Friday, June 20, 2014

Tony's Fresh-Picked Homemade Mulberry Pie

So I was mowing the soccer field today at church when I spotted a mulberry tree on our property line loaded with dark purple mulberries.  I made a mental note to return and pick a some, so when I got the mower stuck and had to wait for Nathan to come tow me out, I had the perfect chance to pick a bunch. A college friend was coming over to the Currey's later in the evening, so I told Nathan I would bring some Mulberry Pie.  He was clearly skeptical (keep in mind, he's a food snob). I noticed Janey made some dessert, because evidently she doubted my baking prowess also.  I showed them.

I have only made one other pie in my life, it was strawberry.  I figured, how hard is making a fruit based pie?  Just make the fruit sweeter, but retain it's natural flavor, put it in a good tasting crust, and slap on some kind of whipped topping.

I looked up a basic Mulberry Pie recipe online and found what I was looking for.  I wanted to make a pie for after dinner, and another for when my family would be back home from the mission trip tomorrow.

Here's how I did it:

After soaking the mulberries to clean them of any insects, dirt, etc., I picked all the stems off, washing again as I went.  Here they are in the main bowl before I cleaned them the last time.

Then I measured 6 cups of mulberries and put them in to a stainless steel mixing bowl. It has to be stainless, because these suckers stain something awful.

 I added 2 1/2 cups of sugar, about a cup and a half of flour, and turned on the mixer for few minutes.

I poured the sweet mulberry goo in to two pre-made pastry pie crusts.  I put them in the fridge for 30 minutes while the oven pre-heated to 400.

I put them in the oven at 400 for 15 minutes. Then I dropped the temperature to 350 for 30 more minutes (as per a recipe I got from "").

I took out of the oven and let cool. I didn't have much time to let the first one cool as it was due to be eaten within an hour an a half.  It was a little soupy when I brought it over to the Currey's.  The second one set up perfectly and is awaiting consumption for tomorrow.

 I put a thick layer of cool whip on the top. This was my adaptation to the recipe I got on the internet. The recipe suggested a lattice style pastry crust on top. I don't know how to make crust, so I opted for no top, but rather a topping instead.  Whipped cream made sense because, after all, anything is good with cheese, bacon, chocolate, or whipped cream, right?

We cut it up and ate it.  It was delicious.  I can't wait to eat the other one tomorrow.

Perhaps, during fruit season, I will go around to places and find stuff to make pies with.  Did you know mulberries are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

All of us dads are in some way flailing and failing...

Well, I know some pretty great dads, and I'm not one. I'm just not. I'm learning. I have improved in some areas, but keep finding weak spots as my children grow and challenge me with new behaviors or issues.

I love my children massively. But I screw up with them plenty. I regularly pray my children won't be too messed up because of my many foibles. My wife helps me and covers for me a ton. I wish I knew what I know now, back when we had our first child. I think I could do better with the knowledge I have fifteen years in, Right? Maybe I'm dreaming.

So what hope is there for fathers like me? Well, honestly, I need other fathers. I need other brothers hacking away at fatherhood along side me, and I need my children to see it. Hopefully my children will understand how hard parenting is when they see a bunch of us doing it the best we can..which isn't very good a lot of the time. Hopefully we're all honest about our sin and shortcomings with our children. Hopefully we're quick to repent and run to Jesus. Hopefully, when my children's view of a professing Christian man is messed up because of me…they look elsewhere in the church and see more consistent models. Maybe, once and a while, I can provide that for someone else's kid.

I'm not making excuses for not doing better. I am just saying that I don't know too many guys who could be faithful, effective fathers in a vacuum. Fatherhood in community with others is a big part of my hope for my own sons as they become fathers some day. My Dad was a good father, but he's not the only model of fatherhood I had, thank God. All of us dads are in some way flailing and failing, but as a team, maybe we can cobble together a picture of fatherhood that nurtures our children. Maybe, such a transparent collective effort will be used by God to make the only perfect, loving, faithful, gracious Father there is, be all the more attractive.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My 2014 World Cup Thoughts

Today begins the greatest team sports tournament on earth- the World Cup.  Like the Olympics, this epic contest occurs only once every four years.  Futbol (soccer) is the global game.  Almost every country plays.  For four years teams have been working to qualify for this moment.

There are eight pools of 4 teams to begin the tournament.  Only two teams per pool advance to the knockout stage, which is your classic bracket style, single elimination tournament.

I think the strongest teams, in order, are:

1. Brazil
2. Argentina
3. Spain
4. Germany
5. Columbia

Who will win? Argentina has the weakest pool, and should advance easily, and well tuned.  They have crafted their team and style around the greatest player of this generation (maybe of all time), Lionel Messi.  If they hit on all cylinders and Messi produces, not even Brazil can defeat them.  Germany is always a threat to win, being the most consistent national team over the decades.  Brazil is powerful, talented...and young.  If the tournament was to be decided by sheer talent, Brazil would win.  Pressure to win will be intense in their homeland.  Brazil has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to have the World Cup in their country.  While soccer is adored there, paying so much money for World Cup preparation and support has angered many citizens of the relatively poor country.  Failing to win the Cup would be considered a HUGE disappointment for Brazil at any World Cup- but losing in their homeland would be unbearable.  I cannot rule out Spain, despite an aging line up.  Some of the greatest players on earth are Spanish- Villa, Xavi, Picque, Puyol, etc. Columbia is a strong team, but minus their superstar, Falcao (knee injury), it will be tough for them to knock off a team like Germany.  They are still dangerous and could contend for Cup glory.

How will the U.S. do?  This is their strongest team ever.  Klinsman's choice to leave Donovan off the roster was a mistake, in my opinion. It was a gutsy move by the German manager and we'll see if it pays off.  For this World Cup to be a success for America, the team must advance to the knock out round of 16.  I can't see this happening.  They are in a brutal pool.  Germany-Ghana-Portugal!!!  They play Ghana first, and MUST win.  Then, they need at least a tie with Portugal, which is no small task with Cristiano Ronaldo and several other talented players on their roster.  If they get a win and a tie in the first two games AND Germany comes in to the third game (against U.S.) with two wins, maybe the Germans will put out their "B" team having already secured a place in the round of 16.  If that happens, we have a chance.  On personal and local note- I really want to see KC native, Matt Besler do well in this Cup.  Likewise, Sporting KC player, Graham Zusi is playing a key role and carrying the pride of our city on his shoulders.

Who is the player to watch? I know most would say Messi or Ronaldo.  High scoring, attacking players get all the focus and lots of the glory.  There would be no goals scored, however, if it wasn't for the midfield.  In particular, those central players who stays in back of the charge and guide the mids and forwards in the attack.  We're talking the Iniesta-type players.  The box to box midfielders who are the engines of the team.  NOTHING happens without these kinds of players. My favorite of all time, in this role, is Andrea Pirlo (pictured above).  I just don't think there have been too many better- and certainly for not as long.  He's been dominating the "regista" position for fifteen years.  This is his last World Cup-his fourth overall.  He was a key reason Italia won the Cup in 2006.  Pirlo has received high praise over the years, but something Boniek said not too long ago sums him up- "To pass the ball to Andrea Pirlo is like to hide it in a safe."

Concentration will be difficult for the next month because the World Cup has begun.  May the best team win, and may every player compete in each game like it's the last one of their life.