One Tablespoon Testosterone, Reviews

Book Review: Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day

Today Ben has a book review for you! This is a title received from the blogging review program offered by Bethany House Publishers.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day | The Pajama Chef

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

What religions are represented in your neighborhood, your workplace, and your children’s school? Things seem to be changing every day, and it can be hard to keep up. You may know a little about some of these religions. Others are new to you. You’d like to learn about them and how they differ from your beliefs, but who has time to do all the research?

In Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, cross-cultural expert and professor Garry Morgan explains the key beliefs, histories, and practices of more than twenty religions, including the familiar–Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism–and some of the lesser known–Baha’i, Sikhism, and New Age religions. Broken into forty short readings, each chapter is engaging and easy to understand. In just minutes a day you’ll soon have a better understanding of the world’s beliefs.

And here is Ben!

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When Sarah initially asked me to select a book from a list, I naively assumed that she wanted me to pick one for her.  Or possibly one for both of us to read together.  As it turned out, I was selecting a book for myself to read and review.  But when all was said and done, I’m glad I did read this book.

Having studied world religions as a specialization in college, I had some knowledge of a number of religions. Nevertheless, I found that Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day provides a plethora of information on numerous religions and worldviews in an easily digestible form.  The book is divided into small chapters intended to be readable in about 15 minutes (most took me less than 10, though).  Most chapters cover one religion, although the major world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) each receive several chapters.

Author Garry Morgan states in his introduction that he is attempting to write about each religion with respect and without letting any personal bias interfere.  I feel he succeeds tremendously in this respect.  I found this to be very refreshing, as many Christian books about other religions devote themselves to explaining how those religions “get it wrong.”  While I certainly don’t advocate the view that all religions and worldviews are equally valid and I do believe in objective truth, if all a Christian ever hears about another religion is oversimplified generalizations in a negative context, it becomes difficult to truly respect, care for, and relate to individuals who may practice that religion.

If I have any complaint about the book, it’s that I would have liked to see it organized a little bit better.  While Morgan explains why some religions are grouped together, there didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason as to the order of the religions discussed.  It would also have been nice to see a list of books for further reading.  But those are minor gripes.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in getting an overview on many (or just a few) of the world’s religions.

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book! 

 

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Cupcakes, Desserts, One Tablespoon Testosterone, Recipes

Man Cupcakes

Hello! Ben is back with his guest post column entitled One Tablespoon Testosterone, or OTT for short. Enjoy!

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The dog days of summer are the worst.  It’s not the heat or the constant reminder that I’m getting old because I don’t get a summer break; it’s the fact that football season is tantalizingly close, yet still outside my grasp.  So in order to build anticipation for the slew of meaty and manly foods I’ll be making for those thrilling fall weekends, I decided to make a manly dessert.

Now it’s fair to say that cupcakes are hardly manly.  They’re delicious and I would never turn one down, but they’re often decorated with icing flowers and other colorful and aesthetically pleasing designs.  So I set out to make cupcakes that were none of those things.  There’s nothing froofy about these cupcakes.  They’re not aesthetically pleasing, unless you consider a strip of bacon to be beautiful (and I do).  But they are delicious and can be appreciated by anyone (except maybe small children).  They make a great dessert for a Super Bowl party, or any old time.

Man Cupcakes [cupcake recipe from Betty Crocker, idea inspired by a newspaper clipping from my mother-in-law]
click to print

Ingredients:

for cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 12 ounce dark beer, like Guinness
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs

for frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 ounces whiskey

toppings

  • chocolate chips
  • crispy bacon
  • salted peanuts

Directions:

We need to start by making the cupcakes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all those delicious cake ingredients together in a bowl, starting on low and then increasing to high until smooth.  When choosing your beer, I recommend Guinness Extra Stout as it blends wonderfully with the cocoa.  I can imagine that any chocolate stout variety would also be fantastic.  Pour the very devilish food cake batter into your cupcake papers (it should make two dozen-ish) and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  While these are baking, lick the beaters and bowl.

