redpeppers

Wash your foot before you put it in the soup.

The men say when I serve I really bumpin’ soup, “You really put your foot in it tonight, Rev!” Well, since tonight is Holy Thursday, I am going for that response. I will let you know. I am writing down the recipe as I am making it. The people loved it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts salt free home-made chicken broth
  • 10 pounds 80/20 ground chuck
  • 5 medium size yellow onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 5 large, red, sweet peppers
  • 2 pounds broccoli florets
  • 2 fennel
  • 3 big bunches of collard greens
  • 2 eggplants
  • ~ 5 quarts water
  • ~ 1-1/2 cubic inches fresh grated ginger
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed Turkish oregano buds
  • 35 twists, medium grind, black pepper

Fry up the ground chuck in 10-1# batches in a large cast iron skillet with a diced half onion and a pressed garlic clove in each batch & add to the 22 quart stock pot with the chicken broth heating in it on low heat. Cut up the peppers into bite sized pieces and add to pot. Cut the florets to soup sized pieces and add to the pot. Add some of the water. Turn up the heat to cook the added ingredients. Cut the fronds off the fennel, chop and add them to the soup. Now take the white bottoms of the fennel, dice them, and saute’ them in the skillet. (If you need additional fat, you may skim some from the top of the pot.) Don’t skip this step. It unlocks the umami in the fennel. Slice and chop the collard greens and add them. Remember to stir the pot regularly.  Dice the eggplants to ~1/2″ cubes, leaving the skin on for the valuable bioflavonoids. Peel and grate the ginger into the pot. Add the remaining spices and remaining water. Transfer the pot into the double boiler canner setup to stew for hours until you are ready to load it into an Igloo container to take it to the city to serve.

April made a curried cauliflower with chickpea recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook for our vegetarian alternative tonight.

I have been publishing a lot of recipes. All of this food costs money. So does the kitchen and the stove and the gas. For that matter, so does the web access and hosting. I forgot to mention the car expenses. We receive less in monthly donations than what we spend for these things. Please consider using the friendly Donate button to set up a monthly automatic Paypal donation. Even if it’s just $20 or $10, it will help. God bless you.

dirtychurch

I prefer a dirty church.

dirtychurch

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church that is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” – Pope Francis

I have been saying this for years, and getting in trouble for saying it. I suppose he is in a position that he can get away with it.

Pianokeyboard

Mushroom Harmony

No. We are not talking about funny mushrooms here. We are actually talking about integration. Black and white blending in perfect harmony. A great many people of my generation are now thinking of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder and their hit: Ebony and Ivory.

blackriceThat’s OK, but it has nothing to do with cooking, now does it? Although, I guess this could serve as a similar metaphor. only this one involves rice and mushrooms. This is our vegetarian alternative for tonight by our daughter, April Smith. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 cups black rice
  • 10 medium – small yellow onions
  • 4 pounds button white mushrooms
  • 4 bunches Swiss chard
  • 2 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 Tablespoons oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Cook white rice and black rice separately. Dump into roaster pan.
Saute’ onions and spices until translucent. Add to rice in roaster pan.
Saute’ mushrooms in batches until tender. Add to pan.
Saute’ chard until just barely tender. Stir it together with all of the other ingredients. Slow bake until ready to serve. Enjoy with dozens of old friends, new friends, soon to be friends. Live together in Perfect Harmony!

minipeppers

Chicken Leg Soup

minipeppersWe were able to purchase cases of chicken parts and ground chuck at really good prices in Amish country this week. This is the first soup using some of the meat from that purchase.  As usual, I used lots of fresh ingredients for their nutritional values and chose spices for their anti-inflammatory and disease fighting properties, as well as their flavor. This is all part of our Golden Rule approach to serving. We always want to make food to serve the way we would want it to be made for us.

I wrote this recipe in a non-traditional way. The directions are mixed up with the ingredients. Olive oil is not listed separately. Sorry. No one has ever called me a traditionalist. Enjoy!

