use that.

  • 1 stick real butter
  • 1 cup butter flavored Crisco
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5-6 oz. cinnamon chips
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 1/2 Cup flour
  • 4 cups oats
  • 1 tsp bourbon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream sugar with butter and Crisco.  Add vanilla and bourbon, cinnamon and cloves and mix well.  Add eggs, salt and soda and mix well.  Add flour and mix.  Add oats and mix.  Then add the chips.

Drop by spoonful on baking sheet.  Bake at 375 for about 13 minutes.  

Put them on cooling rack as soon as you take them out of the oven to prevent bottom from burning.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Really Good Pot Roast for One

You can have pot roast if you live alone.  Just buy a smaller cut of meat. This is a great meal for a rainy day. 

  • 2-4 lb. rump roast
  • Bunch of carrots (or buy a package of cut up carrots, I like the chips)
  • 2 Potatoes, chopped1 yellow onion, sliced1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Red wine (always Merlot for me) do NOT buy cooking wine.  Cook with the wine you drink.
  • 2 TB Molasses
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ cup flour
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper

Liberally rub salt pepper and garlic powder into roast.   

Cover the meat in flour.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan and sear the roast on both sides on high heat until its dark.  

Put in in the slow cooker with all the veggies.  Add about a cup of or more of wine and the molasses.  Cook on low all day. 

You can make gravy out of the juice but I like the juice just the way it is.

When you are tired of eating left over pot roast, Eat hash

Nuke a potato in microwave for 4 minutes. Chop it upChop an onion

Sauté the onion in olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the potato, left over veggies and chopped up meat from pot roast.   

Stir for a while, then pat it all down and cook on high until bottom is crisp, turn it over and cook until that side is crisp.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Chicken & Waffles

People think Chicken & Waffles is a Southern thing.  But Harlem claims them as well.  

During the Harlem Renaissance musicians would come into the Wells Supper Club on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in the wee hours of the morning.  

They couldn't decide if they wanted dinner or breakfast so left over fried chicken and waffles was the perfect solution.

Here's my version.


4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
lots of pepper
Other herbs or spices. 

I used cumon and chipotle
1 cup sour cream

Cut the thighs in thirds.

Marinate the chicken in sour cream, salt & lots of pepper.

Mix flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt, pepper, and herbs,  Take the chicken directly from sour cream and cover in flour mixture.  Fry in about an inch of vegtable oil

Use your favorite waffle recipe.  I just used the recipe on the Bisquick box.

Bourbon & Chipotle Maple syrup

Pour about a cup of maple syrup in pan.  Add about a fourth cup of bourbon.  Melt a couple of tblspoons butter in it.  Add as much chipotle powder as you can stand.  boil.

Serve the chicken on the waffles and pour the syrup over all of it. It is really good.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Curried Cauliflower & Peppers

This was going to be soup.  But it was so pretty I didn't want to blend it up.

1 head of cauliflower, cut up
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup white wine
2 large Tb Apricot preserves
2 Tb  hot curry paste (it's really not that hot)
1 tsp Curry powder
1 tbl flour

So toss the cauliflower with a little olive oil on a pan and roast it at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Saute the onions and peppers and garlic (add garlic last so it won't burn) in olive oil until they are soft.  Add salt, pepper, and curry powder and mix it up.  Add the wine.  Add the flour and stir it up.  Add the curry paste and apricot preserves.  Add the cauliflower.  Stir it up and add more wine or coconut milk if it's too thick. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it an stir or add liquid to keep it from sticking.

Serve over rice.  You will not be sorry.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Unamed Woman, A Powerful Man and a Little Girl

Christ and the Woman with a Hemorrhage” by Unknown Artist (c. 300-350 A.D.) Catacomb of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, Rome

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ 

 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mark 5:21-43
Today  in our Gospel lesson we have two miracle stories woven together as we learn  of two very different people who whose lives intersect as they are both touched by Jesus’ healing power.

On the one hand we have Jairus, who is described as a ruler of the synagogue.  He is an upstanding citizen and church elder.  He is a man of standing, well respected by his community.  He was probably a wealthy man.  Certainly a man of power.

