to ponder

One of God’s children died today, and the Western world celebrated.
This makes me think. Do we live in a world where violence is the answer? So many parents tell their children that it’s not, and yet here we are, happy that someone’s life is over.
Are we contradicting our values when we celebrate a murder? Sure, he killed many people. But this doesn’t add up. We cannot place one person next to another and decide that one of them deserves to die. It’s not our call to make.
Not only that, but bin Laden’s men used a woman as a human shield, and she died as well. But we are so caught up in the fact that a murderer got murdered, we don’t know her name, or her occupation, the number of her children, her thoughts, fears, desires.
We are all equally sinful, and all extended the same grace. God loves all equally and called us to do the same, yet we celebrate death, as though it could lead us to life. Death leads only to death.
There is no moral difference in killing. Every life is sacred.

shameless plug

Recently, I’ve been involved in a few things that are awesome, and that you should check out.

Also known as: shameless plug time! yay!

For the last three months, I’ve been interning with Surrender. We at Surrender like to describe it as an idea, a concept, a movement. It’s not restricted by space and time and people. That being said, it’s also a conference and a network and a really exciting thing to be a part of. Surrender in Australia partners with some amazing organisations doing amazing things in response to the call to surrender; the call to live life as Jesus asked us to, the call to those on the margins and those who are downtrodden and oppressed.  Us interns have been hanging out with neighbourhood missionaries at UNOH; barbequeing it up with the team at concern; playing trouble at 614 with JustSalvos; talking about overseas grassroots mission with the guys at TEAR; meeting our neighbours at Urban Seed; and just generally finding out how lots of different people interpret life as called by Jesus.  The conference itself was amazing and deserves a post of its own, so I’ll be writing more on that later.

At the Friday night of Surrender, we had the Soul Survivor team come in, as part of our Youth Night. In the words of the Soul Survivor team, “Soul Survivor Melbourne is a volunteer run organisation dedicated to encouraging and equipping young people to know Jesus Christ, and live radically as his disciples.” It’s pretty amazing; the Soul Survivor in Melbourne just finished today, but it’s also run in NSW, New Zealand and the UK, where it all began.

If you’re not already sick of clicking on links, I have one more for you today. A bunch of my friends just recently started writing a blog together. It’s got some amazing thoughts and stories on it, and I really encourage you to check out KOG in the machine. Do it. Right now.

Happy Palm Sunday, the day we remember that our king didn’t ride to our rescue on a warhorse with fanfares blazing, to a welcome of a throne and bowing servants; he rode in the back way on a donkey, to a crucifix and a cold grave.

luke

So I feel like it’s time to talk about what happened last week.

This is a sensitive issue. Please don’t think I’m making light of it at all; I’m still vulnerable and so are a lot of people. But this news was in the news, it is on Facebook, it’s common knowledge, or at least it should be. And it’s all I’ve really been thinking about, because at the moment, everything comes back to this one life-altering event.

On Tuesday 5th April, 2011 at approximately 8am, my housemate, a 25-year-old trainee aircraft engineer was killed in a motorbike accident on his way to college.

He was an amazing guy and we’re still all reeling from the shock. I can’t believe it was more than a week ago, to be honest. Yesterday was the funeral in Sydney; on Wednesday night I spilled my heart on the matter in a public forum via the medium of spoken word poetry.

This is that poem.

suckerpunch

so

here i am

sitting in not enough memories

insomniac thoughts flittering through

thundering clouds whisper rainbows into dreams of sunlight and dancing

on knives

underneath this gathering storm which threatens violence on my somewhat ordered life

darkness is all i can see but

sunlight is all there is here

 

such a beautiful day

 

sometimes, life punches you in the guts. SUCKER! it yells and runs off, leaving you gasping and disoriented

wandering around in familiarity but not recognising a single thing

bent double

breathless

and aching

this ache in my heart used to be hope, for hope is what kept it beating

hope keeps us all breathing

shock

stopped

dead

for a while

frozen lungs

unable to picture anything

alone with these thoughts marching in, keeping me wondering

 

no words

or is it too many?

 

shaking hands

uncomfortable in my own skin

pounding heart

no rest for the living

anxious and frantic

my soul fraying at the edges with

nowhere to go and

no one to help

 

my heart so heavy now

filled with rocks called

disbelief

and confusion

for this does not happen to one that we know

one of our own

 

sadness

 

frustration and

indignation for

the show got cancelled, with no warning and no reason why

leaving me with a too-small boxed set

wondering what could have been and

unsure of what to feel for

there is no formula for grief

a confession

of the lighthearted kind.

I love… promise you won’t laugh…socks. And legwarmers. And armwarmers. Hats and shoes also – I’m an accessories b*tch, what can I say. And I confess this to you now because I just got an order from Sock Dreams delivered today! Yay!

