Monday, May 16, 2011

It was a good week

I didn't have one specific thing to blog about today, but more of a list of things I've appreciated in the last week.

Things have returned to a more normal level of busy at work, compared to the last month which was really crazy. The office celebrated with champagne and cupcakes Friday afternoon.

Also work-related, I am getting some relief from the late schedule I've been working. It means getting to say yes to more things during the week and (hopefully) cooking and eating dinner at a decent hour.

It's been seven months since I first sighted the raccoon, and he still hasn't gone away. I begged my landlord to do something else, and she called in a professional. He's set three traps, and promised me he won't give up until they (convinced there are two now) are caught. They were having quite an evening on Sunday, so no luck yet, but I now have someone to call about it.

If it hadn't been for the raccoons, I would have been in tears watching a family from my hometown get a new house on Extreme Makeover Home Edition on Sunday. It's cool to see my city on TV, but the boy the house went to stole the show. He has a great attitude in the midst of disabling disease. He was hilarious and his smile just seemed to be contagious.

I've slowly accumulated various kitchen gadgets, pots, pans, utensils, etc., but I still have a list of things that would be nice to have. Occasionally, I break down and buy one of those things. Last week I gave myself a salad spinner. It's been great with all the greens I've been eating.

It turns out that I like rhubarb, at least in muffins and pies.

It was kind of a gross weekend weather-wise, but it made for a good excuse to visit an IKEA store a couple of hours away. Of course, no new furniture for me, but it is certainly fun to look.

I took a photography class on Sunday, and I finally know a little something about my camera. And I can now shoot manually instead of on auto all the time.

I am starting the week with the laundry and ironing (very rare) done. Just need to work on the dishes.

And lastly, here's a link to a really good blog post about remembering that we live in God's will in our current situations too, not just the future. It was something I really needed to read and be reminded of. My verse for the next two weeks came from reading it:  "But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." Jeremiah 29:7

Monday, May 9, 2011

Motivated again

Well, I got my latest box on Thursday, and I am finally motivated to cook again. I've already finished off most of the asparagus and strawberries, and I can say that this asparagus is so much better than anything I bought in the store over the last four months.

But my real challenge this week was bok choy. I think last season on some of my off weeks, the family and couple shares got bok choy, but it was new to me. I discussed how to prepare it with several people, and ultimately went with a stir fry from a recipe the co-op sent out. I put it over rice and enjoyed it with some asparagus. 

Here's the recipe:

Braised Bok Choy

From An Endless Harvest, by Betty Levine.
Serves 4 to 5.


  • 1 bok choy or Chinese cabbage, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok and saute ginger and garlic for 1 minute.  Add bok choy and stir fry 3 more minutes.
Add broth, tamari, or soy sauce and honey.  Cover and cook 5 minutes.  Uncover and cook another 5 minutes or until bok choy is tender.

I estimated all the ingredients to make it for just me. I used soy sauce, but didn't have ginger, definitely think that would have added some flavor.


The other thing I made this weekend was Southern Living's Strawberry-Rhubarb Hand Pies. I made the entire recipe of dough, but froze half of it and just adjusted the filling to make less. They are really good, I can't stop eating them and am almost ready to make a new batch.


Friday, May 6, 2011


Several months ago, after reading several recommendations of the book One Thousand Gifts in the blog world, I was intrigued enough to not only want to read it but actually buy it, and I tacked it on to an Amazon order.

I didn't realize how much my day job impacts my pleasure reading until I picked up this book. I function in a world where I am always trying to tighten writing, remove any superfluous adjectives and make sure the writer gets to the point in the most straightforward way possible. The writing in this book is the complete opposite of all of those things. It's not a bad thing, and I have two friends that have read the book and loved the writing style. But I struggled to get through a chapter, so it has taken me months to actually make some headway in the book. (Those friends are the reason I didn't give up on it after the first chapter.)

I do like the idea of the book and the points the author makes, I've just struggled to actually get to those points. The idea is that in being thankful for all the things God has given us, we find joy, eucharisteo, as the author calls it.

As I have picked this book up and put it down again over and over in the last few months, I've felt like I'm accomplishing something by just reading another chapter, so I haven't even thought about how to apply the idea to my own life.

But I was having a rough day on Wednesday, for no reason in particular, just a continued struggle with discontentment and waiting to see God's plans for me.

