Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Your yoke is easy and your burden is light

As I mentioned earlier, it feels like there's a lot of big stuff going on around me right now.  I've just been doing my Lent reflection and I felt God guiding me into His truth as I prayed.  I'm writing down the chain of thoughts I had - as much to remind myself of them as anything.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hazelnut chocolate Easter eggs

No one seems to be selling fair trade Easter eggs in New Zealand this year, so last week my friend Anna and I again got together to make our own.  We use fair trade chocolate: this way we can be confident our Easter treats are a blessing not only to those who receive them but also to all those involved in their production :-)

Over the years we've developed a number of home-made Easter egg recipes.  We first learned how to make marshmallow chocolate Easter eggs.  Last year we added creme eggs to our repertoire: both classic creme eggs and vegan peppermint chocolate ones.  This year we made hazelnut chocolate Easter eggs: a milk chocolate shell filled with a paste that tastes a lot like the filling in Guylian seashell chocolates.  Click here to jump to the recipe.

Hazelnut chocolate Easter eggs

Monday, April 10, 2017

The violence inherent in the system

I've never been quite sure where I stand with respect to violence and the use of force.  Instinctively, I tend towards non-violence.  Yet I am aware that, regardless of what I my personal preferences, my whole way of life is daily supported by very serious state-sponsored violence.

I was reminded of this the other day as I listened to this excerpt from one of my favourite podcasts, This American Life.  It features US border guard Francisco Cantu reflecting on his experiences guarding the US Mexico border.  It's not pleasant listening, but I recommend it.  It's 26 minutes long.

In New Zealand, we're surrounded by ocean, not desert.  We're so far from the nearest neighbouring landmasses that the only practical way for a desperate person to come here is by air.  So, instead of border guards with guns, we use Advance Passenger Processing at foreign airports.  We carefully decide who it will be to our benefit to allow in and rigorously deny entry to all others.*  I don't know how often guns are used in this process, but I'm certain they're brought out whenever necessary.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Aquafaba for glazing pies

Today I discovered another use for aquafaba*: glazing pie pastry!  People use aquafaba as an egg or egg-white substitute in meringues, marshmallow, baking etc., so I thought it might work for glazing, too.  I'm really pleased with the result :-)

* the water in which chickpeas or other pulses have been cooked

Blackberry and apple pie for today's Sunday celebration.  The blackberries came from friends from church and the apples from our neighbours' tree.  We ate it with home-made yoghurt and it was delicious :-)

I simply brushed aquafaba over the top before baking and, as you can see, it came out a lovely golden colour.  Aquafaba is something we generate at least once a week, so I'll definitely be using it in the future: I'd much rather use something I'd otherwise throw away than use half an egg and be left wondering what to do with the rest!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A different kind of Lent

We're nearing the end of the Christian season of Lent: the 40 days that lead up to Easter.  Over recent years, this is how I've generally come to observe this season:
  1. I restrict the variety of things I eat and drink.  This tends to feel both boring and constrained.  I then use those feelings as a prompt to turn to God and to remind myself that he is sufficient for me.
  2. I do some kind of extra Bible reading in the morning.  This year I've been working through Lynne Baab's reflections on the Psalms.
  3. I do an evening reflection (a kind of 'examen').
  4. In place of doing more interesting activities, I take time to list a bunch of things we no longer need on TradeMe.  The money this generates is passed on to Tranzsend for their annual 'prayer and self denial' appeal.  This year, in terms of 'not doing interesting activities', I felt it was particularly important not to write any research-heavy blog posts during Lent.  Posts like these ones take a huge amount of time and energy, and I feel/felt a strong need to take a break from that kind of work and turn my focus inward for a while.
  5. Celebrate God's goodness on Sundays by enjoying special food and doing fun things :-)
All this has added up to a season of self-examination which, whilst often not all that comfortable, has been a time of cleansing and growth.  It has become something I look forward to.

This year is different.