Eat the World 20: Bolivia

Last Wednesday we sampled the cuisine of our 20th country on our Eat the World adventure. If you are wondering, we did indeed skip Bhutan but will be coming back to it later next week.

Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by Peru, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. While Dylan or I have never been there,we were familiar with the cuisine and culture since we lived in Ecuador for a year. In fact, looking through the pictures and answering Ada’s questions brought back a flood of fond memories such as this:

Rainy season fun.

And this:

Alabanza!

And this one too:

The square.

Basically, Bolivia brought so many memories still so fresh in the mind, and it’s been eight years past since our time spent there. EIGHT years. I can’t believe it. Bolivia was indeed a nice reminder of our old home.

At the time I was planning this meal I think that I was feeling a bit industrious, much more so that what I actually felt last Wednesday, so we ended up limiting my four piece menu down to two. I think that the avocado salad would’ve been pretty delicious but it was just one extra step and I don’t think that it would’ve tasted outrageously different than anything else we’ve ever sampled. I’m still a bit sad that we skipped out on baking the Cocadas (coconut candies, think macaroons), so I’ll probably attempt those sometime later this month just for fun. We’ll see.

The two recipes that did make the cut were Aji de Lentejas con Sarsa (Lentil stew with salsa) and Saltenas (Meat and potato hand pies). I opted to cut the stew servings in half because I wasn’t sure the girls would eat it…and I was right, except that Dylan and I definitely could’ve eaten more than the small bowls that it made. Ah well, proxima vez. It was a fairly simple, quick cooking stew (due to the lentils) and a great vegetarian option. I’d make this again for sure. You can find the recipe here.

The saltenas were a LOT more work. Dylan and the girls made the dough while I prepared the filling. Ada and Nellie loved the dough part because they got to play with their own piece of it. Rolling, shaping, squishing, all that good stuff. They were good, but I’m not sure that I’d remake these. They were just really large and quite dense. I’m a bigger fan of Ecuadorian (think crispy-fluffy fried) and Argentinian (think flakier-more pie-crust-like) empanadas. When the saltenas cooled they were like light dumbbells. Big, heavy, and SUPER filling. You can also find the recipe here.

I think the general consensus was that dinner was good but that it wasn’t necessarily something that we would repeat again out of craving. The stew might show up again because it’s cheap, healthy, and light…but if I’m going to put a lot of work into something, I’ll make mandu or biryani or something much else.

And just a fun video to round everything out: 

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Monday Meal Plan

First off, a funny video to brighten a dreary, cold Monday: 

Monday Meal Plan : 2.4-2.10

2.4 Monday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @Terry & Sheila’s house

*Extra*

Pumpkin Butter for T-Rex. Shhhhhh…it’s a secret.

Freezer biscuits. I pinned this a la Pinterest a while ago because as much as I love a can of Pillsbury’s, I can’t get over the weird chemically aftertaste I experience when I haven’t eaten them for a while. If this is as easy as it seems, it would be an easy way to always have biscuits on hand that are homemade and “fresh” tasting.

Easy 5-Ingredient Fudgy Nutella Cookies with Sea Salt. While adding a third “extra” may sound overly ambitious, I have been hankering for cookies for quite some time. And these sound simple and crave satisfying enough to achieve. It’s okay, you can call me “Super Mom” today.

2.5 Tuesday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s house
2.6 Wednesday  

Dinner: Eat the World 21: Bosnia Herzegovina
*Extra*

Sesame noodles w/cilantro & scallions.

Cilantro Thai “grilled” chicken. I think these will be easy meals for Dylan to have this weekend for work, plus I’ve got a ridiculous amount of cilantro.

2.7 Thursday* 

Dinner: Mitti Handi Dahl w/basmati and chapatti (Because my kids are still obsessed with this book they got from the library.)

*Extra*

Mix up and freeze two scone batches. Maybe I’ll get fancy and try a new flavor combination? Peachy cinnamon sounds exciting, and I’ll definitely throw in some savory for soup this weekend.

