Thursday, March 28, 2013

Matt and I noticed the Easter ads this year... 
  • Did you know there is such a genre as "Easter ads?"
  • Is it strange that Easter's looking like a mini Christmas?
  • Is it bold to say that Easter is more important than Christmas?
Now I don't want to get all preachy -and I'm certainly aware that not all of us celebrate Jesus' resurrection and prefer bunnies and eggs over church- but what is going on!? Why must children receive video games and dolls in fancy Easter baskets strewn with candy? I'm all for sweets and themed-celebrations, but come on.

Okay, that's enough. Thanks for letting me vent a little. I think that trip to Israel just gave me a little perspective, that's all. Here are these churches and Christian groups fighting over land, church traditions, arguing over sacred turf where Jesus did this, that or the other. And here we are spending $60+/plate for the perfect Easter brunch. Was Jesus really petty like that? Would Jesus be whiny if Mary didn't get him the newest Lego set or Nintendo 3ds game? Would he expect at least 30 eggs to hunt and find to fill his Easter basket?

So...let's shift our thinking a bit. It's Maundy Thursday, after all! Jesus gave us a mandate (via Simon Peter) to feed and care for his sheep. There's this image I'll never forget. Our tour guide (Mishi) randomly stopped our bus on the side of the road. He pointed over to this old man tending his flock. He had two dogs corralling the sheep, and the few goats led the sheep to green pasture. Our guide said that each shepherd here knows each of his sheep very well. I wonder if they name them. They are always watching their sheep and can always tell when one has gone astray. They never rest until they find that one lost sheep.

I've heard this 'story' my whole life, but it was different to see it with my own eyes. Not only are the sheep an investment and part of the shepherd's livelihood, they are also the shepherd's identity. The sheep, in turn, find their comfort and 'home' in their shepherd, who protects and unconditionally cares for them. And those sheep do dumb things sometimes, like I saw one who tried to run out into the road, and the shepherd immediately coaxed the sheep back to safety. What is the moral of the story?

I. am. a.  .

But so are you. And we are loved. And cared for. And Someone is keeping a very close eye on us, to protect us and have our back. And, even when we do dumb things, Someone still values us and calls us by name. But not Lamb chop, that would be a weird name. Hope you're feeling sheep-y today. Happy Thursday!

Thanks to critternook for the photo. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mochanut Cookies

You like that word, Mochanut?

Yeah, I made it up. A LOOOONNNG season of being MIA on this lovely blog means I must come up with a new word. And the definition:
Mo-cha-nut [moh-kuh-nuht, -nuht], noun  
1. the combination of espresso powder, semi-sweet chocolate, and shredded coconut into the perfect  trifecta of awesome happiness for your tastebuds
2. Hawaii, in cookie form
3. If you don't care for Hawaii, insert your favorite dream vacation land and add ", in cookie form"

But enough about definitions and textbooks and whatnot....let's make some cookies!

Proof that I didn't eat ALL of the cookie dough..
 mochanut cookies
barely adapted from Annie
makes 3 dozen small cookies
not too sweet, not too rich. these cookies are breakfast-worthy with a little coffee. they're also perfect for a grab-and-go sweet treat.

3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
3 tbsp. espresso powder (or fine coffee joke)
1 stick margarine + 1 stick butter at room temp
¾ cup brown sugar (not packed)
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut  (I used unsweetened)

step one: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients (flour to coffee). Set aside.

step two: In a second bowl, combine butters, sugars and eggs. Use a mixer if you like. Stir well, until all combined. Add in the two extracts.

step three: Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined. Lastly, add the chocolate chips and coconut. Stir! 

step four: Drop by rounded tablespoons on a non-stick baking mat or cookie sheet. 12 will fit on a sheet. If you'd like giant cookies, get out an ice cream scoop. Either size, flatten cookies down with the back of a fork so they'll cook more evenly. (This dough will be thick, friends.)

step five: Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, or until cookies are cooked through but soft to the touch. Try not to burn your fingers or mouth while devouring. Unleash your inner cookie monster! :) 

There you have it. A cookie recipe with the trifecta. Be sure to share with others. And now for some updates...

1. We moved. It's a fun old house on a church campus. And a new job came with it that I'm really enjoying. And the wonder that is Oregon means that it's sunny, hailing and rainy all at the same time. But it's okay...I'm totally distracted by the AMAZING SPRING BLOOMS everywhere! I don't know what most of the plants/flowers/trees/shrubs are called, but I'm thoroughly enjoying them. Every day I see a new bit of pink, purple, white or yellow that is a new bloom in our neighborhood. Here are a couple of recognizable ones right outside my door...

 2. My mom took me to Israel. Our group was amazing, and it was truly the trip of a lifetime. I'm ready to go back with Matt! It is the only trip I've taken that I don't have words to describe it...a pilgrimage. Yes, that works. I'll tell more later. And it was beautiful. Here's the Sea of Galilee (outside of our hotel room): 

Shamrock Shake? Yeah, I had 1/2 of one...those things are huge! Happy (belated) St. Patty's Day! 
 Okay, that's enough updating. Bye for now, friends! It's great to be back.

Happy eating!