Friday, October 31, 2008

The Best Hummus

The other day I bought a carton of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus at Trader Joe’s. I should never go into that store because it’s like the third level of hell for seduction. Organic Chocolate bars. (Not that good.) Three Buck Chuck. (Cheap, but worse than David Haase's Dandelion wine.) Chocolate covered blueberries. (They look pretty.) Toasted macadamia nuts. (Stale.) Maple syrup Grade B? Grade A? You’d think the hummus would be okay. But, no. It tasted moldy and had way too much garlic or something. This is the second try for hummus this year. Apparently I forget how good it is when you make it yourself. And doesn’t cost much either. This is really easy but you’ve got to think ahead one day so you can get the beans soaking. You might even want to double it, you'll love yourself if you do.

Begin by soaking one cup of garbanzo beans for 24 hours. Not just overnight. Place in saucepan with 1 t. olive oil, bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender, about one hour. Stir occasionally. Add more water if necessary to keep them covered. When garbanzos are done, they still have substance and are a little al dente. Drain, reserving the broth. Cool.
Option: Substitute 1 can of garbanzo beans if you must. Drain, reserve broth.

Place beans in blender. Along with:

1 large clove garlic, chopped
3 T. fresh lemon juice
½ t. ground cumin
¼ c. tahini (ground sesame seeds)
(Flavor improves if you can wait to eat it.)

Blend, adding broth until you like the consistency. Spoon onto a shallow dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle a bit of red chile flakes on the top.
Serve with pita, chips, crackers, what ever sounds good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Farmers of this kind

The first time I met Joe & Becca I thought they might be brother and sister with their tawny red hair, fair skin, and earth-toned woolen sweaters. They are related, but as husband and wife, not siblings. It’s weird how some people get wired, I mean, just made with certain gifts. Either one of them can do about anything with their hands – music, carpentry, wool-making, raise 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and make killer lasagna.

I am seduced, awed, like maybe if I did life over again, this time I’d be them and get a farm, too. A lot has happened in three years since they married, moved to Stony Kill, New York, where for the first season they lived in a tent at the garden’s edge, and for two more seasons continued to manage an organic vegetable farm, saving every penny to buy land in SE Minnesota. Because they’ve been researching, because Joe’s father is also an organic farmer living in this area, and because they know their calling and have prayed so many times for guidance – when forty acres of land went up for sale at a great price, they bought it.

A couple weeks ago Denis and I drove out to see their land. It’s a property with some good sheds, a barn, and a condemned house. The barn floor was covered with freeze dried horse manure. No one has loved this farm in a long time. It’s overgrown with nettles and brambles. Fences are falling down. There junk piles. But hidden in tall grass we found a ray of red against the curse of thorns – a handful of tomatoes, a green pepper, and parsnip – volunteers from some old garden.

This is where their life will begin in December when they return to Minnesota and see the farm in reality for the first time – their work in NY hasn’t allowed any time away before then. The good price of the land allowed them to buy twice what they’d hoped, so Joe will be able to keep horses to help reclaim the soil and begin a vegetable farm. They plan to build a straw bale home next year. They know better than to think this will all be easy, having suffered in ways themselves. But they also know God is pleased when they make beautiful soil and good food from creation.

Next February I will be interviewing them for a workshop at the 2009 L’Abri conference. Hearing their story, their dreams, witnessing their energy for raising local food is a small, but significant push back against a fallen world. Or perhaps it’s a way of listening more intently to the groans of creation.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Stories

Katy sent me this song by Brandi Carlisle on a mix. I think I like best this unpolished video version from the studio. So, you probably heard it during Grey’s Anatomy, or the Olympics. I think GM used it. I may be the last person to note it. The lyrics “…all these stories don’t mean a thing if you got no one to tell them to…”
…this weekend as I lead a women’s retreat, I can’t help but think that the art of caring for one another, showing hospitality includes the sweetness and work of hearing one another’s stories in a safe place, even though they may be sad ones. But we have hope in God that even they, may one day prove to be a part of our redemption.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bawling for God-sake

From daughter, Sember:

I too am so looking forward to Christmas. And yes I will probably cry. But it is good to cry. Especially when one is crying for such a lovely reason. It felt good to let myself realize in the moment that this is hard. And do what I needed physically in order to deal with what I was living emotionally in a way that God created me to do. So, in other words crying is Godly. And as such and because of the time I have clocked weeping, sobbing, crying, pouting, and general boo-hooing, I am damn near the most devout, Godly person I know.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Comment Interview