2.8 Friday*

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies w/scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Do the initial feeding steps of Bruce in prep for baking.

Martha Stewart’s zucchini and cranberry muffins. Perfect additions to tea time and as snacks for Dylan’s lunches.

2.9 Saturday*

Breakfast: Easy Raspberry strudel w/coffee & tea
Lunch: Crockpot tomato basil parmesan soup w/scones
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Leftovers or sandwiches or maybe even a blue box meal with frozen peas. Yessiree, you can still call me “Super Mom” today. 😉
*Extra*

Put sourdough loaves on the porch to rise (yes, I do use my front porch as an extended fridge/freezer in the winter thankyouverymuch. North Dakota does have some perks now and then.)

Espresso dark chocolate coconut cookies. In case one batch of cookies isn’t enough for the week because, you know, that would be tragic to be cookie-less lest a craving strike.

2.10 Sunday*

Breakfast: Sweet zucchini pancakes
Lunch: Crockpot teriyaki chicken over basmati w/edamame
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Pasta w/tomato blue cheese sauce. The girls and I heart blue cheese. Heart it.

*Extra*

Freezer cinnamon rolls. This doesn’t exactly link up to a specific recipe but rather the method. It’s the same idea as the biscuits from earlier this week and I think that it should work great. Again, I know freezer rolls go on sale consistently, but they still have that weird taste to me. Plus, I can customize the ones that I make and freeze at home. Win-win.

Finish off sourdough loaves.

Next week is Ada’s 5th birthday. That’s unreal. I think I may say that every year around her birthday, but truthfully, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly this adventure has gone. It’s the days where I’m crabby, irritated, and impatient with my girls, my husband, my life, that I need to be reminded that somebody’s birthday is just around the corner. That  somebody is getting older quicker than I can keep up.

Picture dump in 5…

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To women, young ladies, and girls

I have been reading Rachel Held Evans’ blog on and off for a year or so now and just recently began following her more closely after she posted this blog about doubt within the Christian’s life. It resonated for many, many reasons, and I have yet to be disappointed in her thought-provoking questions posed throughout her writing.

A few days ago I opened her blog to read the following article. Whatever presumptions you may have after reading the title, please push past them and read through the entire piece. I am not saying that I necessarily agree with everything that she says in this article or in her blog, but I am saying that she’s asking questions that need to be asked. That need to be addressed if the body of Christ wants to continue to share a meaningful and sincere relationship with humanity as a whole. But that last statement, is for another time and another post.

NOTE: I also would encourage you to click on the links included in her blog post as they are also thought-provoking and sincere pieces wrote from fellow female Christians. Ms. Evans certainly is not the only, the first or the last to raise these questions concerning the emphasis placed on virginity in the modern church. 

Do Christians idolize virginity?

Several recent posts from some of favorite bloggers raise this question in powerful ways. I thought today would be a good day to share them, as we continue our series on Sexuality & The Church.

The first is from Elizabeth Esther, who writes:

“It took me a long time to realize I idolized virginity. I kept saying I was just promoting virtue and chastity and purity! Nothing wrong with pushing purity, right? Nothing wrong with Being Good!

Like other Christians, I talked about the “sacrifice” of abstinence. There were princess-themed books about saving our first kiss. Some of us wore purity rings and made pledges to our Daddies not to have sex until we’re married. Ultimately, we implied that a woman’s inherent worth and dignity could be measured by whether or not a man has touched her.

I understand why we do this. Christians are alarmed by what we see as a sexually permissive society. America no longer seems to share our values. This scares us. The less sacred sex seems to the broader culture, the more sacred we insist on making it among fellow Christians.

The intention might be good but over-emphasizing the specialness of virginity has unintended, harmful consequences.

We start by making ridiculous promises to our daughters. We tell them that “sexual purity” is a guarantor of a more intimate married sex life. We tell them that if they “lose” their purity, they will never really get it back. Oh, yes. They can be forgiven. But. You know. They’re damaged goods.

