Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Quote

This week has been and is a busy, stressful one. I'm not sure if I will have the opportunity to write much, but I thought that I would share a quote with you that I really like and find encouraging. I hope you have a wonderful week, and I hope to be posting again soon!

"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."
     –Victor Hugo

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Sorrel Pesto and the Mystery Plant


We love pesto, but it's definitely not cheap. That's why the idea of making our own pesto has always interested me. I tried making a kale and walnut pesto once, but I forgot to add salt and it didn't really turn out. But that was a long time ago, and I decided it was time to try making pesto again. Before I share the recipe I used, I first need to tell you the story of the mystery plant.


We moved into our current home in January—while there was snow on the ground—so we didn't have much of an idea of what we'd find growing in the gardens. We were told there would be tulips, and we could see a couple rose bushes and hydrangeas, but other than that we got to be surprised as things came up. As the spring and summer progressed we were able to identify most of what we found in the gardens, but one thing had us stumped: a set of three large plants that looked very much like spinach. The problem was that they came up from root balls that have clearly been there for a long time—and spinach is an annual plant, not a perennial. We made guesses and asked around and did some Google research, but nothing seemed to make sense. So I just gave up for a while. I felt sure that they must be edible because they are growing in what had clearly been a vegetable garden, but I didn't want to harvest it unless I knew what it was. The plants grew and went to seed and died back. But then once the cooler weather of fall arrived, the plants started growing again, and once again I got the motivation to find out what they are. I decided to try eating a leaf, and found that it was sour and lemony and tasty. That gave me something to work with, and after some research I came to the conclusion that it must be sorrel. It looks right and tastes right, and sorrel is a perennial plant. Mystery solved!


Now that I had three large sorrel plants, I really wanted to do something with them! I looked around for recipes and discovered that you can make sorrel pesto! I knew that I had to give it a try.


The recipe for sorrel pesto is very simple: two cups of packed sorrel leaves, half a cup of slivered almonds, two cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper, and a quarter cup olive oil. You mince the first five ingredients in a food processor and then add the oil. You can find the recipe I used here.

Apparently two cups of packed leaves is a pretty vague measurement. I think I managed to fit a lot more sorrel into my two cups than I was supposed to, because my pesto definitely needed more almonds, and oil, and everything else really. But it was easy to make the additions, and turned out beautifully!


I put the pesto in a canning jar in the fridge and we have enjoyed it for a couple different meals now. You can definitely taste that it is made from a plant, more so than pesto from a store, but it is still really good! I consider sorrel pesto to be a success!



Tuesday, 10 October 2017

One More Potato

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought that I would share something else that I am thankful for.

I am thankful for one more potato.

Let me explain.

I was preparing food for the Sunday potluck that we host every week. I had decided to make what I dubbed a "Thanksgiving shepherd's pie", basically a shepherd's pie with a layer of stuffing on top of the mashed potatoes. (It actually turned out really well! I would recommend trying it.) As I was peeling and chopping potatoes and putting them on to boil, I wondered if I had prepared enough potatoes. After some consideration, I decided I should peel one more, just in case. I reached down into the cupboard and pulled out one more potato.

One more potato. That was all. But that moment was very profound for me.

You see, most of us can reach into the cupboard and pull out another potato. It's so normal, we don't even think about it. But I invite you to consider for a moment with me just how amazing that is:

We have so much food. Even though there have been times when money was short, we've never gone hungry.

I get to choose what food I want to prepare. I have access to almost any kind of food I could want.

Food is a thing. Have you ever thought about that? Things grow that are edible, and we can use them to get the nutrients we need to live.

I have a wonderful, large kitchen that I get to use. It isn't a dark cave or very old and dirty like some of the other kitchens in places we have lived.

We have a large household, with an open door. I've always wanted it to be like that. We aren't just a family of two parents and two kids—we have opened our home to so many, and I am thankful for each of them.

One more potato—such a simple thing—but a reminder that I have so much to be thankful for.

What is something normal in your life that has reminded you to be thankful?

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Thankful

Not long ago, I received an email update from a friend who is a missionary overseas. As I was reading her email, one quote seemed to jump right off the page:

"The next step after a seed is planted is not fruit; it’s roots."

This quote helped me define exactly what it is that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving—roots. I am starting to grow roots, however slowly and tentatively. It feels like it has taken such a long time to feel secure enough for roots to start taking hold. And no wonder—in the ten years since I finished high school I have lived in ten different homes, across four different cities/parts of the world. I suppose that's the life of a student, but it always seemed like I would just start making friends and then have to say goodbye; I would just get used to my classes or work and then be moving on to the next chapter. But somehow, just recently, I am actually starting to feel like I belong where I am, like I have roots.

It is easy to become frustrated by a perceived lack of "fruit", feeling like I don't have many friends, like I don't belong, like I'm just surviving. But this quote helped remind me that things take time. We can't throw our lives together in a few days or weeks. Our lives are more like a garden—grown and cultivated over many years. It's so easy to see how far I have to go, but today I'm thankful that my roots are growing.

