And another one. Early 2012

http://btgats.wordpress.com/

One I started earlier this year on a different site.

Ok, everyone caught up. I’ll try to keep them all in one place for a while.

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Beloved let us love one another…

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” Gandhi

I spent the majority of my life (13-30) deeply rooted in a fundamentalist evangelical christian church. As I have mentioned before, when I left that church it was a time for me to relearn God. Truthfully I was scared to death to question or explore other religions, because I had grown up with fear-based teachings. A vengeful God, who demanded unconditional, unquestioning, love and respect. Don’t dare question or you will end up in the fiery pits of hell. I loved him in a Stockholm Syndrome fashion. as a hostage loves the captor who gives and takes away life.

The journey I have taken could fill a book and I won’t delve into it in this post, but suffice to say I have relearned a God that is love. Pure, unfailing, unwavering love. I read the bible in a different light now. I no longer claim to know all the answers. But when I question, I don’t seek out pastors, or theologies – I go to the source, the spirit that is within me (within all of us) and ask for guidance

What spurred this post is the resent backlash, I’ve heard from conservative radio hosts that has made it’s way into the views of people that I know who claim to be Christians. I have actually heard these people condemn the relief efforts we are giving to Haiti. I know, my jaw is still on the ground. Is it politics? Prejudiced? Unfortunately in this day and age, I think the two go hand in hand.

It’s heartbreaking to me, because I am a believer and this type of behavior makes the beautiful truths that I try to live by polluted. We can no longer see God’s truths because of the Christians. Shouldn’t the Christian (Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, hell, just human) response be “I see a brother in need and I will reach out to him”? I know that for the majority of us this is the case. But this small minority has really disturbed me. As Martin Luther King Jr said “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Ok, thanks for letting me vent. I will end this blog with one final quote:

1st John 4:7&8
Dear friends, let us continually love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love

Trying it again

I haven’t been on my blog for months, but had a little extra time today and clicked the Between the Gutter and the Stars link. Voila! I seemed to have lost a bunch of pictures and I’m too lazy to go back and fix the links, but I am compelled to start writing again. Writing is not really my forte, but when I blog it seems to be a good exercise for me. I start paying attention to the smallest details around me, instead of letting the details of my day just pass by in blur of gray.
I only have one client left in my Personal Chef business. I said goodbye to my other clients to take a position as the Operations manager for a small bistro in the city. The work is tiring and the pay is terrible but I am learning a lot, so I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance a 60+ hour work week and my personal life. I am failing miserable at the moment, but I’m sure there is a way. If I was still in my twenties or maybe even my thirties, maybe I would have the energy, but this 42 year old body is pretty worn out. What was I thinking, leaving my nice corporate job with it’s three weeks of paid vacation, 401K and sick days to “pursue my passions”?
I did make the most of my day off though. We went thrifting up North and stopped into Hay’s to try the burgers we’ve heard so much about. The chocolate malt was very good…probably the best I’ve ever had but the counter’s response to my request for one, made me enjoy it a little less. When I ordered a small chocolate malt with my burger the guy said ” I’ll try. I don’t really have the time right now to make one” and walked off. Umm, OK. It did make it’s way to my table but geeze, sorry to have put you out. Burgers – nothing special. Fries – YUCK. Price – way too high. We won’t be back.
Tonight we’re heading to Pho 97 with Toast, Mason and Kelly. I’ve never been there either, but I’m looking forward to it. At least the company will be good!

Low-fat comfort food (not an oxymoron)

The weather is turning colder and my body is craving calories as seen below in my tator tot post. I am cooking for a women on a weekly basis that requires a low fat, low sodium diet and it’s been wonderful for me. I’ve been learning to adjust my recipes to meet her needs and I’m passing the benefits on to my own family.

When I think of comfort food, I want something creamy, rich and warm. This recipe fits the bill. I got it from eating.health.com.  I substitute on cup of white wine for a cup of broth, but other than that I made it as written.  It was so delicious that I thought I’d pass it along. Enjoy!

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish (optional)
7 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/4 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or pecorino Romano cheese

Directions
1: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the squash. Cook until tender, 5–7 minutes. Add sea salt, pepper, and sage. Set aside until ready to finish the risotto. Bring 5 cups of broth to boil in a saucepan; reduce to a simmer. Save remaining 2 cups.

