Is Dinner Ready Yet?

But really though, is it? When will it be ready? I thought you were supposed to be done by now? When can we eat? It looks good already, can we just eat it now?

Don’t pretend you haven’t heard these questions before. Probably, you’ve even asked them before, perhaps even to yourself about your own cooking! A meal is taking a bit longer than you expected, you’re really hungry and that stew really does look pretty good. Why not just eat it now?

More often than not, we need to practice patience in our lives. Sometimes it is just waiting for dinner to be ready, sometimes it is waiting for results from your new diet plan, sometimes it is waiting for God to answer prayer. Our prayers come in many forms and are never answered in the same way. Almost never are they answered on our timeline or in ways that we understand. Because God’s time is not our own time, we frequently find ourselves asking, “When? Weren’t we already done with this? Isn’t this taken care of already?”

So here’s a stew recipe that asks you to wait, even though it looks like it is ready.

It's even Whole30 compliant!Hatch Green Chili and Pork Stew

Ingredients

2 lbs lean pork, cubed
2 Tbs fat (I use olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c tapioca starch (you can use flour or cornstarch if not observing a such a diet)
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
6-8 roasted green chilies, chopped*
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c chicken stock

  1. Heat the fat over medium heat in a small dutch oven or stock pot. Add the pork and lightly brown (don’t worry about it being cooked through, it will cook later).
  2. Once the pork has browned, add the onion and garlic until translucent.
  3. Stir in the starch to coat the pork, so that everything is sticky (this is your thickening agent).
  4. Add the tomatoes (you can drain them if you like, but I prefer them undrained), green chilies, jalapenos, salt and pepper. Incorporate thoroughly and allow to simmer briefly. Then add the stock, bring to a rolling simmer.
  5. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and simmer for at least an hour, best at least two hours.

*You can typically get these roasted in-store, but if you live in a place like I do, where they only roast one, maybe two, Saturdays out of the season, I just roast them on my own. This is easy– line a baking sheet with foil, line out the peppers and roast at 400* for 20 minutes. Then turn the peppers and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Then allow to cool, remove the stem, skin (should be papery) and seeds.

About halfway there, you could easily fall into the trap of ‘isn’t it ready yet?’ It looks right and everything seems cooked. Why wait?

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Anxiety vs. The Leftovers

It’s been a busy few weeks for me, what between Easter, starting a new job and transitioning out of the old job, learning to drive a manual transmission, etc. As part of that transition, there has been a bit of a new budget to determine taking into account new factors such as a different income, a car payment and not having reimbursable meals through the week. All this together would reasonably precipitate a certain degree of anxiety. Thank the Lord, I do not struggle with anxiety, but that doesn’t mean that money and budgeting do not so very often enter my thought process (to be honest, usually multiple times a day), largely because I am still adjusting to marriage and a shared budget instead of my own little financial and budget world.

But thank the Lord for Easter.

WP_20150407_22_05Anxiety vs. The Leftovers | God's ProvisionOf course I mean that for all the wonderful, theological reasons (you know, that whole Jesus rises from the dead to give us an opportunity for reconciliation with God and an everlasting life part. That part’s pretty cool), and the fact it is my favorite holiday, but also because it left my fridge very, very full.

We were blessed to get to spend the holiday with three (and a half) good friends, enjoying a feast of wide variety and many leftovers. But leftovers and I have a mixed relationship.

Why I Like Leftovers:

  1. Pre-prepared lunches are way better than a cold cut sandwich
  2. Food my husband will eat instead of picking up fast food if he’s on his own
  3. There’s more! What’s not good about more of a good thing!

Why I Hate Leftovers:

  1. I don’t get to cook again for a while
  2. I run out of Tupperware
  3. Food might go bad before it gets eaten (it is easier for me to cook ingredients before they go bad than to make sure the last half-an-entree makes it into a lunchbox)

But last night I opened the fridge and was struck by something more than just how very full the fridge was and how I couldn’t find a place for my lunch bag: We have so much more than we need. Continue reading

Rejoice, A New Creation!

