Random Thoughts

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The Church is Not Always Equivalent to God

Published July 3, 2012 by cookinggamer

Before you read this any further, gentle readers, I warn you this is a very religiously fueled post. I am merely venting my personal frustrations at my own experience with my “home church” and not so much that of the churches in general. I still to this day consider myself a Christian and still struggling to find the right “home” for myself spiritually. If this in any way offends you, please stop reading now.

I grew up going to church. In fact there was never a moment in my stages of growing up where Church Life was not a huge part of who I am. As far and long as I can remember I have been going to church. There are pictures of me going to a church in Hong Kong and then a church we went to for a few years in the Toronto area before we moved into the quiet peaceful area of the Durham region where we attended a small Chinese oriented church that ended up being one of the biggest influences in my life. Ever since the age of 8, my life had revolved around this church. School life wasn’t always easy for me. Grade were but friends weren’t. I was a dork, I was a nerd, I was a loser. Grade school I don’t remember many happy memories. But when I went to church….it was different. It was like I was coming home. I had an extended family that loved me no matter what and I felt safe. Every Sunday as much as I grumbled about getting up to go to service, I looked forward to going because I was hungry to learn. I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to be above all the sadness at school. Most of all, I thought at that time I had a great group of brothers and sisters I could rely on who loved me unconditionally. I always thought that these people would ALWAYS be in my life and be there for me. Every Sunday after church, families would go out together for lunch and then usually congregate at someone’s house for dinner. Summers were filled with BBQs and winters with Chinese Hot Pot dinners. 3 generations would gather and split off to spent time with each other. Everyone else’s moms felt like another mother to me. It was exactly as I had always imagined a church should be like. Full of fellowship and love. Even when my family had problems, people were there for us. They encouraged and spent time with us so we always felt the love of Christ through them. It was going to be ok.

Then something changed. I went off to college. I didn’t just go off to college, I went to mere cooking school. I was thrilled to go and asked for advice on making sure I kept up to my spiritual needs while away at school. I was told to go to a local Chinese church where I went to school and that they will help me out. Accept me into their church family. Boy were they wrong. The first day I went to church I went to the college/university group service. One of the other students came over to talk to me and asked me what program I was taking at the university in town. I told her no I am taking Culinary School at the local college I don’t go to the university. At first she just looked shocked. “You go to just college?” she exclaimed. I nodded. “oh” she composed herself and walked off to join her friends. They whispered some looked over and then began to make after church plans to go to dim sum. I was never asked to go. First step into my disillusion of the Chinese church system.

But hey it’s ok I still have my weekends home to enjoy my home church right? Not really. As time wore on  I started to feel like my brothers and sisters were drifting away from me. After school was completed I decided I wanted to see more of Canada. So I packed my things and worked out in Jasper Alberta for a while. While I was there, no one from my church even bothered to write me an email or FB me asking me how I was doing. In order for me to keep in contact I had to make the first move which was followed by some very half-hearted answers. When I came home from Jasper, I moved to Niagara Falls to live with my then boyfriend. I made the 1.5 hour drive home every sunday morning right after I got off my 6pm-2am shift to make it to service. By then, everyone felt like strangers. The ladies who used to treat me like their own kids barely had time to talk to me. My friends who were like brothers and sisters to me were too caught up in each other to murmur a hi. I was heartbroken so I thought.

2 years ago, my dad got in a terrible accident. He still is recovering from it. He had be a huge part of this church for some time. He taught sunday school. He treated all the kids like they were his. At one point when I was away, he even let one of the kids live in my room for free so he can concentrate on school in the city instead of having to worry about the long commute home every day. My dad is easily one of my greatest inspirations on how to be a good person in this world. How to love completely and with a big heart. He can’t make it to church anymore. Since his accident, sure the first few months people visit. Now, no one from the church he once called home calls or visits. Just recently, one of the kids got married from my church. One of the kids he taught sunday school to. He nor my family was even invited. 

I am not disheartened with God. It’s not God who wills people to be the way they are. It is people who forget and stop caring that act the way they do. I know somewhere out there, there’s a church that is what I expect a church to be. Welcoming, warm, loving and won’t forget about you and what you have done in order to be a part of that church. Being a church goer doesn’t make you a Christian. I learned over the years that being Christian means having God in your heart when things are good and even more so when things are tough. God has seen me through some of the toughest times in my life. I have fallen on my knees many a time crying and praying because I know that only God can save me from myself now. I now don’t ask God to make things go away, I ask God to give me the strength to be that better person and to help me take care of the things in my life no matter how hard or how painful it is. I find joy in God because he has always been my only hope. That will never change. I just hope that someday, when I do find the right church and I am blessed enough to be active again in it, that I will not be like these people. That I will not forget. I will always love, always hope and always accept. 

Back From Camp! Finally Time To Post!

