Wait for The Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for The Lord.”
Just one of the many possible examples of throwing meat and vegetables into a slow cooker along with your favorite spices, letting it simmer all day coming home to the smell of pure deliciousness and meat falling off the bone.
I obtained meaty neckbones from Lick Creek Beef for $2.99/pound and picked up some carrots and onions from the farmers market. Sided with some broccoli, green beans or brussels sprouts, this makes an incredibly rich and nutritionally balanced meal. Make a lot for leftovers all week!
- 2 Pounds Grassfed Beef (or other meat on a bone)
- 2 T Coconut Oil (or olive oil)
- 2 T Coffee Grounds
- 1 t Salt
- ½ t Black Pepper
- 1 t Cocoa Powder
- 1 t Cinnamon
- 1 t Garlic Powder
- 1 t Onion Powder
- 3 Heads Garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 Onions, sliced
- 1 Pound Carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 cups stock or water (the water will pretty much become a stock)
- Mix together all spice rub ingredients (coffee grounds through onion powder) and coat the meat well.
- Heat coconut oil in pan over medium high heat and sear the meat a few minutes on each side. Place in slow cooker on low.
- Meanwhile saute garlic and onion over medium heat with coconut oil still in pan (add more if needed). Add carrots and cook just a few minutes longer.
- Add vegetables to the pot along with stock and leave on low for 6-7 hours.
- Strip meat from bones and devour!
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This week, I’m highlighting a farm which raises healthy pigs employing sustainable and ethical principles:
Sorensen’s Heritage Farm, Thompsonville, IL.
1. What is the difference between the pork you raise and what we might find in the grocery store?
There are so many differences between the pork that I raise and the meat in the grocery store. First, is the cruelty issue. Meat in the store is factory farmed. The pigs are in confinement from conception until death. The sows live their lives in cages(gestation crates) in which they cannot even turn around. When their piglets are born, they are not allowed to bond and are there as only a milk source. Pigs are very smart, just behind the dog, and they are not given any mental stimulation leading them to self abuse.
2. Describe a typical CAFO environment.
They are kept on slotted floors above manure pits and have to breathe that foul air their entire lives. They are pumped full of antibiotics because of being so confined that any illness would spread throughout the building. When pigs are weaned they go to another confinement building but not put into cages. Instead they are put in an overcrowded building where the pigs, because of the overcrowding and lack of mental stimulation, will mutilate each other, so, they cut their teeth and tails. Again, kept over manure pits until they are sent to market in overcrowded trucks. Oh, and because they have been bred to finish at the same time they will all be ready in 4 months and weigh about the same thanks to steroids and growth hormones in their feed. Pretty depressing, that why I call them piggie concentration camps.
3. How do you raise your pigs differently?
As for the pigs that I raise, they have never been kept inside. My pigs receive about 1/3 of their diet from gain(corn, soybeans, barley, oats) and the rest is pasture and rooting in the wood. They have access to shelter, but roam freely in the pasture and woodlot. The pigs receive no growth hormones. steroids, or antibiotics, and their diet is strictly vegetarian. When my sows give birth they will be allowed to raise their babies freely. I choose humane slaughter plants and the animal arrive at those plants in a bedded trailer.
4. Do you have a favorite recipe you prefer?
My favorite dish is anything with bacon.
I’m not a super picky eater, but there are a few things I have a hard time with texture-wise. And coconut is one of them. I LOVE the flavor, but not so much the texture. I have always loved pina coladas, coconut cream pudding, coconut milk, coconut water, coconut flour…. But the flaky stuff, not so much.
The great news (for me) is that there are plenty of ways to alter the texture and still attain all the benefits! Coconut has nutritional elements of both nuts and fruit which gives it potential for a wonderful spread as well as an excellent balanced profile of lauric acid, protein, and fiber (not present in oil, milk, water derivatives).
Solution: Alter the texture by blending a rich, flavorful, chunky, fruity nut resulting in a rich, creamy, smooth, drippy nut butter.
Making Coconut Butter is similar to making other nut butters (ie. peanut, almond, pecan, etc), but there is a distinct difference: Coconut is a bit more resistant to “butterizing” due to higher water content. Essentially you just throw the stuff into a food processor or blender and let it do its thing, but it might not blend up quite as easily as the others….
There are several ways of combating this (not always necessary, but helpful):
- Toast the coconut prior to blending (this will dry it out a bit, but also give it a “toasty” flavor)–just put in oven at 350 until light brown.
- Add coconut oil (offsets the water: oil balance more favorably).