Christians say that the world objectifies women through immodest dress and a permissive sexual ethic. However, by idolizing sexual purity and preoccupying ourselves with female modesty and an emphasis on hyper-purity, Christians actually engage in reverse objectivization. 

Yes, we Christians say, we believe in the inherent dignity of all human life. But we especially believe in it if that human life is virginal, wears a purity ring and bleeds on her wedding night.

This is harmful and, dare I say, idolatrous.Read the full post.The second comes from the always-brilliant Sarah Bessey, who wrote a post for A Deeper Story entitled “I Am Damaged Goods”:

Over the years the messages melded together into the common refrain: “Sarah, your virginity was a gift and you gave it away. You threw away your virtue for a moment of pleasure. You have twisted God’s ideal of sex and love and marriage. You will never be free of your former partners, the boys of your past will haunt your marriage like soul-ties. Your virginity belonged to your future husband. You stole from him. If – if! – you ever get married, you’ll have tremendous baggage to overcome in your marriage, you’ve ruined everything. No one honourable or godly wants to marry you. You are damaged goods, Sarah.”

If true love waits, I heard, then I have been disqualified from true love.

In the face of our sexually-dysfunctional culture, the Church longs to stand as an outpost of God’s ways of love and marriage, purity and wholeness.

And yet we twist that until we treat someone like me – and, according to this research, 80% of you are like me –  as if our value and worth was tied up in our virginity.

We, the majority non-virgins in the myopic purity conversations,  feel like the dirty little secret, the not-as-goods, the easily judged example.  In this clouded swirl of shame, our sexual choices are the barometer of our righteousness and worth. We can’t let any one know, so we keep it quiet, lest any one discover we were not virgins on some mythic wedding night. We don’t want to be the object of disgust or pity or gossip or judgment. And in the silence, our shame – and the lies of the enemy – grow.She concludes:

No matter what that preacher said that day, no matter how many purity balls are thrown with sparkling upper-middle-class extravagance, no matter the purity rings and the purity pledges, no matter the judgemental Gospel-negating rhetoric used with the best of intentions, no matter the “how close is too close?” serious conversations of boundary-marking young Christians, no matter the circumstances of your story, you are not disqualified from life or from joy or from marriage or from your calling or from a healthy and wonderful lifetime of sex because you had – and, heaven forbid, enjoyed – sex before you were married.

Darling, young one burning with shame and hiding in the silence, listen now: Don’t believe that lie. You never were, you never will be, damaged goods.A-freakin’-men is all I have to say to that. You really must read the entire post.

Similarly, Carolyn Custis James recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled “Why Virginity is Not the Gospel,” to which Dianna Anderson added a helpful critique.

I wrote about my experience with “True Love Waits” in A Year of Biblical Womanhood. As you will notice, this is the context in which the infamous v-word appears!

I signed my first abstinence pledge when I was just fifteen. I’d been invited by some friends to a fall youth rally at the First Baptist Church, and in the fellowship hall one night, the youth leader passed around neon blue and pink postcards that included a form letter to God promising to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. We had only a few minutes to add our signatures, and all my friends were signing theirs, so I used the back of my metal chair to scribble my name across the dotted line before marching to the front of the room to pin my promise to God and my vagina onto a giant corkboard for all to see. The youth leader said he planned to hang the corkboard in the hallway outside the sanctuary so that parents could marvel at the seventy-five abstinence pledges he’d collected that night. It was a pretty cheap way to treat both our bodies and God, come to think of it. Studies suggest that only about 12 percent of us kept our promise.I have a feeling this is going to be a hot topic in the months and years to come, and we will be discussing it at length as part of series, though later in the year.

What do you think? Does the Christian culture idolize virginity? How should our narratives surrounding sex, virginity, and purity change, particularly as they concern women?

