Friday, February 17, 2017

Where Has All the Rum Gone?

I attend a campus church, so there are generally various activities, including fellowship events, that occur throughout the week. Usually, about once a semester,  we have a night where we hold an Iron Chef -style competition.  Contestants must use a required ingredient that is made known in advance, and they have approximately an hour to make their creations before presenting their dishes to a panel of judges.  At last night's competition, the required ingredient was "alcohol", with the added requirement that it must be cooked into something, no drinks allowed.

My entry was a version of an apple bread recipe I've been making for a while now and have slowly modified over the years.  I made last night's recipe into muffins with a spiced glaze.  These tasty treats won me the titles of best overall and best presentation.  They are definitely make-again worth and I thought I'd share my scrumptious creation with you, o internet.

Spiced Rum Apple Muffins

1/2 c. soften butter
1/2 c. total combination blackstrap molasses and honey (with a bit more molasses than honey)
2 eggs
1 single-serve bottle (50 mL) of spiced rum
1 c. whole white wheat flour
1 c. AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 small apples, one pealed and grated and two diced

powdered sugar; vanilla; ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and ginger; water

Mash butter with a fork and then mix in the sugars, eggs, and rum one by one. Stir in the flours, powder, soda, and salt until mostly combined.  Add in all of the apple and mix until fully combined.  Drop by spoonfuls into a buttered muffin tin (makes about 1 1/2 dozen muffins).  Bake at 375° F for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

I didn't really measure when I made the glaze.  I dumped powdered sugar into a small bowl along with some vanilla, and the five spices in roughly a 3:1:1:1:1 ratio.  I slowly whisked in a little bit of water until the mixture was smooth and runny.

Drizzle a little bit of glaze over a warm muffin and enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Political Reflection

I sometimes write blog posts that I never end up posting.  As I was going through some of those posts today, I came a across one that I wrote around the Forth of July several years ago.  Some of what I wrote wasn't worth keeping around, but the following paragraph caught my attention and seemed apropos for the current political climate:

A big deal is made out of events that celebrate our nation, and as a Christian, I wonder why.  This country, and our government, are both temporal.  They will pass away someday.  Look at any of the great civilizations that came before.  How many have survived the test of time?  Why do we put so much stock in national pride? Our government is not perfect; it is flawed.  So why do we place our fear, love, and trust in it?  I am by no means saying we should ignore our government and its laws.  We are called to be respectful of those in authority, including the government (see Luther's Table of Duties regarding citizens).  However, it seems that sometimes we make an idol out of being a citizen of a certain country.

It seems to me that people on both sides of the aisle have made an idol out of the presidency and the federal government.  If they can't have it their way, well, then the world is coming to an end.  News flash:  the world has been coming to an end since the fall of mankind.  A president is not going to fix it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Fiery Contemplation

June 2002:  Ash rained down and the horizon was a dusty orange.  As a kid, it was a curious thing to catch charred bits in your hands as one would a snowflake, but it was also terrifying.  It meant the fire was close, that there was the possibility, however remote, that your entire life could go up in flames.  To escape the thick, suffocating haze of the approaching Hayman fire, we voluntarily evacuated.

Perhaps it is because of this elementary school experience, or maybe it is because my native state continues to experience major fires during the summer, some of which strike close to my parents' home, but my heart aches for all those who have been affected by the Fort McMurray fire.  As of Wednesday (May 25th), the fire has consumed over 2,000 square miles in two Canadian provinces and destroyed more than 2,000 structures. Weather conditions there continue to contribute to the spread of the fire and there appears to be no end in sight.  88,000 residents of Fort McMurray and surrounding areas were evacuated.  As far as I know, no one has been allowed to return, although if all goes well, Fort McMurray is scheduled for re-entry in early June.

I don't have TV and I don't frequent news sites.  Most of the major news stories I am aware of I know about because of social media.  With both the Belgium and Paris attacks, information was plastered across Facebook and people changed their profile pics to show solidarity with those communities that were impacted.  Since the Fort McMurray fire made international news, there has been little to no mention of the ongoing situation.  A quick look at what is trending on Facebook reveals that election politics are among the top most popular topics.  The suffering of 88,000 people, some who watched their homes burn, has been largely forgotten.

It's fascinating:  tragic, short-lived events, where some people lost their lives at the hands of a few evil men, are treated as more important than developing natural disasters that impact thousands.  Why does one deserve more attention and recognition than another?

Both types of events, natural disaster and man-instigated violence, are consequences of the fall.  God did not create the world for such devastation.  In Genesis, He calls His creation good, but men rebelled and brought destruction.  Men continue to seek out evil and nature continues to bear fruit of a broke world.  Neither can rebuild what is destroyed.  And yet while we remained broken, victims of ourselves and natural phenomena, Christ came to mend and rebuild, to redeem us from our rebellion. Through His death, we have been given life.

While I mourn with those who have lost loved ones and I weep with those who have no home to return to, I also pray that God may grant them strength to face their earthly sorrows and comfort in the salvation won by Christ and given in Word and Sacrament.