Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ropa Vieja!

This is one of our favorites....but I don't make it very often because its one of those dishes that tastes so good, but takes some effort and a little bit of time. It's a Cuban dish with flank steak, tomatoes, peppers...and some other goodies ;) You serve it on a tortilla or you can just eat it with a fork and knife. So, if your up for the challenge its definitely worth it!

Ropa Vieja
  • 2 tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 medium size onion chopped
  • 1 small sweet red pepper chopped
  • 1 small sweet green pepper chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 teas. ground cumin
  • 1/2 teas. dried oregano
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 pounds beef flank steak
  • 1/2 teas. salt
  • 1/2 teas. black pepper
  • 2 cans (4oz) green mild chilies, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 package (10 0z) frozen corn
  • 1 fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
  • Warmed flour or corn tortillas
  1. Heat oil in large flameproof dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, red and green pepper, and garlic; cook until onions translucent and peppers soft (about 8 min.)
  2. Stir in cumin and oregano; cook about 1 min. Add tomatoes and broth.
  3. Season steak with salt and pepper and add to pot. Cover and bring to simmer. Simmer about 2 hours until meat is tender, and turn meat occasionally.
  4. Remove meat; let cool briefly. Cut across grain into 2 inch thick slices. Use 2 forks to pull slices apart into shreds.
  5. Heat tomato sauce remaining in pot to rapid boiling. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally until thick (about 10-15 min.)
  6. Add green chile's and corn. Heat to boiling; cook 5 min.
  7. Add shredded beef, jalapeno, and cilantro. Heat to boiling. Serve with warmed tortillas.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Breakfast is Served

I found this great recipe for French Toast Sticks and decided to try it out this morning. They were sooo good. Its very simple, yet very delicious. Enjoy ;)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup preserves(we used blueberry)
  • 8 slices day-old white bread(I used sourdough, it actually gave it great flavor!)
  • confectioners' sugar

In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk and salt; set aside. Spread preserves on four slices of bread; top with the remaining bread. Trim crusts; cut each sandwich into three strips. Dip both sides in egg mixture. Cook on a lightly greased hot griddle for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bed and Breakfast...

This week was my spring break...hard to believe it's almost over! Thursday was also Lew's last day working at Covenant Life Church (he starts his new job at CSA as a Content Analyst on Monday....prayers appreciated!) Either way Friday was a day off for both of us so we left Thursday night for good old West Virginia to a bed and breakfast called the Carriage Inn by the recommendation of my brother Jeremy and his wife Rachel. It was so wonderful! The innkeepers are a very sweet husband and wife, and are truly the best hosts I have every encountered. The husband Donn was a pastor for many years and then they came upon this opportunity to run The Carriage Inn and him and his wife Marie have been doing so since 2004.

The Inn has a lot of history behind it. You can find out more about it on the website, but it's been around since 1836. We stayed in the Garden View room where apparently Ulysses S. Grant had stayed. It was a nice relaxing get away for a night, but unfortunately due to the yucky weather outside we decided not to stay during the day on Friday because most of what there is to do down there is outdoors. But we plan to return soon. For those who are interested we highly recommend it for a romantic get away! It was affordable and so worth it. The food was great and the room was very large (but still cozy) with a nice fireplace. There are lots of good restaurants nearby but we chose to go to Three Onions in Shepherdstown, we also recommend that...the food was great! So, the only pictures we really got to take were of our room...but here ya go!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dont' Waste...

Lately Lew has been confronting me on an issue that is not a new one....not wasting food. Now I have to admit I do not waste food intentionally, but usually it goes a little something like this:

I go to the store I see grapefruits on sale..well i like grapefruit (Lew doesn't) but I still buy a good amount anyways b/c they are on sale....then I see some bread that I really like... I like bread (Lew really doesn't) but I still buy it anyways....then I see that its cheaper to buy a gallon of milk instead of 1/2 a gallon...so why not....you can see where I am going with this. With only 2 of us it's very hard to eat all of the groceries we buy per week especially the produce! This means I have to plan very well and keep track of what produce and other perishables we have on hand so that when I am planning meals I can incorporate them in someway...and therefore not waste them. My Mom can vouch for this struggle as I would often times do the same thing when I lived at home except I didn't have my own fridge, just my own drawer in the fridge. Many times my Mom would complain of a really bad smell in the fridge to soon discover there was once again some unidentifiable item rotting away in my drawer...yuck! So I have been trying to get creative and make things with my perishables when they are on the verge of going bad. It actually has been kinda fun.

