Friday, April 30, 2010

The Squirrel Can Cook - Oriental Beef Noodle Bowl

Maybe it has something to do with growing up in the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest is an interesting blind of European, Asian, & Native American cultures and cuisines. The Pacific Northwest is probably the area of the United States most influenced by Asian cuisine. I grew up around wonderful Asian restaurants, and Asian style food has always been a favorite with me, and has featured strongly in The Squirrel Can Cook features (and will, no doubt, continue to in the future.)

One of my favorite places to eat has always been the Mustard Seed, an Asian café that opened in Missoula back in 1978, when I was 13. It quickly became one of my preferred places to take a date when I was in high school and college. (The Fireworks Chicken [“Deep-fried boneless breast of chicken topped with a spicy hot tomato sauce flavored with sherry and Asian chilies.”] is a must-try dish!)

In 1992, the Mustard Seed started a fast-food little cousin, called Noodle Express. Today’s recipe is a knock-off of the type of food served there.

We will need:

1 - 8oz steak, sliced into thin strips
1 – “bundle” of Somen noodles
1 – 28oz can of La Choy Chop Suey Vegetables
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of olive oil (garlic infused)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Cook the noodles for 4 minutes, rinse well with cold water until the noodles are cool to the touch, drain & set aside.

Open and drain the can of Chop Suey vegetables. You need to reserve ½ cup of the liquid from the vegetables. We’ll use this as the base for our sauce.

Combine the ½ cup of vegetable liquid with the sugar, sesame oil, olive oil & soy sauce, mix well, and set aside. I make sauces like this a lot, and I like to use a jar with a tight lid. It’s easier to shake it all together to mix the sauce.

Heat wok or cast iron skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes on a gas range. It will take a little longer on an electric range. As you can tell from the pictures, I used my cast iron skillet. In retrospect, I wish I’d used my wok. The higher sides and the round shape would have made it much easier to combine all the ingredients at the end.

Cook the steak strips for about 2 minutes until done, being careful not to overcook the meat. It should still be a little on the pink side when you add vegetables. Add the vegetables, mix well and cook another minute, stirring continuously. Then mix in the noodles and stir until the noodles are heated through.

Give your jar of sauce a good shake (or your bowl a good stir) and pour it into the pan. Bring the pan to a boil while stirring. When it reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Serves 4. Enjoy!

The Squirrel shall not live by bread NUTS alone!

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 4/29/2010

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

I've never been a fan of P.E.T.A. Sure, they're trendy, and a popular cause for many actors and actresses, but their beliefs are really insulting to actual intelligent thought processes. They've had multiple add campaigns and publicity stunts that are just lame. They are most definitely not Bibly. But this has got to be the dumbest idea yet! (Caution: PETA's promoters are often scantily clad, and there are unquestionably photos in these links that are tasteless and designed to appeal to baser instincts.)

I used to work as head of security at a lumber mill. We used to get "faux emergency" phone calls - at least one per week. "I need to speak to my (husband/wife), it's an emergency." We, of course, couldn't just have people called off the factory floor to run take phone calls on a whim, so I developed the following definition of an emergency for my guards to use in determining whether or not to pass the call on: "An emergency is a situation that involves a police car, ambulance, fire truck, or hearse. Anything else is just an inconvenience." There are a lot of people who are, unknowingly, glad I couldn't do this!

Just last week, we had the story of how an Iranian cleric has determined the cause of earthquakes. It has come to my attention that this has not gone unnoticed. Indeed, nefarious forces are at work, using this newfound power for evil. Indeed, they had an attack planed for Monday, 4/26 and, sure enough, there was a 6.5 quake southeast of Taiwan! Coincidence? I think not! Be on the lookout for more of this...

Despite the fact that there is, Roswell and Area 51 not withstanding, absolutely no evidence of alien life that has ever been found (Granted, we've only explored a minuscule portion of our universe) there must be alien life out there, because... well... because there must! Stephen Hawking says so... & he's really smart!

Well, once again, mistakes happen. I wonder why nobody interviewed the wrecking crew? "We was told to knock down th'house, we knocked down th'house. What's the problem?" Well, guys, check the address on the work order... looks to me like you're on the wrong side of the street. Oops.

