Mission: Honduras

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In July, Heather and I will fly out to Honduras. This will be our third year in a row. It’s our annual mission trip to share the Gospel with precious children with Ignite Missions. Can we call it a vacation? Perhaps. After all, we are going to the murder capital of the world. That sounds restful.

Our mission leaders go to great lengths to keep us safe. Perhaps a little too safe. I can’t even break away to get some street food. I’ve eaten street food in Haiti where cholera is troublesome. That’s my badge of honor regarding third world eats.

Santiago, the bus driver, will make sure we are safe in our travels. Last year when we left Amapala Island, we were driving up a mountain on a narrow two lane road with no shoulders. At dusk, he passed a big rig in a blind turn on the mountain. Oh, and there was oncoming traffic. It was exciting. I was thrilled at what I saw unfolding while many on the bus closed their eyes and started praying. I genuinely thought that was one of the highlights.

The beauty of the country contrasting with the poverty was hard to reconcile. The Honduran people generally seem hopeful. At least in rural areas. How can Americans where even the poorest are considered wealthy to over 90% of the world be unhappy? Perhaps it’s the stuff that chains us to misery. Maybe plunging into an environment that strips most of the excess is a vacation. Sometimes I even have wifi so I can play Candy Crush.

Post is in response to the IBQ weekly writing challenge.

Where’s My Passport?

CC image courtesy of Jeff Kubina on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Jeff Kubina on Flickr.

Tell us about the top five places you’ve always wanted to visit.  Go!


There’s nothing like an adventure. Yes, you can have an adventure at the local grocery store, but to have a true adventure where you are immersed in a place where everything is foreign, is definitely rewarding.

I have always wanted to visit Finland. I’m half Finnish, and I think it would be interesting to learn a little about my heritage. I don’t want any lutefisk,though. Something about preparing a meal with lye isn’t very enticing.

Belize would be a nice tropical experience. I’d like to see how unforgiving the rainforest is.  Plus, it’s fun to say. Buh-leeze. I’d settle for a number of South American countries, though.  I’m not picky.

Brazil would be another nice destination for arapaima. I’m a terrible fisherman, but one of my dreams is to trek to the Amazon River and catch an arapaima. I’d like to catch a big angry fish that would even make Jeremy Wade tremble.

If I’m feeling especially intrepid, I’d go into the heart of darkness. The Congo. Joseph Conrad illustrates the stifling environment. I can imaging floating down the river in a dugout boat in anticipation of headhunters while hunting the elusive mokele mbembe. I’m sure it is about as real as the Loch Ness Monster, but just the thought of searching for a fabled dinosaur in the modern day sounds exhilarating.

It would be satisfying to return to Israel. I visited many years ago to see the Mount of Olives, the purported location of Christ’s tomb, and Masada.  I visited so many places there and I have forgotten most of them.  I would like to revisit Israel now that I have a deeper understanding.

I didn’t even consider the food at these exotic locales, but I’m sure that will be the most exciting part. I’ll be sure to seek out some good street food.

Red Beans and Rice

There is nothing better than spicy Louisiana cuisine. I like it all. Gumbo may be the state cuisine, but I’m sure red beans and rice run a close second.

Wikipedia states that the red bean originated in Haiti. I spent two weeks there and we ate diri am pwa like it was going out of style. Everyday, lunch was diri ak pwa, the Haitian version of red beans and rice. To add variation to lunch, I added scotch bonnet sauce, ketchup, Tabasco, anything. Americans are so spoiled. We rarely eat the same meal twice in a week. Haitians eat what they can get. They don’t have the luxury of variety.

I need variety and it definitely shows in my cooking. My beans vary each time I cook them. It all depends on what I have on hand. I tried to get some beef bones yesterday to render out the delicious marrow, but I had to settle for pork shank. I’ve also used ham hocks. I think they are pig knuckles. They taste great.

