A Taste of God’s Love

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By , July 18, 2014 11:59 am

He comforts us in all our troubles. Now we can comfort others when they are in trouble.


2 Corinthians 1:4

In the last few days I’ve had disturbing news about two people I love. First I received a text message asking for prayer for my friend Robin. She was being wheeled into surgery to have an emergency appendectomy. Next, I heard that Debby, a dear friend, had just lost her mother. My heart ached as I thought about how hard those things must be.
Both times I dropped everything to pray, but as soon as I said “amen” my next impulse was to start cooking. At a time when words seemed empty, I couldn’t think of a better way to express my concern than to bring an offering of comfort food. Heaping quantities of good food served in disposable containers speaks a love language most people understand.
Almost every time you see Jesus encounter hurting people in the Bible, He does something tangible: He reaches out, He visits, He feeds. Those are the things that I can do too to bring some small measure of comfort, strength, and healing to people around me. It is wonderful to know that God can actually use my portable little feasts to tell His children “I love you.”


Robin’s Chicken Pot Pie is my new name for an old favorite. It, like most comfort food, is nourishing, simple, and familiar. This one-dish meal evokes pleasant childhood memories of times when I was home sick from school. I couldn’t wait to dig into this steaming treat (or to pinch off a bite of crust when no one was looking).
1 package Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crust
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
6 carrots, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
1 ¼ cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 small jar pimentos, drained
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup all purpose flour
1 onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup half and half
1 ½ cup chicken broth
6 tablespoons sherry or dry white wine
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Cook the chicken breasts in seasoned water until falling off the bone, approximately 30 minutes. Cover the pot and let sit until cool. Drain off broth and save for future use. Discard skin and bones; chop coarsely. Reserve the broth
Preheat the oven the 350 degrees. Blanch carrots in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and cool.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly without letting the flour get brown. Add the broth and cook over low heat until thickened. Add the half and half and the sherry, cook over low heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and tarragon. Add the chicken and vegetables, stirring gently. Taste and adjust seasonings (most people will prefer more salt).
Mix the egg and water in a small bowl. Pour the filling into a greased 9×13-inch casserole. Place the pastry over the filling, then trim, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the edge of the dish with egg wash and press the overhanging dough onto the dish. Crimp the pastry decoratively and brush the top with egg wash. Use excess dough to make cutouts for the top if desired. Cut a steam vent in the center. Bake in the middle of the oven until dough is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
This is my adaptation of a recipe from “Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins, Julee Rosso, Sarah Leah Chase


Debby’s mom made her banana pudding with Eagle Brand milk. This sugary, syrupy milk must taste like liquid love to Debby because she insists that it is essential to the recipe. I have also included my personal favorite banana pudding recipe—it’s very close to the version on the back of the Nabisco vanilla wafer box. You’ll have to try both and see which your taste buds prefer!
2 ½ T. all purpose flour
Dash of salt
1 ½ c. half-and-half
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand milk
2 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
3 c. sliced ripe bananas
1 box vanilla wafers
6 egg whites (at room temperature)
6 tablespoons sugar
Make custard: Mix flour and salt. Add half-and-half and canned milk and cook in double boiler until mixture coats the back of a spoon.  Add tempered egg yolks. Stir until thickened (This took over 30 minutes – finally put directly on the heat to speed up the process. Be sure to stir constantly if you do this.) Add vanilla. Cool slightly.
Make meringue: Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 6 tablespoons sugar.
Make pudding: In a medium ovenproof dish, layer vanilla wafers and banana. Pour custard over the layers. Spread meringue over pudding and bake at 425 degrees until golden, approximately 4-5 minutes. Burns easily. (For a crowd, use a deeper dish–double the custard recipe and quantity of bananas. I did this and still did not use the whole box of wafers.)
1 cup sugar, divided
2-½ tablespoon flour
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, separated
2 c. half & half (or substitute whole milk, but it won’t be as wonderful!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 c. sliced ripe bananas
1 box vanilla wafers
2 egg whites (optional: makes a prettier and more generous meringue)
Make custard: Mix flour and ½ cup sugar. Add milk and cook in double boiler until mixture coats the back of a spoon.  Add tempered egg yolks. Stir until thickened, approximately 10-15 minutes. Add vanilla. Cool slightly.
Make meringue: Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add ¼ cup sugar (or 6 tablespoons if you are making the larger meringue).
Make pudding: In a medium ovenproof dish, layer vanilla wafers and banana. Pour custard over the layers. Spread meringue over pudding and bake at 425 degrees until golden, approximately 5 minutes. Burns easily.

Feast For A Summer Day

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By , July 1, 2014 10:06 pm

Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

Isaiah 32:2 NIV

Hot summertime is the perfect time to stop and feast. Most of us can find reasons to celebrate in summer: school’s out, the water’s warm, reunions and holidays abound. But I’ve also noticed that summer can be awkward middle ground, sandwiched there between what has been and what is coming next. I’ve found myself antsy and impatient, as uncomfortable as a wet bathing suit in an air-conditioned room, wondering, “How long until we get there?”
So I invited some of my prayer partners over for lunch last week because the Bible tells us to keep the feast “until He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) Not one of us around that table is without an “until He comes” place—where we’re waiting on God to come and provide or restore or heal or to answer that special prayer. How wonderful to have people who care about those situations and who are willing to wait with us until the moment when our faith becomes sight.
We didn’t really do anything “spiritual” — we talked and laughed and told stories and caught up on life. But we did do something supernatural. We obeyed God’s call to come together and feast. What we experienced had little to do with what we ate and everything to do with the connection that happened. We gathered as the family of God, feasting on love that never fails and laughter that is such good medicine (1 Corinthians 13:8, Proverbs 17:22)! No wonder we came away refreshed and fueled–better equipped to face the heat and drought and weariness of our circumstances.
Everyone asked for the recipes for this gluten free summertime feast. Chicken salad was the entrée, and I added a hearty black and wild rice salad for our vegetarian friends. Fresh fruit, vine-ripened tomato slices, deviled eggs, and gluten free crackers completed the menu. Cookies and coffee were offered for dessert. I hope you will enjoy these recipes for your next light lunch, beach trip, or tailgate.
chicken salad
4 bone-in chicken breasts, cooked
¾ cup pecans
½ cup celery, chopped fine
½ cup scallion, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Cook chicken breasts in seasoned water until done, about 30 minutes. Leave them in the broth to cool (at least 1 hour and up to overnight). Remove chicken from the bone, shredding with your fingers, and then chop finely with a knife. Toast pecans for about 8 minutes in the oven or 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave. Let the nuts cool slightly and chop coarsely. Mix mayonnaise with the remaining ingredients, whisking to blend well.
Combine all ingredients and adjust seasonings to your liking. (This ratio of dressing to chicken does not yield a very creamy style of chicken salad. Good for my family, but you may prefer more mayonnaise.) Serves 12. This recipe is definitely better the 2nd day!
Recipe adapted from one shared by Karyn Badeaux. She gave a lovely birthday lunch for our friend Debbie Brazeal and much of my inspiration for this party came from her!
rice salad
1½ cup black rice
½ cup wild rice
Kosher salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
½ cup scallions, chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup apple, chopped
1 cup pistachios, toasted
Cook black rice and wild rice in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 35-40 minutes; drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.
Whisk vinegar, honey, and remaining ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Add black rice and wild rice, scallions, apples, bell pepper, and pistachios; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. (This recipe must sit overnight to let it absorb the dressing. If serving the same day, use only part of the dressing mixture before serving. Save the remainder and add before storing.)
Adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2014

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