Monday, April 23, 2007

30 Hour Famine

Ever wonder what it's like to go to bed hungry? I'm sure most of us have gone to be hungry before.

Ever wonder what it's like to wake up hungry, spend the day hungry, and then go to bed another night without having eaten? I bet fewer of us have experienced this.

Ever wonder what it's like walk 3 miles to retrieve clean(ish) water, then carry that water back to your home?

This weekend, the red-head and I participated in the 30 Hour Famine, along with our youth, as well as youth and leaders from another congregation.

We stopped eating on Friday at 1PM, ate only 2 saltines and a cup of juice every 3 hours, and as much water as we wanted. We did not eat again until Saturday evening at 7PM, thanks to some members who cooked up a big breakfast for us.


The whole point was to raise money for World Vision - an organization that fights hunger around the world by providing food, medicine, and education. They provide relief for war refuges, drought victims, and aids patients. They attack the root causes of hunger as well, by educating people about water and food safety, methods for irrigation, and good farming techniques. They provide relief where governments cannot, and they rely on fund-raisers like the 30 Hour Famine to do so.

Youth (and their advisers like us) collected donations, support, and prayers from friends and family. Then we gathered together for the famine where we played games, watched movies, and prayed. We also carried buckets of water over a mile, just a fraction of the effort many people must endure just for clean water, let alone food.
After this, we canvassed the neighborhood seeking food donations for the Water Street Rescue Mission.
In just 30 minutes, 8 of us collected 11 full bags of canned goods.

In all, we raised a total of $1,704.13!!!
This will provide enough food to feed an entire family for a year,
or 58 hungry children for a month,
or dig 17 wells deep enough to serve 300 people with clean water,
or buy 45 fishing kits so people can catch their own food.

You get the idea. $1700 bucks goes a long way in helping those who need a boost.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Worlds BEST Moravian Sugar Cake

World's best what? you say? Ever had sugar cake?
You probably have in some form or another.

Do you like sugar cake? I bet if you stop and think about it you'd probably say, "eh, it's alright once in a while." Moravian sugar cake? Some of you who are or know Moravians may have had this version.

What's a Moravian? This is no history or religion blog, but I'll give you a brief run down. The Moravian Church was founded in (fittingly) Moravia - a province now part of the Czech Republic in 1457 - which makes us the oldest Protestant Church in the world. Under persecution, the early faithful fled Moravia and settled in what is now Germany, eventually sending missionaries around the world, including America. OK, long story short - Moravians are known for missions, music, and food.

I can guarantee very few of you have ever had anything like really good Moravian Sugar Cake. Any my wife makes the absolute best. The best examples are moist, flavorful, buttery, not too sweet. It easily makes my list of all time anywhere favorite foods. It takes a bit of time and a number of steps to prepare. As you'll see.

The day before making the sugar cake, the red-head peeled, boiled, and mashed some red-skin taters. She reserved the potato water to use in the batter. Here's what all the ingredients looked like all measured out. Tater water, mashed taters, flour, sugar, butter and margarine (weird huh?), brown sugar (not pictured), eggs, salt, yeast.

Next, the wet ingredients - along with the yeast are creamed together - with the sugar and salt.

Switch to the dough hook. The flour is gradually added and kneaded until it pulls away from the bowl in a nice gooey dough.

Then the dough is left to rise for, um, well, about as long as you want. In our case, we left the dough before leaving for church and came home to it having pretty much tripled or quadrupled in size.

Then, the R-H split the dough in half in to 2 pans for a second rising, where it tripled again. Most expert bakers like the R-H will tell you that it's these multiple risings that develop flavor and and texture. I'll agree.

Now to the final prep for baking. Butter is spread all over the top of the dough, followed by brown sugar. But, we're not done with the butter at all! Holes are poked into the dough where little pats of butter added. Yum.

Here's what the heavenly goodness looks like after it comes out of the oven.

And after it's half eaten.

Oh, you really have no idea how good this is, you really don't. It's buttery, and creamy, and a little bit tangy, with a crunchy sweet (but not too sweet topping). A few of my co-workers may remember the couple of times I've brought it in. And a few friends have had it on special occasions - such as the case today for a birthday.

The house will smell awesome for the next 3 days.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Chili Freaks

And boy - do I mean freaks.
As you know, I love chili and I love to make chili. I've even included a few posts on here about the subject.

Well, about a year ago, my Nephew was planning to get married on St. Georges Island, Florida. Unfortunately, his lovely bride had an family emergency and all of those plans got re-arranged (don't worry, they're married, they just didn't have a ceremony on the beach).

My sister, the red-head, and I decided to keep our plane tickets and motel reservations and take the trip anyway. It's a beautiful area, with awesome beaches, wilderness swamps, and quaint small towns, such Apalachicola. Really quite worth a week's vacation on it's own. But, we only had a couple days, but one of them coincided with the annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

Not sure how many of you've ever been to anything like this, but it's a unique experience. There were parrot heads there, a radio station, food vendors, etc. We got to sample several chilis (for a buck each!!!), and got a little insight as to how some contestants assembled their concoctions. I saw a lot of canned chicken broth, a lot of red powder, quite a bit of beer and other booz, and a fair amount of hot sauce. The chicken broth is what surprised me most. I really don't use it that much because I think it makes chili taste like chili soup, which is very different than what I'm trying to achieve. I have experimented with beer and will continue to search for other forms of liquid in order to back off on the "tomato-i-ness" of my own recipe. Although some folks like it that way.

At any rate, the cookoff web site has a lot of pictures that give you a good feeling for what it was like there. We took a few of them ourselves. I cut off these chubby gentleman's heads because I don't know them, but they had OK chili (a little bland) and a cool name. Can you tell which dude is the team captain?

These guys easily won for most creative booth. I did not try their chili, but it looks like they've won a number of awards over the years. We're pretty sure this was a real coffin hollowed out with cooking equipment mounted inside. It certainly was an impressive setup.