I decided to write down today’s recipe in case I want to recreate it. (Who am I kidding, this is probably the last time I see it).

Ingredients:

2 oz finely diced Tasso
1 slice smoked ham shank
1 link smoked sausage
1 12 oz Pictsweet seasoning blend
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 cup Bordeaux (or any other red wine)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Gebhardt brand)
1 tablespoon beef base

Method:

Soak beans overnight.

Heat Dutch oven and brown ham shank. Dice the Tasso and the smoked sausage. Add to pot and add EVOO.

Once browned, add the Pictsweet chopped vegetables. I hate using frozen vegetables because they steam while you try to sauté them. When I am feeling puny, though, I’ll take the occasional shortcut.

Add bay leaves, minced garlic, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, oregano, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce.

Sauté until onions are translucent. Add red wine to deglaze pot (if the steaming veggies haven’t done so already).

Add beans and fill pot with water and cover.

Simmer beans for approximately one hour with occasional stirring. Remove shank. Dice meat and return to pot. Add beef base.

Cover and simmer approximately 30 minutes. Smash about 1/4 cup of beans against side of pot with wooden spoon to give a creamy consistency and season to taste.

Serve over rice with some crusty French bread.

The Devil Really is in the Details

CC image courtesy of Will Scullin on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Will Scullin on Flickr.

I get bored easily. I’m the kind of guy that wants minimum detail in a conversation so I can resume my daydreams of pancakes. You know those unnecessary details. They often accompany the phrase, “to make a long story short…” If you hear those words, the story is already too long.

I can’t help it. When a conversation starts, my brain checks out. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to. “I’m sorry, Officer. Did you say I was smuggling elephants and chocolate bars?” His reply would be something like, “I said I’m writing you a citation for running a red light.” I would naturally respond with, “What does that have to do with elephants?” Now it’s time for the breathalyzer.

I have the attention span of an epileptic goldfish. Oh, and my hearing sucks. I have a tendency to repeat what I hear to confirm. What I hear always sounds preposterous. Heather may ask me to fold some laundry. I just heard that my wife shot up with a dirty needle. I didn’t even know she did drugs.

When I’m locked in an epic struggle, I can hear myself in my head. I’m always saying things like, “I sure hope they don’t notice that my eyes are glazed over,” or “I need to pick up some crackers at the store.” I affirm that I am engaged in the conversation by nodding my head. That head nodding trick works pretty well. If I’m found out…well, I just stumbled onto some conflict.

It’s not that I don’t want to listen. It’s just that I keep conversations concise. Minimal detail. More words mean more work expended. My brain can only handle so much.

I know that the details are extraneous. When I see a flower, I see a lovely yellow tulip receiving a Lilliputian hummingbird quaffing sweet nectar. I say, “Look, a tulip.” Then I start thinking about pancakes.


http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/showdown-at-big-sky/

 

 

A Harsh Sentence

CC image courtesy of Aapo Haapanen on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Aapo Haapanen on Flickr.

Have you ever had the feeling you are doing time? Like you’ve been sentenced and you hope for an early release? Life sometimes feels this way when you have chronic pain.

I hate to bang the same old drum. I’m certainly not trying to gain sympathy. It’s just that it tends to be cyclical. Flare up periods where the pain is intense followed up relatively calm days where you get lost in the fog.

Have you experienced the fog? It’s actually quite nice. You can’t remember much so there’s less anxiety. If you are a control freak, you’re in trouble. You can go ahead and ratchet up your angst because you are now officially out of control. I’ve doubled up my meds because I forgot that I took them ten minutes prior. I’ve even forgotten where I parked. That one has happened a lot.

There was a time where I thought I would be cured, but my expectations aren’t what they were five years ago. I’m guardedly optimistic that my rheumatologist will find the right diagnosis, and if he does, there are treatments to mitigate the damage to my joints. I can anticipate less pain as well.

