cooking - Related Content

Photo of the Week - Week 26

Monday, July 11th 2022 9:06 am

I realize that my photo of the week is a few days late. The best I can say is that time moves differently here. Just imagine I did this a few days ago!

I was so happy to be back ministering with the Santa Clara Nutrition Clinic! We spent a few days walking through a new neighborhood and found many new families who could use the help of the center. We also distributed essentials to some families on a different day. On Thursday, we spent the morning with a single mom, preparing "Fideos con Pollo y Verduras" (Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables).

There was a while that I thought Sister Yanira was saying "Videos" instead of "Fideos" and busied myself taking videos of vegetables but I realized about half way through that there was a food word that was close to the word video. Great laughter and hilatrity ensued, especially when I recounted my error in broken Spanish at lunch with the sisters. Poco a poco!

In addition to the mom, a few other moms in the neighborhood came over and we all worked together cutting vegetables and chicken, cooking the pasta and then bringing it all together. Sister Yanira took the lead and everyone pitched in.

This little girl sat patiently on a bench, watching intently as everything was prepared. As other children got bored and wandered away, she stayed close.

When it was time to eat, I gave her the first bowl, a gift for her patience. Besides, it could have just been my imagination, or perhaps a motherly intuition, that caused me to think that she looked really hungry.

Everyone gobbled up the delicious dish (including myself, it was really delicious!) and as we left, the young girl left too, returning to her home. The whole time, I had assumed that she was with one of the women, but it turns out she was on her own. The generous women who were preparing the food didn't give two thoughts to including her in the day. I spent a few minutes marveling at that silent inclusion.

On our way home, we stopped by a well where boys were pulling water out, filling 5-gallon buckets and carrying them back to their homes. We were fortunate to meet this girl's abuela (grandmother) who is caring for her. Sister Yanira let her know all about the clinic and how we can help their family.

The gifts I receive here are so rich and full of blessings. Being a part of the clinic and the community - who is so accepting and welcoming to me, a lot like the little girl in this photo - is such a bountiful gift to me spiritually. Gracias a Dios!

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Encuentro in Cooking - Lessons in Life

Sunday, March 6th 2022 1:17 pm

This week, I have noticed the dance that difficulties and love play here. In the struggle of living in really difficult situations, mothers and grandmothers still make jokes and laugh while they work. A young mother who feeds her baby before herself smiles broadly when she is told how beautiful her baby is. I realize I have a choice, too. It’s possible for me to focus only on the struggle or only on the love. I am deciding to honor them both and see the harmony in the totality of the reality here. 

Now that carnaval has ended, Sister Yanira and I are back to our ministry at the nutrition clinic. On Thursday, we made plans to return to a large family we had previously visited to demonstrate how to use soybeans. Called soya here, soybeans are included in what people receive from the clinic. Sister Yanira packed up some educational materials about hygiene in addition to two cups of soybeans that had been soaked overnight, bread crumbs, some oil, vanilla, cinnamon and a blender. We also stopped at the market, an open-air area that has booths filled with all different types of food. We picked up carrots, onions, garlic, a pepper, a couple tomatoes, flour and some eggs.

When we arrived at the house, a bunch of the kids greeted us with big smiles and lots of laughter. The first time we came, they were shy and unsure, but they must have decided that we were safe because they were so happy to see us. A table was moved, a bench placed in front and the youngest children quickly sat down, ready to learn. We were joined by older siblings, some to greet us and do other things, others stay and help with the children, preparations and cooking. The grandmother and the two mothers got things ready for our time together, cleaning everything we planned to use.

Sister Yanira gave the beans to one of the women to cook for some time on the stove in their kitchen. As Sister Yanira worked, she would show the process and then pass it on to one of the women. I appreciated that. It wasn’t a demonstration. It was a social time, where we talked, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company while we worked together. A couple more moms and children appeared, interested in learning what was happening and joining in the work. 

At some point, the kids lost interest and left to play in the yard as we worked. Dogs and chickens lingered nearby ready to pick up whatever we might drop. All the work was done in the center of the yard. There were multiple buildings surrounding us, all made with the repurposed wood, metal roofs and dirt floors. There was a small building for a living area, another for a kitchen and an outhouse toward the back of the yard. The yard contained some trees for shade and/or fruit. There was no grass, only packed dirt. 

We were working with two cups of soybeans. It was incredible what we were able to produce with those two cups. The process took about 2 hours, but was well worth it! We ended up with 4 liters of soy milk and 30 or so small soy burgers. We all washed up when it was time to eat. The prepared food was shared with everyone. I sat with the younger children and loved watching them enjoy the food. both the burgers and the soy milk were delicious - Mi gusta!!!

