Fresh Apple Nut Cake with Citrus Butter Glaze

DSC_0189(Becky, the Mama. )

If you have not figured it out by now,  I have ADD.  More specifically, I have what my friend and pioneer brain doctor, Dr. Daniel Amen, diagnosed as the Inattentive Type of ADD.  (Press the Pause Button here for a minute: Thank you to the wonderful, brilliant, kind Dr. Amen for his review of our newest book, Nourished. His fabulous blurb adorns the cover!)

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The Inattentive Type of ADD is less likely to be hyperactive.  Which is certainly true for me.   Put me in a hammock and tell me it’s time for a nap, and I am at my happiest.

Our types tend to be under-focused on things like to-do lists or anything smacking of organization; and over-focused on things we find interesting, absorbing, fun or creative.   I can get so lost in a new idea for a book, blog topics, photography, recipes, decorating projects, researching the history of a vintage find, or helping a friend — that hours pass like minutes.   I once got out of the bathtub one morning, wrapped in a towel with my hair dripping wet, sat down at the computer with an idea for a book chapter, then got totally lost in the flow. When I looked up, to my absolute shock —  my kids were home from school, and I had not moved, dressed, or eaten for 7 hours.

We also tend to lose and forget things with incredible regularity.  As my husband says, “It is a full-time job just being a Becky.”

One other quirk I have is thinking I am out of a particular grocery item, and then buying it repeatedly, ad nauseum.  Until I suddenly realize I have 13 jars of mustard, 6 bottles of sesame oil and 5 heads of cauliflower. This week I discovered that I had unwittingly socked away FOUR  big bags of apples.  The benefit of these surprising surpluses is that it kicks in with my creative juices as I come up with a dozen creative ways to use up the overstocked item.

lotsa apples

Today’s recipe comes courtesy of my apple surplus and daydreaming of a fresh apple cake made from an old church cookbook.  I’d lost the cookbook somehow, but my former mother-in-law Beverly was kind enough to send it to me this week so I could recreate this moist and mouth-watering dessert.  It calls for 4 cups of fresh apples, rough chopped in fairly large pieces,  plus a cup of pecans.  These goodies are bound together with a sweet and cinnamony cake batter.   I made a few small tweaks to the original recipe, which I think enhances the flavor.  You can use a bundt cake pan, as I did in the pictures shown, but  you have to grease and flour it really well, and even so there is a good chance the top of the cake will stick here and there to the pan and you’ll have to patch it a bit.  (As I did here:)  It pops out much easier if you bake it in 2 bread pans, plus you can give one away to a friend or freeze it for later.

Besides being perfect for an afternoon snack, we also love this cake that is chocked full of apples and nuts for breakfast, with a couple of slices of turkey bacon and a cold glass of milk or hot coffee.

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FRESH APPLE CAKE

4 cups 4 1/2 cups  apples, peeled and coarsely chopped (leave some the size of a teaspoon)
1 3/4 cups sugar (I prefer raw sugar)
2 eggs, separated
3/4 cup canola or coconut oil or other healthy oil of your choice
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon  baking soda

2 t. baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon cinnamon
l cup pecans or walnuts, broken into fairly big pieces

Mix chopped apples with sugar and let stand in a bowl.
Beat egg whites till stiff, add yolks and beat, add oil and mix well.
Combine sugared apples and oil-egg mixture.  Mix well by hand.
Stir dry ingredients together.
Add dry ingredients and nuts to apple mixture.
Pour into  VERY well-greased and floured Bundt pan or tube pan, or 2 bread pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour,15 minutes. (Just one hour if you bake it in bread pans).

While cake is still warm to the touch, but cooled some, loosen the edges with a sharp knife.  Turn over onto a plate and drizzle with the following glaze:

3 T. melted butter

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Juice of 2 clementines, or 1 orange, or 1 lemon

Mix well in a small bowl with whisk or fork.

