Recipe of the Week: Recipe Round-Up Edition

I (Helen) had a recipe all picked out for this week’s recipe of the week, but because I don’t have time to take pictures of food, and because I didn’t hear back from a blogger about using the photo from her site, that plan got nixed. So instead of posting one recipe, here are links to some of the favorite recipes of the week!

  1. Lasagna Soup – It can be hard to find soup recipes that are filling and delicious, but this soup fits the bill; we didn’t even serve any bread with it, because it really is like having a piece of lasagna in a bowl. The only thing we changed about the recipe was to leave out the ricotta (didn’t have any), and to stir the other cheeses into the soup before serving.
  2. Lo Mein – one of the reasons this meal was popular was because I served it with fried Chinese-style dumplings, but in and of itself, this was a very enjoyable dish. This recipe is one of those great fridge-cleaners; you can basically throw any vegetables you have into the mix. I used mushrooms, peppers, frozen peas, and carrots. This is easily made gluten free if you use rice noodles and gluten-free soy sauce.
  3. Pork Roast with Mango Salsa – this was Michael’s favorite meal of the week! We recently got some frozen mango in, and that really helped with reducing the prep time for the salsa – all that chopping is a time-consuming task when cooking for a crowd! By cutting the mango when it was still a little frozen, the dicing actually went fairly quickly. I coated the pork in the rub in the morning, and cooked it several hours later. Served with quinoa pilaf and salad.
  4. Chocolate Roulade – this was a dessert I made for a weekly Downton Abbey get-together. The cake is naturally gluten-free, and I found lactose-free whipping cream at the grocery store! I’d be really curious to see if this would hold its shape if it was made with coconut “whipped cream.” I really enjoyed this, though my roulade didn’t roll as beautifully as I would have liked. If cracks in the cake add charm, my roulade was utterly charming.
  5. Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos – when I make a vegetarian meal that everyone likes, I consider it a win; when I make a vegan meal that everyone likes, that is a major victory! I made this back in the summer on a group camping trip, and someone told me “I can’t believe I like this so much when there’s no meat in it!” The original recipe uses butternut squash, but sweet potato and pumpkin are offered as alternatives. I really enjoyed this as a salad topper, while everyone else had it in wraps, with a variety of toppings. I hope there’s leftovers.

What have you been cooking this week? Any recipes you’d recommend?


Recipe of the Week: Chicken Katsu

At the beginning of January, I (Helen) distributed a survey to the staff of YWAM Turner Valley. Among other things, it asked about people’s meal likes and dislikes, and what they would like to see more of in the kitchen. One of our staff suggested we have chicken katsu, which is basically Japanese-style fried chicken. Jenn, one of our fellow-staff, is helping out in the kitchen and in hospitality/housekeeping, so I asked her to make this meal, as it is a favourite of hers, and she’s made it many times. She did a fantastic job, and everyone raved about the meal. It is a bit of a time consuming meal if you venture to make it for a group of thirty, but it’s quite manageable for a smaller crowd.

Chicken Katsu

Chicken Katsu, photo by Jeremy Keith at

This is how Jenn made it (recipe adjusted for six people):

  1. If desired, season six chicken breasts with garlic salt with parsley.
  2. Slice chicken in half lengthwise; these thinner pieces will cook more quickly and evenly.
  3. Set up breading station: place 1 cup flour in one pie plate, three beaten eggs in another pie plate, and two packages mashed up saltine crackers in a third pie plate (panko bread crumbs can also be used, but Jenn prefers using crackers).
  4. Coat each piece of chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs.
  5. In a deep pan, heat enough oil in which to immerse chicken. When oil is appropriate temperature for deep-frying, deep fry chicken in batches. Fry until golden brown, until juices run clear, and chicken’s internal temperature is 74 degrees C.

Jenn says chicken katsu is traditionally served with rice and macaroni salad. What makes chicken katsu special is the sauce; you can buy this ready made, or make it yourself, but it’s a must! Check out this recipe at to put it together yourself, and enjoy this delicious meal!

