6 Things You Might Not Agree With

Lots of stuff going on around here. Tonight is Cajun food night at our church meal, and I got nothing, so I’m just gonna go get tacos from Taco Bell. I know, it is the lowest form of food, but I figure they have Taco Bell in Louisiana, too.

But here are some things that are on my mind, and I need to get them out. I recognize you will probably not agree with some of them, which is fine. Maybe It will stimulate some thinking.


1. President Trump is right to question why good financial news, like more people working and higher wages, causes the stock market to go down. Probably points to the reality that Wall Street and Main Street have two completely different sets of priorities.

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2. As a Seahawks fan, it is extremely rewarding that the man who cost us a Super Bowl victory also cost the Patriots a Super Bowl victory to a team wearing green. Thanks, Malcolm Butler.

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Seeing this picture still stings.

3. Yesterday was Ronald Reagan’s birthday. He would have been 107, if my math is right. It made me a little nostalgic to remember a time when conservative Republican presidents advocated for walls to be torn down, not built.

4. I have an almost uncontrollable desire to buy a red Tesla Roadster. Watching that launch was amazing, and really made me miss when NASA use to do great things.

5. I’m watching a lot of Oscar movies right now, which means I’m eating a lot of popcorn. I will blog about them all when I’ve seen all the best pic nominees, but for now I will tell you that The Shape Of Water was a terrible disappointment. I mean, it was almost unwatchable at times, but it did make me miss The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

6. I’m preaching about the Holy Spirit right now, and finish the series up on Sunday. I think the smartest thing I’ve said in a very long time is something I tried to point out this past Sunday.

The reason we have so many different churches and kinds of churches is a strength, not a weakness. The Holy Spirit takes pleasure in diversity, and this diversity makes it possible for there to be a spiritual home for all different kinds of people.

 

Okay, that’s all I got for now.

Update, while writing this, I decided to go with KFC and a bucket of chicken. Everyone loves chicken, right?

Vegetable Soup

Over the winter I’ve been perfecting this vegetable soup recipe for our #meatlessmondays.

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This is an actual picture of this vegetable soup that I made all by myself.

Start with half a red onion and four celery ribs. chop them very small. Heat them in the bottom of your soup pot with a splash or two of olive oil. I generally use my large dutch oven. Throw in a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. If you want, you can dash a bit of Tabasco sauce. I also add a dash or two of garlic powder. I don’t find that fresh garlic works well in this recipe, because it doesn’t always blend as easily. Many vegetable soup recipes will call for thyme and oregano as well, but I don’t like them with this soup. The flavor comes from the ingredients here, not the spices. You’ll want the fire up on high at this point.

So to summarize the base: olive oil, red onion, celery, salt, pepper, garlic and if you want a little Tabasco for punch.

Once that sweats out well, ┬áreduce the heat on your stovetop burner to low. Start adding other delicious chopped veggies. I have found the more the merrier. There are three I always use are tomatoes, broccoli, and cabbage. The tomatoes I use are stewed frozen tomatoes from my mom and dad’s garden. However, any canned tomatoes would work. I wouldn’t use fresh ones. I have put as many as six different veggies in if I have them. This is a great recipe for clearing out fresh veggies that are on the downward path toward rotting in the crisper. Other good veggies to add are green beans, snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, and cauliflower. All of them are delish. Here is some advice, though. Stay away from potatoes and corn. These things always end up as filler in these kinds of soups, but this is not a chowder. Corn brings an unsavory sweetness and potatoes bulk it up too much. Stick with the skinny fresh veggies.

Once those are in the pot, add enough broth to thicken, but not enough to cover it. Right now we just want to cook up the veggies with a little more direct heat. Bring the pot to a simmer, and let simmer for about three to five minutes. take out the toughest veggie at three minutes and see how done it is. If you are using carrots, those are a good tester. Broccoli can be tough too, so that is a good bellwether for how ready the veggies are. What we are looking for is soft enough to bite but still a little firm. Once they get to this point, add enough broth to cover the veggies completely.

Throw in a bay leaf or two. Let simmer about ten minutes, stirring three or four times. Taste the soup to see if it needs more salt or pepper or garlic. This is completely subjective.

A big question here is what kind of broth. To keep this recipe truly meatless and vegan, you’ll need to use vegetable broth. However, chicken broth brings this soup to an exceptional level of flavor. You can’t lose either way, though, unless you use water. DON’T USE WATER OR BOUILLON CUBES. Can you hear me shout that? The only water you should use in this recipe is to wash the veggies when you clean them.