If you are interested in the recipes to try yourself, click on the little image to the right to view them. Warning! They're in Spanish, but you can use Google to figure out the words you don't know. That's what I did!

Click on the images below to see videos from the day. I had a great time and I think it's clear, the food was a hit!

On Friday, a young mother came in with Elsa, a beautiful baby girl. The mom was so skinny, we worried for her. Elsa was a happy little baby though, and her mom let me take a photo with her. I thanked her for the photo, and felt gratitude for her good care – as well as gratitude that the clinic will help make sure Elsa has what she needs each month.

P.S. For the sisters at St. Rose who have been praying for Carlita and her family, thank you! She is doing better, and is in the hospital in Santa Cruz where she needs to be. For those who have time for an extra prayer, she is a 15 year old girl who has Leukemia. Her family has many struggles including extreme poverty and a bed-ridden grandma. Your prayers are just what they need right now. Muchas gracias!

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Photo of the Week - Week 22

Wednesday, June 8th 2022 8:27 am

I am actually in the United States right now for some time with community, family and friends but thought it would be a good time to show you something that I found interesting.

When we go to cook with families in the barrios of Ascención de Guarayos, there aren't stoves with ranges to cook on. Instead everything is done via cooking fire.

In this photo, it's a typical setup of piled bricks and on the top there is normally long, thick metal rods, a metal grill or, like in this one, a collection of soldered motorcycle parts. Another way they reuse things here which I think is just brilliant!

God bless the family who made this and God bless you!

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Photo of the Week - Week 13

Wednesday, April 6th 2022 3:32 pm

It isn't the best photo. It's too dark, too close and a bit blurry -- but it's a favorite because it reminds me of a special time.

I continue to be surprised that anyone here might think that I am something special. I sometimes forget that I look different, or that by being from the United States, people find that interesting. I mean, I am from the United States so to me, that's old news! I don't often feel very useful, only helping a little bit with the important work Sister Yanira does. I have gotten a lot of compliments on my photos, but still, that pales in comparison to the life-saving work going on here. Of course, there are the continuing challenges of speaking Spanish, too. Today a large family that we cooked soy with made me feel special. The mothers taught me a few words in Gwarayu, the traditional language of this area (admittedly, I forgot them but that's not the point), one of the teenage girls took a selfie with me while we made Cuñapes together and the younger kids couldn't get enough of me and the camera I was taking photos with. I felt love and acceptance from this friendly -- kind and inviting family. It was a great day!

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"Cooking Joyfully" from the Pantry

Monday, January 16th 2023 6:00 am

After turkey leftovers were gone and cookies put away in one way or another, I thought about Cooking Joyfully, the subtitle of this recipe swap. In mid-winter, Cooking Joyfully can be a challenge for me. I no longer have fresh summer tomatoes or just-picked winter squash. There are no holiday feasts to motivate me day after day and meal after meal. There is Easter, but until then, the meatless meals of Lent can get boring. “What can keep me Cooking Joyfully at this time of year?”

My conclusion was this: I have more than plenty of meal options in my cupboards, fridge and freezer which I call the pantry! And…I have to use what I have! This means rethinking my pantry. Can I consider the PANTRY as a tool (dare I say SKILL) to foster Cooking Joyfully? Even a small area to store snacks is a pantry and a privilege. Why a privilege? Here are 3 examples:

1.) If I am unhoused, food storage may be my pockets or a backpack for high-calorie food to keep me going. A church or school food pantry may sustain me, but it’s not my own. 2.) When transportation options and cash are limited, I may choose high-calorie convenience foods to satisfy the family. No time to plan out a healthy menu! 3.) American grocery stores are examples of abundance. In fact, a common source of culture shock for immigrants or for missionaries returning to the states is how much food we have. There is enough to feed a small country in one store! In our privilege, we take that for granted. Is my pantry OVER-full?

Consider how creating a more mindful and sustainable pantry can support Cooking Joyfully. If you're privileged to have a stocked pantry as I am, let's shop in it and cook from it with that in mind. It may lead us to live more simply and be more generous. We can start by asking ourselves a few questions.

For example: Do I know what’s in my cupboards? How many meals would I find there? What pantry items, (including fridge and freezer) do I use frequently? Which help me cook healthy food with some ease? What items are inexpensive and versatile for healthy meals and enjoyable snacks? How could I improve meal planning? Do I make a shopping list? Which grocery aisles would I like to avoid more often...snacks, soft drinks, processed foods, red meat?

Our answers will be as different as we are and, hopefully, will lead to some insight and action. We may create more JOY in the ways we interact with food. You are welcome to share your “from the pantry” and “Cooking Joyfully” recipes and experiences.

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