I have it easy, though. I spend much of my time on the couch eating snacks. My family got the raw deal. I’m sure Heather never anticipated a cripple for a husband when she repeated her marriage vows. Technically, I guess I’m not physically challenged as I don’t have a blue placard to hang on my rearview mirror. Yet.

Last week, Heather told me about how my oldest daughter felt about my predicament. Alli questions God because it’s unfair. I’ve learned that it is unfair, but God isn’t fair. I’m thankful for that. If God meted out justice based on fairness, we all would be condemned. I’m trying to find the words to have that conversation with her.

I need to tell her that my affliction is because of God’s immense grace. My deep relationship with Christ is because of my pain. It’s a little hard to explain the full scope of what I mean, but I hope that I will be able to help Alli understand.

I’ve been doing time for 1,654 days. I’m expecting tomorrow to be a good day. The weather is supposed to be nice.

Written in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge.

Sausage Egg Salad Sandwich

The sausage really enhances the egg flavor.
The sausage really enhances the egg flavor.

Every Easter, we end up with a couple of dozen boiled eggs.  Boiled eggs are great, but what else can you do?  You can always make deviled eggs.  I wanted a simple sandwich today, so I made egg salad.

I have never made egg salad before, but there’s nothing to it.  Eggs, mayo, mustard, etc.  I did not use any recipes for inspiration for this endeavor. Fortunately, I had the forethought to write it down.  DO NOT skip the smoked sausage.  The sausage really brings out the egg flavor.  And the sausage flavor.

Ingredients:

9 boiled eggs

4 Mezzetta peperoncini

1/2 link Down Home smoked sausage

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

Note:  I have not received any promotional consideration for any of the above products.  These are products I  prefer.  I certainly won’t shill a product I don’t believe in.

Method:

Who can resist smoked sausage?  Not me.
Who can resist smoked sausage? Not me.

Cut sausage link in half and throw in a skillet to heat up.  While the sausage is sizzling, chop boiled eggs and place into a bowl.  Mince peperoncini and add to the eggs.  Dump in paprika, cajun seasoning, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Once the sausage is good and sizzly, take one half of the sausage and half it again.  Then, chop those two quarters and throw the pieces into the egg mixture.  The other half sausage link makes a great snack while you are making egg salad.  Or you can give it to the kids since they probably won’t be eating any egg salad.

Mix the ingredients together and throw on some bread.  Enjoy.

I would really appreciate any feedback when you try this recipe.  It’s a work in progress.  I may cut back on the cajun seasoning because of the salt content, but my wife said it was perfect.  I also think it may do well with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, but that is for another culinary adventure.

Sausage Egg Salad Sandwich

 

Every Easter, we end up with a couple of dozen boiled eggs.  Boiled eggs are great, but what else can you do?  You can always make deviled eggs.  I wanted a simple sandwich today, so I made egg salad.

I have never made egg salad before, but there’s nothing to it.  Eggs, mayo, mustard, etc.  I did not use any recipes for inspiration for this endeavor. Fortunately, I had the forethought to write it down.  DO NOT skip the smoked sausage.  The sausage really brings out the egg flavor.  And the sausage flavor.

Ingredients:

9 boiled eggs

4 peperoncini

1/2 link smoked sausage

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Tony Cachere’s cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

Note:  I have not received any promotional consideration for any of the above products.  These are products I use regularly prefer.  I certainly won’t shill a product I don’t believe in.

Method:

Cut sausage link in half and throw in a skillet to heat up.  While the sausage is sizzling, chop boiled eggs and place into a bowl.  Mince peperoncini and add to the eggs.  Dump in paprika, cajun seasoning, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Once the sausage is good and sizzly, take one half of the sausage and half it again.  Then, chop those two quarters and throw the pieces into the egg mixture.  The other half sausage link makes a great snack while you are making egg salad.  Or you can give it to the kids since they probably won’t be eating any egg salad.

Mix the ingredients together and throw on some bread.  Enjoy.


