Skip The Chinese Take-Out

I thought I would post the recipe for the egg drop soup I made the other day, mainly because I absolutely loved it. I used as a model the soup recipes that Mike posted in the comments, from Mark Bittman’s work at the NYT.  I’m going to briefly describe it here, in my own words so as to avoid copyright or some weird thing like that, and I’ve also done a few changes to impact flavor and protein content.  I also hope my description of the process of cooking the recipe will help you avoid some of the little paranoias I had while preparing it, especially related to whether I had the right ingredients and whether the broth was the right color.

I would also add, those recipes from the NYT all work together, and from the description of the recipe I’m making one could make two more soups just by slightly altering the procedure — so check out that link!  I also added a “final touch” that really, in my estimation, took the soup from good to great.

Egg drop soup has always been one of those mysterious things that you get at Chinese restaurants, and while it’s usually good, it’s also usually quite brothy, fairly low on actual egg content, and definitely an appetizer.  This recipe, by contrast, is much more geared towards providing a full dinner, especially if served with some fresh raw or roasted veggies.

Ingredients:

2 carrots

2 celery ribs

2 onions (I used just one because I didn’t have two, but think two would give the broth even more flavor)

10 button mushrooms

1 potato

fresh parsley

1 block firm/extra firm tofu, cubed (1/2″ cubes)

1/2 oz. dried poncini (optional)

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup chopped scallions, plus some for garnish

1 T soy sauce

1 T sesame oil

1 lemon

Make a mirepoix (a mixture of approximately equal chopped celery, carrots, and onions) and toss into about 8 cups of water in a medium stock pot or large saucepan.  Chop and add a potato (I used two very small potatoes, one russet and one yukon gold, and would suggest this as the normal baking potatoes are very starchy), a generous amount of parsley (Bittman suggests 10 sprigs) and slice and add the button mushrooms.  Bittman suggests adding some dried poncini, but I didn’t have any and it was fine.  Salt and pepper the water (be generous with the salt, but don’t go overboard.  The soy sauce will add some salt later, and the “final touch” that should unite everything and really cut down on the amount of salt you’ll need).

Put the oven burner on high heat, and once the water boils, reduce heat to a simmer, stir well, and cover.  Allow to simmer for thirty minutes (or more, depends on how hungry you are).  When the veggies are soft, strain out the broth.  I strained several times for a more “consomme” style broth.  You might want to set aside the vegetables for another use; they could be mixed with store-bought vegetable stock and lentils, for instance, for another soup later in the week.

At this point, you will notice the broth is the normal brown of a good vegetable stock.  While it is true that egg drop soup is normally a very clear color, don’t worry about it at all.

Before you start reheating, throw in the tofu (this will give the soup an extra protein kick, especially if you’re using this as a full-meal kind of soup, and provide some textural contrast to the finished product).  Taste the broth to be sure it’s salted enough, but again, remember that the soy sauce and the “final touch” will make up for some of the salt, so don’t go overboard!  (I didn’t do this, but I am thinking that if you want to throw in just a few — maybe two — VERY thinly sliced mushrooms at this point, it would be a nice addition to the soup.)  Also, before you start reheating, be sure your chopped scallions are ready, you won’t want to get to the point where you add them and realize they aren’t chopped yet, as time will be pressing.

At this point, I added the sesame oil and the soy sauce.  Bittman suggests waiting until after the next step, but honestly, I didn’t like that idea and this worked fine.

Once everything is chopped, your egg is beaten, and you are feeling confident and in a winning mood, turn the burner to high heat and boil the strained stock.  Once you reach a good boil, reduce heat to a simmer and begin SLOWLY pouring in the eggs (use a measuring cup with a spout for the easiest pour).  Keep in mind that, at this stage, the slow pour and the stirring means your simmering temperature will be a bit higher than it was when you were making the stock.  Stir constantly as you pour to break up the eggs.  You will notice that the broth will lighten significantly in this step, becoming the lighter yellow color associated with classical egg drop soups.

Once the eggs are poured and the broth has cooked them for 1-2 minutes, stir in 1/4 cups of chopped scallions.  You are now ready to serve!

The “final touch” is easy to add, and I highly recommend it.  I had a small bowl with the touch and a small bowl without, and the difference between the two is pronounced.  After preparing a bowl, grab a zester (if you don’t have one, you can substitute a cheese grater or even a fork) and zest a little bit of lemon peel directly into the bowl.  As with all zesting, avoid cutting too deep into the bitter white rind, focusing only on the yellow bits.  This will release essential citrus oils into the soup, giving it a wonderful fragrance and subtle kick to the flavor.  Garnish each bowl with a pinch of your chopped scallions, and enjoy!