Once the cupcakes are baked, remove from oven and allow to cool.  Now let’s make the frosting.  Combine the ingredients in another bowl and mix together until smooth.  Add more powdered sugar if it’s too thin (or more whiskey if it’s too thick!).  1-2 ounces of whiskey is enough to flavor it, but feel free to add more if you want your cupcakes to burn a bit going down (yum!).

When the cupcakes have cooled frost them and add toppings.  Peanuts and chocolate chips are good options; but sticking with the manly theme, we should add some bacon.  Cook a few strips, cut/tear them into pieces, and add it to the top of your cupcakes.  Now stand back, admire your work, and hold back the tears of joy that will inevitably want to come; there’s no room for crying in manly cooking.

Time: 1 hour active [plus cooling].

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Main Dishes, One Tablespoon Testosterone, Recipes, Seafood and Fish

OTT: Baked Flounder

Uh oh, here we go again! Ben is back with his guest post column entitled One Tablespoon Testosterone, or OTT for short. Enjoy!

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I love fish.  Not as pets, but cooked up and served on a plate.  While some may not because it tastes and smells “fishy”, I do and I won’t apologize for it.  I have had some fantastic complicated fish dishes; but when I really get a craving, I often want something simple.  And that takes me back to my childhood and the delicious, yet simple, baked fish my mom would make.

While there were several seasoning variations she used, one of my favorites that I’ve adapted uses just three ingredients besides the flounder: butter, dill, and lime juice.  I can’t honestly say how close this is to what my mom made, but it does remind me of it.  And if she cares to correct the error of my ways, then she can.  But you know what, Mom?  I’m an adult, and I can make my fish the way I please…so there.

OTT: Baked Flounder
click to print

  • 4 fresh (or frozen) flounder fillets
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 t dill weed
  • 1 T lime juice

Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees.  Get out a large baking dish (maybe two if your fish is large) and grease it.  Leave it be for the moment and melt the butter in a small dish.  Add the lime juice and the dill weed, then stir it together.  Rub the mixture on both sides of each fish fillet and place in the baking dish.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until the fish flakes with a fork.  And voila, simple yet flavorful fish.

Time: 25 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Reader Question: What was your favorite dinner that your mom made growing up?

Main Dishes, One Tablespoon Testosterone, Pork, Recipes

OTT: Pork Chops with Balsamic Blackberry Salad + Orzo

After a long absence, my husband, Ben, is back with his guest post column entitled One Tablespoon Testosterone, or OTT for short. Enjoy!

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Each weekend as my wife is planning meals for the upcoming week, she asks if there’s anything I’d like or if I have any ideas.  Generally, my answers range from nothing to worthless until this past weekend.  I knew we had unused pork chops, so I grabbed a cookbook and immediately found a recipe that sounded quite enticing.  This cookbook was by Rachel Ray, whom a friend of mine from my college town of Athens, Ohio [go Bobcats!!!!!!!] has a massive celebrity crush on [to the point where he’s told his girlfriend that he would absolutely break up with her for the chance to be with the celebrity chef].  But anyways… Sarah agreed, and for possibly the first time ever, I felt good about my assistance in the meal selection process.

Pork Chops with Balsamic Blackberry Salad + Orzo on a plateSo come Tuesday night, my pork chops’ assigned cooking date, my wife decides she has absolutely no desire to cook.  Why?  Because she just wants to bake cookies.  As tempting as the idea of cookies for dinner was, I’ve put on a few more pounds than I would like in the last year so I shrugged it off.  This meant it was time for OTT to take command of dinner.

close up of Pork Chops with Balsamic Blackberry Salad + Orzo on a plateAnd what a delightful dinner it was. Salty pork, crisp almonds, juicy blackberries on spinach drenched in a sweet vinegary dressing. By the way, the cookies were good too. It was a messy kitchen sort of night.

