Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Home Depot" (DIY) Meals: The Taco Episode

On our first furlough back in the states from Peru, several friends had us over for meals to hear about our lives and ministry in South America. Many of them thought to ask, "What food would you like to have? What have you been missing?" (Great question to ask visiting missionaries, btw!)



When we said, "We love Mexican food!" more than one responded, "Don't you eat that every day??"

"Umm, no. Mexican food is from Mexico. We live in Peru."

What they eat in Peru is a topic for another day (and Peruvian cuisine is delicious!) but one thing they didn't have at all at that time (the 80s) was tortillas. I had tried making my own, but that was a tremendous amount of work and they didn't turn out well. There was a contact we had whom we could call and order corn tortillas that her maid made from scratch, but I didn't know the people, it required thinking way ahead and then driving across town to her house to bother them and pick them up, and did the maid make some of that money?



I realize that what I like is better categorized Tex-Mex or American-Mexican food. But I still like it. And I like to share it.

Taco-type food is a natural for my Home Depot (DIY) Meals. These are meals where the guests (family or friends) do part of the work of assembling their meal. I love these meals for:


  • their natural ice breaker quality--people moving around, interacting, talking about what they like, and making suggestions are soon comfortable talking to each other.
  • the ease of set up
  • the possibility of guests bringing part of the meal--less work for the hostess!
  • people enjoying their food--they get to make the food the way they like it, and can avoid anything to which they they are allergic or intolerant, too!


Taco Bar Suggestions (but not limited to):
  • warmed flour tortillas
  • warmed corn tortillas
  • ground beef (ours was actually venison!) mixed with spices for taco flavoring
  • refried beans
  • black beans
  • pinto beans
  • kidney beans
  • shredded cheeses
  • nacho cheese sauce
  • lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped (and maybe sautéed) onions
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped peppers
  • jalapeños
  • sliced black olives
  • avocado
  • guacamole
  • sour cream
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • limes


Since not everyone could be at the taco bar at once, I had chips and salsa on the table, for people to eat while waiting, with their meal, and to just snack on afterwards.


My family and friends (ranging from 19 to 86 years old) enjoyed the meal, helped themselves to seconds, and had a great evening, which ended with a Mark Lowry concert we had discovered on YouTube!


For more "Home Depot" (DIY) meal ideas, click here.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Hospitality -- Pure Enjoyment!

Why don't we have more people to our homes for meals? (check as many as apply)


 not enough time
 not enough money
 too much work
 who cooks?
 they are busy
 we are busy
 house not clean enough
 not enough energy
 something might get dirty
 something might get broken
 it makes me nervous
 __________________(fill in your reason)

We recently had some missionaries to Hong Kong (serving in China) stay with us for several days. The last evening we invited one of the missions professors from Emmaus Bible College, a visiting adjunct professor/missionary, and three Inter-Cultural Studies students (including our daughter) to have dinner with us. 

I fixed my super easy slow-cooker chicken in cranberry sauce, rice, and my ever popular oven-roasted carrots, we sat down to eat and the laughing began!


With all those missionary and studious types there you'd think we would be discussing deep topics with enormous ramifications. And we did talk about important things like how to reach the lost, language learning, different cultures, verses of encouragement, current events and issues, future plans and how to know God's will. But it was all punctuated by laughter.

Then we talked about the Queen of England and James Bond, funny language errors, and Mr. Bean!

We ended up the evening watching a series of YouTube clips that had us still laughing with our guests the next morning.

Like this one about a horrible language translator.
And this one about Mr. Bean at the London Olympics opening.

But our favorite was this one:




Even though all the Germans we know (including our son-in-law) understand English much better than this one, we watched it several times because it tickled our funny bones so much! (That probably had to do with the wonderful laughter of two of our guests!)

What I'm trying to say is you never know what you'll be missing by ticking off the anti-hospitality excuses above. 

Practice hospitality this week. I think you'll be glad you did!


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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Real Story of St. Patrick


When she was teaching at a preschool, my daughter-in-law wrote this story to explain to the children what St. Patrick's Day was really all about. If you have young children, you might want to read this to them tomorrow. It could spark a lot of conversations including what they know about how the world celebrates this day, about the bad choices the people of Ireland had been making, and about loving your enemies, to name a few.


Be sure to check out some St. Patrick's Day breakfast ideas to serve up along with the story.


The Real Saint Patrick's Day

by Abby Fleming

Once, a long time ago, there was a beautiful land called Ireland. The people in Ireland were not happy, even though they lived in such a beautiful place. They were sad because, believe it or not, not one of them had ever heard about Jesus!

