Meatless Monday – Farro & Kale Soup

A friend sent the best kind of text. She asked when I could be available to come for dinner; she had a vegan recipe she wanted to make for girls’ night. Count me in!

She set the table with a charming quilt she’d made and heirloom china, beautiful plates with a raised spot for a tea cup in which she served soup. She had veganized a recipe she’d tried a few times to good results, and we went back for more and more and more–dainty cups couldn’t contain enough hearty veggie goodness. The kale for the soup came from her garden; so did the lettuce in the salad, to which she added strawberries, walnuts, and avocado. Another friend came straight from her shift at a local winery toting a couple of bold reds. With inviting hospitality, good friends, delicious food and drink, this weeknight could not have been any better.

Before grocery shopping this weekend, I noticed that the weather report indicated another cold front approaching. Indeed, today on this first day of spring the skies have again turned gray and wet, which makes it a perfect soup night. I bought butternut squash, already cubed because I couldn’t find whole, but forgot the kale. Imagine my delight when I came home to find a bundle of fresh kale on my doorstep, yet one more gift from my friend.

Farro & Kale Soup
Serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 c butternut squash, peeled & cubed
pepper/Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 c farro
6 c reduced sodium vegetable broth (I use Better Than Bouillon reduced-sodium vegetable base)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
2-3 c kale, spines removed & leaves chopped

On a roasting  pan, drizzle cubed squash with oil and sprinkle with pepper and 21 Seasoning Salute (or other no-salt herb mix). Roast for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees. (Note: you could skip this step, but roasting brings out so much fabulous flavor that I think it’s worth it. If you add squash straight to the pot, you might need to add another 5 minutes or so to the total cooking time).

In a large stock pot, saute onion for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add farro and toss to coat. Add broth, roasted squash, tomatoes, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and partially cover, simmering until farro is cooked, about 25 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer until wilted, about 2 minutes (if you’re not serving right away, you can add kale and remove pot from heat; leave covered until ready to serve). Adjust seasonings to taste.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

For Cryin’ Out Loud

How many times have I sat with a group of women, Bibles open to Luke 10, as criticism of Martha zings around the room?

Martha’s too busy.
She’s caught up in the wrong thing.
She’s obviously Type A.
Clearly she’s a fussbudget busybody.
She’s overly dramatic.
She’s causing a scene.
Does she think she needs to prepare six courses? Hasn’t she heard of a one-pot meal? How about a sheet pan dinner?

Poor Martha! Every once in a while a woman seated around the circle will eke out a timid comment in her defense: who among us hasn’t acted like Martha at least once? Who truly feels qualified to cast these stones?

Mary gets the honor, while Martha gets vilified. I think we might be missing the point.

I think Martha lost sight of Jesus.

Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. She made Him and His traveling entourage feel comfortable. Hospitality was a BIG big deal back then, way more so than these days. Dirt floors and mud walls might have made housecleaning less of an obvious burden (or moreso?), but inviting at least thirteen hungry travelers into your home meant you probably had to slaughter a goat or two. To skin it, clean it, cook it, how long would that take? (asks the vegetarian…) Plus the side dishes: I imagine tabbouleh and unleavened bread, eggs and nuts and fruit, cheese and wine.spice-370114_1920

I’m getting better, but I used to turn into a whirling dervish before hosting a dinner party. Except way less graceful. I have a soft spot for Martha.

No, I don’t think it’s Martha’s hospitality that got her in trouble. She worked that gift in spades (go, girl!). The key is in her question. Interrupting the party beyond the kitchen, Martha cried:

“Master, don’t you care…?”

Martha forgot who Jesus was. If God = love and Jesus = God, then Jesus = love. Okay, I’m willing to concede that maybe Martha didn’t know Jesus well enough yet. Maybe the if/then hadn’t been made clear.

And yet: I believe Mary’s stillness at Jesus’ feet and Martha’s busyness in the kitchen were separated by only one thing. Mary was attentive to Jesus and Martha was attentive to her preparations.

