Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hello mutter . . .

A favorite food my Nepali Bhutanese friends share with me is mutter. Mutter means peas. But these are not like peas you've ever eaten. One afternoon, Jasoda invited me into her kitchen to learn how she makes mutter. I thought I'd share Jasoda's recipe with you!

First, soak ordinary dried peas overnight in water in your refrigerator. Jasoda didn't measure anything, so I'm just estimating how much she used of each ingredient. About 2 cups of dried peas went into this batch of mutter. The next day, chop up a bunch of fresh cilantro (the green leaves in the background, below). Then slice a tomato into small chunks. Jasoda slices by holding the tomato in one hand and shaving off slivers with a very sharp knife.
Begin heating your pan. Jasoda uses a wok she brought from Nepal. Use medium high heat.
Chop five or six green onions. Then dice one very hot chile -- probably a jalapeno, though that's not what Jasoda called it -- into very small bits.
Add oil to your hot wok. Cover the bottom -- about a half-inch deep. I'm guessing 1/4 to 1/2 cup of oil.While your oil is heating, take your spices out of the cupboard. You're going to need whole mixed cumin and coriander (nearest dish, below) and cumin coriander powder. We bought these in an Asian market.You'll also need turmeric powder.Put about 2 teaspoons of whole cumin and coriander into your pan. Then add a tablespoon of cumin and coriander powder and a teaspoon of turmeric.When your spices are sizzling, add chopped green onion, chile and tomatoes.Next add your tomatoes.Give this mixture a good stir and let it sizzle for maybe 5 minutes (or less). Grin at your teacher, because she is amazed at your mutter-making skills. Jasoda makes mutter almost every day.When your spices, onion, chile, and tomatoes are nicely mingled, drain your peas and add them to the mix.Stir quickly as they fry.
Turn the heat down a little and cover. Five minutes later, lift the lid and add the fresh cilantro.Cover again, and let the dish cook for 10-15 minutes. When done, the peas will not be soft. They are nice and firm, with a consistency something like raw peanuts.Spoon out a little mutter for each person at the table. Eat up, feel that gentle burn on your tongue, and settle back with a satisfied smile.

I'll be giving you the recipe for taro and hot tea next time!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Seventy-seven women. You read that right -- 77 women. That's how many showed up on January 19 to register for Refugee Sewing Society classes.The halls were jammed with women of every imaginable people group and language. Sharon arrived in time to rescue me from total overload. When no one else came, we prayed in earnest. We had barely opened our eyes when two volunteers from Emory and another from Rrisa walked through the door. Hallelujah!Before we let the women register, we handed out consent forms for them to sign. Refugees are resourceful. With few tables around, they made do.

With a chair . . .Or the floor . . .
Lovely Dhan always helps others. Her beauty is far more than skin deep.
Much discussion revolved around the consent form. What is it? Why do you need it? What is a signature? How do I spell my name in English? We were able to take about 40 women into our 4 programs -- beginner sewing, advanced sewing, bead group, and yarn group.

I know we could double the size of this ministry if we had more volunteers. I think it's time for Sharon and me to do some more praying!

The road is long, with many a winding turn . . .

I call my car the refugee-mobile. Every class day, I drive my ladies home from the community center -- and that's a lot of apartments to visit. Often, I drive to speaking engagements, too.Not too long ago, my car had a birthday. Yep, it went from 99,999 miles to 100,000 miles. Pray we can keep movin' on down the highway!
Notice the GPS in the first photo? That was a Christmas gift from our son, Geoffrey. He knows his mama well. I'm lost a good bit of the time while driving in Atlanta.

A recent trip took Amy and me to Alabama. We had the great joy of speaking, showing our amazing DVD, and selling our women's products to WMU executives from all over the US.I love doing markets with Amy. She's a whiz at setting up lovely displays.People in the churches, schools, and other places we visit are always so generous. On the way home from our Alabama trip, we stopped for lunch and decided to add up our students' sales.Every item has a tag, and every tag has a student's name, the item, and its price. When we sell an item, we cut the bottom off the tag. That's how we know whom to pay, and it helps us know which items are selling best.I've spent most of my life as a fiction author, and Amy has spent most of hers making videos for such clients as Home Depot and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. You wouldn't think two such artsy ladies would make a good sales team -- but you'd be wrong.Well, okay, I'll confess that by the end of the conference we were calling each other Lucy and Ethel. But we still did a better job of selling than our namesakes did selling Vitameatavegamin!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Running behind!

That seems to be my theme song these days. Like the white rabbit, "I'm late! I'm late!" I've been trying to finish a book since November. Finally on Sunday evening, I pushed the "send" button, and off it went to New York.

Now let's see what's been happening since I last wrote a blog entry . . .

One chilly winter day, I invited the leaders of The Refugee Sewing Society to my house for a lunch meeting. Carol Harrison is the secretary-treasurer of our almost-a-nonprofit ministry. We've turned in the paperwork, so now we'll just have to wait. Carol keeps us organized and on track taking minutes, calculating our income and outgo, and generally making sure we run smoothly.Todd Harrison, our CEO, helps us function as a ministry/non-profit/business. That's quite a job! He and Sharon, a board member, worked out prices for jewelry bags our women will sew. Caleb -- in the red cap -- is one of our favorite RSS leadership members!
This is my usual position when Todd tries to explain how a real business runs. Headache! Brain freeze! Zone out! Poor Todd has his hands full teaching me -- and in a couple of weeks, he'll be teaching our women how to read their new paychecks and keep track of their work.
After lunch, Amy and I decided to go visiting -- kutembelea, as we say in Swahili! Amy loves Radhika, one of her bead students.It had just snowed the day before, so we had a rare Hotlanta experience!
After our chat with Radhika and several of Amy's other Bhutanese students, we went over to our Somali friend's house.
Only one of Kuresho's children survived the war, and in the refugee camp, she began giving birth to a second family. Her last child (of 14 or 15 in all), is this precious little girl with Down Syndrome. I hadn't gotten to meet her, so that was really fun for me! Kuresho has two Somali treasures she's very proud of. These creations are made of beads woven into long strips. Here she wanted to show us how to wear them by putting them criss-cross on her daughter. Beautiful -- mother, daughter, and beads!
I also got to meet one of Kuresho's sons. He is a responsible young man and an excellent student. His mom sent him to fetch an envelope full of certificates he had won for perfect attendance, student of the month, and many others. She is rightfully proud of him.He had just put up a new wall hanging for his mother. Somalis love to cover their walls with fabric. It gives the room a tent-like feeling. What a great day! I loved spending time with the wonderful leaders God has brought to run The Refugee Sewing Society. And what fun to go visiting with Amy. We'll do it again soon!