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Vitamin Roulette: Confessions of an Almost Lethal Messy

meme messy

(Becky, the Mama)

Least you think that because I’ve co-authored a book on the subject of self-care that I somehow “have it all together” — let me hasten to assure you (before others start volunteering to do so on my behalf) that this is SO not the case.  First, a visual: a couple of snapshots my daughter (and co-author Rachel) put together of my actual dishwasher after I loaded it (“drunk monkey style”) and one of Rachel’s dishwasher, the way she loads it (like “a lab scientist”).

These are actual pictures of how we each load our dishwashers. I can say this, at least: I am a FAST loader.

These are actual pictures of how we each load our dishwashers. I can say this, at least: I am a FAST loader.

Next, here is a little excerpt from Nourished, where I share a couple of my other potentially lethal flaws.

I’ve always found a measure of comfort in having lots of stuff around me, even when I sleep, like a pack rat’s nest.

I could list dozens of areas where I fight the tide of disorganization, but few have been as daunting as keeping pills, vitamins, and supplements in their bottles, something that unnerves both Rachel and Greg. We have several spots in the house where miscellaneous pills and supplements have spilled then mingled together, like jelly bean assortments. I always plan on sorting them out, one day, looking up the embedded numbers on the internet to figure out if a mystery pill is an Aspirin or Gingko or rogue cyanide. The other night Greg asked if I had a Tylenol in my bedside table. I opened the drawer and took a dubious look at the pharmaceutical collage rolling about and asked, “Are you feelin’ lucky?”

“Never mind,” he said. “I’m not brave enough for Vitamin Roulette tonight.”

He always double checks even when I give him a pill from a bottle, since the night I accidentally gave him a No Dose instead of a sleep aid—a night he recalls every moment of in vivid detail. My purse is another interesting place where pills and vitamins like to gather and do odd things. Rachel and Jackson were recently here visiting, and the adjustment to the altitude gave her a nasty migraine. “Do you have an Excedrin, Mom?” she asked as she rubbed her head.

“Just a minute,” I said, digging in my purse. “Ah ha! I do! Here you go.”

She took the pill, and a puzzled look crossed her face. “Mom, that’s a red M&M.”

“No, honey. See the E on the front? It’s ‘Excedrin.’”

“Mom, put on your reading glasses. See, you’ve got ‘the pill’ rotated the wrong way. Give it a quarter turn. See? It’s an M, and there’s a little chocolate showing where the red candy has melted in your purse, and is now melting in my hands.”

“My goodness, I’ve kept those three M&Ms in the zipper pocket of my purse for two months, sure they were pain killers. Whaddaya know?”

Besides learning that an “M” looks like an “E” when laid on its side, I have also discovered that if you put a few Tylenol PMs into a Ziploc bag and then the bag falls into a hotel sink , and then you accidentally turn on the faucet in the dark of night (and do not close said bag very well), in the morning you will have a blue Play-Doh-like substance that can also put you to sleep and cure a headache.

You might also ask me how I know that a fish oil capsule, warmed in the sun in the lining of a purse will leave it smelling like three day old tuna for weeks.

All this preamble to say, though I am much improved from my days as a teen and young mom—I still struggle. Organization is as sticky a subject as the console of my car.

act together meme

If you are curious as to whether or not I ever found my Inner Organizer,  you might enjoy grabbing a copy of Nourished and read “the rest of the story.” 

“In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find – and I hear from other people that they agree – that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness. Gretchen Rubin

Nourished cover final


He Calls Me Darlin’ — Hearing God’s Voice of Love for YOU, Personally

Meme rach and Jack

In the last chapter of our book, Nourished,  we talk about the foundation of a nourishing relationship with God, the way we view Him, and closer to the heart of the topic: how we believe God sees and feels about us. 

(from “He Calls Me Darlin'” , an excerpt from Nourished)

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(Becky, the Mama)

I recently came to realize, with some measure of gladness and satisfaction, that each of my grown children had assumed that they were my “favorite child”—which is exactly as it should be. It let me know that I had done at least a few things right as a mother. And they are absolutely correct: each and every one of them is my favorite child.

