Posts Tagged ‘food’
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth. (Psalm 127:3-4)
Raising children is a huge undertaking. Guiding one, two, three or more offspring from birth to independence is a commitment that completely defines life for parents, and it can last anywhere from two to three decades or more.
But then – just like that – they’re gone, and the challenge shifts from “How do we equip our children to do well on their own?” to, “How can we stay connected in meaningful ways?”
GOOD FOOD & GREAT CONVERSATION: Well, one answer is to talk about them at a dinner out that they paid for! Seriously; no kidding. One of the best things Rebekah and I did as parents was to teach Andrew and Naomi the joy of being generous. It’s a lesson they learned well.
So for my birthday this year, Andrew, Naomi, and Craig teamed up to get me not one but two gift cards for my favorite restaurants. On my actual birthday Rebekah and I went to Carrabba’s on the kids. Then yesterday evening we enjoyed amazing food at Bonefish Grill, once again, “Thanks” to the young people.
Of course we did more than talk about the children. I kind of stood outside of ourselves and observed some of the conversation and it was fascinating. “I wonder,” I said to Rebekah at one point, “if other people have dinner conversations like this. I sure hope so.”
PRAYER: It actually started when Rebekah arrived home from work. We’d both been involved in some fairly deep interactions with people in crisis during the afternoon, so I made us a cup of tea and we sat down in “the tea room” to debrief.
We ended up focusing on the spiritual resources we had utilized in our respective work situations, and our own dialogue ended up turning on the same truths. God was very much a partner in our conversation and it overflowed into our car ride to Bonefish and our talk about our children over dinner.
We only prayed, formally, during grace, but God was such an intimate participant in the evening that we were, in a sense, engaged in “prayer without ceasing.”
FAMILY DEVOTIONS: What happened reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend last week about family devotions. “Do you and Rebekah have a regular devotional time together? We’re planning on starting, once a week.”
Here’s how I responded (it was email, so this is exact): Regarding devotional time. We’re informal. We have our formal devotional times alone, but we often tend to talk about the devotional experience together, later. Which makes the reflection together an informal devotional experience. That makes me think that, for a once a week devotion, you could both take notes during the week and then “report back” to one-another for your time together. Kind of a “This is what God has been up to with me,” conversation. Hmmm.. I like it!
NATURAL: What I’m saying is that it’s probably a mistake to get all formal and preachy. Instead, consider scheduling a time where you share “What God has been up to with me,” with one-another.
Make the God-conversation the most natural thing in the world. When you do that, you’re already praying together.
So, no, the kids aren’t really “off and gone.” Andrew – and Alicia, and Naomi – and Craig, are also our brothers and sisters in faith. We pray for them every day…
… And even more often when they take us out to dinner!
nce in a while, I like to write about food. Not so much because I’m a “foodie” and a fairly decent cook, as to illustrate the principle of “gourmet living” that’s such a key part of my 10 Life-Charged Words initiative.
Simply put, excellence is the best antidote to excess. I’ve found that gourmet cooking facilitates satisfaction without resorting to over-eating. Fact is, over-eating is often a response to satisfaction deficit; we keep consuming but we’re never fulfilled.
The spiritual lesson here is that most Americans are caught in a consumption cycle that never ends, because we’re consuming so much (and too much) that can never satisfy. Why? because what we’re so desperately seeking fails to meet the real needs that only faith can address.
“DEREK’S SESAME-GINGER SHRIMP ON RICE” (serves 2-3:) So yesterday evening I employed the principle of gourmet living to my preparation of dinner. The result was so flavorful that Rebekah suggested I write it down. My last food post – November 10, 2012 – generated a lot of interest. So give it a try, I highly recommend you try this one too.
