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One Year Ago: Skillet Barley with Kale and Eggs

Two Years Ago:  Espaghetti con Pollo

Three Years Ago:  Sage Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Shawarma is a Middle-eastern meat preparation where the meat is roasted on over a fire or on a grill.  It is also the name used for the sandwich or wrap that is made with this meat.  You can find versions of this dish now throughout Europe, Asia and parts of the U.S.  However, I can’t find it anywhere near me, so I decided to make it myself.  This simple version uses chicken thighs and is both simple and delicious.

If you’d like updates of future recipe posts, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarnianChef.  If you have comments or questions you can drop a note in the comments section or email me at intothewardrobe@Hotmail.com.

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken Shawarma:

1½ tsp. ground cumin

1½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. ground allspice

¼ tsp. chili powder

1 clove garlic, grated

1½ lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch strips

3½ Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Tomato Cucumber Relish:

2 Tbs. quality olive oil

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 English cucumber, chopped

1 clove garlic, grated

1 lemon, juiced

½ small red onion, minced

Handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tahini Sauce:

¼ cup tahini paste

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt

Four 6-inch store-bought white pita pockets

Olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

For the shawarma: Mix the cumin, paprika, allspice, chili powder and garlic together. Place the chicken inside a resealable plastic bag with the olive oil. Add the spice mixture and rub in until fully incorporated. Seal that bag and place it into the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Chicken Shawarma 01a

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

After marinating, use the skewers to pierce the pieces of chicken through the center. Slide the pieces down leaving enough room for you to hold the skewer, about 3 pieces of chicken per skewer. Continue this process until chicken is all skewered. Sprinkle with salt and place on a hot oiled grill top for 4 minutes per side, or 8 minutes total.  (I was out of skewers, so I just cooked the chicken on a grill pan in two batches.)

Chicken Shawarma 05a

For the relish: Mix the oil, vinegar, oregano, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, onion, parsley and some salt and pepper.

Chicken Shawarma 02

For the tahini sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt.

Chicken Shawarma 03

(I put the sauce in a squeezy bottle for easy sandwich assembly.)

Chicken Shawarma 04

To serve, fill the pitas with the grilled chicken and serve with the cucumber relish and tahini sauce.

Chicken Shawarma 00

Full disclosure, the filling tore through those pitas like rice paper.  You either need a better quality pita bread than I did or wrap the pita around the filling.

Thanks for reading!  God bless and have a great week!

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One Year Ago:  White Chocolate Mousse Torte

Two Years Ago:  Creamsicle Pie

Three Years Ago:  T.G.I. Friday Ribs

Eggs benedict is great at a restaurant, but not often made at home. Poached eggs can be a pain and Hollandaise has a fairly well deserved reputation for difficulty.  Tonight I’m going to give you a poached egg recipe that removes most of the pain and a Hollandaise sauce recipe that is easy enough to whip up in just a couple of minutes.  Both of these techniques I got from one of my favorite food sites: Serious Eats.  I’ll give you the Hollandaise sauce recipe on this post.  If you want the easy poached egg recipe just click here.

If you’d like updates of future recipe posts, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarianChef.  Feel free to leave comments in the comments section or email me at intothewardrobe@Hotmail.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 egg yolk (about 35 grams)

1 tsp. water (about 5 grams)

1 tsp. lemon juice from 1 lemon (about 5 grams)

Kosher salt

1 stick butter

Pinch cayenne pepper or hot sauce (if desired)

DIRECTIONS:

Combine egg yolk, water, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a cup that barely fits the head of an immersion blender. (I use my son’s water cup that he takes with him to crew practice.)

Hollandaise 01

Melt butter in a small saucepan over high heat, swirling constantly, until foaming subsides. (It’s going to foam a lot, but then quickly subside.)

Hollandaise 02Transfer butter to a 1 cup liquid measuring cup. Place head of immersion blender into the bottom of the cup and turn it on. With the blender constantly running, slowly pour hot butter into cup. It should emulsify with the egg yolk and lemon juice.

