so you are a king?

“So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’”
John 18:33-37

franz-von-stuck-head-of-christ-1341656955_bFranz von Stuck, Head of Christ (1890).

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that the world might be saved

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
John 3:17-18

Lorenzo_Lotto_-_Christ_and_the_Woman_Taken_in_Adultery_-_WGA13709-1024x757Lorenzo Lotto, Christ and The Woman Taken In Adultery (1527-1529)

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who then is this

“But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”
Mark 4:38-41

300px-Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_GalileeRembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633).

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number eight: sweet potato tacos (and loaded sweet potatoes)

IMG_2511This was one of the simplest entries in the contest. In fact, it’s so simple that I’m not sure if it’s technically a recipe or just a great idea. But we enjoyed it so thoroughly and I am so certain that we will be having these again (and again), that I had to pass it on. It comes from a lovely long-time reader named Miriam, an American I once had the joy of meeting when she was passing through Oxford. Miriam, we thank you. These were awesome.

I also want to give a shout out to an entry by Erin, in Singapore. She suggested baking sweet potatoes and filling them with black beans, mozzarella cheese, onions and red pepper cooked with chili powder, paprika, and cumin, and topping with Greek yogurt. We tried this as well and heartily enjoyed it! The dishes were so similar that I decided to mention them together–you can choose which you will try, both were very balanced, healthy, and tasty. (Hugh, who is usually trying to become a picky eater, ate his loaded sweet potato and screamed for more, Erin. For this I thank you!)

Sweet Potato Tacos
sweet potatoes (I used 4-5 smallish ones)
olive oil
I used: kosher salt, fresh pepper, garlic powder, cumin, a pinch of chili powder.
Miriam uses: a creole seasonings blend, kosher salt, and smoked paprika.
1 can black beans (400 g)shredded mozzarella cheese
sour cream
corn tortillas

IMG_2509-Peel and dice sweet potatoes.

-Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add potatoes. Season them to taste. I sprinkled them with kosher salt and ground pepper, then added about a teaspoon (5 g) each of cumin and garlic powder and a generous pinch of chili powder. Use enough oil that they don’t burn and stir occasionally as they cook. Keep tasting to test your seasonings and cook them until they are soft and begin to caramelize. As Miriam wrote, “The sweet potatoes are the star of the dish, so you want them nice and savory.”

-Stuff them into warm corn tortillas, add black beans, sour cream, cilantro, and mozzarella. Squeeze on some lime juice.

As the children said, “Yummy yummy!”

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number seven: butternut squash and quinoa stew

IMG_2502This recipe was contributed by Leslie, who has adapted it from Cookin’ Canuck here. She omits the chicken and adds in spinach or kale, which adaptations I copied when I made it. We thought it made a flavorful and hearty supper. The kalamata olives are a surprising and tangy addition, balancing the dish nicely.

Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stew
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/2 in / 2 cm cubes
3-4 c  / 700+ ml vegetable stock
1 T / 15 ml olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 t / 2.5 g coarse salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 t / 7.5 g dried oregano
1 14.5 oz can diced / 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
2/3 c / 140 g uncooked quinoa
3/4 c / 170 g pitted and quartered kalamata olives
freshly ground black pepper to taste
a few handfuls fresh chopped spinach
a handful chopped fresh parsley

Steam the butternut squash in a saucepan until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Remove half of it and set aside. Steam the rest until very tender, 6-10 minutes more. Drain and smash with a fork.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven on medium heat, heat olive oil. Sautè onion 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and a little brown. Add salt, garlic, and oregano and cook 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes, mashed butternut squash, and squash pieces and stir. Add in stock and quinoa and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until quinoa is translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir in the kalamata olives, spinach, and pepper and cook briefly until heated through. Stir in the parsley and serve.


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Twelve Easter Readings for Little People

As some of you may remember, Alex and I wrote a series of twenty-four Advent Readings for the Very Young for our daughters (and this blog) back in December, 2012. I just wanted to mention that I also wrote twelve Easter Readings for the Very Young (also in 2012) to post for the 12 days leading up to Easter from the Wednesday before Palm Sunday (Palm Sunday is April 13, 2014) through Easter Sunday (April 20, 2014). I’ve provided a list of headings below, if any one is interested in joining us in reading these with our little ones.

As I prayerfully considered this project, I decided to base the readings on the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the Gospel of John. Thus there is no reading on “Jesus is the Lamb” and I have gone to the synoptic Gospels for the account of the Last Supper. I have begun four days before Palm Sunday to get us thinking on the life of Jesus before Holy Week begins. That way, even though we may be reading at the moment in different places in the Bible, we can all pick up here and know where we’re at. Activity suggestions for some of the days are included. Beneath each day will be listed the materials we will use for the activities, in case anyone is interested in the same activities and would like to prepare.

