Tag Archives: church

What NOT to give someone for Christmas

I received a beautifully wrapped gift a few Christmases ago from someone who shall not be named. (Don’t worry–this is an acquaintance, and there is NO WAY he or she reads my blog. Um, I hope.) It had some heft to it, and based on the rectangular shape I figured maybe it was an awesome board game. Or a carved tray. Or something cool.

Then I opened it.

And it was . . .

. . . yes. A larger-than-life bar of chocolate.

But how great is that!” you may be thinking.

Let me clarify–these weren’t individually sized pieces of chocolate, ideal for consumption. This was one bar. Many, many pounds of chocolate, forged together into an unbreakable, un-bite-able plank. Entirely impractical for the following reasons:

1) You need special equipment to cut this thing. No ordinary knife was going to do the job.

2) How do you store it? Er . . . with a whole roll of plastic wrap?

3) Breaking off pieces would result in mess, mess, mess, with tiny chocolate shavings festooning the whole area.

4) It weighs a ton. And doesn’t fit easily in a cupboard. Or in any Ziploc bag I’ve ever seen.

5) Who eats that much chocolate???

Anyway, it was going to take way too much work to deal with this thing. Way too much trouble–and yet I couldn’t throw the thing away, because then I’d have guilt all over my face next time I saw this person. All I could think of was how to get rid of this thing as quickly as possible. Our next social event was a little Christmas party for our Bible study, at the home of Joe and Kathy. Joe and Kathy also happen to have 5 kids. I quickly hatched a plan to foist this bar of chocolate on them. Either directly, or by hiding it in the pile of presents under their tree.

I showed it to our small group and David, our Bible study leader, examined the monster.

It’s bigger than his head!

Way bigger.

We soon determined that someone needed to try to take a bite. That special someone was going to be Carrie.

I don’t remember if she was willing, or if my aggressive side came out and forced her hand.

Go Carrie go!

That girl is fearless.

And she has nice teeth.

Why can’t I have nice teeth like that?

Anyway, if she keeps gnawing on that chocolate she ain’t gonna have nice teeth for long.

So the conclusion of this little piece of Christmas history is this: unless you know that the giftee is planning a fondue party for 50 the following day, please think twice before purchasing a bar of chocolate of this magnitude for anyone.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

During my maternity leave I was super blessed by our church’s meals program for new moms. Basically, people sign up and bring you food. Heaven on earth. During those days when it seems like all you are doing is feeding an insatiable infant (lovely and wonderful, but dang do they eat a lot in those early days!), having a hot meal brought to your very doorstep is glorious.

It was especially glorious because of the number of incredible cooks in our congregation. We got fabulous lasagna from Traci. A savory and comforting brussel sprout and chicken sausage roast from Peter and Jamie. These awesome slow cooker pork chops from Jana that fell apart practically as soon as you looked at them. You can believe that I sent email after email asking for recipes during that time.

First up for recreation in my own kitchen was this fabulous Thai soup from Sarah. The soup has zip without being too spicy. It’s a burst of awesomeness on the palate that also sits lightly in the stomach–you won’t be going to bed with a rock in the gut after eating a bowl of this. And the lime juice–oh the lime juice. So bright! So zesty! In my mind, fresh lime juice is just another finger pointing to a loving Creator, and I’m not kidding either. (Any other lime juice fanatics out there?) And Sarah amped things up by adding shiitake mushrooms, which I happen to absolutely love. After emailing her and asking for the recipe, she said it came from America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook. Irony of ironies, I had that very cookbook from the library sitting in my living room (also the source of the amazing Cajun Corn Chowder that I’ve already made three times in the past two months). So go Sarah! Go America’s Test Kitchen! And with some of Sarah’s modifications plus some of mine, here’s the recipe.

(Serves 6)


1 TBS vegetable oil
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 large shallots, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2-14 oz cans coconut milk
2 TBS fish sauce
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS sugar
8 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal into thin ovals
8 oz snow peas, strings removed, cut in half
Juice of 2 limes
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 bunch green onions, minced
Salt, pepper, and more sugar to taste

1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Just when it starts smoking, add the chicken breast and brown on both sides. Set the chicken aside.

3.  Add the minced shallots to the pot and cook over medium heat until softened.

4. Add the broth and coconut milk to the pot along with 1 TBS of fish sauce, the soy sauce and the sugar. Stir everything together, scraping up any browned bits.

5.  Add the chicken breast back in, cover the pot, and simmer the soup for about 10 minutes.

6. Remove the chicken breast to a cutting board and dice or shred into bite-sized pieces.

7. Add all the vegetables to the soup and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until just tender.

8. In a small bowl, whisk together the curry paste, lime juice and remaining fish sauce. Add it to the soup along with the chicken.

9. Taste, re-season if needed, stir in the green onions, and serve hot!

Thank you Sarah and thank you church friends for bringing such great food and being such a blessing to our little family!

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