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Friday, July 24, 2015

Orange You Glad I Posted This?

Lame pun, I know... but this recipe is anything but lame. I made it for dinner tonight and I am still in a happy little food coma. It was so nice to enjoy on a Friday night after a hot and humid week full of work that welcomed me after being gone last week for a conference. I adapted the recipe slightly from Sunset Magazine, July 2015 issue. Try it out!

serves 4 (I made a half-recipe tonight)

1 pound boned, skinned chicken breasts
1 tablespoon soy sauce - I used tamari to make it gluten free
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, divided
1 large orange - I used a can of mandarin oranges instead!
1 lemon
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2-in. piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely shredded
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced on the diagonal - I had brussels sprouts and mushrooms on hand, so I used these instead
1 green onion, cut into 2-in. slivers
4 cups steamed rice (optional)

1. Cut chicken breasts crosswise into 1/2-in.-thick slices, then cut each slice in half lengthwise so you end up with finger-size pieces. Combine chicken, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp. white pepper in a small bowl and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.

2. Zest orange into a small bowl. Segment orange: With a sharp knife, trim off ends and set a cut side down on a cutting board. Following the curve of the fruit, trim off peel and white pith. Set a strainer in a separate bowl and, working over bowl, slice segments free of membranes. Squeeze juice from membranes into strainer. Measure 3 tbsp. juice and add to bowl with zest. Set orange segments aside.

3. Cut lemon in half and set one half aside. Zest and juice the other half into bowl with orange juice and zest, then add brown sugar, sesame oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. white pepper. Set sauce aside.

4. Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and ginger and cook until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Push onion and ginger to one side of pan and add chicken in a single layer. Let sear undisturbed 2 minutes. Add celery and citrus sauce and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes more.

5. Remove from heat and stir in reserved orange segments. Pour into serving bowl or onto a platter. Squeeze juice from reserved lemon half over chicken and shower with slivered green onion. Serve with steamed rice if you like.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

So Many Resources, So Little Time... 7-2-15

Whenever students ask me what I've got planned for the summer, I know they envision me living according to their schedule, where they are on summer vacation and liberated from many of the responsibilities of the school year.

I try not to heave a big sigh, because summers have instead been a rather busy time for me in the last few years, exactly because they (those dear students) actually have more time!

So in my mind, as I hear the word "summer," I envision those long hot days of my childhood, when I had endless hours of time (and water!) to fritter away. Alas, those are not to be for grown-ups like me, but I will not mourn or fret. I get to do some pretty wonderful things in my work life, and here are a few helpful resources I have used lately to help me keep going.

How to Overcome the Midday Slump. I don't know about you, but I find that waves of energy and fatigue roll throughout my days, sometimes in unpredictable ways. Though I start every morning with a rocket-fuel dose of caffeine, I don't want to get in the old habit of relying on coffee to power me through the rest of the day. This article has some helpful insights in that regard. One tip that proves extremely useful to me: when I feel the sleepies overtake me around 3pm, I have learned to lay down and close my eyes for 20 minutes rather than gulp down another coffee. Power naps got me through college, and they still work! I'm also inching toward 8.5 or 9 hours of sleep per night, rather than 7.5 or 8. It's making a difference.

Scannable by Evernote. I don't know about you, but at various times I receive business cards from people and I know I want to hang onto the info, but also not let them pile up on my desk or in a drawer. However, the thought of taking the time to load the data into my contacts list also seems tedious. VOILA!! Welcome to Scannable. Not only does it take a perfectly sized photo of the card, it scans it into a file that you can either load into Evernote (HELLO, if you don't use Evernote, you are missing out big time. But I digress...) or email to yourself or someone else. PLUS it finds the LinkedIn account of the person too. Not to mention it can scan loads of other things, which is so nice when I'm away from my desk. My heavens it's tasty.

Gallup's Theme Thursday (Strengths Finder). I have coached many churches, non-profits and businesses (40+ groups and agencies) in Strengths Finder, a very helpful leadership development and assessment tool. On "Theme Thursday" the Gallup org provides roundtable podcasts about one of the 34 themes. They last about 45 minutes each and I find them tremendously helpful in unpacking some of the specifics of each theme (aka Talent, in SF lingo). You can also go to Spreaker.com and get them in downloadable form.

Five Factors Changing Women's Relationships with Churches. I wish that Barna had come up with a different title for this article. My finger hovered over the "delete" button when I received this link in my inbox, but I was more than pleasantly surprised at some of the unique info contained within. This article mostly highlights how the ratio of men to women who are "unchurched" is shrinking, and some of the reasons why. In other words, in 1993, 57% of those not involved with church were men and 44% were women. Fast-forward to 2015, and the numbers are 54% men and 46% women... thus the numbers are decreasing from a 13% differential to only 8%. If numbers don't float your boat, the content is pretty interesting. For example, only 7% of the women who do not attend church have never been exposed to church; that means that nearly all women who are not connected significantly with a church community used to be involved. The fancy term that Barna uses to describe this is dechurched (ouch!). Read for yourself to find out more info. I am very interested in how America is shifting spiritually, and Barna often provides some fascinating fodder for discussion and reflection.

Final thoughts. I will close up with these thoughtful and lovely words from a favorite writer, Frederick Buechner:

If the Lord is indeed our shepherd, then everything goes topsy-turvy. Losing becomes finding and crying becomes laughing. The last become first and the weak become strong. Instead of life being done in by death in the end as we always supposed, death is done in finally by life in the end. If the Lord is our host at the great feast, then the sky is the limit.