- Make sure the food processor is nearly full (if not full enough it will mostly spit up coconut around the side of the bowl rather than blend together)
- Stop & scrape. Repeat a whole lot of times.
- 4 cups desiccated coconut (unsweetened dried coconut)
- An awesome food processor
- Toast coconut at about 350 for 15 minutes until it smells toasted & starts to brown (optional)
- Blend in food processor scraping down the sides periodically.
- Be patient! This can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on your machine, but it’s well worth the wait!
What do you DO with your Coconut Butter?
Glad you asked–after licking the blades (disclosure-I am not recommending this and absolve myself of any responsibility should you end up with a cut tongue….just saying odds are, you’re going to so be careful), pour it into a jar. Later on you can use it:
- As a topping for pancakes in place of syrup
- Blended with frozen bananas & pineapple for a homemade pina colada flavored ice cream
- Straight out of the jar with a spoon
- As a “candy coating” or topping
- As an ingredient in homemade desserts
- In a smoothie
- Substitute for peanut butter
- My personal favorite: Topping roasted butternut squash (pictured below)
- Check out this post for 20 different ways to use coconut butter!
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In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. –1 John 4:10
What a spectacular word! And what a spectacular need we have for it. One of my favorite books of the Bible has always been 1 John (excelling in it’s explanation of what the gospel is and how to distinguish Christians from non-Christians) and one of my favorite passages has been his description of what love is and what is it not–love is not a feeling or something we fall into, nor is it something which originates within us. It is not something we can muster up on our own and no matter how deep within ourselves we dig, we will not find it there. No, but this is love: Not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent is son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10 NIV). John describes God as the very essence of love itself, then goes on to point out its demonstrative necessity-love is both passive and active given and received. We are sinners by nature and by choice (Ro 3:20) in opposition to all that is good, in defiance of all that is right, and in contrast to the Holy Perfection that is our God (Lev 11:44). We are in great need of a mediator (1Ti 2:5), a reconciler (2 Co 5:18), someone who could “atone” or make us “at one” with God (Isa 6:7). And how beautifully this passage paints our relationship with The Lord on account of his favor on us!
But something is missing. And I didn’t realize it until our church switched translations and began using the ESV, a slightly more literal word-for-word version. In it, I encountered the same passage with an unfamiliar ring to it. In it, I read that the Son was sent, not to be an “atoning sacrifice” but rather a “propitiation” for our sins. To be clear Christ WAS and IS the sacrifice required to atone for our sins as confirmed in many other places (John 3:16, 2 Co 5:21,), but that is not the literal translation of this particular passage–John fills in the gaps.
Examining the problem at stake we see that by our very nature of opposition to God (Ro 3:20), we elicit his wrath and deserve no better than eternal separation from a Holy and wonderful king. Something, someone has to address that. Something must be done with the fury of powerful authoritative being. We most naturally think of the atoning work of Christ as “expiation” or -the removal of our sins, but the other half of that is the necessity of “propitiation“–the removal of God’s wrath on us. We need not only his mercy and forgiveness, but also his favor! If Christ were to die for all our sins, which in itself is a gift incomprehensible, that would not be sufficient. That would simply put us in a legalistically neutral relationship with God which is clearly more than he came to accomplish (John 10:10). God’s ultimate goal has never been to simply be on “ok terms” with him, to “get us into heaven,” or to avoid hell and I know of no one who just aches and longs to be that guy who just barley makes it in a bit charred from the flames which he so narrowly escaped (1 Co 3:14). He is a being of great compassion, suffering (1 Pe 4:1) with his beloved people; he is a God of deep grace, eager to lavish his love (1 John 3:1) upon an undeserving people; and he is a God of community (Ge 1:26) who longs for a deep and joyful relationship with his creatures. What Christ accomplished on the cross is truly incredible–expiating our sins and propitiating God’s wrath-past, present, and future, atoning for the sins of all he chooses and who would come to him in repentance and faith.
Worthy is this lamb alone to be praised forever and ever (Re 5:12)!
He asked, but all the Heav’nly choir stood mute,
And silence was in Heav’n: on man’s behalf
Patron or intercessor none appeared,
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.
And now without redemption all mankind
Must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell
By doom severe, had not the Son of God,
In whom the fullness dwells of love devine,
His dearest mediation thus renewed.
Behold me then, me for him, life for life
I offer, on me let thing anger fall;
Account me man; I for his sake will leave
Thy bosom, and this glory next to thess
Freely put off, and for him lastly die
Well pleased, on me let Death wreck all his rage.
