Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spicy Tomatillo Salsa

When Nicole and I made our Mexican dinner on Wednesday we had some tomatillos that we didn't use. Nicole graciously sent them home with me. What else was I to do? When life hands you tomatillos, make salsa. 

It turned out brilliantly and I have been putting it on everything.

I took some jalapenos, tomatillos, and garlic and roasted them in a nonstick pan. Then I threw all that into the blender with cilantro, lime juice, and some salt. It is SPICY, but oh so good! You know how much I already love sauces, but this one is special. It has a fantastic blend of heat, tang, and vibrance. I put it into a recycled Kombucha bottle, and I have already used up half of it.

Spicy Tomatillo Salsa
5 Tomatillos
3 Cloves Garlic
3 Jalapenos (it is really spicy, so use less for a more mild salsa)

1 Lime, juiced
1/2 bunch of cilantro
pinch of salt

Take tomatillos, garlic, and jalapenos and roast in a nonstick pan until dark brown on all sides. Place in blender with the cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Blend and taste. If it is too thick you can add a little water.
Use as a topping on eggs, beans, tacos, vegetables, soup, etc.

Nicole brought back little magnet turtles to give everyone. We put ours in the kitchen on the hood over the range. It watches me while I cook, and reminds me not to put too much garlic in the food :). 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope today is a special day filled with good food, family, and fellowship. Chris and I slept in, made breakfast together and are chilling out until we head over to the Fuller's for Thanksgiving dinner.

Today is not only special for the traditions and family, but also for the memories of last year. My husband and I got married the day after Thanksgiving last year. We spent the day working on favors for the reception, planning seating charts, inviting last minute guests, finalizing details, working on decorations, and last but not least making Thanksgiving dinner. This year has flown by, and we are back to the same holiday but as completely different people. I am thankful for the great memories, for my family, for my husband, and for this time of year to focus and celebrate the things for which we are grateful.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, but I want to tell you about last night. My twin sister Nicole and I planned a Mexican Fiesta for the family. We made Azteca Soup, Pico de Gallo with Chips, Chicken and Beef Fajitas with Homemade Corn Tortillas, Refried Beans, and Flan. We had the whole family together which only happens a few times a year, along with my aunt and cousins. I must say that of any food, Mexican is my comfort food. We feasted on vibrant and colorful food full of fresh limes, spicy jalapenos, creamy avocados,  crunchy chips, filling corn tortillas made by hand, salsa ground up in my recently acquired mortar and pestle. grilled meat, and so much more. I was blessed to be a part of such a wonderful family gathering focused around the food and people I love so much.

After dinner we gathered in the family room to give out goodie bags with some things Nicole brought back from Mexico. Then we danced the Cha cha slide and the macarena, and tried to translate a Telenovela (spanish soap opera) :).

It truly was a magical day and one that I will remember for years to come.

We are now headed to spend Thanksgiving with Chris' family and I look forward to some more great food, spending time with my new family and making many more memories.

I love this time of year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lord, Awaken My Heart

I'm sorry I have not posted recently. I have been lacking inspiration and we've been eating leftovers.

You know, it's been hard since I got back from Mexico. It's like I can't remember the things that used to keep me busy and interested. I have been sinking into a hole of loneliness, boredom and apathy, and have been wasting my days on the computer, just filling time. I have fallen back into the bad habit of emotional bingeing on junk food. I haven't been happy, and I don't know how I got here.

Then, I had a revelation yesterday. I have been fighting physically against these emotions and bad habits and failing miserably. I am failing because I failed to realize that this war isn't in the physical, it is spiritual.

I don't like to admit this, but a weakness of mine is depending on circumstances for the quality of my relationship with God. When I was serving on the mission field surrounded by strong Christian brothers and sisters it was easy to be strong in the Lord. Since I have been married we have moved around and had to make new friends and find new church homes. I have felt isolated. I wasn't surrounded by that strong Christian community and I have deteriorated.

I have become selfish with my time, resources, and energy, and have turned down opportunities to serve just because I didn't feel like it. Yesterday I had to take a step back and ask why. How did I get here? Do you want to know what the answer is? It is because I have done nothing. I am sure you have heard of the quote "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". I have not been spending time in the Word, in meditation, in memorization, and in prayer. I have become empty.

