Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who Owns the Slave?

*This is a satire. Don't take it too seriously, mkay?*

Just a quick note about "slave labor." The real question for those who would understand the nature of slavery is the question of ownership. Say there is a particular slave working in the fields, or at the factory, or in the house on Main Street. Who owns that slave's labor?

The assumption behind the free labor movement is that the worker owns his labor. The biblical understanding is that the one who owns the worker owns the labor (1 Tim. 6:2). This is not the same as saying that the slave owner is a great guy. No, the slave owners are frequently evil, and they abuse their position of ownership (Exod. 1:11).

Owner/slave disputes often fall into a false good guy/bad guy dichotomy, and it betrays a false understanding of the antithesis. In the Bible the owners are often the bad guys. But that does not mean they are not the owners of their slaves. Bad guys can own things. And the commandment does not say, "Thou shalt not steal, except from bad guys."

So there is absolutely nothing wrong with slaves deciding that conditions on the job are horrendous, and asking the owner to remedy the situation. And there is no problem with the slaves using whatever persuasive ability they have to make his case. Say they are asking for an increase in rations, or for safer working conditions. That is fully legitimate as well. What is not legitimate is for them to refuse to provide the owner with their labor as though they are the owners of it. To refuse to work until your demands are met is a claim of ownership, which in this case is a false claim.

This sin (and it is a sin) is in evidence when slaves abandon their duties entirely by running away. This deprives owners of both the slave's labor and the slave himself, and also negatively affects all the remaining slaves, who must shoulder the extra burden left by the runaway.

In other words, the proposal to emancipate slaves and pay them for their labor is nothing but extortion, and Christians should do everything in their power to have nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homemade Naan

Indian food is the best food on the planet. I've tried my hand at several different Indian dishes over the years (some of my favorites are Aloo Gobi, Baingan Bharta, and for special occasions, Rogan Josh). But I've never tried to make the naan before. I've always been content to serve the dishes with basmati rice. But you only live once, right? Go big or go home.

There are several naan recipes out there. I wanted to start simple, so I ignored the ones that called for yeast. This recipe seemed a good base. I diverted from it a bit, so I'll spell out my own work below.


1.5 cups flour (plus more flour for dusting)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup soymilk (this is just an accommodation to my wife's lactose intolerance--cow's milk is what's typically called for)
2 tbs vegetable oil
olive oil (or butter for those who can handle lactose)


Combine dry ingredients in a bowl or food processor. Mix in wet ingredients. Dump dough onto floured surface and knead (with floured hands) until dough is smooth, about 8-10 minutes.

Dump dough into a greased bowl and turn the ball so that the whole ball is coated with oil. Cover with a towel and put in a warm spot for an hour.

(I'm not sure why you have to let the dough sit for an hour, since there's no yeast involved, but I decided not to skip this step. Since we keep the heat on low in my house, there aren't many warm spots. I turned the oven on low for a couple minutes, turned it off, and stuck in the bowl.)

Divide dough into quarters. On a floured surface, roll out each ball into a very flat tear-shaped loaf with a floured rolling pin. In the meantime, position your cooking surface (a baking stone, upside-down cast iron skillet, upside-down baking sheet) a few inches away from your oven's broiler and turn the oven on to the broil setting.

Pop the loaves onto the hot cooking surface. They will cook very quickly. Turn the loaves over when the top side has browned and blistered. When the other side is finished, pull them out and brush them with oil or butter.

I honestly didn't think these would turn out very well, but I was pleasantly surprised. We quickly devoured the four loaves, so I'm tripling the recipe next time. Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunflower Satay

In my last post, I talked about making "tahini" from sunflower seeds (instead of sesame seeds). I suppose it was really more of a sunflower butter--just roasted sunflowers and oil ground into a paste.

I had some leftovers from the recipe, and used it up by adding a little salt and sugar, then spreading it on celery like one would peanut butter. This was a great snack, and there was something about the taste that reminded me of Asian food (East Asia, that is).