Published June 26, 2012 by cookinggamer

2 weeks ago I left to work for a catering company that specifically catered to children’s camps. Though the experience was something unusual, I had to cut it short due to personal reasons. Before I had left, I had gone on a huge cooking spree to try and fill my freezer with reheatable friendly meals. I was so busy doing that I didn’t have a chance to actually post the recipes or pictures online for it. Hopefully as I try to get some catering business drummed up on the side for the summer, I will have time to post everything I have been doing again.

Camp was definitely an experience I will never forget. It was two weeks of busting my butt and seeing how differently people react as adults as oppose to children. We had the pleasure of serving both an adult group and a children’s school group while I was away. I was thoroughly shocked at the difference of behaviour in the two groups and how much of a constrast it was to serve.

I had fully expected the adult group to act in a mature, polite, pleasant fashion while the children’s group to be reminded of their pleases and thank yous. Not the case.

Thought the adult group was not 100% bad, we had some really nice ladies in there, the adult ladies group turned out to be very vicious and condescending. While serving this group of women, I swear some of them must have grown up without learning their manners! Some of these women were just out right rude. There was a lot of rolling of the eyes, pouting when they weren’t allowed to eat off the specialty diet menu, and all around snarky comments to the staff. Wow, you would think that middle aged women would be a little more educated and mature in how they conducted themselves but no! It took multiple warnings from the camp directors for them to realize they were in the wrong and should not be talking to staff in that manner.

Meanwhile, we had a group at the second camp I ended up working at from a Montessori school. My goodness, even their least behaved child knew to say please and thank you. They were happy and always excited to eat. We had a few specialty diet kids that we happily accomodated because they were just so gracious for us even going out of our way to create these meals specially for them.

It makes me wonder sometimes, how much can we learn from children? How much of what we learn as children are forgotten as we grow older and feel more entitled to things? Should we not as adults live as we say? I think we really need to look within ourselves especially when we are teaching the next generation and realize that do as we say not as we do is just not right and sometimes if we do  as we say, it would be a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved!

Pork Parmesan with Penne Noodles

Published June 4, 2012 by cookinggamer

When we were at the grocery store yesterday picking up the items that I was going to use in my freezer food idea, I came across a whole bunch of meat marked 30% off. Hallalujah! They all expire as of not yesterday but today. So what am I pose to do? Pick them up it was damn cheap! Since I knew they were going to be cooked off today and frozen any how I wasn’t concerned too much about the expire date as much. One such item was a pack of 3 boneless pork rib chops. I love this cut of meat. It is nice and tender with tons of flavour due to its exquisite marbling much like beef prime rib at a fraction of the cost. I got 3 with the 30% discount for less than $3.00! Bonus!

One of the top sellers at the cafeteria was always chicken schnitzel. I decided why not do it with the pork? I decided to add some stuff to it call it parmesan! 😀 I also was cooking my next post while I was cooking this one so I used some of the veggies from there to balance everything out. You can use whatever veggies you prefer. Hope you folks like it!

3 boneless pork chops, pounded thin for quick cooking

3/4 cup flour

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup bread crumbs

2 tbsp garlic plus seasoning or 1 tbsp garlic salt

3 cups cooked pasta

3 cups sauteed veggies of your choice

1 1/2 cup pasta sauce

Prepare 3 bowls for breading. 1st bowl put in the flour. 2nd bowl mix the milk with the egg and beat until incorporated. 3rd bowl mix bread crumbs with the garlic seasoning well.

Dredge the pork in the flour first, then egg mix then bread crumb mixture. Set aside.

Heat up a pan with about 5 tbsp of neutral flavoured oil. Try vegetable or canola oil.

Once heated, carefully drop in the pork. Let brown on each side for about 5 minutes or until coating is a golden brown.

Place pasta on the plate. Top with veggies and 1 pc of pork. Pour on the pasta sauce. And voila! Dinner is served! It also freezes well so this is how I set it up for freezing.

There are so many different things that we can bread and sauce up. What are some of your favourite combinations?

Pasta Roll Ups

Published June 3, 2012 by cookinggamer

One of my favourite things to have is stuffed pastas. Doesn’t matter if it’s manicotti, cannelloni, shells, etc. Anything goes when it comes to these treats. I usually buy these from the grocery stores pre-done because it’s less hassle. Since I am doing that make meals ahead project for my freezer, I decided to look through my cupboards and see what I could find. I found half a box of lasagna noodles sitting there from the last time I made lasagna. I also bought some ricotta on sale at the grocery store the other day. So, why not? Here is my recipe for pasta roll ups. They freeze amazingly well. I used up the last of my roasted chicken alfredo that I froze last time I made roasted chicken leftovers (recipe is in a previous post) but any type of pasta sauce works great in this recipe.

8 pieces of cooked lasagna noodles, cooled (burns if you try to work with it hot :D)

1 cup ricotta

1 onion finely diced

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp garlic salt

1-3 tsp chili flakes (depends on how spicy you want this)

3 cups of pasta sauce

2 cups shredded cheese

In a small frying pan, melt butter and cook onions until softened. Put into a mixing bowl and mix with ricotta, garlic salt and chili flakes. Set aside.

Cut noodles in half and lay flat on working surface.