On the other hand we have woman who is not even given a name.  She is described only as a woman suffering from a flow of blood.  She is not even considered part of the community because the condition she suffered rendered her unclean.  Untouchable.  According to Leviticus, anything that she touched would be considered unclean and if anyone even touched anything she touched, much less her, they too would be unclean.

Let’s look at her story first.  This woman was untouchable every day of her life for the past twelve years.  Try to imagine how she must have felt about herself, not only weak and unhealthy for so long but considered unclean.   For twelve years she was forced to keep herself at a distance from the rest of the community.   Unclean.  Unseen.  Untouched.

That day out of a desperate hope, this woman dared to venture out into the crowd.  She faced a terrible choice.  Should she risk public disgrace, drawing attention to herself and her shameful condition to seek healing from Jesus? Or should she just stand back, let Jesus pass by and continue her isolated life as usual.

Jesus was a well known as a teacher, rabbi, healer and holy man.  A lot of rabbis and Pharisees, who took great pains to keep ritually clean would be very angry if she got anywhere near them.  Something told this woman that Jesus was different, that Jesus cared more about people than the laws of purity.  In spite of all her years of desperate loneliness, on some level this woman knew that she was valued by God, that God wanted her to be made whole and that the power to make her whole was to be found in this man Jesus.  So she reached out and touched him.

Immediately something changed and Jesus knew it.  “Who touched me?” He asks?  The disciples, clueless as usually, thought this was a very odd question, considering that in that crowd; no doubt dozens of people had probably touched Jesus.  Bu the woman knew what he meant and despite her fear of angering him, admitted what had happened.  And instead of judgment, she received healing and praise for her faith from Jesus.

Now in the meantime, what about poor Jairus?   Remember he had come to Jesus for help first.  Consider what must have been going on through his mind during all this.  Jairus for all his power and wealth was powerless to help his precious little girl who was deathly ill at home.   Although he had more power and wealth and standing than the woman, he too was just as desperate and in need of Jesus help as the woman.

Jairus had servants and was used to being waited upon.  But now, during these anxious moments, when he was nearly mad with worry about his sick little girl at home, he is forced to wait while this unknown, unimportant woman takes up precious time with Jesus.

Jairus's Daughter JESUS MAFA

And then comes the dreaded word from home.  “Don’t bother, it’s too late.  She’s gone” And we don’t hear another word from Jairus.  He never rebuked the woman, though he could have blamed her for delaying Jesus.  He didn’t listen to those who told him not to bother Jesus anymore.  

He too held on to a desperate hope and faith as he allowed Jesus to go to see his dead daughter.  Did he really believe that Jesus could raise the dead?  Or was he so full of shock and grief that he was in denial about his daughter’s death?  Just what is the line between hope and denial?

We don’t’ know.  We only know that Jesus told his little girl to get up and the little girl did just that.  And a little girl, an important man and an unnamed woman all experienced the power of God in their lives.

Now I don’t know who you may identify with more in this story, the respected church leader, the unclean woman, or the passive little girl.  Perhaps there are times in our lives when we find ourselves in all of those positions.  What is important is that Jesus honored both the faith of the powerful man and the powerless woman.

But note that faith involved something different for Jairus and for the woman.  For Jairus, to ask for help was to admit his own helplessness.  He had to give up his power to yield to God’s power.  And he had to humbly wait while Jesus healed someone the world considered less important.  For Jairus, faith required letting go of control.

The woman, on the other hand, had to be bold and take hold of Jesus’ garment.  For her faith was not giving up power and control, she had none to begin with!  For the woman, faith was reaching out and taking hold of God’s power.

And perhaps the most powerless person in this whole drama was the little sick girl.  She lay ill, dependent upon others to take action for her.  She could not seek Jesus help on her own.  For her, faith was simply to hear the words “Get up little girl” and to obey them.  And she experienced a gift of God’s power that was stronger than death.