Genesis: God Speaks Function Into the Cosmos

Picture the following: a pile of walnuts in the shell, a knife, a hammer, an orange, and an apple. How would you categorize these items? In which category would you put each item? You might group the nuts, apple and orange together as food, and the knife and hammer together as tools. But you might also say the hammer goes with the nuts, as it can smash open their shells, and the knife goes with the apple and orange, because it allows you to cut them. Depending on how you categorized these items, you have likely given away the way in which you see the world – whether you associate items based on function or form. Form puts things in “like” categories, for example, food and tools. Function connects objects based on the functional connection between them, like the hammer and nuts; and apple, orange, and knife.

While this exercise is an interesting way through which to determine how you see the world, what does it have to do with Genesis? Recently I (Michael) discovered this exercise is extremely helpful in understanding the book of Genesis as a whole, but especially the opening creation narratives. In preparing to teach Genesis to the SBS at YWAM Turner Valley, I found a great deal of help in the Genesis: NIV Application Commentary written by John H. Walton. One of his primary focuses was the difference in worldview between the original audience and our contemporary worldview. He writes of the worldview of the ancient Near East (ANE), which we discover through reading the records left by different people groups who surrounded the Israelites when Moses wrote Genesis. While these people are different from us today in many respects, one of the greatest differences is that the people of the ANE were more interested in function, as opposed to our modern Western preference for form. Many of the questions I bring to Genesis come from my place of seeing form as primary. Because of the effect of Enlightenment thinking on my worldview, I see matter as all that matters. I see something existing because of how and from what it is made. People from the ANE, however, see something existing because of its specific function, with the form really coming from the function.

These ideas can have a profound effect on how one reads the opening of Genesis. Looking at function first does not remove classic interpretations of the text, but enhances them. Moses’s audience is not asking the same questions of the story of creation that we ask today, because their worldview is different. I am interested in how God made something out of nothing, and I would love for Genesis to give me the proof I need of how in seven days, God manufactured the materials of the cosmos. The interest of someone with a function perspective (like those of the ANE), however, is of how God created purpose, role, or function into creation. In the creation mythology (I’m not suggesting Genesis is a myth, but that in the ANE, myths were records of worldview), the true power of the gods was not in creating out of nothing, but in calling forth destiny into what was created. The God of Israel is shown demonstrating power, calling function out, and bringing order into chaos. In the six days of creation, this is what we see. On Day Two, for instance, the heavens are created. Their function was to separate the waters below the heavens from the waters above the heavens. What is not mentioned (to the frustration of our Western modern outlook) is where the waters came from in the first place. How they came to be is not as important to the author and the original audience, as the demonstration of God’s power in calling out the role of the heavens into being, with a word. The form will follow the ascribed function. This continues on through not only the first chapter, but chapter two, where we might wonder (as I did) why two creation narratives with slightly different details are necessary. The answer is that Moses shows two different functions within one creation, being brought further. The first is the function of the cosmos; the second the specific function of the blessing God has spoken over humanity: that they would be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion over the earth. This is why we see man and Eden and woman being created: so the blessing may have everything it needs to function.

We serve a God who speaks destiny, function, purpose, and role over that which is, as Genesis 1:2 says, “without form and void.” As a result, function, purpose, and role are created. Many of our lives could be said to be without form and void, covered in darkness before we surrendered our lives to Jesus, but after, when we are able to hear the words of God spoken over us, destiny and purpose start to take shape. We discover that the same God who spoke order into chaos in creation, can speak order into the chaos of our lives. This encouragement was needed by Moses’ readers, who stood on the edge of the Promised Land. They needed to know that the God who spoke out their role of being the people of God, was the same God who spoke the earth’s role over it. I hope you will trust the words of destiny, purpose, function, and role God has spoken over you, and in trusting God, step out into what God has spoken. If God spoke purpose and function into the cosmos, I believe He can be trusted to do the same in your life.