Thoughts on something sad

I came across the following post this morning, and it really breaks my heart. In it, “Cop’s Wife” explains the aftermath of a simply beautiful post she made around Halloween, “My Son is Gay.”  The new post, “Epilogue,” is about the way the church preschool where she took her children kicking her out for that post…accusing her of violations of the Eighth Commandment.  I recently preached my first real sermon on the Eighth Commandment.  Doesn’t mean I know everything about it, of course, but enough to know that it sounds like the pastor in this case is misjudging the semantic between the terms “exercising Christian chastisement towards a violater of the eight commandment” and “finding flimsy pretext to abuse a parishioner.”  This is what the pastor did:

The second discussion was a face-to-face meeting during which Squirt was present. I was handed a printout of the church’s response. There had been a meeting with some Elders, and they decided I’d broken the 8th Commandmentand not followed Matthew 18. I was told that some members were worried that I was “promoting gayness.” I don’t even know what that means. The words I had written were not promoting anything other than unconditional love and tolerance. My post was about bullying and how my son was treated. My post was about a 5-year-old child. Pastor said he “tried to be mad at me, but couldn’t.” I didn’t and don’t understand why he would want to be mad at me. Again, Boo’s well-being was not mentioned.

There’s some of this that I won’t touch.  The whole “promoting gayness” thing, well, these folks are wrong and I have no intention of fighting that battle with them.  On this point, what they have to say about gayness I hold as wrong and thoroughly without charity, and with 1 Corinthians 13 as my authority I will interlocute with them on the subject no further.

But what is striking to me is the invocation of Matthew 18.  I assume that the verse the church is considering highly is 6: “‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”  Which probably means the church thinks that dressing up as a woman will somehow make this child gay, and thus be an occasion for stumbling.

Yet in the post as it was presented, the child came forth with the desire to be Daphne.  The child conceived the idea; and when he had doubts, his mother encouraged him to face the world bravely, and not only that…in so doing she evinced a clear conviction that the world did not have to be a place where children and adults abuse each other for any reason, heaping ridicule on one another, but rather supporting and building each other up.  Such a evidenced faith in what the world can be is, in my mind, a hallmark of what Christians claim the world is, in that it is the end towards which the created community moves.

But I’m getting farther afield than I intended.  The verses the church is presumably citing in defense of its bald-faced abuse miss the beginning of the chapter, 18:1-5:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

The pertinent points are two: a five-year-old boy has chosen to dress up like a woman for Halloween.  What might it be like if, instead of punishing or preventing him, we thought of how we might become LIKE him?  There is a beauty in his act, an innocence of circumscribed and socially-constructed gender roles, to act in this world as if rules of outward form and performance are unimportant and adhere only to the movement of the spirit in the moment.  Would that all God’s children were gifted with such wise innocence!

And the second point is more pertinent: in rejecting this family from their church and thus their church preschool, as the epilogue suggests, this church has willed NOT to welcome this child, or his two siblings.  That’s, on my counts, THREE separate Christs that this church has rejected, if we are to take Matthew 18:5 as seriously as Jesus does.

And so the only question remaining is, how does this pastor sleep at night?

Mean While

It’s been a long time since I posted anything, mainly because I’ve been busy playing video games, reading books, going to work, and loving my significant other.  But now that school has started up again I have less time to play video games, which means that I’m reading books, going to class/work, loving my significant other, and also doing other things here and there, and I’m going to try to be more…devoted…to writing in this thing every once in a while.

For the present, suffice it to say that this is my sermon text for Friday’s preaching praxis.  Matthew 1:18-25.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“Look, the virgin shall conceive
and bear a son,
and they shall name him
Emmanuel,”

which means, God is with us.”  When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

I don’t really know what I want to do with this text.  I have one or two little ideas, but nothing big, and Friday is approaching.  There’s a lot I could say about this text from feminist perspectives, of course.  But my heart’s not in it.  I don’t know, though, something about the “do not be afraid” part is talking to me, especially because there are two more angel-speaks-to-Joseph vignettes in which the angel is like “dude someone’s gonna kill your family” and “hey bro the would-be baby killers died” and it seems much more appropriate to say do not be afraid in those contexts.  But I don’t know.  That’s not a lot to start on.

Anyway I’m gonna be posting more often, hopefully, maybe.  This year will probably be a lot more religious just because I’m working at a church and that’s on my mind a lot.

Christ Comes to Our Humanity

One of the things I do with my spare time, and sometimes one of the things I do with my time that isn’t spare, is write new words to old hymn tunes.  I am particularly interested in writing hymns that focus on certain concerns of Christianity I feel need real expression in fresh ways in every clime and culture: creation, providence, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and eschatology.

In writing these hymns, I strive to think of these notions as enmeshed with one another.  For example, I cannot think of the crucifixion, of the pain and torture it entailed for a real human body, without also holding up the incarnation, a moment that reminds us Christians that it was not only a human body suffering on that cross, but the divine body of God.  Take John 14:8-10*:

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

And so when I write hymns, I try to include and connect these doctrines with one another: they are, in my mind, incomprehensible without the connection.  If Jesus is merely a human dying on the cross to pay off in blood and pain some cosmic injustice, the Christianity is an ugly religion with an ugly god who demands torn flesh as a payment for sin.  But if Jesus is God, then the crucifixion is God’s expression of a solidarity and relationship with humanity that goes so deep as to understand the most extreme pains and heartaches that characterize human sadness and the failure of justice.

So in light of this thinking, I present a hymntext written recently.  After the jump!

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