Day 93 of 100: Egg Drop Soup

Today’s experiment: Egg Drop Soup

Result:

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When I was a kid, our family went to Silver Palace Restaurant in Whittier for a lot of our family gatherings.

I remember the fish at the entrance, the super-friendly host named Bob (I hope he’s still working there, he was there when our family went back about 2 years ago), the whole fish with the googly eye and all, and egg drop soup.

Ever since then, every time we go to a Chinese or pseudo-Chinese restaurant, I look for the egg drop soup.

So when I found a recipe to make it, you betcha I bounced on that. It’s super simple to make too! And if you do the chemistry right, you get beautiful egg ribbons.

This recipe from The Kitchn (not a typo) gives a lot of possible variations to the soup, ranging from mushrooms and tofu to star anise and cinnamon. I preferred to keep it simple, so this time I stuck with ginger and soy sauce. But I’ve added veggies in before, and it’s a great way to use up any extra greens/mushrooms you’ve got lying around.

Hurray, childhood throwbacks 😀

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Day 92 of 100: Chocolate?

Today’s experiment: Green tea chocolate

Result:

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CHOCOLATE!! …to quote a particular Spongebob episode.

Except, this chocolate is very green, because of the matcha.

I looooove matcha, and this recipe uses a whopping 2 tablespoons of the pretty green stuff. These chocolates are lovely and sweet, and this recipe makes a lot (36 squares), so get a party together of other matcha-lovers and make this chocolate happen.

Definitely pay attention to the “notes” at the bottom of the page, you’ll want to invest in some of the fancier white chocolate to make sure it has some cocoa butter in it. Science.

Day 91 of 100: Leadership Deconstructed

Lots of things happened at church this week. We had our week-long Vacation Bible School (VBS), started a middle school girls’ small group, and our youth group took over our Sunday morning services.

Gosh, amazing things happened. VBS is consistently an incredible collaboration of highly motivated storytellers, artists, actors, small group leaders, administrators, cooks, and coordinators of all ages in our church, to put together a week-long gospel production that really connects the over 100 children that participated in VBS to God. The middle school girls’ small group was a wonderful time of openness and authenticity over some difficult topics and fun in baking brownies. Youth Sunday was a beautiful day where the youth exercised and brought out gifts and talents many of them had no idea they had or had no opportunity to develop.

I played various leadership roles throughout this last week, and all these events were opportunities for me to apply some concepts of leadership that I’ve been researching recently (mostly from Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast and a leadership devotional my mom gave me a while ago), so here are some of the things I learned/applied, somewhat through trial and error, about leadership in this last week.

Leadership takes many styles, depending on your arena. This week, I was a skit/dance team coordinator, small group leader, and worship team leader. It took some time to figure out what leadership looks like in each of these arenas. More on this in the following points.

Leverage your teams’ strengths. I got better at this through leading skits/dances during VBS. The thing about being a jack-of-all-trades type like me tends to mean that you’re not particularly good at anything, but I think it helps me appreciate when other people are really good at something I’m decent at. Each member of my VBS skit team was particularly strong in a skill whether it be making sure we were effectively conveying the message we wanted in the skit, bringing humor into the skit, improvising during the skit, being able to convey emotion well in the skit, writing the script well, etc… It was a humbling experience of me constantly moving myself out of the way for another member with something really great to add to our performances.

Delegate. Be clear about what your goal is and why you’re striving for it. Be clear about what you expect of the people you delegate to. I did not do this well during VBS, and I learned how important it is. Delegation is a great leadership goal, partially to alleviate some of your burden but also to empower those under your leadership. During VBS, I asked my team to plan out most of the skits, but I didn’t communicate well what I expected of them, including what their message should be, what Bible stories they should base their skits on, how much time the skit should take, etc. One of my team members made a point of starting and ending our time in prayer.

You have the power to set the tone.  I started the small group session with how the book/sermon series (“Battlefield of the Mind for Teens” by Joyce Meyer) has affected and helped me in my life, sharing with the girls my personal struggles and how God has been working with me in my life through them, then opened the discussion to the girls and asked them what they wanted to get out of this small group. I don’t usually do these things, but I heard they’re a good idea and I’m really glad I did. In sharing my story, I gave the girls a green light of “safe space”, which I believe encourages discussion and tells them that they have control over how much and what they get out of our small group time. The role of small group leader is one of guiding discussion, asking questions to encourage the group to go deeper and apply principles to their lives beyond the scope of the small group itself. This differs from a worship team leader or skit team leader, whose goal is to put together a good worship set/skit for the primary benefit of the audience. Character development of the team members seems to be more of a by-product of working toward that goal.