This week was a very blessed week for my family as my husband and I became members of the church we have been attending since this summer, which has welcomed us with open arms. But even more important than that, my husband made his faith formal and public by taking the sacrament of baptism! For some, the significance of that moment may be less obvious than to others, but it is terribly significant to Christ. It is an act of acceptance and obedience to Christ’s calling and an act of submission to His plan for your life, “an outward sign of inward grace,” symbolic of the washing away of sins and the death of the old man and birth of the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Lobster BisqueBecause of the significance of the occasion, I treated him to one of his favorite meals (and, coincidentally, the most expensive meal I’ve ever made): Lobster Bisque. He’s lucky I love him 😛

A special meal is one of those ways that I like to celebrate significant moments in life because, particularly when you make it yourself, it actively responds to the importance of the occasion. So, here are the reasons I chose to cook him this meal and why to cook something special at all.

  1. It’s his favorite. It’s not my favorite (although it certainly is delicious), but his favorite, and something he doesn’t ever get at home.
  2. It’s expensive. If not today, on what is one of the most important days of his life, then when? He certainly isn’t going to get it ‘just because’ on a Wednesday night! But more significantly, this event deserves an expensive meal. It is a sacrifice to serve such a luxurious meal and, in the same way as the Israelites of the Old Testament would offer burnt sacrifices for spiritual commitment and renewal, I can give this meal to God as much as to my husband, as a thanks offering to His faithfulness and goodness.
  3. It’s not the easiest. I can acknowledge and celebrate the significance of the occasion by putting in a little more effort than I typically would when putting together dinner.

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Obedience & Following the Recipe

I have a confession to make: I’m not really great at following recipes. I’m trying to think of the last time I cooked from a recipe and actually followed it truly. Honestly it has been, probably, about two years, and as we know, I cook a lot. I also try lots and lots of new recipes. Probably half of the cooking I do is trying out something new. So why don’t I follow directions? Almost always it is because I don’t have all the ingredients the recipe calls for and either those ingredients are too expensive for me to justify purchasing or I simply didn’t have time or desire to go to the grocery store.

WP_20150123_19_29_18_Raw
 Some would say the ability to substitute is a gift, a skill, a talent. I would not disagree. After all, this is one of the distinguishing characteristics between someone that ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ cook. I’m thankful for my ability to adjust recipes to what I have in my pantry at any given moment. Take, for example, what I made for dinner last night: Cauliflower and Potato Curry…which I based very, very loosely on a recipe for “Coconut Curried Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas.”

Cauliflower & Potato CurryCauliflower & Potato Curry

Ingredients
1 Tbs vegetable oil (or ghee, if you’re going authentic)
1  yellow onion, slivered
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3-5 dried red chilies, chopped (or red pepper flakes will work, too)
1/2 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
3-4  red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Anaheim pepper, chopped (or any kind of fresh, mild pepper, really)
1 (13.5 oz) can of coconut milk
1 (13.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
Cinnamon, Turmeric, Curry Powder, Cumin, Coriander, Cloves

  1. Heat the oil over med-high heat and, once hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Then add the garlic and red pepper (omit if you don’t like spicy) until fragrant.
  2. Throw in the cauliflower, potatoes and fresh pepper and let those cook for a few minutes. On top of the vegetables, add a generous shake of each of the spices. Everything should be yellow from the curry powder and turmeric, and you should be able to smell the cinnamon. (If you are very concrete, go with 2 teaspoons of each and adjust from there.)
  3. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the deeper the flavor will grow. It’s good to check in on it every 15 minutes or so, give it a stir, make sure it isn’t burning or sticking and test the flavor. After about 30 minutes, you can add more spices to suit your tastes.
  4. Serve over rice and/or with fresh naan.

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