Beefy Kebabs

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As it is BBQ season, here is a dish I put together for my wife. It is made with cubed beef, and is grilled over charcoal. It is marinaded ideally overnight, but any time over an hour will do.


  • Beef 300 g cubed
  • Green Pepper 1
  • Tomato Passata 2 Tbs
  • Soy Sauce 1 Tbs
  • Garlic Powder 1 tsp
  • Honey 1 Tbs


Cut the beef into 1 inch cubes and place into a bowl with the passata, honey, soy, and garlic and mix well.  Leave to marinade for a minimum of an hour or so, but over night is best (in the fridge).  Be sure to let the meat recover from fridge temperatures for about 15 minutes before cooking (the remaining prep will take some of this time). Chop the pepper into 1 to 2 inch pieces.  Place the meat onto metal skewers (two cubes then a pepper piece, then repeat until skewer is 80% full (don’t over fill or pieces may drop off the end).

When grill is ready (grey coals if using charcoal, or 10 -15 minutes if using gas) place the grill rack at a medium height above the heat source. Lay the skewers across the bars and let cook for 3-5 minutes, then turn.  Continue the cook and turn process until all sides are well browned.

If there is any marinade left in the bowl, you may want to brush this on about half way through the process.

Remove from skewers. Serve with pickled cabbage, salad, and garlic sauce or garlic mayonnaise.


Eight Great Quotes on Ministry


Ministry is a calling. Many people of God have answered the call, and many have left us words of advice on how to likewise respond to that call.

First of all there is a great point to ponder,

“Ministry’s not an option for a Christian; it’s a privilege.” Lori Hatcher 

Ministry is not “something we will try for a while,” but a commitment. It is a blessing from God, even as our salvation is. It is not about us, but Him who sent us.

The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s Word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.”  Henri Nouwen

To carry out this calling, we may also need to leave behind the comfort of our churches and parishes. It may require us to do some leg work.

“To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them.” Thomas Aquinas

And this guidance we bring needs to bring transformation. Otherwise, why were we sent. It is again about His work, not our reputations.  We are not (or should not be) in the popularity business. De Sales put it wonderfully,

“The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not “What a lovely sermon,” but, “I will do something!” Francis de Sales

We also need to remember that we too need to have a transformational and humble relationship with God,

“A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.” John Owen

We need to seek transformation.  We need to grow! This requires us to be fed as well as to feed.

“Pastors and Bible teachers go about their work in communal settings, where they listen to as well as deliver sermons, hear as well as speak, and gain biblical insights from their parishioners as much as they pass them on.”  Peter J. Leithart

Or as Gary Rohrmayer, more succinctly put it,

“Great leaders are teachable leaders.” 

And ultimately, we as shepherds need to follow the example of our Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep. Our ministry may seem burdensome at times, and may not have the kudos (note again de Sales words, however) we might have expected. But here is a great point to close on,

“Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing.” John Henry Jowett 



Proving Yeast Mini-Tip

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One of the reasons I make a lot of soda-based breads is the time and effort required to make “proper” bread with yeast.  This is not to say I do not make the lighter, fluffier, yeast varieties, but I don’t always have the time to.  This creates a bit of a problem when I do get around to making yeast based loaves.  Has my yeast gone past its best?

Rather than going just by the dates on the packaging (which are okay, but sometimes are a bit off) and potentially wasting good yeast by throwing it away, or worst still ruining an entire baking session, it is far easier to “proof” the yeast.

So how do you proof yeast? It actually is easy. Add your yeast to 3-4 tablespoons of hot milk (39 C or 102 F) and a teaspoon of sugar to a glass bowl and cover for 10 minutes. If it goes bubbly at 10 minutes it is fine.  If it hasn’t then your yeast has not activated, and is probably best to move on to another yeast source as it may well be dead or at least not up to the job.



Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

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Today is the 150th American Memorial Day. It was established in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War to remember those who died in service to their country. While it began as a Civil War memorial, it has come to remember all of the service people who gave their lives.