Can we do whatever we’re doing and still be attentive to Jesus? I sure hope so! I’ve pretty much built my life and faith on paying attention to God while I also do business. In Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey claims that real, undignified life is the classroom for holiness. “If you can’t find God while you’re changing diapers or serving food or hanging out with your friends, you won’t find God at the worship service or the spiritual retreat or the regimented daily quiet time or the mission field” (p117).

If Martha had taken off her apron and plunked herself down next to Mary, she still might have missed Jesus. She needed to focus her heart, not her hands.

Martha’s cry recalled for me Mark 4, the disciples in the boat when the storm came up. Jesus was sleeping, which might have been a good tip off that God was not going to sink them. But their fisherman training got the best of them. They’d seen storms and this one seemed bad in the worst way.rembrandt_christ_in_the_storm_on_the_lake_of_galilee

They cried: “Teacher, don’t you care…?”

Of course He does. Jesus loved them. Jesus loves us.

Jesus loves us in the boat. In the kitchen. In the green pastures and the dark valleys, wherever He leads us He also loves us. Psalm 31:7 promises, “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care…”

Thinking about Martha’s cry, the disciples’ cry, brought to mind the phrase, “for cryin’ out loud.” I did an online search and each site that popped up confirmed the same origin for the phrase. While consistently an expression of frustration or exasperation, its origin comes from the phrase, “for Christ’s sake.”

Which made me laugh: crying out to Christ, in frustration and fear, for Christ’s sake? That seems appropriate. We call out to Christ–maybe with the wrong motives, sure, but still–we cry out to Him and He draws us near for His own sake. Because He loves us.

Meatless Monday – Fruit Tart

Friends invited us for dinner at their house. When I asked what we could bring our hostess quipped, “Dessert. If my attempts to cook vegetables go south, at least we’ll have wine and dessert!”

So I wanted something easy, delish, and striking. Fruit tart!

This recipe is versatile–you can change it up with different fruit-and-jam combinations as seasons change. I’ve most often used apples and marmalade; this time I used two large end-of-summer farmers’ market peaches and peach jam. We purchased some lemon sorbet to serve on top. Sweet, tart, and one more reason to keep puff pastry in the freezer.

Fruit Tart
Each sheet makes one tart–go ahead and make two

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted on the counter
2 large peaches, thinly sliced into half-moons
zest 1 lemon (+ 1 Tbsp juice)
1/4 c peach jam
1/4 tsp fresh diced ginger

Preheat oven to 400. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats and unfold one sheet of pastry on each. Roll sheets into a rectangle (erase the wrinkles). Use a fork to lightly poke random holes through the center of the sheet, leaving a fork-width edge.

Layer fruit in the center of the pastry and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. While the pastry cools, heat the jam, ginger, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Lightly brush jam mixture on the fruit and top with lemon zest.

fruit-tart-before

Before

fruit-tart-after

After

C’mon Over

My fiesty fun friend burst through the front door with cheers and hugs and an armful of flowers. She turned the corner and stopped short: “WHAT happened to your house?? It’s, it’s so clean!”

Less than 48 hours earlier, we’d had friends over – in preparation I had cleaned for two days. Family entropy hadn’t yet reclaimed its usual stake of mess on every available surface.

The last time Friend visited, I’d heard myself apologizing for the mess. It wasn’t all that bad, but it wasn’t good.

The conundrum: I am no domestic goddess, nor do I want to live in a sty. I’m Adult Enough to notice that my interior state often affects my exterior reality – if my life feels chaotic, guaranteed my home does, too. It works the other way as well – if I can get myself to clean the house, I might feel more peaceful.

I have plenty of things I’d rather do than clean, including welcoming you into my home. Which means you are always welcome. If I know you’re coming, I might clean myself into a tizzy. And I might not.

When Teen was just a tot, a woman I knew admitted that she hadn’t had friends over in years, for the simple reason that her lack of housekeeping skills embarrassed her. She didn’t want people to think less of her, so she kept them out.

Which meant she also didn’t let them in. There is something very personal about letting others into our space. They see our style, our art and kid art collected over years, our family vacation knick-knacks, our books which reveal our tastes. People know us differently after seeing how we live.

I guess for some people that feels too vulnerable. But if you can ignore the dust bunnies collecting in corners, you are welcome to C’mon Over to my house. If you can’t deal with dust bunnies, we’re probably not friends.

