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2/21/2009

a saturday morning tradition



Today is one of those picturesque days which remind me to never again take for granted a peaceful domestic rhythm, a roof over our heads, and good food to eat. Since health as I once knew it was taken from me, I've come to be grateful for the art of homemaking - to the point where my gratitude might nauseate some women. But I can't help it. As God heals my body, I'm elated on the days when I feel well enough to bake, clean up the kitchen afterward, do a few loads of laundry, read, write, then take a long walk in our neighborhood. Our house is rarely spotless - we are some lint-y/dusty people and cats, apparently - but I do find joy in a peaceful home; a comfortable haven. I like to have the sink cleared of dishes, at least.

We set our alarm this Saturday for two reasons. One, Johnny's drum student was scheduled to arrive at 10:30 am; and two, I had a particular breakfast menu in mind:

-Almond flour pancakes.
-Blueberries.
-Shelton's turkey sausage.
-Texas piƱon coffee.

Johnny and I made this feast together just for the fun of married life, and well, because he's better at flipping pancakes than me. However, I flipped 1-2 pancakes successfully! There's hope for me yet. Our pancakes were beauties, if I do say so myself. As Johnny took his first bite he said, "Honey, these taste like real pancakes." And so they did.

Jenni & Johnny's Yeast-Free Pancakes
[adapted from Elana's Pancakes]

3 cups Honeyville blanched almond flour
1/2 cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
8 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon liquid stevia (or to taste)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch Celtic sea salt
Coconut oil for frying (or butter)

1. In a blender, combine the almond flour, coconut milk, eggs, butter, stevia, vanilla, baking soda, and sea salt and blend on high until smooth.
2. Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
3. When the coconut oil is hot, ladle pancake batter onto the skillet.
4. The pancakes will bubble - when the bubbles open, flip the pancakes over and cook on the other side.
5. When the pancakes are done, remove from heat and transfer to a plate.
6. Ladle more batter onto the skillet and make additional batches, adding more coconut oil to grease the skillet as needed.
7. Johnny poured Aunt Jemima syrup on his pancakes; I sprinkled Korintje cinnamon and fresh blueberries on mine. Amazing.

Makes 24 pancakes (I'm a fan of leftovers).

Hence, making breakfast together on Saturday mornings is now a Simmons tradition. We'll have to get up about 30 minutes earlier, though. Today, Johnny was only able to eat half of his breakfast before sprinting out to the garage studio (his coffee in hand) to greet his student. I lingered at the table with the March 2009 issue of The Sun. I read "Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer" by Wendell Berry. He is one of my favorite writers and I revere him quite a bit, but I don't always agree with his conclusions. This essay was excellent in that it makes clear the benefit of closing my MacBook for longer stretches at a time, picking up a pen, a notebook with paper pages, and writing during natural daylight. Or stepping outside to be underneath that sunshine. But I disagreed with this sentence of Berry's, "I do not see that computers are bringing us one step nearer to anything that does matter to me: peace, economic justice, ecological health, political honesty, family and community stability, good work."

Sure, if we spend too much time on the computer, the virtuous life will be lost and the internet is not the source of such values. But my own home life has greatly benefited from too many blogs and web sites to mention (though I link to many on the sidebar). Likewise, so has my understanding of peace, justice, health, politics, and even service to my husband, family, friends, and community. Just yesterday I savored Mav's and Stephanie's latest post on 3191 Miles Apart. Mav's thoughts caught my eye since Johnny and I will soon institute Sabbath evening meals in our dining room. I loved Mav's elegant, eclectic, and relaxed take on table settings; her brilliant, thoughtful hospitality. I also loved Stephanie's focus - caring for her sick daughter by making homemade ginger ale.

Or take Kate's post on the horrors of human sex trafficking and modern day slavery - this time not across the globe, but in her home state of Florida. In the United States. I fear in Texas, too. She mentioned David Batstone's book, Not for Sale: the Return of the Global Slave Trade - and How We Can Fight It. I quickly took advantage of Christian Audio's free download for this month - that very book. I had trouble finishing my lunch yesterday while I listened to part 1 - eye-opening information indeed - but we do need to be aware of such crimes. If not for audio technology, I would've listened to this important piece of journalism much farther down the line, not praying soon enough. OK, so I could've checked it out at the library, but hearing a book read aloud is also a virtue (in my opinion).

Enough disagreement for now. Wendell Berry is still a sage to me, and I loved this sentence, "....when somebody has used a computer to write work that is demonstrably better than Dante's, and when this better is demonstrably attributable to the use of a computer, then I will speak of computers with a more respectful tone of voice, though I still will not buy one." It made me laugh, and I respect his tenacity.

My take on the matter is: you don't have to own a computer to be happy or successful. Wendell Berry is proof of that - he writes everything by pencil or pen and a piece of paper. His wife types and edits his work on a 1956 Royal standard typewriter. And he has produced a cornucopia of books: fiction, essays, short stories, and poetry. I adore that man's way with words and 95% of his philosophy.