I would really appreciate any feedback when you try this recipe.  It’s a work in progress.  I may cut back on the cajun seasoning because of the salt content, but my wife said it was perfect.  I also think it may do well with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, but that is for another culinary adventure.

Ankylosing What?

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I saw the rheumatologist for the first time last week.  It was refreshing to see someone who seemed to know what was going on.  My general practitioner is great but I’m glad she referred me instead of just treating the symptoms.

I don’t have a diagnosis, yet, but the new guy ruled out lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. I told him I can’t afford an MRI, so he is taking a “Dave Ramsey approved” course of action.

The doctor asked me a bunch of family history questions. I told him about my dad. He’s 70 and he claims he can still run like a deer. The doctor laughed and said I’m better off than running around like an effeminate deer. I had never considered it, but deer are kind of effeminate.

I had a few x-rays taken and a few vials of blood drained from me. He sent the blood to the lab and I’m going to start some super-expensive medicine that should be deeply discounted with one of those prescription cards issued by the drug company.

As long as my end is under a hundred bucks I’ll manage. The doctor said this medicine costs about $3000 a month. Before he told me my out of pocket cost would be reasonable, I considered leaving. Who needs a diagnosis if you can’t afford the treatment?

Using medicine as a diagnostic tool reminds me of House M.D., but my physician isn’t giving me hepatitis to treat me. I’m glad.

The doctor says it is possible my issue is mechanical, but if the medicine works, the two ailments that fit my symptoms are psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis. The symptoms fit the latter disease better.

I can’t even pronounce it. I just know I’m in pain. I may be near an actual diagnosis, and at this point, I hope it is one of these disorders. It means there is a treatment.

(CC image courtesy of Anagoria on Wikimedia Commons).

My Name Is…

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I eased up to the drive thru window in anticipation of my Route 44 Ocean Water. Nothing like an ocean of blue coconut syrupy Coppertone to quench your thirst. Have you ever tried the watermelon Ocean Water? Brace yourself for that delight.

The window flew open, and the friendly cashier (or beverage associate or whatever important sounding title Sonic uses for its employees) said, “Hello, my name is Tamequa…” I don’t remember what else she said as I was focused on her name tag.

I couldn’t reconcile Tamequa with what my eyes read. Written in the popular Sharpie font, the letters on the tag were J-U-D-Y. I sounded it out and it didn’t sound like Tamequa.

I had to inquire as I have never encountered this. She pointed out that Judy was kind of scribbled out and her name was scrawled across the bottom. I can’t recall, but I think it may have been a Pizza Hut name tag.

I’m going to pilfer a name tag that says Hieronymus. I’ll tell everyone I encounter that my name is Ted. Or, maybe I’ll throw a curveball and say my name is Ron.

I’ve Got A Fever

What’s your biggest junk food weakness?  Tell us all about it in its sugary, salty glory.


Do you know what it’s like to be hooked? I do. No, I’m not a meth addict, though this habit is equally as difficult to kick. I get hopped up on cookies.

The above clip has nothing to do with cookies, but Christopher Walken’s fever for more cowbell is a perfect illustration for my fever for cookies.

I love the chewy goodness of chocolate chip cookies. I like crunching down a fistful of Oreos. It doesn’t matter. I’m the worst kind of fiend. I’m indiscriminate.

Normally, I can keep my cool as Girl Scouts peddle those too-small boxes. How long can twelve cookies last? One sitting.

This year I was ensnared by the Samoa. I eat them every year. I usually eat four or five cookies and move on. I consumed seven boxes this year. Seven. I know, those seven miniature cookie boxes translate to maybe two boxes of Chips Ahoy, but you can’t get Samoas at Circle K. You have a small window every year.

I gorged myself on these cookies until the craving disappeared. I only wish I had the luxury to taper off.  I should have gotten more of those cookies and hid them in the lampshade.

 

(Above CC image courtesy of Yann Gar on Flickr).