Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Night BBQ

We have an entire weekend of awesome home cooking planned. Kicked it off tonight with grilled seasoned skirt steak in a cilantro almond pesto and grilled eggplant and patty pan squash with a simple mint balsamic vinaigrette. Jessica Hazelton also came over to help with the prep and consumption of this fantastic meal. The pesto is a must try. You can find the steak recipe here:

For the side dish we just sliced and grilled the veggies (eggplant, patty pan squash, and sweet onion) with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Then made a quick simple vinaigrette with fresh chopped mint, lavendar balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over veggies and serve. Yum!

Stay tuned for more new recipes throughout the weekend.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Faith Based Advocacy

I have the privilege of sitting on my church's Stewardship Committee. Our mission is to help deepen people's understanding of stewardship and lead them towards growth in faith and life through stewardship activities. Each month we have a different stewardship theme that we focus on. This month the theme was Faith Based Advocacy. Here is an article I wrote for the Church Newsletter that I thought I would share.

Advocacy is the act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing. Perhaps some of our earliest experiences in life with this concept might have been standing up to a bully and advocating on behalf of another child who was being picked on at school. Whether we directly faced the opponent, or ran to tell an adult, we were suddenly aware of three things: (1) This was a situation of injustice, (2) we did not like to see the other person suffer, and (3) the situation could only persist if we allowed it to. While the child targeted by the bullying may have felt too scared to do anything about it, we suddenly learned that we had this powerful thing called a voice where we could stand up on the other’s behalf and relieve their suffering.

In the adult world, we think most commonly of advocacy in terms of public policy. From a Stewardship framework, we ask the question, ‘How can Government best utilize our civic time, talents, and treasures to serve God’s purposes?’ In Dr. Karen Bloomquist’s series on “Faith Based Advocacy” which took place at Faith over the last several weeks, we talked a lot about how to advocate for public policy which brings relief to those who are the most vulnerable in society. This can include not only the poor and the marginalized, but also Creation itself. The vulnerable segments of our society, in their daily efforts to survive, may not have the autonomy or the resources to rise up out of their own cycles of poverty, abuse, or exploitation. It requires the strong voices of many, and particularly those of Christians, to bring these issues before our public policy leaders and seek a more fair, equitable and responsible distribution of our civic resources to protect those who are most vulnerable. This is our mandate as Christians, for Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45).

As Christians, we strive for public policy that is not dictated by partisanship but rooted in faith. In these efforts, the Social Policy Statement adopted by the ELCA in 1999, called “Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All,” can be our guide ( For All indicates the scope of God’s concern, which is all inclusive and includes the poor and vulnerable. There are no prequalification requirements to be a child of God. We are all loved unconditionally. Livelihood designates the means by which our life is sustained. Whether it is through paid jobs, self employment, business ownership, accumulated wealth, family support, or government assistance, livelihood is that which gives us access to what is needed to thrive. Sufficiency implies adequate access to resources that enable people to meet their basic needs including nutrition, clothing, housing, healthcare, personal development, and participation in the community with dignity. The key word is adequate and causes us to ask serious questions about our tendencies as individuals and as a society to over consume. And Sustainability is the capacity of natural and social systems to survive together over the long term. While the first three issues deal with people, sustainability reminds us that what is good for humanity always must be tempered with, informed by, and held in tension with what is good for Creation.

“Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All,” is a Christian faith based economic ethic that can guide us in the difficult decisions we face as individuals, churches, and civic communities about how to manage our time, talents, and treasures. It can lead us toward a vision and embodiment of what government was meant to be -- an economic agency where individuals make sacrifices to support the common good, rather than a mechanism for protecting and promoting individual interest groups. Moreover, “Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All,” is a statement of faith. It reminds us in times of uncertainty that God does provide for us and Creation does bear all of the things that are needed to meet our basic human needs if only we are to live sustainably and for the good of all. When Christians come together to advocate for the vulnerable, public policy can be one way in which God’s will for the good of all Creation is carried out.

To read more of the ELCA's Social Statement on "Sufficient, Sustainable, Livelihood for All," visit the ELCA website at: (

Also, consider reading and signing this ecumenical statement to appeal to our national leaders in the face of budget challenges not to cut those programs which are basic to the survival of the poor and vulnerable in our society:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Garden Delight Brown Rice Casserole

Well it looks like I need to change the date on my camera!

The life organizing, finance crunching, meal planning, cooking bug has crept back in on me. It's rooted in concepts way to vast to explore in one one blog, particularly when I have limited myself to 10 minutes to spend on the computer before I go to bed (part of that whole organizing thing). But lets just say for now, that out of an interesting convergence of spiritual issues, ethical consciousness, healthy endeavors, and family matters have all come together to form this exciting new cocktail: The Garden Delight Brown Rice Casserole (pictured above).

You know me and meal planning. I love to hunt for recipes, pick them out, try new things, plan ahead. I have trouble making dinner on the fly or even going to the grocery store before I know what I'm getting. And that's where I'm trying to grow myself right now. I'm currently on the hunt for good base recipes that I can go to at any time where I can draw from an economical source of staples I usually have on hand, but swap out the revolving door of fresh ingredients I have coming through my kitchen by Dandelion Organic Deliveries to create fun new flavor combinations. Garden Delight Brown Rice Casserole is my first attempt and a successful one at that for such a base recipe. It's called "Garden Delight" because you can use whatever seasonal or sale vegetables you happen to have on hand and the possibilities are as wide as you can imagine. See recipe below, and if you want to be a good sport, send me you're ideas for veggie combos you feel inspired to try.

2 cups uncooked brown rice (you could also try white, jasmine, wild rice or even barley)
2 cups water
2 cups broth (chicken, beef, or veggie - I used homemade chicken stock)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups onion, diced
6 to 12 cups of fresh chopped veggies (I used crookneck summer squash, pattipan squash and diced carrot because that's what I had on hand)
Salt & Pepper
Fresh herbs or dried herbs (your choice here too, I used fresh basil leaves)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used medium tillamook cheddar, you could also try swiss, gruyere, jalapeno jack, mozzarella)
4 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup Parmesan (Romano or Dubliner would be great options)
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring water and broth to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add rice. Lower to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is done.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add additional vegetables, salt and pepper to taste, and saute until crisp tender. Remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl, combine rice, vegetables, 2 cups shredded cheese, and egg mixture. Stir to combine all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased glass baking dish. Spread mixture out evenly. Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Dot with butter (this will help create a nice golden crunchy top).

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Casserole is done when the top is golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


I'm thinking about getting back into blogging more. Lots of thoughts buzzing around in my head. Lots of interests, goals, values swimming around that need to be channeled. So why not a quick blog to blog about blogging. This concludes your teaser. More to follow.