Apple-Mango Cooler

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Here is another sweet(ish), fruity Spring and Summer drink.  It is less syrupy than some commercial drinks, and does have real fruit and juice in it.  It can be served over ice, or merely chilled, and either way it doesn’t take very long to make.

Ingredients:

  • Cloudy Apple Juice (Sweet Cider in US200-250 ml
  • Mango 1/2 cup fresh or frozen
  • Diet Fizzy Lemonade (Sprite, 7 Up) 200-250 ml
  • Citrus Slice to garnish
  • Ice optional

Method:

Place mango into a blender and add a splash of the apple juice.  Blitz into a puree. Pour half of fruit into a glass and add apple juice until glass is 1/2 full.  Stir gently, then top off with lemonade. Garnish with slice.

Padre

 

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“Untouchable”

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Jesus Heals a Leper (freebibleimages.org)

The world has a sad history of treating certain individuals as “untouchable.” Whether these “outcasts” are ones bearing disease, or whether they are considered morally or spiritually inferior, they have borne the burden of exclusion.

At what cost are people excluded? Mother Theresa of Calcutta remarked “Being unwanted is the worst disease any human being can experience.” She set out to serve the “poorest of the poor,” those with disease, and hardship that others shunned, but who she saw as “Christ in disguise (a reference to the parable of the sheep and goats).”

She was not alone in this compassion shown to the unwanted.  The Hindu caste system had long held that the lowest social grouping were “untouchables.”  These people who carried out the most menial and dirty tasks in society were beneath contempt. Mahatma Gandhi called for an end of such a status, and said that rather than being seen as “untouchable,” that they should be instead be seen as “children of God (Harijans).”

While Theresa and Gandhi’s views are admirable, they fall short of the marvelous example of Jesus when dealing with outcasts. First Century Jewish culture was replete with those who were at the margins of society, whether as literal lepers (unclean owing to disease) or those who conduct or life circumstances made them “unclean.”

Let me first look at the attitude of many of the religious elite of Jesus’ day.  In Luke 10: 25-37 Jesus presented a parable we call “The Good Samaritan.” Verses 30 to 32 are telling,

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.” 

Both the priest and the Levite avoid the injured man, and it is postulated that they were doing so in order not to come in contact with “the dead” and thus become ritually unclean.

Yet, we see a very different attitude from Jesus, Himself.  Luke 7 gives us an insight again into Jesus’ heart in contrast to that of a Pharisee.

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner (vs 36 -39).”

Jesus’ response to the situation, is not to be repulsed, or to reprimand her for her actions, but to praise her (presumably to the shock of His host).

“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet,but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head,but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven (vs 44 – 48).”

This encounter with “a sinner” is interesting as He shows an acceptance of her, and does not seem concerned at “being tarred with the same brush.”  But this event prefigures and encounter with another outcast, who again touches Him.  On this occasion, however, the ceremonial uncleanliness is manifest.  Yet, the response the same.

In Luke 8 we find the account of the woman with the issue of blood.

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.  Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace (vs 43 -48).”

Leviticus 15 makes it clear that women’s discharge of blood is “unclean,” and those encountering are made unclean as well.

“Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. Anyone who touches her during that time will be unclean until evening.  Anything on which the woman lies or sits during the time of her period will be unclean.  If any of you touch her bed, you must wash your clothes and bathe yourself in water, and you will remain unclean until evening. If you touch any object she has sat on, you must wash your clothes and bathe yourself in water, and you will remain unclean until evening. This includes her bed or any other object she has sat on; you will be unclean until evening if you touch it (vs 19 – 23).
Jesus is not upset by her action. But acknowledges her faith, and seals her healing.
In these two cases Jesus is touched by those perceived as unclean, but He brings this to a new level in His encounter with the Leper of Matthew 8.

“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them (vs 1 – 4).”

 

Leprosy is a terrible nerve and flesh disease.  It is highly contagious, and in ancient times those with it were excluded from living within society.  Scripturely Lepers were not only social, but religious outcasts as well.  But, Jesus heals the man.  But the order of events is absolutely powerful.   The man asks for healing, and acknowledges Jesus’ ability to do it.  But while the man was yet “unclean,” Jesus touches him, and says “I am willing.”  Only then does He cure him.  He touched “the untouchable.”  He showed human compassion, beyond that of the priest, Levite, or Pharisee.  He touched first, and healed later.  Think about Mother Theresa’s words, that being wanted and loved, are as important as food or shelter.