John Milton, Paradise Lost.
I was a big fan of Dr. Seuss growing up. His best selling book “Green Eggs and Ham” tells the story of a Sam I Am’s persistence in trying a dish he has concocted, albeit somewhat strange in nature. His friend refuses to even try his Green Eggs and Ham, convinced he couldn’t possibly like such a unique dish. Sam I Am challenges him to try them in various contexts (in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, in a house, with a mouse, here or there or anywhere!). After multiple refusals, his friend finally gives in to trying them and is pleasantly surprised at just how tasty they are!
I think that many enlightened 21st Century Americans can learn a lot from this cute poetic story originally targeted to young children. All too often, children and adults alike complain of foods they claim to have an aversion to, having never even tried them. We are easily turned off by the unfamiliar–especially things that don’t fit into our neat little paradigm of what we consider acceptable. This unfortuantely all too often results in a very narrow range of experiences and pleasures. Just think of all the years Sam I Am’s friend missed out on the luxury of consuming such a delicious and nutrious meal! I think we can all learn a bit from both Sam I Am’s persisting encouragement–offering wholesome foods in a variety of contexts, as well as his friends humble willingness to lay down his pride and give Green Eggs and Ham a shot with an open mind.
So over Easter weekend, I decided, like Sam I Am’s friend, that I would try Green Eggs and Ham (I only ate them in my home with my parents–which doesn’t even come close to rhyming–but assume it would be fun to try them on a train in the rain sometime….). I didn’t use the photo itself as inspiration for me meal (I’m actually a bit concerned about a green colored ham and how those yolks became green…), but rather incorporated whole foods principles to create a well balanced meal incorporating avocado, olive oil, farm fresh eggs, and grassfed butter as excellent sources of healthy fat as well as a variety of micronutrients. Kale is on of the top detoxifying greens and higher excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. I found Applegate Farms Bacon at Kroger for $3.99 which was uncured and minimally processed. I LOVE cilantro and happen to know a wonderful local farmer who grows it organically–I’m in the process of growing my own, but have to be a little patient. We served it alongside fresh cut pineapple!
And so I give you:
Green Eggs and Ham
- 2 Cups Kale Leaves
- ½ Avocado
- ½ Lemon
- 1 Cup Cilantro or Basil Leaves
- ¼ Cup Pine Nuts
- ¼ Cup Olive Oil
- Garlic, Salt, and Pepper to Taste
- 3 Drops Stevia (Not necessary, but helps take the “bite” out if the Kale is very bitter)
- 4 Eggs (preferably local farm fresh, free range)
- ½ T Butter (if needed)
- 4 Strips Bacon (preferably pastured, local, uncured)
- Blend Kale, avocado, juice of 1 lemon, herbs, and nuts together in blender or food processor while slowly streaming in olive oil until smooth and creamy.
- Add salt, pepper and garlic to taste (I used about ½ t each)
- Set aside–this will make several servings of the kale pesto.
- Heat skillet over medium high heat and add bacon.
- Turn occasionally with a fork until it’s as crispy as you like it. Set aside
- Whip up eggs with salt and pepper to taste (some add milk or cream here; I don’t).
- Pour eggs into pan stirring gently until cooked. There should be enough fat from the bacon to prevent the eggs from sticking–if not add a bit of butter.
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My imagery of God growing up was somewhat complex, and that has only increased; however the accuracy of the complexity looks vastly different. I remember singing about how Jesus loved the little children….all the children of the world, red, brown yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…and picturing this great benevolent grandfather-type figure who loved even sunburned kids like me. I remember reading my “Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes” and seeing clouds and rainbows when it spoke of God, kinda hippie-esque. I remember Sunday School in the church basement and coloring pictures of Jesus on a cross who always looks very weak and delusional with his eyes pointed upward and I remember being told that he died for me. I thought that sure was nice of him. And I remember praying to him—though I didn’t yet know him, I thought he was up there and asked him to please take care of my Grandma and to please see what he could do about Mom getting us a trampoline and a puppy.
In school (esp high school and college), I heard about a different God, one who was angry and killed people. One who was relentless and short-tempered. Though I had not read the bible, I was told that this God in whom I believed killed babies and puppies and sent anyone who didn’t believe in him to hell, even people who had never heard about him! He was painted as an intolerant grouch and a cruch weak people used to use as a source of comfort and assurance. He was a source of moral inspiration and assistance for the ignorant, those not yet enlightened in this day and age. He was, at best, a sort of good luck charm, a spiritual piñata we humans could bang into when we needed something and up our odds of getting what we wanted. I remember discussing religion with my Catholic roommate in college who told me she wasn’t sure she believed in God, but thought it was a good idea to go to church “just in case.” While I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, everything I heard about this God felt wrong. So I did what any civilized 21st century enlightened American doused in culture of Relativism would do: I made up my own God. I picked the parts that felt right and good to me, and rejected the parts I didn’t like or which felt uncomfortable, resolving that if there was a God, he would understand.
