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The Vicar and I first ate Bi Bim Bap (pronounced Bee Bim Bap) in Singapore, in a tiny Korean restaurant near the Vicar’s office. In those days he wasn’t a vicar, but an engineer working for a structural steel construction company. Bi Bim Bap means ‘mixed rice’ in Korean and my version isn’t terribly authentic, but we still love it. It’s simple and delicious and it’s my go-to recipe after cooking roast beef (we always have brisket) for Sunday lunch.

Ingredients

  • Rice (I use Thai fragrant jasmine)
  • Beef – minute steak if you don’t have any leftovers from Sunday lunch
  • At least couple of veggies to stir fry. Choose from bean sprouts/carrots/Chinese cabbage/baby corn/peppers etc – whatever you like or have in the fridge.
  • Garlic
  • Light soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Barbecue sauce – we use Bibigo Bulgogi Beef Barbecue sauce, which is authentically Korean, but any barbecue sauce will do.
  • Eggs
  • Chilli sauce – again we use the Korean one available in our astonishing multicultural Tescos, but any will do.

Cook your rice as usual. Then prepare all your ingredients: chop the veg, including a clove or two of garlic per vegetable, leaving each vegetable in a separate bowl. Slice your beef thinly. Make sure you have your oil, soy sauce & sugar handy. Hopefully your rice will be cooked and ready to go now. Heat up your wok or stir fry pan with a splash of oil. Pop in one portion of chopped garlic and once it is golden, add your first vegetable. Stir fry until cooked, then add a dash of soy (around 1/2tbspn per person) and a sprinkle of sugar (1/4tspn per person). Then put the cooked veg back in the bowl. Repeat with second vegetable. And then third, fourth etc if you’re feeling keen, but two vegetables is fine, honestly.

Then pop another dash of oil in your wok and add the beef. Stir fry until cooked (heated through if using leftovers) and add the barbecue sauce. If we’re using leftovers I also add leftover onion gravy at this point – so delicious. Heat through.

Then, using a separate frying pan, fry an egg for each person who’d like one – the Engineer is not keen, so his Bi Bim Bap comes egg free.

Now assemble your dish: rice at the bottom/side, vegetables and beef arranged in little piles on top, fried egg to top it all off. Squirt with chilli sauce to taste, then serve. Mixing is done by the person eating.

I would love to learn to make kimchi, the spicy pickled chilli cabbage dish, to accompany this. All recipes gratefully accepted!

Korean Vicarage Tea

Korean(ish) Vicarage Tea

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A lovely lady came back to our house after church today with her kids. They’ve been coming along for a few weeks – we’ve known them longer – and the kids wanted to play with the Engineer so they all piled back for a bit before lunch. We’re planning the whole family to join us for a meal in a couple of weeks so that her husband can join us too. It was great to chat with her and get to know her better and before she left I asked her for her mobile number, so I could send her reminders about the activities for the kids over half term (Dreamer organises some brilliant informal drop in sessions in the afternoons most holidays now).

I’ve never properly asked her name I don’t think, but I have been calling her one thing. Just to check, I asked her how to spell it, and she gave me a different name. A lovely name, but unusual. She told me she often calls herself something else (that I’d been calling her) when she meets new people because it was more familiar to them. This made me sad – that she’d felt the need to change her name. She also said that she prefers her real name, so I’ll be using that from now on.

If we’d not had that longer time today I’d not have known her real name. A quick five minutes after church doesn’t allow us to really get to know one another. To know each other by name. We need time to get to know one another. The challenge in a busy world is to make and take that time. So that we can begin to know one another as the Lord knows his people:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

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Another day, another minor declutter. Three items today, although I had to search again for the third, as the Queen vetoed the disposal of a Snoopy bag thing that she’s had for years but never uses. Are hoarding tendencies passed down through the maternal line? My friend who is organising our declutter challenge has posted some great thoughts about why it’s a good idea, where the idea came from – and what it might make us think about.

Also today: men on the Vicarage roof, having a nose about. They weren’t burglars but builders, trying to locate the source of the damp on the attic walls. Seems that there was a bit of a bodge job around some replaced roof tiles, plus some missing flashing round the chimney. They’re back tomorrow to try and fix it and I might manage a photo. Getting on our roof is a bit of a project – three storeys of Victorian vicarage takes you quite high in the air.

And I have been cooking like a mad thing. Tomorrow is our Lunch Club Lite. We used to have a proper Lunch Club, run by a brilliant team who produced fabulous home cooked roast dinners for about forty people every month. However, the team were feeling the strain and retired after much good service. I wasn’t able to commit to the work required for such a big project but offered to cook soup and fetch rolls and fruit, and so Lunch Club Lite was born.