This compassion, and disregard of “uncleanliness” was also shown at Nain.

 “Soon afterwards he [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.  As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother (Luke 7: 11 – 15).”

Jesus touched the bier.  He was not like the those who passed by on the other side, as had happened on the road to Jericho.  He was in no doubt as to the man’s state (unlike the priest and Levite), but nonetheless, “touched.”

In God’s love their are none that are “untouchable.”  None are so diseased, sinful, or unlovable that the hand of God is unavailable to them.  Nor should our touch be withheld.

Padre

 

 

 

“Cherry” Temple Mocktail and Cream Soda Option

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The original “Shirley Temple” mocktails, were created in the 1930s to provide a mixed drink alternative for children sharing a meal in a restaurant with their parents. The name was that of a then child actress, though she did not directly have a role in creating the drink. The earliest form of the drink was made with ginger ale and grenadine.

This variation uses lemonade and cherry cordial to provide a similar sweet, “child friendly” alternative.

Ingredients:

  • Lemonade (UK “lemonade”, US Sprite or similar) 300 ml
  • Cherry Cordial 30 ml
  • Ice
  • Cherry or Citrus Slice to garnish

Method:

Fill a glass 1/2 to 2/3 full of ice, and add the cordial.  Top off with the lemonade.  Stir lightly and garnish.

This is a rather sugary drink as made above. A lower calorie take on it can be done with “diet” or “sugar free” lemonade.  This makes a less sweet drink, but loses some of it distinctive flavour.  After some experimenting, the following variation was found, which while not technically “classic,” I still prefer.

Ingredients:

  • Cream Soda 300 – 330 ml
  • Cherry Cordial 30 ml
  • Ice
  • Citrus Slice to garnish

The method remains the same, and the drink remains a bit syrupy. “Diet” Cream Soda can be used and it lowers the “in your face” sweetness.  If low-cal cream soda is not available try this to replicate it.

Ingredients:

  • Diet or Low Sugar Lemonade 300 ml (or so)
  • Stevia 1/2 tsp
  • Vanilla Essence large splash

Method:

Pour the 1/2 of the lemonade into glass. Sprinkle in the sweetener while stirring gently (it will fizz).  Add the vanilla and again gently, then top off with the remaining lemonade.

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Speaker in Focus – Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)

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Cesar Chavez from Biography.com

It has been some time since I made a public speaking post. Some of my past ones focused on great speakers (such as Lincoln and Churchill) and how their oratory could help aspiring speakers, teachers, and ministers to become more effective.  Today I will bring our focus onto the trade unionist and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

Cesar Chavez was born to a labouring family in the Southwest of the United States. His family faced racism, and economic exploitation and lost their farm to unscrupulous businessmen.  He left school after the eighth grade, and joined his mother as a migrant farm worker.  Despite this harsh start to life he became a union organiser, political activist, and powerful orator.

Chavez’s speeches were direct, and in the language of the people.  This latter point is important.  It was not only that he spoke in Spanish and English as his audience dictated, but that he used the idioms and images which his hearers understood. He was once asked why his audiences admired him so much.  Smiling he responded, “because the feeling is mutual.”

In his speeches and leadership style more generally, he promoted education and self-improvement, but not as ends in themselves. Rather, he called on people to be better human beings and connected with them in aspiration.

He said “Real education should consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own students. What better books can there be than the book of humanity?”  And, “Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves – and be free.”

The words he used had power.  He called on others to use their words powerfully as well. “Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.”  Your identity is in your words!  Whether English, Spanish, in the end it is the choice of your words that reflect your nature.

So what can we learn from Chavez? First speak to your audience, adjust and mould to their needs and expectations. Speak not just to make “your” point, but to help your hearers to find their voice as well.  Thirdly, let your words be true reflections of who you are.

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Japanese Inspired Melon Smoothie

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Back in 1983, I arrived in Japan which, despite Styx’s Mr. Roboto playing constantly on the airwaves,  was a country still largely mysterious to many Westerners. The exchange rate was still favourable at about 240 Yen to the US Dollar and it was a great time and place for a young man to explore.

