Quiet Snowfall

Today, Kagi and I woke up to snowfall, which was especially surprising because a few days ago I was thinking about putting my heaviest coat away and moving toward my lighter waterproof jacket for spring.

The day ended up being a pretty quiet one with day-to-day kinds of things — laundry, work, cleaning, cooking. Probably the most exciting thing for me was making a curry for dinner. I loosely followed this recipe, and both Kagi and I really enjoyed the result.

We have been pretty busy this past week.We had an evening activity every night except Tuesday, including two sets of dinner guests and leading Global Cafe. We have loved having friends over and really enjoyed the week. Today was one of those days which seemed to have its pace set by the clouds and snow. We mostly stayed in, did work and chilled out. It was good to be quiet after a lot of hustle and bustle.

I think it’s good to have days like this every once in a while (although I’m hoping for bright springtime to come soon)!

International Cooking Disaster

International Cooking Disaster

Today I made chili for dinner. It is one of my favorites both to make and to eat, and Jesse and I enjoyed it.

Our dinner tonight.

When I make chili these days, however, I can’t help but remember the biggest cooking catastrophe I have ever been responsible for. Actually, it was the biggest I have ever witnessed.

It was back in 2011 when I was visiting England from Palestine/Israel. Kagi and I were dating and I was staying with the Greens. I decided that it would be fun to make dinner for them and Kagi one night. The previous fall I had found cornmeal in England after a lot of searching, so chili and cornbread was my plan. I scoured allrecipies.com for the best chili recipe and found and American one that looked great.

I decided to make a lot of chili, and spent a whole day walking to various shops to gather the necessary ingredients. I went to both English and Asian (Indian or Pakistani) shops to make sure I had all of the meat, beans, veggies, and spices. I remember carrying heavy bags for a mile or so, ready to make the meal.

Back at the house, I set to work. Onion, meat, garlic, tomatoes, beans, and spices in a very big pot. It looked and smelled great.

With everything in, I tasted it to make sure the flavors were right. Immediately my eyes and nose started running. My mouth was on fire, and I realized what had happened. Chili powder in the States is a mild spice mix for making chili and things like it. Chili powder in the UK is made from chilies. The recipe called for 1/4 cup of chili powder, and I had followed it exactly.

At that point, I knew I probably should scrap the whole thing. I am known for my love of spicy food and even I couldn’t eat that.

But after all of the work to get the ingredients I couldn’t bear to throw it away. Maybe I could fix it…

So I started by straining the whole thing. I may have even rinsed it. It was still really spicy. Next, I added quite a few more cans of tomatoes. I added a lot of sugar. I added beans. I added everything I could think of.

Finally, it got to a point that I could kind of eat. By this time, the family was home. Kagi was there, and I didn’t know what to do.

So I served the chili and cornbread.

It was so hot. Honestly, I could barely eat it, and I know I have a very high spice tolerance. The worst part of the whole thing is that I served it to the best sports I know. I don’t know how, but they managed to eat it. I still can’t believe I did that to them.

To me, the funniest part of this situation was Kagi, who had a really awful cold the day this happened. He loved the chili and ate a lot of it. He says he doesn’t remember it being spicy at all! 🙂

Lenten Commitment

Lenten Commitment

This year, I am committing to writing daily for Lent. And I’ve decided I’m doing it publicly, on my blog. Writing is one of the best disciplines I have ever committed to. Throughout most of college and for a while afterward I journaled daily. Since then, I have journaled and blogged sporadically.

Writing is helpful for me in a few ways. First of all, it is a way to document my life. This probably sounds ridiculous to many of you, but I tend to think in themes and not specifics (according to the Meyers-Briggs this is common for people who are high on the intuitive scale). Generally this works well for me, but lately I’ve realized that with the many things I don’t remember, I might be missing significant things God is doing and forgetting what I am learning. Secondly, gives perspective. You’ll hear more about why this is especially important and timely for me now as I write in the coming days.