Hollandaise 03

Continue pouring until all butter is added. Sauce should be thick and creamy.

Hollandaise 04

Season to taste with salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce (if desired). Serve immediately, or transfer to a small lidded pot and keep in a warm place for up to 1 hour before serving.

Hollandaise 05

Hollandaise cannot be cooled and reheated.  Now, along with some easy poached eggs,  you’re ready for a tasty breakfast.

Poached Eggs 00

One Year Ago:  White Bean Soup with Olive Tapenade

Two Years Ago:  West Lake Soup

You love ordering eggs benedict at a restaurant?  Have you ever made it at home?  A lot of people haven’t attempted this dish because of two basic ingredients: poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce.  Poached eggs can be a pain and Hollandaise has a fairly well deserved reputation for difficulty.  Tonight I’m going to give you a poached egg recipe that removes most of the pain and a Hollandaise sauce recipe that is easy enough to whip up in just a couple of minutes.  Both of these techniques I got from one of my favorite food sites: Serious Eats.  I’ll give you the poached egg technique on this post.  If you want the Hollandaise sauce recipe just click here.

If you’d like updates of future recipe posts, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarianChef.  Feel free to leave comments in the comments section or email me at intothewardrobe@Hotmail.com

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

A pot of water

Eggs

A small strainer

A bowl of warm water

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a pot of water over medium heat until it reaches about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about where the water is quivering, but not yet simmering.

Part of the difficulty of poached eggs is keeping them together in the pot.  In order to do this, you want eggs that are as fresh as possible and we want to get rid of some of the very liquidy white. The best tool to do this is a small strainer.  Break the egg into the strainer over a bowl or a sink and swirl a bit getting rid of a good amount of the liquid white (the more gelatinous white will stay in the strainer).

Poached Eggs 01

The strainer also makes a great vessel for transferring the egg into the water.  Just swish it around a little to release it and gently turn it into the water.  If you’re making multiple eggs, just put them into small cups or dishes after straining them.

Poached Eggs 02

You can cook two or three at a time. Simply let the eggs roll from the cup or dish into the pot.  I like them to cook about 3 minutes, gently flipping them over half way through.

Poached Eggs 03

If you’re not using them immediately, you can keep them warm in a bowl of warm water.

Poached Eggs 04

With these eggs and an easy 2-minute Hollandaise sauce, you’re all set for some delicious breakfasts.

Poached Eggs 00

It’s Easter today, so I suppose an egg dish is appropriate.  But Easter is about so much more than eggs and rabbits.  Easter is about new beginnings.  Because of the resurrection of Jesus, a new beginning is offered to all who repent and believe. Have a blessed day and I pray you consider opening your heart to a new beginning.

One Year Ago:  Garlic and Olive Oil Infused Beets

Two Years Ago:  Breaded Pork Chops with Sage Cream Gravy

Three Years Ago:  Triple Glazed Chipotle-Plum BBQ Ribs

I apologize that it’s been while since my last post.  I will try to do better.

When I took a trip to New Orleans a few years ago, there were a few culinary places I wanted to visit. One of those places was Central Grocery & Deli, the originator of the muffuletta sandwich. Muffuletta is actually the name of the Sicilian bread that the sandwich is made from, but the sandwich began in the early 20th century when Sicilian immigrant Salvador Lupo, the owner of Central Grocery in New Orleans began making the sandwich for the Italian immigrants in the city.  It has since become a much copied staple of the city and part of the vast landscape of great food that is New Orleans. (I’m looking forward to another trip to NOLA this summer.)

If you’d like updates of future Narnian Chef updates, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarnianChef.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup pimento-stuffed olives, sliced, plus 2 Tbs. of liquid from the jar

1 cup chopped giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables), plus 1 Tbs. of liquid from the jar

2 Tbs. drained capers, plus 2 teaspoons of liquid from the jar

3 oz. pitted Calamata olives (1/2 cup), sliced

2½ tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbs. minced shallot

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried parsley

Pinch of dried thyme

Pinch of crushed red pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large loaf sesame Italian bread (about 1 lb.), split  (I used two 1/2 pound loaves)

¼ lb. sliced fresh mozzarella

6 oz. thinly sliced capocollo or prosciutto

¼ lb. sliced Genoa salami

¼ lb. sliced mortadella

¼ lb. sliced mild provolone cheese

Pepperocini, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, stir the pimento-stuffed olives with the giardiniera, capers and their respective liquids.