One of the initial discoveries, was of the “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it,” variety: McDonald’s. There were the familiar items – good old Big Mac, and fries, but there were some odd choices too.  One of these was Melon Milk Shake.  It is this flavour of my past, I have tried to replicate in a relatively low-cal smoothie.

Ingredients:

  • Rice Milk 300-330 ml
  • Melon 1 cup (cantaloupe and/or honeydew) made into melon balls
  • Stevia 1 rounded tsp
  • Ice 1 cup

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Method:

Cut melon and remove seeds. Using a melon-baller or small scoop make enough balls to fill a cup measure.  Place ice into a blender and add the melon and rice milk.  Blitz for 30 seconds, then add sweetener and continue to blend until smooth.  Serve in large glass. Makes 2 servings.

 

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Seeing With Eyes of Faith

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Today’s post is later than usual (or is it?). It began as a musing over a radio advertisement for a remote access/monitoring system presently being broadcast in the UK. This advert is promoting the peace of mind one may have by knowing that they can check in on what is happening in their home while they are away.  It uses the image of monitoring one’s dog, eating its dinner, “not raiding the bin, or leaving surprises on the floor.”

Okay, fair enough, but my musing took me into the land of skepticism. We all have seen too many heist and spy films, where the surveillance system is hacked, and a loop of innocuous images is spliced in giving a false sense of “all is well.”  But, hey, why would anyone go to such extremes in my humble abode, to take such drastic measures?  Good, confidence back.

Or is it? Descartes famously questioned the limits of our observational knowledge. He noted  that each of our senses is fallible.  We can touch something cold, and believe it is wet. Hear a car backfire and think it is a gunshot.  We can see a shadow out of the corner of our eye, and hold that it is a spider.  We can be tricked by our own observations. This if taken to its natural conclusion would lead us to deduce that we can be sure of nothing.  So much for the quaint image on our phone that our dog is eating its dinner, and not up to mischief.

But Rene Descartes was not actually suggesting that all of our senses are being fooled all of the time, but merely that they are not totally reliable. We adjudge the world by a combination of factors. We take our observations, and then interpret them in light of our past experiences, and our logical take of the possibilities.

So we are led to trust what we see (usually). But Hans Christian Andersen has left us another dilemma – “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” In this tale an unscrupulous tailor convinces an emperor, that the new fabric he had devised is so fine, and expensive, that only the truly clever can see it.  While the monarch cannot see the cloth, he doesn’t want to admit he is too stupid to see it so agrees to purchase a suit made from it.  The tale continues with the emperor walking down the street with nothing on, and the people all proclaiming the elegance of the suit.  Until a small child says that the king is naked.  Then all (including the ruler) conclude it was folly.  Our logical take, says, “I don’t see it.” But our ego says “I am not stupid, it must be there.” This is what the people of the kingdom had done.

Jesus told a parable about a rich man who died, and was sent to a place of torment (Luke 16: 19-31). In it, the man calls on Father Abraham to send a warning to the man’s family not to live as he had done.  He argues that if Lazarus, who has also died, returns from the dead and warns them, surely they will repent.  The response is stark.  They have already been warned by scripture on how to live.  He insists though that “seeing one resurrected” would “be believing.”

The analogy with Jesus’ own upcoming (from their perspective) resurrection is clear.  The people did see the unbelievable – a man raised from death. Yet, many did not believe.  The testimony of the eye-witnesses was ignored. Why? Because “it made no sense” based on their past experience.

But, we who have looked beyond past experience, see differently. Hebrews 11:1 says,  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We see by faith, not by fallible sight. Maybe Andersen was wrong.  Maybe the Emperor was attired in the most elegant attire of all time, and the people in their reliance on Descartes’ flawed senses missed the true beauty.  Maybe the world today in its reliance on remote monitoring gizmos “always seeking proof” fail to trust.  Maybe we who have not seen, yet believe really are the ones with sight.

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Strawberry Ginger Splash (Mocktail/Cooler)

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Here is another warm weather cooling mocktail with a pleasant colour and sweet taste, but without too many calories.  It is an easy recipe with only a few ingredients, and can be made in just a couple of minutes. It can be made with fresh berries, but frozen ones give it more of a cooling effect.  It can be garnished in any way to add to presentation (Paper umbrellas?  Why not?)