Virginia has chaplainsfor the state police, because they think it is desirable for law enforcement personnel have some sort of spiritual support to assist them in dealing with the stress of their jobs. Worried about offending people, in 2008 Governor Kaine issued guidelines that chaplains would only be able to "pray" generic "prayers", and would not be allowed to actually offer prayers in "Jesus' name" (or "Buddha" or "Allah" or any other specific deity.) Half the state's chaplains resign. A new governor take office, and lifts the ban on real prayers. And now the ACLU whines like an scolded puppy. The new (old) policy will allow "agents of the government to foist their religious beliefs on others."? Really? That's just nuts!

We've all heard the expression "In deep..." uh... "'Stuff'" to describe someone who was in a lot of trouble. Metaphor became reality for this "lucky" Indiana man, who tried to hide from police in a farm's manure pit. He hid there for over an hour, but eventually was found. Man, to get caught after hiding that long. That's gotta stink...

Astronomy - Backpacking - Camping - Canoeing - Climbing - Cooking - Cycling - Fire Safety - Hiking - Orienteering - Pioneering - Rowing - Video Games - Weather - Water Sports - Whitewater - Wilderness Survival... Er... What was that? "Video Games?" A Scouting merit badge? Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

It seems that a set of triplets have taken top honors at their high school for this years graduation. The valedictorian and the salutatorians for Lakeside High School's class of 2010 are sisters. They're also star athletes. And they're cute, too. Underachievers everywhere, you now have new targets for your hate. Why don't you work on that Video Games merit badge to assuage your bruised ego? Well done, Lauren, Stephanie, & Allison!

And the Nuts just keep piling up!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Like Sharks in the Water?

For some unfathomable reason, this question has been on my mind lately: How are we, as Christians, to respond to leaders who are guilty of wrongdoing and are also unrepentant?

Do we, as many will do, wink and nod and maintain the status quo? Maybe the leader in question is a best-selling author or a trendy conference speaker in high demand. Is he a guest on national radio and television broadcasts? Perhaps he’s the pastor of a large church, which donates large sums of money to good and Godly programs. Popularity trumps just about anything else in today’s Church, after all.

Or do we, as many will do, circle like sharks who’ve caught a sniff of blood in the water, seeking every opportunity to rip out another hunk of flesh? Should we pounce on weakness like a cat on a mouse? Do we dispense with any mercy or compassion at all? Do we shoot our own wounded?

Luckily, we do not have to figure out the answers to such questions, because God has given us a Bible. And, in that Bible, He has given us instructions as to exactly what we are to do.

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. (1 Timothy 5:19-21)

First, we are given a standard of proof for establishing the legitimacy or illegitimacy of any accusation. This standard of proof, “By two or three witnesses,” is the same standard taught throughout the Bible. (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16) The proof required to establish a charge against a leader in the church is neither more nor less rigorous then the standard of evidence required for establishing a finding of wrongdoing against anyone. Indeed, an accusation against anyone is nothing to be taken lightly. Evidence, weighed by established rules of evidence, must be required to confirm any allegation. If the evidence is insufficient, then the accusation must be dismissed. But what do you do if the data supports the charge?

While the procedures are virtually identical, Matthew 18:15-20 gives us more of a step-by-step detailed procedure then does 1 Timothy 5:19-21. It is likely that Paul expected Timothy, who “from childhood” had “known the sacred writings” (2 Timothy 3:14), to be familiar with Biblical rules of evidence, and rightly so.

"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (Matthew 18:15)

This process that Jesus laid out assumes that you have the knowledge that your brother has indeed sinned. You have looked into the evidence, asked the tough questions, established the facts for yourself, and are convinced that there is sin that needs to be confronted.

Seek out the sinning brother in private, and confront him with his sin. This is, for many, the most difficult part. It is easy to snipe and backbite and feed the gossip machine, but it is hard to confront someone to their face. But it must be done. If we love someone, we tell them the truth, even knowing that the truth will cause pain, embarrassment, or worse.

If the Holy Spirit uses your confrontation to bring repentance, that’s great. You will most likely now need to come along side and lend support during the process of restoration and reconciliation. But if there is no repentance, it is time to move on to the next step.

"But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. (Matthew 18:16)

In the next step, you confront him again, but this time you bring one or two other people with whom you have shared both your concerns and your evidence. Face it, at this point you have assumed the role of a prosecutor who needs to make his case, and you now need to make the case to other people.

