Archive for the ‘food’ Category

freelance happenings

I’m pretty excited about a story assignment I got today from Edible Boston Magazine (“Celebrating the Abundance of Local Foods, Season by Season”).  It’s a feature on a family-owned, local organic farm south of Boston that utilizes solely local high school and college students as labor during the summer.  A NYT article last week details the trend among some college students of using their summers to work on farms, change food policies, and escape the rigors of academia. Take a look if you have a chance.  My article is for the Fall Issue, so I hope to keep you posted on the blog as I visit the farm and do the reporting this summer.

Also, check out this piece I wrote for sojourners’ God’s Politics blog on gardening, posted today.

If anyone knows of additional writing opportunities (journalistic, marketing, Web, print, whatever), feel free to send them my way. (steve [at] thebostonwriter [dot] com)


exiles at the table

Some of our best “church” has happened around a table.

Michael Frost has a great chapter in his book Exiles called “Exiles at the Table,” in which he describes how food and drink — and specifically time spent by Christ-followers with not-yet-Christians in “third places” (like restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, etc) — has always been a catalyst for kingdom activity. (he talks about the dining habits of Joseph, Daniel, and Paul and what they can teach us about the role food can play in the kingdom. He doesn’t even get into the eating habits of Christ, however, who is probably the very best example we have of mealtime “mission.”)

Here’s an excerpt that I think is worth reading, then discussing:

The problem … is the fact that many Christians don’t actually go to third places. In fact … for many Christians, the church is their third place. All their leisure time is spent at church meetings or gatherings, belonging to church-based committees and occasionally socializing with their church friends. While not-yet-Christians are connecting over take-out Thai or whipping up a Moroccan couscous dish or barbecuing Atlantic salmon steaks, Christians are out several nights a week at church services, small groups, and leadership committee meetings. They have no time to engage meaningfully in third places, so the kind of excitin missionary table fellowship that Paul practiced is lost to them. Even when we do invite non-Christians to our table, often it’s on our terms. We invite them to our church breakfasts or our evangelistic dinners or our potluck suppers. When it’s on our terms, the guest rarely fully relaxes.

Exiles have freed themselves from the busyness of church activity precisely so that they can share food with their friends, neighbors, and work colleagues in a more mutual fashion. A meal should be an equalizing experience. It should be a time when people share in the truest sense of the word. Only when a guest feels welcome, honored, and safe will he or she open up to the host. The exile will be as equally concerned about creating such safe, welcoming spaces as about entering into such spaces created by non-Christians. And that means freeing our social calendars and enjoying the company of people who don’t share our faith. We should cook the freshest, healthiest fare, complementing it with great wine, supporting small businesses and family farms. Our menus should reflect our concern to avoid products made in countries that lack fair labor laws or produced or stored in ecologically unsafe ways. The exile’s table should be a place of justice, generosity, laughter, safety, and conviviality. Serve up something delicious, and then just watch the conversation flow and trust God to stick his nose in somewhere. (p167-168)

Describe a mealtime experience when God has “stuck his nose in.”

(here are another couple of posts I’ve written on “table”: 1, 2)


here are a few good things I’ve read this week:

&emdash; First, as Radical Congruency pointed out, TallSkinnyKiwi may have written the most important piece on ecclesiology so far this year. You need to go read it. Now. =)

&emdash; Miller asks perhaps the most important allegorical “What if?” question you’ll hear … today. (ok, this year … or in your lifetime) Well, would you?

&emdash; Mark shares his reflections — the good, the bad, and the ugly — on a year of living with another couple in intentional Christian community.

&emdash; Houston weighs in (sorta) on the immigration debate with this humorous post.

Last night, I heard D.L. Hughley on the Tonight Show talking about immigration. He quoted the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to be free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” and said that if we don’t want immigrants here, we should sand that poem off. “Or at least add, ‘Except Mexicans,’ to the end,” he added. “Now we want to build this high wall down along the border,” he said. “We should at least engrave their names in it and tell them it’s some sort of monument to them.”

&emdash; Finally, some Episcopal churches in the Boston area are holding “U2charist” services, which will weave live versions of the Irish rockers’ spiritually bent songs into these churches’ normal liturgy.

What have you read of some profundity this week?  Do share.

ode to omelette

Our most creative Pantry Challenge innovation thus far? Boxed Mac & Cheese with hot dogs chopped up, with a side of green beans. Now there’s a nice round meal for ya. We devoured it.

I have to say, though, my favorite discovery so far has been the omelette. The omelette and I were acquaintances before, but today we stand as lifelong friends &emdash; “bosom buddies,” if you will &emdash; thanks to two amazing omelette creations during this challenge. Last night was one for the books. After I got back from a hard workout (Chrissy was still in class), I made designed one using some of the remaining ground Italian sausage, lots of cheese (yes, the cheese remains), chopped peppers and tomatoes, and a little bit of love. Out came perfection. It was probably a foot long and 4″ deep of gooey goodness. It was massive and totally hit the spot. (it looked kind of like the one pictured here, assuming the plate in the photo is 2 feet in diameter)

Is trash-talking allowed in Pantry Challenge? Oh, it is? Well, I feel like we have an unfair advantage, because we have just enough of our “poor college student survival skills” that haven’t rusted. I’m thinking we could be in this thing for quite a while longer, so if any of our fine opponents (three at this point, but they’re dropping like my beta carotene intake…) would like to bow out gracefully and pay a visit to their neighborhood grocer, now might be a good time. 😉

on God

German atheist philosopher Ludwig Fuerbach (1804-1872) said that God did not create man in His image, but man created God in his image.