At Madingley near Cambridge, England there is an American War Cemetery which largely is the resting place and memorial for those who died in the UK, the Atlantic, or who were missing in operations over the sea or over the continent. There are 3,812 graves of the war dead (including Joe Kennedy, Jr), and the names of 5,127 missing.

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Missing in Action

The lay out is similar to many period American War Cemeteries, with the white crosses and Stars of David in neat rows, and well maintained grounds.  There is a chapel, and a visitor centre as well.

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Along the wall of the missing there are statues depicting the Army, the Air Corps (Force), Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines.

This is a solemn place to visit, but very moving.

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Marine Corps MIAs

On this Memorial Day we can remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and reflect on what it means to serve.




Sans – gria

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Inspired by the Spanish fruit and wine drink Sangria, Sans – gria is a fruity alcohol free summer drink.  It uses red sparkling grape juice instead of wine, and fresh fruit and juice for the non-hangover version.


  • Red Schloer 700 ml
  • Orange Juice 250 ml
  • Orange 1
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tbs
  • Lime 1
  • Grapes 10 halved
  • Strawberries 8 – 10 halved
  • Sugar 5 Tbs or Stevia 2 Tbs


Thinly slice the lime and orange and places in a large glass jug. Add the halved grapes, berries, and lemon juice. Dissolve the sugar in the orange juice and pour over the fruit. Add the grape juice and mix well. Place in fridge and allow to chill overnight.



Getting the Job Done vs. Compassion

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I have written on medical ethics, patient care, and general compassion before. I am one of the first to realise and acknowledge that most health care professionals are dedicated, and want positive outcomes for those under their care.  I am also aware that ALL health care workers are human beings, and have bad days, long shifts, and personal problems of their own.  That said, their is still an issue in patient care with compassion.

We have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the last few years. In that time the medical file has become replete with notices and warnings about anxiety issues, and fatigue from the process. Yet on our last two visits in the same department, both with appointments at the end of clinical days, we met with totally different treatment.

I had called in advance on Monday to make sure they were aware of issues, and to verify that measures which had been worked out in procedures over years of trial, error, and compromise would be okay on the day.  All was assured, and the appointment went wonderfully.  The CT technician seeing my wife’s stress (and understanding from her file that I had the authority) allowed me to answer the routine questions of in advance of the scan.  The place was busy, and appointments were running a little behind, but to make the process better, we were taken to a different area and seen sooner to not let the stress to build.  The tech was kind, smiled, and took the notes seriously (even if it did make her job a little more difficult).

On Friday, I rang ahead, was given the assurances, and we arrived on time. We filled in the forms, and she was called. She was after the fatigue of the Monday outing – stressed, but when I began to answer the routine monitoring questions, was cut off.  She had to answer for herself. The stress increased. She became frustrated with having to repeat herself. He leaves. Enter second MRI technician. Routine questions finished, we are then told that measures which had been made in the past will not be available today. In fact, he argued they are never available.  This despite they being used in the same department, same sub-clinic, and same procedure on the two previous visits. He wanted to get in, get it done, with no variation in the smooth running of his schedule.  Patient anxiety, fear, and physical limitations (beyond those of his immediate focus) were irrelevant.  The end result was the cancelling of the appointment, and now more anxiety of ever having to go to hospital again.

I know this is a bit of a rant, but is a smile, and a little patience especially with people clearly in distress too much to ask?


Limey Rooibos Cooler

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This is a mix between an iced tea and a limeade. It uses red bush tea as it is naturally caffeine free, and the fruit and juice blend nicely to make a great summer drink. I have made it with different mixes of sweeteners, and prefer the brown sugar taste, but all of the options are nice.


  • Rooibos (Red Bush) Tea Bag 1
  • Limes 5
  • Brown Sugar 1/2 cup, or White Sugar 1/2 cup, or Stevia 4 well rounded Tbs
  • Water 1.5 litres


Juice four limes and put rinds and remaining pulp in a jug. Slice one lime finely and add to the jug. Add the sweetener, and tea bag.  Heat 250 to 500 ml of water in a kettle and then pour over the fruit and sweetener.  Allow to steep for 2- 3 minutes, then remove the tea bag. Pour remaining juice into the jug, along with the remaining water. Chill for at least half and hour leaving the fruit rinds and slices in the mixture.