  • 2 quarts home made chicken broth. Start heating in 22 quart stock pot.
  • 16 whole chicken legs baked together in a roaster pan with water and turmeric. Once it reaches internal temp of 175°, remove from the oven and drain the liquid into the stock pot. Let the legs cool while you continue working on other things. When it is OK to handle, remove skin and tear up meat into bite sized pieces and add it to soup.
  • 4 large Spanish onions chopped and sauteed in olive oil, caramelized & add to the pot.
  • 2 pounds mini peppers (red, yellow, orange, sweet peppers) chopped & sauteed & add.
  • 2 leeks. Separate the tops. Dice the tops & add to pot. Dice & saute’ the bottom portion & add.
  • Chop up two pounds of fresh broccoli & add.
  • Chop up two big bunches of fresh kale & add.
  • Once all of the above ingredients are in the stockpot, transfer the pot to the double boiler, canner set up.
  • Add water up to two inches shy of the top.
  • Press 5 cloves of garlic into pot.
  • Grate about 1-1/2 cubic inches of fresh ginger in.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon ground coriander.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons ground sage.
  • Medium grind 30 twists black peppercorns into pot.
  • Stir occasionally. Let it stew until we need to transfer it to the Igloo cooler to take it to the street.
Organic_Avocado_Hass_Fuerte

California Style Beans & Rice

Organic_Avocado_Hass_FuerteOur vegetarian alternative last night was prepared by our daughter, April Smith.  It’s beans and rice, but it’s not your typical Phili-Rican mama’s beans and rice, that’s for sure! She didn’t know what to call it after she concocted it, so I named it, “California Style” since that’s where the Hass avocados come from , after all. One of the young men from Eastern University’s YACHT Club , who serve alongside us, requested the recipe. So here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs black beans soaked in water overnight
  • 3 very large Spanish onions or 3lbs yellow onions – chopped
  • 6-7 sweet peppers – yellow, orange or red – chopped
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 5 ripe avocados – cubed
  • 1 lime, squeezed over the avocado
  • 5 or 6 ripe Ataulfo mangoes (a smaller yellow mango) or 4 regular mangoes, cubed
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder or 1 head garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Start by draining the beans and cooking in fresh water until tender. When done, transfer to casserole pan. While beans are cooking chop all your peppers and onions. Saute’ onions with a little salt until soft. You may have to do this in 2 or more batches. Saute’ peppers with a little salt and garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano and cayenne. When semi-soft, transfer to casserole. Use the same pot, add 6 cups water and turmeric and bring to a boll. Add rice and cook until done (Cooking in the same pot makes use of the spices stuck on the pan.) Transfer rice to casserole pan along with cilantro and black pepper. Stir gently together and heat in oven. 20 minutes before serving add in the mango and avocado. Enjoy! Makes a large turkey roasting pan full.

The people loved it! We did not use much hot sauce at all, and came home with an empty pan.

Cooking Class

Last night was “men’s night in” at our house for the guys from “Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys”. It was a cooking demonstration for making a manly, low-carb meal. Ed and I gathered ingredients from from Assi Chinese market, Produce Junction, and Giant. Steve is a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats eggs and fish) so I made two slightly different dishes, one with flounder, one with pork chops. The men were very impressed. After the meal there was some speculation about kidnapping me and shackling me in the kitchen of their commune, once they strike it big, so I could prepare all of their meals. Here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of radishes sliced and slices cut in half
  • 1 pound of baby sweet red, yellow & orange peppers diced
  • 1 fennel diced, including fronds
  • 8 ounces Shitake mushrooms cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 Hass avocados, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 small, yellow mangoes, peeled & diced
  • bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ~ 1″ ginger root peeled and grated
  • Variations: Either about 9 or 10 pork chops or 12 to 14 flounder fillets, or some balance between to satisfy a mixed audience.
  • bacon drippings or olive oil

Directions:

enamelwareCut up the radishes and fennel and mix them in one bowl. Cut up the peppers and put them in another bowl. Do the same for the mushrooms. Cut & peel the avocados & chunk. Peel & dice the mangoes. Mix them in a small bowl with the avocados. Get all your skillets out and start them heating on high heat if you are making pork chops, medium heat if you are making flounder. Put about a tablespoon of reserved bacon drippings or lard into each skillet (preferably cast iron with sides) in which you are cooking pork chops and a generous amount of olive oil in each skillet in which you are preparing flounder. Throw the pork chops into the hot fat and keep rearranging until at least one side of every chop is browned. Throw radishes and fennel, then fennel into the fish pan(s), then the Shitakes, then the flounder. Add the radishes, fennel, shitakes to the pork chops. Grate the ginger over everything. Add the cilantro. Keep stirring and flipping. Cover skillets. Reduce heat to medium. Add avocados & mangoes as radishes soften. The flounder will get done quickly. Be vigilant. Do not overcook the pork. If the radishes are soft and the fennel is just slightly crunchy, and there is juice in the pan, it’s perfect.