By now having to convince others of the conclusions that you have already reached, you are also giving someone else the opportunity to fact-check you and to possible keep you from going off half-cocked and bringing false accusations. For this reason, you want to approach people known for integrity and fairness. If you can now convince two impartial people of the brother’s wrongdoing, then you again confront your brother as a group.

"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:17)

And now we’re back where we began, with Paul’s instructions to Timothy about how he should handle accusations brought to him as an elder in the church. First, if the person bringing the accusation has not taken the required steps to establish the facts, the church elder should not receive the accusation. Second, the elder should examine the evidence for himself as well as verifying that the sinning brother has already been confronted privately. Third, the elder would be wise to confront the sinning individual privately himself, and offer another chance for repentance, before taking it to the church as a whole.

But, “Those who continue in sin,” are to be rebuked “in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.” Once rebuked before the church, if he still remains unrepentant, he is to be shunned (intentionally avoided) and denied the fellowship of the church until and unless he repents. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one… Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

Now, at every level, as the circle of people who are “in the know” widens, each person does not have to start over and confront the sinning brother privately. They are certainly not commanded not to. They can, if they so desire and think it might be useful, but they are not required to. When it reaches the level that the elders are required to rebuke the sinner in front of the whole church, everybody in the church doesn’t have to then go privately to the individual and say, “I understand that you’re sinning. You need to repent.” (Although, that might just have quite an impact, now that I think about it. Imagine a line of people out his front door, waiting to confront him…)

Finally, Paul tells Timothy, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

Be fair about this. On the one hand, you don’t believe everything bad that you hear about someone just because you think he’s a jerk and you don’t really like him anyway. He might very well be a jerk, but that doesn’t mean he’s guilty of what he’s charged with.

By the same token, you don’t stretch the benefit of the doubt totally out of all reasonable proportion just because the accused is your golf buddy. In the case of a pastor, elder, deacon, or other leader in the church, he may have done your wedding, or baptized your kids. He may have even baptized you. You still need to accept that he might be guilty as charged, and follow the evidence, and not your feelings.

In Matthew 18:18-20, Jesus says that, if we follow His instructions, then our actions will be confirmed in heaven. (No, these verses are not about prayer meetings…pfft!) And it is no accident that the very next section of Matthew deals with Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35), as the whole goal of all of this is to bring the sinning brother to repentance and restoration with the church, the fellowship of believers.

This is the way that the Bible tells us that discipline in the church is to be maintained. Frankly, we don’t follow this near enough. My question to you is, if you are aware of allegations of transgression, what are you doing about it? Are you obeying the scriptures?

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More Questions in Search of Answers

I have a friend in Ireland who has, along with Jason Smathers, been responsible for gathering much of the information that has confirmed that Ergun Caner has been “embellishing” his testimony. I’ve listened to way more Ergun Caner audio recordings than I ever wanted too, but I probably haven’t listened to a tenth of what my friend has.

While my friend has gathered all of this information, he does not blog. He also wishes to remain anonomous. So, in light of yesterday’s Focus on the Family broadcast, while I have no intention of A Squirrel in Babylon becoming a “Caner Watchblog”, I did want to bring you the following information from our guest blogger.


More Questions in Search of Answers

by Squirrel’s Friend in Ireland

Ergun Caner has been a popular speaker at hundreds of events and has related his Christian testimony numerous times on audio, video and in book too. Ergun has claimed that although he was born in Sweden he was 100% Turkish.

Emir, his youngest brother, is similar to Ergun in that he too has entered academia and speaks at many events. Emir Caner has told his testimony several times in audio recordings that are available on the internet.

One such testimony was contained within a sermon preached apparently on Sept 20, 2009 entitled “Isaiah 9:2-6; The God Who Draws Near”. In his testimony Emir states, “I am Turkish, my father was Turkish and my mother is Swedish.” He then goes on to state that he was born in America unlike his two older brothers. His name, Emir Fethi, was chosen by his father and it apparently means “The Prince of Islamic Conquest.”

