Life


Sadhu_SundarThis question has been with me since last Friday when I read this blog post about Sadhu Sundar Singh. Now Sundar was an Indian man who cultural surrendered his life to Jesus Christ in 1903 but instead of adopting the customs and dress of the Western Missionaries he chose stay within his culture, dress as a Hindu holy man (Sadhu) and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ by travelling all over India and Tibet bare foot. In the above mentioned post the author makes this claim:

A Sadhu is a Hindu who devotes his entire life to his religion and forsakes all the worldly pleasures.  When one becomes truly born again you will abandon ALL things that are not glorifying to God – you abandon your past.  The things you did before you were truly born again you repented of and you will not go back to them.  Sundar Singh didn’t do that, he kept the Hindu Holy Man name Sadhu and the robes.  The only reason for this was because it was supposedly easier for him to approach people and spread the Gospel.

Now I agree with the part that we must “abandon all things that are not glorifying to God” but does that mean a Hindu, Muslim, San Khoi,  or even sub-cultures must abandon their culture and adopt Westernised Christian culture. Should they dress differently? Learn a new language? Eat differently? Build church buildings the way the west do? Be missionaries like Western missionaries? Should we expect such a person to abandon customs not specifically forbidden in the Bible? Should we expect him/her to adopt customs not mentioned in the Bible? I am not talking here about customs specifically mentioned in the Bible but those that we as Western Christians have adopted as “Christian”.

I think that this notion we as Christians have had over the centuries of a “Christian Culture” have stood in the way of spreading the Gospel in a big way. When we see a person dressed in a certain way we immediately assume certain things about that person and connect that person to a cultural group. That in itself is not wrong but when we then extrapolate from there that a Christian shouldn’t dress that way I think we build a barrier which make it difficult for such a person to hear the Gospel.

Communication is much more than words because it involves two parties, the one with the message and the one receiving it. My experience taught me that the audience’s attitude to and perception of the message and messenger being communicated is just as important as the message itself. If a scenario is set where the audience are feeling rejected or threatened by the messenger the message will be compromised and worst rejected before it was even heard.

By judging people according to their cultural expression influence if they feel accepted or rejected. How the messenger appears to them influences if they feel safe or threatened.

In the light of the above my questions are:

Should we expect people to change their cultural expression when they accept Jesus Christ as Lord?

Should we adopt certain cultural expressions, like Sundar did, when we share the Gospel with other culture groups?

Since I wrote a post on How To Make a Cappuccino On a Budget Espresso Machine I got a stovetop espresso maker and manual milk frother for Christmas 2008. I see that my How To post gets a lot of hits from the question “I to make cappuccino with a stovetop espresso maker”, so I decided to write a post about it.

To make cappuccino with a stove top machine you will need two appliances:

Stovetop Espresso Machine and…   Manual Milk Frother

A Stovetop Espresso Machine and a Manual Milk Frother

Further you will need a medium ground coffee and full cream milk… and some kind of heat source (a stove works better than a blow dryer 🙂 )…

Stovetop Espresso Machines

Stovetop Espresso Machines comes in different sizes and qualities/price brackets. I have a budget machine in the R130($15) range bought from @Home made from aluminium that can make up to 4 espressos. A good site to look for reviews on different machines is www.coffeegeek.com.

The machine consist of a lower part you fill with water, a funnel/coffee holder combo, a rubber seal, top strainer and a top part into which the espresso is delivered.

stovetop-fill stovetop-coffee
Figure 1                                                              Figure 2
Stovetop Strainer Seal Stovetop Machine Full
Figure 3                                                              Figure 4

Stovetop espresso makers uses the pressure of steam created by the heated water in the bottom part to force the water from the bottom part, through the coffee held in the funnel/coffee holder to the top part thus making espresso.