- Half-cup long-grain white rice
- Two-thirds of a pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (fresh is best)
- Three small onions, chopped (about a rounded half-cup)
- Half-cup chopped celery-heart
- One good-sized clove garlic, pressed then finely minced
- Half-cup fresh carrots, sliced thin
- 8-10 stalks fresh asparagus
- Quarter-cup chopped walnuts
- Quarter-teaspoon ground ginger
- Quarter-teaspoon curry powder
- Ground sea-salt
- Ground pepper
- Liberal quantities sesame-seed oil
- Cup or more hot-water
- Four potato-rolls
- Fresh pitcher of ice-tea (four parts black tea, one part mint tea)
PREPARATION: First, get the rice cooking. When it’s just about done, just turn off the burner and let the pot sit, covered, to continue cooking slowly.
Then (and this should take around 20-minutes, so begin when the rice gets going) put some sesame-seed oil in a good-sized skillet and sauté the onions. After the onions begin to brown, add the chopped celery, the carrots, and the walnuts. Continue to saute until the flavors begin to blend, then add a third-of-a-cup of hot water (the water should be near boiling as cold water interrupts the cooking already taking place). Add a little sea-salt too, and pepper. Cover and simmer.
Keep the heat high enough to cook the carrots, and add hot water whenever the mixture gets dry (you’ll want to have enough moisture so that there’s around a half-cup of liquid when it’s time to serve). This is a good time to stir in the curry powder, the crushed garlic, the ginger, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust to your preference, but remember that the spices are best when they’re subtle, not overwhelming.
Around the time you turn the rice off, add the asparagus and the shrimp. Stir frequently, and cook for no more than five minutes. Pop the bread in the oven, too.
SERVE: When the asparagus is cooked, but still firm, serve the mixture over rice. Provide soy-sauce as a table condiment; your guests can add a splash at their discretion. The hot potato roll makes a nice complement.
Enjoy! And I recommend you read the chapter on “Excellence” found in my new book, 10 Life-Charged Words (Upper Room Books, 2012)
Bon Appetit! DEREK
Okay, foodie peeps, this post is for you!
Yesterday, Rebekah and I went out to lunch with Lynn Oakley Marx, one of her great friends from growing up. Lynn and her husband, Randy, live in Richmond, but Lynn periodically heads this way to visit her mom in Sun City.
Lynn’s brother Keith has lived in the Tampa area for years; recently he opened his own eatery on Bruce B. Downs in New Tampa. Believe me when I say that Oakley’s Grille is a name you’re going to want to remember.
A GOOD REVIEW? My writing slant tends to lean toward the positive, so if our meal had been anything less than outstanding then I’d wouldn’t mention Keith’s restaurant at all. Fact is, outside lunch being been better-than-good then I’d be blogging about something else today (There’s more than enough going on in the world right now to capture my attention without wasting posting space on food if I’m not going to recommend it).
- However, while there may be more than enough stories to share, the same can’t be said for great casual dinning venues. So this is definitely news you can use; I’m letting you in on a noteworthy secret by pointing out the yum at Oakley’s Grille.
I ordered a Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich; Rebekah had the French Dip; Lynn enjoyed the Fajitas. Other people who have been to Oakley’s say the Black Angus burgers are the best they’ve had anywhere. We also shared a generous order of Sweet Potatoes Fries that was most certainly state of the art.
GOURMET CRED: Most of you know how much I enjoy cooking at home in our amazing kitchen. Once in a while I’ll post a blog about a recipe, or how much fun it is to entertain a few friends and to share a great meal together. I have no interest at all in cooking professionally, but I can confidently say that I’ve developed a modicum of gourmet cred over the last few years.
My gourmet radar tells me the following: Don’t let the lack of white table-clothes, china, crystal and stainless fool you; the food is all fresh, made-from-scratch with top-quality ingredients, and prepared by actual cooks. What you’re getting when you eat at Oakley’s is a sit-down South-Tampa bistro dining experience for the price you’d pay at a homogeneous, processed, fast-food chain.