In the book The Shack, the God “figure” is played by an African American woman and she has an endearing way of talking about each of her “children” and adding, “I’m especially fond of that one.” The main character, Mack, begins to notice this trend, and asks her at one point, “Are there any you are not especially fond of?’

She answers, “Nope, I haven’t been able to find any. Guess that’s jes’ the way I is.”

Could it be that God is “especially fond” of each of us and that we are, every one individually, his most favorite child?

I find it interesting that the apostle John referred to himself, over five times, as “the disciple Jesus loved” or “the beloved disciple.” His identity, his name, after so many years with Christ, was simply, “The one Jesus loves.” I cannot help but wonder if the other disciples might each have believed they were Christ’s favorite, too, that he was “especially fond” of them as well. Or perhaps John was so focused on the great love of God, he wanted to make a point by replacing his own name with a description of his belongingness. When you abide, which means to “settle down to make yourself at home” in God’s love, your whole identity changes. Your central role in life is no longer Becky, or Rachel, or “mom,” or “wife,” or “writer,” but the older you get and more you allow God’s love to seep in to your very pores, the more your identity becomes, “The beloved daughter of God.”

Try tacking on this “beloved” identity to your own name, just for fun. Here, I’ll go first. “Hello, I am Becky, The Woman Jesus Loves. But for short, some people just called me Becky the Beloved.” Now you try it, with your name.  Let it soak in.  And just for today, simply let God love you. Nothing more.

 


Your Inner Elephant: How to Make Changes that STICK

elephant meme

(“Dumbo and Me” — an excerpt from our newly released book, Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full NIght’s Sleep)

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Lasting change requires two things: a plan and the motivation to tackle it. In the fascinating book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath refer to these two parts of our decision-making brain as The Rider and The Elephant. The Rider is the planner, the logical part of us that researches, makes lists, and follows steps into change. The Elephant is that big, emotive part of ourselves that has to be reached and motivated in order to make a change, even a small one. An Elephant without a Rider is all feeling and impulse, lumbering and stampeding with heartfelt, unbridled, and directionless emotion. Still, The Elephant has its own kind of intuitive wisdom, and needs to be heard and acknowledged.

The Rider without The Elephant, on the other hand, is like a woman standing on a path in the jungle, a well-thumbed guidebook in hand―but without the gumption needed to move off center and actually go anywhere. How many of us have embarked on a new diet or exercise plan, or determined to “get this house organized”―only to find our Inner Dumbo has decided to sit down and roll over our best intentions? Perhaps dousing us with a spray of pond water for good measure? What happened? In short, we did not take the time needed to hear, get to know, and motivate our Inner Elephant.

Think back to a time in your life when you made a real change that lasted. You’ll recognize that your inner Elephant and your Rider were in sync, working together to get you down a new path that took your life’s happiness quota up a few notches. Though I am naturally a messy person, I fell deeply in love with a good man who needs at least a modicum of order to feel balanced and happy. Motivated by love for my husband and desire to see him functioning at his best (engaging The Elephant of feeling and motivation), I made a plan and put into action the steps of cleaning up the kitchen and living room every evening (The Rider) until they became natural habits. Our lives are happier for this relatively minor adjustment that eventually turned into a habit that I’ve kept up for almost a decade now.

One of the simple reasons that Rachel’s extreme schedule makeover didn’t work out (besides factors like illness and drop-in-crazy people) was that, frankly, she didn’t give her Inner Elephant that much-desired cup of coffee. And that Elephant wasn’t going to budge without caffeine, no matter how much her logical Inner Rider argued against it.

If you want to follow a lasting and nourishing way to change, you’ve got to make friends with your inner Rider AND  Elephant.

