16 December 2010

mexican salad

Although I’m sure it would earn an enthusiastic What the hell is this? from our dear and authentically Mexican neighbor, this is a new favorite among the authentically non-Mexican Burnham family.

I wish I had a picture because it's really pretty.

1 head Romaine
1/3 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
      Toss together.
2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
red onion, sliced, to taste
1 avocado chopped

1/2 can black beans
1/2 can whole kernel corn
1 1/2 c cheddar and/or jack cheese
      Combine into salad.
corn chips

Dressing (My variation of Catalina. Bottled would work fine, I’m sure.)
1/4 c ketchup
slight 1/4 c sugar
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t Worchestershire sauce
1/2 t minced garlic
s & p
      Whisk together.
1/2 c oil
      Blend other ingredients and slowly drizzle oil while running the blender to emulsify.

Set corn chips and dressing on the side for people to assemble it themselves. This is the trick to not making this into a disgusting and/or soggy taco salad.

Serves 6.

Optional: Grill and slice a chicken breast on top. Fajita seasonings or blackened chicken would be good. Corn chips can be easily made by brushing corn tortillas with oil, lime juice, and salt, slicing and baking at 350 for 10-20 minutes. Watch closely.

07 December 2010

christmas and all it's ornaments

For any party, any celebration, for any pre-meditated giving of hospitality there is a normal preparation process: grocery shop, clean the bathroom, vacuum the floors, chop, cook, bake, snap at David, tidy the kitchen, say sorry to David, light the candles and set up the patio or the table and then wait for the first knock.

Last time we were getting ready for guests I got frazzled (as usual) and David asked if it will always have to be that way.


And I realized, hey! No! It doesn't have to be this way! And, good grief, why is it that way? Why do I get snappy? Stress is normal and fine. But two questions--what exactly am I feeling pressure about? And why?

I have this vision of what "right" or "put together" looks like. And then anything less than that is a failure and makes me look bad. Uh...what kind of pretty is that? It's empty and certainly not welcoming.

Desire for a guest to be welcome, blessed, loved--those are good reasons for a pretty home. Those are good reasons to give a pretty present. Those are good reasons for a little pressure, but not good reasons to be rude or snide. A good intention is so easy to accidentally squeeze lifeless. I have to hold the intentions gently, with an openness and joy that generosity requires.

So, I've been wondering about Christmas. Thinking a lot about why we all do what we do. Why am I already feeling stressed and a little snappy about Christmas dinner? Why did I demand a Christmas tree (in the nicest possible way, of course)? Why do I feel like a chicken with my head cut off when I think about the procurement of Christmas gifts?

I think of the celebration. This is one of our happiest times of year. We celebrate Emmanuel--God with us! We celebrate a bright spot in all of eternity, but it's so easy to accidentally get tangled in the lights and ornaments. So easy to accidentally squeeze the life out of it.

Instead, I'm pondering reality.
Pondering the great generosity of our Good Father.
Pondering a heavy Maria riding on a donkey, stumbling into a damp stable toward a scratchy manger.
Pondering a star in the darkest night.
Pondering angels singing over shepherds.

Thinking about how I can give Jesus a good gift. How we can really celebrate him--have a real party for his birthday!

It's a little bit of pressure. A little stressful. And so real, so normal. We will celebrate with family. Celebrate with an unmarried mother. Celebrate with lights in the darkness. Celebrate with rich food and tired people. So profoundly real and true and right. I long for beauty on the inside and the outside. I long for people to be welcome and blessed and loved. I long to give and I long to receive.

01 December 2010

pumpkin cheesecake

16 oz cream cheese, soft
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
      Beat til smooth.
2 eggs
      Add one. Blend in. Add the other. Blend in.
1 graham cracker crust (9 inch size)
      Spread 1 1/2 c on bottom of crust.
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 t cinnamon
pinches cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom (use any or all)
      Add pumpkin and spices to cheesecake mixture. Pour as a second layer into pie shell. Set pie in a pan of water and bake at 325* for 40-55 min until golden and center is almost set. Cool and refrigerate.

Top with whipped cream made of ginger, powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream.

Thank you for inviting us to celebrate Thanksgiving with you, dear Stepanians! We love you! 

The recipe is my version of the one found here.