LIVE FORWARD: My final word is this. Keith Oakley may be 61, but he’s reinvented himself one more time and he’s doing something creative and new and to the best of his ability. Personally, I find a lot of inspiration and hope in that quality of a story.
Which leaves me to wonder: what are we (any one of us) doing to “live forward” at this stage of our life?
As a rule, I’m a decent cook. Rebekah and I always eat well, and we consistently prepare a balanced diet. Living almost three decades now with Type-1 Diabetes has ensured careful, healthful food selection.
Then, just a couple of years ago and in response to our new kitchen, I climbed on the gourmet bandwagon. Food at Maul Hall took on a whole new level of flavor. The experience opened up a hitherto unexplored landscape of what can be possible. For a few glorious weeks – before I settled down and learned a little moderation – Rebekah and I both put on a little weight!
Now (and using cookbooks such as “Cook Yourself Thin”) my kitchen prowess vacillates between really good and epic! Day to day food is better than BG (before gourmet), and I try – at least once a week – to produce something memorable.
FLAVOR PROFILE: I’ve learned to let the cookbook recipes keep me on track, but once in a while I improvise and it works. I use what I’ve learned and then respond to A) what’s in the refrigerator, and B) what’s in my imagination.
Friday night the stars must have been aligned because what I’m about to share with you was 100% “off the cuff.” And, rather than bomb (I do that sometimes!), my experiment turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve prepared in several weeks.
I’m calling it, “Seared-Crusted Salmon on Spinach/Romaine Salad.”
- For the fish: Two thick 8-ounce salmon filets; seasoned Italian bread-crumbs; grated parmesan cheese; buttermilk; olive oil, sesame oil; one egg, beaten; sea-salt.
- For the salad: Fresh baby-spinach; Hearts of Romaine lettuce; 2-ounces feta cheese (fresh, crumble it yourself); 2-ounces crushed walnuts; 2-ounces garbanzo beans; half-cup grape-tomatoes; Caesar dressing.
- Combine and toss the salad, set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 370-degrees.
- Lightly oil (olive oil) a cast-iron skillet, then heat to medium high.
- Place mixture of beaten egg and a splash of buttermilk on a small dish. Combine a half-cup of bread-crumbs and 1-ounce of parmesan on a second dish.
- Dredge salmon pieces in egg/buttermilk, then crumb mixture and place in skillet. Immediately back heat down by 10%. Sear, 3-4 minutes each side (pour about an ounce of sesame oil on salmon before turning).
- Place skillet in oven for 15-20 minutes on the convection setting.
- Place salad on dinner plates, add dressing to taste, then place the yummy salmon fillets directly on top of the salad.
- Serve with warm bread and either ice-tea or a wine of your choice.
RESULT: I have to tell you, the flavor profile of the seared, crusted salmon in combination with the salad was spectacular! My choice of wine was an Italian Chianti, although salmon generally tends to call for a white. We followed up with some fair trade coffee for dessert, and it all worked together to be one of the best dinners I’ve created in a long time.
And so, “Bon Appetit!” Enjoy my recipe, and then remember to apply the same sense of commitment to quality and flavor to every aspect of life this weekend.
In short, “Live Like You Mean It!” - DEREK
This afternoon I have a strong sense of wonder at how comfortable and convenient my life is.
Here’s what has sparked my thinking. Right now (Saturday afternoon) I’m sitting at the kitchen counter in our air-conditioned home, working at my laptop computer and sipping a glass of wine. I can see the PGA golf championship (Tiger is tanking, by the way) on the large television across the room, and I have two cook-books open in front of me as I work on the menu for dinner this evening. The wine, incidentally, is a gift that our son, Andrew, sent over from Europe earlier this week.
FOOD: The astounding element of this scene is the cookbook part. I have several volumes I reference on a regular basis, featuring literally hundreds of menu items from fancy gourmet meals to more down-to-earth comfort foods.
