Monthly Archives: April 2014

Hospitality is More Than Tea and Scones

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By Amber Lia

Originally posted at The Mob Society

I used to think that showing hospitality meant inviting people over and feeding them BBQ pork sandwiches with all the fixings or hosting an elaborate tea with homemade scones in honour of my friend’s new baby, but sitting under the teaching of my pastor Francis Chan for nine years did something to me. 

For the first few years of my marriage, we lived in a tiny apartment with no yard. I was feeling pretty good when I decided to swallow my pride and host my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary in our home where we squeezed in nearly 30 of their lifelong friends for dessert, reminiscing about the days when my parents drove too fast and ran with the wild crowd.

As a new mother, still searching for what it meant for me to be a woman by Biblical standards, I knew that hospitality was part of what God commanded me to display towards others. Except that the idea of showing hospitality didn’t really cost me anything. I love to cook, bake, and plan events. My husband and I are both social butterflies, so having people over energized us. We delighted in opening up our home. And that was all good. But eventually, my definition of hospitality began to get a bit more uncomfortable.

I listened as my pastor talked about the fact that they had up to seven or more house guests in their home at any given time, plus their family of six…in a house that they had purposely downsized into in order to give more money away for those in need. A woman from Guatemala with four kids had recently moved in. Francis had met her at the local homeless shelter and brought her home for six months until she got on her feet. It was radical. And Biblical. And convicting. 

My family recently started memorizing Romans 12. Verse 13 of the chapter says: Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

This passage comes on the heels of the early church-at a time when people were selling what they had so no one was in need, when persecution was common, and loving others meant life-altering choices. To think that I was giving myself a pat on the back for hosting brunch made me realise how “American” my mentality had become.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been blessed beyond belief by someone’s invitation for dinner, or by friends who have thrown events for me. I’m not dismissing the incredible blessing that is, or how much it meant to me personally. Heaven forbid we stop doing those kinds of happy and generous things for one another-I know they please God.   But Heaven forbid that’s were it ends for me or that my sons grow up to think that is the extent of what a hospitable woman looks like. 

I believe we need to stretch ourselves far beyond the point of feel-good hospitality, to nitty-gritty sacrificial hospitality too. Like the time my single friend came over every Thursday for six months after a hard day’s work to wash and fold my laundry when I had my first baby.

How about you? What can you do to go outside your comfort zone? 

Here’s a few ideas:

1. Offer your home with a backyard to a friend who lives in an apartment so she has a bigger space to host her child’s birthday party.

2. Loan your extra car to a family who sold their second car to pay bills during unemployment.

3. Cancel sports and dance classes for a semester and decide to serve meals as a family at the local shelter once a week for a semester.

A Biblical woman is a hospitable one, no doubt about it. But perhaps our definition of hospitality has become too narrow. I dream about the day the world hears the word Christian and immediately recognises them as extravagantly loving-those people who adopt orphans, open up their guest rooms to strangers, and pour out but seem to always be filled. And that’s the kind of woman I’m praying for as a wife for my boys. I just pray they recognise her because she first looked a lot like me.

Pray with me?

Dear Father, Open my heart to what it means to be a hospitable woman. Guide us as a family towards those who need to be shown love through our hospitality, and fill us up with Your wisdom and strength so that we can bless others. May my sons see in me first what it means to love others through my generosity and resources, and may they seek to find a woman who displays Biblical hospitality in their future wives. In Jesus Name, Amen!

RESOURCES:

1. Read more about Francis and Lisa Chan’s hospitable lifestyle here.

2. From my “Books Worth Reading” book list, one of the most life-changing books by Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. 

3. Read more from Romans chapter 12 here….

Amber lives in Southern California with her husband and 3 boisterous sons under the age of 6. She writes about faith and family from the perspective of a work-at-home mom, Hollywood producer and writer. You can follow her God-sized dream journey and their “Testoster-Home” at www.motherofknights.com.

