Thursday, February 28, 2013

Texas Tomato Broth and Roasted Veggies

Yes, Texas. Well, not because it has anything to do with Texas itself, but because the whole time I was in Texas I kept craving this dish. Somewhere in my heart I decided that roasted veggies in tomato broth would be amazing, hearty, healthy and delicious. Of course this could only be served over some quinoa. I was frustrated at every restaurant- why didn't people have this on the menu? After all, we were in Austin, the home of all things hipster and healthy. Then I came to my senses and realized that I could just make it once we were home. So,  I did. And. It. Was. Amazing. Let me say it again- it was amazing! But, of course, I made it up in a flurry of creativity, and I did not write anything down. This was a major misstep. Has anyone else out there ever done that?

Luckily, I was able to find the two recipes I adapted and recreate it in all of its original thyme-covered, savory, tomato-based glory. My mouth is watering. The best thing about this is that it combines all the best of  a recipe from Emeril (don't I feel cool) that involves come citrus and the comfort from a Smitten Kitchen recipe. I love all things Smitten Kitchen. Seriously, check out her blog. And her cookbook. I read mine cover to cover because I am a nerd like that.

Okay, here we go.

Texas Tomato Broth and Roasted Veggies

2 medium zucchini
2 medium squash
The key here is consistency. You want to make sure that they all roast the same.
Toss in olive oil, the place on cookie sheet. season with seas salt, thyme. I don't know how much thyme exactly, but it should look like this:

Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350.
You know they are done when they have a little resistance when poked with fork.

1 medium carrot
1 stalk celery
1 medium onion
I recommend doing a fairly small/fine chop on these as you are going to puree them with an immersion blender.
Season with sea salt and 1 tsp thyme.
Saute until the onion becomes translucent.
Add 3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic.
Saute for 1 minute more.
Add 1/2 c. white wine. I recommend a fruity, citrusy chardonnay, but really whatever you have is fine.
In fact, the first time I made this I did not have white wine or vegetable stock and simply used water.
Reduce by half.

This what I used, isn't it pretty? The woman at the store tried to sell it to me because it was named after a song by Train. I bought it anyway.
Half 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups veg broth
3 cups water
2 bay leaves

Simmer forever. 1-2 hours. stirring occasionally.

After it has simmered to your satisfaction or time table, add:
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup orange juice

Then use your immersion blender and blend until smooth and then blend some more.
No one likes chunks of celery.

Roasted veggies
Remaining canned tomatoes

Serve over quinoa with fresh Parmesan  I suppose you could serve it over rice, or something else, or *gasp* nothing, but then I should warn you that it will not be the glorious meal I imagined in Texas. It is, after all, TEXAS Tomato Broth and Roasted Veggies.

You might note that there is no quinoa in my picture. Well, that is not entirely  true. The project I was working on this evening exploded into something much more detailed and time-consuming than I thought and in an effort to get something done, I started this post. I got almost all the way through and realized that I did not have a picture of the finished product, so I took the 1/8 cup quinoa I had, and put cold broth over it. So, the post is completed, and there is quinoa- barely. But it is done, dang it. Something has to be done this evening. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lent Failure?

Is lent about failure? We will fail, not just at giving things up, but at our own attempts at being remotely worthy of God. Maybe that is part of why we ought to give things up, not because we should punish ourselves, but because attempting to give something up shows us just how broken we are. In the past I have viewed lent as a competition with my sinful nature. What can I give up? Can I master this part of myself for 40 days? If I failed, then I just gave up altogether.

But what if the point is to fail? When I fail, I run into the reality that I am broken, that I cannot, in fact, master any one part of my sinful self for 40 days. I need a rescuer.

What do you think? Is lent about failure?

You might want to check out this post in light of the last post about lent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My First Ash Wednesday

This evening I participated in my first Ash Wednesday service. It is so lovely to have the space to come face to face with my humanity and with the extravagant, blunt reality of the gospel.  The woman who spoke summarized it well when she said that we are both very small and very significant.

I felt small. I felt the weight of my own brokenness  I cannot come to God, I am not even capable of fully wanting to come to God on my own. Yet, I yearn to be completely loved and completely forgiven, but not to repent. I don't want to pay the price involved in really acknowledging how I have sinned. The last thing I really want to do is to own that I have neglected to forgive others, to care for those around me, or to honor God the way He deserves to be honored. This requires facing the knowledge that I am small, so very small. So small, in fact, that I cannot even face the depths of my own failure because it is too much affront to the comfort I think I am entitled to. I think that if I try hard enough that I might be able to humble myself just enough to really repent. Then the reading from Isaiah breaks through loud and clear.

Is that the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself?Is it to bow the head like a bulrush and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

I am small, indeed. But here I am anyway, drawn to the tenderness of truth and love that reaches out to confront me with the reality that I am wretchedly stuck, but not without great hope. I want to come to the Lord that demands something deeper and more than my efforts at understanding my own sin. I want to come and be loved and healed and set free, but I am just so incapable of doing even that. My thoughts are given shape by the psalmist.

Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. Turn your face from me, Oh God. You desire truth in the inward being, therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. 

Jesus. Jesus who offers to take on all my sin, to become my sin because He knows that I am that broken. In that invitation there is love - love that shows me that I am created. I am a being that is temporary, dependent. This reality breaks the illusions that I can in any way make myself ready for lent. It reminds me that the great freedom of the gospel is that Christ loved me when I was still His enemy, and that today is no different. I am small. And I am not without great worth. I am significant. Why else would the creator reach out and love, at great personal cost, the created? I must mean something. We must mean something.

These two realities must be kept together. To be small only is to berate myself and to never see the value that God places on me. To be small only can, I think, lead to the danger of legalism. To be significant only is to elevate myself to a place where I am in danger of forgetting the need created by my brokenness. I experienced so much joy in these two things being paired together so beautifully in the service. I am small, wretched, and stuck; and I am precious, worth a great price, and well-loved. I am ashes, and to ashes I shall return and I repent and trust Christ. I think that I am starting to see why this is the beginning of a season, there is much to unpack and absorb.