I thought that this sunflower paste might be a workable substitute for an Asian peanut sauce. (We've been avoiding peanuts in our household to prevent our son's getting allergies.) I found a base recipe for a peanut satay recipe at and started modifying. We like the results; here's the recipe:


1 inch ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 onion, sliced
1 can coconut milk
1 cup sunflower sauce (recipe follows)
4 cups broccoli, cut into florets
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 limes, quartered
1 bunch cilantro, chopped


Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a wok or deep pot over high heat. Stir fry the ginger and garlic for about a minute, then add the sliced onion. After frying the onion for a few minutes, add the sunflower sauce and coconut milk. Run some water into the coconut milk can and swirl it around to avoid wasting any of that coconut goodness and add it to the pot. Stir to combine.

When the pot begins to boil, add the broccoli and red pepper, reduce heat, and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro. Squeeze the juice of the limes over the sauce and mix in. Serve over jasmine rice.

Sunflower sauce:

1/2 cup of roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of fish sauce and/or soy sauce
2 tsp chili paste (I used some homemade paste that I made by just roasting some peppers and processing with garlic and cilantro)
2 tbs brown sugar
Curry spices to taste (cumin, coriander, tumeric)
1/2 cup hot water


Combine all ingredients except the hot water in a food processor. With the motor running add some hot water to thin out the sauce (you probably won't need the full 1/2 cup). Process until smooth.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Falafel Meal from Scratch

Thank God for Sultan's Market. Without them, I would not have known how awesome falafel is. I've been on a quest for the last several years to make as great a meal at home as you can get at Sultan's Market. I'm still a long ways away from that goal, but I've made progress.

If there's one key to that progress, it's this: from scratch is better.

I started by buying packaged hummus, tahini paste, and falafel mix. I thought I was showing mad skillz by making my own tahini sauce from the paste (following the recipe on the side of the bottle).

I took the next step toward "from scratch" by making my own falafel, following this recipe. I used our food processor to make the falafel, without which it would have been much more of a pain. Shallow frying in olive oil doesn't produce quite the same deep-fried deliciousness that Sultan's falafel has. This recipe is quite tasty, though.

The results were good enough to make me want to try again soon. However, I had used up the last of my canned chick peas and the last of my tahini paste. We ran out of hummus long before we ran out of pita. The price tag for these three products (chick peas, tahini paste, and hummus) is higher than I would like: about $1.00 for a can of chick peas, $5.00 for tahini paste, $2.00 for a tiny tub of hummus. I figured I could get better flavor and better value by cutting out a few middle men and moving closer to "scratch."

A 2-lb bag of dried chick peas was only $2.00. For the price of two cans of chick peas (28 oz), I ended up with about 80 oz of cooked chick peas--plenty of raw material for falafel and hummus, with plenty left over. I followed these helpful directions for preparing the dried chick peas.

For some reason, I conflated sesame seeds (the raw material from which tahini is made) with sunflower seeds. So I bought bulk unroasted sunflower seeds for $2.00 a pound. I intended to follow this recipe, but at the roasting stage, I suddenly realized I'd bought the wrong kind of seeds. Fortunately, someone has made this substitution before. My $2.00 investment in sunflower seeds produced the equivalent of $8.00 worth of tahini paste. The food processor did all the work.

The cooked chick peas and tahini paste go together into the homemade hummus recipe. (I followed the second, faster method.) This makes about 2 lbs of hummus for about $2.00 in raw materials. That beats out even the famous Costco hummus, and blows out of the water the teeny 10 oz containers you usually see in the grocery store.

The tahini paste goes into the tahini sauce that I mixed with the Jerusalem salad.

All in all, this is a pretty cheap way to eat. I figure I can easily get 8 meals out of the following ingredients:

$1.00 for chick peas (1 lb dried)
$1.00 for pita (8 loaves)
$1.00 for tahini paste (1/2 lb sunflower seeds + some vegetable oil)
$3.00 for fresh produce(cucumber, tomato, onion, garlic, parsley, lemons)
$1.00 for all the other incidental ingredients (a bit of oil, spices, etc)

That's less than $1.00 per meal.