After I’ve finished deciding, all I have to do is just look in the refrigerator and get to work. If what I want isn’t in the house, then I have no less than six grocery stores to choose from within a two-mile radius. Six! Think about it. Anything I want, any obscure ingredient, and with minimal effort I could fix it this evening.
Obviously, Rebekah and I don’t waste money. But, if I’m honest, I’d have to say I really don’t worry about cost when it comes to food.
And that makes the following facts more startling:
- Hunger is a reality for one in six people living in the United States.
- Worldwide, one billion people are classified as undernourished.
And here I am, with food, shelter, electricity, clean water, and the ability to cook pretty much anything I want for dinner this evening.
SO WHAT? So I’m looking for a word to describe how I feel at this moment. ”Fortunate…?” or “Lucky…?” No, that doesn’t really work. “Blessed…? I do feel blessed, and I’m tempted to say that, but the word almost assumes that I’m favored in some way. Okay, here’s one that works for me, at least in this particular moment. “Responsible….”
You see I’m concerned that it’s too easy – if we’re not careful – to own this sense of entitlement. You know, the “Our country is blessed and so we’re entitled to all this stuff,” point of view.
Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud, which is what I do a lot in this blog. I’m going to enjoy our supper, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, we simply have to do a better job – each one of us – at figuring out this world hunger thing.
CELEBRATION!!! Thursday evening, May 24, Rebekah and I hosted a quiet dinner to mark a monumental and increasingly rare accomplishment. My parents were celebrating 60 years of faithful, committed marriage.
Grace Ellen Watts Kemp and David Frederick Maul were married at Raleigh Baptist church – about 40 miles east of London – in the early afternoon of May 24, 1952. He was 23, and she was only 20.
My dad first became interested in his bride-to-be right after he returned from service with the British Army in the late 40′s (He’d been sorting things out in Palestine, and then Greece. I think he may need to go back for a “do-over”). The story goes that David Maul showed up at an inter-denominational prayer event and heard Grace Kemp pray aloud. He didn’t actually see her, but was enchanted with her voice and drawn to her spirit when she prayed.
That’s right, people, love doesn’t get much holier than that!
LETTER FROM THE PALACE: There’s another diamond anniversary going on in the U.K. right now, as Queen Elizabeth II is preparing to celebrate 60-years on the throne of England (June 3). She may have a lot going on right now, but that didn’t stop Her Majesty from remembering my mum and dad, and she honored them with a letter of congratulations (which, I’m sure, masks her disappointment over not snagging David for herself back in the day).
I don’t know what the statistics are, but with the increase in divorce a Diamond Wedding Anniversary is enough of a rarity to justify even the extra postage to Florida. Thanks, Elizabeth R, we appreciate it.
GOURMET: The family Disney cruise was a lot of fun, but Rebekah and I wanted to host a special dinner on the day itself. So I told my parents that I would prepare exactly what they’d like. Mum picked Salmon Phyllo and I searched the Internet for the best looking recipe.
I’ve never handled paper-thin pastry before, but somehow the meal turned out beyond amazing. The “magic” touch was the spinach sauce I prepared to go on top of the fish but still inside the pastry. It involved sauteed shallots and garlic, grated gouda cheese, cream cheese, fresh spinach and a variety of spices. All that with wild rice, mixed vegetables and fresh bread. The recipe difficulty level was described as “adventurous” but it was well worth the hard work.
FAMILY: Good food or not, what made the event for my folks was family. My niece Hannah came up from Palmetto, with her husband Andrew and their children, Haley and Hudson.
After dinner my mum sat at the piano and we sang a couple of their wedding hymns, My God I thank thee, who hast made the earth so bright… and O perfect love, all human thought transcending….
Listen to these two verses, one from each hymn, and hear them in light of the fact that my brother, Geoff, has only so recently passed away:
I thank thee more that all our joy Is touched with pain; That shadows fall on brightest hours, That thorns remain: So that earth’s bliss may be our guide, And not our chain.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow; Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife, And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow, That dawns upon eternal love and life.
