Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I've had this rhyme going round in my head lately:

"There Was a Crooked Man,"

There was a crooked man,
Who walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

I think as we grow older, we think we are beyond nursery rhymes, in which many large philosophical truths and challenges can be found.  The poetry and stories learned as little ones are done, aren't they?  Left behind as though we were somehow beyond the bounds of the lessons they were designed to teach, or we suppose we took in their exhortations so well we have no need for reminders.

The Lord references crookedness in His word.  Here are just a few things He has said on the subject:

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,    
from men whose words are perverse, 
who have left the straight paths 
   to walk in dark ways, 
who delight in doing wrong 
   and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 
whose paths are crooked 
   and who are devious in their ways.
Proverbs 2:12-15

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, 
   but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. 
Proverbs 10:9

And from Isaiah 59:8:  The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.

Beyond nursery rhymes? I think not.  I've been minded to compose a few additional stanzas of verse for the little ditty running 'round in my head:

He had some crooked children,

Who spoke with crooked smiles,
And from their lips came crooked words, both twisted lies and guile;
He sought to speak unto their hearts, consider what they wrought,
Holding tongues and choosing, to not say what was naught.

And so what once was crooked,
‘came straightened, true and sure.
Words were weighed and measured, determined false or pure;
We too, can learn a lesson to slow down as we ought,
And crooked words can be made right, spoken after thought.

Addendum: I had to post early, as my girls needed my computer; but a friend prompted the writing of the last stanza which I knew was missing.  (Thanks Matt!)

Reflected in my mirror,
I see a crooked man,
Broken heart, mind, soul, and strength in need of God's own plan;
He came to love all sinners, our lame and feeble frames,
Reborn by grace, redeemed for love, He calls us out by name.

Friday, February 10, 2012

~Winter Braised in Wine

Last weekend I picked up an order from a co-op operated by local farms.  Between what I got in my basket of vegetables and what I'd picked up at my own local grocery store, I found myself with a plethora of veggies and looking for something exquisite to turn them into.

Now I like minestrone soup as much as the next guy; well, actually I like it more than anyone else in my family.  So I went looking for ideas online for something else to make out of my mountain of produce, stumbling upon a blog with a moniker that sounds like it was affectionately dubbed by Winnie the Pooh - Yummly (for my tummly.)

Any of you listen to Lynn Rosetto Kasper (what a musical name) of The Splendid Table fame on NPR?  Her very voice is deliciousness as she describes a homely crock of bubbling beans stewing in a liquor of fragrant garlicky broth.  See what she can do with beans?  I listen with delight as callers prevail upon her for help with what's in their pantry and fridge; she gives them instructions on how to transform those staples into succulent success as though she was dispersing from the pages of some ancient tome of culinary secrets.  Think of Yummly as your own Lynn Rosetto Kasper.  I typed in the challenge of my two oddest vegetables to see if Yummly was up to the test - bok choy and fennel - and up popped a recipe for a beautiful winter soup. Amazingly, the only thing that I had to run to the store for was red wine.  Ran out to pick up a bottle of The Dreaming Tree* and a couple of baguettes while my girls stayed home to keep up the chopping prep, made a quick turn around, and we set to it, cooking up a ponderous pot of satisfying pastiche.

Can you sing, "Yummly!"

Of course, their recipe was my jumping off point and I made my own twists here and there.  Here's how you can create exactly what we enjoyed tonight:

Ingredients and Directions:

2 Ts coconut oil
2 generous Ts chili paste with fermented soy beans
1 T minced ginger
12 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red onion, 1 white onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, diced

Heat the oil to med high in your cauldron of choice, then drop in the rest and cook for about 10 minutes.  Then...

4 chopped carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 head of fennel, cored and thickly sliced
12 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
Generous pinch of thyme
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1 cup of sake
1/3 bottle of red wine
3 cups of water and 2 Ts beef broth paste, stirred well

Add the rest of the vegetables, season, and deglaze with the wines and soy sauce.

3 sweet potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 red potatoes, chopped fine into the same size pieces
2 cans of drained chickpeas
4 cups of homemade chicken broth
1 head of bok choy with its leaves, sliced thickly (set aside)

Add all the rest and bring to a boil, turn down to a nice simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about an hour or so.  During last 10 minutes of cooking, toss in the bok choy and stir.  Check for flavor.  Splash in a little more soy sauce or salt if needed, but our's was absolutely perfect.  With the coming drop in temperatures expected this weekend, my family will be happy to dish up large steamy bowls brimming with color, health, and invigoration.  Come on over, there's plenty to share!

*Normally, I'm not a big fan of red wine, but had a glass while dinner was simmering and it was really quite nice, I could actually taste the raspberries. ;D

Linked with We Are That Family and Simple Lives Thursday

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wanting To Spin Yarn

Writer's freeze, funk, or fizzle - follow the thread to the ball of knots which is it's origin and you'll always find a degree of fear in the tangled skein.  That's where I've been lurking for the past month or so.  Despite suffering through some sort of stomach bug (or maybe in part, due to it) from right after Thanksgiving up to just before Christmas I was able to blog even beyond my once-a-week personal minimum goal.  Then, we started our 2012 school semester late due to waiting on the departure of our college-age son as he headed back to school; a week in we got hit with rounds of colds which some of us are still struggling with four weeks later.

Why all the wah! wah! explanation? Because I've had to tell myself this repeatedly for the past few weeks in order to try to feel ok about not writing, and I now feel compelled to get it all off my chest right off the bat in this post.  (Aarrgghh - a mixed metaphor!)  With a depressingly low level of writing sent out into the blogosphere, I'm feeling rather stunted.  In the shower the other morning, I berated myself aloud, "You said 'line of cosmetics' twice in your one short little review piece you've managed to get out."  Really, the Nyquil should have worn off by now and my mind should be clearer.  I have no excuses, no real ones, I suppose.  Just a real life.

It must be the season for sputtering thoughts and intentions, though.  In perusing a few blogs, I've seen a number of posts belaboring resolutions and goals already derailed.  Writing, exercising, drawing, beginning or getting better at something.  At first I refused the company of other failures (I apologize right now for my snootiness), but after a while I just had to lean into it, lay down my head and suck my thumb.  It's not the end of the world, and I'm being a big baby when all's said and done. Things haven't gone exactly as planned - again - and that's alright.  It really is.

I'll end this little note by sharing another fellow blogger's encouraging answer to her writer's block:  Good for her, I say.  For me, I'm just grateful for what I have been able to keep going - namely dinners, reading, schooling, family relationships, and prayers - and trust that writing will come more readily once again when its meant to.

It's funny how the mind works, I began with the image of a big ball of yarn and now the knitting term "casting off" came to mind.  To cast off is to bind and end your project.  I think I'll cast off my fear of a terminal barrier to my literary exercises and scribblings now and carry on.

Linked at We Are That Family and Simple Lives Thursday