Our nation is still reeling in the after math of a terrible, hate and racist inspired massacre.  It has forced us to confront the uncomfortable truth that we have not solved the problem of racism and bigotry and hate in our country.  We’ve become more polite about it than we were before the civil rights movement.  

But in a way all that has done is driven it underground so that those of us who are white don’t have to face it.  But it never went away and our brothers and sisters of color have not had the luxury that we have had of ignoring it.

And so a conversation has begun.  A conversation that sometimes might make white people uncomfortable.   I believe that most of us here are good hearted people and are not racist, certainly not hateful.  But that’s not always enough.  We have to pay attention.  We have to speak up when we see something is not right.  Most of the time we need to just listen to our brothers and sisters of other backgrounds.  Listen to them even when it is uncomfortable.  

Because I think sometimes we are in such a hurry to make sure that we are the good guys, that we aren’t racist, we don’t listen when others say, “you know it doesn’t matter that you are a nice person.  You still have advantages in a SYSTEM that is stacked against us.”  Nothing can change.  No healing can take place until we are willing to step back and listen.

In many ways we are all here today, more like Jairus than the woman with no name.  Now you may see people more powerful than you and so think you are not a person with power and influence, but compared to most of the people In the world, we are more like Jairus.

Jairus was a good guy.  Just because he was a powerful influential man didn’t mean he wasn’t a good guy.  But the kingdom of God that Jesus brought into this world turns things upside down.  There is healing and redemption and salvation for everyone.  But the powerful, the people who are not used to waiting, who are not used to stepping aside, have to step aside and make room for those on the margins who have been made to wait too long for healing, for dignity, for equality. Scripture says they get to go to the front of line.  There’s enough for everyone, but those who have had to wait get to go first.  Those of us used to being in the front of the line can go to the back.

So if I get anything out of this story that pertains to today it’s that, let’s just step aside for our brothers and sisters of color and hear their story.  Let’s not argue right away or try to convince anyone that we are not racist.  Let’s not insist they say what they need to say what they need to say nice enough so that our feelings don’t get hurt.  Let’s not make it about us.  Let’s just Liston.  Listen and trust God that he will send his healing to all.

There are powerful people and there are powerless people in the world.  And then there is God’s power.  Paul defines the Gospel – the Good News as the power of god that is available to all people through faith.  A power that defeats sin that causes others to use their power over others.  A power that heals and gives life.  A power than turns hate and bitterness into compassion and forgiveness.

Sometimes faith requires admitting your helplessness.  Other times it requires realizing that you are not helpless.    Faith is opening your mind and heart to the gifts that God has given you and empowered you to use for his sake and the sake of the world God loves.

The power that was available to Jairus and the woman and the little girl is available to us today in Christ.  Do we have the humility to admit we cannot do it without God?  Do we have the courage to take hold of that power and be “little Christs” to the world?  Do we have the faith and courage to hear and obey Christ command, “Little child, get up!”  ?


Saturday, January 17, 2015


I am close to despair, not so much at the level of racism in this country (although that is tragic enough), but the lack of recognition of racism and how damaging it is, not only to its victims but the very fabric of our society.

The latest is this story of Miami Police using mug shots of African American youth for target practice.   And if the fact they were doing this was not bad enough, they are not embarrassed or ashamed but in fact, are defending this practice.

Thanks to Pastor Lura Groen who created a Facebook Event  for clergy in clerical collar  to invite the North Miami police to use our photos instead of African American youth.  It is a recognition of our privilege.  I can afford to invite them to shoot at me because I have very little fear of being shot by police.  It is a way to invite police to see the people they are shooting at as human beings which I fear, when they use mug shots of people of any race, they do not.  I think you almost have to dehumanize a person before you shoot at them.

It's a symbol, it's a gimmick.  It's not going to change the world.  But when I see all the photos of  people inviting police to shoot at their image, it's very powerful.  I hope it gets some attention and traction.

But I really hope we find a way to recognize the worth of all human beings.

If you would like to participate, send your photos to this address.  The more polite and Christlike the message, the better

North Miami Police

16901 Ne 19th Ave, North Miami Beach, FL 33162.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Here's what you do with leftover turkey -- Turkey Gumbo!

