Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A New Recipe....Fabulous or Flop?

First, just let me say that I am VERY excited because we switched internet providers.  Our internet is MUCH faster.  For the past two months I've barely been able to open my email.  When I do a blog, it takes 20 minutes to upload a compressed photo.  So, this is pretty amazing.  But like my neighbor, who shares our internet, said, "When will I file my nails now that the internet is so fast?"  (btw, it was her wonderful husband who did all the work of getting it set up!)  Don't get the idea that our internet is lightning fast now, but at least we don't now have time to go take a shower while a page is opening.

Secondly last week we made a quick trip to where we used to live.  I'll do a blog on that, but need some time for that one.  It's already 9:13 p.m. and I just want to do something fast.

I'm pretty stuck in a rut for cooking.  We like what we like, I can cook those tried and true recipes often without a cookbook, and I'm all about what's easy and comfortable.  But sometimes I like to try a new recipe.  Awhile back I found a recipe for Chicken Katsu Curry at

I really like Indian food, but I don't know anything about it.  I like curry, but that's about where my knowledge ends.  So I have no idea how authentic this recipe is.  I baked chicken in the oven with a nice coating of bread crumbs and seasonings and boiled rice in a pan.  

Then I made the sauce from this recipe:
2 Tbs oil
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped/pureed or thinly sliced
2 Tbs flour
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
Mix curry powder and flour together and set aside.
Heat oil in pan.
Add ginger and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add flour/curry powder mix and allow to bubble.  You should end up with a very dry paste.
Add salt, paprika and chili powder.  Stir.
Add enough water, small amounts at a time until you get a sauce like consistency.
Bring to a boil ad simmer for a few minutes, stirring continuously.  You may need to add more water.

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except I didn't have ginger so I used powdered ginger.  We poured it over our chicken and rice.

But it tasted....flat.  Like my dad used to say about gravy in general, it tasted like wallpaper paste.  I don't know if he ever actually ate wallpaper paste or not! He worked with his great uncle who was a paper hanger/painter, so maybe he did try it. 

I'm not sure if it needed more salt or if it was supposed to taste like that or what.  It was actually pretty good on the chicken which was already seasoned, but we didn't really like it on the rice.  I'd like to try it again using milk instead of water.  Or how about coconut milk?  It seems that it needed something creamy to make it richer.

Have any of my readers made Chicken Katsu Curry before?  Did you use milk or water?  Did I do anything wrong?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Special Birthdays

Two people I love very much celebrate their birthdays today and tomorrow.  Daniel's birthday is today, February 23 and my mom's is tomorrow, February 24.  

Of course I'm happy for my mom's birthday because without my mom, I wouldn't be here!  But other than that she gave birth to me, I'm thankful for her for so many reasons.  She's always been steady and consistent.  There was seldom any question as to how she would react to certain things.  You always knew what to expect.  That quality gives a lot of security to a kid (whether they be 5 or 50-something!).  She always practices what she preaches, taught me many important lessons in life, and has a gentle way about her.

Daniel celebrating his 2nd birthday with Grandma (my mom)
Daniel turns 25 today.  Wow!  That kind of makes me feel old!  He has always been a joy...well, other than between 2 weeks and 10 weeks old when he pretty much cried every night for two hours and nothing would make him stop.  And he wouldn't start crying until about 11 p.m.  So, there was a brief period there when I wondered where to go to take him back.  But once he was over that he was an easy baby.  I love seeing the man he has become and pray that he will continue to walk with God.
Four.  Obviously.

Six years old.  I don't know what that is on the cake!
14 years old.  It looks like we had a few issues with the frosting!
18th birthday.  Home-made angel food cake.

Happy Birthday, Daniel!
Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Naming Ceremony

When we lived in the village (more of a large town) we went to naming ceremonies all the time.  We lived right in the neighborhood and were included in all the big life events that went on around us.  Here in the big city we live in a neighborhood where the neighbors don't really even know each other, which means we don't get to things like this as often.