Muffuletta 01

Add the Calamata olives, garlic, shallot, oregano, parsley, thyme and crushed red pepper. Stir in the olive oil and let the mixture stand for 1 hour.  (The vegetable relish can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

 Muffuletta 02

Open the Italian bread on a work surface. Spoon the olive salad on both sides of the bread and spread evenly.

Muffuletta 04

Arrange the mozzarella slices on the bottom half of the bread, then top with the capocollo, Genoa salami and mortadella.

Muffuletta 05

Arrange the provolone cheese on the top half of the bread, covering the olive salad completely. (This will help you close the sandwich.)

Muffuletta 06

Carefully close the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic and let stand for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Muffuletta 07

Cut the sandwich into 8 pieces (or 4 pieces each if using 2 loaves) and serve peperoncini on the side.

Muffuletta 00

The rich flavor of that vegetable and olive salad and the salty cured meats make for a memorable sandwich.

We build a monument of memories with every act of love, including every meal we serve to those we love. I thank God for the opportunity to show love to family and friends.  God has certainly shown the greatest act of love to me.  Have a great week, and may God touch your heart.

 

One Year Ago:  Oatmeal Pancakes

Two Years Ago:  Eric Ripert’s Scrambled Eggs

Three Years Ago:  Ye Olde Corn Chowder

I’ve been doing this Narnian Chef blog for almost four nears now, and recently I read a positive review in a C.S. Lewis scholarly journal of a cookbook by author Dinah Bucholz. The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook takes food mentioned and alluded to in the Chronicles of Narnia and creates menus and recipes based on those foods.  I’m just starting to cook my way through the book and so far I’m enjoying it very much.

Narnian Book

This particular recipe comes from the menu for a centaur’s breakfast in The Silver Chair.  In chapter 16, a very large breakfast for a centaur is listed (after all, he has both a horse stomach and a human stomach).  Among the items listed is an omelette.  Dinah Bucholz has expanded that entry into a delicious savory omelette with earthy sautéed vegetables. The original recipe calls for making four 2-egg omelettes.  However, unless you are a short order cook with four small pans ready to go, I find it easier to make a large omelette and divide it. So instead of the recipe’s 2-egg omelettes for two people, I made a 6 egg omelette and split it in two for my wife and myself. (My son has yet to accept the glory of a well-stuffed omelette.)  I also made a few other small adjustments.

If you’d like updates of future recipe posts, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarnianChef.

INGREDIENTS: 

Filling

3 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped (I used a little less)

10oz. mushrooms, sliced (I substituted chopped asparagus since neither my wife or I like mushrooms)

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped (use a stalk with some leaves at the top if you can)

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1/2 Tbs. fresh chopped dill

1 tsp. fresh chopped parsley

Omelette

6 large eggs

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 tsp. butter

1oz. sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a large nonstick pan (a good nonstick pan is key to making an easy omelette). Add the onions, mushrooms, green and red peppers, celery, salt and pepper.

Narnian Omelette 02

Cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so. You want the vegetables very soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the fresh herbs and remove from heat.

 Narnian Omelette 02b

Move the vegetable mixture to a bowl and clean the pan.  Break eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper (salt the yolks for perfect portion control. Beat the eggs well.

Narnian Omelette 01a

Heat the butter in the pan over medium-low heat. Add the eggs and sprinkle with the cheese (if using).

Narnian Omelette 04

Cook until the eggs are set, about 10 minutes, pressing in at the sides with a rubber spatula, swirling the pan to distribute the liquid egg. (Do not overcook.  You’re not looking for browned egg.  Browned eggs are tough eggs.)  Slide half of the egg onto a cutting board and fill with some of the vegetable mixture.

