28 February 2014

Weekend linkage // 7QT #27

Linked up with Conversion Diary.


"You are your own niche, my darling."
-J specializes in making me feel special


To begin with, a long (and clever, although verbose) Imaginative Conservative article on Jane Austen and her literary perfections.
Try as one will, there is nothing ominous or subversive to be found lurking within this lucid moral world in which people may indeed do dreadful, but never dubious deeds . . . But there is something behind this world which supports it without ever making an explicit appearance. There is a perfectly plain, unflinching, ungenteel knowledge of the facts of life: the letters speak bluntly of the aspect of corpses, baldly of the wear and tear of child-bearing, coolly of gentlemen taking mistresses, ribaldly of obvious cures for fertility. And on the other hand there is settled orthodoxy, steady devoutness, and the fear of death overcome. I am thinking of Jane Austen’s last letters, written when she was already an invalid in 1817, which show a serene faith, albeit still gilded by some of the old wickedness—the very last lines of her last surviving letter cast aspersions on the length of some acquaintances’ petticoats.

You know how most of us have a "good side," the side of the face we like to present to the camera? (I certainly do.) This is an interesting photography project that emphasizes just how asymmetrical most of our faces are.


These breakfast scramble avocado cups look utterly scrumptious. Also this dijon and cognac beef stew and this three-ingredient flourless chocolate cake.


Here is an interesting post on why we actually need drama. There would be so much more to say about this from a Christian perspective-- looking at humans as God's creatures, and our "dramatic" tendencies as a possible reflection of His own character-- but even so, it made me think.


I liked this article: "The Best Exercise There Is, Hands Down." Some really interesting thoughts on why we should do the physical activity we enjoy, not necessarily what the latest smartest guru is prescribing.


What We Et:
Chili from the freezer (after a long day at IKEA) + leftover rice
Oatmeal pancakes + fried apples + sausage
Spinach-stuffed chicken thighs + sauteed vegetables + Alexia rolls 
Shepherd's pie + mozzarella salad
Honey mustard chicken + spaghetti squash + carrot craisin salad 
Chicken divan from the freezer (doubling a recipe and freezing half is one of the smartest things I ever do) + strawberries and yogurt

24 February 2014

rejoicing in the truth

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Thanks to the internet, scandals erupt every day; you needn't do much digging to find someone on "the other side" who just said something outrageous, landed in hot legal water, or is otherwise embarrassing his cause. We constantly hear about secrets revealed and conspiracies outed, and it often confirms our own beliefs or biases, proving how corrupt that "other side" truly is. We gloat.

Well, I think the righteous response to such revelations is grief, because gloating is nothing but the ugly flower of self-congratulation. (I was right after all, and you, imbecilic opponent, you were wrooooong!!!) When we revel in the latest outrage, it shows that for all our apoplectic crusading, we've less interest in tearing down evil than in inflating our own ego.

Heaven knows how often I've been guilty of this. I see a lurid headline advertising the duplicity of the pharmaceutical industry or the hypocrisy of our current presidential administration, and I practically rub my hands together. I feel justified, I look down my nose a bit, and I smugly chalk up another victory for my sagacity. This is not right. How can I feel glad that people have been harmed, relationships broken? Joy should only follow news of truth and goodness . . . never news of evil.

Grief over wrongdoing, then, shows that our indignation is aimed at the wrong itself. We weep over wickedness, and long to see it put straight, regardless of whether or not we get to pat ourselves on the back in the meantime.

21 February 2014

Weekend linkage // 7QT #26

Linked up with Conversion Diary.


The ladies dressed up for Valentines' Day. :) Rather than going out for the evening, Jared and I put Ellie to bed and enjoyed a late dinner at our own candlelit table. I'm a total homebody, and eating lasagna that I made myself-- without other diners' cell phone conversations, or a waiter's constant inquiries, or outrageously priced creme brulee to tempt me afterwards-- makes me quite happy.


Tired of Olympic sob stories? Wondermark has better ideas.


Doodling on a subway commute, and slyly overlaying your fellow commuters with those doodles, generates some hilarious images. "Thor. This Hulk. Hulk be late to office. No eat Hulk's bagel."

