Almost Home

August 22, 2008

We finished our final Justice Kitchen up in Fort Collins, Colorado at the home of Amanda and Kyle. Thanks to Makesha for putting this together, and to everyone who joined us. It was a great night. We drove into town Monday afternoon after spending the morning in Denver, and we found a “you pick farm” called Eden Valley Farms in the Rocky Mountains about 30 minutes outside of town. Their rows were full of kale, cabbage, broccoli, beets and more.

Tuesday morning we were off to Yellowstone National Park. I don’t think we really had any clue about the beauty of Yellowstone, and how amazing the park is. We spent Tuesday night walking around a few geysers, and Wednesday we saw Old Faithful, and some of the parks wild life. We were so stoked to see deer, elk and bison.

We are now in Boise, Idaho, tomorrow we are off to Reno, then Oakland, then home. The most exciting news of the day is that Paige finally lost her first tooth. After 3+ weeks of wiggles it popped out this morning.


On the Road

August 19, 2008

This post has nothing to do with how our trip is going, just some thoughts I’ve had regarding traveling that I thought I’d share for anyone who might have a road trip in their future. People have asked us how and what we’ve been eating, we are after all talking about food.

We have a cooler that we have been filling up with food from the store. We honestly were really good at this when we started, sharing at least breakfast and lunch together from the back of the car, but we’ve slacked off a bit. Sandwiches are an easy quick lunch, but those do get boring. We have done pita bread sandwiches with hummus, carrots and hummus, yogurt and granola, lots of fruit and cherry tomatoes, and of course gallons of water.

Next time we travel we will probably bring a smaller cooler, it has been a task to keep our large one filled with ice to keep everything cold, and we usually don’t fill it up. We are not perfect, but we do try to stay away from fast food when possible. One thing that we have found works great is going to eat at a grocery store – lots of options to satisfy everyone. Most stores have some sort of deli area, and we can always get fruits and veggies, and many of them have a place to eat your food. Whole Foods has been great for this, as was Ukrops. We also try to find independent coffee shops using Delocator.

Thanks to the Sharps, we have a great book called Healthy Highways that also helps us find healthy options in each city. All that said, it is a road trip so sometimes those Cool Ranch Doritos are calling Paige, or those Twizzlers are calling Matt, or the Hot Tamales are calling me – gas stations are evil.

I could write an entirely separate post on what you should and shouldn’t pack for a road trip, but all I will say is that you should pack lightly, and then go back and take more out. We really could have done with 10 pairs of underwear and two sets of clothes.

Back West We Come

August 18, 2008

Jason has posted more info. on The Ecclesia Site, but here’s some new pic’s.

Ohio was great, our kids love The Brown House, and Paige cried when we had to leave. We went out to ice cream with everyone on Tuesday evening, and the kids finished off the night bouncing in the bounce house.

Thanks to the Buist family for hosting our Michigan Justice Kitchen. Our kids loved playing with Anna, Jayden and Nadia, and what a fun backyard – perfect for Matt to catch fireflies.

On our way out of Michigan, we stopped at Lake Michigan. Who would have ever thought that a lake could really feel like the beach.

Driving through Iowa and Nebraska we saw lots of corn fields – lots! Paige really wanted Mexican food while we were in Nebraska. Can you really get good Mexican food outside of Southern California? Here’s the consensus.

Paige, you really like it? I think you’ve been deprived of Mexican food for too long. We are now in Denver, and tomorrow we are off to Fort Collins for our last Justice Kitchen.

Loving the City

August 11, 2008

Thursday night we had a great Justice Kitchen in Williamsburg, Virginia. Thanks again to Seth and Leah and the wonderful folks that joined us. The menu included stuffed zucchini, quinoa and black bean salad, salsa, green salad and watermelon. Once again, the Toana Farmers Market was great!