So here in the city we only occasionally go to naming ceremonies and those are generally for people we know really well.  Such was the case for the naming ceremony of K__'s baby.  K__ has worked for several missionaries, including myself, though she isn't currently working for me.  I don't know why she never married, but she didn't.  Then a little over a year ago she did get married and was happy to soon after find herself pregnant.  She is nearly 40, and since this was a first pregnancy, it was considered high risk.  She did really well during the pregnancy.  Normally here they only do a C-section if the life of the mother or child is at risk, but after she labored for several hours (but not that long compared to what many moms do) they did a C-section.  I think because of her age they didn't want to take chances.  She has recovered really well from the C-section, though.

The baby's naming ceremony was on a Sunday.  We got up early and went over, finding ourselves among the first to arrive.  Here you see the chairs set up for the men outside.  The women go in the house where the mom is sequestered in the back room.  She wears her finest outfit.  Her room is decorated with curtains called "cache muir", which means "hide the wall".  New bed coverings are bought and in K__'s case she even had brand new bedroom furniture.  The back room often doesn't have a window so it can be pretty dark, especially in homes where they don't have electricity.  She did have a light, but you can see in this picture taken without a flash how dark it is.

The mom sits on the bed with her family and friends surrounding her, but she commands the household from there.  She makes sure the kola nut and dates are put out on a tray and that somebody distributes them.  She makes sure other treats are handed out, such as popcorn and some sort of fried honey cake (very delicious!) that we got.  On this day, K__ kept having phone conversations with her nephew who was supposed to be bringing the bread, but still hadn't showed up and was preventing the party from proceeding.

Meanwhile outside the men say the prayers, slit the throat of the goat or sheep that will become part of the sauce, and give the name to the baby.  This little girl's name is "Leila".  Isn't that a pretty name?  Sometimes the women don't hear the name and it takes a bit of asking around before we know what it is!  Here's one of the Grandma's holding the new baby.

Please pray for this family.  The Gospel has been shared but not yet received.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

John's Birthday

Well, another birthday celebration has come and gone.  John's birthday was the 29th.  We were both busy all day and then something happened at the office that took quite a bit of my time and energy.  My co-worker, friend, and neighbor, Beka, asked what we were doing for John's birthday.  I told her it wouldn't be much especially since we had Bible study that night.  While we were having a meeting with somebody (another potentially stressful thing that went fairly well) she texted and asked if we were home.  We said yes, but in a meeting, so she said to let her know when we were done.

As soon as I texted that we were done, the entire family came over with a cake and sang happy birthday to John and gave him a nice card.  Usually we eat supper before Bible study but because of our meeting we didn't have time to fit it in.  We shared the cake with the Bible study group and they were very thankful!  (College boys, remember?)

I made some simple something for supper and then John opened his gifts.  I had been able to order a video for him that a new arrival brought with her just in time for his birthday.  I also got him a shirt and a candy bar.  And I gave him a card that I spent a long time making, which said another gift was yet to come.

On Saturday night I invited some friends over for dessert to celebrate John's birthday.  I made a cheese cake for him. I found a can of blueberry topping I'd been hoarding and forgot I had!  So that made the perfect cheesecake topping.  I also cut up some fruit, made popcorn, and a friend brought a plate of cookies.  We had a fun evening together.  Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the birthday celebrations.

Finally this past week I had a chance to go out and get John's promised gift.  He spends a LOT of time working hard at his desk.  He's been using a dining room chair to sit on, but it's not very comfortable and he complains often that his back hurts.  So I got him a comfortable desk chair that I hope will help his back a bit.  It's got good lumbar support.

While I was out shopping somebody wrote on my car with a marker, thank you very much.  It's a good thing I didn't see it until I got home because it probably wouldn't have been a very missionary reaction.  Thankfully it came right off with some alcohol.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Roof Repairs

We have a very large tree in our yard, called a gao tree.
 This tree is native to the area and is well-adapted to an arid climate. It's roots go very deep and in the dry season it reaches down to the water source and produces leaves, providing shade at the time of year when you need it most.  It also produces a pod that can be fed to animals.  Just before the rainy season begins, it looses all of its leaves which are nourishing to the soil.  Since the tree has no leaves during the rainy season, the millet can get the sunshine it needs to grow during its short growing season.  In addition, the wood is extremely hard and quite termite resistant.  But I digress.

