Savory Sides: Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is low in calories and high in health benefits. When we had our German feast, Gerlinde’s sous chef (Jonathan) actually made the red cabbage, so she didn’t give me the recipe for that. However, I’ve been making red cabbage as a side for the past 40+ years, and it doesn’t really have to be part of an ethnic dinner, so I decided to tell you what I do (which is probably close to what Jonathan did anyway).

Sweet and Sour German(ish) Cabbage
(serves 6-8)

1. Chop 6 0z.bacon into small chunks and saute in a frying pan for 5 minutes, until beginning to brown. (This is purely optional, but I like it.)2. Add and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until starting to caramelize:
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large apple (peeled, cored, and finely shredded or chopped)2. Add 1 red cabbage (with core removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces)
Fry on medium heat another 5 minutes, until cabbage is starting to look done. Make sure to use a spatula to keep scraping the bottom of the pan so nothing  burns.  3. Add:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (or wine vinegar; whichever you have on hand)
1/4 cup brown sugar (or can go 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter; taste-test it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt (test near the end; you may want even a little more)
Pepper to taste (a few sprinkles)

4. Simmer in a covered pan for 10-15 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Turn the heat off and keep covered, but turn the heat back on for just a minute or two right before serving so that it’s hot. Red cabbage actually improves with age and can last a week in the refrigerator if you have leftovers. It also freezes well. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Born In China

Probably everybody who watches videos has already seen the captivating co-production between Disneynature and Shanghia Media Group entitled Born in China, but just in case you missed it (like I did, until on a recent trip),

Description: Cinematographer Justin Maguire filming golden snub-nosed monkeys.

I want to recommend it as a wonderfully warm and intimate, G-rated documentary that looks into the lives of several mothers and their cubs who were all born and bred in China…but whose stories are also an allegory for our own. The movie features four families in particular and their struggles to survive and thrive through the mysterious circle of life we all experience.

Born in China stars a giant panda bear, Ya Ya, and her little cub, Mei Mei. Mother pandas live in relative seclusion with their cubs for two years and develop incredibly tender, strong bonds with them, so I’m sure everyone sensed the anguish in Ya Ya’s heart as this helicopter-mom panda struggled to let her precious daughter become independent.  The second star is  a little golden monkey named Tao Tao, who is expected to be independent after the birth of his little sister…but before he’s really ready!  Tao Tao struggles to find himself, ends up joining “The Lost Boys” (a group of young male monkeys), and has to make some pretty tough decisions about whether or not he’s going to be a follower or a leader.            Ah, the difficulties of adolescence…and haven’t we all been there?!

               The third star is Dawa, a memerizingly beautiful snow leopard  who lives in the remote mountains of Tibet at altitudes of 14-16,000 feet, where very few animals can survive.  Dawa births twin cubs and has to grapple with trying to provide food for three in a desperate struggle against hardship and poverty. Sound familiar? Interwoven into the fabric of the story are scenes showcasing a herd of mountain antelope known as Chiru, who live on the Tibetan plateau. They are a “near threatened” species and represent the embodiment of all animal life that exists in the wilds of China (and the world).  And, last (but in some ways most rather than least) are cinemagic images of the magnificent red-crested cranes, perhaps the most spiritual animals in Chinese mythology. Roy Conli, the producer, pointed out in an interview that the director, Lu Chuan is one of China’s best: “His work has really been ground breaking…Great story sensibility; great love for his country…He was able to capture something that no westerner could do…We see a part of China so unique and beautiful that it will make people want to travel there.” So true! I’ve been there a couple of times, but I’m still daydreaming about visiting again!

Conli also said (and he almost seemed to have a catch in his voice, as if his comment was truly heart felt),”We have to let go of our kids and let them grow up.” As a mother with grown children who are winging their own ways through the world now, I found the movie profoundly moving! So, whether young or old, an adolescent trying to find your way, in the midst of rearing your own brood, or a member of the older generation learning to let go,  Born in China has some lessons for each of us! I hope you will watch it if you haven’t already. I know you’ll be blessed if you do! Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in… To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth…Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Excerpts from Isaiah 40:21-31).