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Belinda Jeffery’s Most Fabulous Banana Cake

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When I was growing up, my mum’s favourite sweet was Banana Cake, so for as long as I can remember, it’s been my favourite too. To this day, I still prefer a carrot, apple or banana cake over the richness of their various chocolate counterparts (but hey – they’re all good, cause they’re all cake). So when I first started working my way through Belinda Jeffery’s Mix & Bake, this amazing recipe was the first cab off the rank, and I found it well-deserving of its name. Apart from the actual baking, every part of this recipe is made in the food processor which makes everything easy. And if you don’t already know this, I’ll share with you a tip my sister-in-law Jo taught me years ago: when bananas go off, you can throw them in the freezer whole – skins and all. When you want to use them, defrost them in the sink and stick the insides straight into whatever you’re baking. The freezing and thawing process causes the still edible insides to go to mush which means you don’t need to do any mashing. And over-ripe bananas make the best choice for banana cake anyway. This lovely big cake serves between 10 and 12 people and costs around $7.  

Cake Mixture

  • 1 1/2 (225g) cups plain flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2-3 large very ripe bananas 
  • 1 2/3 (370g) cups caster sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 125g butter, at room temperature, cut into smallish chunks 
  • 100ml butter milk (or a 100ml mixture of half yoghurt and half milk – I do this all the time) 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 125g cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into smallish chunks (homebrand is fine)
  • 75g butter, at room temperature, cut into smallish chunks 
  • 250g icing mixture 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (170 for fan forced) and line or grease and flour a deep 26 cm ring tin. Because this is a quite a large cake, if your round or ring tin isn’t very deep, you might like to cook the leftover mixture in a loaf tin – if so you’ll need to line/grease that too. 

2. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarb soda in the food processor and blitz briefly. Tip the mixture into a spare bowl and set aside.

3. Stick the bananas in the food processor and blitz until smooth. Add in sugar and eggs and process again for one minute. Add the butter and process again until mixture is thick and creamy. Add buttermilk or yoghurt and milk mixture and vanilla extract and blitz in quick spurts until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue this process until just combined – don’t overdo it.

4. Pour mixture into the ring tin and smooth out the mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a fine skewer comes out clean. The cake won’t have risen much as its quite a dense and moist cake. Cool the cake in the tine for 7 or so minutes and then loosen the inside and outside circles of the cake from the tin using a sharp knife. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. For the cream cheese icing blitz the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add all the other ingredients and process again until you have a smooth, thick but spreadable icing. Ice the cake according to your preference once it’s completely cooled.

Donna Hay’s Instant Chicken Satay

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As I was thinking about what to write about this wonderfully fast and tasty dish, I realised again just how many times I’ve sat at the bench in my friend Amy’s kitchen as she’s recommended recipes to me. Though she’s moved houses since we first met, the scenario hasn’t changed much over the ten years we’ve known each other: Amy makes cups of tea for us both, she cooks whatever she needs to cook (and she’s a good deal better at it than me), we chat, sip tea, and she tells me about all the great recipes she’s tried out lately. Probably a good number of the recipes on this blog have come from her and over the years I’ve learnt lots about simple, yummy eating from Amy. In the beginning, I’d write her recommendations down on scrap paper (many of which I still have) but these days I just take a photo of her recipes on my phone and then come home and try them out. Now that my son is learning piano from Amy’s wonderful husband, once a week while he’s having his lesson, I get to once again sit at her bench and learn new things, which is exactly what happened a fortnight ago when she suggested this truly yummy, simple and affordable Donna Hay number. And although I’ve already added a slow-cooker satay recipe here, sometimes you just need a tasty stir-fry recipe of the instant variety. This one is freezer friendly and good to give away, though of course, check for peanut allergies before doing so or inviting folk over. A double portion of the recipe below fills a large wok almost to the brim, though following those listed below serves 8 with rice, and costs around $12. 

  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (my addition, not Donna’s) 
  • 4 chicken breast fillets / 6 chicken thigh fillets
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced (I use the gourmet garden one in a tube) 
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream 
  • 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter 
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce 
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (I use powdered, reconstituted in water)
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 200g fresh snow peas
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned (my addition, not Donna’s) 
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh coriander leaves (optional, no big deal if you don’t have them)
  1. In a small bowl combine coconut cream, peanut butter, soy sauce, stock, fish sauce and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok or frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, onion, chicken and chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. 
  3. Add the snow peas and carrots and cook for 1 minute. Add the combined peanut butter and liquids and cook for a further minute or until slightly thickened. Stir through the coriander and serve on steamed rice.