Here's a fascinating clip about photoshopping real women into cover models. You may be surprised by their reactions: ". . . there's not much left of who you really are."


I just stumbled across this: Six Word Memoirs. Clever and interesting idea, I think, and well suited to those with a zany sense of humor. "Have your elephant call my elephant."


The persecution of John Yudkin, the man who tried to warn us about sugar in the 1970s.

Forget sugar: how about some champagne? Here's a great segment from The Splendid Table on Winston Churchill's "working dinners."


Speaking of food, here's What We Et:
Creamy parmesan chicken + bread + green bean and tomato salad + fruit salad (this was for company and they brought half of it, so be ye not overly impressed)
Chicken pot pie (with gluten free biscuits based on this recipe) + applesauce
Taco salad + blueberry cobbler
Skillet stew (sausage, chickpeas red bell pepper, green beans, potatoes)
Bacon and broccoli frittata + cinnamon citrus salad
Cilantro chicken stir fry (from Rachel Allen's Favorite Food at Home) + fried rice

17 February 2014

ahoy, discoveries! vol. 16 [kitchenware edition]

Linked up with Five Favorites.

1) I feel that a sturdy pair of shears is a kitchen essential. My Wusthof shears can easily cut the backbone out of a chicken, and when you roast butterflied chicken as often as I do . . . well. They come apart for washing (or for curling ribbon, another key household task).

2) Our two Nordic Ware half-sheet pans get regular use, for anything from nachos to roasted broccoli. I typically line them with parchment paper, but I do want a Silpat. The pans never warp, unlike the disappointing pieces we had from Pampered Chef.

Ellie will never be able to use this excuse.

Speaking of Pampered Chef, here's a piece you should buy from them: a stoneware muffin pan. It makes the best muffins, always and forever.

3) I'm obsessed with my enormous cast iron skillet. Treat her right and she'll be virtually nonstick. Eggs cooked in cast iron taste heaps better than in Teflon. This one is also big enough for my ambitious batches of curry, or a hefty pot roast with vegetables.

(Make sure that you get a cover for the handle, or you'll be nursing some nasty burns. I also use this stainless steel lid.)

4) If you, as we do, lack a dishwasher . . . you should pick up a Dual Dish Drying Mat or two. So much better than soggy towels.

5) I have a large collection of utensils, but there are some I actually love. OXO's Pastry Scraper is perfect for cutting long straight lines in coffee cake, crackers, or energy bars, then lifting them with minimal crumbling.

Rada's small stainless steel spatula is perfect for similar cutting/lifting tasks, not to mention flipping crab cakes, frying eggs, or caramelizing onions. I need another one.

Pampered Chef's bamboo spoons are incredibly sturdy; I don't use the short one but the two long ones in the set really get put through their paces.

Any favorites to recommend? Utensils, pans, knives, and other goodies that you just couldn't cook without? Hit me up.

14 February 2014

Weekend linkage // 7QT #25

Linked up with Conversion Diary.


"You are a silly cake pan."
-Jared's idea of Valentine wooing

Despite what I said last time about Ellie's lack of doctoring, she actually did get weighed and measured and the whole shebang this week. Forty-second percentile for weight, twenty-fourth for height. My wee mousie.


This is an incredible Radiolab about a baby born at 23 weeks, 6 days.


At The Atlantic: how orange juice was successfully misrepresented as a health drink.


Here is Hillsdale prof Terrence Moore at the Kirby Center, speaking on the Common Core's calculated destruction of story and soul.


Also in the socio-political vein, this is an interesting look at the Russian and American characters in international relations: "From Russia, With Spite" by Ralph Peters.


After all that seriousness, Benedict Cumberbatch and The Count discuss apples and oranges on Sesame Street. You're welcome.