I got the Harajuku Super Loose socks in Milk Tea (cos I love my tea milky and sweet… Actually, I’ve been eyeing these off for a while. And then the earthquake happened in Japan and these were made in Japan, so it’s kind of a way to support. Just a little. On that also, I figured everyone was blogging about Japan, so why add another clanging bell? I have nothing new to say, it’s just unbelievably tragic. Ah, I digress again.) and the Super Ms in Dark Red because they didn’t have Olive.

I wanted to wear them immediately but I only have work today so I’m going to save them for tomorrow. I am so excited, not least because it’s almost winter, my favourite season, but also because, well, you gotta be excited about something. And there hasn’t been much to be excited about this past week.

so, about those cookies

“I don’t know what those are but they sound AWESOME!”

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops. Choc Malt Chunky Cookies. Malto-Chocco Biscuits. Chocolate Malt Marvelousness. I could go on, but you’re probably just wondering why I’m telling you all this when I could be giving you the recipe.

Because it’s an awesome story, that’s why! So I was hanging around the shopping centre waiting to meet up with two of my friends for a baking session slash “teach me how to bake!” afternoon, when all of a sudden, I see another friend. In fact, we pass each other on the escalators. I’m going down and he’s going up and because there’s too many people on the escalators we have to travel all the way on our designated routes before he turns around and comes down to my level. We start talking and then my friend comes along, the one I’m going to bake with, and we chat and chat and it’s all pretty awesome. Fast forward and there’s four of us now, we’re getting ingredients for these biscuits of amazingness, and I told them all my plan for what it is exactly we are going to bake, and hence, my friend bursts out with the line that started all of this babble on.

So it was a bit difficult. We doubled the recipe but only had half the amount of eggs we needed. We missed out on a bunch of chocolate we could have included and, (and this part’s important) do you know how hard it is to get fair trade malted chocolate powder? It’s really, really hard. It’s in fact, terrible. We ended up using Ovaltine, because it was sort of ok. The chocolate part was fine because it meant we got to eat the rest of it (yay for eating massive amounts of chocolate). One problem was that they fell apart very easily but I feel that one extra egg would solve that tiny problem.

So I re-made these cookies following Dorie’s recipe to the T… and it wasn’t anywhere near as good. I’m sorry, Dorie, and all you out there who love her but the mishmash of friends and chocolate and suits just made it all better.

So, here it is. Weeks late, under the strangest of circumstances, but worth it. These cookies will soothe your soul, especially when consumed warm with a glass of cold milk in the company of friends.

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Adapted from Baking: from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

3 1/2 cups plain flour

2 cups Ovaltine (malted milk powder of any kind is fine, but our best results were with Ovaltine.)

1/2 cup cocoa

3 tsp baking powder

375gm butter, half melted

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

3 cups chocolate covered malted milk balls (maltesers), roughly chopped

200g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped

Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 180ºC and line several trays with baking paper.

Beat the Butter and sugar together in a stand mixer (if possible – a hand mixer works fine) on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and reduce the speed to low. Sift in half the dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated; mix in milk and then the rest of the dry ingredients, again only until just incorporated. Mix in the Maltesers and chopped chocolate by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Drop tablespoons of the mixture on the prepared baking trays, about two inches of space in between each cookie. Bake 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway. When you take them out, try to wait a couple of minutes before putting them on a cooling rack with an egg flip. They’ll be hot and they’ll probably fall apart.

These are fantastic with vanilla ice cream.

sometimes there are no words

I can’t really write today… I’ve been really busy over the past few weeks and I feel terrible for this day being the one I write something. This probably makes no sense but the world doesn’t make much sense at the moment. I just had to write/say something, even though [refer to title].
All I really want to say is that I understand what people mean when they are shocked that the sun is still shining and the world keeps turning. That life goes on. Because someone’s isn’t.

date muffins and a confusing life

It’s been a while, I know.

I’m sorry. It’s been a busy few weeks. Uni, work, SURRENDER:11, home life… and to be honest, it’s kind of taken its toll. I’m happy, but my life is stretched out over so many different spheres of living. Or rather, existing, at the moment. It’s hard to admit that I may be doing too much, stretching myself too far, but when I’m almost in tears because of the exhaustion it’s obvious even to me.

And so. It’s time to take things a little slower, enjoy what must be done. Dive into my studies. Reach out to a few close friends. Have proper conversations with people. Enjoy cooking for its own sake. Reflect on everything.

And eat cake. Because cake makes things better, especially when it’s in miniature form. Like muffins.

Muffins are the perfect university snack. They’re sturdy, they don’t mind being squashed or shunted around in bags. They can be savoury or sweet, but because they’re cakey and full of carbohydrates, they give you a boost of energy and really do help you study. And since I’m off chocolate for Lent (more on that later) I made date muffins last night.

I like to make up recipes, to just throw ingredients in a bowl and see what comes out the other end. Unfortunately, this time was a little too sweet for my liking. And I’m a sweet tooth. So I’ve modified the details a bit, although I haven’t tried it out with this new one yet.

Date muffins

This recipe was made to the soundtrack of How I Met Your Mother. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. Please don’t judge me.