Friday morning we joined Seth, Leah and Judah for coffee in Colonial Williamsburg, and then we wandered the town a bit. The kids got to pet horses, we passed through gardens, walked down the shell paths, and talked with some of the Colonial folks. We met a gentleman who was making fishing nets from string, and keeping in character he told us that we could search on that “modern thing” to find directions on how to make our own.

Friday afternoon we drove into Washington DC, our furthest destination East. Wow, what a site to see the Washington Monument as you enter the city. It was exciting for all of us to be entering a big city again. We first headed to The Potters House where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and browsed their bookstore. Friday night we took the Metro to the Washington Monument and then walked to the Lincoln Memorial, the monuments are magical at night, and the kids were itching to get some energy out. Matt loved the taxi ride home.

Saturday afternoon we took in The Air and Space Smithsonian, The American Indian Smithsonian, The Capitol and The White House. It was a long day of hiking around the city, but the kids were troopers. We then joined Mike and Sam for dinner at Busboys and Poets, a great coffee shop, bookstore, restaurant and bar.

This morning, Jason and our host, Tim Kumfer, attended a meeting at Church of the Savior. It was touching to meet Gordon Cosby. This church has given us so much inspiration–and friends–over the years. It was exciting to finally see some of their work and meet some of their people for ourselves finally.

We are now in Pittsburgh, hanging out with Jess Walter. The drive from DC to here was quite exciting, we went through a crazy hail storm with hail the size of marbles and Paige got sick in the car. When we pulled over to clean everything up we saw a beaver on the side of the road. Here’s the view from our hotel room.

We are Itchy in Virginia

August 7, 2008

We are definitely California folks, and we are not used to so many mosquitoes. The kids and I have gotten eaten alive, and we are now covered in ointment. Last night, the kids saw fireflies for the first time, they are amazing creatures and we were all mesmerized by them.

Here’s a picture of the Matt, Paige, Ava and Torrey in Franklin, Tennessee. Torrey and Ava are the daughters of our life-long friends that are originally from San Diego but have been in Neck-err, we mean Jesus-ville for the last 10 years. It was so good to catch up and reminisce. Jimmy and Jason played lots of music together over the years and sat in the basement listening to old recordings.

We left Nashville and headed towards North Carolina. Even though it was late and the facility was closed, we drove through the hills of Tennessee to find the Highlander Center outside of Knoxville on Sunday night. It was a touching moment that culminated our pilgrimage through the history of the Civil Rights movement in the South. We sat gazing at the buildings in moonlight as fireflies sporadicly flashed about. Some have said that San Diego is the 21st Century version of Montgomery, AL. I don’t want to diminish the struggle and uniqueness of what went on in the South during that point in our country’s history. But still, we whose hearts long for the humane treatment of all people in our region back home in border town, find resonance with much of the struggle in this part of the country. Alabama, in particular, has touched a part of all of us. We feel strangely akin to it because of our region’s current struggles.

Tuesday night we had a Justice Kitchen class in Charlotte, North Carolina. We pulled into a farmers market in Asheville, and found the most wonderful market I’ve ever been to. They are open everyday throughout the year, and there were dozens of tables filled with the plumpest fruits and vegetables I’ve ever seen. Not only was everyone friendly, but produce is cheap here. Not cheap in the sense that it is the bottom of the barrel leftovers, but in the sense that there is abundance in this state. Here’s a few pictures from our shopping trip through the market, I couldn’t help but take photos of everything.

For our Justice Kitchen we prepared and enjoyed black beans and pan-seared corn, stuffed bell peppers, green salad and peach cobbler. Matt and Paige enjoyed playing with new friends and new connections were made in North Carolina. Our new friend, Josh, posted about the class here. And Steve posted photos here.

