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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

St Francis in Alaska

Reading Chesterton's biography of St Francis in this silent hilltop cabin as I overlook Kachemak Bay and see several glaciers. I am in awe, speechless and delighted. These quotes stand out to me:

"Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall enjoy everything." It was by this deliberate idea of starting from zero, from the dark nothingness of his own deserts, that he did come to enjoy even earthly things as few people have enjoyed them; and they are in themselves the best working example of the idea. For there is no way in which a man can earn a star or deserve a sunset (or a panorama of glaciers!). But there is more than this involved, and more indeed than is easily expressed in words. It is not only true that the less a man thinks of himself, the more he thinks of his good luck and of all the gifts of God." (p. 75)

Rossetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. (p. 78)

I remind you, as I am reminded, to see the beauty in front of you. Start from zero, and rejoice.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Are You Listening To?

Gosh, there is lots of good music out there. It's impossible to keep track of it all. But when I land on some new stuff that I like, I enjoy it more when I share it. So here goes...

I find most of my new music in 3 places:
  • Brite Revolution - a great music download site that is also socially responsible. I've mentioned it here before.
  • Paste Magazine - I subscribe to it, and each issue includes 20 free songs to download. Some are clinkers, many are great. It's a nice eclectic mixture of genres.
  • All Songs Considered - I talk about this one often. They give so much free music, and great commentary. It's on NPR, and they have so many different podcasts and music streaming off of this site -- it's ridiculously great. Do not miss it.

I won't try to explain why I like these artists. Just hit the links and decide for yourself... and share some of your own opinions should you feel so inclined.

Marching Band - music coming out of Sweden (and all those Scandinavian places... yeah wherever) is so darn good of late. My biggies are Johann Johannsson, Sondre Lerche, and naturally, Sigur Ros. And see another one listed below...

The Living Sisters
- this is one of those side projects bands where the artists have other groups for which they are better known. Very lovely harmonies here. Not derivative and predictable.

Suzanne Vega
- yes, I wrote that. She's apparently moved beyond Luka. This one song I've heard is fantastic. Acoustic and folky.

Pawnshop Kings - they sound a lot like the Fray in one of their songs, I'm not gonna lie. Don't Say That sticks with you though. But check out their other stuff too. God in You is intriguing.

The Tallest Man on Earth - I really don't get how these Swedes sound more American than we do.

Jay Nash - Nothing hugely new in his music, but it's easy to listen to yet substantial at the same time.

Keith Jarrett - his latest album is called Jasmine. If you want utterly understated, really clean and solid instrumental jazz piano that is perfect soundtrack for life, this is it. It is incredibly relaxing. I have another album of his called The Melody at Night, with You, that is a stunner as well. He's not easy to find online... he's a bit quirky and very proprietary about his music ... rightfully so. The link I listed here is from the older album I mentioned.

Hope you get to go to some concerts and shows this summer. I think I've used up my budget already on some shows earlier this spring, but we'll see....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Into Great Silence

I had an article published online with YMToday this week. They contacted me, asking me to contribute an article related to keeping Sabbath as a pastor. I really enjoy writing for this site. It's produced by the Center for Youth Ministry Training (cymt.org), who in turn is affiliated with Memphis Seminary.

For this submission I ended up adapting an article I'd written for my former church's monthly newsletter a few years ago. It was really great for me to reflect on this older article, and be able to see some of the ways I had adopted some spiritual practices examined in the film Into Great Silence.

I cannot say enough about this film. As I say in my article, I watch this film at least once a year -- it's already in my pile of goodies that I am gathering together for my upcoming summer vacation trip to Alaska. In the case of this film, "less is more." In other words, I want to say very little, because it defies description. Just see it. (And feel free to read my article while you're at it :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zucchini Pancakes (no, that's not an oxymoron)

My local CSA, Fairview Gardens, sent us this recipe for the week. They were delicious, fun to make, and a fun change of pace. Give 'em a try...

Zucchini Pancakes with Walnuts and Feta

I just made this recipe for a potluck on Friday and the whole batch was gone in seconds. I wish I would have doubled the recipe to have leftovers for weekend picnics.

  • 1 pound zucchini, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 3 green garlic stems or leeks
  • 4 eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (I used soy flour)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs or 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried herbs (dill, parsley, savory, rosemary)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (about 3 ounces) (I pulsed these in a grinder to fine paste)
  • Olive oil

Place zucchini in colander. Sprinkle zucchini with salt and let stand 30 minutes to drain. Squeeze zucchini between hands to remove liquid, then squeeze dry in several layers of paper towels.

Combine zucchini, chopped green onions, 4 eggs, flour, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in medium bowl. Mix well. Fold in crumbled feta cheese. (Zucchini mixture can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Stir to blend before continuing.) Fold chopped walnuts into zucchini mixture.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Cover bottom of large nonstick skillet with olive oil. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop zucchini mixture into skillet by heaping tablespoonfuls. Fry until pancakes are golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer each batch of pancakes to baking sheet in oven to keep warm. Serve pancakes hot. Top with yogurt or sour cream if you want.

Recipe altered from epicurious.com

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I read this in the wee hours...
"If we accept God's will in life where our will does not prevail, if we accept ourselves for what we are and grow from that, if we can live simply, if we can respect others and reverence them, if we can be a trusting part of our world without having to strut around it controlling it, changing it, wrenching it to our own image and likeness, then we will have achieved 'perfect love that casts out fear' (1 John 4:18).

There will be nothing left to fear -- not God's wrath, not the loss of human respect, not the absence of control..." Joan Chittister, The Rule of Benedict

Friday, June 4, 2010

Real Women Eat Quiche (even when they're gluten free)

I made this recipe after crawling home from a long week of teaching, graduation events, loads of appointments. It was simple and tasty.

I adapted this from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. Time and again, I get good recipes from this magazine. They include a good selection of vegan and gluten-free recipes too, if that turns your prop...

Crustless Leek, Greens, and Herb Quiche
From Vegetarian Times


2 Tbs. fine dry breadcrumbs (I ground a slice of Trader Joe's brown-rice bread in my spice grinder... worked great)
2 small leeks, white and light green parts halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 cups chopped Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, or mustard greens
4 egg whites
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
2 oz. soft goat cheese (I used feta)


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat bottom and sides of 9-inch glass pie dish with olive oil cooking spray. Scatter breadcrumbs over bottom of pie dish.
  2. Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil in large pot. Add leeks; boil 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat, add Swiss chard, and let stand 30 to 45 seconds, or until greens are wilted. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again, squeezing out excess water with hands. Set aside.
  3. Whisk egg whites until frothy. Whisk in eggs. Whisk in milk and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Whisk in tarragon and basil.
  4. Scatter leeks and Swiss chard over breadcrumbs in prepared pie dish. Dot cheese on top. Pour egg mixture into pie pan. (I sprinkled the rest of my breadcrumbs over the top).
  5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 4.