Emir also speaks that his parents came to America to build mosques and his father Acar was the architect of the mosque in Columbus, Ohio. However there is some new material presented because he reveals his mother came from a Swedish Lutheran background and was a convert to Islam. However Emir reveals on her arrival in America she soon rejected Islam in favour of universalism and became a hippy and effectively Karen Carpenter became her god. This appears to be what is at the root of previously documented disputes with her husband Acar over the religious upbringing of their sons. The boys’ grandmother was also Swedish Lutheran but Emir describes her as having pluralistic beliefs.

Emir makes mention that at one stage his grandmother was in a nursing home while he was pastoring in Wood, North Carolina but he believed he should invite her to come and stay with his family. His reasoning being that his grandmother took care of him for many years. Whether this was because of the marital breakdown is not specified but it would not be surprising if it had occurred because Monica, his mother, was working. According to Emir, his grandmother could only speak Swedish.

For the three boys Emir says American culture was somewhat alien and they used the television to acclimatize to it. Emir specifies that the 3 American cultural reference points they used on TV were the Andy Griffith’s show, wrestling and football. This differs from Ergun’s account played on the April 22, 2010 Dividing Line where Ergun states that Andy Griffiths was a window on to American culture when they lived in Turkey.

The Caner boys’ Swedish grandmother and their mother became Christians after the boys did. The boys’ father Acar rejected his sons because of their new faith but eventually news broke that he was dying of cancer and so the three sons paid a final visit to see him. Emir reveals that Acar was pleased to renew acquaintance with his sons but he was obstinate that the name of Christ could not be mentioned and he presented them with Qur’ans.

It is interesting that Ergun blots this detail out of his testimony about how devoted the family were to Islam. Ergun has said that his mother continued to wear the hijab the Islamic head covering until she removed it in the baptistery on the occasion of her baptism. The puzzling aspect of this is that if she had rejected Islam for a hippy lifestyle then why would she continue to use Islamic dress? Is this aspect of the Caners’ upbringing omitted as it suggests they may not have had such a strict Islamic upbringing as Ergun has previously stated?

Well, there you have it. More questions the need to be answered. The thing that gets me is the ongoing defense that is being mounted on behalf of the Caners. At Grace and Truth to You, Pastor Wade Burleson wrote on Monday, “The notion that there are no integrity issues that need addressed in Ergun Caner's background is ludicrous. The evidence is irrefutable. Only sycophants and ignoramuses in the Southern Baptist Convention will deny that there is a problem.” And, “Some pretty high profile people have pushed the Caners to the top of the academic world and the speaking circuit of the SBC. If the Caners' integrity is in question, either Ergun's or both Ergun's and Emir's, then there will be some pretty embarrassed high profile Southern Baptists.”

In Pastor Burleson’s comment thread, I wrote:
You know, I can "get" the Caners and LU buttoning up like turtles and hoping this goes away. Embarrassment is one of the hardest things any of us ever have to face. Especially when we've done it to ourselves.

What i don't get is guys like Tim Guthrie who, in the face of such overwhelming evidence, keep hanging it out in public. Reminds me of "Baghdad Bob" – "There are no (BOOM) American troops (Sound of aircraft & bombs) in Iraq, let alone (Sound of tanks driving by) in Baghdad!"



The evidence is mounting & questions continue to be asked. These questions are not going to go away without satisfactory answers. Doctors Caner, we are waiting.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Does The Bible Teach Socialism?

During the recent health care debate, I had a long conversation on Facebook with my cousin Tom. In the course of the exchange, he wrote in support of the new legislation, “Contrary to your claim that we are a pagan nation, I believe our basic approach to taking care of others in time of need is of a Christian manner.” So, does the Bible teach Socialism?

First, let’s define Socialism. One good definition is, “Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.” ("Socialism." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Apr. 2010.) Another definition is, “A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” ("Socialism." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Apr. 2010.) What it boils down to is public vs. private ownership and/or control of property.

Let’s look at what the Bible says about the ownership of property. Starting with the Ten Commandments, we see that people have a right to their own property.

The Eighth Commandment states, “"You shall not steal.”(Exodus 20:15) Stealing is defined as, “To take (the property of another) without right or permission.” ("stealing." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Apr. 2010.) So, we’re seeing that there is property that one person has rights to that another person or persons does not. It’s not looking good so far for the socialists.