(All photos from or about Born in China.)

Unstoppable Enthusiasm

This summer we’ve had the privilege of seeing all our kids and grand children at some point. This is our third-born, Jonathan, who was kayaking out on our lake with his oldest daughter in the rain one morning. I just sat and smiled as I watched them from the window. There was no thunder or lightning, so it probably wasn’t very dangerous, but it was cold and windy. It reminded me of watching Jonathan and his brother Michael sitting in the pouring rain once at a Disney “Movie Under the Stars” night. We’d gone as a family to the Fort Wilderness campfire and to watch a Disney film on an outdoor screen—along with a big crowd of happy campers—but when it started to rain, almost everybody left to find cover back at their campsites, and the few stragglers who remained were huddling under the roof of the concession stand. As I watched Mike and Jon, sitting totally exposed, rain streaming off their hats, one of the other huddlers commented, “Look at those crazy kids!” Yep. I was lookin’!

I’m thankful for my crazy kids who do things that most people wouldn’t dream of doing. Jon (Dr. Armstrong) just started a new program at Moody Bible Institute last January called the Center for Global Theological Education, “CGTE” (referred to as “C-GATE”), with the mission of developing quality, college-level, Christian theological education in virtual reality classroom settings for anybody who wants it—worldwide—free of charge. Sound impossible? If I didn’t know Jonathan, I’d say “yes,” but knowing Jon, I just smile. And pray. If God be for it, who can stand against it?

And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

By the way, CGTE is already offering freeing virtual reality classes in a variety of biblical and theological topics. If your church would be interested in hosting one of these seminars, you may write Jonathan at jonathan.armstrong@moody.edu.

(P.S.—If you have extra time and would like to be a part of Jon’s ministry, please contact Jonathan. He’s hoping that CGTE will be one of the world’s most satisfying places for Christians to volunteer, and—of course—much of the work can be done remotely! If you want to check out what’s going on already, here’s the link to his website: https://aqueductproject.org/.)

 

Rise Up, My Love (299): The Secret That Is No Secret

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart…” We are almost to the end of our meditation on The Song of Solomon, and I find myself hanging on every word, almost as if I can’t bear to finish such a delightful study! It’s like having to say goodbye after a perfectly wonderful evening that you don’t want it ever to end. Do you remember one or two such heavenly occasions?  My husband and I tend to relish the last hours of every Sunday night, often going to sleep a little later than is probably ideal simply because we’ve taken such joy in being together all weekend, and we know that when we wake up he’ll be off to work and I’ll be home to work…wonderful occupations, but apart.

Won’t it be grand when there are no more partings? When we are all forever “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh” in some mysterious but perfect union with God? So, I linger over the last words in the Song of Solomon, clinging to each thought, anxious lest I lose the precious closeness that I’ve felt to the Lord while meditating so deeply on his Word for these past ten years. I think I’ve learned the secret of how to have a happy life, though. It’s the secret of loving the Lord with all my being…heart, soul, mind, and strength…and then experiencing love for others constrained by our love for him.  Sound familiar? It’s the secret that is no secret! How do we develop such passion for the Lord? By spending time with him through meditating on his Word. This does not mean simply reading it (which does have its own benefits…but more in gaining head knowledge than heart transformation). Meditation requires cogitation, like a cow chewing on her cud, where we dig into the meaning of each word and phrase, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and apply the truths to our lives in a life-changing way.  How true the promise of Joshua 1:8 is! “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” When you’ve finished this study, if you aren’t already engaged in your own “green pasture” of meditation, won’t you consider asking the Lord to lead you to a study of your own on some portion of Scripture?  When I began studying The Song of Solomon, it didn’t occur to me that I might want to continue such extensive meditation somewhere else in the Scripture, but having experienced its sweet fruit, now I know that I can’t live without it! How true is the invitation: “O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8). By God’s grace, I trust that the Lord will let me lie down in some other green pasture, at least for a little while each morning.