(To read more about ways to make lasting, positive changes that stick & stay, order or download a copy of Nourished today! )

Here’s what Dr. Daniel Amen, brain research pioneer, had to say about Nourished:

“Those familiar with our work at the Amen Clinic  know we believe that when you nourish your brain, you nourish your life.  The converse is also true: when you nourish your life with one healthy change after another, you also nourish your brain.  Becky and Rachel are, at turns, funny and informative, light-hearted and deeply inspiring.  I found their book,  Nourished, to be delightful, practical brain tonic for women dealing with every day stresses. “

Dr. Daniel Amen, MD,  New York Times bestselling author ( Change Your Brain, Change Your Life; Unleash the Power of the Female Brain;  Use Your Brain to Change Your Age) and co-author of the #1 NYT bestseller, The Daniel Plan (along with Rick Warren and Dr. Mark Hymen).  He is also producer and host of 9 public television specials and founder and director of The Amen Clinics.


A More Nourishing Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

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Fun news for the New Year!  I had the honor of writing a post about a more “nourishing approach” to New Year’s Resolutions for Fox News this week.

Here’s the link to the article below (and a re-print of the blogpost as well), which echoes one of the themes throughout our new book, Nourished, which releases in just  5 more days!

AND … you have just 3 more days to get a great 2-fer deal– if you pre-order Nourished, you get a free ebook of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.  Just click on the photo below for more details

Pre-Order Nourished by January 4, 2015 and get We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook FREE

Now here’s the re-blog of the Fox News piece I wrote this week, in case you missed it! 

Forget New Year’s Resolutions, Try Nourishing Compromises Instead! 

By Becky Johnson

It is that time of year. Having fudged or forgotten our New Year’s Resolutions from the previous year, we open up our spiffy new planners and list the same idealistic goals all over again.

It’s amazing how we Americans spend our lives making new goals each January (with the enthusiasm of a child in a Superman cape), but tend to lose interest in actually keeping those goals by somewhere around Groundhog Day.

In our new book, “Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full-Night’s Sleep,” my daughter Rachel and I spent a year contemplating, researching and trying to live more nourished lives.

What I love most about Nourishing Compromises vs. New Year Resolutions is that once you get the hang of it, you never have to put happiness on hold until some future goal is accomplished.

We began by looking at the top 10 everyday stressors that put a kink in our joy and a drag in our step. To our surprise, the real challenge was not figuring out what changes we needed to make to live happier, healthier lives. The problem was how to motivate ourselves to actually implement those changes and make them stick.

Enter something we came to call Nourishing Compromises.

Rachel and I found that some of the most instantly freeing changes we made had nothing to do with a physical plan of action. Instead, they were decisions to simply shift our perspective, reframe a frustrating situation, or mentally minimize the impact some toxic person had on our life.

It involved nothing more than transforming our thoughts.

In fact, once we got our heads in a better place, we often discovered that nothing more was needed.

Maybe you don’t need a new job, but a fresh attitude.

Maybe you don’t need to lose 20 pounds, you just need to love the body you are in and see it as sexy and gorgeous AS IS.

It wasn’t long before we realized we emphasized our Outer Bucket List—the ones that eat away at time we don’t have—over our Inner Bucket List much too often. A miracle shift in perspective can often bring instant inner peace without changing another thing.

Most of the time, however, nourishing change involves a compromise of both: a little shift in perspective and a little action. A change of attitude can keep you happy at your current job while still searching for a career that is a better, more enjoyable fit.

Love and embrace your body as is, see it as womanly and beautiful, curvy or voluptuous. Then treat it with healthy food and enjoyable exercise and maybe lose three or four pounds—and that could be all you need to feel happy in your own skin.

Rather than getting up an hour early to pray, perhaps you could turn your commute into time to commune with God.

Imagine two good friends, one named Loving Acceptance and one named Take Action, walking toward each other, meeting half way between their two homes for a friendly cup of coffee and conversation.

This middle place is where most of the magic takes place. Where we cut ourselves a little mental slack, even as we work toward a doable goal. We meet ourselves in the middle, adjusting our attitude some, making some realistic tweaks.

What I love most about Nourishing Compromises vs. New Year Resolutions is that once you get the hang of it, you never have to put happiness on hold until some future goal is accomplished.