The Tenth Commandment says, “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) Coveting is different from stealing. Coveting is, “To desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another's property.” ("covet." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Apr. 2010) The Tenth Commandment says that it is wrong to want something that rightfully belongs to another. This doesn’t help the socialist, either.

But, wait! That’s all Old Testament stuff. Didn’t Jesus talk about the poor? He sure did, let’s look at some of what He said:

In Matthew 5:3, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Here He is speaking of the spiritual poor, and not necessarily the materially poor, so we can move on.

In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Here He speaks of giving to the poor from pure motives, and not out of a desire to impress others. He does say “when” and not “if,” so there is an assumption that his followers will give to the poor. But any command here is implicit, not explicit.

Mark 14 tells the story of a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume shortly before His crucifixion. Mark tells us, “But some were indignantly remarking to one another, ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’” (Mark 14:4-5) John tells us (John 12:4-6) that Judas Iscariot was the one who raised the fuss, and that he did it not from any desire to help the poor, but so that he, as the groups treasurer, could have access to the funds himself.

Jesus’ reaction to this grumbling is very telling. He said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.” (Mark 14:6-7 NASB) Did you catch that? He said, “(W)henever you wish you can do good to (the poor).” When and how a person helps the poor is up to their own wishes. He also indicates that no amount of human effort with ever eliminate poverty. “You will always have the poor with you,” He said.

“But wait!” I hear the Biblically knowledgeable socialist proclaim, “The early church was socialistic! They sold all their possessions and shared everything equally!” Well, that’s true to a degree. Acts 2:44-45 says, “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” And Acts 4:34-35 says, “For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” The question, however, remains; is this socialism?

Perhaps, if we examine the curious case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, we’ll have a clearer understanding.

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.

Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?" And she said, "Yes, that was the price." Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well." And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
(Acts 5:1-10)

Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of land and did not give all the money to the apostles, and so God struck them down? Is that what happened? No! God struck them down for lying about not giving all the money.

Look at what Peter said to Ananias. “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control?” Ananias didn’t have to sell his property; it was not required of him. And, having sold the property, the money was his to do with as he wished. Peter clearly acknowledges Ananias’ and Sapphira’s right to do with their own property according to their own desires. One of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s sins was greed, sure, but it was coupled with pride to lead them to do what they did. They wanted to be “big shots” in the church. (See Matthew 6:1-4 again)

No, the truth is that the followers in the early church engaged in commerce, buying and selling privately owned property to raise needed funds. The fact that they shared their funds with those in need shows that they were caring and generous people, not that they were socialists.

While the Bible clearly teaches that we are to support our government & pay our taxes (Romans 13:6-7), Scripture also strongly supports the right to private ownership and control of property. Do I think we could (& should) do more to help the poor? Sure I do. But it should be up to the individual who owns the property to decide when, how, and how much they give. Will many people not give as much as they could? Sure. But that is between them and God, as it is God who gave them their wealth in the first place (2 Chronicles 32:29.)

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(I highly recommend that everyone read Dr. Walter E. Williams' lectures on Economics For The Citizen. I took a year of economics in high school, and two semesters of economics at the University of Montana, but I've learned more about economics by listening to Walter Williams guest-host for Rush Limbaugh and by reading the materials on his website, then I ever learned in school.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Squirrel Can Cook – Hashbrowns

I’ve been buying these hashbrowns at Costco for years. So, the other day, while I’m in the checkout line, a Costco employee asked me about them.

He said that he had just bought some, but that the instructions seemed like a lot of trouble, with all the soaking and draining and such before you could cook them. I started talking about the easy home recipe on the box… He said, “What easy home recipe?” I looked, and it wasn’t there! They no longer put the easy home recipe on the box! So, here it is.

The first thing I do is pre-measure 4- serving portions into bags (that’s 1 ½ cups of the dried potatoes.)

You’ll get 7 bags per carton. And I just store the bagged portions in an old carton (that still has the easy home recipe printed on it…)

Now, for the cooking:

In a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, then add 1 ½ cups of hashbrowns and 1 ½ cups of hot water & give it a stir to mix in the butter. Cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, until water is absorbed and the bottom of the hashbrowns is brown. You can tell when they're ready to flip when an easy shake of the skillet can get them to slide about. If the entire skilletfull of hashbrowns do not slide easily, or tries to come apart, give them another minute, then check them again. Looking for browning at the edge of the pan can help. Flip the hashbrowns over, and brown the other side for 2-3 minutes.