The memory verses we will be reviewing nightly with this series are John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” and Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Easter Readings for the Very Young
Wednesday (before Palm Sunday): Jesus Opens the Eyes of the Blind (John 9)blindfold
Thursday (before Palm Sunday): Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10)stuffed animals: lion and lambs
Friday (before Palm Sunday): Jesus and the Disciples (John 11:1-16)
Saturday (before Palm Sunday): Jesus Raises Lazarus (John 11:17-57)roll of toilet paper
Palm Sunday: Jesus Enters Jerusalem (John 12:12-19)palm branches; real or paper
Holy Monday: Jesus Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14)2-3 pieces poster board, brown construction paper or cardboard
Holy Tuesday: Jesus Has the Greatest Love (John 15)
Holy Wednesday: Jesus Washes Feet (John 13)water, soap, towels
Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22)bread, grape juice
Good Friday: Jesus Dies On the Cross (John 18-19:1-30)a few candles
Holy Saturday: Jesus Is Buried In the Tomb (John 19:31-42)felt or paper figures
Easter Sunday: Jesus Is Risen (John 20)bells, musical instruments

You are very welcome to join us. Please do send along any suggestions or ideas you may have for helping our littlest ones understand the Savior that we celebrate at this season!

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number six: spinach lasagne

IMG_2522I’ve searched for a long time for a good vegetarian lasagne. One of my best-ies makes the best one I’ve ever had but the real secret to its awesomeness is that the vegetables are grilled, which makes it impractical in many circumstances. Enter this entry. Many thanks to Ashlea, an American mother of four, for sharing her delicious creation with us. She adapted this from here. I have already served this dish twice to guests (once to pronouncedly non-vegetarian relatives) and everybody loved it.

Here I must also admit, with some embarrassment, that I changed the method of Ashlea’s recipe a very little. I know this is terrible etiquette for a contest entry. I can only say, I was thinking more as a cook than a blogger and only later realized this was not only not fair, but needed to be confessed. I omitted all mushrooms and cooked the onion and garlic into the tomato sauce instead of adding them to the ricotta mixture. Every time I have tried to put mushrooms into lasagne, they weep grey fluid into the whole thing and I end with a soggy mess. If you want to try with mushrooms, chop and cook with the onions and garlic.

Spinach Lasagne
10 lasagne noodles
lots of fresh spinach (at least 1 lb / 450 g)

1 T / 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T / 15 g chopped parsley
1 T / 15 g dried basil (or fresh)
1 1/2 t / 7 g salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
16 oz / 450 g diced tomatoes (can use frozen, fresh, or tinned)
2 6 oz cans tomato paste / 2 140 g tins of tomato puree or equivalent

3 c / 700 g ricotta cheese
2/3 c / 100-150 g Romano cheese, grated ( I used parmesan)
1 t / 5 g salt
1 t / 5 g dried oregano
1 t / 5 g dried basil
fresh ground pepper to taste (I also added a pinch of nutmeg here)
1 egg

2-3 c / about 500-700 g mozzarella, grated
1 c / about 200 g parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Boil a large pot of water, submerge spinach until cooked and remove with a mesh strainer. Press all the water out of the spinach (I push it into the strainer with a wooden spoon until water stops dripping out). Chop the spinach and reserve. Add a little salt to the boiling water and cook the noodles until al dente (can omit this step with “precooked” lasagne noodles, I suppose, but you will pay a price in texture.) Drain noodles and reserve.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic, cook one minute to aromatic, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes over medium heat.

Mix the ricotta, Romano or parmesan, seasonings for filling, and egg. Stir in the chopped spinach.

IMG_2515Layer a large rectangular baking dish with half the noodles, half the ricotta mix, half the mozzarella, and half the tomato sauce. Repeat, then top with the grated parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 50 minutes.

IMG_2519Somehow, though I have been spending weeks testing vegetarian recipes, I have already managed to make this one twice. And I can’t wait to make it again! Thank you, Ashlea, for a new staple!

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number five: broccoli cheddar soup with homemade croutons

IMG_2657Before we tried this I didn’t think there was anywhere to go with broccoli cheddar soup. All the versions I have had tasted basically the same. Not this one. This was definitely a cut above. The croutons and the soup smelled so delicious while they were cooking that I couldn’t stop sampling and I was fending off children with a wooden spoon. It may not be too much to say that I had made a french silk pie for dessert and this was better.

The recipe was entered by Sarah in the United States and its source is the website 101 Cookbooks, the recipe journal of author Heidi Swanson.

Two things to mention: I think a light, good-quality vegetable stock is really important in this recipe. Also, use a good loaf of bread and a good, aged cheddar (you don’t need loads of it) and do not substitute for the whole-grain mustard. I used New York cheddar aged 18 months, whole-grain dijon, and a crusty loaf of multi-grain artisan bread all from Trader Joe’s–these were key players for flavor.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Homemade Croutons

about 3 cups of small pieces of good whole wheat bread (I cut small squares with a bread knife)
1/4 c / 60 g of melted butter or olive oil
1 1/2 T / 20 g whole-grain mustard
1/4 t / big pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Put bread bits in a large bowl. Melt the butter, whisk in mustard and salt, and pour over bread, tossing to coat. Turn onto a baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes or until golden and crunchy, stirring about a few times. (Mine took 20 minutes).