It’s probably too late this year because this starts with simmering the carcass for a few hours.  Throw in some onion and left over veggies if you like.  When it’s done just put the whole pot in the fridge.  Or if there is no room and if you live where I live, by the basement door where it’s cold.  You can skip this step but I think it adds richness to the stock.

The next morning, take the carcass out of the pot and pick off the meat.  I’m a terrible carver so there’s always plenty left on the carcass but there’s always something.  You can also use leftover turkey you carved.  Save that for later.  Strain the liquid and save that.  Freeze it in quart bags.   Keep a pint out.  It should be very gelatinous.

What makes a gumbo is the roux.  It’s all about the roux.  This takes time. You need to stand by the pan and watch and stir your roux.  You don’t want it to burn.

A roux is equal parts fat and flour.  I had fried up a bunch of bacon for loaded mashed potatoes so I used a quarter cup bacon fat and a quarter cup flour.  You can use butter, olive oil, lard, any fat.   Melt the fat, and add the flour and mix it well.  Then cook on low heat until it is a dark caramel color. It takes about 40-45 minutes.  Don’t rush it.  Stir it and don’t let it stick to the pan.

Then add 1 chopped onion and one chopped red bell pepper, a few cloves garlic, chopped and stir it up so that it is all covered in the roux.  

This is when I add the spices.  Salt, pepper. You can add cayenne pepper if you like heat.  I use Penzey’s Cajun mixture.  And sage, since sage is good with turkey.  Stir it up and cook low for about 5 minutes.  

Add about a half cup wine.  Red wine, white wine, whatever.  It will become a big sticky glob.  That’s what you want.  Cook that on low for about 10 minutes.  

Add your pint of turkey stock.  Depending on how thick and rich that stock is, you can add water (or wine) to thin it to your taste.  I like it thick.  I also add about a tablespoon of brown sugar.

Add the turkey.  You could add some carrots. Turn up the heat and bring that to a slow boil. Then dump it in the slow cooker (or turn heat down again) and cook it for about two hours. Eat it with rice.  It’s rich and tasty. 

You will want to make sure you have enough left over turkey to make this every year.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Enough with the Black Friday Shaming Already!

Hey remember me?? 

I used to blog.  For myself.  Now I blog for the Northeastern Iowa Synod.

But I got something to say about Black Friday shaming. 

 I think we should stop it.  

Because while you think it’s all about fighting anti-consumerism and commercialism and everything that is wrong with our economic system, it’s not.  

It’s just making people who like to shop on Good Friday feel bad.  And making you feel superior because you don’t do it. 

This is the thing.  We have a crazy economic system that depends on people buying stuff.  I don’t think that is a good thing.  I don’t even understand how it can be sustainable. 

And you don’t have to tell me about how bad people in retail are paid and treated.  

Hello??? I worked at Staples last summer.  I went 5 hours on my feet without any breaks.  I was expected to be kind of smart about figuring out stuff, be fast on the cash register, know where to find the blue #3 sharpie, smile and take grief all for a little over minimum wage. 

I get it.  There is something wrong with our economic system. 

But we ALL participate in it.  Some of us benefit from it more than others; some of us suffer from it more than others.  But nobody gets a pass.  

You don’t get to be all superior for not shopping on Black Friday. 

Disclaimer:  Yes I have shopped on Black Friday.  

Got up early, took my kids, got some deals, went to lunch, and came home and took a nap.  We did this even at the evil capitalistic center – Mall of America.  

Nobody died.  Nobody even got punched.  Or trampled . Most people were very pleasant.   

But then again I never tried to buy a Plasma TV for $5. 

Frankly I’m tired of seeing memes comparing Black Friday to the Hunger Games.  And people trying to make me feel like I’m more greedy and consumerist than those who shop on say, Monday.  

And if I’m tired of it, trust me; the folks in the pews are tired of it.

And you know who else is tired of it?  The good people in your pews who own stores.  

