The Middle of the Road

I confess that I’ve never been a big fan of “watch blogs”. I think they’re often more gossip than fact. Many of them frequent in hearsay and conjecture rather than truth. They have a standard operating procedure whenever news of alleged sexual abuse makes its way to social media.

First, announce that you believe the victim! Second, the guilt of the pastor and complicity of church leadership is presupposed. Third, skip the trial and proceed immediately to sentencing in the court of public opinion.

However, while they can be rather slipshod in their approach, some watch bloggers have correctly identified a predictable pattern of behavior by church leadership when allegations of sexual abuse are made public. The initial social media response, especially from well-known evangelicals with a platform, is often, “Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law! Stop your malicious gossiping!” These responses sometimes appear “canned” and include deflection and ignoring known facts.

But, what puzzles me most is that these well-known Christian leaders, often authors, conference speakers and pastors with a substantial social media presence, defer to the judgment of manmade courts. In essence, they abdicate their biblical responsibility to the state.

In what other situation would the church do this? Would the church defer to the courts in the case of adultery? Abortion? Of course not. These are considered worthy of church discipline, though not illegal in our nation.

But, when a pastor sexually abuses a child, suddenly church leadership abdicates biblical judgment and authority to the state. “Let justice take it’s course!”

Is this truly indicative of what’s often referred to as the pastoral “good ol’ boys club”? One individual tweeted, “When it’s Matt Lauer, it’s despicable. When it’s a favorite pastor, it’s a mistake.”

It is quite an unpopular opinion to say that you think both sides are wrong. I believe that the watch bloggers are wrong, the leadership who cover up sexual abuse are wrong, and leadership with influence and a platform who provide cover and deflection are wrong. At the end of the day, they all resort to extremes. They overcorrect and land in opposite ditches, missing the truth which is often found somewhere in the middle of the road.

Jules Diner – Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches

24991373_1911752172486038_8943425350652506704_nFew recipes say “diner” quite like that comfort food classic, the hot roast beef sandwich. Melt-in-your-mouth tender roast beef with savory beef gravy and a double-dose of carbs with a thick slice of (horror!) white bread and creamy mashed potatoes.

Not something you’ll have on your menu regularly, but a this homemade version is a real treat.

JULES’ HOT ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES

3-4 lb chuck roast, well-marbled with fat trimmed. I highly recommend Aldi.
Olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
House seasoning
6 cups beef broth (I prefer Swanson©)
1 dash cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried parsley

ROUX
1 stick of butter
1/2 to 1 cup flour

SERVE WITH
Thickly sliced “Texas Toast style” white bread
Mashed potatoes

• Preheat oven to 325º -or- prepare a large slow-cooker.

• Pat the roast dry with paper towels and season both sides well with house seasoning.

• Heat a large cast iron Dutch oven (5-7 qt) over medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil.

• Sear the roast on both sides for 5-6 minutes and remove from pan.

• Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan along with the sliced onions. Sauté until just tender and slightly caramelized.

• Add the beef broth, cayenne pepper, garlic, bay leaf, basil and parsley to the pan and stir to combine.

• Return the seared roast to the pan, cover and place in the preheated oven for 4-5 hours -or- transfer to the slow-cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

• When the roast is very tender, remove it from the pan and shred. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Tip: For quick and easy shredding of beef, chicken or pork, place it into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 20-30 seconds.

• For the gravy: Place the Dutch oven with the liquids over medium heat. If using a slow-cooker, pour the liquid into a large pot. If the liquid has reduced add enough beef broth to make 6-8 cups of liquid. Bring it to a very low boil.

• Slice the butter into pats and melt it in a large microwave-safe mug. Sprinkle in enough flour to make a very thick roux, approximately 1/2 cup or more. Stir well. The roux will be stiff.

• Add the roux to the gently boiling stock and stir vigorously with a whisk or a submersion blender, until the gravy thickens.

• Return shredded beef to the gravy and combine beef and gravy. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed.

• To serve, diner-style: Place a slice of white bread on a plate and spoon about 1/2 cup of the beef and gravy mixture over top. Place a large spoonful of mashed potatoes on top and top with more beef and gravy.

Crass Misogyny and the Christian Male

CrassIf I may share a few observations…Having followed several of the more welI-known men in this klatch since 2007, I believe that we’re seeing the American Civic Religion on display in these tweets. By this I mean a blending of American political conservatism with the church.

In too many cases the church has been pickled with the idea of conservative politics. BTWN and Fred Butler’s mockery and scorn is directed toward politically liberal women. They’ve failed to recognize the actual sin issue which is prevalent in both our culture and some of the church today…the very real abuse of women. Instead, they practice mockery, scorn and derision. This seems to indicate, at the very least, an abject insensitivity or the sin of misogyny. It also demonstrates the sin of scoffing, something which is clearly addressed in Psalm 1:1.

As Christians, this should lead us directly back to the Scriptural standard, a bar which is set very high, for men in church leadership.