This is still my prayer for my parents, and for all of us who are committed to the practice of faithful love. I am so grateful for my family, for the witness of love that – while not perfect – is anchored in the perfect love that God shares with us on a day-by-day basis.
In love, and because of love – DEREK
Once in a while - being somewhat of a “foodie” – I take pictures while I’m cooking. Usually it’s on impulse, along the lines of, “Hey, this looks pretty good I should post it on facebook….” And that was certainly the case yesterday evening when Rebekah and I enjoyed one of our stay at home date nights.
What struck me was the transformation between preparation and presentation.
TRANSFORMATION: Here’s the prep photo, taken in the kitchen. As you can tell, there’s not a lot of complexity here. In fact, by the time I had finished all I had used to prepare the meal was steak, asparagus, potatoes, bread, four ounces of onion, one clove of garlic, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, a wedge of lemon and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
Good quality ingredients, prepared properly.
It may have been just the two of us, but a great meal in the best of company calls for fine china on the dining room table. Candlelight too. The key idea here is that we don’t take each other for granted.
ADVENTURE: That’s why we still date; that’s why we still have great adventures together. This is a relationship that’s worth the effort, worth the preparation, worth the deliberation of bringing our best to the table and then working to make it better.
If we’re not careful, we can slip into “making do,” especially when life and work is overwhelming and we’re just so tired. That’s when we lose ground. Even the best relationships lose ground once in a while.
REALITY: There’s a principle at play here: we either move forward or we slip backwards. There is no coasting; it’s a fact of life.
Not that we shouldn’t expect to experience a little ebb and flow. That’s part of the natural rhythm of things. But when we chart the overall growth pattern – both of our marriage and our individual lives – it’s important to be moving in the right direction. Growth that counts doesn’t happen by chance, and it certainly won’t happen by neglect. It requires preparation, deliberation, commitment.
DATE: So we date. We prepare. We bring our very best to the table. We are faithful not just to the other person but to the principle of commitment.
This last photo? It was taken earlier this year, at the entrance to the lost city of Petra in Jordan. This entire life is an adventure – or at least it should be…
It’s Sunday morning. Time, I guess for a few gratuitous pics of cats, dogs, food and family…
Since Thursday evening, Rebekah and I have been hosting her sister Rachel, cousin Zandra, niece Jordan, and sister-in-law Heather (who had to go home before the photo). They’ve been at some sewing/crafty/fabric show at the Lakeland Civic Center. Consequently there has been much sewing/fabric/craft talk.
However I did have the opportunity to cook a serious meal Saturday evening that added some gourmet quality to the weekend.
FLAVOR: We haven’t had the “flavor” discussion in several months on this blog, and if you’re a new reader (and over half of you are since January) then you didn’t even get this the first time around.
First I’ll describe the feast. I made a flavorful glaze for the salmon by boiling down a mixture of mango nectar, soy-sauce, rice-vinegar, cinnamon, ginger and orange juice. Then I broiled the fish and served with yellow rice, black beans, and a spinach salad with bean sprouts, shaved carrots, pears, and a dressing made from rice vinegar, sesame oil, cinnamon and orange juice .
Great flavor works in favor of moderation. One reason people gorge themselves, constantly over-eat, and eventually become overweight, is because they’re not satisfied. However, rather than re-evaluate, they simply keep consuming that which fails to satisfy, and the cycle continues. I’ll let you apply the lesson to life in this consumer-culture in general on your own, and draw your own conclusions - it’s that obvious.
SCOUT: Scout labradoodle is a great advertisement for life. She looks around, assesses her situation, and simply gets her happy on. Life is good; Scout is grateful; end of story.
DARTH MAUL: Darth is doing his best. But even a photo like this one says pretty clearly that this is one seriously old cat. He is, and I’m not sure where I mentioned this a few days ago, a solid 99-percenter. Bottom line, Darth does nothing, eloquently and with class, 99% of the time.
