NATIONAL ICED TEA MONTH

June 27, 2018

 

This time of year, well anytime of year, I enjoy sipping on a cup of tea. On those cold days, I love sipping on a hot cup of tea and feeling the heat from the cup warm me up inside and out. During the summer, however, I look forward to a tall cup of iced tea. Maybe that is why June was chosen as National Iced Tea Month.

A friend of mine once told me that iced tea was created by accident at the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair. It seems a vendor was trying to sell hot tea on a hot day. People wanted something cool, not hot, so he iced it down and it became a hit. Other food scholars suggest that people were writing about iced tea in cookbooks dating back to 1842. Regardless of how it came to be, it is now something people around the world enjoy drinking on hot summer days.

How we prepare it can differ from person to person. For example, my wife loves her iced tea two ways. One already prepared and prepackaged in bottles (and yes there is a specific brand). The other is when I put her iced tea mix in our Family Size Quick Stir Pitcher and stir it up for her. I on the other hand, go back to what I call real tea (actual leaves) and let it brew and then chill and serve over ice. Most recently I have begun using our new Cold Brew Pitcher to make batches of cold brew tea which while it takes a bit longer tastes amazing and keeps me going back for more.

Our different ways of “preparing” tea remind me of how some people want their relationships with their Higher Power to develop. Some just want to have a conversation with their Higher Power and think it is done, kind of like the Quick Stir approach. Others seem to have more of a Cold Brew approach. They realize that any phase of their journey takes time and they must be patient while everything is revealed and unfolded.

There are times in our lives where the answers to our prayers will come to us instantaneously. However, there are other times where we must be patient, loving and gentle with ourselves as we

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

April 20, 2018

Wisdom comes with patience. Let them travel together in your life.

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TRUST IN __________

August 24, 2015

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin captures an important aspect of faith in these lines from a prayer.

Breathing in: Trust in . . .
Breathing out: the slow work of God.

How many of us remember to trust in the slow work of God?  Last year, one of my students said to me, “It sure would be nice if God could answer your prayers in the same amount of time it takes to get a Happy Meal.”  I had to stop and remind him that Happy Meals do not always make you happy, at least not in the long run, and that they are not always healthy. However his question got at an important point. How often do we expect God to hear and answer our prayers instantaneously? Do we only trust in God when they are answered quickly or do we trust in the slow work of God?

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P is for Patience

February 20, 2014

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My inspiration for patience actually came from thinking about how some foods require patience in making them. My wife, who does not cook, discovered once that it takes patience to make something as simple as a quesadilla. Until she had to make one for herself, she did not realize how I patiently waited for each side to be the perfect level of “doneness” for her. Quesadillas are not the only food that requires patience in its preparation. When I am making my own gravlax, I have to patiently wait for three days while it undergoes it’s transformation in the refrigerator.

Last week, I began thinking about some of the foods we grew up eating. Growing up in a Jewish household, many of the foods people get in Jewish delicatessens today are things I used to make at home with my mother. She would patiently sit with me and teach me how to make foods such as gefilte fish, kugels, kishka, kasha, halvah, rugelach, chicken soup with matzo balls, cabbage rolls, and so much more. However, there was one thing my mother never taught me how to make and I wish she had – pastrami. Instead, every few months we would take the subway to New York City and take a family trip to Katz’s delicatessen. There we would buy pounds of food to bring home. To fuel us up on the way home, my parents would always treat us to corned beef or pastrami sandwiches. Pastrami was always my favorite.

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Have you ever had the privilege of watching something transform before your eyes. Perhaps you did not see this transformation immediately, but slowly and over time. This morning, I was reading a selection from Mark Neepo’s book The Book of Awakening. In his reflection for today, he wrote:

I recently learned that the first form of pencil was a ball of lead. Having discovered that lead, if scratched, would leave markings, people then wrestled with large chunks of the stuff in an attempt to write. Through the work of many, the chunks were eventually shaped into a useable form that could fit the hand. The discovery became a tool.

