Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cooking for Dad

My Dad turns 70 today. Wow. Anyway, I wanted to do something special for his birthday, but being the low-key guy that he is, he didn't want a big party, but he said I could cook him dinner. So, Saturday, I cooked him a four course dinner, trying to include as many of his favorite foods as possible. I even printed out little menus.

We started with stuffed mushrooms and micro-green salad from my new favorite show, French Food at Home. Then, for the main course, it had to be lamb. But what kind of lamb? What would be really special? Thankfully, I had checked out the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook and she had a really simple looking recipe for a whole roasted leg of lamb. Nothing says special a like a giant piece of meat, right?
And I just happen to know where of a Middle Eastern market where I could walk in a pick up a whole leg of lamb...or a whole goat, but that's a different party.
It was DELICIOUS. I just finished the leftovers today...and I was licking the last little bit of beautifully seasoned juice from the plate. Go Barefoot Contessa. And to accompany it, I made roasted asparagus and Parmesan polenta, which I'd never made before....it was so good and so much easier than mashed potatoes or rice. It's my new favorite starch. Highly recommend that you click on that link and make it for dinner, asap.

The third course was the cheese course, and that was the one that Casey said he was most looking forward to....but as that involved no cooking on my part, I don't know if that's a compliment or an encouragement. Whatever. Cheese is always good.

And dessert. With my dad, the options are what kind of pie and what kind of ice cream, so I made a version of my grandmother's cherry pie, using sour cherries. Her pie was very simple. Butter crust, toss the cherries in some sugar in the crust, top with another crust and bake.

 But I wanted to make something a little more fancy, so I added almonds and a lattice crust, combining a recipe for a tart and a pie.

Sour Cherry Almond Tart

1 ready-to-use double pie crust
3 (15 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries, drained (I found them with the canned fruit at the store, not with pie fillings)
3 tablespoons minute tapioca
1/4 cup sliced almonds, plus a few more for garnish
1 cup white sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided use
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg, beaten with a bit of milk
coarse sugar for sprinkling

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Press one of the pie crusts into a pie plate or tart pan.
3) In a blender or food processor, grind ¼ cup almonds, 1 tbsp sugar, and tapioca
4) Stir together the cherries, tapioca mixture, sugar, and almond extract in a bowl. Pour the cherry mixture into the pie shell, sprinkle with a handful of almonds.
5) Cut the other pie crust into 1/2 inch strips to make a lattice top. Lay the strips across the pie in a lattice pattern, and pinch the edges to seal. Brush crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
6) Bake in the preheated oven 40 to 50 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I am a Christian & for Gay Marriage

I have been a Christian all my adult life. I came to faith by the love and encouragement of my grandfather, a Baptist minister and seminary professor, and grandmother, a woman who loved the Bible so much that she taught conferences on “Hiding God’s Word in your Heart” and memorized chapters of scripture. Since then, I have faithfully attended and participated in church, and not just Sunday morning, but weekly Wednesday night groups, early morning and late night prayer meetings, worship nights, bible studies. I have served meals to the needy, laid hands on and prayed for the sick, shared the gospel with teenagers, friends, strangers. I have read through the Bible several times and spent countless hours in study, devotion and prayer.

And I am for gay marriage. On the Day of Judgment, perhaps I will learn I am wrong, and for that and my countless other mistakes and sins, I will cling to the cross of Christ as my only hope.  But in the wake of witnessing on Facebook so many of my friends and loved ones stand up for the intolerance recently promoted by Chick-fil-a, I cannot remain silent.

The movement to legalize gay marriage is the civil rights movement of our time.  My grandchildren will learn about this time in their history classes and be shocked and appalled by those who stood in the way of such a basic, fundamental human right being arbitrarily denied to a segment of the population, as I was shocked and appalled to learn of the Jim Crow laws and “separate but equal.” In America, homosexuals can hold jobs, vote, even serve our nation in the military, but not get married.  This is a sickening injustice.

Giving same-sex couples the right to get married does not diminish marriage’s sanctity in the least. It is instead an undeniable tribute to the power of marriage. As two consenting adults who love each other, same-sex couples are asking for the right to prove and celebrate their love for each other, and there is no other greater statement of that commitment than marriage. There are things that are legal now that do greatly diminish the sanctity of marriage, namely, divorce and living together before or instead of getting married. These do diminish the sanctity of marriage. But there is no Facebook campaign to ban either one of those things. That would be absurd. Therein lies the true absurdity of the “Sanctity of Marriage” movement. It is not about protecting marriage. It is about intolerance of a lifestyle that Christians find aberrant.

Gay marriage was legalized in California, and then made illegal by Proposition 8, which was later struck down by California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This is from their decision: “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.” If you can deny the truth of that and still claim that there is any justice in denying same-sex couples the right to marry, I am ashamed of you. Your grandchildren will be ashamed of you.

I have nothing to gain by writing this.  I am already married and have no openly gay friends or relatives, and I regret to offend those that I respect and love.  But I cannot remain silent. This is not an issue of political left or right, or anyone’s religious belief, but an issue of right and wrong.  Of the equal protection under the law provided by our constitution. Our nation was founded by those seeking freedom and equality.  I am for gay marriage because I love America and the justice, freedom and equality for which she stands.