That statement has just enough truth in it to sting, doesn’t it? Obviously humanity (the creation) did not literally create God. And Christians believe, of course, that humanity is in fact created in God’s image. But so many humans imagine God as they would like him to be rather than how He really is (not that any of us really know for sure…).

I hate fags, so God hates fags
I am a feminist, so God is obviously a woman…
I am a chauvinist, so God suppresses women…
I am angry and insecure … God is wrathful …
I seek after earthly riches, so God promises “health and wealth”…
I live in America, so God clearly favors this nation…

The list goes on and on and on, as far as human sin and misplaced identity can reach.

I heard Randy Harris talk on this subject a while back, however, and he had this to say: The best cure for humans who create God in their image is solitude. Go be alone with the Almighty. Ask him to tear down the false images you have built of him in your mind and heart. Listen for his voice, His leading. In times like this, the only thing worse than God seemingly doing nothing is God doing something.

How have you shaped God into your likeness?


PantRy Challenge: Day Ocho (see that “R”, Miller??)

We’re still very much in this thing. According to Willz, the challenge organizer, we’re one of three households still in it. To catch you up, we’re seeing how long we can survive on just the food we currently have in our pantry (which also includes the refrigerator and freezer). We’re doing this for personal, social, and spiritual reasons.

We haven’t even touched the frozen meat in the freezer. Tonight, we’re making a “pantry special,” a rice creation with this homemade salsa seasoning mix and chopped veggies and chicken. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be our first “made-up” meal. Not bad for 8 days in. Could we go the rest of 2007 eating only from what we have in our pantry/fridge/freezer? Time will tell.

The last day or so we’ve eaten our leftovers from Sunday evening’s Italian dinner out. I had gnocchi, a type of pasta made with potato and rolled into little ovals, which was topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella. Chrissy had a pasta dish with chicken, greens, and a white sauce. Both were enough for more than one meal, which has served us well 🙂

Pantry Challenge 2007 Update: Gettin’ By

DSCN0862.JPGI wasn’t sure how often to post updates, but here is #1. It’s been six days since we began Pantry Challenge 2007, an effort to go as long as we can eating from the food we currently have in our pantry, fridge, and freezer.

The first night (Wednesday), we made vegetable omelettes with cheese, which were great. Definitely hit the spot.

Thursday night we had a couple over for Mexican Casserole (ground chicken, beans, tortillas, cheese, and spices), a few games of nerts, and a movie. Our friends, who knew about PC07, brought over extra salad just so they could leave us with some for later in the week. Our friends are so nice.

Friday, Chrissy was home studying during the day, so she made French Toast for lunch. That night, we made a homemade pizza for us and some of our other friends, who also brought over a little extra food to leave with us. That night, we also baked some oatmeal raisin cookies (most of which we ate that evening … but we did send some home with our friends).

We slept really late on Saturday, so lunch was breakfast. That evening, we had a meeting, at which we ate pizza. Free is always good.

Sunday lunch, we ate a couple of frozen burritos and some more of the leftover Mexican Casserole that evening. Our friends (the same ones from Friday) came over to watch the Pats-Colts game with us, but we vomited dinner up when we saw the Pats blow the game in the 4th quarter… (kidding)

Today, I brought the last of the casserole for lunch at work, while Chrissy ate oatmeal and a clementine. We splurged for a romantic dinner at a local Italian restaurant tonight, which was well worth it. (we even got some surprise accumulating snow on our walk home!)

Breakfasts this week have been frozen bagels, Trader Joes’ granola (the Vanilla Almond and Maple Pecan flavors are all gone … boo hoo), or Clif energy bars at work.

DSCN0861.JPGSummary: We still seem to be in pretty good shape. We’re out of sugar and almost out of cheese, however, which could prove to be fatal. We’re fresh out of fresh fruits and veggies, which might give my wife a coronary. I think we’ll be OK on breakfasts once the granola’s gone, as we have an endless supply of Quick Oats. Chrissy said she has really enjoyed not going to the store during this time. We both have consciously eaten less, which has been a good thing. We’ve also been surprised at the way two of our closest couples friends have been concerned about us, bringing over extra food and even offering to buy us stuff we need (we haven’t accepted any huge quantities of food, for the record). All in all, though, we’ve been pretty surprised at how far the food in our pantry has gone thus far. As for the future, we actually have a freezer-full of meat, leftovers from tonight’s dinner, and canned foods out the wazoo (note: I’m trying to bring back the term, “out the wazoo”). Chrissy’s Prediction: “If I can get over not having fresh fruit and vegetables, we might go longer than shorter. But I might have to break down and buy fresh fruit and veggies.” My Prediction: “All the way, baby.”