But technology - like everything else we enjoy - is a blessing from God. All good things come from Him. And like my friend/teacher, Kemper, taught me (and others) a few years ago, the good life is all about balance. Too much of anything is harmful and gluttonous; too little of the important things isn't so great, either. I'm actually working toward lessening my computer-time to get more reading, writing, and housework done; and to listen to my fascinating husband much more often. He has great things to teach me. Yet my MacBook is a necessary tool, I do believe - for the glorious application that is iCal, writing research, healthy recipes; and even just for pleasure and play. I'm ever-inspired by beautiful blogs as I mentioned in a Curator article of mine. We sure do need beauty in our lives, and should even cultivate it online.

Time to get off my soapbox and computer for a bit. I have in mind a late lunch, taking the duvet cover out of the dryer, writing upstairs, a walk when the rain lets up, and an earlier bedtime since Church comes early. And because we're gonna swing by Antidote on the way (totally my idea).

16 comments:

nicole said...

I don't know, I rather agree with berry's remark.

a beautiful new tradition you've started! this morning we made pancakes as well. we made them from the buttermilk reserve we had on hand after making yesterday's butter. there's nothing better than homemade butter lathered on warm pancakes.

Johnny! said...

The inter-not is simply a medium, and like anything can be used for sinful things and for righteous things. Just like books.

I think his Dante comment is plain silly, myself. Dante was using the highest technology available to him when he wrote. So was St. John. I'm thankful to have modern printing to put their works in my hand and I'm happy to have digital versions of their work.

Kimberly said...

Great post! Your breakfast looks heavenly. Where do you buy your turkey sausage? I've only seen Jenny-O's sausage links and am not a fan of it.

There's nothing like having a clean house and enjoying the fruits of your labor. We have our windows open and are trying to get some fresh air circulating around here.

Christine said...

love it, love it, love it.

kate o. said...

i like johnny's take on the dante comment. when i was new to miami 4+ years ago, the internet became a place of community and information for me. it informed me about my new city, gave me history, and introduced me to places i probably wouldn't have found for years without it. and as a young mom - my goodness am i grateful for it. it has been an encouragement during the times when i feel our family's convictions/beliefs don't get the nurture or support we feel they might get if we lived in a different community.

but i like what you have to say about the computer not being the source of the virtuous life. but i do think it can aid it at times and in seasons.

great thoughts, jenni.

abraham piper's "22 words" blog often has great things to say about this topic in, believe it or not, 22 words.

Alina said...

So much talk of Wendall Barry has me thinking I need to just sit down and read some of his work. I really subscribe to the "everything in moderation" philosophy.

I love the blues and grays of the breakfast photo.

jenni said...

Great point, Johnny - as always. :)

Kimberly, we buy turkey sausage at Whole Foods.

Kate, I'd also like to point out that I wouldn't know any of you cool blog-friends without the internet! Your blogs have been such an inspiration and comfort as I've been healing and sitting around a lot. And thanks for the 22 Words blog tip - very cool.

Alina, I LOVE Wendell Berry's fiction and poetry. Oh my. I like his essays/nonfiction, too, and I even agree at times. :)

I do love his support of farmers and the agrarian life. He is definitely worth reading often.

Amanda Mae said...

I love Wendell Berry's writings on food... he speaks to that obsession of mine so beautifully.

I get what he is trying to say about the computer, but I agree: moderation is key. And I do see the benefits of such technology. My life and thoughts have definitely been changed, but it wouldn't matter unless I got myself off the computer and into the real world more often!

jenni said...

Yes, he does write about food very well. And I'm all for real books and getting outside! Our weather has been amazing lately....

Lindsay said...

I agree that balance is key and Johnny's comment is spot on. We should use computers and other technology judiciously, not abuse them or let them dominate our unplugged "real life". The same point could be made about TV, computerized cars, or other everyday technologies.

For someone like Wendell Berry, or a lot of people from his generation, computer use is superfluous and daunting (not to say that Berry necessarily is daunted by it). But for young folks like us -- ha ha! -- it's been integrated into our daily lives. But we have a responsibility to use computers with care and to use the minds God gave us to discern where the balance is.

Thanks for ruminating. Pancakes look yummy!

nicole said...

sometimes I believe we, and I can be chief in this, convince ourselves that our time spent on the computer gathering inspiration and collecting facts is in and of itself productive and we make an activity of it. it's only profitable if we return to the real world with it, though.

jenni said...

Lindsay, I agree. And Nicole, I agree with your last comment. The computer can't keep me away from that pretty world God created out there. :)

Lindsay said...

After I left my comment, my dad (who is 63) called to ask me help him with his computer over the phone. He doesn't manage the computer well and we were on the phone for a half hour while I tried to instruct him on moving a file from one folder to another. I thought it was fitting and quite funny.

robyn a. jones said...

i'm starving and those pancakes look so good. i need to just go to bed. :) the half of a protein shake did not fill me up...

jenni said...

Lindsay, that is funny. :)

Robyn, make some pancakes!

Abbie said...

I enjoyed this post & the comments. As an admirer of Berry's works myself, I've also been challenged by his comments about computers. Over the last few months, I've been more deliberate about trying to seek that online/offline balance. I've put my blog on the back burner for a while as part of the process.

Thanks for giving me more food for thought.