Serve over ice.


Lamb and Mint Meatballs


imageedit_5_7956312235 (1).jpgHere is a meat-eater dish which has a bit of a middle-eastern/eastern Mediterranean feel.  While I am a fishy-veg type, my wife eats meat, and it is nice to give her an occasional flavour boost.  So here is a lamb based dish with a bit of lower fat beef to cut the greasiness, and to make a easier to cook meatball.


  • Lamb Mince (Ground Lamb) 300 g
  • Lean Beef Mince (Ground Beef <5%) 150 g (I use organic grass-fed, but any good meat will do)
  • Dried Mint 1 Tbs
  • Garlic Powder 1 Tbs
  • Dried Parsley 1 1/2 tsp
  • Beef or Lamb Gravy Granules 1 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive Oil 1 tsp
  • Water as needed

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In a large bowl mix the lamb and the beef.  Add the dried herbs and granules, and knead well for about 2 minutes until the meats and herbs are evenly mixed. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and roll out the meat mixture into 12- 15 balls (a little smaller than a golf ball). Place them in the heated pan and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Allow to brown on one side, then roll the balls in a spiral pattern (move the outer balls inwards, and the inner balls out ward, browning sides in turn). After about 5 minutes (sooner if they begin to stick) add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan and reduce heat to simmer. When meatballs are well browned on all sides, allow an additional minute or two of cooking, then serve.


Lessons of the Man of Uz


The Book of Job opens with the words, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Despite this, he faced terrible loss, and had a crisis in faith.  He nonetheless refused to curse God for his misfortune.  He saw that God is good, even if our personal circumstances are not.

While I tend to create commentary within these blogs on the passages mentioned, today I intend only to share a brief recap of the story.  This simple animation is one I have used with my students, and it is very much a “I love it” or “I hate it” version. It is in the end a pretty good summary.  I do hope you get something from it.


Faithful Last Words

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The attitude of the faithful when facing the end of earthly life is inspiring. The last words of many of these show not only their own belief that they are mere pilgrims passing through this world below, but also give those who witness these parting words strength and comfort as well.

In extreme cases there have been the martyrs who have laid down their lives for the faith.  Their words are witness to their motivation. Among the most famous of these are the words of Polycarp, who was killed by the Romans in circa 155,

“For eighty and six years I have been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” 

Sir Thomas More is another great example, as he was executed for refusing to accept Henry VIII as the supreme head of the church.  He expressed his civil loyalty, but his loyalty to God had to come first, even at the cost of his life,

“I die the King’s good servant, and God’s first.”  July 6, 1535

Dietrich Bonhoffer, a German theologian, showed a similar faith, and made a claim of faith in God’s promises, even as he faced a Nazi firing squad for his refusal to put Hitler first,

 “This may seem to be the end for me, but it is just the beginning.”

Not all of the faithful die martyrs, of course. Many die surrounded by family and friends.  But no matter what the cause of death, the reflections on God’s promise is clear. Stephen, the first Christian martyr shows this with his words of Acts 7: 56,

“Then Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”

He was not alone in this.  On 10 May 1863, the devout Christian, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died after uttering the words,

“Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

This passing over to rest and home was seen in the dying words of the missionary David Livingstone in Africa as well,

“Build me a hut to die in. I am going home.”

The Christian artist Michelangelo, famed for his David, Moses, and Sistene Chapel saw his destination as a better place as well,

“I die in the faith of Jesus Christ, and in the firm hope of a better life.”

The Christian evangelist D.L. Moody died on 22 December 1899 and saw his own passing as a victory,

“This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!”

The author and preacher John Bunyan told those assembled at his death bed,

“Weep not for me, but for yourselves. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, through the mediation of His blessed Son, receives me, though a sinner. We shall meet to sing the new song, and remain everlastingly happy.”   August 31, 1688 

What wonderful witness, let us all look forward to the New Song.