Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Eternal Man in Black

Oh about 20 years ago I was driving a church bus full of youth from Toronto back to Rochester, NY. Somewhere around Batavia, NY on the thruway I told the kids to hush up and listen. I pulled out the mixed tape I made for the trip (church vans did not have cd players back then) and turned the volume up.

Playlist? I cant remember the contents, but I do remember one song that made an impact, What Is Truth by Johnny Cash.

At first the youth giggled at the selection but as the song played on the van went silent. At the end of the song they asked me to play it again and after that one more time. One bit of truth from my life touched one bit of truth in their life. It was a beautiful moment. For the record they did not have the same reaction to One Piece at a Time...can't have everything.

Probably once a week, if you would sneak or just get buzzed in, into the sanctuary at Judson Memorial Baptist Church you would hear me hum the tune of What Is Truth. So when I was asked to submit a piece to The Christian Citizen on truth in the age of fake news I jumped at the chance. Immediately I thought about re-writing What Is Truth. I thought Curtis Ramsey-Lucas would say, "that's is an idea for sure Travis. Maybe you ought to sit this one out." But no he said have at it. I thoughtI could rewrite the song with my eyes shut in 15 minutes... Friends, I have already asked a friend of mine to kick me in the shin if I ever volunteer for a like project in the future.

The lesson in all of this: don't ever let it be said the editors and publishers at American Baptist Home Mission Societies are not full of grace because they actually accepted my song.
have a looksee here:  it is embedded in a fantastic article by John Burns, pastor of University Baptist Church in College Park, MD

Monday, March 20, 2017

They Should Call It The Genius Pot

Like many of you I heard the story on NPR about The Instant Pot.  Like many of you I was intrigued by the idea of an electric pressure cooker.  Like many of you I started researching and contemplating purchasing an Instant Pot.  Unlike many of you I was paid for a funeral service which enabled me to purchase an Instant Pot.

I chose the Eight Quart model, we are a family of five. 

I confess I was really most excited about the porridge aspect.  I eat some form of cooked oats nearly everyday.  Currently, I am in love with cooking whole oat groats.  But to cook them on the stove top takes hours and sometimes I have to add more water.  Therefore, at first, the woman who chose to marry me, said over and over again, "You bought a $100 oat cooker."  "NO!" I replied, but it is an amazing oat cooker!  Especially with the timer ability.  Before I go to bed I place the makings of a wonderful breakfast: oat groats and water then set the timer for later that night.  When I wake up the groats are fully cooked and ready to eat.  The timer function is the beauty of this machine.  You see when I fill up the pot with groats and water the groats have a few hours to soak before cooking.  Genius I tell you, Genius. 

So far we have made the following meals with the Genius Pot: chicken noodle soup, black beans, oats, and...the feast of last night. 

Before I tell you about the feast last night I have to say the other genius feature of the pot is the saute feature.  With a regular slow cooker I would saute stuff on the stove top, then dump the contents into the slow cooker, then go back and deglaze the pan then pour that into the slow cooker.  Now I saute in the Genius Pot and deglaze then close the top and set it and forget it. 

Okay onto the feast last night.  Allow me to set the stage.  Dinner for Nine Adults and Five Kids; most are meat eaters, but not all.  Menu: I chose to make pulled pork sliders and beet sliders with cubed sweet potatoes and slaw and beans on the side.  Beans - out of the can.  Sweet potatoes and slaw - domain of ms. lovely.  And I would not get home to start cooking until after 1pm, folk would arrive at 5pm. Sounds like a train wreck doesn't it...and we still had to clean up the downstairs...train wreck indeed. 

Not with the Genius Pot.

The night before I put my dry rub on the pork shoulders.  My rub recipe: (amounts are all eyeballed) brown sugar, garlic powder, white pepper, black pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne, chipotle powder, coffee grounds, kosher salt, and ground cumin.  I placed the pork shoulder onto a jelly roll pan and judiciously spread the rub over the meat, wrapped the pan and mean in plastic wrap and placed them in the frig. 

On Sunday I got home from church and started cooking.  I browned the pork shoulders in the Genius Pot, deglazed with some beer, then poured another beer into the pot with some water but did not cover the meat.  Closed it all up and set the timer for 90 minutes.  Then I started helping clean the downstairs.  All sounds good, train wreck avoided. 

Then I got a call from a dog rescue organization asking if our dog was with us.  I said sure.  Then I looked around the house, no dog.  Then I looked in the yard, no dog.  Then I noticed the gate on the fence was left open, definitely no dog.  After some back and forth phone calls we found our dog in a neighbor's back yard.  See why I call it the Genius Pot, no worries about cooking while I retrieved the dog. 

Now reader I gotta tell ya I was extremely skeptical of cooking pork shoulders in the Genius Pot rather than smoking them on the grill like I usually do.  But the pork was so tender, juicy and delicious.  I set the pork aside to cool, then pulled it apart, made my vinegar sauce (apple cider vinegar, tomato puree, and hot pepper flakes) poured over and tossed in the pulled pork then placed on a lined jelly roll pan (the one ms. lovely had baked her sweet potatoes on) and broiled the meat for a couple of minutes. 

Delicious.  Amazing.  Genius. 

Then I cooked the beets for the beet sliders.  Folk came over, wonderful time, wonderful meal. 

The Genius Pot.

Other features folk dont know about.  1.  Press Saute and Porridge at the same time for the shoe shine function.  2.  Knock three times on the side for clues to the New York Times crossword.  3.  when you manually release the steam you can both unwrinkle your shirts and get them to smell like pork shoulder.  4.  If you open the Genius Pot and look deep into the stainless steel pot after a few minutes  you can communicate directly with Kellyanne Conway.