Here’s a short video showing the proper Squirrely flipping technique:

"And I like to top mine with cheese…"

Serves… um… four… yeah… that’s it… four… (Hashbrowns shown here served with Eggs Colonial.)


The Squirrel shall not live by bread NUTS alone!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 4/22/2010

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

I grew up hearing that "One man's trash is another man's treasure." That's true even if you work at a landfill, I suppose. When a local beer distributer dropped of 1500 cases off beer that was past its "freshness date" at the local landfill, it seems that a couple of city employees decided to back up a truck and help themselves. They got the beer, but they also got caught on video. "City officials say they still don't know what happened to the beer." Um... I've got some ideas...

Here's a local Missoula story! The owner of a local bakery (really really good whole-grain sunflower seed nut bread -- Yum!) Made it on stage at The Price is Right, and did quite well, it seems. Here's the story (part 1 & 2) -- it's long, but a pretty good read. I haven't stopped by the bakery since I found out... have to do that sometime soon.

"It's not unusual" to steal a chicken when you a young & hungry musician. "It's not unusual" to be baned from the town where the chicken was stolen. "It's not unusual" for a starving young musician to become famous. And, I suppose, "it's not unusual" for the town to finally lift the ban on the now famous musician after 47 years!

It's not too much to ask, is it? I mean once, just once, I'd like to find a story for the Nut Cache about a smart criminal... Well, that day may come, but it is not today. "A burglary suspect came up with a creative explanation after he was found dangling from the ventilation system of a Maryland convenience store. He told police he was playing hide-and-seek." Creative? I don't think so!

One good thing about stupid criminals, they sure are easy to catch. They always do stupid things to draw attention to themselves. Thinks like, I don't know... shouted obscenities at police officers while sitting, high on drugs, in a stolen car? Yeah, that just might get you caught...

There are a lot of things that the well-prepared young man needs to make sure of before that big prom date. Ask the girl? Check! Rent the tux? Check! Rent the limo? Check! Do a credit check on the limousine service? Huh? No? Missed that one? Maybe you shouldn't have skipped that little detail... Like the young man says, this will be a story that he can tell his children.

There's no doubt that this was just an honest mistake. I mean, these things happen, right? And spell check isn't going to help much when the wrong word is spelled correctly. I know that I sure found it amusing. I'm also sure that there are some people among the professionally offended who would like nothing more, if they could figure out how to use it to their advantage, then to make much more of this then there really is. (And, don't worry, you aren't going to be finding this recipe in a future The Squirrel Can Cook.)

Scientists have long wondered just exactly what it is that causes earthquakes. Sure, there are fault lines and plate tectonics and such that are being studied, but the exact details of where and when are still elusive. Somebody really should have been asking Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, because it seems that he's got it all figured out! Well, it certainly explains a lot about the tectonic activity in Southern California...

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What A Squirrel Believes – Bibliology

What A Squirrel Believes
I believe the Bible, consisting of thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament, to be the written Revelation of God. The Scriptures are fully inspired by God and inerrant & infallible in the original writings. God intends that His Revelation be understood by humanity, and, therefore, normal rules of language should be used in the interpretation of the Bible. The Bible is sufficient for religious instruction, is the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and is of supreme and final authority regarding all matters upon which it touches. In matters not touched upon by the Bible, what is right and true must be assessed in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Scriptures.

Bibliology is that part of theology that deals with the Bible itself; what it is, how we got it, and how it is to be understood.

There is no doubt that the doctrine of God must be at the center of any Christian statement of faith, but the doctrine of Scripture must come first, because only through the Scriptures can we come to know and understand God.

What The Bible Is:

There are two ways in which God reveals Himself; general revelation and special revelation.

General revelation is God revealed in His creation. Creation alone is sufficient so that all men have the knowledge of God’s existence. Paul writes in Romans, “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…” [Romans 1:19-20] So creation alone gives all of us the knowledge that God exists.

In addition to physical creation, general revelation also includes the human conscience. All people everywhere have a sense of what is right and what is wrong [Romans 2:1]. Every culture has rules against murder and stealing and the like. This moral sense is flawed and distorted by sin, but it exists, none the less, and it reveals to all men that God is a moral God. Included in this knowledge is the concept of justice and that wrongdoing requires some sort of reckoning.