How to…

  • Unscrew and remove the top part of the espresso maker.
  • Remove the funnel/coffee holder.
  • Fill the bottom part of the espresso maker with water to just under the steam pressure safety valve (The brass thingy on the side of the bottom part) as in Figure 1.
  • Put the funnel/coffee holder back into place.
  • Fill the coffee holder with a medium ground coffee of your choice as in Figure 2. Fill it so that it is slightly heaped above the rim.
  • Stovetop PressTamp the coffee lightly down. Don’t tamp it down as hard as with an automatic pump machine as it might block the holder causing the water not to filter through the coffee.
  • Stovetop WipeWipe the rim of the the coffee holder clean of any coffee so that it will seal properly.
  • Make sure that the strainer and seal is properly seated in the top part of the espresso maker. The seal should hold the strainer in place as in Figure 3.
  • Screw the top part onto the bottom part tight enough so that it will seal properly.
  • Place it onto the stove and turn on the heat. Turn the espresso maker so that the steam safety valve is facing away from you.
  • While waiting for the espresso, pour full cream milk into the milk frother up to the maximum mark. My frother makes enough for one cup.
  • Heat the milk to just under milk’s boiling point in a micro wave oven. For this you will need to know your micro wave oven’s power output and it may take some experimenting. If you do not have a micro wave oven you can heat the milk on a stove before pouring it into the frother.
  • Use the plunger to froth the heated milk. Start by making fast, small movements on the surface of the milk and then gradually increasing the size of the movements until the volume of the milk is about doubled.
  • Back to the espresso…
    As the water heats up the coffee will push up through the funnel into the coffee holder and then up into the top part. The steam safety valve might relieve some of the pressure from time to time.
  • As soon as the top part is filled with espresso you may switch off the stove and remove the espresso maker from the heated stove plate.
  • Stovetop EspressoUsing a preheated cup, pour the espresso into the cup. Fill about one third of the cup with espresso.
  • Stovetop Adding MilkPour the heated and frothed milk on top of the espresso making small side to side movements towards the end of filling the cupo. This will push the froth out of the frother.

Stovetop Cappuccino

Enjoy your cuppuccino!

Friends of ours bought a water slide for our kids for Christmas. Oh, what fun!

water-slide-01

water-slide-02

water-slide-03

sandpit

Maneesha and Dillon admiring dad's construction skills.

I had this Sunday off from church, the first in quite a long time. I took the opportunity to go to the Walmer Methodist Church. It was a very pleasant experience. The sermon was out of Psalm 61 – how David handled difficult situations. It was very relevant in the current South African situation.

Psalm 61

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

 1 Hear my cry, O God;
       listen to my prayer.

 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
       I call as my heart grows faint;
       lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

 3 For you have been my refuge,
       a strong tower against the foe.

 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
       and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
       Selah

 5 For you have heard my vows, O God;
       you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

 6 Increase the days of the king’s life,
       his years for many generations.

 7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
       appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

 8 Then will I ever sing praise to your name
       and fulfil my vows day after day.

Dillon the Engineer

Afterwards we went to the Port Elizabeth’s Model Railway Society which runs their trains every first Sunday of the month. From the moment we drove through the gate I felt like a child again. To say Dillon and me were mesmerised is an understatement. The amount of detail that is in these locomotives is just mind boggling. It was also one of the cheapest family outings imaginable – R3,50 per ride. Dillon gave every locomotive names as he saw fit – Thomas, Emily, James…
Maneesha was just as impressed and was a bundle of laughter all day long, waiving to all the people at the side of the track.

 

 

Today was one of those days that will stand out in my life.

I am the fortunate owner of a Kambrook espresso machine given to me on my last birthday by my beautiful wife and my brother in law. Wow, I feel loved… 🙂 Since I got it I have been making an average of 2 to 6 cappuccino’s with it per day. I consider myself now quite an expert on this particular machine (Please pray for me to repent of this pride!). I would like to give a few guidelines about cappuccino making. If this gets you interested I recommend the website http://www.coffeegeek.com.

Budget Machines

The Kambrook machine I have is a low budget machine costing only R699-00 (±$100) at Clicks. When using budget machines you have to keep a number of things in mind. They are not made to make huge amount of cups of coffee in a short time like the machines you would find in a coffee shop. The steam the budget machines produce is not even close as strong as the more expensive machines. But if you are patient you can still get satisfactory results.

When buying a budget machine, make sure the pump pressure is at least 15 bar. Also have look at the steam wand and see that it has a small opening that can create a strong steam jet, and that it can move around enough to facilitate easy access.

 

 

The machine should have two removable stainless steel strainers that clip into the filter holder, one fore making a single espresso and one for a double espresso. I have seen machines with only one strainer and with strainers that doesn’t clip into the holder and keep on falling out while working with it – very frustrating.

Coffee beans and grind

I like to use freshly ground coffee, as its flavour is much better than the ground coffee bought from your super-market. Masterton’s (+27 41 585 4044) in Port Elizabeth has a wonderful range of blends and flavoured coffee beans (The connoisseurs will crucify me for using flavoured coffee). My favourites are their Salvinia blend and Irish Cream flavour.

