Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trespass Offering Box???

"Let the members of every family begin to work over against their own house. Let them humble themselves before God. It would be well to have a trespass offering box in sight, and a rule, to which all the household are agreed, that whoever speaks unkindly of another or speaks passionate words, shall drop therein a trespass offering of not less than ten cents [equivalent to about $3.10 today!]. In this way all would be on their guard against these wicked words, which do harm to their brethren, and much more to themselves. No man can of himself tame that unruly member, the tongue; but if you come to God with contrite hearts in humble supplication, in faith, He will do the work for you. By the help of God you must bridle your tongue; talk less, and pray more." {15MR 183}

I came across this quote while doing my sanctuary study recently, and it quite intrigued me! Does anybody actually do this??? I don't know of a single family who follows this practice. I wonder why... Have you ever heard of this idea of a "trespass offering box," or do you/your family have one? I'm actually thinking of making one myself...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Covenant of Salt

"And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." ~ Leviticus 2:13

I don't remember ever reading this before (although I'm sure I have), and it boggled my mind. Salt? Why did God tell the Israelites to salt all their offerings? There must be some significance to this that I'm missing. So off I went on my quest to discover the meaning behind salt, and the "salt of the covenant".

Here's what I found.

For centuries, in Arabic-speaking countries, salt has been a symbol of loyalty and friendship. The Arabic word for "salt" and for "compact" or "treaty" is the same. This probably comes from the ancient practice of  eating a meal together to seal a covenant - a tradition still practiced today among Arabic-speaking people. Since salt was considered an essential component of the daily food, the word became synonymous with hospitality and friendship. (Thus the Arabic expressions, "There is salt between us"; "He has eaten of my salt.")

Salt also is known to be a preservative.

So now with these properties of salt in mind, let's unravel the symbology. I like the point brought out in Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary: "Salt is required in all the offerings. God hereby intimates to them that their sacrifices, in themselves, were unsavoury. All religious services must be seasoned with grace." (Another verse comes to mind: "...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags....")

Elsewhere in Leviticus 2, the use of leaven, or yeast, is forbidden. Why? Usually in Scripture, leaven is a symbol of sin. Things that have been made with leaven tend to spoil quickly. Contrast that with the preserving properties of salt. Salt and leaven are opposites.

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary sums up the symbology of salt better than I ever could.
"The same reasons which led to the prohibition of leaven, recommended the use of salt--if the one soon putrefies, the other possesses a strongly preservative property, and hence it became an emblem of incorruption and purity, as well as of a perpetual covenant--a perfect reconciliation and lasting friendship. No injunction in the whole law was more sacredly observed than this application of salt; for besides other uses of it that will be noticed elsewhere, it had a typical meaning referred to by our Lord concerning the effect of the Gospel on those who embrace it (Mr 9:49, 50); as when plentifully applied it preserves meat from spoiling, so will the Gospel keep men from being corrupted by sin. And as salt was indispensable to render sacrifices acceptable to God, so the Gospel, brought home to the hearts of men by the Holy Ghost, is indispensably requisite to their offering up of themselves as living sacrifices."
 So, ceremonial salt can be summed up as representing an everlasting commitment of friendship between us and God, and His grace, which will keep us pure and undefiled from sin (Titus 2:11-14), and without which all our offerings and attempts at righteousness are insufficient. Wow!!! Who knew Leviticus could be so powerful? ^_^

Hot Tamales!

I did it. I finally did it. I made tamales.

I had been wanting to learn for months, but I kept putting it off for fear of doing something wrong, and I kept making silly excuses like, "I need a Mexican to teach me!" or "I can't find the right chili powder seasoning that the recipe calls for," or "It takes too long to make!" But finally I put all excuses aside and determined, "I'm gonna do this. Today."

And yes, it did take me 4 hours in the kitchen (including the steaming process), but that's only because there were several things that should have been pre-made and weren't (like the "Bulgur Burger" and tofu mayo). And I was probably being too perfectionistic (as usual) about assembling the tamales. But hey, I had fun. =)

And the end result? Perfection!!! ^_^ My family loved it, and Mom has decided we will definitely make these again. ;-) Recipe and pictures are below.

Amazing. Simply amazing. My mouth is watering again, even though I'm full. =P

(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
half 8-oz. package dried corn husks
2 cups Masa Harina Flour
1 can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. water, or more as needed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. Chicken-Like Seasoning

Tamale Filling: 
1 cup burger replacement (recipe below)
2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. Homemade Taco Seasoning (recipe below, but actually I didn't add this - I just sprinkled in some cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt, and added a few Tbsp. of canned green chilies)
1/4 cup water, or more to moisten
Simmer Tamale Filling ingredients together until moisture is evaporated, then add 2 Tbsp. Simple Mayonnaise (recipe below).

1. Soak dried corn husks several hours (place in a bowl or bread pan and cover with water). Use a weight on top to keep them submerged. (I soaked mine overnight.)

2. Combine in a mixing bowl the masa flour and seasonings. Stir in coconut milk and water to form a soft dough. Divide into 12 balls. 
The dough should be soft, but not sticking to hands. Press some of it into a flat pancake in your hand; if it cracks and doesn't hold together, add a bit more water.

3. Place corn husks, one at a time, on a flat surface or plate. With your fingers, flatten dough on each husk 1/4 inch thick, leaving about a 1-inch margin at the bottom and sides. [I left about 3-4 inches at the bottom, and 1 inch from the top and sides.] Place 1-2 Tbsp. Tamale Filling lengthwise down the center. Lift long husk sides toward the center, gently sliding the dough away from the husk to cover the filling. Overlap and press edges of dough together, forming a tube of masa filled with burger. [I should have taken pictures of this process, but didn't think of it till later. =\ Sorry.]

4. Wrap the sides of the husk around the masa filling, then fold up the bottom. Fasten the bottom fold with a strip of corn husk. Don't tie it too tightly, though, or you'll squeeze the filling out! :)

5. Place tamales in a steamer basket in a kettle over boiling water. Cover and steam for 1 hour.

6. Serve hot in husks. (Remove the husk to eat the tamale.) Delicious topped with salsa and guacamole! =D These can also be frozen.
Tip: Oven reheating makes tamales dry out; it's best to reheat in a steamer or microwave.

Makes 12 tamales.

Bulgur Burger
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
1 cup bulgur wheat
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 cup walnuts, ground
1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp. powder)
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or increase salt to 1 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. Beef-Like Seasoning
8-oz. can tomato sauce

1. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until thick. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

2. Use as is, or place in a Teflon skillet over medium-high heat and brown, stirring now and then. If desired, add about 1 cup diced onion and brown with the bulgur wheat. [I've never done this. I just use it as is.]

Makes 3 cups.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
2 Tbsp. onion powder
3 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup California Chili

Mix together and store in an airtight container.

Makes 1/2 cup.

Simple Mayonnaise
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
12-oz. box Mori-Nu Silken Soft Tofu, or 1/2 brick regular tofu plus 3/4 cup water
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-1/2 Tbsp. honey (or 2 Tbsp. sugar)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend for at least 1 minute until silky smooth. Chill to thicken.

Tip: Don't underestimate the importance of the right balance of lemon, sweetening, and salt. For low salt, cut salt, sweetener, and lemon juice in half.

Makes 3 cups.