For best results, after simmering the soup for ten minutes, let it set for about an hour. The next day it will taste even better. That’s just the nature of all soup and chili type foods. After an hour, it might still be hot enough, but if you need to raise the temperature.

If I am in a particularly enjoyable mood, I will use that rest time of an hour to make homemade croutons to serve with the soup. This is simple. Just take a loaf of French or garlic bread. Cut it up into blocks (whatever size you want your croutons). Splash them with olive oil, salt, and garlic then bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about ten minutes, or until they have that nice golden color.

Put the croutons in the bottom of your bowl and label the soup over them. Top with Parmesan cheese if that is your jam. Enjoy.

Hungry Children

I sat in a meeting today whose sole purpose is to end hunger in our county. We call our selves the “Hunger Alliance” but I prefer to think of us as the Rebel Alliance.Unknown

There was a large discussion today–most of our time–over a particular phenomenon that none of us quite understood. It has come up in the past two meetings. Here goes:

  • At least 30% of our community has food ‘insecurity’–which means they do not have a steady, stable source of food.
  • In the summer, public schools provide free lunches. I believe this is a no-questions-asked free lunch to any child or family who wants it.
  • Last year, they even put the lunches on a bus and drove them to the outlying communities.
  • No one comes.

One school official said her school was a half-mile from apartments where many students live.

No one comes.

People are hungry. We know they are hungry. The food is right there. No one eats.

What we kept coming back to is the question why? There is all this free food out out there, for the taking. There are two possible avenues for a reason. One, it is a physical problem with logistics. Two, it is a psychological problem involving perception.

Let’s start with the physical possibility. Some suggested it is because the students are left at home, parents go to work, and the children are told to not leave the house. A second physical problem is transportation to the school. a third thing that people suggested was that people didn’t know about it and therefore we need to do a better job of getting the word out. There might be other logistical problems, but these seem like the biggest.

The second option, the psychological one, is more interesting to me because I think it has more traction. There are at least two of these. First, people have a stigma about eating at the school in the summer. During the school year, all children eat, and no one knows if the kid eating the meal is getting free or reduced (which 50% do) or if the parents just prefer to have the hot lunch option for the student. Anyone eating in the summer would automatically be ‘outed’ as receiving free or reduced. Second, its school. People don’t want to go to school during the summer, even for a meal. Even if they were giving away steak dinners, no one would go to school to eat.

I don’t know if we can crack this nut. It is probably beyond our pay grade, if you know what I mean. We are working with volunteer organizations, churches, food-banks, and the public education system. There are multiple layers of bureaucracy to deal with. I suspect we are stuck with the status quo for at least the foreseeable future. This reality breaks my heart. The idea that there are children who are hungry just because the calendar says it is July troubles me.

There is really only one real solution here. That solution is year-round school. It makes the most logical sense to solve the food shortage. I am in favor of year-around school for academic reasons as well, but this is the reason that might eventually get people thinking.

I’d be interested to hear your opinion, so I have turned comments “On” for this particular post.

Universal Truths

Our youngest sprout spoke to me yesterday about a project for high school she is working on. Her task is to write an essay about a specific universal truth. I didn’t tell her this, but I am glad, at least, that the school is affirming such a thing as universal truths.

She was struggling with which one to pick. I tried to get her to write about death as a universal truth. She told me that was too negative. She’s probably right.

In typical Greenbean fashion, I shot off about seven or eight quick universal truths that I think are worthy of her time and thought.

  1. No matter which line you pick at the grocery store or bank, it will be the slowest one.
  2. If you love a restaurant, and brag about how great it is to your friends, the one time you take them there will be the worst experience ever.
  3. The book is always better than the movie. Always.
  4. Whenever a preacher says, “Let me conclude . . . ” or something to that effect you can bet he or she is nowhere near the end. She is just getting her second wind.
  5. If you wash your car, it will rain.
  6. Ten minutes is the shortest amount of time between when the nurse puts you in the little room and the doctor actually comes to see you. This is true even if no other patients are in the building.
  7. A watched kettle never boils.
  8. If the dog gets sick or has an accident, it will be on the carpet. It will not be on the 93% of your floor that is tile or hardwood.shapiro-most-famous-dog-on-instagram-1200x630-1448389260

In the end she rejected these. I don’t know why? She decided to go with something all serious like, “human beings need companionship” or “everyone is prejudice about something.” I guess she wanted to get an A on her paper.

I’ve turned comments on for this post–in case any of you wanted to share some universal truths form your experience.