“…namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” – Titus 1:6-9

Some of these men have clearly disqualified themselves and we should have nothing to do with them.

Smothered Burritos

A great weeknight meal that’s quick, easy and full of flavor. Makes great leftovers, too!

Medium yellow onion, diced

Olive oil

1 lb ground beef

Goya Sazonador Total Seasoning

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp black pepper

14 oz can black beans, drained

10 oz can tomatoes and chilies, undrained

4 oz can chopped green chilies

4 gloves garlic, minced

1 small can tomato paste

28 oz can green enchilada sauce

Cheddar cheese, shredded

Flour tortillas

•  In a large skillet, saute the yellow onion in olive oil until tender.  Add the ground beef and break up into a fine consistency.  Saute until browned.

•  Season with Goya Sazonador Total Seasoning, cumin, salt, oregano and black pepper.

•  Add black beans, tomatoes and chilies, green chilies, garlic and tomato paste. Stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

•  Spoon filling into flour tortilla, add shredded cheese and roll close. Place into 9×13 casserole dish.  Fill dish and then pour green enchilada sauce over burritos.  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350º for 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Chicken Turnovers with Lemon Glaze

Chicken TurnoverCHICKEN TURNOVERS

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp dried basil

Kosher salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Meat of one whole Chicken, precooked and shredded (Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store will work)

Sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated

2-3 sheets of puff pastry, thawed

EGG WASH

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

LEMON GLAZE

Lemon juice

Confectioners sugar

•  In a large sauce pan saute the onion in the butter over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.

•  Reduce heat and add chicken stock, wine and heavy cream. You may omit the wine and double the chicken stock if you prefer.  Simmer for 5 minutes and reduce liquid by half. If the mixture doesn’t thicken, add a small slurry of water and cornstarch, just until the mixture is creamy and slightly thickened.

•  Add garlic, basil, salt and pepper and stir.

•  Add the shredded chicken and stir. Reduce to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until chicken is warmed through. Sauce should not be runny.

•  Cut puff pastry sheets into 4 equal squares. Lay them on a lightly floured work surface so that they’re easier to work with.  I sheet of pastry will make 4 turnovers.

•  Place a spoonful of the chicken mixture on the pastry square and a dab of shredded cheddar on top. Fold the pastry corner-to-corner, forming a triangle. Crimp the open edges of the pastry with a fork.  Repeat.

•  Mix the egg and the milk with a fork and then brush the top of the turnover with the egg wash.  Poke 1-2 holes in the turnover with a fork to vent.

•  Place the turnovers on cookie sheet lined with a Silpat and bake at 425º for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

•  Place approximately 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar into a small bowl. Pour in a small amount of orange juice (lemon is also good) and whisk until a glaze forms. It shouldn’t be runny.  Drizzle the glaze over the turnovers and serve hot.

Dill Pickle Pot Roast

I rarely…more like never…cook this way. I use fresh ingredients, not powdered mixes. But I have to confess that this was absolutely delicious. Mouth-watering, velvety-tender. I know it sounds crazy, but this has flavor that will knock you out.


3-4 lb chuck roast (I highly recommend Aldi)
House seasoning (equal parts Kosher salt, black pepper & granulated garlic)
Olive oil
1 oz pkg regular Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
2 pkg McCormick Brown Gravy Mix
2 cups dill pickle juice (your favorite brand)
2 cups beef broth (I used Swanson)
1 cup baby dill gherkins (trust me)

• Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Season both sides of the chuck roast generously with house seasoning or the seasoning blend of your choice. Brown on both sides for 4-5 minutes.
• Place browned chuck roast into a large slow-cooker.
• Sprinkle the packets of ranch dressing mix and brown gravy mix over the roast.
• Pour the 2 cups of pickle juice and 2 cups of beef stock over all. The roast should be submerged.
• Add the baby dills, as much as you like.
• Cook on low 6-8 hours. Remove the roast and pickles to a serving platter.
• Pour the stock from the slow-cooker into a sauce pan and thicken into a gravy with a corn starch slurry or a roux.
• Serve with mashed potatoes.

Chili a la’ Aldi

I normally don’t use pre-packaged seasoning mixes and I prefer fresh over canned, but this is my family’s favorite recipe for chili with ingredients from Aldi. It’s the style of chili I grew up with, more soup-like with a rich and savory tomato broth, beef and beans. This really hits the spot when the weather turns cool and crisp. Add a batch of homemade cornbread and supper is ready!

Chili a la’ Aldi

1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 – 15.5 oz cans Dakota’s Pride mild chili beans, undrained
1 – 46 oz bottle tomato juice
1 package Stonemill Original Chili Seasoning mix
1 tbsp honey

• In a large pot sauté the diced onion in olive oil until just tender. Season with Kosher salt, black pepper and granulated garlic.

• Add the ground beef and brown until no longer pink.

• Add the undrained chili beans, the entire bottle of tomato juice, the package of Stonemill Original Chili Seasoning mix and honey. Stir to combine.

• Bring just to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Serve with cornbread and your favorite toppings.