164: Turning the Other Cheek

One of my favourite biblical exegesis is on the pacifist teachings of Jesus.

In the cultural context of the time, the turning of the cheek (Matthew 5:39), giving the
undershirt (Matthew 5:40), and walking a load a second mile (Matthew 5:41) are interesting ones.

That is, usually a person has backhanded you on the first go at your right cheek . . . offering the left cheek means he has to hit you as an equal, with his palm, not as an inferior.

Giving the undershirt (which then leaves you naked) shames both of you in the culture of the time — again forcing the aggressor to own what he’s done.

My favourite is the walking a second mile . . . Roman soldiers could force people to carry a load for a mile, but they weren’t permitted to enslave them further than that for sherpa duty . . . not giving the load back and continuing on the second mile endangers the soldier to his command . . . I like the idea of the soldier running after the Jesus-freak, begging to get his stuff back so he can carry it himself.

Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

165: Who Doesn’t like Jesus?

I think it surprises a lot of Christians that other people like Jesus.

I mean, who doesn’t like Jesus? Love other people, take care of the poor . . . all that shit that Christians forget he was really into . . . it all makes it kind of hard not to like Jesus.

Fundamentalist Christians have a hard time trying to understand that people can really like Jesus without thinking that he’s the son of God, their own personal savior, and the only way to heaven.

To them, it’s like saying, “I like Twinkies, but only the filling part.”

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments

166: United Breaks Guitars

My friend Andi sent this link to Michael, who flies (hates it), and has a guitar (loves it).

Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

167: Breakfast Bowl

One of the things about being a vegetable-heavy vegetarian is that it involves a LOT of chopping. I’ve concluded that it’s best to make enough of whatever you’re making so that you get the occasional meal or two or three that doesn’t involve sharpening your knives and going to war.


Case in point: this half a melon filled with berry salad from the other night for breakfast. (Also, this soon after stopping coffee, not needing to juggle big, sharp knives this early in the morning is a good thing).

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

168: Watermelon Balsamic Salad

Watermelon Balsamic Salad

This is a weird salad, but it’s got a lovely, bright taste, and a great combination of flavours.

My friend E was going to send me the recipe, but we went through the ingredients before I went shopping, and I didn’t remember to look in my email for the recipe before I made it.

This is a formula more than a recipe.

red onion
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
pepper flakes
Gorgonzola cheese

Dice water melon and tomato into fork-handle-able pieces, at about a 2:1 ratio of watermelon to tomato. Finely dice red onion (better yet, plane it on a mandoline) . . . how much is going to be up to your taste, but remember that it’s raw, and therefore going to be showy in the salad). If you were making a large bowl of it (say, 5 or 6 quarts), I would use as much as a half of a red onion. You can always add more later. I used a quite large handful of the basil, sliced into thin slivers, as I happen to like it quite a bit.

The dressing is a mixture of the olive oil and balsamic. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of balsamic and a 1/2 cup of the olive oil, but I don’t care for that much oil, so I lowered it to 1/4 cup of olive oil without an issue. If you’re doing a smaller batch, adjust the oil and balsamic to be about the amount of dressing you’d like on a salad. Pour it over the salad and toss gently to coat evenly. Sprinkle on a few pinches of hot chili flakes, and add the Gorgonzola. For the 5-6 quart bowl, add the whole package of Gorgonzola. Adjust down from there for a different size, or if you’re just not that into the Gorgonzola.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

169: Drunk Pineapple

Drunk Pineapple

Drunk Pineapple is a cinch.

Cut up one pineapple. When it’s just us, I use full-sized disks, but when we have others over, I cut them in half, because I’ve found that most people are overwhelmed by a large piece of the pineapple. The real trick is to get them to be of similar thicknesses, because it helps them grill evenly together. Put the pineapple in a bowl, pour 1 cup of rum (I used Bacardi) and 1 cup of water over it. Cover, and let marinate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, turning occasionally, so all the pineapple gets the rum. (You could save the turning step by doing it in a ziploc baggie).
Grill for about 4 minutes on each side.

The other grilled pineapple I do is marinated in Sweet Chili Sauce and a handful of chopped cilantro, same basic premise, but the marination time can be as little as an hour.

Posted in Food | 1 Comment

170: Impromptu Party

Every so often, Michael rings me up and tells me that we’re going to have a party of people up from work . . . sometimes 10, sometimes 20. Sometimes he does this just hours ahead of time. Other times, I get a few days notice. The latter was the case today: 20 people, 48 hours lead time (which, frankly, is enough to be really busy, but not so much that I get a chance to obsess about it).

On the menu:
Homemade Crackers
Cheese Trays with fruit and chutney (not pictured)
Hummus and Pita (not pictured)
Guacamole and Chips (not pictured)
Caprese Kabobs
Caprese kabobs are a snap: thread a small tomato, a large basil leaf, and a small ball of mozzarella. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and maybe just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You could also use pre-marinated mozzarella balls for a more bold flavour effect.

Main Courses:
Chicken Kabobs

Curried Red Lentil Salad
This time, I used the recipe from Frog Commissary, cutting the amount of clove down to a teeny pinch. Maybe it’s just my clove, but a little goes a really long way.

