Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Grasping at Health...A Delicious Quinoa Salad

I've learned something about myself over the past two years.  I am not a raging carnivore.  Don't get me wrong, I would miss it if I never got to eat meat, but I'm really happy not to eat it too.  The trouble with that is that the alternative - legumes - are not my friends.  I don't mind eating them, but then I don't want to be near me.  Which is pretty much inescapable!

We have had a bit of back-and-forward tussle in our house over things like couscous and quinoa.  I enjoy them; my family does not.  Until last night.  Inspired by a recipe from "Jamie's 15 Minute Meals" and a lunch I was served on a PD (Independent Schools Victoria completely spoil their seminar attendees!) I decided to try a quinoa salad.  My goal?  An ecstatic moan-inducing salad.  No pressure, right?

This salad?  Life-changing!

I cooked a cup of raw quinoa and half a cup pearl couscous using the absorption method in chicken stock, and then mixed that with:

  • toasted pinenuts
  • diced oranges
  • finely sliced spring onions
  • fried and diced haloumi (the haloumi I got from Costco - amazing!)
  • finely chopped parsley

After mixing it together I dressed it with the juice of a lemon and a good drizzle of olive oil.
I would have added avocado but mine weren't ripe yet, and if you preferred you could use feta.

All of my non-quinoa people enjoyed this salad.  Guess what's for lunch this week?!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Frog My House Killed

The last thing I expected to find on my lounge room floor, the other morning, was a frog.  In fact, it wasn't immediately obvious that the little brown blob was a frog.  The kids and I looked at it.  We discussed what it could be.  We looked at it some more.  And then I prodded it (because mothers are the bravest ones in the house), and the little blob kind of stretch a limb-looking thing.  Slowly.  Just a little.

It took a little bit to convince ourselves that we did, indeed, have a froggy little visitor.  After many questions about how it got inside (I just don't know, asking again won't get you an answer, people!) we decided that all the fluff and hair and dust had clogged up its ability to move, if it was alive enough to survive.

I got a tissue to pick it up, and tried to rinse it off a little with some water.  It stretch a little more.  Then I took it back outside into a protected, but wet, spot outside in the rain.  I suspect a kookaburra decided to eat it, because this poor little froggy friend really wasn't moving much.  It was certainly gone by the time I got home from work.

Miss Mischief was so excited that our house was healthy enough to have a frog in it.  I pointed out that the frog wasn't healthy anymore because our house had killed it.

Just in time, my very precious friend is coming to clean my house on Thursday.  Maybe then the house will be healthy enough not to kill a frog with dust bunnies and hair!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

She's Ours

Imaged Credit
"Ooohhhh.  She's ours!"  My aunt made this proclamation as she hugged me tight.  "Us" who have little mercy and struggle to show sympathy.  "Us" straight-shooters who don't mince words, and tell it like it is.  "Us" who know these are not always strengths in a world of broken, messy people with expectations about how they should be treated.  I'm one of "us".

Changing churches four years ago ripped away so much of the belonging and being known that I had so treasured.  It happened under difficult circumstances as these things often do.  Rebuilding community and establishing new friendships has been slow.  Uncomfortable.  Difficult.  It has torn at the edges of my identity layers.  Not that who I am has changed, but who I am in the context of community just didn't exist for so very long.  In the first year or two at our current church I did a spiritual gifts survey.  Mostly it affirmed and confirmed things like me becoming a teacher.  I understood that my love of history and geography comes from my apostle/mission gift.  Apparently I am wise (a new career path kind of puts a bump in that road).  I have a spiritual knowledge that is supposedly heightened.  I don't know - these things just seem normal to me.  Then I looked at the bottom of the gifts.  Mercy was ... well ... almost missing.  I have just enough to know I need to work on it.

What I discovered, over Easter, as I spent time with my Mum's siblings is that my lack of mercy is a family trait.  I come from a long line of people who are not inclined to be overly sympathetic.  My mother described a time when my brothers and I had a week of injuring our feet.  A by-product of never wearing shoes that didn't seem to change our bare-footed ways!  I'd had a wort surgically removed from one foot, and then sliced the other open on some glass.  My youngest brother came in, just days later, having sliced his foot open in a similar way.  When my middle brother did the same thing later that week my mother's response was "sit down and be quiet," and she went to gather the foot dressing stuff that had not yet been put away.

I cannot explain what a relief it was to know that my lack of mercy is not unusual.  Each of us in my non-merciful family have other gifts the world needs us to use.  I among a beautiful group of people who are perfectly OK with their kids leaving home - celebrate it, even.  They are great at figuring out how to unlock passworded spreadsheets and fixing computer glitches and finding geocaches.  They are creative and funny and cheeky and they laugh a lot.

The precious gift I received this Easter was a repair in my identity.  Not just because the weekend was about remembering that Jesus made me part of God's family.  But because I truly belong to an amazing group of people.  And mercy isn't required to be valuable, loved, accepted.

Friday, 1 April 2016

School Holiday Lunch

I got the idea for this meal while we were in Ballarat over the Easter weekend.  We stopped at a little cafe for morning tea on our last morning, on our way to Mum & Dad's place.  I'd had breakfast so it was just a chai latte and some banana bread for me, but something on the breakfast menu piqued my fancy.  Breakfast bruschetta with with roasted cherry tomatoes and lemon ricotta and basil leaves.

My version has tomatoes, basil pesto, sauted mushrooms and some lemon infused ricotta.  Once the tomatoes are roasted it literally takes me as long as the bread takes to toast to pull it all together.  Pane di casa bread takes a little longer to toast so I throw the mushy's into a pan when I put the bread in to toast.  Two minutes later it's all on the plate.

After a breakfast of cooked fruit with some butter and maple syrup, topped with the same lemon ricotta, this has been the perfect thing to hit the holiday spot.