Before we moved to this house, there was a huge wind storm and a branch from the gao tree fell on the house, bending the metal roof.  It was patched up and was ok for awhile, but for the past two rainy seasons we have had a lot of dribbling down the walls during storms as well as some leaks in the ceiling.  A few months back we had an electrician installing a doorbell.  He just about came through the ceiling and also informed us that the ceiling is so rotted in places that it's just being held together by paint.

So, since our house is owned by the mission we had to have an estimate written up for the cost to repair the roof and then have that expenditure approved by our Area Council.  That was approved in November, but then we decided to wait until after Christmas and our Conference because we knew it would be a messy job.  

And we were right!  First, you have to understand that the tin roof is held down by a cement parapet so that it doesn't rip off in the high winds we can get in the rainy season.  So the first step was to destroy that parapet so they could remove the old metal.  
Rubble from the destroyed parapet
Whew!  You could hardly hear yourself think for the noise.  Chunks of cement came sailing past or windows, debris was falling inside, and it sounded like elephants were walking on the roof.  I am gone most of the day, so it wasn't too bad, but poor John could hardly concentrate on his work!  They were here one Saturday, too.
The old tin roofing

The roof is gone!

The roof was off several days before they put it back on.  It was kind of strange seeing the sky from inside the house!

The next step was to put on the new tin and they also used some kind of insulation.
The insulation comes in a roll like this
 I'm not sure how that went on, so sorry, I can't describe that to you, but it should make the house a bit cooler.  

They also realized that the ceiling above the kitchen door was sagging, so they added a beam and pulled up the ceiling....all of which created more dirt.
A pile of dirt I swept up inside the house.

Now they are rebuilding the parapet.  In this picture you can see the two-by-four that is the frame for the cement.  This cement also has to be watered twice a day, so there is still constantly a mess on our terrace.  I keep reminding myself it will be worth it to have a cooler house and no leaking during the rainy season. 
Rebuilding the parapet
More mess swept off the terrace

But in the meantime there is more noise, more elephants walking on the roof, more showing up right at siesta time, but at least not so much dirt in the house.....just all over the terrace.  So far we are in the third week of this process.  They seem to work a few days then go off and work on another project and then come back.

On Thursday our neighbor lady who lives on the other side of the duplex came over and said, "There's a cat above my ceiling and it just put it's paw down through a crack between the ceiling and the wall.  I can hear it meowing."

We went over and sure enough, you could hear it walking around and meowing.  So John got a stepladder and a flash light and opened the trap door to the crawl space.  Sure enough, our cat was up there and couldn't get out!  Apparently he had gone between the roof and the ceiling in the morning when the workers came, then by the end of the day they had put on the cement parapet and he couldn't get out again.  He was so stressed that when John tried to get him down, he was just clawing at John.  He eventually got him to come down.  Poor thing, he really was stressed!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Thoughtful Fasts

In November Suzanne wrote a book review on her blog about the book 7 by Jen Hatfield.  The book sounded intriguing, and as Suz promised, she sent it to me for Christmas.  I don't know if there's been much media hype about the book or not.  Thankfully we miss most of that kind of hype being the proud users of some of the slowest internet I've ever used!  The reason I say that is, when everybody says you should read something, I usually refuse to read it.  It took me forever to get around to reading 1,000 Gifts and I never have read The Shack.  I guess it's because I want to form my own opinions and not have people already telling me that I should think it's an amazing book.

So, not having heard anything about the book except what Suz wrote on her blog....which intrigued me....I read the book without any pre-conceived notions.  So, if you're like me and you don't like people telling you you have to read a book, you can skip this blog post.  If you like to have an idea of what a book is like before you go out and buy the book for yourself, read on.