Divide up ricotta mixture on to pasta and then roll pasta. Place into microwave safe dish seal side down.

Pour pasta sauce over the roll up and top with cheese.

Cover with lid tightly and freeze for up to 6 months.

To serve microwave until internal temperature hit 160F. This is all dependent on if you plan on eating it right away or cooking from frozen. I suggest defrosting it in the fridge over night before microwaving it so it doesn’t take as long.

1 dish down! More to go 😀

Diablo Fever

Published May 21, 2012 by cookinggamer

As most gamers know, Diablo came out scant a week ago. All hail one of the greatest gaming franchises in history. Loyal fans have waited years if not a decade for this gem of a game to arrive so naturally the much anticipated game has garnered the attention of many far and wide.

While most gamers faithfully sit in front of their computer screens to beat out their fellow enthusiasts in a leveling, loots, gold, and sort, another group of people have sprung up. They are what I call gamer widows. They girlfriends, wives, boyfriends, husbands, etc who sit there pining away at loved ones gone into frenzy. It has once again stolen dinner times, date nights and all other activities except for gaming time.

I went out with my boyfriend and his friends this weekend for nachos and beers at a local pub they frequent and we go to when we are in town visiting the in laws. It was surprising to see how much of the topic of conversation always diverted back to the game. Now granted, I play the game as well. However, one of his friends brought along his girlfriend who was not a gamer by any means. It was interesting to watch her reaction to the topic of conversation. She is an amazing girl, and she is quite indulging when it comes to her boyfriend’s interests. But even someone as sweet tempered as her wrinkled her nose and showed a slight cringe when it came to the topic. I think that sometimes, as we are in relationships, we need to realize that our own personal needs are not all that we should be looking after. When we are in a group setting, there needs to be more topic than just what’s in.

Tho, I have to admit my view still stands. If you can’t beat them, join them! I started playing WoW because my boyfriend was itching to play again. I learned how to deal with gamers. If i want to spend time with him, sometimes it’s best not to argue and just log in. However, gamers, please remember your significent other as well! Take them out and spend time with them away from the screen! Makes a world of difference!

What hobbies does your significent other have that you wish they would calm down on? How do you deal with it?

Homemade Granola Bars

Published May 12, 2012 by cookinggamer

When I first started dating my boyfriend, he ate a ton of junk food. It made sense at the time to him. He was just 1 dude living with 2 other dudes so take out and chips were the norm to him. If he had a banana that day with his lunch that day it was considered “healthy”. The idea of healthy snacking was him grabbing doritos and salsa because salsa had veggies in it right? When we started living together, I decided it would be a great idea to pack some of these granola bars into his lunch for him so he had a “healthy option”. I mean who doesn’t love chocolate chips right? But everyday when he came home from work, that damn granola bar was the only thing left. One day, I got super fustrated and asked him, “Why do you always eat around the damn granola bar? Aren’t they good?” He then looked at me grabbed the granola bar, opened it and said “You try it then!” So, angrily, I did. Wow… I figured out why he didn’t want to eat it. It was hard and stale. Now I would love to say it’s cause it was sitting in every lunch bag for the pass month so that’s the reasoning, but it was from a new box I just bought the day before hoping a new flavour would change his mind. he then explained to me that because it always tasted like “cardboard” he just figured he won’t eat it. After that, I started researching how to make my own. I went on my very favourite site, the Food Network site and tried out one from there. I still found the recipe too dry. So I decided to make one up. This recipe I am sure someone has made it before I dreamt it up but it is just so nice and moist. They keep a long time and one pan goes quickly at my house.

Now in the recipe I did write down “toppings”. I think this is where you can really create how you want the granola bars to taste or what your dietary needs are. Here is a list of some toppings I love using. Mix and match them to find your perfect blend of toppings!

Chocolate chips (rainbow/plain/mint/peanut butter/ whatever!)

Nuts ( try to find any that are slivered or sliced or chopped, same price less work)

dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, apricots, etc if the fruit is larger like apricots chop them up so it’s not a big chunk when you bite into it)

Shredded coconut

Seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower, wheat germs)

Ingredients

4 cups rolled oats

2 cups toppings (1 3/4 cups and 1/4 cup set aside)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup flour

1 cup salted butter/margarine

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 lrg eggs

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 13×9 long cake pan.

Melt butter, honey and brown sugar over low flame. Once melted add vanilla and set aside.

Toss together oats, flour, 2 3/4 cups toppings and cinnamon. Slowly add in butter mixture mixing with your hands until mixture is sticking together in clumps. Add eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly before adding the next.

Press mixture into cake pan. Sprinkle remaining toppings on top and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Let bars cool for 2 hours before cutting. They do then to break apart easily because they are so moist so be careful with them.

I usually cut them up and wrap them in plastic and keep them at room temperature. Like I said they do go fast in my house and the guys that my bf works with love them too so sometimes I surprise them with that! I love them for late night snacks especially with a nice glass of milk. Can’t get my keyboard dirty with these! 😀