Narnian Omelette 05

Fold the rest of the egg over the filling.

Narnian Omelette 05a

Cut the omelette in half and top each half with the rest of the vegetable mixture. Serve immediately.

Narnian Omelette 00

The absence of dairy in the egg makes it less fluffy, but much easier to fold over. The star of this omelette is the veggies and it makes for a wonderful breakfast whether you’re a human, a horse, or something in-between.

Drop me a note in the comments section if you have questions or comments. May God bring you good food to share with beloved friends and family this week.

One Year Ago:  Chicken Satay

Two Years Ago:  Chocolate Cracklers

Three Years Ago:  Turkey Turnovers

With all the snow and craziness of the last month or so, I haven’t been able to post too much.  The snow also caused my wife and I to decide to eat in for Valentine’s Day. Her one request was a decadent chocolate dessert.  This was the result and it definitely fit that description.  If you’d like updates of future recipe posts, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarnianChef.

INGREDIENTS:

Cooking spray

1 cup flour

½ cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup plus 5 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup milk

2 tbs. olive oil

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

½ tsp. espresso powder (instant coffee will do just as well)

1½ cups boiling water

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

DIRECTIONS:

Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray.  In a bowl, mix the flour, ½ cup of the granulated sugar, 2 tbs. of the cocoa, the baking powder and the salt.  Stir in the milk, olive oil and vanilla.  It will be similar to a brownie batter.  Scrape the batter into the slow cooker and smooth the top.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake 03

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, ¼ cup cocoa powder and the espresso powder.  Whisk in the boiling water.  Pour the mixture over the batter.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake 06

Cover and cook on high until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  (Now don’t put the toothpick in too deep, there’s a molten layer of fudge under that cake.) Turn off the slow cooker, remove the lid and let the cake cool, 30 minutes.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake 10

While you wait for the cake to cool, in a small bowl (preferably chilled), whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 3 tbs. cocoa, then whisk in the heavy cream.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake 09

Cover and refrigerate 25 minutes.  Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the mixture until soft peaks form.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake 11a

You’ll notice a wonderful hot fudge sauce has formed beneath that cake.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake 12

Scoop the warm cake and the sauce hiding underneath into bowls (I used little bean pots).  Dollop the cocoa whipped cream on top.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake 00

The cake is very rich, and if you want to cut the richness, some vanilla ice cream might be a great accompaniment.  I hope you give this cake a try.  Life is worth the occasional indulgence of deep, dark chocolate.

May you be filled with richness in your life that comes from the presence of family, friends, and faith in God.

Two Years Ago:  Riblets with Black Bean Sauce

Three Years Ago:  Wild Rice Chowder, Potato, Leek & Pea Soup and Killer Steak

My wife doesn’t like stuffed vegetables.  I still make them sometimes, but here’s a soup that allows us both to enjoy the flavors in another form that is pleasing to my beautiful wife.  If you’d like a copy of the recipe without the pictures you can email me at intothewardrobe@hotmail.com.  If you’d like updates on future recipe posts you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarnianChef.

INGREDIENTS:

4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup raw white rice

2 cups chicken stock

1 lb. ground beef

½ lb. ground pork

½ tsp. allspice

1½ tsp. coriander

2 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt & Pepper

1 bay leaf

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler into strips then finely chopped

½ – ¾ head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced

1 (28oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 cup tomato sauce

1 quart beef stock

Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 Tbs. dill, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a sauce pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Add the rice and toss to coat in oil. Add 2 cups of chicken stock, bring up to a simmer, cover and cook for 16 to 18 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup 05

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat. Add the remaining extra-virgin olive oil, once hot add meat and begin to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the meat with allspice, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup 02a

Add bay leaf, onions, garlic and carrots. Cook veggies 2 to 3 minutes to begin to soften them, then add cabbage and wilt it down a bit.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup 04

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and remaining stock and cover the pot. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup 08

Once the rice is cooked, add to the soup and continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup 09

Stir in parsley and dill, adjust salt and pepper to your taste, and serve.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup 00

I’ll be honest, when I first saw the combination of allspice, smoked paprika and dill seemed a bit odd to me.  But the spices were remained in the background and ended up blending together really well.  It was a great soup on a snowy evening.

