Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Considering my untraditional work situation, not having a car charger for my cellphone can be a problem. It´s happened a couple of times now. I am rushing out the door going through a mental checklist—interpreter badge, water bottle, keys, sweater, cellphone, etc.  And then the screen of my phone flashes...BATTERY LOW. POWERING OFF.

I freeze for a moment, daunted by the inconvenience of not having a cellphone for the day or having to search for a handy electrical outlet between assignments. I throw my powerless phone in my bag and head off reprimanding myself for not making sure it was charged.

Being without a charged cellphone on a work day unsettles me. Yet, how often do we dive into the day without our spiritual battery, which connects us to God, charged?

Is God trying to tell me something? Is God hoping I´ll revisit the importance of spending quiet time in His power-filled presence?

I sit on the floor of my room reluctant to move from that spot until God´s purpose is accomplished. Selfish motives melt under His gaze. Fresh mercy, love, conviction, and truth turn my weakness into strength.  But the power I am receiving is not some generic, impersonal, unchanging river of electricity. No, this recharging experience is like one of those long conversations that neither person wants to end. It changes everything, just like a warm embrace from a friend who understands.

The end result (being fully charged) is important, but the time-requiring process (of making the connection and becoming charged) is irreplaceable. It´s time spent with the Divine heart that restores what I completely lack: stronger faith, compassion for others, humility, an attitude of gratitude, and familiarity with One who longs to guide me. This is what will keep me going. Only with this power will I stand up when everyone else sits down. Only by lingering near the Source of strength do I have any chance of being carried through the storm. Yes, some things are infinitely more vital than having a fully charged cellphone. Things like an early morning encounter with Truth that gives meaning to my smiles and even to my tears.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Vegan Cranberry Lemon Scones

     Well it's been a while since I posted last but now that school is out for the summer I should be able to provide more consistent thoughts and recipes for you all!
      The birth of this next recipe was again a result of my drive to complete a personal challenge: make an authentic tasting, flaky, English tea worthy, completely vegan scone. One of my favorite memories as a child is staying at the Historic Benbow Inn in Humboldt County, California and waiting with anticipation for the daily complimentary tea and scones served in the lobby every afternoon at 3 o'clock. Something about biting into a flaky cranberry/orange scone and sitting in a high backed chair made me feel so elegant and indulgent. Of course the only thing that would have made those scones more psychologically enjoyable for me is if they were vegan. Over the years I have tried unsuccessfully to create a vegan scone worthy of being served at the Benbow Inn and conjuring similar memories of elegance. This past year while living in Loma Linda, California a friend made some scones that I instantly fell in love with and which planted the reoccurring thought in my mind "If only I could make this scone vegan!" Thus I happily took up the challenge again.
       The most difficult ingredient to replace in scones is a nice heavy cream which provides most of the fat and seems to give a scone all its landmark characteristics so, I started experimenting with that first. After going through several alternatives and coming up with a satisfactory one I tried it in the following scone recipe and waited impatiently for the finished product to come out of the oven. They smelled delicious but what about taste? I gingerly picked one up, surveyed it with a critical eye, then tentatively went in for the bite. Prepared to be only somewhat satisfied, imagine my joy when the scone crunched, crumbled, and melted in my mouth just as it should.....success!! Fireworks went off in my head....I hope you have the same experience upon trying this recipe. Let me know what you think and comment on any changes you may have made to the recipe for our mutual enjoyment!


Combine in a blender:
- 3/4 cup vanilla (or unsweetened) soy milk
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Blend for 1 1/2 minutes on high and set aside.

Combine  in a small bowl and mix well:
- 1 cup of sunflower oil (or vegetable oil) 
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
Add this mixture very slowly, in one thin stream, to the soy milk mixture while still blending on high. Keep blending until mixture gets fairly thick (which usually happens as the last of the oil mixture is being poured into the blender). Refrigerate cream and use as needed. It keeps for about a week.

Note: Other heavy cream replacements include coconut milk or a combination of soymilk and coconut milk simmered down but the replacement that has had the most pleasing results is the above recipe.

Once the cream is done you can move on to the scones.


2 Cup unbleached flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. chilled margarine (preferably non-hydrogenated such as Smart Balance)
1/2 Cup of dried cranberries or currants (chocolate chips can also be used)
1-2 tsp. lemon rind, freshly grated
1 Cup heavy vegan cream

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut margarine into the dry mixture until the mixture resembles course crumbs. You can use a fork or knife to cut in the margarine but I prefer to wash my hands and use them to incorporate the margarine instead! :D Next, stir in the dried cranberries until they are nicely coated with a layer of the flour/margarine mixture. Last comes the heavy vegan cream. Stir in the cream with a spatula for no more than 30 seconds. It is preferable to not handle scone dough too much as it may not rise sufficiently or may become tough. Knead the dough in the bowl for 5-10 seconds and form it into a rough sticky ball. Lightly press the dough into a 8 or 9-inch round pan and turn onto a floured surface. With a knife (preferably not serrated) cut out the scones into the shape/size you desire and place on a oiled cookie sheet (I made 6-8 large scones from this recipe).
Optional: sprinkle some cane sugar over the scones for a decorative finish.
Bake scones at 425 F for 12-15 minutes. The larger your scones, the longer you will need to bake them. The bottom of the scone should turn a nice golden brown when done.

Now, take a scone, a cup of your favorite tea, settle in your favorite chair, and take a moment to feel elegant and indulgent......