So this week I made Caramel Bread Pudding thanks to Allrecipes.com
This is my second time using this recipe and it's so great. I have used french bread and that was very yummy, and this week I tried to be really innovative...I had 4 slices of stale oatmeal bread and two wholewheat bagels that were also on the verge of being stale...I also had some milk that was just about to expire....and yes, once again it turned out so yummy.

6 slices stale (not moldy!) bread broken up into small (1/2") pieces.
1 C hot water
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 C warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teas. vanilla extract
1/2 teas. ground cinnamon
1/8 teas. salt

Directions: Place bread in a greased 2 qt. baking dish. Combine water and brown sugar, pour over bread. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over bread. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, mix bread around a little if you see any dry pieces on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 min or until knife in center comes out clean. You would never know your eating stale wholewheat bagels ;)

Monday, March 12, 2007

The weight of wings...

I just recently began reading Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot, and I can't get enough of it! Originally I was just going to read a chapter at night and maybe a chapter in the morning (the chapters are only about 2 pages) but it always ends up that I read a chapter or 2 at night and like 5 or 6 chapters in the morning. It's basically a bunch of letters that Elisabeth wrote to her daughter Valerie right before she got married. There are so many helpful truths in this book about womanhood, marriage, motherhood...and it's oh so easy to read ;) Here is my favorite chapter titled "The Weight of Wings"

Every creature of God is given something that could be called an inconvenience I suppose, depending on ones perspective. The elephant and the mouse might each complain about his size, the turtle about his shell, the bird about the weight of his wings. But elephants are not called upon to run behind wainscots, mice will not be found "pacing along as thought they have an appointment at the end of the world," turtles have no need to fly nor birds to creep. The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with its necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is in fact, the wings that bear the bird---up, away from the world into the sky, into freedom--so the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts, her special calling--wings, in fact which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God.
You have heard me tell of Gladys Aylward, the "Small Woman" of China, whom I heard speak many years ago at Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta. She told how when she was a child she had two great sorrows. One, that while all her friends had beautiful golden hair, hers was black. The other, that while here friends were still growing, she stopped. She was about four feet ten inches tall. But when at last she reached the country to which God had called her to be a missionary, she stood on the wharf in Shanghai and looked around at the people to whom He had called her. "Every single one of them," she said "had black hair. And every single one of them had stopped growing when I did. And I said 'Lord God, You know what you're doing!' "

It reminds me of Psalm 139...He knit us together in our Mother's womb, surely no mistakes were made in that process. He even intends our limitations for our good.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dream Job

I mentioned in my last weekend read that in my last weekend read that in high school I wanted to grow up to be a journalist. I have had people ask me what my dream job is and I've given a myriad of answers, but I was thinking about it, and plain and simple, my dream job is to be a writer. Will that dream ever come to fruition? Yeah, I get to write all the time, the question of getting paid for my writing is another story. Even if I never actually get published or make a living off of my writing, I definitely plan on continuing to pursue it for the simple joy it gives me and the exercise of mastering rhetoric because I believe no one ever truly masters it.

Speaking of writing, below is a meditation that I wrote earlier this week during my quiet time on Hosea. Even if a publisher never publishes my work, blogger will always publish me ;)

My sympathy is stirred (Hosea 11:8)

If you are more aware of your sin then God’s love for you, then direct your attention to the cross. Kneel before the cross and realize that the death of His Son was for you. The only begotten Son of the most high king gave up His life for you to be adopted into the family of God. Nothing can break these family ties for you have been wrapped with His bands of love. At calvary, the most heinously conceivable sin was displayed for all to see that even when sin abounds to its highest level that grace is still triumphant. All of your sins were placed on the son at the cross so that there is no fear or dread of any punishment.

At the moment that you notice condemnation lurking around the corner, remember that our God is not like man. He is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin, because of His great love for you He has washed you clean of the sin that stains you. His grace has abounded greater then any past, present or future sin. Your coming before Him is not on the basis of your works, but what He’s done. Your holiness is not what you’ve earned, but what He’s given you. You are eternally His, He has bought you with the blood of His Son and will not give you up.

How can this be you ask? God’s heart for you is a heart that overflows with compassion. Instead of treating us as we deserve, He crushed His Son for us. The fierceness of His anger was the burden that Christ faced so that we can experience God’s love poured out into our hearts. Due to our sin, we should have been destroyed by God’s holy wrath, but the righteous One who knew no sin, took on our sin and died in our place so that we can be considered righteous. At the cross God’s sympathy is displayed and we find no greater display of love.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"All Aboard"

Baldwin Station : winner from 1998-2005 of best restaurant from Baltimore Magazine & date night destination of Lew and Laura on 03/03/07

One of the most disappointing things in life is when you get excited something for and it doesn’t live up to expectations. This past Saturday Laura and I went to a restaurant that I had found online and it definitely exceeded our expectations. The restaurant is called, “Baldwin Station,” and is located in Sykesville, MD. Sykesville, you ask. Yes, Sykesville and as the Washington Post states, “It is worth the trip.”