Enjoy your week and find joy in your meals!  Joy comes from a joyful God who wants to share His joy.

One Year Ago:  T.G.I. Friday Sauce

Two Years Ago:  Chole (Spicy Indian Chickpeas)

Three Years Ago:  Banoffee Pie

I’ve been doing this food blog for about three and a half years and we have well over 200 posts of recipes, reviews ad the occasional story.  Recently, two of my assistant pastors have left our church to take part in the start of two new churches in the Boston area.  We’re excited for them and praying for great success, but it has left me with some extra responsibilities at the church that has me scrambling to fit extra time into my week.  I am certainly not giving up on the blog, but (like a couple of weeks ago) there may be weeks that I miss from time to time.

This recipe is a beautiful little side dish that can elevate a meal but it’s easy enough to make for a weekday meal that is tasty and pleasing to the eye.  If you’d like a copy of the recipe without pictures, you can email me at intothewardrobe@Hotmail.com  If you’d like updates of future recipe posts you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarnianChef.

INGREDIENTS:

3 lb. Yukon gold or Russet potatoes, peeled

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

6 Tbs. duck fat  (if duck fat isn’t easily available, use 3 Tbs. of butter and 3 Tbs. vegetable oil)

1 sprig rosemary

1 clove garlic, smashed

DIRECTIONS:

Scoop out as many rounds from the raw potatoes as you can.

Parisian Potatoes 01a

Place the potato rounds in a large saucepan filled with cold water.

Parisian Potatoes 02

Salt the water, bring it to a boil, and then cook the potatoes for 5 or 6 minutes until softened. Drain them, rinse with cold water and set them aside for a moment.

 Parisian Potatoes 03

Preheat the oven to 425F. Melt the duck fat (or oil and butter) in a large ovenproof skillet set over medium heat. Add the rosemary and garlic clove.

Parisian Potatoes 04

Add the blanched potato rounds to the pan and gently toss them so they are evenly coated in the fat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the potatoes and then sauté, gently stirring occasionally, until potato rounds are golden brown.

Parisian Potatoes 05

Remove what is left of rosemary sprig and garlic clove and serve.

Parisian Potatoes 00

I don’t cook potatoes often, but this is a great way to enjoy them. Buttery, filling and just a little bit fun, they make a great accompaniment to just about any meat course.

Have a wonderful week everyone!  Eat good food, share good company, find ways to express your love and open your heart to the possibilities of God’s voice.  He has things to say.

The last couple of years, I’ve printed out the stories that I’ve given at our Christmas Eve services here on the food blog.  We’re a little late this season, but here is the true story of Nicholas the Giver.

A long, long time ago, only about 2 or 3 hundred years after Jesus was born, a young boy lived in a town on the Mediterranean coast in a part of the world now called Turkey. When the story starts, Nicky is about seven or eight, and he was sitting in church one day when the people were talking about the Christmas story.

One of the grown-ups was reading from the part where some men travel from a long way off to come and see Jesus. These men were called the wise men and they brought gifts to present to Jesus. Well, little Nicky thought this was great. He asked his mother, “Who were those men?” And his mother didn’t know what to say. Nicky said, “What were their names?” And his mother and father said they didn’t know. They went to their pastor, and Nicky asked again: “What were the names of the men who gave those presents to Jesus?”

Their pastor told Nicky that nobody really knows who those men were. They just came and gave the presents to the baby and left. They never said who they were. “But why?” asked Nicky.  The pastor got out the Bible and he read the very beginning of the book of John to Nicky.

In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone. The light keeps shining in the dark, and darkness has never put it out.

…The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. The Word was in the world, but no one knew him, though God had made the world with his Word. …Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God.

The pastor explained to Nicky that one of the reasons that God sent Jesus to provide a way for people to become God’s special children.

