Monday, April 27, 2015

A Taste of the South

I have a weird relationship with grocery shopping.  I love food, I love cooking, I love shopping for kitchen things.  I hate shopping for food.  I think a lot of it is because I am a food snob when it comes to certain brands and I have to have ample lighting.  In the small little town I live in, there are not many grocery options and the lighting is always depressing and at times the walls seem like they are closing in on me.  I just find it to be inconvenient.  I am organized in most areas of my life, but meal planning is not one of them.  I don't like to sit down and plan out the meals because I don't know if I will feel like when I get home from work.  I need options and flexibility.  And honestly?  It's just me so why does it matter?

I am moving in about 9 days (assuming I get everything packed).  I refuse to go to the store until then.  Meals have gotten very creative because I am trying to use up what I have.

The other day I was trying to find a place for my newest ice cream creation (sweet potato ice cream with a cinnamon browned butter swirl) and I stumbled on a bag of frozen okra.  I'm sure I bought it in a sheer panic trying to get out of the store as soon as I possibly could. Instead of just throwing it in a pan of boiling water, I decided to try my hand at making gluten free fried okra. All measurements are estimates because much like grocery shopping, digging my measuring cups out of boxes seemed to inconvenient for my hunger.

Fried Okra:
1 pound of of frozen okra or sliced fresh okra
2 Eggs, beaten
1 cup of milk
1/2 package of Ranch seasoning (or 3tps of homemade seasoning if you're feeling daring)
Salt and Pepper
3/4 cup Gluten free flour mix of your choice (I prefer Silvana Nardone's  All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour (or you could probably forego this completely, you would just need to add more cornmeal)
3/4 cup Cornmeal
Oil of your choice (I used Grapeseed Oil because it was what I had on hand)
A skillet (I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven because I'm obsessed with it and it is yellow which makes me happy and I don't currently own a good cast iron skillet and of course, I want a Le Creuset one which does not come cheap).

1.  Beat together eggs and milk in a bowl and set aside.
2.  In another bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, ranch seasoning and a pinch of remaining seasoning to taste
3.  Dip the okra in the milk/egg mixture and then transfer to the flour mixture.  Make sure the okra is completely coated.  Once coated, move to a mixing bowl until ready to fry.
4.  Heat your choice of oil in a skillet until it is about 400 degrees. Use a slotted spoon to place the okra in the oil (I have one too many hot oil related injuries during my years at Kanakuk, one including a stint in an eye patch so I am extremely careful about it)
5.  Cook until golden brown, which took about 3-4 minutes.  Once brown, uses tongs to remove.  I put a colander in a bowl to drain the extra grease off.

Then I made a Sriracha Ranch dipping sauce because I have a weird thing with ketchup (meaning I don't love it, and if I do eat it, it needs to be room temperature).  Mix 1/2 cup Ranch with 2 tsp. Sriracha sauce.  Why I have Sriracha sauce is completely beyond me but adding it with ranch was one of the greater decisions I had made in a while.

So naturally I decided I need to deep fry more things so I made some avocado fries and for the memories of frying chicken at K-2, I fried up some chicken then the oil splashed on me so I called it quits.

I may or may not have made an entire meal out of friend food.  I have no regrets. Although I wish I would have taken a picture.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I'm Single: Part 1

I have been a bridesmaid 9 times.
I have caught the bouquet 11 times.
I have been part of the house party of a wedding 22 times.
I have been a personal attendant 3 times.
I have hosted and attended my fair share of bridal showers.
I have a roommate who is engaged.

And I have been single for approximately my entire life.

Each time a friend gets engaged, I grieve a little because I know our relationship is about to change.  I know things will be different but still good.  Each time I feel left behind for a moment as everyone around me is moving on while I am standing still feeling like I am the last one picked for the team.

I would love to be married. I would love to have what I thought I would have at 27.  The conflict between what I want and the perception of what I have creates pain at times.

There is a specific pain in singleness.  It's hard, in ways I can hardly explain.  And through conversations with a few dear friends, I know I am not alone in the pain of singleness. Sometimes doing this life alone is hard. Sometimes doing this life alone is sweet.  It's the truest example I have encountered about having a bittersweet season. At times, I feel forgotten. At times, I fight insecurity.  At times, I question the Lord's plan.  But then I remember, my worth is based on Christ.  I remember that my hope is built on Christ's blood and righteousness.  I remember the Lord's sovereignty.  I remember the people in my life who have adopted me as family when mine is hours away.  I remember and cherish Romans 8..."this is all happening for my good and God's glory."

Marriage has never been the end all be all for me.  I desire it, but only if it is for God's glory.

I would love to not feel like I am missing out on desires I have at times.  This season of singleness  has taught me that I don't want my dreams.  I do, but I really don't.  I want Jesus.  My heart needs Jesus and His unconditional, unfailing, incomparable love.  His love is the hope I cling too. I want Him to cover my heart in grace.  I want Him to remind me who I am in moments of doubt, comparison, and insecurity.  I want him to to be my affirmation.  I want my insecurity and struggles on the earth to drive me to cling to the Cross because it is the only place where my broken soul can be healed.

I will waste this pain if I don't use it as part of my testimony.  I have tasted the Lord's goodness and I would give up anything if it meant I could taste more and see that the Lord is good, because ultimately, that is the dream I want.  I have said it before, but every season is for our sanctification and this one may be the one that changes my heart to be more like Christ.  Jesus walked in singleness, He was rejected and He was tempted but never broke. He went to the Father, and He knew the greater joy that was ahead and rested on that, no matter what He had to endure.

So what do I do now?
I keep moving forward.
I keep pursuing the Lord with reckless abandonment.
I find my fulfillment in Him and Him alone.
I plug in and find people who will push me to the cross.
I hang out with families.
I fight for the marriages around me. 
I do not isolate myself because of my relationship status.
I turn my eyes outward and look where I can serve.
I draw near and continue to pray for sanctification.

In Christ alone, my hope is found.