OTT: Pork Chops with Balsamic Blackberry Salad + Orzo [from Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb orzo pasta
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1 T ground basil
  • 1 c spinach leaves
  • olive oil
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/4 c almonds
  • 2 T butter
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

This recipe basically consists of making three things:  the pork chops, the salad to top the chops, and the orzo to serve on the side.  Let’s start with the salad.  Put the balsamic vinegar in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Once it begins boiling, maintain heating for about 5 minutes, or until it’s reduced by about half and is a thicker, syrupy consistency.  Remove from heat.  Combine the blackberries [or strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or any other delicious berry], basil, and spinach in a large salad bowl.  You should cut the spinach into thin slices.  I elected to tear it into small pieces because I’m better at ripping things than cutting them.  Sarah was disappointed because it didn’t look as pretty [but she says she still loves me]. Once the vinegar has cooled, you can drizzle it over the salad.

But while it’s cooling, heat a pot of water to boiling for the orzo.  When the water’s boiling, add the pasta and cook it however long the box/bag tells you to.

While the pasta’s cooking, you can get to work on the pork chops.  Season the chops with some salt and pepper if desired, pour some oil in a large skillet, and once the oil has heated add the chops.  Cook the chops for about 4 minutes on each side.  I would recommend covering the skillet.  Once the chops have cooked, remove them from the pan and roast the almonds for a couple minutes, then remove.

Back to the orzo.  When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and melt the butter in the pan.  Return the orzo to the pan and stir together.  Add the almonds and salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste.

Serve the orzo on the side with the salad topping the pork chops.  Or I suppose you could serve the salad on the side with the chops over the orzo.  Or even the salad over the chops over the orzo.  It all tastes good, so do what seems best to you.

Reader Question ~ If you could have any dessert for dinner on a weekly basis, what would it be? I would have cheesecake. Mmmmm cheesecake… strawberry, blueberry, chocolate, the works. MMMMM!

Linked up on Life as Mom.
Appetizers, One Tablespoon Testosterone, Recipes

OTT: Thai Peanut Ginger Chicken Wings

This is a guest post from my husband, Ben. Periodically, he has agreed to share some of his favorite recipes with you in a guest post column entitled One Tablespoon Testosterone, or OTT for short. Enjoy!

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Ah, it’s that sweet time of year again.  The air is aflutter with the sounds of helmets crashing, pads popping, players trash talking, fans whining, and coaches alternating between tirades and smug silence.  Football season has returned (and sadly, is now closer to being over than beginning) and with it, so has OTT.  And I’m here to bring you recipes you might not otherwise find around these parts.  Recipes that embrace manliness.  Like these chicken wings.

Ben cooking

Chicken wings are quite manly in general.  This is evidenced by the distressed look on my wife’s face when I came home with a 10 pound bag of chicken wings with the intention of shoving it in our already jam-packed freezer.  Bigger is manlier.  Meat covered in sauce is manly.  These chicken wings do appeal to the ladies though too.  Just a little bit spicy with an Asian twist.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  So without further ado, here’s the recipe.

thai chicken wings

Thai Peanut Ginger Chicken Wings
printable version

Ingredients:

  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 c soy sauce, divided
  • 2 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 2 t rice vinegar
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes (add more for a delightful increase in spiciness)
  • 5 lbs frozen chicken wings

Directions:

Put the evaporated milk, peanut butter, 3 Tablespoons soy sauce, ginger, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor.  Blend until it’s smooth and looking like something you’d want to lather on chicken.  Combine 1/2 c of the blended sauce, the remaining soy sauce, and chicken wings in a large bowl.  If you thawed the chicken wings,  you can let it marinate for an hour.  If you’re cooking them from frozen, then there’s not as much point.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line two (probably) baking sheets with foil and coat with cooking spray.  Put the chicken on the baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes thawed, or 55 frozen.  Spoon the remaining sauce over the wings.  Grab several napkins and turn on some football.  Enjoy.

Time: 65 minutes [10 minutes active].

Yield: 5 regular servings or 2 man-sized servings.

And in case you’re curious… the best kind of football you can turn on is THE Ohio State Buckeyes. You can do that tomorrow, if you wish. Beat Michigan!

buckeyes socks

Question of the Day — Recently, we visited the Exotic Feline Rescue Center.  It was lots of fun watching big cats play with pumpkins filled with a surprise!  I think my favorite (maybe, they were all pretty awesome) one there was a black leopard appropriately named Blackie.  What’s your favorite type of exotic animal?