Part of me is terrified that something will happen, that things will change again, and I will again feel the pain of those tender roots being torn out of their soil. It has happened so often over the past ten years—so often that those roots that used to stretch out eagerly have become reluctant and tentative. But still, there they are.

The place where I have noticed these roots the most lately is at church. Jesse and I have been attending the same church for four years now—ever since we got married and decided that we wanted to find a home church. Last Sunday we had a communion service and there was a time of sharing when people from the congregation could stand up and share something that was on their heart. As I looked around the congregation, I suddenly realized that I felt like I was home, that this is my church, and my family. It was quite an overwhelming moment for me, because I haven't felt like that in so long.

I am very thankful for my church. It is not perfect, of course, but I see a community of people who are learning and growing and seeking to follow in the way of Jesus. It is a place where we have a voice and where we have something to offer. Jesse and I are still trying to make friends there—it is slow going, especially when so much of the congregation has been attending for so long and already has their friends and connections. But at least now when I look around me I see faces that I know. There are many whose stories I have heard, and many whose struggles I know and care about.

Sometimes it is easier to think about how it takes so long for roots to grow. Our Thanksgiving weekend is event-less, except for playing a game of D&D online with a friend. Our family is far away, and most people are busy with their own families. We keep trying to make new friends and connect with old friends who are still in the area, but it always seems like everyone is too busy. But this Thanksgiving I want to focus on the roots that I have been growing, however slowly it may be. I am thankful to finally be home.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

I Wish

I wish
I could read your mind
And know exactly what you need to hear

I wish
I could crawl into your heart
And know exactly what you are feeling

I wish
We could be friends
And sit and talk
Or just be silent
Together

I wish
I could show you
There is hope even when
The whispers are saying there isn't
That my presence could be
Like a warm embrace
Against the frost of
Isolation and despair
Because I believe
There is still
Hope

I wish
I could know if it would be
Okay for me to walk over
To you and say
Hi
But then
I wouldn't know
What to say next

I wish
I had words to say
But I hesitate
And you walk by

I wish
You could know
That I see you

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Red Pepper Jelly


With the end of summer comes canning season! Last year I didn't get to do much canning (for a good reason!) so it was nice to be able to return to canning again this year. So far we have canned peaches, salsa, spaghetti sauce, jam, and my most recent addition—red pepper jelly! I've wanted to try making red pepper jelly for several years now, so I finally did it.


I looked up a few different recipes and modified them a bit. I ended up using three cups of pepper purée, which was basically just four red bell peppers chopped up in my food processor, along with two jalapeños. Then I also added a cup of apple cider vinegar, six cups of sugar, and two packets of pectin. It turned out to be just as easy as making a batch of jam! I guess, since I didn't strain the bits of pepper out of it, that technically makes it red pepper jam, but you can hardly tell the bits are in there.


My recipe ended up making six small jars as well as some extra that went into a container in the fridge. I am very happy with how it turned out! My only complaint is that it could be a bit spicier. Next time I'll add another jalapeño!


Look at that beautiful colour! My favourite way to eat red pepper jelly is on crackers with goat cheese. So delicious (and pretty)!



Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Busy Week!

Since my primary occupation is caring for a one year old and a two and a half year old, it comes as no surprise that I don't get out much. But every now and then an event comes up that I'm interested in, and I put out the effort to go to it. This past week there were THREE events that I went to! And they were all fantastic, so I thought I'd share a bit about them!


The History of the Bible


There was a special lecture at Columbia Bible College last week, called "The Ancient New Testament's Transmission, Translation, and Interpretation: Questions of Reliability". Basically, it was about the New Testament and the process that spanned from the original authors writing their works through to what we have on our shelves today. The speaker was very passionate about the topic, and it was interesting to hear about the thousands of ancient fragments and copies that have been discovered, and the process of comparing them and discerning what the originals said.

After the lecture, I was able to spend some time down in the Metzger Collection, which is a really cool museum of high-quality replicas of artifacts, mostly from biblical times. Their special exhibit was on the Bible and included copies of all sorts of famous old Bibles, like the Book of Kells, which is in the picture above. I got to see the actual Book of Kells when I was in Ireland many years ago, so it was neat to be able to look through (and actually touch) such an accurate copy of it.


TEDx Abbotsford



On Saturday I got to go to the TEDx Abbotsford conference, which was fantastic! There were lots of very interesting speakers on a variety of topics surrounding the theme of "trailblazing". Everything was done very well, from the talks to the food to the activities, and it seemed very professional. My favourite part of the event was being able to meet so many interesting people!


Walk for Reconciliation


I was also able to take the boys to the Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver. It was a big day, with a mind-boggling number of people participating. It involved a two kilometre walk and a number of events at park with speeches and entertainment and activities.

For me, it was important to go as a way of saying that I care about the injustices that the Indigenous people have experienced and continue to experience in our country, and that I am one of many, many people who want those injustices to be addressed and for there to be reconciliation.

I think my favourite part of the day was watching Steven learn a bit about lacrosse, along with people of all sorts of ages and ethnicities. It was a beautiful picture of what reconciliation can look like, and he had so much fun!