Advent 2014: Very Forgiving Cookies


Biscotti couldn't be easier to make. That's the trick Starbucks (or lots of processed food!) plays on us, making us think there's alchemy going on in some commercial kitchen.

You form a butter cookie dough into logs with your hands, bake them, let the logs cool a bit, then slice then diagonally into fingers and bake them again so they're crispy. And the best thing? They keep in the cookie jar forever (like a month), ready for your afternoon cup of tea or a friend that stops by. (I used this recipe and threw in a little bit of Meyer lemon juice and rind instead of the orange liquer.)

I've been elfing it around here, making little batches of things when I have time. And, at the same time, tearing up for the loss and violence in the world, praying for justice to roll down. It's always that tension of recognizing all the good in my life and knowing that my work, our work, isn't done until there's goodness for everyone. Thinking of that little family in a stable helps me hold out for the impossible.


Advent 2014: Little Colorful Mary


I spent the day on Bainbridge Island with Jenn and her children, Lucca(8) and Leona (6).

It's hard to pick my favorite parts--taking the ferry over, lying on Jenn's couch reading magazines, having coffee and lunch in her kitchen, having a beer in the pub before catching the ferry home.

But then I saw Leona's chalk drawing of Mary, and that was hands-down the highlight. Leona put her arms around me when I left and asked me to stay. That was good, too.


Advent 2014: Let Evening Come


I've had lots of encouragement the past few weeks to let the darkness in--Emily's gift to me of Barbara Brown Taylor's book Learning to Walk in the Dark, images of birth, incubation, hibernation. And just the physical fact of the sun setting at 4:30, everything slowing down, and all the lights in our neighborhood able to shine only because of the dark.

These postings have given me occasion to go back to many favorite poems. They are like bread and water, keeping me more alive all these years. This one is from Jane Kenyon.

Let Evening Come

Let the light of the late afternoon
shine through the chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come. 



Advent 2014: Look how Far the Light Came


Emily left an hour ago. Too soon. 

She and Loretta had crafting time while I laid on the couch and read yet another Geraldine Brooks novel. My dad stopped by and I made him a cup of tea. 

We turned around, and Loretta and Emily had made this beautiful paper star. My dad lifted it up so we could admire it, and the setting sun sliced through the room just at that moment, lighting up the star like its namesake.

Reminded me of a Bruce Cockburn song:

So many miles, so many doors
Some need patience, some need force 
All fall open in their own due course
To allow us this time

And you're limned
In light, golden and thin,
Looks to me
Like you're lit up from within 

And look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
To paint you
This way 

And this light
Is a guest from far away
Passing through
The last whisper of day

And look far the light came
Look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
To paint you
This way 

Some days are lit up. Today was one of those. My cup overflows.


Advent 2014: Creamy Carrot and Yam Soup with Coconut Milk


Emily is here for the weekend. Three kick-ass days of walks, snacks, gifts, and now we are sitting side-by-side at my kitchen table with our twin laptops. She's being good and working on her final paper for the quarter, and I'm being bad and blogging instead of working. Bliss.

My Dandelion Organics box (bless it!) includes carrots almost every week this time of year. While we munch on them pretty constantly, I'm having a surplus issue. The answer is soup. 

As you are aware (Like, "Shut-up-already-Sarah!" aware), I enjoy facing down a disorganized, overstuffed fridge and tackling it. So a few bunches of forgotten carrots makes me happy. 

I was telling Emily this morning that one of the principles of my life has been, "Take what is given." There are too many choices. Too many choices in the cereal aisle, too many choices of church denominations. Too many choices of water bottles at Target and self-help books at the bookstore. I have been blessed so many times by deciding to go the neighborhood school instead of considering all my options. Or by making a little backyard bouquet of branches instead of driving to the store for a gift. Or by rescuing the carrots instead of entertaining every recipe for soup that might be out there. Purposely limiting my choices has kept me sane.

And since it's Advent and I'm still into Mary, I think of her again: May it be to me as you have said. Not submission, but surrender. Not fighting against her life, but finding the mystery (or the carrots) that are already there. 

Creamy Carrot and Yam Soup with Coconut Milk

2 Tb. vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tb. favorite Thai curry paste (red or yellow)
3 Tb. fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tb. soy sauce
1.5 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large yam, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
juice of one lime

In a large, heavy stockpot, heat vegetable oil. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and saute until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add curry paste and soy sauce and saute a couple minutes more, adding a splash of water if necessary.

Add carrots, yam, and water to cover. Simmer for abour 40 minutes until everything is very soft. Using a blender or food processor, puree in batches until very smooth. Return to the pot, add coconut milk, bring to a simmer, and add salt and lime juice to taste. 

Serve with toasted coconut or chopped cilantro if you want.