I found myself feeling like I'm in the same place I was two years ago, desiring change but playing a waiting game with God. And I found myself thinking, what's really changed? I made decisions two years ago expecting God to do something great once I followed Him, but I feel like I'm still in the same place. Why did I come here if He wasn't going to show up or if He was going to lead me back to this same struggle? (Note: I was being dramatic, He has shown up and He is still showing up.)

And that's when I remembered the words of the book, gifts are all around me. In that moment I stopped to think of the gifts I had gotten that day: An unexpected and encouraging card from a close friend, a cool breeze on my walk to work, listening to a piano student playing during a lesson, walking home in daylight ... 

I started to remember other great gifts God has given me in the last two years, most of which I didn't expect, and maybe that's what I'm missing right now. I'm focused so much on the gifts I think are missing that I am missing the gifts all around me and missing out on that place of eucharisteo with God.

I picked up the book again and read through two chapters, and I really read them and focused on them. Once I grasped a bit of what Voskamp was saying, I enjoyed the book and saw what God was trying to show me. I started underlining and couldn't stop, but here's a quote that hit me right where I was:

"In this wilderness, I keep circling back to this: I'm blind to joy's well every time I really don't want it. The well is always there. And I choose not to see it. Don't I really want joy? Don't I really want the fullest life? For all of my yearning for joy, longing for joy, begging for joy — is the bald truth that I prefer the empty dark? Prefer drama? Why do I lunge for control instead of joy? Is it somehow more perversely satisfying to flex control's muscle? Ah — power — like Satan. Do I think Jesus-grace too impotent to give me the full life? Isn't that the only reason I don't always swill the joy? If the startling truth is that I don't really want joy, there's a far worse truth. If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment — am I not ultimately rejecting God? Whenever I am blind to joy's well, isn't it because I don't believe in God's care? ...

"The well is always here. God is always here — precisely because He does care. ... You have to want to see the well before you can drink from it. You have to want to see joy, God in the moment." (pgs. 130-131)

If you want your own copy of the book, go comment on my friend Andrea's post with three of your gifts/things you are thankful for before 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6 (today, so hurry).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A solution for kale

Despite all of my hype about the start of my co-op, I failed to blog about my first pick-up almost two weeks ago. But the first pick-up isn't super exciting. I did get my Bibb lettuce, and I've enjoyed great salads with it.

I also got collards and kale, which I have been avoiding. I had great leftovers from Easter and didn't have to worry about lunch and dinner last week. But I was inspired on Monday when I found the site, Big Girls Small Kitchen, and I could search by ingredient. I found a recipe for Kale Pesto Lasagna, had most of the ingredients and thought I'd try it out Monday after work. This of course resulted in me eating dinner about 10 p.m., but it was a successful dinner otherwise and is feeding me for the week.

I will note that lasagna is on my picky list, I really don't like ricotta cheese, and I feel like a lot of weird stuff is hidden in it. But this is not really lasagna at all, and I controlled what went in it.

The recipe called for fresh mozzarella, which I think would make it better, but the shredded mozzarella was good enough. I put it in an 8x8 dish, but pretty much used what was called for in the recipe. I also realized the next morning I could have put the pesto on a pizza, and I might make another batch (I still have kale left) and do that.

Kale Pesto Lasagna by Big Girls Small Kitchen

  • 1 box no-boil lasagna
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, stems trimmed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces.
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup walnut halves
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • pinch of cayenne
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 9 x 13” pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
Put the walnuts in the oven on a baking sheet. Toast them for 5 minutes, just until fragrant. Set aside.
Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the boiling water, then add the kale. Stir to submerge all the kale. Cover the pot and boil for 8 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Put the cooked kale, walnuts, ½ cup Parmesan, garlic, cayenne, and ½ teaspoon salt in the food processor (you may have to do this in more than one batch). Process until finely ground, then add the olive oil and process until smooth and the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice, then taste for salt, adding more as necessary.
Smear ½ cup of the kale mixture on the bottom of the pan. Cover it with noodles, breaking them to fit if you need to. Cover the pasta with ¼ cup of kale, then with a sparse layer of mozzarella. Repeat twice more, arranging the top layer of mozzarella especially beautifully. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan, cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, press in any exposed pasta edges, and bake for 15 more minutes until bubbly and brown. Rest 5-10 minutes, then serve.