After the class, late on Tuesday night, we headed to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to stay with some friends. Our friend Austin Pfieffer–who has written several articles on the Ecclesia Collective blog and plays in the band Goodnight Man–was a part of our community for about a year and recently moved back to Winston-Salem. Austin put us up with some wonderful friends for our time in town. Wednesday afternoon we drove around downtown, found a farmers market, enjoyed Old Salem Museum and Gardens, and had dinner at the Mellow Mushroom with Austin, Brian, Melissa and Paul, and Erin was our server (congrats to the newlyweds Austin and Erin!) Together, this wonderful group of people are working through plans to start an intentional Christian community in town called, the Genesis Project. We are excited to be a part of their journey now!

We have just arrived at the home of Seth and Leah in Williamsburg, VA. Seth and Leah are hosting tonights Justice Kitchen. Our kids are enjoying playing with their son, Judah. We stopped at the Toano Farmer’s Market before heading over. We found lots of fresh, local vegetables and fruit. Again, prices are great!

More to come!

More from the Road

August 2, 2008

From Jason:

In our last post, we were headed to Albuquerque, NM. The scenery across Arizona and New Mexico was stunning! We stayed the night and left fairly early the next morning. Our next stop was Lubbock, TX–hometown of Buddy Holly. Of course, being a music fan, this stop was fun for me. After taking a dip in the hotel pool, we dried off and headed out to find a place to eat. After picking up a conversation with a couple young women at a coffee shop, Brooke was recommended to La Diosa. We had a great glass of wine and some nice tapas. It was a relaxing and tasty! The next morning we went to the Buddy Holly museum and a ranching museum–at which Matt found the lasso he wanted. We dropped into Ralph’s Records–a great little record store near Texas Tech–before leaving town to pick up a bargain bin CD of Buddy Holly so our kids could hear the music of the music legend.

That afternoon, we headed to Dallas, TX. We stayed with our friends, Dick and Marla Davis. Dick was an Southern Baptist chaplain for the Army. He took a class with Stanley Hauerwas and eventually became a pacifist. He is now a Mennonite pastor and one of the leaders for the Urban Leaders Network. They have an amazing story! We stayed up late listening to their years of wisdom.

The next morning we headed to Jackson, MS. We spent the night with our friends, Kevin and Carrie Partridge. They invited some of their friends over from the Journey church. It was a great night of conversation and friendship. We didn’t want to ever go to sleep but we had to get up early.

The next morning we headed to Montgomery, AL. Against the recommendations of several people, we took the rural routes through Mississippi and Alabama. The route was beautiful! We pulled into Montgomery to check out the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. It was amazing! Brooke and I were literally moved to tears. For lunch, we stopped at Chris’ Hot Dogs, which was opened in 1917! After that we headed to Birmingham. What a cool town! We walked through Kelly Ingram Park and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, across the street from the historical 16th Street Baptist Church. Our kids have been radically impacted by the stories of Rosa Parks, MLK Jr., the bus boycott and the children’s march. So, these stops were quite monumental for us all. We really liked Birmingham and decided to wander around ending up at Greencup Books, the Naked Art Gallery and the Silvertron Cafe.

That evening, we headed out of town towards Nashville, TN. Today marks a whole week of us being on the road! We arrived in Nashville, TN late last night. We’re staying with one of my best friends, Jimmy Cook. Jimmy and I have known each other since kindergarten at least. He and his wife, Ilde–whose a great photographer–are expecting their third child! It was awesome for my kids to finally meet his. His oldest, Torrey and our Paige are already having a blast! They’re just a few months a part. We’re about to head out to do some site seeing. Our Justice Kitchen event was canceled so, we are just going to hang out with friends and head towards North Carolina sometime tomorrow.

More later!

The Grand Canyon is absolutely stunning. We are off this morning to explore New Mexico, and then on to Lubbock, Texas. The kids have been great travelers so far, not too much grouchyness.


July 28, 2008

Greetings from the road! We are having a great time so far. Our drive out to Phoenix was timely and uneventful. The scenery was amazing. The kids have never seen desert like that before. Matt kept looking for Will E. Coyote and the Road Runner out his window. We pulled into Phoenix and drove into downtown for the public market to find local ingredients, which we did!