Wordless Wednesday: Feeling Nostalgic

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Pondering an anniversary

2 Loves

2 Loves…how I miss those chubby chins.

My Facebook feed was blown up yesterday due to a 40th anniversary. I read an article from Eugene Cho: To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the life that could be lived out. because of it. I’ve read many articles about it, on it, the whys and why nots for and against it. And I have to be honest with you.

I’m a fence rider.

Not because I don’t believe in the sanctity of life. Not because I don’t believe women shouldn’t have a right to determine what happens to their bodies. Not because I don’t believe that God intended humanity to be filled with beauty and life. Not because I believe that church and state are mostly and should be separated.

Not because I am sinful…or maybe because I am.

But truthfully, where is the argument or at least the point, when at the end of the day both sides are hurting? Woman, baby, families, broken in two by the loss of love? The loss of compassion? The loss of grace?

I’ve been reading a book that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. It’s focus on grace, on thanksgiving…I think is a genius answer to the hatred and pain that is felt throughout this argument. It’s exploration of the basis of sin and evil in the world being rooted in our ungrateful hearts, in a lack of thanksgiving. Through these reflections on faith and practice she connects the pieces together a little bit more for me on my own beliefs. Grace. What is grace?

I’m not looking for a debate or a fight or really anything, mostly I’m just shifting through my thoughts. I realize this won’t make sense to some and maybe will to others. As a mother, as a daughter, as an adoptee who doesn’t know her birth parents, as a child of God, and more simply as a player in humanity…I don’t dare to profess I have all the answers. I long for the goodness, the gratefulness that we once had as perfectly created and perfectly seeing, and in that longing I attempt to make a life and a belief that emulates what could have been. What is if we humble ourselves to embrace grace.

Monday Meal Plan (on Tuesday)

I’m not sure how I fell behind since I only seem to blog on my “gimmicky” days lately. I feel stuck in a rut when it comes to blogging lately and everything other than pictures or food seems to be mundane. I’m hoping that our Belize post later this week for Eat the World helps to lessen that fog but I’m not honestly all that confident. So…we’ll see.

Dylan’s home this week so I get to play with a few more “daring” recipes than if it was just me and the girls (since they generally won’t be convinced to eat it by just myself). Ada’s been chomping at the bit to “eat a country” since we re-booted last week with ETW, so that makes me happy. I’m hoping it’ll pull her out of this everything-is-icky phase we seemed to have begun.

Has anyone else had that issue when their kid(s) started daycare/school? Ada used to eat anything and everything we put in front of her, albeit not peas, but pretty much everything and now that she’s eating lunch at school turns her nose up at things she used to love. I know this is a developmental stage too but it’s driving me near bonkers. Especially when I’m really trying to plan out meals and provide a variety of foods for them to taste. She already has to eat what’s on her plate, we offer a small amount of anything new or things we know she doesn’t necessarily like just so she can keep trying it. Do you have any other tips or tricks to help with this? 

OH, and on an AWESOME note, one of my BFFs (seriously, I still use that term) is coming to visit me in early August!! She is flying into Fargo with her husband and going to spend FIVE days with us. I am over the moon!! Hopefully the weather will be beautiful and we’ll spend time at the lake and just putzing around town together. This summer is gearing up to be epic!!

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago...too long ago.

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago…too long ago.

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can't you tell?

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can’t you tell?

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Monday Meal Plan : 1.14-1.20

1.14 Monday

Dinner: Leftovers

1.15 Tuesday

Breakfast: Homemade granola bars

Dinner: Salmon w/crispy edamame and lemon souffle pudding cake (Ada’s been dying for a dessert lately)

1.16 Wednesday  

Breakfast: Granola w/yogurt & honey

Dinner: Fully loaded baked potato soup w/crisped sausage

*Extra*

I made a sourdough starter last weekend and I’m hoping to try baking with it this night. We’ll see how it goes. It is still nameless which I hope to correct shortly as I want to hand it down to my girls someday (yeah, I’m cheesy like that). 