For Christmas last year, Guy bought me a Roomba. I’d asked for a Roomba more than once as we walked through Costco; I had not asked for a Roomba for Christmas – a spectacularly unsexy gift. But Guy was so happy with his gift I let him set it up and, once charged, I let him Push the Button, at which point we quickly discovered that we needed to Prepare the House for Roomba – picking up cat toys and sweatshirts and kids’ shoes and socks, moving counter stools and pulling chairs back from the table, shutting bedroom chaos behind bedroom doors.2989123259_aece327fb5_m

The first time I tried to use the Roomba by myself – husband out, kids asleep, me reading in bed – I decided Roomba just might be Chucky, a Good Guy robot-vacuum possessed of an evil spirit; it kept getting stuck and beeping at me that it was stuck, making me leave my warm cocoon to set it straight each time. Eventually I sent it “home” and decided reading in peace trumped waking to clean floors.

Glennon Melton also received a vacuum gift. I Laughed So Hard when I read this:

“I find my vacuum to be very heavy and ugly and inconducive to relaxing. There is nothing that leads me into a cursing tirade faster than trying to lug my vacuum up two flights of stairs. And Jesus said: if your vacuum causes you to curse, gouge it out . . . or something like that. So actually becoming a real- life vacuumer wasn’t an option, since I love Jesus. (If you do vacuum, I’m not trying to suggest that you don’t love Jesus. I assume it’s possible to do both. I’m just saying it’s not likely. Not likely at all.)”

Roomba and I have mostly made peace, which is a good thing because I love Jesus and do not anticipate becoming a real-life vacuumer anytime soon. Which also means Roomba doesn’t run as often as it could, because that whole Preparing the House thing may just be Too Much, depending on the amount of time my family has spent recently living in said house.

So if you can deal with dust bunnies, C’mon Over. I’ll even try not to apologize. After all, you’re coming for the company and not to grade my housekeeping, right?

He’s Right

I am I to the third power: an Incredibly Indecisive Individual. Do you want to grab coffee or lunch? Up to you. Italian or Indian food? Up to you. Want to watch something on the DVR or rent a movie? Up to you. In each of those scenarios, how we spend time matters far less to me than the company we share.

But when I do have an opinion, I’m fairly certain I’m right. And by “fairly certain” I mean absolutely convinced. The difference, I’m beginning to understand, is that I feel strongly about How to Make the World a Better Place. Another I, I’m an idealist. Which is why church work has always made sense to me, as the Church is God’s family working for the sake of God’s good purpose in the world.

Alas, I am not always right, which may be why some of the opinionated Bible characters have a special place in my heart. I can relate to Moses, telling God that He’d surely chosen the wrong person to represent Him to the Egyptians on behalf of the Israelites. Moses and I need to be convinced that God has the better way. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it figured out, thanks very much, Lord.

Peter argues with God in Acts 10, today’s Bible study. He’s so convinced that the traditions of Judaism, the rules passed down for generations set out by God Himself, supersede a direct word from the Lord that he tells God no. No, Lord, never! I’ve never done it that way and never will. I’m following you, Lord, so don’t tell me otherwise.

With Peter, I have a few things to learn. May God soften my heart to be convinced that He is right, to follow Him especially when it doesn’t make sense.

Connect
When have you experienced favoritism and what was that like?

Study
Read Acts 10:9-35.
Compare Peter’s vision (vv. 9-16) with Cornelius’ vision (vv. 30-32). Why do you think the Lord appeared to them in visions? What did each have to learn?
What do you think motivated Peter to argue with the Lord over the vision’s content (vv. 9-16)?
What role does hospitality play in this story and, ultimately, in the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles (vv. 22-29)?

Live
The Lord spoke to Cornelius and Peter during times set aside for prayer. What does your prayer practice look like, and how might it need sharpening?
When has God called you out of your “comfort zone”? What happened?
For what prejudice might God be asking you to repent?
What can you do to open up in your life space for others, and how might God use that space to further the good news of Christ?
What is Jesus saying to you through this passage and how will you respond?

Pray
Pray that you will be open to God’s Spirit and His conviction and that God will work through you to further His Kingdom on earth.