Cooking

New and Noteworthy

More Peas, Please
Simply in Season Children's Cookbook, by Mark Beach and Julie Kauffman, is the kid-friendly version of the beloved Mennonite Central Committee cookbook. Segmented according to seasons, its sections include recipes—such as Corny Cornbread and Green Monster Soup—and tips on planting and growing fruits and vegetables, and it concludes with prayers to say around the table. It's a fun way to introduce kids, especially 6- to 12-year-olds, to food and cooking. Herald Press

Appreciating Lent
"The 40 days of Lent are an inversion of the spirit," begins Marty Bullis in The Passionate Journey. As the Northern world moves from winter to spring, he writes, the Christian moves into darkness—into the death of Jesus. The book includes 41 devotions; each contains scripture readings, short reflections from Bullis that focus on the gospel passage, bidding prayers, and space for journaling. The appendix contains a helpful Lenten liturgy for small groups. Regal Books

Rebuilding Lives
Choices: On the Way to Peace is a valuable resource for individuals or small groups who want to study forgiveness, healing, and peacebuilding. John Steward directs participants through the DVD's three sessions, which move from revenge to restoration, with first-person stories from survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan massacre as guides. The level of pain involved is never downplayed; that forgiveness can occur in such brutal conditions is truly miraculous. www.rwandanstories.org

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Sojourners Magazine March 2007
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The Joy of Letter Writing

For quite a few winters now, I have watched a great joy of mine turn slowly into sadness: No one writes letters anymore, a fact that is especially noticeable at Christmas card time. Is it that friends—as they have graduated from school, acquired jobs, gotten married or not, added children—are just too busy for such things? Has the art of letter writing been usurped by e-mail? Is it that many people never really liked writing letters in the first place (although everybody likes receiving letters)?

I'm guessing that people who say "I'm too busy to cook" are the same ones who don't make the time for letters either. Many of the reasons for why I cook mirror my motives for writing letters.

Just as hot-out-of-the-oven bread gives wondrous pleasure to anyone lucky enough to be within nose-shot of that kitchen, so finding a plump, hand-lettered envelope after opening the mailbox and rifling through the junk is an equally exquisite pleasure. Like bread, letters are a tactile pleasure unduplicatable by the ring of the telephone or the blinking neon of a computer: Paper comes in all thicknesses; ink has a smell and a way of changing appearance as the mood or speed of the writer changes; even the lowly postage stamp adds a colorful and festive air to a letter.

The act of cooking often is as pleasurable as the eating. Just so, writing a letter can be as cathartic as receiving one. Your life takes on color and shape when its events are spun out onto paper. Patterns emerge. You discover things you didn't know were going on in your head—there they are coming out at the end of the pen. You find you can make others laugh at the crazy things you saw people do that day; things seem to get funnier by the very act of telling.

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 1997
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Tolerating Food Intolerances

"No thanks, it makes me sick." "Let’s see, if I leave the milk out of these rolls Sheila can eat them." "Will Dad eat birthday cake tonight (and go off his wheat-free diet) because it’s a special occasion?"

In many homes, food allergies have added an extra twist to decisions that go on in the kitchen. While the official number of people with serious allergies is low—2 percent of adults and 8 percent of children—considerably more people have what is known as a "food intolerance." In fact, as many as 25 to 28 percent of us have reactions to certain foods. Does cantaloupe give your stomach a workout? Does chocolate give you a migraine headache? Do strawberries give you a skin rash? Do you avoid shellfish? Then you already know what I’m talking about.

Parents often have to educate themselves quickly on the intricacies of the body’s immune system when a child develops a milk or a peanut allergy. (A certain protein found in peanuts has caused more food allergy deaths, usually by anaphylactic shock, than any other type of allergy, because peanuts often are hidden in baked goods, candy, ethnic food, i.e. as when a Chinese restaurant seals its egg rolls with peanut butter.)

Food allergy symptoms can take the form of hives, headaches, gastrointestinal distress (cramps, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting), asthma, worsening of arthritis or eczema, or oral manifestations where the lips tingle, itch, and swell, or your throat tightens.

Reactions such as these can be caused by a genuine triggering of the immune system by the enemy substance, or it may be merely an inability to metabolize or break down certain foods because of a sensitivity to a naturally occurring chemical contained in that food, i.e. lactose in milk. (It has been estimated that 80 percent of African Americans are lactose intolerant, as are many people of Mediterranean or Latin American origin.)

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1997
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