Ingredients:

  • Ginger Ale 300 ml
  • Strawberries 5 or 6
  • Ice 1 cup

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Method:

Place the strawberries into a blender and add 100 ml of ginger ale.  Blitz until fruit is evenly blended (and if using frozen fruit that no chunks remain).  Pour fruit mixture into a large glass and add ice until glass is 1/2 to 2/3 full. Top off with ginger ale, and place a strawberry (or other garnish) on top. The ice should suspend the topping.

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Lord’s Prayer

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Jesus’ disciples sought to learn how to better communicate with the Father.  They asked Jesus about prayer and He taught them a model.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread,  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6: 9-13).”

This simple construction provides praise to God, petition for our well being and sustenance, and our forgiveness from our faults. It contains intercession for the needs of others, and an implied thanksgiving as His power to fulfill the requests is summed up in “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.”

While prayer can be any conversation with God, these simple requests capture virtually all the essentials.  Jesus reminded us elsewhere,

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you;seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? (Luke 11:9-12)” 

He concludes in verse 13, “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

He later reminds His disciples that the birds of the air are cared for by God, and that “you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31).”

So in its brevity, and simplicity Jesus’ model prayer guides us to the source of all good things. It is also a beautiful passage. Listen to it below to hear the beauty of it in Syrian Aramaic, which is very close to how Jesus originally taught it.

 

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Visiting the Iron Bridge

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Ironbridge and the surrounding Gorge area on the Severn Valley is one of the significant locations in the history of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. While Arkwright and others all contributed to the rapid industrialisation of England, as opposed to the cottage industry which preceded it, it is Abraham Darby’s contribution to the low cost smelting of iron, which gives this area its “claim to fame.”

Darby’s grandson, also Abraham, had the world’s first great fabricated cast iron bridge built to span the gorge. The bridge was erected between 1779 and 1781, opening on New Year’s Day.

The bridge was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1934 is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

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Visitors can view the scenic valley, the bridge, and also a local museum which houses a large diorama of the area.  We didn’t make a day of it, but it was a great way point and offered some really nice photo opportunities.  It really is worth seeing for anyone interested in the history of the Industrial Revolution, or in 18th and 19th Century history more generally.

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Bridge and War Memorial

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Museum Link

Mint Mule Mocktail and Lighter Mule Option

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With Spring and Summer at hand, here is another cooling mocktail idea. The Mint Mule was a drink I first experienced while on a cruise, and which I have since sought to find a recipe to match (or better) the experience.  The non-alcoholic take on the Moscow Mule has many twists and turns, in the approach taken.  Some use fresh lime pulp, others lime juice or cordial.  Some draw on the bite of ginger beer, and others on the smoother taste of ginger ale. These particular recipes appeal to me, and my taste.  I hope you like it.

Simple Mint Mule:

Ingredients:

  • Ginger Ale 300 ml of a full sugar version (Canada Dry, Schweppes, etc.)
  • Lime Cordial 75 ml of a quality variety (Rose’s Original, etc) – most are of the 4:1 ratio recommendation)
  • Mint Leaves 4 -5
  • Ice 1 cup
  • Lime 1 slice to garnish

Method:

Fill glass about 1/3 to 1/2  full with ice or crushed ice.  Gently bruise half of the mint leaves and place over the ice.  Add the lime cordial and then top off glass with the ginger ale.  Add remaining mint and the lime slice to garnish.  For a sharper bite replace the ginger ale with Jamaican style ginger beer.

Lighter Mule:

This variation is lower in calories and has no added sugar (It has 12 to 20 calories) depending on the brands used.

Ingredients:

  • Diet Ginger Ale 300 to 330 ml
  • Lime Squash 50 ml of “no sugar added” variety these are typically 8:1 or 9:1 ratio recommendations
  • Mint Leaves 4 – 5
  • Ice 1 cup
  • Lime 1 slice to garnish
  • Lime Juice 1 Tbs (optional)

Method:

Fill glass about 1/3 to 1/2  full with ice or crushed ice.  Gently bruise half of the mint leaves and place over the ice.  Add the lime squash mix and then top off glass with the ginger ale.  Add remaining mint and the lime slice to garnish.  For a sharper bite add fresh or bottled lime juice.

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