a prayer for tonight

dear god,

thank you for five years in Philadelphia

thank you for Bradley and Friendly, who joined our family in Philadelphia and thank you for Max and Emma, who left us during our time here (please tell them we love them and miss them still)

thank you for the friends we made in Philadelphia. thank you especially for that one special family who stopped in Fernhill Park one of our first weeks in town to chat with us. out of that one act of kindness and warmth, a deep love grew

thank you for our church community, for running and hiking friends, for friends at the shop and amazing colleagues at ESA, for vegan friends, and for neighbors who know our names, love our family through their generous actions, and always say hello

thank you for the beautiful wissahickon, where we were able to breathe deeply, sweat profusely, and sometimes just sit in awe

thank you for the opportunity to be closer to some of our family and old friends in Eugene and help us honor that new possibility by prioritizing relationship over productivity

god, we feel sad. we also feel joy and possibility

god, please help us to feel our sad feelings well, to not push them away but to embrace and work through them; to not dwell on them but to remember that you are preparing friends and community for us in Eugene even while we grieve the pain of uprooting from Philadelphia.

help us to see these new friends the way that you do. help us find our place there, and help us know if it’s ever time for us to leave again

help us to remember that you love us dearly

help us to remember that we love one another

help us to live the reality of both of those truths, and this one, too: grief and praise are sisters

and remind us in this huge and scary and welcomed and fortunate transition, god, that some things will be better, some things will be worse, some things may just be different, but that everything will be okay

we love you, we praise you, please help us hear you

amen

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Weekly Menu

Our house is on the market. That means we have to keep it clean basically every minute, so the goal for this week is to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, while still eating relatively balanced meals. Here goes:

Monday: Penne Pasta Salad (bonus, most of the ingredients are on-hand already)

Tuesday: BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches, served with White Bean Kale Salad

Wednesday: Vegan Singapore-ish Noodles

Thursday: Seven-Layer Dip

Friday: Vegan Green Chili Mac & Cheese (19 grams of protein per serving, baby, and I’ll probably cook up some Gardein Chick’n to go along with it…ask me where vegans get their protein…go ahead, do it)

Weekly Menu

(or – what to cook when you’re in the final throes of prepping your house to go on the market and you won’t be able to walk on your kitchen floor for a full 24-hour period)

Monday: Vegan Sloppy Joes with tater tots and a green salad

Tuesday: no kitchen floor…so, we’re going to eat out. No sense in stressing too much about it.

Wednesday: light traffic only. I don’t want to tread on the floor too much yet, so we’ll have ravioli with sauce. Not the most balanced meal, but simple and quick. And for real, these ravioli from an all-vegan company based in Philadelphia are sooooo good.

Thursday: Hello Taco Bowls! I can’t wait to try that quinoa-black bean filling.

Friday:  Roasted Sweet Potato and Avocado Green Salad. My kid reminded me last night how much he loved Gardein’s Chick’n Scallopini, so I’ll bake some up to go alongside the salad for him.

p.s. Hey! Some good friends of ours are throwing us an all-vegan potluck going away party. Next week, I’ll have a list of suggestions for what to bring when you are invited to an all-vegan potluck but aren’t vegan yet.

Weekly Menu

Al.most.there.

Still to do: paint, backsplash, kickplates, light fixture, whitewash the floors, finish curing the countertops.

But the oven works and the water works and we have a dishwasher and the room looks so big now, I want to die a little.

Monday: I need a standby, and that’s this Almond Butter Tofu Stir Fry.

Tuesday: Tempeh Vegan Club Sandwiches (I loved-LOVED-deli sandwiches before I went vegan and was a little worried I’d miss that piled-high goodness, but I don’t because of tasty goodness like this)

Wednesday: Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Burritos (30 minutes, and the kid loves them)

Thursday: Creamy Vegan Shiitake and Kale Pasta (the creamy sauce is made with soaked and blended cashews…like heavy cream, but without the cholesterol or cruelty to cows). I’m going to add some Gardein Chik’n Scallopini to this for some extra protein.

Friday: Isaiah’s having a sleepover. We’ll make pasta, sauce, and our trusty Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs, which are always a crowd-pleaser.

Saturday: Giehl and I are eating out in center city Philly like grownups to celebrate his birthday (thanks to the generosity of my workmates). Good thing I didn’t pack all my adult clothes already. 😉

 

Weekly Menu (or, how to cook vegan during a kitchen renovation)

This week’s challenge? What to cook when this is the current status of your kitchen:

As far as DIY kitchen renovations go, we’re pretty fortunate: we have a stove! But we won’t have running water in the kitchen for a few days this week, so I need to plan meals that can be made entirely on the stove and that don’t require a lot of water or a sink to prep, because tromping up to the second floor and using its tiny bathroom sink is something I’m willing to do about once per meal.

I think everything I’m making this week could also be made on a grill or griddle, if you’re a grill person. I’m not a grill person. Food and outside don’t mix.

Sunday: real-talk time. I still haven’t made it to the black bean and mango quesadillas or the tofu quiche from last week. I’ll try to throw those together today, while I do have a sink. Also real talk? I think I packed my food processor and grater, so I’m really not sure how I’m going to manage those shredded potatoes.

Monday: veggie burgers with raw vegetables and ranch dressing (I’ll try this recipe)

Tuesday: ravioli (they can be easily scooped out of boiling water!) with tomato sauce and sauteed spinach. From the list of ravioli above, I’ll probably buy the Eat Nice brand, as it’s available at our local food co-op. <—that’s a win-win.