They are tired of being made to feel like they are responsible for taking Jesus out of Christmas cuz they sell stuff in December.  

So let’s just stop it.

I don’t know how to fix our broken economic system.  I don’t know how to make the world a more just, fair and kind place.  I just know that making people feel bad about going shopping is not working.

So if you are looking for a deal this Friday – Sin boldly!  AND remember the poor.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


A Mighty Fortress
Is not just brick and stone

A Mighty Fortress
Is the fierce loyalty of a friend
that defeats the cruelty
   we often impose upon ourselves
A Mighty Fortress
              is a shield of grace
                             against the spears of judgment this world hurls
A Mighty Fortress
              Is a tender love that provides a balm
                             which heals the scars this life can leave
A Mighty Fortress
              Is the place where love and grace can make us brave again.
A Mighty Fortress is our God.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Visiting Poverty

I know, I never post here anymore.  I keep it because of the old stuff I posted.  For those who are still following, this is from where I do most of my writing:  God's Work, Our Blog, our synod blog.

My sister & I

The past two weeks has been something of a roller coaster of emotions as I took personal time to first celebrate with joy and pride my son’s graduation from college and then flew to California for what is probably my last visit with my sister who is in the late stages of breast cancer.

My sister has worked hard her whole life in a variety of low paying jobs, mostly waitressing and factory work.  She always enjoyed her jobs and the people she met and made the most of life.  But now she lives only on her Social Security check, in Southern California where rent is so expensive she is left with $40 a month to live on.

She lives in a cockroach infested apartment on a busy street.  But she does have a place to live. There are many homeless who sleep in cars and under shopping carts on her street. She knows and speaks to many of them.

When you are poor you wait for hours in the clinic for care.  Even if you have cancer you can wait months to see a specialist.  She needs to give herself shots after her chemo treatments and one time the doctor forgot to include a prescription for the needles.  The doctor is only available on Wednesdays.  She needed to give herself the shots beginning on Thursday.  My sister is good at coming up with creative solutions to problems.  She walked down to the local homeless shelter which has a free needle exchange program for drug addicts and talked them into giving her some needles.

When you are poor you have to be clever to survive.  People who think the poor are lazy and dumb must not actually know any poor people.  One of my sister’s neighbors spent two days, 12 hours a day wearing a hot costume and dancing on the street to attract attention to a local business for a few hundred dollars.  Out of her $40, my sister gave him $10 to wash her floor for her.  

She gets food stamps.  A few times a week she has someone take her EBT card (they don’t use stamps anymore) to the Jack in the Box on the corner to buy her a hamburger.  A lot of people resent that the poor can use food stamps to buy fast food.   But remember she has 4th stage breast cancer and is undergoing chemo.  She doesn't always feel like cooking.

While I was visiting she bought us a couple of steaks with her food stamps.  People with money resent that too.  But she only gets a set amount of money for food each month.  If she spends $12 on steaks this week, it means she will eat rice and beans the rest of the month (which she likes).  But why should we begrudge her the ability to buy her sister a nice dinner?  Why should we insist she buy hamburger every week rather than steak one week and beans the next?

I went grocery shopping for her and she gave me her EBT card but I refused to use it.  Of course I had money and wanted to buy her groceries so her food stamps would last longer.  But there was a less noble and generous reason I refused to use the card.  I was ashamed and did not want to be seen using the card.  “Oh don’t worry about that,” she assured me “Everyone here uses that card.  You will fit right in”

The truth was, I did not want to fit in. I did not want to be seen as one of “those people”.  But as I spent the week with her and “those people” and saw how much they cared for and took care of my sister, how hard they worked for the little they had and how clever they were at surviving, and what positive attitudes they had, I realized I could do a lot worse than “fitting right in” with this crowd.

As Christians we know we are obligated to help the poor.  But I know we can be awfully judgmental about the poor and we don’t often actually get to know them.   Jesus was about more than just "helping" the poor.  He was about abolishing the barriers we put between “us” and “them”. This past week has challenged me to think about ways we can move beyond charity to expanding our notions of who our neighbor is.