However, it’s not about what the Lord does for “John”…what will he do with “Peter”? Won’t you ask him to lead you into his Word for an in-depth study of your own? All it takes is a Bible. Or, if you have the resources, it helps to have a pen and paper, or a journal or computer, and a commentary or two borrowed from your church or local library…or even requested as a Christmas present. My commentaries came from many sources: my pastor, an eighty-year-old saint from my church family, finds from local bookstores and libraries, and even one as a gift from a very dear but troubled young Christian sister who knew about my study. The Lord provides. But, truly all we need is a portion of Scripture and a ready spirit to listen to our guide and teacher, the Holy Spirit.

Cold German Potato Salad

If you’ve been cooking for a long time, particularly if you have (or have had) small children in your home, I’ll bet you make some of your favorite recipes “by heart,” without really referring to a recipe or using measuring tools. This has certainly been true for me, and this is true for Gerlinde, who explained how to make potato salad while she and Amélie were making the rouladen for our German feast. So, I’m going to pass along to you this recipe just as Gerlinde explained it, and if you feel a little insecure about making something without measuring, know that most dishes are wonderfully resilient and can taste great with quite a margin on amounts. One of my goals in writing up these recipes is to get my blogging buddies motivated to experiment, innovate, and appreciate the joy of cooking. No matter who you are or where you go, everybody loves delicious food!

Gerlinde’s Cold German Potato Salad
(Makes 10-12 servings)
1. “I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a recipe for the potato salad that I usually make. But…what you can do is just peel some potatoes, boil them, and cut them into slices. Usually potatoes that are firm and not floury are the best for the salad.” We peeled a dozen medium-sized potatoes. Gerlinde says the salad is best if the potatoes are boiled whole (not sliced) and then cut later. This keeps them a little firmer. The potatoes are done when a fork can be inserted, but don’t overcook them, as you don’t want the potatoes to get mushy or fall apart too much. I’d say bring the pot of water to a full, rolling boil before adding the potatoes, and then boil them for about 20-25 minutes. Drain off the water and let them cool enough to handle them, but cut them into slices while they’re still warm.2. Boil some water (about 1.25 cups) and add some chicken or beef broth (or vegetable broth – whatever you have) to the water. (Probably no more than 2 cups fluid altogether. If you use 2 bouillon cubes, then 2 cups water, but if you use broth, then reduce accordingly.)
3. Add about 4 tablespoons of oil and 4 tablespoons of vinegar to the broth. (“Here again it  depends on the amount of the potatoes you have. Basic rule is that I use the same amount of vinegar and oil; last time with the amount of potatoes at your house I might have used 1/2 cup of oil and vinegar.”) Add salt and pepper into the broth to taste.
3. Cut an onion into small, fine chunks and add to the potatoes. If you have it you can add fresh chives chopped finely too. Or you can use spring onions (green onions) instead of the regular onions. 4. “Pour the hot broth (that is now mixed with vinegar and oil and salt and pepper) over the potatoes, mix well, add more salt or pepper if needed and let stand in the fridge… before you serve the salad taste again and add salt and pepper according to your gusto..I usually have to add salt at this point. Also, if the potato salad seems as if it has too much liquid from the broth you added, don’t worry. The potatoes will all soak it up. That’s why you leave it in the fridge for some time.”I’m not a big fan of potatoes, but Gerlinde’s potato salad is so good it’s almost addictive. It’s hard for us to resist eating it while it’s still warm, and it’s hard to wait long enough to let it soak up all the liquid, but it’s really worth the wait, and I’d say that—if possible—it’s even more delicious the next day!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3…as well as many blessings here on earth, such as nourishing, delicious food).

Whom Would You Nominate As The Greatest Showman on Earth?

Did you ever attend a circus when you were young (or older)?  If so, and you’re looking for a light-hearted, highly rated (IMDb 7.7), family friendly (PG) musical this summer, you might enjoy The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman and based (quite loosely) on the life of P.T. Barnum. Can you remember what you first wished to become when you were little?