From general revelation, all men know that God is, that He is vastly powerful, and that He is moral. But that is all that general revelation reveals. The only way we can know anything else about God is if He tells us; and that is where special revelation comes in. Special revelation is God’s telling us about Himself, and it is found in the pages of the scriptures we know as the Bible.

Why only the Bible? Why not the Buddhist writings, or the Book of Mormon, or the Hindu Vedas, or the Qur’an? The simple answer is found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My reasoning is this:
  • Jesus said that He is God [John 8:58];

  • Jesus proved that He is God by rising from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:3-8];

  • Jesus confirmed the Jewish scriptures (what we know as the Old Testament) [Luke 16:31]

  • Jesus hand-picked the writers of the New Testament [John 15:16].

While all religious writings claim divine origins, none but the Bible can offer any kind of objective evidence to support the claim.

How We Got the Bible:

Many view the Bible just like any other book, as simply the work of men, but it is much more then that. While it is true that the Bible was written by men, it is also true that God spoke through these men. Peter tells us, “…no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” [2 Peter 1:21] And Paul writes [2 Timothy 3:16-17], “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” So, all of Scripture is from God through men moved by, or “carried along” by, the Holy Spirit.

When I say that I believe that the Scriptures are “inerrant & infallible in the original writings,” I mean that the copies we have are, well, copies. We do not have any of the original writings. For many people, this is quite a problem. “If we don’t have the originals,” they say, “how can we know that what we have is what was really written so long ago?” That is a very important question!

The facts are that we do not have the original writings of any ancient works as old as the Bible. Before the printing press, making copies of a book was a difficult and labor intensive project, as everything had to be copied by hand. And, for many writings, few ancient copies remain. We have only 10 ancient copies of the writings of Julius Caesar, and they were made 1000 years after he penned the originals. Aristotle fares better; we have about 50 copies of his writings, but the earliest of them was made 1400 years after the originals. Homer’s Iliad does much better, with 600+ copies, and the earliest of these were made only 500 years after Homer first wrote it.

How does the Bible compare to these other ancient documents? For the New Testament of the Bible, we have more then 5800+ Greek manuscript copies, and the earliest date to less than 100 years after the New Testament was first written. The Bible was also translated into other languages very early in its history, and we have thousands of other ancient manuscripts in other languages, such as Syriac, Aramaic, Coptic, and Latin, that can be studied also. By comparing all these old copies, scholars of textual criticism endeavor to weed through the mistakes that occurred during the copying process to reconstruct the original words of the text. These scholars say that they are 99%+ sure of the original text, and that the parts that they are unsure of, less than 1%, do not materially affect the meaning of the text. It is pretty clear that the text of the Bible that we have today is an accurate representation of what was originally written. (Most good modern translations have footnotes that explain the different textual variants, and Greek critical texts, such as the Nestle-Aland 27, or “NA27”, will have vast footnotes that describe all the textual variants.)

How We Understand the Bible:

Because God used language to reveal Himself to people, it stands to reason that He desires that His Bible be understood by people. Therefore, it makes sense that the normal rules of language should apply to the Bible. This is called “grammatical-historical” interpretation. Grammatical-historical interpretation simply means that we look to understand the Bible by using the rules of grammar while taking into account the historical & cultural context that existed at the time it was written. In other words, we should take a literal approach to understanding the Bible, trusting that God has said exactly what He meant.

In the Bible, God tells us all that we need to know in order to find salvation in Jesus Christ and to prepare us to serve Him. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 says, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” So, the Bible is sufficient, and this is the heart of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

Scripture must be our final authority in everything. When the Creator of everything tells us how things are, what is left to be said? Scripture must stand above science and philosophy and human reason. The only correct understanding of anything is the understanding that is in accordance with the clear teachings of the Bible.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Like Watching a Train Wreck…

Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
(Proverbs 12:19 NASB)

It’s ugly, and it’s only going to get uglier. You know it’s not something that you really want to see, but you just can’t look away. You keep wondering what’s going to happen next.