They made lots and lots of bad choices. They didn't know that their bad choices made God sad, and that they should be punished for them. They didn't know that Jesus took the punishment for their bad choices by dying on the cross, that he rose again, and that if they believed this that God would forgive them. No one had ever told them!
So they just kept making
                   lots...
                          and lots...
                                      and lots...
                                                 of BAD choices.

Patrick lived in another land near Ireland. He knew all about Jesus because his Daddy had taught him. He tried to make good choices. Sometimes, he made bad choices too, but he knew that God forgave him.

One night, some people from Ireland made a very, very bad choice.

Quietly, they snuck into Patrick's land...
                                           then, they snuck into his house...
                                                          then, they snuck into his room!

They made Patrick go with them to Ireland!!

Even though he was scared, Patrick knew that God was still with him, even in Ireland. When he got to Ireland, the people from Ireland made him do their work! They made him their servant, and they were not very nice to him at all. Remember, the people in Ireland didn't know Jesus, so they made lots  and lots of bad choices. One of those bad choices was being mean to poor Patrick.

Well, Patrick lived in Ireland for six whole years! For six years, he never went home, and he never saw his family.

Then one day...
                    he quietly, quietly snuck away
                                        and he quietly, quietly snuck back home.

His family was so happy to see him! He was finally free!!

Patrick was happy for a while, but then he kept thinking about the people in Ireland. He felt sad that none of them knew Jesus. He wanted them to believe in Jesus and to have their bad choices forgiven.

So... Patrick did a crazy thing!! Patrick went back to Ireland!

Even though the people had been so mean to him, he went back and told them about JESUS! Lots of people heard him and believed in Jesus and had their bad choices forgiven.

Today, there are people in Ireland who love Jesus and make lots of good choices. Since Patrick was the first person to tell the people in Ireland about Jesus, they decided to have a special day for him. They called it Saint Patrick's Day! And that is why we celebrate today.







Abby Fleming graduated from Emmaus Bible College with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Biblical Studies. Also at Emmaus, she met and married Daniel. They have been married almost 8 years now and have a beautiful almost 3 year old daughter and a 17 month old son. After the birth of their daughter, Abby and Daniel decided together that she could work as a full time Mommy. Currently, Abby and her husband are living in the Chicago area as he pursues further education.


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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Shamrock Eggs!

I'm Irish.

But I'm not that kind of Irish.

My paternal grandfather came from Northern Ireland just after the first World War. He was brave to leave his home and family, not knowing if he'd ever see any of them again. (He did get to see them again, and I've even gotten to know some my relatives from the "old country".)

But even though Northern Ireland has a tomb of Patrick of Ireland, if you go to the Republic of Ireland you'll find another, and I think it's those Irish-Americans who really claim the holiday. I don't celebrate it they way they do, but I'll take any excuse to celebrate! I especially did when my kids were at home.

Since we lived in South America, it wasn't celebrated at all there, and I took my kids by surprise many years when they poured milk on their cereal on March 17 and it was dyed green.

We always read a St. Patrick story that I wrote and some years the kids would act it out. Next week I'll share the St. Patrick story one of my daughters-in-law wrote for her students when she was a school teacher, for you to read to your children.

This year I found an idea here that I thought sounded great for two empty nesters--a more grown up touch, you might say. 



It wasn't as hard as I was afraid it would be. 

  • I sliced  a green bell pepper about a quarter of an inch thick in several slices looking for the part that looked most shamrock-like. 
  • I put a teaspoon of olive oil in my frying pan and let it heat a bit. Then I cooked the pepper briefly. 
  • Holding down the pepper with several fingers of one hand, I poured one small egg from a measuring up into each pepper ring. 
  • I salted and peppered as usual and let it cook on medium heat for a while, until it looked like it was a little more than half way cooked. 
  • Then I added about two tablespoons of water and put the lid on the pan. Since my cover is see through, I could watch the eggs. 



A little bit of the white had escaped, but it wasn't noticeable when I put the cooked egg on my plate.

I also did a "kid version". This one is eggs in the hole, only the "hole" is shamrock shaped. 



Well, it was a good idea

But the I toasted the pieces I cut out in our toaster oven, and maybe if I hadn't turned the egg, but just let them cook slowly through the shamrock shape would have been more visible. Maybe you can do better. Let me know!

Do you need some table decorations? How about using washable paint and the tops of those peppers to create shamrock placemats, table runners, or even a table cloth? This is my granddaughter a year ago at 1 3/4s working on these decorations. Don't you love the concentration!


Photo Credit: A. Fleming

Whether you go the easy route (green milk), the gourmet path (eggs in peppers), or the kid-friendly version (eggs in a shamrock hole), surprise your kids with a bit'o'the Irish this St. Patricks Day. 

My kids still talk about green milk

And my oldest son does it for his children!

Don't forget to come back next week to get the real St. Patrick's Day story to read to your kids.


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