Drunk Pineapple

Lamb Kabobs
Oh, these were really quite lovely . . . they almost make me want to eat meat again. The key here is the Greek yogurt, though. I used Fage, which my mil turned me onto, but which I still think tastes suspiciously like sour cream. The thickness of the Greek Yogurt makes it uniquely wonderful for a meat marinade.

Mojo Beef Kabobs
These were also lovely, made moreso by the Mojo Sauce.

Green Salad
I dressed these mixed fieldgreens and vegetables with Perel Black Fig Vinegar and Blue Cheese crumbles. I had the thought of putting slivers of Granny Smith apples on it, too, but never quite got to that.

Southwestern Mango Salad

Vegetable Kabobs
The main problem with American cooking is that all meals are based around a piece of meat or a stand-in for meat . . . it’s just how we culturally think about food. So, still thinking that way, I made a bunch of vegetable kabobs for any vegetarians there might be in the group. It was lagniappe, really, because there were already all kinds of vegetarian things to eat. Totally unnecessary. I will think of something to do with the roasted vegetables . . . some kind of roasted veggie salad, I think . . . maybe with the Mojo sauce.

Watermelon Balsamic Salad

Whiskey & Wheat Berry Salad
I’m not really sure how I stumbled onto this one, but it turned out great. It’s a little weird, to be sure, but it’s quite tasty, and the wheat berries make it interesting and hearty. One note: if, like me, you don’t generally have hard liquor around the house, and you’re not sure you want to keep a full fifth of Jim Beam, two of the little “airline” bottles (which you can get at the liquor store) are plenty for this recipe. It’s a little short of what she calls for, but still covers the raisins juts fine, and has enough in reserve for the dressing.

Wild Goat Kabobs
A number of people asked Michael if we were going to serve alpaca or goat at this dinner, so Michael asked if we could get our hands on some. It not being Ramadan, and being Spokane, I thought it might be a little difficult to get without buying a whole goat, but I made some calls around. The butcher at Egger’s Better Meats said he had wild goat, but that he couldn’t sell it to me (not legal to sell wild animals in WA, apparently). We got to laughing on the phone, and I couldn’t make out if he was serious about giving me goat, but I needed the other meats, too, so I trekked up to the South Hill in Spokane to give it a shot. Before I left, I bagged several of these cookies from the freezer– in case I did score some goat, I wanted to return the favour.
Apparently, the fish guy sometimes sends along lagniappe of things like wild goat shanks, and I scored over 3 pounds of it in a tight little roll from the butcher.

Maybe you already know this, because you’re a carnivore and visit your butcher, but he asked me what I was doing with each piece of meat, and then carved my beef, lamb, and chicken into kabob pieces. How fabulous is that? There’s no service like that in the grocery.

Berry Salad

Selection of bruttles and caramels from Bruttles in the Spokane Valley. We also served local wines from Townshend in Greenbluff, which is just over the hill from us.

Posted in Food | 6 Comments

171: Homemade Crackers


Could there be anything more delightful than a homemade cracker?

I will say up front that I do not think the pasta machine is an optional piece of equipment here. I suspect that, for a really good pastry person who has a great relationship with h** rolling pin, it’s optional, but I am not that great pastry chef (or an Italian pasta-making grandmother–which is precisely why I own a pasta roller attachment for my Kitchenaid in the first place).

Working from 101 Cookbooks recipe, I added fresh rosemary to about half of the crackers, and shaved Parmesan to the others. I sprinkled them all with a bit of salt before baking them.


They turned out so well that Michael thought they were store bought, and asked where I got them.

If you make the recipe, please realize that, rolled out to 4 on the pasta roller, this recipe makes a LOT of crackers. That’s a 9 x 11 container they’re sitting in (see picture above). Don’t do what I did and double the recipe . . . or you’re likely to do what I did, and throw the remainder of the dough in a ziploc baggie and toss it in the freezer. I have no idea how that will impact the process, but I”m sure I’ll find out in the future (and probably write about it here).

Posted in Food | 2 Comments

172: Chicken Skewers

There’s two kinds of chicken skewers pictured here.

The first, sans pineapple, was marinated in Soy Vey’s Hoisin Sauce, the others, in the Soy Vey Island Teriyaki and interlaced with drunken pineapple (pineapple soaked in rum).

They go on an 350-400F grill for about 10 minutes. Chicken is a little fussy, because the window between underdone and overdone is so small, which is what makes the kabobs such a nice grilling genre for the chicken: you can get the meat done without burning the chicken to an unfortunate crispy carbon cube.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

173: Berry Salad

Virtually nothing is easier than this berry salad.
The hardest part is dicing up the strawberries for it (and really, how hard is dicing up a strawberry?

Dump washed blueberries, strawberries (cut to bite-sized pieces if you don’t have little ones to begin with), and raspberries into a bowl, and give them a really gentle stir.

That’s it. No dressing, no sprinkling of sugar, no “cool whip.” Just fresh, bright berries.


Posted in Food | Leave a comment