Archive | December, 2011

Chocolate Chips and the Guzheng

23 Dec

Chocolate chips are about as “native’ a United States food item one can get that are not readily available or used  in much of the rest of the world.

Back in the 70’s I was an exchange student to the Australian Outback–near Walgett, NSW.  When I wanted to make something typically American for my host family I thought of chocolate chip cookies.  They had never heard of such an item.  My mother sent some, a big undertaking, and expensive, in those days.

To the best of my recollection, I saw none for sale and ate no foods in Panama, Mexico or Bolivia in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s containing chocolate chips.

There were lots of chocolate bars in Mongolia, but no chips.

Ditto in Israel.

Back in the 90’s my friend Soon, from Korea, wanted to make Rice Crispy bars.  To her _they_ were the quintessential American food.

_________

The daughter of one of my friends from China plays the Guzheng.  I finally saw a photo of one yesterday and listened to a musician performing on one here today.

The Guzheng similar to a harp.  And a piano.

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Cookies and Arrangements

23 Dec

Yesterday M and X came and we made two kinds of cookies and Christmas arrangements.

X brought a Sichuan dish of mung bean noodles with garlic, cilantro and herbs that we ate at room temperature.  We also had leftover venison chili on rice.  I made chai, which X and M had not had before.  That was a surprise to me.  We went over the various spices I used: cardamon, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, star anise.  Cardamon and nutmeg were not familiar to them.

We made chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the yellow bag: a typical All-American cookie.  Chinese homes, they explained, do not have ovens and they had been at a loss to use the ones found in their apartments here.  X’s daughter and husband in particular wished her to learn how to use the oven to make cookies!  Chocolate chip cookies!  We made and decorated chocolate spritz Christmas tree cookies.

All that butter.  Another thing not used in Chinese cooking.

Then we went out and collected assorted greens, berries, and plant material for the arrangements.

M’s very lovely artistic result:

 

What I made for X:

That morning the Paperwhite narcissus Ellie gave me had come into full enough bloom that i cut them and added them to the arrangement already on our table.

We had such a lovely time.

Sloughing Off

22 Dec

When growing up and running around barefoot all summer the skin on the bottom of my toes and balls of my feet would peel off after a month of wearing shoes for school.

Since they are at it again that makes me feel like maybe nothing scary is happening.  The trip to Israel and Jordan was a shock for my feet.  Shoes are usually worn on these tootsies only when leaving the house or walking.  On the trip I wore boots from the time I was up until I went to bed.

So now the top half of the bottoms are sloughing off in quite an impressive fashion. Flayed feet. Each night I peel off a bit more from the raggedy edges.  Separate peeling areas are now joining into (relatively) vast new areas of fresh rosy pink skin.

Can you imagine what it must be like to be a snake? The skin of your whole body gets dry and rough and separates; even your nictitating eyelids peel off…

The Israeli Baby Surprise Sweater

21 Dec

There is a lot of knitting time on trips.  Waiting in airports, flying across land and sea. And once you are where you are going, there are always odd times to knit, especially when staying with a friend who is a knitter and whose household includes small children. 

And since one more is on the way, what a better time to knit something new-to-me:  Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Babies’ Garter-Stitch Surprise Jacket.  On my list to try for some time.  Mine is more a toddler sweater since I used Noro Kureyon. 

The knitting was started here in the Fingerlakes, proceeded across the Atlantic, was finished in Israel, crossed the Atlantic again; the final sewing, washing, tucking in of ends and sewing on of buttons was accomplished back in the Fingerlakes.  The sweater was then mailed to the midwest, where Uberimma picked it up when she was back for business and with her it once again crossed the Atlantic to its final home back in Israel. 

Whew!  What big trips for a small sweater!

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The Light of Christ

20 Dec

An Advent piece I wrote in 2004.

 

Isaiah 9:1-2, Matthew 4:12

 

Let’s walk out and meet the morning.  It is an hour or more before dawn.  Wear lots of layers — it is cold outside. How dark it is!  We can distinguish the dark grey of the road, the black trees, the lumps of houses, and the midnight blue night sky — impenetrable save for the diamond stars.  Careful — stay on the road — without a light it is easy to stumble in the dark.  There are countless stars shining their feeble light like shiny bits of glass on dark velvet.  And up above us is the Milky Way.  The Incans thought it was the road to heaven. They did their best to find a path to God in the dark.

 

If we keep moving we will eventually warm up. You probably know that most ancient nations believed the sun was a god.  Many myths anticipate some aspect of Jesus’ coming.  The Aztecs thought only human blood sacrifice would keep the sun rising each day. The Incans chose special children to be messengers to the sun.  The Greeks have the story of Helios daily driving his chariot of the sun through the sky dragged by fiery horses.  Though his father tried to save him, Phaeton, Helios’ human son, wanted to be just like Dad and tried one day to drive the sun chariot.  The result was chaos and destruction for earth and death for Phaeton.  All peoples were walking in darkness, longing to know God.

 

Look– the eastern sky is becoming pale.  The dark and the stars fade.   Truth is stranger than any fiction.  From time’s beginning the Triune God planned the death of His only begotten son to bring mankind redemption through a new covenant.   Jesus stepped off His throne and came to us robed in flesh as a human baby.  The road to heaven is through Him–God’s messenger to mankind.  He came not as an equal to His Father, but as a servant, laying down his life. He fulfilled man’s longing.  The sky displays the majesty of a god coming: just above the horizon is a pale butterscotch; the clouds overlaying it are bright fuchsia and an incandescent orange.  All stories were swept away by the True Son’s coming just as the veil of night is swept away by the sun’s rising.  Jesus, the Great Light,  came to all who live in the land of the shadow of death.

 

Wow–Look at that sky!  Dark rose and pink now spread high up into the clouds in the eastern sky, and are reflected even in the west. A scarlet thread of light is seeping, bleeding across the dark horizon’s edge. Each dawn is a symbol of the mercy and forgiveness available to all through the blood of Christ. The sun shines on all people.  It gives light and heat even if hidden by stormy weather.  Just so, God’s redeeming love is available to all, regardless of circumstances.   Now we people of the Light prepare our hearts anew to celebrate the coming of our King of Light.  Let us shine His glory upon those around us who still walk in darkness and live in the shadow of death.  Dawn has come; God Himself came to be with us.  The sky is turning golden– here comes the great light once again.

 

Angels We Have Heard

19 Dec

There are quite a few scripture passages about people being afraid when they see angels.  And the angels are not described, so we assume

they look human-like. Winged messengers from God.  But what if:

There are giant chicken angels over the one small nativity we have out so far this year.

One of the visiting chickens, a Red Comet, accidentally stayed outside Thursday night when there were high winds.  Jay found her Friday morning wandering by the side of the house and returned her to the coop. We think she spent the night in the giant rhododendron. Chickens are not meant to spend the night out-of-doors in the cold winds. There were small spots of blood on the snow where she walked.  Her back end was icy.

Yet she seemed OK until Saturday  late in the day when Jay noticed she was not eating and was hanging apart from the other hens.  She was very light.  He moved her into a pen in the basement, warmer, dry.  Jay coaxed her to start drinking; she was interested but kept falling asleep–or was very hypothermic.  Eventually she started drinking, then drinking with gusto, then eating again; wheat, corn meal, apple.  I put her out with the others this morning.

Stalking the Wild Antlered Beast

18 Dec

Hunting was not as productive this year.  Yet for the first time in his hunting career Jay sighted,  stalked, and shot this 7-pt yearling buck the Thursday afternoon before gun season ended in a fallow huckleberry field a tenth of a mile from our home.

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