Your team will go where you go. The role of a worship team leader is a bit like producer/performer. Worship leaders ideally have a good ear for what works and doesn’t work in a song, coordinating each instrument and voice to help the team understand who starts a song, the tempo, when to build or get softer, what key the song’s in, etc. As a worship leader, your mood tends to set the tone for the song and people depend on you to start singing, whether to sing a verse/chorus/bridge, watching me to see if I’m jumping around or if I’m going for a more contemplative vibe. It’s about organizing the music and performing in a way that allows people to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. This is a little bit less true in my skit/dance coordinator role, because every member of my team was more gifted than I in some arena, so they’re able to and should go beyond where I go.

Listen and seek unity. Always. James 1:19 says “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” This can be SO HARD when you just know what your team should do. Listening is empowering to others. Listening allows you to consider ideas that your team has that you would never have thought of yourself. This happened many times through VBS, and I learned how to ask my team what they want to do before giving my input, and often their ideas were better. Asking what my girls wanted from our small group instead of telling them what I want them to get out of it allows them to take ownership of their spiritual growth. Even if you’re right and you know what’s best, people will often not do what you want them to unless they feel heard and understood. I can name numerous times that I’ve completely shut down in front of people that I felt didn’t understand me, even though I knew that what they’re saying is right.

Leadership is a learning process. I’m always learning things about myself and about others. I’m learning how to extend myself grace as a leader, as well as extending grace and love to those I’m leading. Leadership is scary, but it makes life exciting, and I believe that anyone can lead by finding their leadership style and loving others.

Day 90 of 100: Best brownies ever

Today’s experiment: Cookie dough brownies

Result:

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I realize the title of this post is a bold thing to say.

But I’m sure that these are the best brownies ever, because you really can’t eat just one.

I made these with some middle school girls at my church in a small group context, and they were done by the end of our time together.

So I think “slutty brownies” refers to a chocolate chip cookie base with brownies on top, but these take that to a whole new level. They’re cold because you need the cookie dough to solidify, but that seems to make them a little less dense. And the cookie dough has no egg, so there’s no risk of salmonella.

Anyway, here’s the famous recipe, from Brown-eyed baker. I cut the recipe in half to make an 8×8 pan, 9×13 pan of brownies is a rather ridiculous amount of brownies and like 4 sticks of butter. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Day 89 of 100: 21 and over only, please

Today’s experiment: watermelon “jello shots”

Result:

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Aren’t these pretty? I’m a big fan of this presentation!

I saw this recipe on Buzzfeed a while ago, and I thought I’d try it. The watermelon I had was pretty small, so I just cut the recipe in half.

That’s right: the watermelon serves as the base for the jello. You don’t actually use the inside of the watermelon in the jello, so feel free to eat the jello while It’s actually surprising how well the jello sticks to the side of the watermelon.

Though actually, theoretically you could make these without alcohol and just use cold water instead and I’m sure they’d work just as well.

Please eat your watermelon jello shots responsibly and in small doses. These things are pretty strong.

Day 88 of 100: “Every day and in every way…

Today’s experiment: IHC

Result:

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…I’m getting better and better and better.”

I’m not entirely sure where that’s from, but it’s a saying that I remember my dad saying a lot throughout my childhood. It’s become a little mantra of sorts of mine, because I can get bogged down by thinking of what I want the end result to be and anxieting over how far I have to go to get there.

So this little saying reminds me to take things one day at a time, and I’m doing just that. And my IHC looks a little better every time.

Day 87 of 100: Crunch time food

Today’s experiment: Collection of quick and simple food things

Result:

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This week is my church’s Vacation Bible School, our church-wide outreach effort to children and families in our community. It is an absolutely stellar production and a true joy to be a part of every year.

But I have not done that much meal planning and cooking between work and VBS, so here are some collections of things that are tasty, decently healthy, filling, and quick to make for you on-the-go people. Which, frankly, seems to be a majority of America.

I’ve been working on slowing down in my life to allow time for rest, recuperation, and reflection, but we all have crunch time weeks.

In the photo I’ve made a matcha banana smoothie, baked chicken katsu, and an ear of corn. I made the smoothie and corn as the katsu was baking, and I had a great meal in 30 minutes.

Matcha banana smoothie
1 serving, based on recipe from JustOneCookbook1 tsp matcha
1 banana, chopped and frozen
1 cup or so of 1% milk
A bit of honey
Put all ingredients in a NutriBullet or blender and mix it all up!

Baked Chicken Katsu
I just used the JustOneCookbook recipe. I like this website. It also has great and quick recipes for baked salmon “katsu” or regular chicken katsu.

Microwave Corn
Seriously, just put the whole ear, husk on, in the microwave for 4 minutes. After it’s cooled a bit, cut off the basal end (cut me some slack, I’m a scientist) and slide the husk off and remove all the stringies. Done.