Baldwin Station is located on the Patapsco River and is actually an old train station that was converted into a restaurant. When the weather is nice they have been indoor and outdoor seating. It is a very family friendly restaurant to as along with being a hot spot for acoustic musical venues, there is also a children’s theatre at the restaurant.

Lastly, the food, it was exquisite. We had authentic Maryland lump crabcakes. I heard my mom speak of these authentic Maryland lump crabcakes where it is mostly crab and minimal cake. Not until Baldwin Station did I experience it for myself. Laura even claims that these are the best crabcakes she has ever had.

If you get a chance to make it out to the country to visit the winner of City Paper’s Best Romantic Restaurant in 2000.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

My Answered Prayer

"She's Everything"

She's a yellow pair of running shoes
A holey pair of jeans
She looks great in cheap sunglasses
She looks great in anything
She's I want a piece of chocolate
Take me to a movie
She's I can't find a thing to wear
Now and then she's moody

She's a Saturn with a sunroof
With her brown hair a-blowing
She's a soft place to land
And a good feeling knowing
She's a warm conversation
That I wouldn't miss for nothing
She's a fighter when she's mad
And she's a lover when she's loving

And she's everything I ever wanted
And everything I need
I talk about her, I go on and on and on
'Cause she's everything to me

She's a Saturday out on the town
And a church girl on Sunday
She's a cross around her neck
And a cuss word 'cause its Monday
She's a bubble bath and candles
Baby come and kiss me
She's a one glass of wine
And she's feeling kinda tipsy

She's the giver I wish I could be
And the stealer of the covers
She's a picture in my wallet
Of my unborn children's mother
She's the hand that I'm holding
When I'm on my knees and praying
She's the answer to my prayer
And she's the song that I'm playing

[Repeat chorus]

She's the voice I love to hear
Someday when I'm ninety
She's that wooden rocking chair
I want rocking right beside me
Everyday that passes
I only love her more
Yeah, she's the one
That I'd lay down my own life for

And she's everything I ever wanted
And everything I need
She's everything to me
Yeah she's everything to me

Everything I ever wanted
And everything I need
She's everything to me

The above is a song by Brad Paisley and it is probably one of my new favorite songs. One of my favorite things about Brad Paisley love songs is that he doesn't write about this perfect woman and a perfect marriage that they have. Instead, his songs can be very real and talk about the imperfections and the joy found in the imperfections. As he says in the song Little Moments, "I know she's not perfect, but she tries so hard for me, and thank God that she isn't because how boring would that be."

What's really neat about this song is how he loves his wife. The extent of his love is that he would lay down his life for his wife. Not only does he want to grow old with her, but if he had to, he would sacrifice his life for her because that is what love is. "There is no greater love then this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends," Jesus Christ.

That's how I love Laura. Not only do I love to talk about her and think about growing old with her, but just like Christ gave up His life for the church, so will I give up my life for my bride.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow Falling on Cedars

March is here, the temperature is in the 50’s and instead of snow in the forecast it’s rain. If you’re not like me and aching for the snow to stick around a little bit longer then might I suggest to you David Guterson’s first novel, “Snow Falling on Cedars.” I am not a fan of most contemporary authors, so the fact that I enjoy all of Guterson’s writings is saying a lot.

Before writing this review I decided to run a wikipedia search on the book and it turns out that Guterson was a teacher and from the 1960’s-1980’s and he would write the book little by little in the morning. Once the book was published and became a huge success he quit his teaching gig and started writing full time. Since he began writing fulltime in 1995 he has published three other novels. His latest two novels, “East of the Mountains” (highly recommended) and “Our Lady of The Forest” (good, but his weakest work in my opinon), I’ve read and will review in the future.

“Snow Falling on Cedars,” takes place in the pacific northwest and set in a post world war II time period. I read this book as a high school assignment and part of the reason why I enjoyed it so much is because it is told from the point of view of the town’s newspaper editor, which at the time is what I aspired to be when I grew up. The plot revolves around racism between the white-Americans that live in the community and the Japanese-American fishermen with the backdrop of a murder trial that is very Lee Harper-esque. As the narrator tells the story, you also get personal flashbacks to his youth and a forbidden romance. This is without a doubt a story that has it all, courtroom drama, love triangle, a morality tale, a historical novel and a story about racism told from the perspective of an excellent author.

Grade: A- 91% (missed the A ranking because it isn't exactly family friendly. There is some violence and other content that actually has this book placed on the banned book list).