It’s time to rethink resolutions. Why not make a list of Nourishing Compromises this year instead? Not only do they lead to a more nourished life, but you’ll be much happier with yourself—both within and without—come January 2015.

Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph are co-authors of the new book, “Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep.” (Zondervan, January 6, 2015). They blog, respectively, at www.laughcrycook.com and www.thenourishedmama.com.


3rd Alternative to Getting Hurt or Angry: Or When Mother Teresa Meets Tina Fey

becky zen meme

Nourished Living 

(Becky, the Mama) 

Because I am one of those ultra sensitive souls, I am typically “porous” for negative emotions bouncing around me (or worse, toward me). But I experienced something fascinating a few months ago when I was caught in a small room with people who had an abundance of off-kilter logic, controlling “name it and claim it” spirituality and barely disguised contempt for a couple of us who were obviously not in their rah-rah camp.  With pasted-on-smiles they dished out holier-than-thou belittling, with a few passive-aggressive jabs thrown in for good measure. The exact situation that would have, in the past, triggered waves of uncontrollable shaking in me.  This would could be followed by automatic fight or flight response that might hold me an emotional hostage for hours, or days.  PTSD is such a joy.

Because I was in a situation where I could not leave, I sat in this tiny room, with this negative nuttiness bouncing around me for several hours. But here’s where the miracle came, where I saw that the six months of therapy with my brilliant counselor had paid off:  Instead of absorbing it or going into my typical “deer in headlights” response, or worse, a full-blown meltdown, I sort of floated above the scene in my mind.  And when I looked down on it, in a truly detached way… I experienced what have only been able to describe as ….benevolent amusement. I found myself actually smiling and nodding kindly, feeling as though I’d morphed into an odd combination of Mother Teresa and Tina Fey.

I saw so clearly that these folks chose their mode of thinking and behaving, and intense (aggressive?) spirituality as a desperate attempt to 1) control the uncontrollable and 2) make them feel okay about themselves. In short, they were avoiding the painful emotions of shame, fear or depression by their beliefs and behavior. And I saw this because, I too, have been there, done that. Maybe I still do. Maybe we all do this at some level. Denial is a good band-aid until genuine self-acceptance and grace take its place.

What blew me away about this experience was that I left those hours in that small room with quirky, self-righteous personalities … and not only did I leave it personally unscathed, but I left it feeling this wonderful melding of compassion and amusement. I felt as though I’d finally stumbled upon a key to something hugely important. That Benevolent Amusement is a 3rd and more healthy stance than 1) absorbing negativity and getting triggered,hurt or wounded; 2) getting flooded with toxic anger and striking back.

Later, reflecting over the scene, I thought, “Wow. This must be what people call  ‘rising above’ .. ”

And, interestingly,  it felt a lot like relaxed peace.  

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Mona Lisa & Her Smile of Benevolent Amusement


What’s Rachel Been Doing?

Well, maybe only our most loyal readers will realize it, but I haven’t been around much! After my last post way back in the Spring, I started working on a new blog, The Nourished Mama, a place where I can talk all things motherhood…which is pretty much where my life is fully entrenched for the foreseeable future.

I’ll still be doing food blogs over there and hopefully will still pop over here occasionally. But don’t worry, my mom Becky, who lets face it, did 75% of the blogs here anyway, will be holding down the fort at We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find at The Nourished Mama. Check it out and be sure to subscribe, if this is your cuppa tea, so you won’t miss a post.

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Where Standards Are Low and Grace is High — My first post

 

Our Family Dinner Rule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Family Dinner Rule That Keeps Our Toddler at the Table

 

Little Boy in Yellow Goggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Boy in the Yellow Goggles — Jackson, 3 1/2, is so funny these days and providing me with more material than I can churn out right now!