Wednesday: I’ll pick from this list of vegan breakfast sandwiches and add a fruit salad, probably splurging on a pre-cut one (something we never do)

Thursday: more veggie burgers with roasted cauliflower

Friday: blueberry pancakes and soy sausage

Wish us luck. Or come help us out. 🙂

 

Weekly Menu

I was out of town all last week, and even though the Christian conference I went to had a TON OF GREAT VEGAN FOOD INCLUDING DESSERT (the world is changing, people, the world.is.changing)…I am missing my normal food routine.

Look at this tiny vegan tapioca pudding! I held my pinky up the whole time I was eating it.

With baseball season out of the way and just one evening appointment this week, I’m going to practice a little care for myself by making sure to choose dishes that are nutritionally balanced and full of good stuff that I can’t always get when travelling.

Sunday: I took my green curry paste out of the freezer, so we’re going to have that One-Pot Lentil Dal with Vegan Naan.

Monday: Broccoli Tahini Pasta Salad

Tuesday: eat out … lately, I’ve been really digging the Disco Chick’n from Hip City Veg. And a few weeks ago when we were there, they had a vegan strawberry shake that was to die for. Strawberries are fruit.

Wednesday: If we can find the right kind of jackfruit (I’ll keep you posted if you remind me), we’ll try BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with a side of raw carrots.

Thursday: Vegan Mac and Cheese – a recipe I haven’t tried before! We’ll have a big salad for some green, too, obviously.

Friday: Mango and Black Bean Quesadillas with this Red Cabbage Slaw (I’m the only one who will eat this, but whatevs)

Saturday: Simple Tofu Quiche (and salad)

Freedom, Compassion, and Hard Choices

A review of The End of Captivity? A Primate’s Reflection on Zoos, Conservation, and Christian Ethics (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2015) by Tripp York

After a meeting, I looked at my phone to see that I had several missed calls and a voicemail from the head of the after-school program my young son attended. Without listening to the message, I immediately dialed the teacher, my heart racing. Turns out that my son had been worried sick about the field trip they were scheduled to take that day: he had not remembered it was happening and had not discussed it with me. It would be his first trip to the zoo, and he was concerned I would be mad at him for going. I told the teacher it was fine and to please let my son know she had spoken to me. When he got home that night, we talked about what he saw, how he felt, and whether I was upset (I was not).

Tripp York’s The End of Captivity? had a lot to do with my measured reaction to my son participating in the zoo field trip, something I swore up and down I would never allow. York’s book made me realize that much of my blanket condemnation of zoos came from miserable experiences I had as a child visiting the Boise Zoo. Even at a very young age, something seemed terribly wrong with keeping bears in barren concrete pits, confining monkeys to narrow cages with only a few vines and branches for exercise, and keeping piles of snakes together in small aquariums. No wonder the resident giraffe spit on everyone he could: I would have been mad, too. But my thirty-year-old experience at the Boise Zoo probably should not inform my whole opinion of all zoos. Indeed, one of York’s basic points is that we cannot simply paint all zoos with a broad brush.

York presents the reader with six movements and six interludes. First, he gives the reader an overview of the circumstances and questions that led to a Christian animal advocate volunteering for his local zoo. Second, York explores how humans experience zoos and what that might mean for the purpose and place of zoos in modern society: “I love and loathe zoos. I lament that they need to exist, but I am often grateful that they do exist. I am more excited, however, about what they can become. Their potential…” (York, 25). Third, we examine the tension between “freedom” and “conservation” with a particular focus on the crisis of the Baghdad Zoo during the U.S. invasion. These first three chapters serve mainly to provide a nuanced, balanced, and realistic overview of the situation that humans have created for animals, and to highlight a few of the ways that people are responding to that crisis in (hopefully) helpful ways.

After establishing an overview of current realities, York turns begins to unpack how a Christian worldview or faith ought to inform the human-animal relationship, with a particular focus on captive animals. York first explores the purpose of animals from a Christian perspective and examines how that purpose relates to what the Bible says about how humans are to practice dominion. In a book about captive animals, we’d be remiss to ignore the billions of animals kept in captivity for human consumption. York’s fifth movement explores the philosophical origins of his vegetarianism since, “the number of chickens killed per hour exceeds the total number of animals in all accredited zoos and aquariums in North America” (York, 87). In the final movement, York “disrupts the poverty of our imaginations” (York, 111) to combat the idea that because there is violence in the world now, we can be excused from pursuing eschatologically-informed behavior, and revisits an earlier discussion of naming: “Christians name other animals well when they are named eschatologically” (York, 112).

Book reviews are supposed, I think, to find something to nitpick, some point to make to let the author know they did not do everything exactly right. I’ll do that, but reluctantly. York has written a compelling, deeply personal, and nuanced book that helped me think more holistically about animals in captivity. If he ever does a re-write, I would ask for further exploration of two points: first, there is an underlying assumption throughout the book that extinction is bad and conservation of species is good. I found myself wishing he would acknowledge and explore that assumption. And second, I would like to hear more about why we call a small subset of captive animals “exotic,” explore how that might relate to colonialism, including a colonized faith, and examine the ways in which a decolonized theology might offer hope to animals in captivity.

In a fallen world, the “right thing to do” is not always clear. In addition to presenting a compelling theological case for animal protection, The End of Captivity? offers readers an introduction to some men, women, and organizations who are balancing this tension as they attempt to make a comfortable life for animals in their care. I may not agree with some of their tactics, but York has helped to humanize a group of people I had unfairly written off as greedy and self-serving. His work has made me more compassionate and more informed, and for that, I am exceedingly grateful.