That was a wonderful message, and these kings, the wise men who brought gifts to Jesus knew that Jesus was great. They brought him presents to honor him, and to say thank-you to God for sending his son. Their names weren’t important, because Jesus was God’s special gift.

Well, Nicky thought this was really cool, and he decided that he wanted to be like those three kings. About four or five days later, Nicky was sitting by the street in front of his house watching the smaller kids play. All of the children were laughing and running—all except for little Anya.

Anya was only three, and she was crying by herself. Nicky went over to see what was wrong, and she only cried more. But he sat and watched, and noticed that all the other children had a toy, but Anya had none. Her family was too poor.

That night, Nicky asked his father to show him how to use the special carving knife to make things out of wood. With his dad’s help, Nicky made a small crude bird out of wood.  He carved Anya’s name into the bottom and he sneaked over to her house and left it by her door.

As the children came out to play the next day, Anya found the little toy. She asked all of the children who left it for her, but nobody knew (except for Nicky, and he didn’t say anything!). Nicky felt just like one of those kings who had come to leave a present for baby Jesus.

As Nicky grew up, every now and then, one of the poor children would find a carved bird, or maybe a rattle or set of blocks by their window. Nobody ever knew where those toys came from.

Things in Nicky’s town were very hard.  Although Nicky’s family was wealthy, there were many who were very poor.

Sometimes, after a person had sold everything he had and was still poor, that person would have to sell himself or herself and become a slave—just so they wouldn’t starve to death!

One night, when Nicky was grown, he was walking through his village and he heard a man crying. He went to the window of the man’s house, and he heard that the man was actually praying. When he listened, he heard the man telling God that he was so poor that he was going to have to sell himself or one of his three daughters as a slave, just to make sure they didn’t starve to death. Nicky was very sad when he heard this prayer, and he ran right home and found some money he had been saving. He went back to the window and he dropped his sack of gold money through the window.

When that purse went through the window, it hit a shelf and bounced into the man’s shoe. So the next morning, when the poor man and his three daughters were getting ready to go to the slave market, the started to put his shoes on and found the bag of gold, saving their family!

Well, Nicky grew older, and he kept reading the stories about Jesus. He never forgot that Jesus came to make it possible for us to become God’s children, and to make things right between us and God. Everywhere he went, he told people about the love of God.

When Nicky became a man, he decided that God wanted him to be a pastor and serve God in a church, where he could spend all of his time telling boys and girls, men and women about the love of God.

For the rest of his life, every time he got the chance Nicky used to walk through his neighborhood and listen for stories of people who were in trouble. He knew that God loves the poor, and that God doesn’t want anyone to have to do something terrible like selling themselves as a slave. And whenever he went out, he usually managed to leave something for the poor children—some treat, or a toy that he had made. And sometimes he hid the things in the shoes that the children had left sitting outside their doors.

Sometimes people saw what he was doing. They came and spoke to him about it. They asked him why he left presents for poor people and didn’t take any credit.

He always told them about the kings who came to leave presents for Jesus, and how nobody knew their names. He told them that he left presents for people so that they would remember that God loves them, and that God wants to be their friend. And when Nicky told the people that, some of them began to do the same thing. They went out and left presents for people and helped to take care of the poor, too.

Pastor Nicholas came to be known as a man who knew right from wrong. People respected his what he said. He stood for the poor and the oppressed.  He preached the good news about Jesus and how Jesus was the greatest gift of all.

And this went on for a long time, until Nicky became a very old man. He had become a very important man, called a Bishop, in his town that was called Myra. People came from all over because they knew that Bishop Nicholas could help them. And he did.

Well, one sad day in the wintertime, Bishop Nicky was so old and so tired that he finally died. All of his friends, rich and poor, were very sad. They wanted to think of a way to always remember him. So some of them got together and talked about it.

Somebody said, “We have to think of a way to say ‘Thank You’ to God for giving us someone as wonderful as Bishop Nicholas. What can we do that will show God how glad we are to have known him?”

