Charity of the Month
In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.
Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.
A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.
I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through https://teamheifer.heifer.org/AYearofCenturies. If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit www.heifer.org. Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Because today is Halloween, it’s appropriate that I share a recipe with a scary ingredient: bananas. Bananas are scary to me unless they are barely ripe enough to eat. (I do my grocery shopping on Saturday and buy myself just two bananas at the time; therefore, I usually eat bananas only on Sundays or Mondays.) Woe to the banana with even one brown spot; it gets banished to the freezer for banana bread. Here’s a neat trick: when bananas get past their prime, you can put them directly into the freezer, skin and all. It makes them look truly horrifying, but they work perfectly in banana bread. Just thaw them on the countertop for a few hours before you want to use them. Then, split the skin and squish out the innards. They blend easily into the other ingredients.
Most banana bread recipes are just so-so to me. However, when I saw the recipe for Banana Ginger Bread with all of the wonderful spices, I knew I’d like it. In fact, I’m batty about it! I can hardly wait to try lots more recipes from Bats in the Pantry.
Banana Ginger Bread
2 cups brown sugar
*1 cup mashed bananas
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)
*3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
*½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
*½ teaspoon ground cloves
*2 cups dark beer
*2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
*2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9” x 5” loaf pans. In a bowl, cream the brown sugar, bananas, eggs, and vanilla. (Add oil if moister bread is desired.) In another bowl, combine 3 cups flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and cloves. Combine the mixtures from the two bowls; mix in beer. Toss dates with remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Stir dates and ginger into mixture. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour, or until inserted toothpick emerges dry and clean.
*This ingredient is made possible by bats!
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 cans water-packed solid white tuna, drained
½ cup saltine cracker crumbs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 English muffins
Dijon mustard, for spreading
Combine onion, celery, tuna, egg, crumbs, mustard, and cayenne in a bowl and mix well. Place flour in a shallow dish. Lightly flour your hands and shape tuna mixture into 4 patties; dredge lightly in flour. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add patties and cook until browned, about 3 minutes on each side.
Serve patties on lightly toasted English muffins lightly spread with Dijon mustard and shredded lettuce.
Yield: 4 servings
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Saturday, October 19, 2013
- Parent packets, which are distributed through doctors’ offices when a child is diagnosed with Down syndrome
- The MGDSS support group
- Social events for MGDSS families, like the 3/21 event, held on that date because of the 3rd (extra) chromosome 21 that causes Down syndrome
- The National Down Syndrome Society
- Wesley Glen Ministries, which supports developmentally disabled adults in Middle Georgia
- The Monroe County Special Needs Club, which serves high school students
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Every day I pack my lunch to take to work. It’s tastier and cheaper than going out, and it gives me more time to read at lunchtime since I don’t have to drive to and from a restaurant. One day I sat down to eat the lunch that I had brought to work. It was toward the end of the week when I didn’t have much left in the refrigerator before grocery shopping day. My lunch looked rather moth-eaten, consisting of a cheese sandwich and an orange from which I had grated off the rind for some recipe. However, when I considered that many hungry people would love to have this, I ate my lunch with a grateful heart.
Perhaps nothing reminds us of delicious, nourishing food more than our grandmother’s cooking. Here’s a link to a wonderful photo essay of cooking from grandmothers around the world. (Make sure to enjoy the artistry of the ingredients on the left and the finished dishes on the right!) May this be a prayer for all hungry people everywhere in the world to be fed:
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
1 lb. wagon-wheel-shaped pasta
1 (15-oz.) can rinsed pinto beans
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (10-oz.) can enchilada sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; return to pot. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet on medium, add beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Simmer 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir sauce into pot with pasta. Add half of cheese and stir to blend. Spoon mixture into large serving bowl; sprinkle remaining cheese over it. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Dining with Presbyterians is an opportunity for groups of our church members to eat dinner together once a month for three months, September through November of this year. We signed up ahead of time, and the organizers assigned us to groups of 8 to 10 people, which change each month. The host is in charge of the entrée and beverages. Other people are assigned bread and salad, a vegetable, or dessert. The main point of the gatherings, however, is to enjoy getting to know each other better. Last night was our second of the three dinners, and it was a lot of fun.
Eating with family and friends is (hopefully) a frequent experience for us. But what if we took it a step further? Not that it would be easy, but wouldn’t it be something to actually share a meal with a hungry person? Jesus often ate with society’s outsiders, like tax collectors and prostitutes. I think he set this example for us because he knows that food gets at our common humanity. It’s not just that we all have to eat; we’re a lot more likely to get along when we enjoy the savory aromas and delectable tastes of a shared meal. Maybe that’s why the Bible describes heaven as being like a giant banquet. Heh heh. I can’t help but think that some of us will be surprised by who our dining companions turn out to be.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Monday, October 7, 2013
Furthermore, the Lewis Grizzard & Catfish ride has a personal connection for me. I did it a few times a number of years ago when it was sponsored by the Coweta County Chamber of Commerce. In fact, it was the very first century I ever did, which happened to be on my 30th birthday that year. I’ve saved the T-shirt from that ride, which I wore to yesterday’s event. The Ferst Foundation organizers were tickled because they had never seen it before:
Lewis Grizzard & Catfish
I have always enjoyed Lewis Grizzard’s writing. For many years he wrote a humorous column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution until his too-early death from heart disease in 1994. Lewis had a beloved black Labrador retriever named Catfish, who preceded him in death by only a few months. When Lewis died, AJC editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich created a wonderfully poignant comic strip. I’ve had a print of this strip hanging in my office for years:
Friday, October 4, 2013
I do a week’s worth of grocery shopping at the time. That means that my cart always has a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in it. The cashiers usually are teenagers, who often have no idea what some of these items are. Seriously. One of them actually asked me what my asparagus was. Asparagus. One of the most distinctive vegetables there is. I guess if it had had one of those horrid stickers on it with the four-digit code, she wouldn’t have had to ask me what vegetable it was. I understand that the stickers help the store track inventory and usually eliminate produce perplexity for the cashiers, but I can’t stand those things! Especially on fruit. Half the time, the sticky part won’t come off of the fruit skin, and so you have to gouge it off. One of the activities in hell must be removing fruit stickers.
Other gems from the mouths of cashier babes have included, “You must be a health fanatic.” Why, yes, I would rather eat delicious and nutritious foods that my body can actually use. Another said, “You must cook from scratch a lot.” Yep – if you want to eat healthy food, it comes in colors actually found in nature, but it doesn’t come in a box that you simply nuke.
Then there was the time that I bought some fresh ginger. The cashier thought it was a piece of trash lying in my shopping cart.
One of my most memorable check-out incidents, however, did not involve produce. I was buying a few Clif Bars for some upcoming bicycle rides. The teenage girl bagging my groceries obviously didn’t exercise much. I wouldn’t have even thought about that, but she felt compelled to comment on my purchase, and rudely at that. As she placed my Clif Bars in the bag, she said, “Those are awesome, but they’re terrible for you.” I replied, “They’re not terrible for you if you’re going on a long bicycle ride.” I didn’t follow up with what I was really thinking, which is that they’re not intended to be eaten by people who never get off of the sofa. Americans are so out of whack regarding fitness and nutrition that they don’t get that sometimes the whole point is to consume calories.