What We Et For Dinner:
Oatmeal blender pancakes with blueberry sauce + scrambled eggs with bacon
Chicken vegetable curry + brown rice
Salmon cakes + spaghetti squash with olive oil and paprika + roasted balsamic broccoli
BBQ meatloaf + mashed potato pancakes + green salad 
Sausage and white beans with spinach + roast potatoes and carrots
Ranch roast chicken (from Much Ado About Chicken) + wild rice with pecans + poppyseed slaw (inspired by this one, but without almonds or apple and with the addition of peas and a smidge of honey)
Lasagna + green salad + mint chocolate gelato (this is what we're having tonight because though I'm scroogey about Valentine's Day I take every opportunity to make Special Food)

Recipes available upon request. 

10 February 2014

come ye, come ye: Pride and Prejudice in March

The Lancaster Academy for the Performing Arts-- with which three of my siblings study and perform-- is mounting a production of Pride and Prejudice next month.

It will be way good. For tickets, contact admin@lancasteracademy.org.
"If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy," cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, "I should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine a day."
"Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought," said Mrs. Bennet; "and if I were to see you at it, I should take away your bottle directly."

07 February 2014

Weekend linkage // 7QT #24

Linked up with Conversion Diary.


Nice Older Lady: What a beautiful baby! With such round cheeks!
Me: We do think her chub is pretty cute. 
Nice Older Lady: Do you know what percentile she's in? 
Me: Umm, I do not. 
Nice Older Lady: That's all right. They can usually tell you at the pediatrician's office.

(I didn't have the heart to inform her that Ellie hasn't seen a pediatrician since she was five weeks old.)


Will you be watching the opening ceremony tonight? We will, though odds are at least one of us will fall asleep before the sweaters of doom make their appearance. Anyway, here are eighteen athletes going as the lone representatives of their countries.


From The New Yorker: what is the allure of the map, and how does it intersect with writing?


Two sermons that God has really used in my life lately: "The Man the King Delights to Honor" by Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian, and "Psalms for Life: Psalm 147" by Kurt Weaver, from my own church.


"America the Offended."
If someone insults me for who I am or what I believe, I don’t get hurt feelings, I just think that person is lame. Obviously he’s in the wrong, because I’m awesome. (Of my many admirable traits, humility is the greatest.)

No comment.


Are the pesticides used to grow organic food truly worse than conventional?

Speaking of food, I thought I might start sharing my weekly menu plan retroactively (since I don't always follow the plan, it will be more accurate to tell you what actually happened instead of what the calendar says will happen). It's a way to share good recipes and, hopefully, give you some new ideas!

So here's what we et for dinner: 
Taco salad (ground turkey, avocadoes, olives, the works)
Chicken divan + fresh snow peas
Turkey sausage and homemade sauerkraut + olive oil mashed potatoes + salad
Baked chicken thighs (seasoned with ras al hanout and blood orange olive oil) + roast brussels sprouts and mushrooms + spaghetti squash with olive oil and garlic
Southwest Taco Soup (with chicken instead of ground beef) + sliced mango

03 February 2014

in keeping them there is great reward

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
-Psalm 19:7-11

Woman Reading On a Settee, William W Churchill
When I was younger I didn't understand verses like this, which portray commandments and rules as so desirable. Rejoicing the heart and sweeter than the honeycomb? Whatever. Sounds boring and burdensome to me. Everybody knows that rules are no fun. 

I suppose this came from a typical human misunderstanding of liberty, wherein we see liberty as doing whatever we please, with no given purpose for our freedom except that which we ourselves decide. But that isn't liberty. It's chaos. "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." The open-ended liberty described above leads to slavery because we foolish humans simply were not made for self-determination.

Fortunately, we have a loving Creator who knows precisely what is best for us. And that is why the "law" (that is, the right way of living) is actually delightful to know: it shows us the best way to live. The way that leads to joy and peace.

True liberty has a purpose. It's for something. We achieve liberty when God sets us free from sin, but for righteousness.

Divorced from grace, of course, this delight in God's law becomes shallow legalism. But wed to grace-- when we look at the law from the standpoint of our confidence in Christ, knowing that we are already God's children and that he is in fact standing beside us, ready to help in our hour of need-- "the precepts of the Lord" become marvelous gifts, vibrant truths that in His hand give life.