Posted in thinks & thoughts

Peace in the Barren

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Over the years, Christmas and the season leading up to it, have held many meanings for me. When I was young, I loved it simply because it meant beauty and snow and family and presents. I always knew we celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas but it wasn’t my main focus. When I grew older and had small children? It was a time of unintentional chaos. Gone was my ability to see much beauty or feel any peace. Making sure that my three sugar plums had a magical Christmas made me too plum tired to feel anything at all. Finding all the right presents, doing all the right traditions, making sure we saw all the branches of the family tree, making my decorations perfectly perfect, and oh yes, see that baby in a manger over there kids? That’s Jesus! Let’s wave as we pass by!

A couple years later found me wiped clean. After suffering a year of hardship that seems unreal to this day, it was fitting that it all came to a close in late November. When I got through that time and could finally blink my eyes into focus at the world around me, it had turned grey and cold. Barren. And in that barrenness, I found strange comfort. Maybe God, knowing my artistic and sometimes fanciful dramatic ways, knew that I would find beauty and peace in seeing what I felt on the inside, being reflected back at me in the physical world. A heavenly reset to help me focus on Christ with a quiet mind and open heart. The definition of barren varies. As an adjective it means bleak, lifeless, cannot bear fruit. As a noun it can mean dangerous land. The season leading up to Christmas, at least here where I live, can certainly be described as barren. The leaves are gone. The fields are cut down. It is bitter cold. Nothing grows. And yet, I have found it the perfect season to prepare my heart to celebrate the birth of Christ. Before Christ, was it not dangerous land? Before Christ, wasn’t life, less? Without Christ, my view is bleak. I can’t grow, or maybe the correct word is won’t, without Jesus bursting my seams to make me something greater for Him. When I see the world around me bleak and grey and cold, now, it’s a stark reminder of a dangerous land that a scared young mother traveled as she made her way to a tiny stable to bring Light into a lifeless world. These last few years, I have learned a new peace, as I feel the chill around me and look at grey sunless skies. And with this barren time, comes the sweetest promise of love for life. Emmanuel, God with us.

~For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:11-14

Posted in no queso no leche, soul food

Holly’s Hummus

I love hummus.  It’s one of those foods that’s good for you, fun to eat, yet sort of uppity.  What I mean by that is that it’s typically a more grown up food, yet there are so many ways to fix it.  You can go nice and simple, or dress it up with things like, sun-dried tomatoes.  Or if you really want to culturally confuse your hummus, you could add cilantro and jalapeno pepper to it.  YUM!  Me?  I like to dress it down and get back to the basics.  Just plain old hummus.  Over the years, I’ve tweaked my recipe until I have it just where I like it. Fabulous!  (Everyone’s palate for hummus is different.  So if you feel like you need to add a bit more or less of any specific ingredient, go ahead.  All’s fair in love and hummus!)

You will need…

one can of chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup good tahini paste

2-3 teaspoons of minced garlic (the cheaty kind in the jar from the produce section)

the juice from half a lemon

sea salt to taste (anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon)

1/2 cup water (divided)

two tablespoons olive oil

In your food processor, dump the drained chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, about half the water and salt. Pulse a few times to start incorporating everything. Scrape the sides down, add more water if you desire, (maybe even a pinch more salt) and then turn the processor on and let it go for at least 30 seconds.  We don’t want chunks in our hummus.  Chunks in hummus are not good.  They won’t make the hummus any more uppity than it already is.  In fact, chunks in the hummus will take it to a side of town that we don’t want to go to.  So mix it up!!  Okay 🙂  Now, if your processor is like mine, there’s that neat little thing at the top that I can remove while it’s still running so I can drizzle in the olive oil while it’s going.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. Just remove the lid, dump in the olive oil, and continue to process until you’ve got yourself the smoothest, creamiest, most awesome hummus in your county.  Unless, you live in my county.  Then you’ll have to call me and we can talk about it.  Will it be the battle of the church picnic hummuses?  Oh, one can only dream!!! Serve your hummus with whatever you like.  Personally, I like to thinly slice an english cucumber and dip it like a chip.  Or carrot sticks.  Or pita. Whatever your hummus-y lil’ heart desires.

**hummus related trivia**

What character, on what popular t.v. sitcom said, “Hummus…I got the hummus!”?  🙂