1 ½ cups self-raising flour

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

40g butter, melted

1 ½ cups Greek-style yoghurt

1 ½ cups dried, pitted and chopped dates

Preheat your oven to 180°C and place the oven rack in the middle slot. Grease and flour a twelve-cup muffin pan (a spray with cooking oil does the trick well, then just scatter some plain flour in and tap it out). Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl, whisk together and make a well. Put the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and mix together; don’t worry about how lumpy it gets. Divide the mixture into the muffin pans and place in the oven. Mine took about 25 minutes but my oven runs a bit cooler, so I’d suggest 15-20 minutes. When they’re done, they should be golden brown on top; take them out and let them rest for a few minutes, then place them on a rack to cool. Eat with butter while still warm, or take to uni/work/school and devour to the envy of your friends.

 

creamy dreamy chewy sweet

Creamy. Dreamy. Chewy. Sweet. A little while ago now, I, with the help of my sister, made vanilla panna cotta and florentines. Well, by the time the florentines came around, it was just me, but that’s not the point.

It was pretty much all the title of this post describes. There was cream. There was vanilla. There was honey. There was sugar. There was agar agar and honestly, take what I say with a pinch of salt (that’s a pun by the way) but that was pretty much all there was to it.

I’m vegetarian (not sure I’d mentioned that yet, apart from where I say hello) so instead of the animal-based gelatin in the recipe I opted for agar agar, a vegetarian equivalent derived from seaweed.

With the florentines, I have to say they reminded me of ANZAC biscuits but not quite as awesome, although they did have chocolate on the bottom which is a huge plus.

Now, I did take photos but unfortunately, I don’t have access to them at the moment so you’ll just have to wait for them. In anticipation, I’m sure.

I served the panna cottas with preserved plums and cream but I think they’d be just as happy gracing your plate on their own.

Giada’s Vanilla Panna Cotta

Ingredients

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk

1 tablespoon (7 gm) powdered agar agar

3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream

1/3 cup (80 ml) honey

1 tablespoon (15 gm)granulated sugar

pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is

cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let

stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot,

but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).

3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and

stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.

5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

Florentines

Ingredients:

150 gm unsalted butter

2 cups (160 gm) quick oats

1 cup (230 gm) granulated sugar

2/3 cup (95 gm)plain flour

1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup

1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1½ cups (250 gm) dark or milk chocolate (I prefer dark)

Directions:

Preheat oven to moderately hot 190°C.  Prepare your biscuit tray with baking paper.

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.

2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.

Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the

back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or

stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water

doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).

5. Peel the cookies from baking paper and place face down on a wire rack.

6. Pour the melted chocolate into a resealable plastic lunch bag and snip of the end. Pipe chocolate over the flat ends of the cookies and let set. Eat with a cup of coffee.

chocolate cookies and a guest post

So the other day, the maniversary of two of my friends and the first anniversary of the beginning of the best year of my life to date, I was making cookies with three good friends. I love to bake (no duh) and they like to eat, and they wanted to learn how to bake so they could eat their own confections. So I brought over Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours and we made chocolate malted whopper drops. I’d give you the recipe but I’m not quite ready to relinquish it yet (we had to do with less eggs and other things, so I’m going to make them again so I can tweak them to my heart’s content.) Meanwhile, these are B’s thoughts on the matter:

Sweet Ixcacao! I just started eating those cookies. And I ate too many and I am going to die. I am literally going to die! I am super legitamately going to experience death by chocolate. My heart just went into cardiovascular shock on account of how delicious these cookies are and my body is literally being consumed and falling into a warm deadly chocolately coma. When I wake up my gun will be rusted, my wife will be dead and I will a footlong beard. That’s assuming I do wake up and don’t choose to merely spend eternity in a sweet sweet chocolate limbo wonderland free of my bodily limitations where I can consume thine dark lips of the goddess that lives inside these cookies and never feel pain nor hardship nor guilt ever again.

Maybe I don’t need to tweak them at all.

honey, i’m home

And we’re back. It’s been a while, I know. But busy is the life of a uni student, and a poor one at that, I am; work, parties, getting ready for university. University. It’s a little scary, but I’m too busy being busy to notice.

SO. I’m about to get back into the swing of things, getting into routines, trains, books, walks, work, study. And I’m going to need some sustenance.

I have a cookie jar (and yes, soon there will be a photo of said cookie jar, because it is awesome) and I need to fill it with cookies. I just borrowed Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours and there are so many cookie recipes to choose from! Ought I make her Chocolate Chip Cookies, universally adored? Chocolate Chunkers, filled with pecans, chocolate chunks, apricots and a host of other goodies? Sugar-topped molasses spice cookies which look deceptively like snickerdoodles? And of course, I have a whole house of housemates who also need cookies to brighten their day and tease their course-mates. Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops, Chockablock Cookies, Peanut Butter Criss Crosses… the list goes on.

Will Keep You Updated.