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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Horse at Ironstone Ranch 9/16/17
The grounds for the "Walk Of Love" this last Saturday were beautiful and this horse seemed to be happy showing off to the many families, perhaps a majority of them with adopted children.

"A Lesson From Hot Peppers"

Message summary: The challenge in the spiritual life is to "keep your spiritual fervor".

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"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). "Do not put out the Spirit's fire" (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

jalapeño jam (click on photo to enlarge)
Brooksyne enjoys planting a variety of peppers in the small raised garden in our backyard. Part of her enjoyment is the appearance with the colors and distinct shapes of different pepper varieties. But we both also enjoy eating a variety of hot peppers. For many years she has made a delicious candied jalapeño jelly that has just the right amount of sweet and hot and cans it for various dishes. She is especially famous (in our little world anyway) for her jalapeño pie (quiche) that uses this jelly.

But yesterday she had an interesting experience reminding her of just how hot, hot peppers can be! I've invited Brooksyne to share her experience:

Hot peppers 9/20/17 I was washing tomatoes and peppers I picked from the garden and decided I'd test the red pepper for its capsaicin level. When I cut into it I licked my finger that held the pepper to get a clue as to how hot it might be. There was little consequence so I took a small chunk and put it into my mouth. The consequence this time was enormous! I only bit into it without swallowing and the burn on my tongue, lips and face surrounding my mouth was on fire!! The only thing I thought might help was the aloe vera plant. I broke off one of the long, slender leaves and smeared it on my lips, lower face and rubbed it on my tongue. It brought instant relief, though I had to get more and more aloe vera since I kept shredding the leaves after rubbing it so much. It took a good 20 minutes before I stopped burning. I also ate a slice of bread since I've been told that helps with too much burn from hot pepper but it brought little relief. Anybody interested in some hot, hot peppers? Free for the asking! We believe they're habaneros peppers.

Stephen also recalls getting into some extra hot peppers about 15 years ago that brings back about his painful memory:

Fire mouthI was visiting with some men at Four Seasons, a produce wholesaler, and they wanted me to try a pepper. They told me with a twinkle in the eye that this was a rather hot pepper. I figured that was OK because I was tough and liked hot peppers, so I brought one home to Brooksyne and asked her to cut it up in my salad. 

I should have known something was up when I heard her and Ester laughing as they prepared the salad. After sitting down at the dinner table, I took a small bite and my, oh my, oh my, was that ever a blistering pepper! I downed several glasses of water trying to quench the hot taste and cool down my flushed face. Later I called one of the fellows who gave me the pepper. As he chuckled he told me the name of the pepper was habanero, a little known pepper to most of us at the time. It's many times hotter than the jalapeño.* My mouth was sure on fire.

"Being on fire" is an expression used to describe a real sold out, committed believer. The daily Scripture texts teach that this is how we ought to be. The underlying Greek word for "fervor" in our first daily text is "zeo", which means, "to be hot."  It's used to describe the preaching of Apollos in Acts 18:25 who "spoke with great fervor".

The challenge in the spiritual life is to "keep your spiritual fervor".  I sure find a tendency for mine to wane and I need to regularly heed Paul's words to Timothy "to fan into flame the gift of God" (2 Timothy 1:6).

We also need to heed that short word of exhortation expressed in the second verse and "not put out the Spirit's fire". Many of us are familiar with the way the King James Version words this phrase, "Quench not the Spirit." The word for "quench" literally means "extinguish" and although I am thankful for fire extinguishers, as well as the extinguishing effect lots
of water can bring after eating a hot pepper, we need to be very careful that we do not extinguish the Spirit's fire!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help us to stir up the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives through faithful reading and application of the Scriptures. Though there are daily temptations and experiences that want to extinguish the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we thank You that Your abiding presence in our hearts is greater than the foe that seeks to deter us. May we always be attentive to Your still small voice and the convicting power of Your Holy Spirit as we keep our spiritual fervor in serving You. Amen.

Black tomatoes 9/20/17
Black tomatoes. Anna Ruth gave me this heirloom plant early in the summer and we have thoroughly enjoyed the taste, texture, and performance of these dark tomatoes. It's also called a chocolate tomato.

Pepper Jam!

For our canning friends, today we share a series of photos of Brooksyne's canning project making Pepper Jelly!

Peppers for pepper jam
I've made Pepper Jelly in the past from scratch. Slicing 4 pounds of jalapenos, about 80 small peppers, is nasty work! The house is consumed with hot pepper vapors which burns the eyes and irritates the throat, in addition to the runny nose, and you can't tend to the problem because you've had your hands in the peppers. So....this time I took the easy way out and used Mrs. Wages Pepper Jam kit. All the jalapenos and heavy duty spices are dehydrated in the kit. All I had to cut up were colorful bell peppers. What an easy difference it made!

Straining mix for pepper jam
After processing the peppers about 5 cups of juice is collected from the cheesecloth. (I froze the pulp for another use)

Boiling mix for pepper jam
The pepper juice, pectin, and other seasonings are brought to a boil.

Steam canner bottom for pepper jam
This is the water bath method using the steam canner (only 2 quarts of water in the bottom of the canner).

Steam canner bottom for pepper jam
Pepper Jelly jars nestled on the canner rack ready to be steamed for ten minutes.

Steam canner for pepper jam
The lid properly fitted so that temp properly rises for steaming. The handle at the top has a handy built in thermometer.

Pepper jam jars
The colorful results of Pepper Jelly sealed up in jars.

Pepper jam biscuit!
Tasty and sweet (but also spicy) results of home canned Pepper Jelly which happens to be one of Stephen's favorite spreads that I make.
(I really like the Victorio Steam Canner since it is much easier to handle than the Water Bath Canner that requires a couple gallons of water for processing. The down side is that the rack is made to hold pints and quarts. The 8 oz. jelly jars are a bit more challenging to steady on the steam canner rack.)

Jalapeno Quiche

(A delicious recipe using pepper jam. It is very easy to prepare and is a crowd pleaser
even for those who don’t usually like spicy foods. I never have leftovers.)

1 ½ C. Hot Pepper Jam
2# shredded sharp cheddar cheese
10-12 eggs, beaten
Chili powder, salt & pepper

In 9X13 dish spread jelly over bottom (heat in microwave if jelly does not spread easily.)
Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over top of jelly.
Beat eggs, season with chili powder, salt and pepper (to taste). Extra jelly can also be stirred into eggs.
Pour evenly on top of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 40 minutes until browned on top. Let it sit for five or more minutes for easy cutting. Freezes very nicely and reheats in microwave.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Burn In Me"  Video  
Paul Wilbur

"Let The Fire Fall"  Video  Perry Sisters

Note from Stephen: The photo of the sample jar of jalapeño jam in our message was not prepared by Brooksyne but is rather from the local Kitchen Kettle Village. Her jars are just too plain for a good photo since there is no label! But they taste just as good!

Brooksyne's Note: Years ago I grew habaneros thinking I might be able to use them in a recipe. They were just way too hot. I couldn't give them away until I remembered there were some Mexican workers at a machine shop where I served as chaplain. I took them in and the guys were so excited. I joined them in the break room just to see how they would eat them. They held the peppers in their hands and ate them like apples. No red face, no sweat coming out of their pores, and no running for water. They ate one after the other - no consequence except pleasure!

* Habanero Vs. Jalapeño: PepperScale Showdown

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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