Weekend Movie Wrap-Up

Mission Impossible 3: Completely over-the-top. Plenty of unrealistic action and stunts. Decent plotline. Tom Cruise is still nuts.

The New World (2006, Colin Farrell): John Smith and friends arrive in America, flex on the natives who lived here already, almost die of starvation, form a weak alliance with the natives… OK, that’s the plotline of the first 20 minutes of the movie. The remaining 2 hours is John Smith and Pocahontas looking longingly into each other’s eyes with piano music in the background. Snorefest. I’m sure someone has seen some artistic value that I didn’t see, but the title of this film should have been, “Don’t Waste Your Time: Rent the Disney Movie.”

30 Days: Season 1: In 2004, Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days in making the smash-hit documentary Super Size Me. He applied the same principle to his show, 30 Days, which is brilliant and inspiring. The premise is putting normal people into foreign situations for 30 days. Our favorite episode was when Morgan and his fiancé lived on minimum wage jobs for a month, struggling daily just to “get by” and accumulating a thousand or so dollars in debt in just 30 days (from hospital bills … they had no health insurance). Very convicting episode about the reality for millions of working poor in America. We also liked the episode that transformed a conservative Christian into a Muslim for 30 days, experiencing the stereotypes, the religious devotion, and the family commitment of Islam, while experiencing a dramatic personal shift. Great show.

An Inconvenient Truth: A Global Warning: A few months ago, I got an e-mail from a good friend who wanted to hear my reflections on Al Gore’s 2006 documentary about global warning. He wrote, “I’m still spinning a bit. Honestly, I believe this is the, or one of the major issues that will make or break the credibility of the American church (if making it credible could ever be done in our day). Depending on how we respond, I believe it could be the major blindspot of our generation that will seem ludicrous to generations after us, just as racism/segregation was the blindspot just a few generations ago that now seems so absurd and obviously unjust.” After seeing the film, I have to agree with my friend. This is a legitimate issue. And whether or not humans are causing global warming or not (I happen to believe we are), shouldn’t we still live in ways that leave a smaller eco-footprint on our world? It’s been nice to see several prominent conservative Evangelical leaders (including Ted Haggard, before his scandal) speak out for the environment in recent years. We need more, though.

things we’re excited about

  1. Visiting our friends Travis & Cara in Tanzania in September. It’s official: we booked our flight this week. We can’t tell you how great it feels to have that on the calendar. It was a plan since we were all finishing up back in Abilene, and almost a year later, it’s going to be a reality. Praise God.
  2. The “Maverick Meeting House” &emdash; basically a community center &emdash; is built and open across the street from our townhouse. The center has several multi-purpose rooms, a full-service kitchen, management and tenants’ association offices, and a computer lab. The neighborhood association will be offering ongoing computer classes of various types to anyone interested, and we have volunteered to help out as teachers. (we don’t know if they want us yet … but heck, we’re available)
  3. Steve’s brother, Mitch, and friend Jason are coming up to Boston for their Spring Break in March. Mitch is taking a break from the rigors of his last semester of college, a promising journalism career, and a really promising musical venture, to grace us with his presence. Biggest Boston arrival since Dice-K.
  4. The same week Mitch & Jason head north, Chrissy will head south — to sunny Puerto Rico. No, she turned down the MTV Spring Break hostess offer this year… But she is taking an international business class in PR and staying for a week at an ocean-front resort in Old San Juan. Not too shabby. She’ll be back in time to spend the weekend with her bro-in-law, though, and she should look nice and colorful next to us pasty white end-of-winter New Englanders.
  5. Steve racing the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington on May 27. He’s been putting in the miles all fall, and now the intensive training mileage begins. We think we’ll make it a “romantic getaway” as well, taking advantage of the long Memorial Day / anniversary weekend at a bed and breakfast or something. Side note: I (Steve) have had thoughts about starting a blog that only deals with running and the lessons I am learning through that passion of mine (shocker — the idea came to me on a run). It would mostly be an outlet for my reflections while training, racing, or reading about running, but I am curious: Is there even one reader out there who thinks this idea sounds interesting? Be honest.
  6. Dough East Boston. Great new neighborhood pizza/sandwich shop literally 400 feet from our front porch. The guys who run it are young, friendly, and really excited about the food they are making. They’re always trying things out themselves first, then introducing it as a “special” the next day in the store: like the Bronco Burger, a marinated patty of hamburger topped with onion rings, mozzarella cheese, and barbecue sauce, all on a whole wheat bun. Boy howdy, that’s a good sandwich! And their pizzas are incredible too … like their buffalo chicken pizza with bleu cheese … We eat at Dough way too much.
  7. The things God is showing us regarding how we can better follow Him as individuals and as a couple. Radical simplicity. Radical hospitality. Radical community. Unyielding love. Participatory mission and ministry. We’re not sure how all this looks at this point, but we feel like Aslan is definitely on the move… Stay tuned… (and pray!)