My oldest son, who’s now a managing engineer for LinkedIn, had as his first ambition (at the tender age of three) the desire to be garbage collector, because he thought there was nothing more exciting than the banging and clattering he heard while watching a powerful garbage truck latch on to huge dumpsters, hoist them high in the air, and empty their contents into the truck’s yawning belly.       However, when I was a little girl, I could think of nothing more glorious than to be one of those beautiful women who’d “float through the air with the greatest of ease, this daring young (wo)man on the flying trapeze.”  Going to the circus was the highlight of my family’s summers back in the early 1950’s, and I felt quite ambivalent when the Barnum & Bailey Circus closed down on May 21, 2017 after 146 years of continuous operation! As a little girl, I didn’t consider how risqué some of the costumes were (which would also be an issue for anybody who wants to watch the movie),  nor did I think about racism, or the possibility of animals being mistreated, or people being exploited because of their unusual appearance, but such concerns really did cause the decline and eventual demise of circuses. Nevertheless, for nearly 150 years, traveling circuses such as P.T. Barnum’s “Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome” were a centerpiece of American entertainment and culture, and Barnum’s circus really did come to be known as the “greatest traveling show on earth.” I don’t want to ruin anything by telling you too much of the story, but I do want to correct a couple of fictions just in case you—like me—prize loyalty and faithfulness. Barnum married  Charity, whom he always loved dearly. He wrote that when they married, he “became the husband of one of the best women in the world,”    and she was his bedrock throughout their marriage until she died in 1873. The real Jenny Lind (known as “The Swedish Nightengale”) did travel with the circus for awhile and left after 93 performances, but only because she didn’t like being “marketed.” Her goal had always been altruistic, and she donated the entire $350,o00 in profits (worth about 10 million today) to endow free schools in Sweden. Isn’t that awesome?! Does it ever strike you as strange that Hollywood would take a perfectly good story and makes it worse because they think it will sell better? What’s that all about? It reminds me of people who brag about being bad or think they’re terrible, when in fact they aren’t as bad as they say they are. Do you ever do that? If you (or someone you loves) struggles with self image, can I encourage you with these words: Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:12-14). On the other hand, if you think you’re the greatest showman on earth, then I’d recommend this advice from Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” God doesn’t want us to think we’re terrible, nor does he want us to think we’re the best ever! He encourages us to Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). In that light, perhaps I would nominate P.T. Barnum as the world’s greatest showman, given that a “showman” is someone who “produces or presents shows as a profession, especially the proprietor, manager, or MC of a circus, fair, or other variety show” (Oxford Dictionary). However, I think Hollywood both glamorized and demoralized the real P.T. Barnum…which I think the world also does with Jesus Christ. Jesus is glamorized by some, demoralized by others, and all too often fictionalized. Do you know Him? If you don’t really know who Jesus is, please read the Bible and find out the truth for yourself. He was not a showman, but I do think he was and is the greatest man on earth!

And he shall judge the world in righteousness,
he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness” (Psalm 9:8).

(All photos from the movie, except the one of my oldest son and his wife!)

 

Word Play for Summer Fun

 Just in case you’re bored this summer or need a few jokes for kids…
Define:

1. ARBITRAITOR                       A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonald’s

2.     BERNADETTE                   The act of torching a mortgage

3.     BURGLARIZE                    What a crook sees through

4.     AVOIDABLE                      What a bullfighter tries to do

5.     EYEDROPPER                  Clumsy ophthalmologist

6.     CONTROL                         A short, ugly inmate

7.     COUNTERFEITER              Workers who put together kitchen cabinets

8.     ECLIPSE                           What an English barber does for a living

9.     LEFT BANK                       What the bank robbers did when their bag was full of money

10.    HEROES                          What a man in a boat does

11.    PARASITES                      What you see from the Eiffel Tower

12.    PARADOX                        Two physicians

13.    PHARMACIST                   A helper on a Farm 

14.    POLARIZE                        What penguins see through

15.    PRIMATE                          Remove your spouse from in front of TV

16.    RELIEF                             What trees do in the spring

17.    RUBBERNECK                 What you do to relax your wife

18.    SELFISH                          What the owner of a seafood store does

19.    SUDAFED                        Brought litigation against a government official

20.    PARADIGMS                    Twenty Cents

Thou hast set all the borders of the earth:
thou hast made summer and winter
” (Psalm 74:17).
The ants are a people not strong,
yet they prepare their meat in the summer
” (Proverbs 30:25).