2: Heat 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil in a heavy 4–5 quart sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté for about 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add rice to mixture and stir until all grains are coated.

3: Using a ladle, start adding simmering broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously. Allow each addition to be fully absorbed before adding more. This will take about 20–25 minutes. The rice will be slightly al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and place away from direct heat until ready to finish.

4: About 5 minutes before serving, bring remaining 2 cups broth to a simmer. Warm squash on the stove. Heat rice mixture over medium heat. Immediately start adding simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until soft and fairly loose. Most of the broth should have evaporated, but it shouldn’t be dry (you may not need all 2 cups). The rice should be soft, not mushy. If too dry, add a bit more hot broth. Stir in squash; taste for seasoning. Serve in shallow bowls. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Garnish with more sage, if desired, and serve immediately. (Serving size: 3/4 cup)

Nutrition
Calories 407 (27% from fat); Fat 13g (sat 4g, mono 7g, poly 2g); Cholesterol 8mg; Protein 15g; Carbohydrate 63g; Sugars 4g; Fiber 5g; Iron 2mg; Sodium 124mg; Calcium 92mg

Confession is good for the soul

I feel that I  should come clean.  I’ve preached on the evils of processed foods. I have urged you to eat healthier. I have praised the values of good whole foods. I have condemned the processed foods that fill so many of our refrigerators.

My friends, I have sinned.

In fact I do so quite often.

In a gesture of full disclosure I offer you pictorial proof. Today’s Lunch:

Why does it feel so good to be so bad? Now where did I hide that Halloween candy?

Smoky Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Of all the dishes I make the one that keeps getting requested are my chicken and black bean enchiladas. I have two clients who request it for every cook-date. My friend Kaite has repeatedly asked me for the recipe and I keep putting her off. Not because I’m stingy with my recipes, but because I don’t actually have a recipe.

So for Kaite I will try to put it down in writing. It won’t be in traditional recipe format, because that’s not the way I generally cook.

The Chicken

First, I stew a chicken, depending on what’s on sale and what kind of diet my client is I use either a whole chicken or chicken breasts. If it’s a low fat client I take off the skin and only use white meat. (If using a whole chicken be sure to remove the giblets and such, it will make it bitter) I put a large pot of water on the stove and fill it with a couple of carrots, a large white or yellow onion, a couple of stalks of celery, some sprigs of thyme, a palm full of peppercorns and of course chicken. There is no need to peel the vegetables, just cut them so they fit in the pot. I let this come to a boil and then turn it to a slow simmer for a couple of hours or until the chicken is falling apart. Then I take it off the heat and let the chicken cool completely in the broth (this will keep it very tender) Once it’s cool I shred the chicken with a fork. I strain the liquid and use the broth for my enchilada sauce and freeze the rest for recipes.

Enchilada Sauce

First of all the two secrets to my sauce are powdered cocoa and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can get cans of these at most grocery stores in the Mexican food section. They are really spicy so only use one, or at the most, two peppers and about a tablespoon of the sauce.

Ingredients

¼ cup of oil
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup of oil
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
3 cups reserved chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
One canned chipotle pepper with sauce.

In a sauce pan, make a rue with about ¼ cup of oil and 3 tablespoons of flour. Add the tomato sauce, chipotle peppers and spices and add chicken broth to desired consistency. Simmer for about 15 minutes for flavors to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Black bean and chicken filling.

I blend one can of black beans (rinsed), 1 can of diced chiles, 2 cups of shredded chicken, 1 Tablespoon of cumin, ½ cup of finely chopped white onions and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.

You will also need a couple of cups of shredded cheese. I use whatever I have on hand, but a jack and cheddar combo is ideal.

Make your enchilada

This is the messy part. In a small skillet heat ¼ cup of oil. Dip the tortillas in the oil until pliable (don’t fry them) then drag through the sauce and place in a baking pan or casserole dish. Fill with a couple of tablespoons of chicken mixture and 1 tablespoon of cheese and roll the tortilla seamed side down, repeat process until you have filled up your pan. Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas, top with cheese. I like use Cotija which is a Mexican parmesan, but any cheese will do. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until cheese melts.

So Kaite, there it is. Enjoy!