But it’s OK. He still talks to us. From the sofa, of course. But he has something to say about pretty much everything that goes on. He’s a cool cat. Always has been.
COMPANY: Like I said, there’s not a lot that’s deep or profound in my blog today. Just a “Life around Maul Hall” update for those who are interested.
But this is where The Life-Charged Life finds its definition; in the quiet spaces where we simply live and work and share and visit. The point is, it’s all beautiful, and it’s all worthy of the best that God has in mind for us.
Otherwise, what would be the point?
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. – Romans 12
When I travelled in ITALY last week it was impossible to cover the entire experience in just a few posts. So today I’m offering a “Food flashback” that I’m sure you will enjoy. Just writing about it has been mouth-watering for me!
Our son Andrew is a most excellent tour guide. But he was an even better host when it came to cuisine. “I’m going to make sure you get the best and most authentic Italian food,” he said, his eyes lighting up at the prospect. “I’m already looking forward to it.”
We sampled everything from the simple Prosciutto ham and tomato sandwich, to delicate puffed-pastry asparagus appetizers with Romano cheese, to traditional Margherita pizza, and pasta with Cinghiale (wild boar).
Best Food Ever! But there’s one restaurant that is hands down Andrew’s favorite; La Gattaiola, in the Tuscan village of Fauglia. He discovered this place, just 8-minutes from his house, a few months ago and has been back often enough to be recognized by the owner. The staff there appreciate Andrew’s respectful use of what he calls his “Restaurant Italian,” and of course it doesn’t hurt that he keeps bringing people with him.
Sometimes it’s difficult to match the appropriate words to the experience. And this time I believe it’s as much of a language barrier as anything else; because how else would I be able to communicate the enthusiasm in the poetic Italian spoken by our host at as he offered “Cucina tipica Toscana” to one of his favorite patrons and his dad? But I’ll do my best.
La Gattaiola is the restaurant the knock-offs imitate when they’re trying for that “Authentic Tuscan” look. But in Fauglia they don’t try to be authentic, they just are. The restaurant occupies the upper level of a converted wine cellar that still stores a lot of wine. It owns the kind of ambiance that states very clearly that you are in rural Italy… and that good food is not so much favored as required… and that the guy who seats you is also the owner… and the recipes are his family recipes… and that he is genuinely glad to see you….
Andrew had been looking forward to the evening since the moment my plane touched down in Rome. It was his big treat for me. I had no idea what our host was saying (no menus), and of course I let Andrew handle the ordering. He was so excited that he said things like:
- “This antipasta is going to be the star of the show…” And,
- “This Chianti was produced right here in the village….” And
- “Once you’ve tasted this sauce it’s going to make you redefine what you mean by ‘the best you’ve ever had…’”
He was right, the food was remarkable. The “star of the show” antipasta actually involved six separate samples that included truffles, mushrooms, pates, quail eggs, prosciutto ham and some stuff I have no idea what I was eating but that it was sooooo good.
The place is authentic without having to try to be. The owner was all smiles and full of poetic Italian phrases annotated with hand-language and enthusiasm – and he was so patient with Andrew when he translated for me.
Later, between the main dish and the dessert, he came up to the table with two glasses of wine that we hadn’t ordered. “This very, very good,” he said to me. It was a dessert wine, and it was very very very good. And, no, it didn’t appear on the bill.
Andrew asked him to bring his two favorite desserts and we were not disappointed. Followed, of course, by cafe espresso. And he was so genuinely happy that I didn’t order mine “Cafe Americano.”
At the door, as Andrew paid the check, the owner came out to say “Buona Sera” and poured us a glass of grappa. Again, the experience was about hospitality. La Gattaiola is a business, of course, but it’s a restaurant driven as much by the spirit of hospitality as it is profit. They don’t turn tables in real Tuscan restaurants, they turn customers into friends.
And that, my friends, is another reason we’ll be back.