I feel the Lord leading me to a time of fasting and prayer. To seek His face, His heart, and His vision, and claim His promises over my life. I will meditate on His word and purpose in my heart to obedient to His call. 

I started fasting this morning and I am  not sure yet how long it is supposed to last. However long it takes for God to speak. Please pray with me that I would allow God to fill my heart with His love and refill me with the Holy Spirit. I need your prayers! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Food of Mexico

I love food. What a surprise, right? I also love eating food from other cultures and one of my favorite cuisines is Mexican food. I greatly enjoy freshly made corn tortillas, all the different types of salsa, beans, pico de gallo, jicama, etc... 

Like I said in my post yesterday, Nicole took me to two of the communities where she has been working. In their culture, if they are having guests they will feed you. So, the first house we went to, in the first community, they were eating a late breakfast and they invited us to eat with them. They had a big pot of soup or 'caldo' on the stove that they dished into bowls. Then we squeezed some lime juice and spooned some spicy salsa into our soup. I enjoyed that meal very much. 

Here is the family's mortar and pestle and they made 'salsa' out of dried chilies, roasted tomatoes, and a pinch of salt. It is spicy, but incredibly flavorful and tasted great in our soup. Now that I have a mortar and pestle I am going to make this salsa all the time!

To make the soup they chopped up big chunks of whole chicken, and put them in a big pot of water with elote (which is kindof like a potato), carrots, and fresh oregano. I was lucky and got the flavorful meat from the neck. I really enjoyed breakfast that day, and I seriously think that I could eat spicy chicken soup for breakfast every day. Yum.

Can you see that huge pot in the backround? Also notice the 2 liter of coke on the table. I loved the soup, but couldn't bring myself to join them in drinking coke for breakfast. They were a wonderful family and I felt so welcomed by their hospitality. The second house we visited they gave us freshly sliced jicama with lime and salt.

One of the last meals we had together, Nicole took me to a place called Tony's where they have homemade tortilla chips and the best guacamole in town.

 We ordered the chicken fajitas to share, along with a big plate of guac and chips.

These were by far the best fajitas and corn tortillas I have ever had. All the ingredients were flavorful and very fresh. 

We visited many more places and ate many great meals. We ate tacos, steak and beans with tortillas, roasted corn with lime and chii, and frozen yoghurt with coconut. 
Nicole and I also cooked in the community kitchen and made quinoa sushi, tomato soup and cornbread, summer rolls, egg noodle lasagna, biscotti, pumpkin smoothies, chocolate popcorn, and many other wonderful things. It was so much fun to be able to cook and eat with someone who loves eating healthy and trying crazy things as much as I do. I know that I will miss Mexico and the great times that I had while I was there. Thank you Nicole for a wonderful trip. 

I am excited because she is flying back to the states today, and during the month that she is here I am going to kidnap her for a few days and bring her up here to Homer where we will make more memories and have many cooking adventures :). 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

People and Places of Mexico

For those of you that haven't heard, I had the privilege of flying to Guadalajara, Mexico for ten days to visit my sister. I just got back on Monday. It was such an incredible trip, I don't know if I can fit it all into one post. So, I will write about where we went and what we did in this post. Tomorrow I will write about all the wonderful food we ate :). You can't go to Mexico without eating some fabulous food!

My twin sister is a missionary and has been living in Guadalajara for about 4 years now. She is working with YWAM and has a passion for reaching communities through relationship and discipleship. I went down to visit her as well has help her with a missions conference she was putting together. In YWAM (which stands for Youth With A Mission) they have campuses all around the world. They live in community with the other missionaries in dorms and houses, with community kitchens, offices, etc...  It is a wonderful organization that has trained countless young people and provides many opportunities to  get involved in missions. If you have any questions or are interested in missions please message me. I would love to talk to you!

This is the view from my sister Nicole's dorm room. Breathtaking.

During the three day conference I volunteered at the coffee shop they have on campus. I got to brush up on my Spanish, and I surprisingly was able to speak pretty good on a conversational level. It has been so long I thought I forgot everything. 