This is enough to feed six manly men. I served it on proper, manly enamelware from Amish country, with matching enamelware tumblers. Of course, we spoke of manly things, like cooking and how to count carbs, and realistic ways to deal with heroin addicts.

We had a great time.

Our House

sheriffsaleToday would have been the day our house would have been foreclosed on and auctioned at sheriff sale. Say what you will about Facebook. It is because of our feisty, faithful, Facebook friends, that the sale is not happening today.

This is not to deny that large donations did indeed come from our local community and members of the local parish. They did. But they came after the plea was put out there to the wider world on GoFundMe at the urging of three women on Facebook. And it was through one of them, who lives in the Seattle area, that the connection was made with the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. The articles in the Inquirer, combined with our Facebook network , which circles the globe, really got things moving. The first article was shared more than 1,000 times within what I could see from my network. Then it got picked up by the Huffington Post on the night of the State of the Union Address in an article that suggested that I should have been among those whom Pres. Obama invited to be there. It has been a very exciting, frustrating, and humbling experience.

The frustrating part was dealing with the sheriff, the bankers and the lawyer. the ineptitude and the outright lies were just mind-boggling. I don’t know how they can sleep at night and I asked them that. I don’t know how this system can possibly be financially sound in any way. My advice to anyone with money, at this point would be to not keep it as money. The bankers are idiots. liars and thieves. Either invest it in good people who will be able to take care of you later or buy land or jewels or something that has some intrinsic value. Or give it to the poor, knowing that God will repay. I even think stuffing your cash in a mattress would be better than giving it to the lot at HSBC and PHH.

It was exciting to see the numbers go up on GoFundMe and to wake up one morning and see that over $1,000 had come in from total strangers in Australia. We spent over two weeks solid just typing and writing thank you notes. It was also very humbling. When Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” He was not referring to the afterlife. No. It is a whole lot more fun to be able to give, than it is to receive. Of course, the beauty here is, that this will enable us to be able to keep on giving to the homeless and poor people whom we serve. But it was humbling, also, to see who came to our aid. Some people whom we haven’t spoken with for years sent large checks. Complete strangers sent $1,000. Old people with shaky handwriting sent in $5 bills with kind notes. A few children gave their alms box money. This kind of thing bestows an awesome responsibility on a person. We are so grateful for the support and encouragement that we received.

I have to tell you that the first thing we did with some of it was to help a few other people. We just couldn’t be happy without sharing some of the first fruits to encourage some of our other faithful Facebook friends, and a couple of real neighbors.

We may or may not have enough to hold on to the house. Bethann’s unemployment benefits ran out. My Social Security Disability Income appeal hearing hasn’t happened yet. If that gets decided in my favor soon, it should pay retroactively to October of 2010 and we will be OK. Bethann’s school goes until September. It is intense and full-time. She does not have health insurance now. We make too little to qualify for subsidy under the ACA. She was making too much, with unemployment to qualify for Medical Assistance, since Gov. Corbett blocked the Medicaid expansion, as part of his war on the poor.

The title says “Our House”, but it is only our house by virtue of the fact that we live here and work here, and I have installed gas, replaced the boiler, water heater, refrigerator, range, plumbing, electrical service, front door, windows, rebuilt the barn, put 30% down and made payments and paid the taxes and utilities for seven years. It’s really the Lord’s. To cite one of the jubilary psalms: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Ps. 24:1) We just use it for a time. Hopefully, we do a good job using it for His kingdom.

Trooper needs a new clutch.

clutch3On Thursday night, Esther McGraw almost arrived at 18th & Vine with the spaghetti and sandwiches, but not quite. I got a call from her mom that she was just below us (literally) on 676 and 4 blocks away underneath 22nd. Her clutch had failed and her car stalled and she did not know how to drive it without a clutch. I asked around to any of our volunteers if any of them knew how to drive a car without a clutch. Gregory said he did. Brian & Gregory took the TKJ-mobile down to her. Gregory tried, but it was too rough and it had been too many years since Greg has last done this. Esther’s brother, Eric, was already on his way to drive the car home. Brian & Gregory retrieved the spaghetti and sandwiches for us to serve and Esther continued to wait for Eric. We still had customers for the food, so it was a good thing we were able to get it. Eric was able to drive Esther’s car home. They brought it to their mechanic today.