 

Chickpea Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chickpea “Chicken” Salad — My summer sandwich obsession

 

Nourished Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zondervan Announces New Book Nourished in an Official Press Release

 

View More: http://whitleydaniellephotography.pass.us/randolph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Coffee Shop Tab is Going Up by a Cup — My latest post! 🙂

I love you loyal Laugh, Cry, Cookers! You’ve launched my writing career, cheered me on through my first three years of motherhood, made me laugh, brought me to grateful tears, and inspired me to be a better, more authentic version of me. Thank you!


Without Autumn, Spring Can’t Come: Lessons in Letting Go

Room with an Autumn View

Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember nothing stays the same for long, not even pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.”
― May Sarton

Nourish Your Soul 

(Becky, the Mama)

If I had to sum up what this past year has taught me it is that life is like leaves on a tree. Something buds and is born, then it blossoms, flourishes, changes form and color. Then at some point, begins to fade. The hard part comes where we have no choice but to let go of “what was” — trust the wind and the soil to do “the thing they do” to the leaves given up to their care. This is followed by a time of lying dormant, fallow, at rest, no visible sign of productivity — but much is taking place within the quiet huddle of wintry hibernation.

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And then, in due season, new buds, verdant green, pink blossoms … Spring. That feeling of something beginning, growing again. Bearing fruit, sharing the bounty and shade of your presence with others.

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The greatest lesson in all this, for me, is that without a Letting Go, there is no room for the New Thing that wants to be born. We must not cling too tightly to yesterday least we miss what God is doing today, and the good surprises waiting for us, around the bend, in our tomorrows.

Cannon Beach 011

“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.” Isaiah 43: 19-20 The Message

Where are you in the emotional/spiritual cycle of seasons?


Shrimp in Alfredo Sauce over Crispy Polenta with Greens

DSC_0030(Becky, the Mama.)

I love it when a plan comes together, when a dish in your imagination turns out as delicious as the actual experiment.  This is one such meal.

Last night I  put a little gourmet Italian twist on southern-style Shrimp n’ Grits, then added a serving of smoky-garlicky greens as a side. The results?  Not only was the presentation gorgeous, it tasted heavenly.  As in I would absolutely put a this recipe in the category of “the perfect bite” and serve it up in a spoon to Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain on the show “The Taste”.  Then step back and wait for them to swoon and hand me the prize without further debate.

In place of  the traditional grits, I pan-fried thin slices of ready-made polenta, often used in Italian recipes.  I used Trader Joe’s brand, which comes in package shelf (not refrigerated), usually near the Italian section of the store.  It looks like moist, cooked cornmeal made into a log and wrapped in plastic.  That is because, well, it is.   It is not the most appetizing looking food when you open it up for slicing. (Think yellow corn grits that may have been left too long in a pan.) However, once you’ve pan-fried them in olive oil and butter, with a little salt and pepper…. Look out, Louise.   They turn into crispy-edged, buttery disks of corny decadence.

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polenta skilletI made a quick n’ easy, creamy Alfredo sauce for the shrimp and paired it side dish of greens–  a mixture of kale and some wonderful fresh greens, a gift from our neighbor’s garden.

I can’t wait for you to try this recipe, a Taste of Tuscany meets South in Your Mouth.

Bon appetito, Ya’ll!

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Shrimp Alfredo with Crispy Polenta and Greens

Serve’s 2

Ingredients

For Polenta:

½ log of pre-made polenta

1 T. butter

1T. olive oil

Dash salt and pepper

 

For Shrimp and Alfredo:

20 pieces of raw medium shrimp, cleaned, peeled, tails removed

1 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup cream

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Dash salt

 

For Greens:

1 T. Olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced,

½ red onion, diced fine

2 slices pork or turkey bacon diced fine

4 cups loosely packed, rough chopped  kale and/or other greens,  thick stems mostly removed

½ cup water

1 t. smoked paprika

1 T. vinegar, your favorite

1 T. brown sugar

Salt and Pepper (or Grill Seasoning or Cajun Seasoning) to taste

Tabasco or Frank’s Red Sauce or Red Chili Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Start the greens first, so they can simmer on the back burner.  In your largest deepest skillet, saute olive oil, garlic, red onion and bacon, until bacon crisps. Pile the greens on top of this mixture in the skillet, cover with ½ cup of water, cover, and let the greens cook down about 5 minutes over medium heat. Take lid off and stir in paprika, vinegar and brown sugar, add salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste.  Cover again and simmer while you make the shrimp and sauce.  (Adding water if needed to keep from scorching, but no more than necessary.)