Book Review: Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

I’m sure I’m not the only person to read Unbroken, the biography of Louis Zamperini, following the release of the movie by the same name, but I may have been one of the only people who was totally unaware of the amazing story of this man’s survival through over 40 days at sea, and years in a POW camp, during World War II. If you don’t know Zamperini’s story and you’re going to watch the movie or read the book, be warned that the following review will probably spoil any element of surprise for you.


Unbroken follows the life of Louis Zamperini in five parts: his years as a delinquent youth turned Olympic athlete, the beginning of his time as an airman in the Army Air Forces, the crash that led to his being at sea for over 40 days (surrounded by sharks on a poorly equipped raft), his time as a prisoner of war in Japan, and his life after the war (particularly his experience in coming to a personal relationship with Christ). At nearly 400 pages, the detail with which Hillenbrand tells Zamperini’s story is staggering. Unbroken is filled with information about Olympic records, planes that flew in the American Army Air Forces, the statistics of causalities in those air crafts, the biological effects of malnourishment and thirst, and the brutality Zamperini and so many others faced in POW camps. The latter details were certainly the most difficult to read, reminding me that the brokenness of our world knows no bounds, and that the only antidote for that brokenness is Christ. Zamperini faced extreme cruelty, a cruelty that is all too common when we learn of the brutalities of wartime.

Though this book made me feel so tense I couldn’t put it down because I just had to finish it to reach some resolution, there were beautiful moments throughout, especially when Hillenbrand reflected glimmers of Zamperini’s journey towards God. Though Zamperini didn’t give his life to Christ until he reluctantly attended a Billy Graham crusade well after the war, there are hints of his eventual conversion as Zamperini recognizes the goodness of God, and His presence, even in his most desperate moments. For instance, after his thirty-fourth day at sea, Louie and fellow crash-survivor Phil, came to “the doldrums,” described as “the eerie pause of wind and water that lingers around the equator” (p. 166):

It was an experience of transcendence. Phil watched the sky, whispering that it looked like a pearl. The water looked so solid that it seemed they could walk across it. When a fish broke the surface far away, the sound carried to the men with absolute clarity. They watched as pristine ringlets of water circled outward around the place where the fish had passed, then faded to stillness…As he watched this beautiful, still world, Louie played with a thought that had come to him before. He had thought it as he had watched hunting seabirds, marveling at their ability to adjust their dives to compensate for the refraction of light in water. He had thought it as he had considered the pleasing geometry of the sharks, their gradation of color, their slide through the sea. He even recalled the thought coming to him in his youth, when he had lain on the roof of the cabin in the Cahuilla Indian Reservation, looking up from Zane Grey to watch night settling over the earth. Such beauty, he thought, was too perfect to have come about by mere chance” (p. 166).

While this book was gripping and the story well-told, I would have liked to have seen the same attention to detail around Zamperini’s conversion as was given concerning his time at sea and in POW camps. The fifth part of this book was quite short in comparison to others, and while that part of his story may not be as action-packed as being surrounded by sharks or surviving horrific conditions, it is the most important part of Zamperini’s story, because it is the beginning of his true life with Christ.

Unbroken is definitely a worthwhile read, and a real reminder of the need of the whole world for Christ. Zamperini’s story is an amazing testament to the human spirit, but knowing how God spared his life, the real testimony is of the power of God, both in the midst of tragedy and in the aftermath, where forgiveness is as much of a miracle as surviving against all odds.

Recipe of the Week: One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs

One of the great challenges of cooking for a crowd, is taking into account the allergies and preferences of all the people I’m cooking for. It is a rare dish that satisfies everyone, no matter what food they grew up with, no matter their intolerances. This one-pot paprika chicken thighs dish, from, was not only popular, it was very easy to make, and served with rice and salad, made for a filling supper on Tuesday evening. I multiplied the recipe by three, and it served about twenty-four people.