It was HOT when we got to the market at 11:30 am, and I could tell that things would be wrapping up soon. Most of the produce vendors were close to being sold out, but we were lucky to find most of what we needed – tomatoes (really, really beautiful yummy ones), the hugest cucumber ever, mint, garlic, onions, peaches, locally produced olive oil and of course a hot corn on a stick for the kids. The market seemed to be a success in the area, and Top Chef was even there for the day. We met some great farmers and they were all excited to hear about us preparing a local meal!

We only needed a few things from Sprouts (like Henry’s). The group was really friendly that night and loved the class! I would have to say that the evening was a success. Trinity Mennonite, the church that hosted us has a guest house across the street which we stayed at. It was comfortable and we all slept well. Jason spoke at the same church the following morning. Again, things went well. After a great lunch with wonderful people, we headed up through Sedona. WOW! So, beautiful! It was amazing. We stopped to take some pictures and take in the beautiful scenery.

And then into Flagstaff. Again, beautiful but in different ways. We stopped at a rest stop overlooking the forested canyons and Paige found a small turquoise pendant of a frog made by a local Navajo. She was thrilled and used a little spending money to buy. Matt is holding out for cowboy stuff in Texas. It was a truly breath-taking drive the whole way. Our God is truly an amazing artist. We pulled into the hotel last night, shared some pizza and hit the pool. The kids were so anxious to swim! Matt is a fish! We played and splashed until we were exhausted and came back to our room to fall asleep shortly after. Today we take a short drive to Grand Canyon and this evening we leave for Albuquerque.

Justice Kitchen

July 25, 2008

Justice Kitchen is off and running. We leave Saturday for our month long trip to Washington DC and back with many stops along the way.

Last night our community let us practice on them, as Justice Kitchen now includes both Jason and myself. We are incorporating instruction on how to cook easy well balanced meals as well as providing steps you can take to eat ethically. Eating for your health is also eating for the health of the world.

Our menu included: quinoa tabouleh salad, mediterranean green beans, hummus, flat bread and peach cobbler. It was a fun night to hang out with great friends and a perfect place to begin our journey. We leave tomorrow morning at 5am for Phoenix, see you in a month.

And follow our journey here, and here.

Soups are a staple in our house, a simple meal, great for groups and perfect for leftovers. On Sunday evening I was debating what type of soup I wanted to make for dinner, and I felt tired of all of the usuals – tortilla soup, pasta e fagioli, vegetable and rice, bean soup . . . I pulled out this cookbook by Deborah Madison and started skimming through it.

I have to confess that I love cookbooks and I have a fair amount of them, but I don’t always use them. In my quest to live more simply, I am trying to either use them or get rid of them. I stumbled upon a recipe called Quinoa, Corn and Spinach Chowder, and had most of the ingredients. It turned out great, and is a wonderful summery soup as it includes summer favorites such as corn and spinach. It also includes the ever amazing grain quinoa.

Makes 2 quarts (I tripled it to feed a crowd of 15 with some leftovers)

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 ears corn, shucked (I used frozen corn – approx. 2-3 cups)

2 T olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped (I used more)

1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely diced

1/2 t of cumin

sea salt and fresh pepper

2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4″ pieces

1/4 lb. of feta cheese cut into cubes (this could be left out if you are vegan)

1 bunch of spinach, washed and stems removed

3 scallions, including a few of the greens, thinly sliced

1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves

1. Simmer the quinoa in 7 cups of bliling water for 10 min. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a saucepan with the garlic and chile, cook for approx. 30 seconds over med. heat, then add the cumin, 1/2 t salt and the potatoes. Dump the liquid from the quinoa into your pot. Bring to a boil, then add the quinoa and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the corn.

3. Turn off the heat, taste for salt, and season with pepper. Add teh cheese, then stir in the cilantro, spinach and scallions. As soon as the spinach is wilted, after 2-3 min., serve the soup.