In another skillet (I like my iron skillet) let oil and butter melt and get hot while you slice the polenta into ¼ inch or so rounds.  Place the rounds in the skillet and turn heat up to medium high so that the polenta starts to pan fry.  When it is golden brown in places, turn it over and brown the other side.  Sprinkle the tops very lightly with salt and pepper.  Remove to a paper towel to drain any excess grease, then cover with another paper town to keep warm.

Wipe out the iron skillet with a paper towel, and then put in oil and garlic and shrimp.  Cook for just a minute or two until shrimp just turns pink on both sides.  (You can add a little water to the pan if the shrimp starts to stick.)  Add cream and parmesan cheese.  Stir and heat until cheese is melted and the shrimp and sauce is heated through.  Season lightly with salt to taste, if needed.

Put about 5 or 6  rounds of polenta on each plate.  Pile with shrimp and sauce.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika.  Serve with a side of the greens.


Wanted: F-d Up People to Heal the World

george and jackson white

Nourish Your Soul 

(Becky, the mama.)

I enjoyed the most fabulous dinner last night with dear friends. The kind of conversation that lasted five hours, but the time flew so that you never noticed the ticking clock. We’ve shared our deepest wounds and struggles and, thus, our bond is deep. As Heather Kopp noted so perfectly in her book Sober Mercies, “people bond more deeply over shared brokenness than they do shared beliefs.”

I shared Heather’s quote in a small group of folks the other night. One young man, about age thirty said, “That is so true. I just can’t bond with people who are perfect or have their act together. I bond with really f-d up people.” Pause. Then he pointed my way and said, “Like Becky!”

I shrugged, did a Vanna White-style gesture of myself, and say, “Let it be duly noted that I am Exhibit A under ‘F’d- Up People’.” He just kept on talking, earnestly, as my husband Greg and I exchanged glances and struggled not to laugh. Both of us knew this guy really, sincerely meant it as a compliment. Which I am going to cherish always.

It is in this theme, the “bonding of brokenness” that I am getting a hint at why some of our troubles are not instantly healed. Many of us have long-carried a chronic ache — whether it is physical, relational, emotional or spiritual. Whether it is a depressed mood or a bad back, a lost dream or a lost child, we’ve not been able to pray or positive-think this trouble away, though Lord knows we’ve given it our all.

Thornton Wilder’s play, “The Angel Who Troubled the Waters,” is based on the biblical story of the angel who troubled the waters at the pool of Bethesda. Wilder imagines a surprising twist, however, on the familiar scene. As the original story goes, whoever gets to the water first, after the angel stirs it, gets healed.  A  physician who has suffered for years with a “flaw of the heart,” has been waiting for years for his chance at healing, and he finally sees and ceases the opportunity to be first in the  pool!

angelwater

But an angel appears to him before he can touch the water and says, “Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very sadness that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.”

Later, the person who enters the pool first and was healed rejoices in his good fortune then turns to the physician before leaving and says, “But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I — I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood. Only an hour . . . my daughter, since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us but she will listen to you.”

It is strangely true that “in Love’s service” it often takes one broken person to reach another broken person. And perhaps this sheds some light on why we are not all instantly healed of our messy lives, our messy minds, our messy bodies, our messy hearts.

God can only use Wounded Soldiers in some of the most difficult missions on earth.

When we look at our life that has held its share of grief, pain, failures, struggles and wounds, it helps to know that our pain can serve a purpose; that our troubles equip us for the mission of bonding with and binding up other broken, hurting, f-d up people.

You aren’t cursed; you are called.. . to love and to comfort ever more deeply.

RT 1

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Psalm 34:18

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

2 Cor 1:4