Thursday, July 26, 2012

Recipe: BLT Panzanella Salad

Summertime always brings back memories of the gorgeous bright red tomatoes my mom's dad, whom we called Papa would bring to us as gifts from his garden.  They were still warm from the sun, and when combined with the salty bacon and crispy lettuce, along with the crumbly white toast (what is it that's so comforting about toasted bread?) and a healthy dollop of mayo, it was like summer on a plate. This is my slightly healthier version.

Serves 4

For the Salad:

1/2 large loaf ciabatta bread, cubed
3 small to medium sized tomatoes, largely diced
3 ounces turkey bacon cubed
3 handfuls arugula roughly chopped

Creamy Lemon Dressing:

1/2  lemon, juiced
zest of 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon leftover bacon drippings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons low-fat or non-fat plain Greek Yogurt
Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

1.      Preheat oven to 350.
2.      In a single layer on a cookie sheet, place cubed bread. Toast in oven until golden and dried through completely.
3.      In a medium sized saute pan, cook bacon until slightly crispy and nicely browned. Remove to paper towels, reserve 1 tsp drippings.
4.      Combine the dijon, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to taste.
5.      Whisk together bacon drippings and olive oil, then add in a slow stream to Dijon mixture.
6.      Once dressing is emulsified, whisk in Greek yogurt until fully incorporated and slightly creamy.
7.      Toss tomatoes, bacon, bread, salt and fresh cracked black pepper with dressing.
8.      Just before serving, toss in arugula. Check for seasoning, serve.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong with Mark Tabb

"Twenty years ago I ran for my life as I tried to escape the soldiers with guns. Today, I run for my life as I chase down the incredible opportunity God has laid out in front of me. I was a lost boy, surviving on one meager meal a day, a boy who looked forward to garbage days because eating trash gave me the best meal of the week. Not anymore. I ran in the camp to survive. Now I run to help others not only survive, but thrive." ( excerpt from "Running For My Life" by Lopez Lomong with Mark Tabb, page 226)

Running For My Life is an astonishing, beautifully written story about Lopez Lomong and his "life story", starting from the age of six. This young man was kidnapped, ripped from his mother's arms, while attending church one day in his village in southern Sudan. He was imprisoned and made to suffer terrible conditions until he and some friends escaped. Trying to return to their home village, they ended up in Kenya instead, and there he lived for the next 10 years in the refugee camp. Lomong chronicles his experiences in the camp, as well as his amazing journey to America and the Olympics, in a beautiful, simple, sweet way. I am most impressed by his ability to tell the story so matter-of-factly, not complaining, not embellishing, and not dramatizing (not that it needs ANY dramatization, the story is dramatic enough). As I read, I literally laughed out loud and cried tears of sadness and of joy. This was a book that I hated putting down, even for a moment. I came away inspired, motivated to do more to help others, grateful for the life I live (and too often take for granted), and peaceful, knowing that yes, indeed, God is in charge, and He is aware of ALL of us, no matter our circumstances.
When Lopez Lomong was water baptized in a refuge camp in Kenya as a teenager, his name was changed from Lopepe to Joseph, and although he continues to use his childhood nickname, Lopez, this man is a modern-day Joseph in almost every way.Lopez's humility and perspective will open your eyes and help you appreciate what you've been given in a new way. His unwavering trust in God will inspire your faith. His story is also much about what the American Spirit is about; finding opportunity in the midst of adversity. 

Running for My Life is not a story about Africa or track and field athletics. It is about outrunning the devil and achieving the impossible faith, diligence, and the desire to give back. It is the American dream come true and a stark reminder that saving one can help to save thousands more. Lopez Lomong chronicles his inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team. Though most of us fall somewhere between the catastrophic lows and dizzying highs of Lomong's incredible life, every reader will find in his story the human spark to pursue dreams that might seem unthinkable, even from circumstances that might appear hopeless.

For anyone who is losing a house to foreclosure, bemoaning that they can't pay their bills, or can't own the television their neighbor was able to buy, they should read this book. This is the story of a South Sudan Lost Boy who came to America and wanted to work hard.  Lopez Lomong models what America dream has always been about -  how hard work, love, and determination can help make any dream a reality. 

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day - Fight Like It's 1773!

America needs to fight like its 1773. Why 1773 and not 1776?  Visit Essex and Orange and find out the reason. Essex and Orange is back and in hot pursuit of liberty. From their site:

...just as the American colonists put their differences away and came together under God in 1773 as an army of  Davids to defeat the foreign Goliath that threatened to take their God-given freedoms away from them, we must come together in 2012 to defeat the Goliath inside and outside of America that threatens to destroy her and take our precious freedoms away our Founders set up for us that so many have fought for and died defending.
We are at a crossroads in America. We are at a similar time just before the Revolutionary War. It is time to come together as Americans and WE MUST now mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor!  For 2012 really is 1773 all over again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Review: Globequake by Wallace Henley

How can you survive in a world where every aspect of life is falling apart? How can you understand the times in which we live as well as know how to respond? What difference does the kingdom of God make in today's world?

Answering those questions is the theme of Wallace Henley's book, Globequake: Living in the Unshakeable Kingdom While the World Falls Apart. Henley divides the book into three sections. Section one gives an overview of the issues--the way in which the world is being shaken; understanding the times in which we live; the nature of the kingdom of God; and the areas of life where the kingdom can make a difference. Part two of the book goes into greater detail explaining how the kingdom of God can make a difference in six areas--person, church, family, education, government, and business/marketplace. In each of the areas Henley describes what each looks like and then gives instruction on how to strengthen the kingdom of God in each of these areas. Part three of the book emphasizes the importance of hope. Though we face a daunting challenge, we don't have to give up because the kingdom of God will triumph.

Henley is clearly an experienced author who possesses great storytelling techniques which relate his points to everyday life. As a journalist and a former White House and DC insider, and his experiences as a pastor and family man, he gives an insight few people can deliver. I feel this book would be an excellent resource for pastors who want to make their church a rock solid refuge from the storms of life. It is also a great resource for business, political, and education leaders who want to use Biblical principles to keep their ship steered in the right direction during turbulent times.His grasp of the Scriptures is profound. This is a book is a must-read for those who are concerned about what they see happening around them.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."