1.17 Thursday 

Breakfast: Cereal w/fruit & milk
Dinner: Eat the World: BENIN

*Extra*

Apple cinnamon scones from King Arthur’s recipe files. These can be made ahead and popped into the oven for a fresh brekkie…I’m in. 

1.18 Friday 

Breakfast: Apple cinnamon scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Peanut butter cup popcorn. The girls missed their Daddy mucho this past week while he was working, so I think, barring anything pressing that may come up, we’ll have a movie night. Shut ourselves in with some Red Box/Netflix, good pizza and popcorn, and just veg out together. My favorite kind of family time. 😉 

1.119 Saturday

Breakfast: Pumpkin cranberry waffles w/Cool Whip. Cool Whip? Yes. Cool Whip. 

Lunch: Beer cheese macaroni. I’ve been wanting to try this for quite some time…here’s to hoping it’s delicious!

Tea Time: Assam w/milk & sugar and fruit snacks

Dinner: Spiced black bean, avocado & goat cheese tacos

1.20 Sunday 

Breakfast: Granola & almond milk/leftover scones

Lunch, Tea & Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s for Sunday, although if we come home for dinner I’ll make caramelized mushrooms & dumplings. I saw this recipe and my mouth instantly started watering. 

Monday meal plan

Yesterday we spent the morning at church and skating with some friends. I wish I had some pictures BUT I was too busy enjoying the moment with Dylan and the two monsters. I’m proud to say that Ada did AH.sum. (ß I apologize for the overzealous use incorrect grammar, I got excited.) Seriously, she did SO well and both Dylan and I were so proud. She started off shaky as expected but gained so much confidence as the minutes ticked by and, did I mention this earlier?, I was and am SO proud. I am looking forward to many more years of Sunday mornings and evenings, week days and nights (you get the picture) of enjoying this pastime together.

So without further ado…

Monday Meal Plan : 1.7-1.13

1.7 Monday

Breakfast: Granola w/almond milk

Dinner: Belize (Because to be honest, last week’s meal plans pretty much flew out the window due to friends, dinners, and life’s general happenings. Stay tuned for pictures and a review of our meal as I am determined to get back on track for Eat the World.)

*Extra*

Bananananananananannanana bread because those bananas aren’t getting any younger.

Make x2 sour dough loaves for dinner tomorrow.

1.8 Tuesday

Breakfast: Bagels w/cream cheese

Dinner: Corn chowder with sourdough

1.9 Wednesday  

Breakfast: Granola w/yogurt & honey

Dinner: French onion grilled cheese sandwiches & salads

*Extra*

Fresh apple cake with caramel glaze.

1.10 Thursday **

Breakfast: Cereal w/fruit & milk
Dinner: Mexican-ish crock pot chicken tacos. I saw this floating around pretty rampantly on Pinterest and have decided to finally try it out. Wish me luck and maybe it’ll be a “Pin Win” on the next Pinteresting post.

1.11 Friday **

Breakfast: Toast w/butter, bagels w/cream cheese & juice

Tea Time: Leftover cake and assam w/sugar & milk.

Dinner: Homemade pizzas, toppings which will include: pepperoni, green olives, goat cheese, tomatoes, basil, and copious amounts of cheeses. My mouth is watering thinking about it.

1.12 Saturday **

Breakfast: Easy raspberry strudel. It’s so nom nom nommy.

Lunch: American goulash. Dylan’s gone so we can eat whatever we want! XD

Tea Time: Peanut butter honey milkshakes & pretzels

Dinner: Apple braised chicken w/basmati. This looks so good and I want to make more of a dent in the freezer goodies.

*Extra*

Buttermilk cookies w/caramel frosting. Which I will taste test with a huge, steamy mug of coffee while the girls nap. Mom win.

1.13 Sunday **

Breakfast: Maple bacon and apple baked French toast w/juice. I may even bring this over to Terry & Sheila’s for a surprise breakfast since she probably won’t read this. 😉

Lunch, Tea & Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s for Sunday

Wordless Wednesday: Nellie loves Caribou…for its bear.

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Nellie and her beary.