Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
Today is my son’s first birthday. Watching a child throughout their first year of life is likable to witnessing a high-speed car chase. Each turn is unpredictable, the destination a little unsure at times, and you pray with every second to avoid collision. And of course, at about the mid-way point, there is indeed a whole lot of chasing going on.
The progression is rapid. From a motionless newborn, hardly capable of opening their eyes for more than a few minutes, to that first real milestone of holding their head up by themselves. From there they continue on in fierce pace until they can finally grasp that rattle on their own. Next–they sit up, or possible push themselves up from their tummy onto their hands and knees. Momentum increases until they finally master the rocking motion, back and forth, on their hands and knees until finally, at last, there is mobility.
More incredible even than witnessing these physical milestones has been the observation of his developing personality, those “milestones” we must look more carefully and deeper to see. My son is sensitive. He gets it from his father, I suppose. In all seriousness, he does, for it is a sensitivity of the spirit to those around him. Grayson has a great ability to look deeper into people. Even from first meeting he can sense things, and I see this already in Ezekiel. He is ever observant. He watches people and reacts so honestly (sometimes too honestly, in his innocence) to their gestures.
A more comical personality trait we have noticed in him is his love for food, which I am rather proud of. This past Saturday while we were on our family date, I pulled a fresh piece of focaccia from my backpack for Zeke to snack on as we waited for our breakfast. As we broke pieces off and set them in front of him, he literally giggled in delight as he picked up each piece, thoroughly examined it from all angles, then placed it ever so gleefully into his mouth. This is a common occurrence at meal times.
Grayson challenged me recently to begin displaying in our meals the personality of the ingredients involved. To “showcase” just one or two ingredients in an dish.
My sister gave me these beautiful purple potatoes out of her garden. She instructed me that I could use them just like a russet–baked, roasted, mashed. I asked myself instead how I could showcase them. Their personality is bright, nutty and earthy, making them a perfect compliment for another ingredient I’ve fallen for this week–immature soybeans. Edamame (ed-ah-MAH-may)
But how to marry these two very bright ingredients? In a quirky, zesty, Southeast-Asian inspired potato salad, of course! The idea was inspired in part by two more ingredients I was at loss of what to do with. At the farmer’s market on Saturday, Grayson insisted that I buy a basket of shallots, as I had recently told him I wanted to attempt to cook with them. We also passed by a tent with baskets of dried Thai chili peppers. In broken english, the kind Asian lady instructed us how to cook with them, and to only use one, as they hold quite a punch of heat (my translation of her instructions) As we walked away, Grayson said that she was probably assuming, by our skin color, that our level of heat tolerance may be a bit lower. He insisted that we should definitely use more than one chilli pepper when cooking with them.
Alright, so instead of the “one or two” ingredients Grayson challenged me to showcase the personalities of, I settled for four. I’m getting there.
I had never used any of these four ingredients, but I knew the shallot and chili peppers would offer their personalities as a perfect flavor base throughout the entire salad. And so I began with them. With some quick research online, I discovered that a common condiment served in Southeast Asia is “bawang goreng” or “Crispy Fried Onions”, otherwise, deep fried shallots.
Shallots are classified along the same line as onions, yet are found in a clove, as garlic. Their flavor, however in my opinion, is much like a radish, and absolutely delicious; often used in gourmet cooking. In Asia they are considered a foundational spice, along with garlic.
I began with 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat (enough to sizzle, not burn). Into it I placed 2 pressed cloves of garlic, 5 finely-chopped dried Thai chili peppers, and 5 thinly-sliced (lengthwise) shallots. As the three ingredients sizzled and sauteed for about 6 minutes, two beautiful things conspired. First, the shallots developed a crispy brown fry to them. Secondly, the oil infused with the enticingly united flavors of the garlic, shallots and chilies.
After the shallots thoroughly crisped, I removed them from the oil and set them aside. The remaining flavored-oil would serve as my flavor base to permeate the entire dish with the personalities of these first three ingredients.
I chopped 7 of my sister’s beautiful medium-sized purple potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces, placed them in a large bowl, and tossed them in my flavor-infused oil. They then roasted in the oven for 25 minutes (until tender), at 375 degrees.
In attempts to lessen my dish-washing efforts later on, I went back to my bowl used for tossing the purple potatoes in oil. The delicious oil residue still remained throughout the bowl. I decided to use this to my advantage. Into the bowl I dropped 2 tablespoons of all-natural mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 5 tablespoons all-natural plain yogurt. These were thoroughly mixed with a whisk. Next went in my reserved fried shallots. I gently folded them into the cream mixture with a rubber spatula.
Once the purple potatoes had roasted sufficiently to develop a brown skin and tender inside, I removed them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
Once cooled, I drizzled over them the cream and shallot mixture, gently folding with a rubber spatula to combine. Lastly, in went 10oz of edamame, removed from pods and sea-salted to taste, gently folding once again to combine.
As it was the salad was delicious, but chilled and served later (or the next morning with scrambled eggs), was brilliant. Also, just for one more stride towards Asia, you may want to sprinkle some sesame seeds on top once plated.
|Purple Potato and Edamame salad with Shallots and Thai Chili Peppers|
My determination to successfully marry each individual flavor of the shallots, dried Thai chilli peppers, edamame and purple potatoes, while honoring and showcasing their distinct personalities paid off. The result was a bright and quirky potato salad inspired by Asian flavors and loaded with personality.
This is the personality trait, or one of them, I believe I have passed on to Ezekiel–determination. He has a strong predisposition to achieve whatever goal he sets before himself. He purposefully sets a large toy in front of him just for the challenge of climbing over it to get to the other side. And he will not cease until the challenge and height of that toy is conquered.
Grayson commented to me the other morning that this determination in our son will soon evolve into a bull-headed stubborness, and this child will surely require much discipline. I don’t doubt his assumption.
Yes, my heart lept the first time I set Ezekiel down on his bottom and his little abs held him upright. The first time he rocked himself back and forth with just enough momentum to carry him forward on his knees, I swelled with pride. Forever etched in my memory will be the first time he pulled himself onto his feet, and then let go of the object holding him up to stand on his very own. However, even greater than these moments in the past year has been the great gift of watching this child’s personality, character, and strengths develop into who God is creating him to be. While knitting Ezekiel together into my womb, God was fashioning a plan for his life. And for this purpose God is equipping him. I pray fervently that Ezekiel grows to pursue and know the Lord, and that God will continue to equip, strangthen, and guide this young boy into manhood; into a man after God’s own heart and purposes.
“Ezekiel”: “God will strengthen”
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!