2 T / 30 g olive oil
1 shallot, chopped (I substituted a sweet onion, as I was out of shallots)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 c / 800 g light, good-tasting vegetable stock
1 large head broccoli, cut into small florets
2/3 c / 160 g grated aged cheddar, plus more for serving
1-3 t / 5-15 g whole-grain mustard (amount to taste, I used 3 t)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan (I used a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Stir in shallot, onion, and a big pinch of salt and saute for a few minutes. Stir in the potatoes and cook, covered, for about five minutes. Uncover and stir in the garlic, saute one minute. Add in the vegetable stock and boil until potato is tender. Stir in broccoli and cook about 4 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from heat and blend the soup (immersion blender is easiest, I used a small stand-up blender and did it in two batches). Sprinkle the cheese in slowly and add in the mustard slowly to taste.

Serve hot with the crunchy, savory croutons and a sprinkle of cheddar.

Extraordinarily delicious. It’s best the first day, so eat it all up. (This won’t be a problem.)


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number four: vegetable enchiladas

IMG_2487The before-baking picture that I took of this recipe does not do it justice. These vegetable enchiladas were hearty and flavorful. Every member of our family liked them except Hugh, and it was probably just that he had spotted a banana in the fruit bowl. I had to make them with whole wheat tortillas, not corn ones as called for, but they were still very good. Made properly, they would be even better. They are just a little spicy and went well with rice and sweet corn. Many thanks to Erin of the nation of Texas for contributing! The recipe originally comes from Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen (one of our favorite sources). We’ll definitely be having this again.

Vegetable Enchiladas

Ingredients (conversions my own)
1 can black beans, rinsed (400 g tin/carton)
1 TBS / 15 ml canola oil
1 onion, minced
1 red or yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium zucchini/courgette, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 c. / 500 g enchilada sauce (Old El Paso brand is available in the UK, a jar is only  395 g but I think it would be enough)
1 c. / 100 g finely crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese (I used feta)
handful chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaf
1 small can chopped green chilies (in UK can use about 3 green chilies from a jar, but these are spicier than US tinned chilies, so use sparingly or omit if more heat is not desired)
salt and pepper
12 corn tortillas
1 c. / 100 g shredded cheddar (make sure to use mild in the UK)
lime wedges, to serve

IMG_2484Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Mash half the black beans until smooth. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion and bell pepper until softened and slightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the zucchini / courgette and cook until soft, another 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in mashed black beans and remaining whole beans and cook until heated through.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1/2 c. / 100 g of enchilada sauce, feta, cilantro / coriander leaf, green chilies, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

Lightly spray tortillas with vegetable oil spray (I skipped this) and spread on baking sheets. Bake 2-4 minutes or until soft. Remove and increase oven temperature to 400 F / 200 C.

Spread out tortillas and put 1/2 c. of the vegetable mix on each. Roll closed and place seam-side-down in a rectangular baking dish. Pour 1 c. of the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas (reserving the last cup to serve with the enchiladas) and sprinkle cheddar down the center of the dish. Cover with foil and bake about ten minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve with reserved enchilada sauce and lime wedges.

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number three: black bean sweet potato chili

IMG_2460This was one of the first entries to come in and it was so tasty that I was ready to make it again by the time the contest ended! It’s a super-useful one for the repertoire because it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. It’s also extremely simple.  I know (now) that there’s lots of black bean and sweet potato chili recipes out there: if you make one, make this one. The addition of lime juice is really inspired–it brightens the flavors of the whole concoction. Try it with blue corn chips and a leafy green salad. And Corona.

The recipe was contributed by Tracy of the United States and the original can be found at The only change I had to make was the elimination of Bragg’s Aminos, the original recipe calls for 1 tsp., added with the beans and lime juice. Next time I’ll substitute a dash of soy sauce for this.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili
2 T / 30 ml coconut oil (can substitute olive oil, we used coconut)
1 red or yellow pepper, scrape out seeds and dice
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t / 5 g sea salt
1 T / 15 g cumin
1 T / 15 g chili powder (could use less here if your littles don’t do spicy)
1 large garnet yam, peeled and diced (or 2 sweet potatoes)
1 28 oz. can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (use two 400 g tins diced tomatoes in UK)
juice of 1 lime
2 cans / 400 g tins black beans
chopped cilantro (coriander leaf) for optional garnish

In a big pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onion, red or yellow pepper, garlic, and salt until soft. Add the cumin and chili powder and cook and stir one minute to release flavors. Add chopped sweet potato, tomatoes, black beans, and lime juice. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, about 15 minutes or until sweet potato is soft. Serve with cilantro (and lime wedges).

Everybody loved it.

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