Comment Magazine published an interview with me this week. I fussed and fumed over it. I read interviews they’d previously published with people, like John Seel, who, I said to Denis, probably knocked this off in ten seconds. And Denis said, so? (I would like to thank John for a phrase I pinched from him, but since he has so many, he probably won’t miss it.)
Comment is an on-line publication influencing people to a “Christian view of work and public life. Exploring and upholding the dignity of work, the meaning of economics, and the structures of civil society, in the context of underlying patterns created by God.” Each issue features an interview with a person who reflects on their life’s work and calling. It was an honor to be a part of this endeavor.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bloodless Friends of Night

On Tuesday it rained steady all day and about 5 p.m. Denis walked into the house and told me to get my camera and an umbrella and “trust me” you’ll want to see this. In the yard next door he’d found a huge cluster of mushrooms that had come up over night. He knows I love trying to identify them and I always threaten to eat them (just to get a rise from him, he hates mushrooms and says that if God intended for us to eat them they wouldn’t be called fungus – one of those onomatopoeic words).

Anyway, I think this is an oyster mushroom, pleurotus ostreatus, and it was growing from an old rotted elm tree stump, it’s a creamy buff color with white gills running from the cap down to its thick stem. I cut off a portion and placed it on white paper under a glass over night. This morning when I lifted the glass, it had made a delicate fan pattern of pale pink spores.

I would like to eat it, but I don’t dare since I can’t be absolutely certain of this one. In other parts of the world the knowledge of edible mushrooms still exists, but here in our country we lost those connections years ago, preferring the convenience and safety of the supermarket.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The extravagence

Yesterday when Anita was done at the Farmer’s Market she brought home all the unsold dahlias. It was such extravagance when I saw them all sitting on the dining room table I almost fell down. Some flowers are casual and mussed like they got out of bed and didn’t shower or dress, I’m not saying I don’t love them. The dahlia is not so. She is brilliant in perfect tight symmetry with every hair laid exactly, properly, proportionately in place. If she were employed I think it would be as an engineer or maybe a pathologist.

Being not very skilled at pic-taking, at first, I had them on the kitchen counter, but see how the coral counter top distracts. I took them back to the table, and still I can't capture their beauty.

Give me open eyes, O God, eyes quick to discover Thine indwelling in the world, which Thou hast made. Let all Thy lovely things fill me with gladness and let them uplift my mind to Thine everlasting loveliness. Forgive all my past blindness to the grandeur and glory of nature, to the charm of little children, to the sublimities of human story, and to all the intimations of Thy presence which these things contain.

>A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Do you believe what you say?

Sorry, I haven’t been around for awhile. It’s been easy to sit and stare, not thinking about anything at all, as though that were possible. It’s another autoimmune issue and not that serious. Some parts of it are funny. Especially when I get dead man’s fingers. (Great. Just in time for Halloween.) Looking at the yellow cadaver-like ends, (it’s always temporary, muchas gracious) Denis and I wondered if it could be a warning to people who use certain fingers in aggressive, rude gestures. (That wouldn’t be me.) Just like when your mother used to say, don’t stick out your lip like that or it’ll stay that way.

I’ve recalled parts of the Heidleburg Confession -- I’ve always liked that piece of work. It has a beauty to it that other confessions sort of lack.

Q & A 26
Q. What do you believe when you say,
"I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth"?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and everything in them,
who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,
is my God and Father
because of Christ his Son.

I trust him so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,
and he will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends me
in this sad world.

He is able to do this because he is almighty God;
he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

So, do I really believe this?
When I take a long view of life, one that extends past death, there’s no doubt; I believe he will provide all I need. It’s more difficult living with what daily life dishes up. You know you’re a little imbalanced when you drop your peanut butter toast face down on the floor and feel like crying. I grab the scruff of my neck and ask: Oh, yes! And what about your brothers and sisters living in Zimbabwe who have no toast at all? That should make you weep.

When I look at tragedy -- large or small, I would rather say God allows adversity. But I can’t argue that’s always the case. I know he does send adversity. It’s the modifier “whatever” that I find comforting. “he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world.” Whatever.

The last two lines are sort of a kicker. There is the paradox that gives hope and healing! That someone of such power is both – almighty and tender. Mighty on my behalf. Tender to me. I count on that every day, in every circumstance. Not just for myself, (how self-absorbed!) but for all who groan.

Today, is an achingly, beautiful fall day. The air is cold and still, but the sun warms. The last of the cabbage butterflies and bumble bees loaded with pollen strain the asters with their clumsy weight. Friend, Anita, lovely and unexpectedly strong for someone so small, has a staging ground in our side yard, where pots of grass, bearded iris, and lady’s mantle wait to be set into the front beds. For a while we stood under the fir tree watching the chickadees and gold finches spar and swear at one another for a place the thistle feeder, and we decided we wanted to go back to the Garden and work there. We could help Adam & Eve rearrange the dogwood shrubs and lay stone borders.

Yes I do believe.