During my time there we also went to visit several of the communities where Nicole has been serving. I am so proud of my sister. Coming in as a stranger it was incredible to see how close she has gotten to these families, how much she loves them and how much they love her. It was a powerful reminder that God's love through us can truly change our community. I came back with a desire to live intentionally in my own community in my own circle of influence. To love as God has loved me.

This is in another community she took me to. A little boy with his goat.

Can you imagine this being your front yard? These people don't have many possessions, but they are richly blessed with the beauty of God's creation. I think I would be content living in a place like that.

On Sunday, the last day I was there, Nicole took me to her church. She teaches Sunday School every week. I was amazed at how attentive they were. They all seem to really love Nicole and I was again reminded of how much love can a difference in someone's life. They were responding to the attention and care Nicole has given them for the last year and it made them want to listen to what she had to say.

John 13:35
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

I learned a lot during my time there. It was wonderful to be able to reconnect with Nicole and experience a little of what her life is like. It was a great trip and tomorrow get ready to see some tasty eats.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger: Sea at the Book of Yum

I found out about this "Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger" event about 2 months ago and knew I wanted to join. Sea at the Book of Yum has been hosting it. For anyone that enjoys reading gluten-free food blogs you can 'adopt' one of them and pick a recipe or two to try out. Then you write about it and talk about the person or blog that you chose. You can click here to see all the adoptions for this month. At the end of the month Sea will compile all of those posts and recipes where you can see what experiments and adoptions others have made. I thought it was a fabulous way of creating community in the blogosphere and I am so excited to be able to join this month.

I was selfish and chose Sea, the amazingly talented woman hosting this event. I haven't been reading her blog for very long, but I greatly enjoy the culture, variety, and creativity she puts into the food she makes. I am a big fan of trying crazy new foods and foods from other cuisines and cultures. She takes those incredible foods, learns how to make them at home, and then generously shows us how.

It took me forever to try and decide on just one recipe to make. Before I even knew about this event, I wrote about making her sorghum flat bread. I have now made several times now and I think it is awesome! I searched through dozens of recipes and I found something truly special. I decided on making her Soccas South American Style.

The socca is what she calls a crepe type flatbread made out of chickpea flour, oil, water, onions, and some seasoning. Then you pour the batter into a preheated cast iron pan and cook it in the oven. It gets nice and crispy and has a great flavor. You don't even taste 'bean' at all. It is naturally gluten free, high protein, low carb, nutrient dense, and best of all it is crispy. I have been looking for so long for something like this and I feel the sky is the limit for the variations of toppings I could use. For tonight, we followed her recipe and used a black bean spread, roasted red peppers, corn, and avacado. To top the socca/pizza she called for a cilantro parsley vinaigrette to drizzle on top. Back when I first saw this recipe it made my mouth water right then and there.

When I was in Mexico last week... which, by the way, it was an INCREDIBLE trip! I had so much fun and spent a wonderful time with my twin. I will write more about that in another post. The point for now is that the one souvenir I purchased was a mortar and pestle or molcajete in Spanish. haha That is when you know you are a genuine cook. When you decide that the one thing you bring back from Mexico is a 6 pound piece of concrete :). But oh the wonderful things I can make with this big hunk of rock. I decided to give it a trial run today and made my vinaigrette in there. It took more time to mash up a huge handful of cilantro with a concrete stick than if I had put it in the food processor. Yet, I was able to enjoy the process and use my hands to create something beautiful. I am finding more and more that I value and crave the ways that I can connect with the food that I eat on a deeper level.

The somewhat stringy but incredibly delicious cilantro sauce.

When Sea made this at her home she rated the recipes on a scale of 1 to 10. She said this for her was a ten and for her husband it was a seven. I decided to do the same thing and honestly for me it was a smashing ten. It combines some of my favorite foods on a crispy flatbread that is gluten free and made out of beans. I mean, can life really get any better? For my husband he said it was a seven. Maybe our husbands are on the same wavelength or something. Next I want to try her divine looking Apple Feta Onion Socca. One thing I know for sure is that I see many soccas in my future :). Thank you Sea!