One person said, “Remember how Nicholas used to tell us about the love of God? What if we built a big church and named it after him? Then everyone could know that God loves us.”

Someone else was remembering the way that Nicky used to worry about all the children who were sick, and she said, “What if instead of building a church, we built a big hospital, where sick people could get better?”

A few of Nicky’s other friends remembered how he had always tried to make people happy with the Joy of the Lord, and they suggested that they have a big party with lots of games and singing.

Well, they talked and talked, but finally they got the perfect idea for how to say “thank you” to God for Bishop Nicholas.

One of Nicky’s closest friends remembered the story of the kings who came to see Jesus and how they left without anyone knowing their names. So that’s what they did. All of Nicky’s friends got together and on the night before the celebration of Jesus’ birth, they went through the town and left gifts for the children.

And on Christmas day, the children in that neighborhood woke up and discovered that there were gifts for them. And because Nicky’s friends didn’t want anyone to know who left these gifts, whenever anyone asked about the presents, they always said, “Well, it must have been Bishop Nicholas—you know how much he loved children!” And ever since then, people have been leaving each other presents and remembering Nicky—

only now we call him Saint Nicholas.

Sometimes on Christmas people give each other little gifts of oranges. That seems a rather healthy alternative to what is usually found in our stockings.

But the tradition of oranges for Christmas dates back to the story of young Nicky. Do you remember how he dropped the bag of gold into the window? Ever since Bishop Nicholas died, people give each other oranges to remind themselves of the gold that Nicky gave to the poor.

The oranges reminds us of the story of Bishop Nicky.  But more importantly, let it remind you of a gift of Christmas much greater than gold.  While we were still slaves to sin, God sent his only son to purchase our freedom.  If we will repent and put our faith in Him, we to can become God’s children thanks to this gift.

Although we remember the manger on this night, it is the cross which was the ultimate destination of the Christ child.  By giving himself, Jesus became the punishment for our sinfulness and offers forgiveness for all who will come to Him.

One Year Ago:  Quick Caramel Popcorn & Prince Soren Finds A Bride

Two Years Ago:   Austrian Goulash & The Farmer At Christmas

Three Years Ago:  Caramel Chocolitas

People are willing to spend money on things they’re passionate about.  I have a friend who just spent (what seemed to me) an enormous amount of money on a small piece of equipment for his acoustic guitar.  I’ve got another that spends lots of hard-earned cash on vintage record albums.  I’ve always been willing to spend good money on food, whether at a great restaurant or on quality ingredients.  Good filets can be pricey, but they’re one of the most tender, flavorful cuts of steak that are available.  If you’re willing to pay the price, or if you find a good sale, here’s a good recipe to highlight these great steaks.  (Another filet recipe is filets with goat cheese and balsamic syrup.)

If you’d like a copy of the recipe without the pictures, feel free to email me at intothewardrobe@hotmail.com. If you’d like updates of future posts, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter @NarnianChef.

INGREDIENTS:

1 7½ oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained

1 Tbs. chopped shallots

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

3 ¾ inch thick filet mignon steaks (about 6 oz. each)

DIRECTIONS:

Puree roasted red peppers and chopped shallots in food processor.

Filet Mignon with Red Pepper Sauce 01

With machine running, gradually add olive oil and balsamic vinegar through food tube.

Filet Mignon with Red Pepper Sauce 02

Process until sauce is smooth.  Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Filet Mignon with Red Pepper Sauce 03

Prepare barbecue or grill pan.  Season steaks lightly with salt and generous amount of pepper.

Filet Mignon with Red Pepper Sauce 04

Grill to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.

Filet Mignon with Red Pepper Sauce 05a

Transfer steaks to plates.  Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

Filet Mignon with Red Pepper Sauce 00

It’s a great sauce that highlights the steak without masking that phenomenal juicy steak flavor.

Serving good food to loved ones is worth the occasional high priced steak or pinch of saffron. We are willing to spend on what we’re passionate about.  God was passionate about us enough to spend the life of His Son to redeem us.  For that I am truly thankful.

God bless and have a wonderful week!