I am humbled to confess after a lifetime of relationship that love is no different. Be it a lover or a friend or a family member, the discovery of closeness appears in our life like a ball of lead – something that is wrestled with, will leave markings by which we can understand each other.

But this is only the beginning. The work of love is to shape the stuff of relationships into a tool that fits our hands. With each hardship faced, with each illusion confirmed, with each trespass looked at and owned, another piece of the chunk is whittled and love begins to become a sacred tool.

When truth is held in compassionate hands, the sharpness of love becomes clear and not hurtful.

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It’s Pickling Time!

September 13, 2013

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Did you know that every day of the year is a national food holiday and that sometimes we are celebrating more then one food at a time? Today is pickle day and the minute I saw that my mouth began to water and my memories floated back to being a young girl and pickling with my mom or going to see the pickle king when she did not have time to pickle. Oh and I loved those visits to the pickle king. I think I was his best marketing tool. I would stand by the big kegs of pickles, pickled tomatoes, pimentos, and sauerkraut and salivate. He would let me “sample” the goods and I would continuously proclaim to customers how good they were. All the while, my mother watched me out of the corner of her eye while she picked up fruits and vegetables by the nearby vendors. She shopped, I ate pickles and pickled tomatoes, and the pickle king sold jars to people who watched me enjoy what I was eating one little bite at a time. I cried the day the pickle king man stopped coming as that was part of what made going to the market with my mother so much fun. With him gone, my mother and I would spend considerable more time pickling. While our pickles and pickled tomatoes were good, it was a different experience then being able to make them swim in their kegs and pick out the perfect pickle.

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So you’re a loxsmith?

September 5, 2013

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We were packing up our table at a healing and psychic fair when a couple, Jane and Charles, stopped by. I pulled out information to share with them and that was the beginning of an enjoyable and interesting conversation, which wound up with us talking about bagels, lox, and cream cheese. As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know, lox and cream cheese, especially TempTee cream cheese holds a place near and dear to my heart. Charles and I were talking about how hard it was to find good lox in Rochester and how it inspired me to learn how to make it. “How do you smoke it?’ he asked. “ I don’t, I brine it for three days.” I replied. “Oh, so you’re a loxsmith,” he responded and the seed was planted as I found myself staring at these beautiful wild Alaskan salmon fillets at the store the other day, but knowing this was not the week where I would have the time to pull out all those pin bones. I could have also gone with the farm-raised salmon, which tend not to have the pin bones, but some things are worth paying a little bit more for. Even paying more for the wild salmon is still considerably less then what I would pay for the pre-packaged lox, so I would be saving money and giving myself a special treat to enjoy for the week to come.

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A few weeks ago, I received an email from my friend Jane Patterson, who lives in Australia. I like to say that Jane is one of the most beautiful spirits I will probably never meet. Jane told me about a woman, Natalie McComas, who was doing a photographic series called Beautiful in this Skin. According to Natalie, this series “portrays subjects with dramatic, visible birthmarks and explores the effects this has had on their lives and psyches. This series celebrates these unique skin formations whilst also inspiring those, who may have a similar condition, to feel special and beautiful in their own skin.”[1]

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A friend of mine laughs at me and says I can find spiritual lessons in just about everything. So when I offered to help a friend learn how to grill, it also got me thinking about the qualities that are important when making food on the grill.

One of the things I began thinking about is that the quality of what comes off the grill often depends on what is done before the food ever goes on the grill. This past Memorial Day, like every other holiday, we had our potluck barbecue. A friend called me the day before to let me know she was bringing some marinated chicken and pork chops. By the time she arrived, the meats had been sitting in their marinades for more then 24 hours. The marinades had soaked through the meats and you know that every bite you took would be incredibly flavorful. Conversely, another friend brought some chicken to cook, which was not seasoned or marinated at all. She brushed some sauce on while it was cooking. While it looked flavorful and tasty, it was dry and flavorless. The one that had been marinating all night was moist and juicy and made you want to keep going back for more; it was that good.

 

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