One-pot paprika chicken thighs, photo courtesy of

The only changes I made to the recipe was to cut the chicken thighs into pieces after browning them (to stretch the meal a little further), and to use cornstarch instead of flour to thicken, making this a gluten-free meal. Oh, and because I didn’t have any white wine, I just added extra chicken stock. I made this dish with the wine for Michael and I over the Christmas break, and it was delish…so if you have the wine, use it, but if not, it’s not a deal breaker. For the recipe, head over to!

Book Review: The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

As I (Helen) was thinking of books to order from the library to kick off my reading goals for 2015, it seemed The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd, was being recommended left, right, and center in the blogging world. Having now just finished it, I understand why. This book is captivating, beautifully written, and impossible to put down. Inspired by the real life story of sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké, I love that this book is rooted in the heroic actions of real women who would not sit idly by in a world where slavery and gender inequality were the norm.


While The Invention of Wings is based on the real lives of the Grimké sisters, Kidd incorporates the story of Hetty “Handful” Grimké into her storytelling. An urban slave in the household of the Grimké family, chapters dedicated to Hetty highlight her life’s story and perspective, and alternate with chapters viewing events through Sarah Grimké’s eyes. Handful is a fictional character, added by Kidd to make real the perspectives of those who owned slaves and those who were enslaved, but the book simply could not do without her. As Kidd says in her author’s note, “From the moment I decided to write about Sarah Grimké, I felt compelled to also create the story of an enslaved character, giving her a life and a voice that could be entwined with Sarah’s. I felt I couldn’t write the novel otherwise, that both of their worlds would have to be represented here.” Though Hetty “Handful” is fictional, she too, is based in historical record; as a young girl, Sarah Grimké was given a young slave named Hetty to be her handmaid. Sarah taught Hetty to read, which was against the law, and from Sarah’s records, it seems the two became close. Nothing else is known about Hetty, but what is imagined by Kidd propels the story forward.

In The Invention of Wings, at a young age, Sarah is traumatized by seeing the whipping of a slave. This renders her mute for several weeks, and results in a stammer that comes and goes throughout her adult life. More importantly, the event solidifies for Sarah the evils of slavery. She determines at a young age that she will become a lawyer, but in the early 1800’s, this was a ludicrous notion for a woman, who could only hope to marry well and bear children. As she grows older and her opinions of slavery become more and more inconvenient for her family, who own a plantation in Charleston, Sarah is increasingly ostracized. She and her younger sister, Angelina “Nina” Grimké, would go on to become some of most influential abolitionists and women’s rights activists in America, but not without much heartache, upheaval, violence, and upset to family, friends, church, and their home city of Charleston. Handful’s story is beautifully woven throughout, allowing the reader to follow Sarah and Handful through thirty-five years of a relationship which is at times as innocent as two little girls drinking tea in celebration of a reading milestone reached, while at other times is a picture of the brokenness of our fallen world. I loved both characters for their determination to build their own lives, despite the tremendous societal influences and evils that attempted to dictate what their lives would be.

Clear a weekend off your schedule, and set it aside to read The Invention of Wings.

Bible Overview (in 5 minutes and 47 seconds)!

One of the main opportunities we have in the Titus Project is to teach Bible Overview. We cover God’s plan of redemption, tracing His promises through the Bible, focusing on the character of God, creation, and the fall of man, and then looking at key steps in God’s plan: His promise of redemption, the call of Abraham, the Law, the promise of an eternal kingdom, Jesus, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the second coming. It’s a huge privilege to be able to teach the big picture story of God’s Word, showing how it all fits together. While these teachings are an overview of the Bible, we do get to go into some details, focus in on key themes and applications we can make in our lives today, so it takes a bit more time than 5 minutes and 47 seconds!

Recently, we discovered this great video that overviews much of the Bible in under six minutes, and wanted to share it. The people behind this video (The Bible Project) are working on developing videos for every book of the Bible. Right now they’ve done videos for Genesis and Exodus. If this Bible overview video captures your interest, check out their other work, and if you’d like more detailed Bible overview teaching, we’d love to point you in the direction of some great resources – just contact us!