The only problem with all of these views is the Bible.
There are elements of truth to each and every message I heard over the years and yet all of them were unbalanced, distorted and unaccompanied by the empowering Holy Spirit (John 16:7) to effectively reveal the fullness of God’s true character (Col 1:9). In Exodus, the Lord clearly reveals his character as being the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin….yet not leaving the guilty unpunished (Ex 34:6). He is a God of love and a God of wrath and the two cannot be separated. A God who is perfectly loving cannot, by definition, stand for sin, rebellion and rejection of Him (1 John 4:8). By the same logic, a God who is perfectly just cannot, by definition, put up with injustice. Love and justice can only be reconciled in a Christ on a Cross creating the potential for what we know as grace. A shepherd who loves his sheep with immeasurable ferocity cannot and will not stand by idly while preying wolves rip them to shreds. I recall passages of scripture that used to drive me away from wanting to know a God of wrath, but I believe there is something to be said about the order of revelation in scripture. He is first and foremost a God of compassion, he loves deeply and suffers with his creation (Mark 6:34). He is then a God of grace, divinely ordaining that we do not always receive the consequences we deserve, yet maintaining his justice as those consequences are yet dished out. He is an angry God, but only in as much as he is passionate to protect those whom he deeply loves. And he is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiveness. His jealous wrath is for his sheep and he will fight tooth and nail to protect those he loves.
Reading Psalms 18 gives me chills every time without fail (God’s response to a faithful servant under heavy affliction and oppression):
In my distress, I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice and my cry to him reached his ears.
Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on the cherubim and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth his lightening and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare and your rebuke O Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. (v7-15)
Something profound occurs to me as these words sink into my heart…the wrath of God is reserved for those who oppress his people, those who confuse his sheep, those who seduce his bride. It is stored up for wolves, villains and murderers. He is so deeply in love with his people, so intensely jealous for their affection, so fiercely devoted to their destiny that he will protect at any cost. Love without wrath is not love at all. Not in a broken and corrupt world where there the daily burden of sin and destruction is laid upon the shoulders of the beloved. Only true love will hate, abhor, threaten and kill that which stands in the way of the beloved. And that is the God of the Bible—simultaneously pouring out love on his people and wrath on their opposition with a divine ferocity.
An ‘impersonal God’–well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth, and goodness, inside our own heads–better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap—best of all. But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband—that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when children who have been playing burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (Man’s search for God!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?
CS Lewis, The Four Loves
Photo Credit: Joyce Yong
Linked: Weekend Whatever,
Jicama (pronounced: HEE-kuh-muh), also known as “yam bean” or “mexican turnip” (all of which are super fun ways of describing the vegetable you’re eating to friends and family) is a wonderful, yet sadly underappreciated root vegetable. It has a thin brown exterior (don’t judge yet–remember what potatoes look like??) balanced out with a crisp, slightly sweet and crunchy interior–imagine crossing an apple with a water chestnut. If you have a hard time imagining that, go out & buy a jicama.
Nutrition & Random Facts About Jicama:
- Jicama isn’t a spectacular source of any major vitamin or mineral. But it’s also not a major source of calories, carbs, and contains no processed ingredients, which makes it a great crunchy, sweet alternative to many other snack options.
- 1 Cup Jicama provides about 50 calories, 5 grams fiber, and 50 mg Vitamin C.
- Negligible for protein, fat and sodium.
- Jicama is 90% water!
- Look for Jicamas which are medium sized (a bit bigger than fist-sized), firm and have few spots.
- Store Jicama cool, but unrefrigerated (like you would potatoes), but refrigerate once cut up.
- All other parts of the Jicama plant (besides the root) are poisonous. I’ve never seen any other part sold, but in case you decide to grow it on your own I suppose.
How do I eat a Jicama???
- Jicama can be peel and slice it into a variety of shapes (coins, cubes, or matchsticks pictured here).
- Snack on them raw or serve with a dip such as hummus or mayo.
- Throw them into a salad.
- Slice super-duper thin and use as a taco shell.
- Cook it in a soup, stir fry, or stew.