Jen Hatmaker, author and conference speaker, mom, and pastor's wife, practices what she preaches.  Her husband was pastor of a mega-church and they had all they needed, wanted, and more.  Then God called them to leave the excess and to get involved in justice and reaching out to the lost, not just ministering to the saved.  This book takes place after that change in ministry focus and is a record of God's working in her and her family's life in "an experimental mutiny against excess".

For seven months they fasted from different things.  In the fast from clothes, she and her husband chose seven pieces of clothing and wore them all month (underclothes were not counted in the number).  In food they chose seven nutritious foods and ate only those foods.  In possessions they chose seven things to give away every day.  In media they turned off the tv, radio, most internet, and used their phones for only necessary calls and texts.  In waste they recycled more, used only one car, and found other ways to cut back on waste.  In spending they chose seven places where they would spend money.  Included as one was on-line bill that left six shops and/or restaurants where they would spend money.  And in stress they kept the Sabbath and stopped for prayer seven times a day.

It is easy for me to read this and think to myself, "Great.  I don't live in excess.  How does this apply to me?"  In the chapter on clothes, she counted 327 items of clothing in her closet.  I think, "Sheesh!  You needed to cut back!  You should see the size of my closet.  I can barely fit in 20 outfits." (This picture actually shows my clothes and John's.  We also have a slightly bigger closet now, but not much.) Then the conviction hits and I'm reminded that I have at least 17 outfits more than most of my friends in Tera had.  So, yeah, maybe I do live in excess. 

In the chapter on possessions, she gave away 202 pieces of clothing.  Giving away 7 items a day is 210, so she almost gave it all away with just cleaning out her closet!  So I then justify myself with, "If I gave away 210 things in my house, I'd probably have nothing left."  But then, is that a bad thing?  And I've been looking around at all the stuff I DO have that I never use and think, "Yep, I live in excess.  Especially compared to those around me.  I could definitely give away some stuff."

I also have questions about the whole fair trade thing.  I don't want to say much about something I don't know much about, but I wonder if this is just a trend that those with money can afford to get involved in.  Some of us don't have the funds to buy one item that is labeled "fair trade" over an item not labeled "fair trade".  We have to buy what is the cheapest and what fits in the budget.  It also makes me wonder....what about the people whose livelihood does depend on being involved in the production of non-fair trade items?  All I'm saying is, I need to do more research on this before I jump on a band wagon.

Jen Hatfield writes in an intriguing way and I enjoy her sense of humor because she can laugh at herself.  But, while writing in her humorous style, every word drives the point and convicts.  Words (referring to Luke 11:37-42) like, "What if wealth and indulgence are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it?  Is there a reason Jesus called the rich blind, deaf, unseeing, unhearing, and foolish?  Jesus never utters a positive word about the wealthy, only tons of parables with us as the punch line and this observation:  It is terribly hard for us to receive His kingdom, harder than shoving a camel through the eye of a needle.  That's really hard.  If this is true, then more than fearing poverty or simplicity, we should fear prosperity."

Ouch.  "More than fearing poverty or simplicity, we should fear prosperity".

Well, I don't know if I'll fast from something every month or not.  Suz and Theo have chosen to do that and I think it's a great idea.  I do know I'm a little more aware of what I have compared to what those around me don't have.  I think I'm aware of that, and we really try to give generously....but I know there is more we could do.

The chapter that convicted me a lot was the one on media.  Again, I could say, "Huh!  We live simply.  We watch one movie a week, our Friday night treat.  We already only make necessary phone calls and texts.  We don't stream any movies, videos, or radio.  In fact, we don't listen to the radio."  But then I think of all the time I spend reading blogs, looking at things on Pinterest, and keeping up with Facebook.  And then double that amount of time because of our slow internet.  LOL!  I can't help but think about all the time I waste just with blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook.  So for the month of February, I am fasting from those things.  I am going to continue to read Suz's blog and I am going to up-date my blog on a regular basis.  I will only do "research" on line when there's no other way to get the information.  I have to do email because at least half my work time is spent answering and sending emails.  So I'll update you in a day or two on how it's going!