Years ago, Esther earned the street name “Trooper” from the guys we serve. This is because of all of the nine McGraw children, she was always the most faithful to come out and serve. She’s 19 now and drives her own car, many times. Much of the time she will come alone or with one or more of her younger siblings. She is definitely a trooper. She is a freshman in college. She is determined to pay as she goes so as to not be saddled with debt. We would like to be able to help her with this repair, so she can keep moving forward. (She did not ask me to do this.) If you want to help pay for Esther’s new clutch, to keep her serving the poor and making progress in her journey, you may make a donation, then send an email to let us know that you want it designated for “Trooper’s clutch”.

Thank you! God bless you!

True Story

ptsdI am told that I am too negative about the church and that I am too critical. Well, there is history. I have been bullied by so many pastors and priests, lied to and deceived by spiritual mentors from junior high on up, in fact, so much so, that I have PTSD as a result. A Lutheran pastor expelled me from confirmation class one month before confirmation (after 3 years)  for asking too many questions. A Mennonite pastor, who had been a close friend and mentor, threatened to kill me for forbidding him from bringing inflammatory literature into a prison. For all that, I remained extremely active in church. I was the first man ordained for prison ministry in the Mennonite Church. I was ordained on five occasions in six denominations. None of these ordinations were requested by me. I was willing to give all that up to continue ministry as a layman in the Orthodox Church, as I believed it to have a solid theology and tradition of ministry to the poor, was indeed the church, and would provide a safe base and covering for ministry. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be the case.

Instead, I have found the same jealousy from a pastor who feels threatened by my presence in his church, lies and attacks. But when a family is in need, who is called? The King’s Jubilee. A homeless family of three was referred by the church to Uncle John’s last week. We helped John keep his home and we help feed the men there and keep the phones on, etc. This family can stay there as long as they need to, to get their feet under them. Last spring, we rescued a parishioner who was becoming homeless after losing his job two years prior. He was selling his possessions in the church hall just to have enough gas money to get back and forth to church, until the priest and parish council decided it was too much clutter on the table against the wall and he had to stop. This was during Lent. They did not offer to help him move or help him find a place to live or offer him a spare room. We hired him to revamp the “Come and See” Icons website and Uncle John took him in. He is still there. He is working on a program there to help catch sex-offenders and he volunteers teaching English as a second language. He doesn’t make it to church much. No one from the church calls. The priest didn’t even think to call him until I told him to at Christmas time, and that maybe someone more friendly to the church than our family should do so.

There is no regular support from the church for The King’s Jubilee. There was no offering taken to help Uncle John help this family that is now living with him. John is in bankruptcy himself, while working a full-time job and running two businesses. A couple of years ago, the priest took credit for The King’s Jubilee as if it were a parish ministry, which it is not, in the archdiocesan magazine, without checking with us. This marked us as Antiochian, so then the Russians didn’t want to get involved with us. He only wants to support “ministries” that have good marketing potential in the local area, even though the bishop told him to make sure the church supports The King’s Jubilee regardless of our personal relationship.

But I have seen this pattern too many times before. The evangelicals going for the ‘easy fruit’ refer the hard cases to some other agency or drop them off at the county assistance office with a token grocery gift card. They pray and hope they don’t come back and become a burden on them and the community, so they can go out and find some potential tithers who will fit in better with the existing demographic of the ‘church family’. Spend money on advertising before spending it on ministry where you don’t get a mention in the local press. Sound the trumpets like the Pharisees! It is very much based on a successful sales model, but it is not Christian. It is not Orthodox Christian. Please do not mistake my honesty with malice. I bear no ill will. I want to see the church improved. I want to see the priest get psychiatric help.

We are very grateful for so many who responded generously to rescue us from foreclosure. What we don’t understand is this willingness to rescue us, coupled with what seems like a steadfast unwillingness to rescue the people we serve or to support the ministry in such a way so that we wouldn’t need rescuing. We know that several of you have made monthly commitments or make quite sizeable annual donations. We are not talking about you. It’s the rest of you. Many of you want to criticize me for one thing or another. I am an easy target. I speak my mind. I really have no good reason to not speak my mind. When I have done that, it has never been rewarded, only betrayed.

“The laborer is worthy of his hire.” If the church is going to use us to take care of its poor problem, then maybe it should publicly acknowledge that, or maybe there should be some real support instead of, “Be warm and well fed … .”

Please click the friendly yellow “Donate” button to use Paypal to make a recurring monthly donation. It’s painless. God bless you!

serving the homeless, promoting justice, in Jesus' Name

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