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Watered down Christianity is a contradiction in terms—albeit an accurate depiction of what has become of a nation originally founded upon Christian beliefs and ideals. Commitment is undervalued, undertaught, and underappreciated. There was a time in history when one’s character and reputation represented the sum total of his value and one’s dignity was his most valuable possession. People who would stake their very lives on what they believed to be true and would fight to the death for a cause they deemed worthy.
We live in a time of gracious overabundance—extraordinary generosity on the part of a loving father who has given us much freedom–but which has blinded us (2 Co 4:4) from the reality that there really is a continual ongoing battle in this world (Eph 6:10-13); a battle which is subtle and often invisible (2 Co 10:3-5) but which horrifically snatches souls on a daily basis (Luke 12:20). I wonder that this answered prayer of freedom and abundance has in fact, crippled us from experiencing the necessary thirst (Ps 42:1) to drive dependent souls to the stream of living water (John 4:10) and the persecution required to fight for truth (John 15:18-20). There is much more danger in comfort (Rev 4:11) than we know—and we all too often miss the subtle pitfalls (Prov 1:12) because we’re too busy being comfortable (Luke 12:18).
Following Jesus has never been about checking a demographic box, going to a certain building on Sundays, or being a likeable person. It’s not about status, possessions, or power (though not one of these is inherently wrong). It isn’t rooted in our preferences, our upbringing, or our abilities (which are all special unique circumstances which God may use to display His glory). It’s about choosing to trust the very creator of our being to know what is best for our lives (Prov 3:5-6). It is letting Him woo and embrace you, wiping each and every tear away (Rev 21:4), and shinning the light of hope (Ps 18:28) into our brokenness. It values joy over happiness, love over indifference, and humility over pride. It requires death—necessitating the killing of enemy forces plunged into the human soul at conception. And it results in life—not simply the evolution of a breathing organism, but life that is spectacular (John 10:10), life that is abundant and meaningful, yet life that would be laid down in a moment’s time if it meant spending the rest of eternity celebrating at the foot of His throne (Ps 27:4).
Jesus did not come to plea with church-goers; he did not come to ask for an hour or so of our week; and he certainly did not come to breed an outwardly moral, yet inwardly proud and arrogant group of hypocrites (Mt 23:25-26) that would oppress his people. Discipleship is first kneeling, then running: Kneeling in humble submission before an omnipotent creator God who alone is capable of renewing and restoring all things; and running from all that would oppose him, and toward His magnificent Son.
Mr. ByEnds answered, ‘Why in their belligerent manner they [righteous] conclude it’s their duty to rush on their journey in all kinds of weather, and I’m for waiting for the proper wind and tide. They’re in favor of hazarding everything for God at any moment, and I’m in favor of taking all advantages to secure my life and estate. They’re in favor of holding their notions even though all other men are against them, but I’m in favor of religion in what and for as far as the times and my safety will sustain it. They’re in favor of Religion when in rags and contempt, but I’m in favor of him when he walks in his golden slippers in the sunshine and with applause.
John Bunyan, Pilgrims Progress
There are a lot of renditions of bean-based desserts out there (btw if you think beans are a weird “dessert” ingredient, I challenge you to consider the 2 most popular dessert flavors-hint one starts with a “V” and the other starts with a “C“–now think about the origin of both of these flavors? Point made.)–I adapted my version from several others based on what I had on hand and ingredients I like!
These are no-bake and contain no potentially hazardous unbaked ingredients, so perfectly safe to eat the “batter” out of the bowl (and I did). It does require refrigeration to firm up and will keep several days refrigerated and even longer frozen.
No flour, no sugar, and no artificial ingredients–and yet, they are as tasty as they look (as evidenced by the fact that there is apparently an
attempted bite-mark-cover-up on that closest piece….).
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
- 1 cup Dried Navy Beans (soaked overnight, cooked and cooled)
- 1½ cup Dried Coconut
- 1 Overripe Banana (super overripe!)
- 3 Squares Unsweetened Baking Chocolate, melted
- 10 Drops Stevia
- 1 T Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Salt
- Toast the coconut at 350 for about 15 minutes until it starts to brown (and smell toasty!)
- Place in food processor and blend until you get a smooth coconut butter (you may have to stop and scrape the sides several times–it’s worth it!)
- Add remaining ingredients and enough of the cooked beans to make a smooth batter.
- Sweeten to taste (add a bit of honey if preferred–mine were plenty sweet with just the banana and stevia)
- Spread into an 8×8 pan.
- Cut into squares.
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