It is important to note that espresso machines use a finer grind than percolator machines and when buying ground coffee you should ask for espresso grind.  As I have said, I like to use freshly ground coffee. I got hold of a Russell & Hobbs grinder from Macro for R250-00. I find the second setting from finest to work best for me, but you should experiment with your machine.

Cappuccino’s Formula

So what makes a cappuccino a cappuccino?

A cappuccino is usually made in a cup 200ml to 250ml in size. It’s made up of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 milk froth. The espresso gets poured in first and then the milk so that the froth floats on top.

 Making the Espresso

Let’s start with the single espresso. Make sure there is enough water for at least one cup in the machine’s reservoir. Turn the machine on and wait for it to warm up. Most machines have an indicator to tell when it is ready to use.

Place the smaller strainer into the holder. Scoop the ground coffee into the strainer (one heaped scoop should do it). Now tamp the coffee firmly into the strainer. I use the edge of a counter top or table to support the holder while I do it. The more compacted the coffee is, the stronger it will be, so play around with this step till you are satisfied with the strength of your espresso.

 

 

Wipe off any loose coffee on the edges of the strainer and holder. Place the holder with strainer into the machine, twisting it and make sure it seals well. The machine should be hot, ready to use by now. Place a cup under the holder’s outlets and turn the machine’s espresso function on. Fill the cup about 1/3 with espresso.

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to make a double espresso or two singles simultaneously, use the bigger strainer. When making two cups it is possible that the one cup might fill up faster than the other. As soon as the first reaches 1/3 full move the other over to catch both streams flowing from the holder’s outlets.

Frothing (Steaming) the Milk

Now we come to the part that separates an average cappuccino from a great cappuccino. I like using full cream milk, because it just tastes better, but you can use low fat or skimmed milk as well. Most machines come with a pitcher (milk cup) made of stainless steel. If your machine didn’t come with one, try buying one, it is worth the effort. As for the steam wand and froth enhancer – I don’t like using the froth enhancer that comes with the machines, because it makes the bubbles too big, so I remove it from the wand. Now follow the instructions:

 

·     Fill the pitcher with the amount of milk that would fill a little bit more than 1/3 of the cup you are using.

·     Aim the steam wand towards the waist tray and turn the steam on to get rid of any water that condensates inside the steam unit.

·     When the steam starts blowing out strong turn it off, place the pitcher with milk under the wand with the nozzle dipped well into the milk.

·     Bring the nozzle tip to surface of the milk as quickly as possible without blowing the milk all over the place.

·     Keep the nozzle only just under the surface, getting the milk to swirl around in the pitcher.

·     As the milk swirls around get the steam to make a tsst, tsst, tsst sound. (Best I can describe it)

·     Keep doing this and you’ll see the froth forming with very, very tiny bubbles. Medium bubbles are bad. Big bubbles can be mixed into the froth again or broken up afterwards by banging the bottom of the pitcher on a counter top.

·     The milk should swell to about double its initial volume. When double the volume is reached, dip the steam nozzle into the milk while keeping the milk swirling.

·     Best is to use a thermometer to get the milk to the right temperature. I don’t have one yet, so I touch the bottom of the pitcher until it is uncomfortably hot.

·     Turn off the steam.

·     Your froth should be smooth, fooling people into thinking it is cream. (I had that once 🙂 )

Now there is two ways you can add the milk to the espresso:

 The first: Scoop some of the froth onto the espresso until the top is almost covered with the froth. Now add the rest of the milk and froth till the cup is filed up. If you want you can sprinkle chocolate, cinnamon or cappuccino spices over the froth. Serve with pride.

     

       

 

 

 

The second method takes a bit of practice and I am not there yet. The idea is to pour the milk and froth into the espresso so that the froth rises to the top making patterns. This is called latte art. Have a look on www.coffeegeek.com.

Bang the bottom of the pitcher on the counter, breaking any larger bubbles. With the bottom touching the counter top, make circular movement with it swirling the milk a few times until the froth becomes slightly shiny. Hold the cup slightly angled towards you. Pour the milk into the espresso making pendulum movements while keeping a steady flow. You should see a pattern forming on top of your cappuccino. This takes a lot of practice. I get it right 1 out of 10 times…

Enjoy your cappuccino!

 

*UPDATE*

I see that this post gets quite a bit of hits. I hope this helped you with your cappucino making or at least gets you excited about coffee. Please let me know about what you have learned so far in your search of the perfect cup…