There are a several ideas I have of kinds of things I will write about. Because of the first point above, I may occasionally document my day or tell a remembered story from a previous day. But I also might just make note of something that I have seen, heard, or read which has made me think. There are several books I have in mind and I presently have time for reading and thinking, so why not?

I don’t know if this will add value to anyone but me. I have been deciding whether to blog or journal, and blogging seemed like the right way to go. Even so, I’m admitting from the beginning that this commitment is for me. I really don’t know where it’ll go. If someone else gets something out of it, that’s great.

Oh, and I hope you enjoy your Pancake Day/Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday!

Sorry about the low-quality pic, but here’s how we celebrated the English Pancake Day in Washington State. Even though it was a very American-Style pancake meal I think we did well:-).
Making Dinner for my Botswana Family

Making Dinner for my Botswana Family

I have really enjoyed getting to know Kagi’s family. They are really sweet and great — I’m sure in the future there will be lots more to share.

Last week, on my 5th day in Bots, Kagi thought it would be a good opportunity for us to make dinner for the family. His favorite is Honey Baked Chicken and figured they’d love it too. We determined that there would be 12 people there, and set to work in the early afternoon. I prepped 6 cups (dry) of rice, which I expected would be sufficient for the group (each person would have a full cup to eat), and made 13 pieces of chicken in the luxurious buttery, honey, curry sauce. We also made a large pot of butternut squash and some cookies.

Kagi asked everyone to be available at 5:30. A little later he told them 5. We were going to have it at Grandma’s house because of the table there, but then when it neared 5 we decided to change it to his mom’s house when we realized that there would be numerous unexpected guests at Grandma’s house (particularly because she kept inviting people:-)) and we hadn’t prepared enough food for them. He suspected we might actually eat around 6:30 or 7.

At 6:30 when we went to pick up the table from Grandma’s house, a discussion ensued resulting in the decision to have the dinner at Grandma’s after all. We went back to his mom’s to finish and bring the food. By this time, I was panicking because I wasn’t sure that there was enough rice. I forgot that, although Americans use rice as more of a side dish, most of the world fills their plates with rice and puts other things on the side. This is certainly true in Botswana. OOPS! I was praying that God would miraculously expand the amount of rice, and that there would be enough chicken to go around.

At 8 we had all 12 family members around the table with the food (amazingly) still hot. Although no one said much during the meal the rice did miraculously seem sufficient and I have heard since that they really liked the food. I was SO relieved and thankful.

After the meal, in order to thank me, all the ladies sang me a beautiful song English and then a few more songs in Setswana. I’d love to upload a video of it, but am having trouble doing it right now. It was a really nice evening– full of cultural lessons I’m glad I was prepared for!



I made a cake yesterday after finding a picture on Pinterest and following the guidance of its creator’s blog. Here is a link to the actual instructions and recipe: http://www.raspberricupcakes.com/2011/11/purple-ombre-sprinkle-cake.html. It is such a cool cake.

Although mine definitely was not as great as I hoped… and did take a lot of work… it gave me hope for future fancy cakes I’ll make!

Simple on the outside….

CRAZY on the inside!

Happy Birthday, Mumzy!

Happy Birthday, Mumzy!

We had a wonderful holiday week and weekend. Allison came home on Wednesday and we attended a beautiful church service that night, and then we had 15 people at our Thanksgiving feast. We did a lot Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) including Allison and me going to a special class at my gym (which left us sore), baking lots of food, eating and sharing thanks, and playing football (my team one) and then Settlers (I won) in the evening. It really was a great day ;-).

The pumpkin pie made from pumpkins we bought at a nearby farm! It was exceptionally good, if I do say so myself:-)

We also celebrated my wonderful mother’s birthday on Saturday. It is always extra-special to celebrate my mom’s birthdays as several bouts with cancer have threatened her life. We are so thankful for her.

We had homemade lattes and cranberry bread in the morning and then Qdoba in the evening before Mom, Dad, Allison and I saw The Help in a local old-school theater. I was really glad to share the movie with them since they hadn’t seen it before and I expected them to like it as much as I did. Overall, it was a great day.

Aren’t they cute??

(Any bragging above is intended for the eyes of Pops and Allison only)