I’m speaking of the fact that, for many years now, Dr. Ergun Caner, President of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia, has been “embellishing” his “testimony” at various and sundry venues at which he has spoken. Dr. Caner’s untruthfulness is so widespread, and so well documented, that it is undeniable. It seems that, shortly after September 11, 2001, Dr. Caner began to tell audiences things about his background that were less then truthful. In all likelihood, Dr. Caner, responding to a growing interest in all things Muslim in a post 9/11 world, began stressing his Islamic background and distorting his personal history in what can only be described as a quest for self-promotion, celebrity, and ego gratification. It appears that, for Dr. Caner, image often trumps truth.

I understand dishonesty, as it is a sin I have battled often. I understand the temptation to lie in order to make one’s self seem something more. I, too, have felt the desire to “improve” upon a story, to exaggerate a claim, or otherwise bolster something that might be considered lack-luster. And, if you’re honest with yourself, you know you’ve felt that temptation yourself upon occasion. It is part of our fallen nature, and I’d bet a pile of premium walnuts that everyone who is reading these words has told somebody, somewhere, something that they knew wasn’t true. We’re all guilty of lying, that’s not the point.

The point is that a very public person in the Christian community has been caught lying repeatedly, in speech and in print. It cannot just be ignored, as the entire situation brings reproach on the cause of Christ.

Shortly after questions about Dr. Caner’s false statements were made public, Dr. Caner issued a statement. I’d love to tell you what exactly it said, but, less than a month after it was posted, it was removed from his website. His biography was also removed at the time that the statement was issued.

After weeks of “404 – file not found”, a new & much stripped down biography of Dr. Ergun Caner has been posted at his website. Long gone are demonstrably false statements like, “ Caner has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other religious leaders in thirteen countries and thirty-five states,” to be replaced by a brief bare-bones factual account that contains none of the self-serving aggrandizements of the former biography.

Here is the old bio from 2009: “Ergun Mehmet Caner (B.A., M.A., M.Div., Th.M., D.Min., Ph.D.) is president of the Liberty Theological Seminary at the Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Raised as the son of a Muslim leader in Turkey, Caner became a Christian shortly before entering college. Serving under his Chancellor and President, Jerry Falwell Jr., Caner led the Seminary to triple in growth since his installation in 2005. A public speaker and apologist, Caner has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other religious leaders in thirteen countries and thirty-five states. The author of seventeen books, Caner lives in Lynchburg with his wife Jill and two sons, Braxton and Drake.”

The new bio reads: “Ergun Caner is the President and Dean of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School in Lynchburg, Virginia. Raised as a devout Sunni Muslim along with his two brothers, Caner converted in high school. After his conversion, he pursued his call to the ministry and education. He has a Masters degree from The Criswell College, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa. He has written numerous books with his brother, Dr. Emir Caner, who is the President of Truett-McConnell College, a Baptist college in Georgia”

Notice that the list of degrees has changed, mention of being “Raised as the son of a Muslim leader in Turkey” has been deleted (Caner, we now know, was born in Sweden and raised in Ohio since the age of four,) and that any mention of debates has been removed. There are also many recordings, both audio and video, of Dr. Caner, often speaking with a pronounced accent, claiming to have grown up in majority Muslim countries (Sweden and Ohio, I suppose,) having been trained as a Jihadist, etc. etc.

Dr. Caner’s response to all this seems to be ostrich-like. Likewise, Liberty University seems to be trying to ignore the whole thing, too. But sticking their heads in the sand and hoping this all just goes away, in addition to not being the proper Biblical response, doesn’t seem to be working. I’ve already been made aware of possible resolutions being brought to the floor at June’s meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention calling for the removal of fellowship with Dr. Caner & Liberty University by Southern Baptists until and unless there is public repentance. And Liberty University’s academic integrity should require Dr. Caner’s resignation from office, whether he repents publicly or not.

There have been some who have rushed to Dr. Caner’s defense. They say the attacks are "personal," that people are “out to get” Ergun Caner for this or that reason. But the evidence exists, and it does not favor the defense. The “circle the wagons” response we’ve been seeing in this situation will end up damaging all involved.

Those who follow Christ, who said of Himself, “I am the… Truth” (John 14:6), should be known for being truthful and standing for the truth. Scripture calls the body of Christ, “the pillar and support of the truth.” How can we, the body of Christ, stand for the truth, while enduring such dishonesty?

Dr. Caner, please, repent and resign.

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