So I was in the church kitchen with three big pans this afternoon whilst the toddlers toddled and listened to The Gruffalo. The menu includes soups of the broccoli and blue cheese, Melrose lentil and leek and potato varieties and there are three trays of flapjack just out of the Vicarage oven. We’re looking forward to getting together with some of the church family and neighbours from the parish and chatting over a meal. And then we have the exciting prospect of the Queen’s GCSE options evening. How on earth did she get that old (and tall – taller than me now)?

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Do you have a child with a smart phone or tablet? Are they reluctant to remove their eyes from the tiny screen because someone is droning nasally on YouTube about Minecraft? Do they fail to hear calls for meals or run away from table too early in order to play Angry Birds? Let me share with you an app I came across recently that has aided our parenting and helped us to ease the Queen (aged 13, now a proud possessor of a smart phone on a super cheap but strangely comprehensive contract) into learning some self control:

DinnerTime

Seriously, I cannot recommend this free app highly enough. It works by allowing you to control your child’s smartphone or tablet from your own phone. It’s available from Google Play, the Apple App Store and the Amazon App Store. We have the Queen’s set to switch off at bedtime and we can summon her to the table at the touch of a screen. She doesn’t mind, and it can be quite funny to see how quickly she appears once I’ve used the ‘Take a Break’ function.

Of course, I want her to develop self control, but I never had the challenge of having to switch off my phone at night when I was 13. It was bad enough trying not to read under the covers. So this app enables us to help her let go of the phone without having to physically remove it from her grasp. If you are buying a device for a child this Christmas, you could install DinnerTime (or DinnerTime Plus for even more functionality) before the child has it and then bedtime screen battles will not even begin. I have mentioned DinnerTime to other parents and to a headteacher recently, and there seemed to be some keen interest. Perhaps it will help you or someone you know who’s battling in this area. It’s been a blessing to us.

A great weapon in the battle of the screens

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We renewed our membership of Dudley Zoo in the last week of the holidays. Visiting the animals and the castle is a favourite family outing and membership enables us to grab a quick hour as well as going for longer expeditions. As usual, the Queen took the opportunity to grill the chatty and knowledgeable keepers on animal facts. This time, Kellie, who looks after the birds of prey, told us all about peregrine falcons. We found out that it is the fastest creature on the planet when diving to catch prey – speedier than a cheetah. Bet you didn’t know that either.

And when we climbed to the top of the castle keep, we were reminded of how beautiful our area can be, despite the industry and the urbanisation:

Zoo 2 Zoo 1

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coollogo_com-105672830I’ve been thinking about what to do for Lent this year. Although, theoretically, I could start something new at any time of year, I find that seasons in the church year are good opportunity to review spiritual disciplines. Last year I managed to produce a blogpost every weekday throughout Lent and the Vicar and I had a no-screens-after-8pm fast. We found the screen ban very helpful – and did a lot of talking and reading. We did have Sunday nights off for Dr Who after the Evening Service though. And I enjoyed the more frequent blogging, but I don’t think that is on the cards in 2013.

So here is a little list of what I’m planning to do throughout Lent this year, to draw closer to God and reset my life compass:

  1. Continue reading my encouraging devotional,Taste and See: Savouring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper.
  2. No screens after 8pm again, although I may have to make an exception for writing if I’m to finish Messy Ministry by my deadline just after Easter.
  3. Write the book – I’m finding the thinking I’m doing quite challenging so far, and the self-discipline involved in setting time aside to write is very good for me. And I have that deadline to meet.
  4. Increase family devotion frequency to at least 3 times a week. At the moment we’re only managing once a week, although we’re enjoying the format, which includes reading from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ lovely devotional book ‘Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing‘ and praying from prayer diaries from The Leprosy Mission, CMS and the Barnabas Fund, all of whom are supported by our church.
  5. Did I mention finish the book? And not faff about on the internet being distracted.

sCome nearer Easter, we’ll dig out our Resurrection Eggs too. But other than that I think we’re set. I want to be realistic in the challenges I set but also stretch myself. The screen fast will be the hardest. But I’m also looking forward to the space it will bring into our lives. I’m wondering whether the Vicar and I might use this devotional book together in the time that is freed up. How about you?

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I’m sure you’re all super-prepared for all the Advent happenings in your parish. But just in case you aren’t (or want to be extra-super-prepared for next year) I thought I’d share this brilliant alt.Advent series from Scripture Union that I just came across. They are posting a 2-3 minute daily animation of part of the Christmas story every day of Advent. The full animation, combining all the clips, is 47 minutes long – perhaps something to have on hand for early risers on Christmas Day…

These would be great for family devotions or to show in a service or school assembly. I might even show a few to the kids over tea this week. SU have posted a good number of other videos on their YouTube channel that would be useful for services or family bible times.

Here’s today’s lovely section of the story:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePB5LiRETkQ%5D

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