As I’m typing this there is a little robin thoroughly enjoying the bird bath right outside my living room window. The bird bath is nestled within a rather scraggly flower patch that is positioned beneath the shade of an Italian cypress tree. It is a protected, safe little spot that takes in the view of the garden and the white roses along a gravel pathway. I receive so much pleasure watching the occasional sparrow, finch or robin flitter up to the bird bath each day, sometimes two at a time, each waiting to take their turn. I’m not sure who enjoys the bird bath more, me or them. There isn’t much that I have to do to provide this for them, maybe just a little water added every few days is about all. I’m sure they don’t realize that I receive such pleasure from watching them, and of course they don’t thank me for it, which is completely ridiculous to even think about.
This got me thinking about the pleasure we receive in giving. I believe it is a universal truth. Because we are created in the image of God, the great giver Himself. We are wired to give.
In the area of giving I most certainly have room for improvement. It's one thing to give to those who know and love you it is another to give to those who don’t know you. This is something that I’ve been focusing a lot of thought on this summer, along with a group of women who are on that same path. We have been talking practically about who is our “neighbor” as Jesus spoke about in Luke 10:25-37 in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He taught that we should act in mercy and compassion toward those who need it. And I believe especially those who cannot repay the kindness, the lonely in nursing homes, the hungry and exposed in shelters, those desperate for hope in prison.
I would love to say that I’ve been going out and doing all of these things, but I haven’t. But I am actively praying and looking for those opportunities. Trusting God to show me places where I can actively extend the love of Jesus, to serve those in need. Even in the small things.
The recipe I’ve included today is one that I served my Bible study group that meets on Monday nights. These Cubano sandwiches were inspired by the movie Chef that came out a couple of months ago. They are basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich but loaded with Cuban style pork that has been flavored with a marinade of citrus and garlic and then roasted until tender. They were all I could think about after I saw the movie, so then the Monday night gang became the “Cubano” guinea pigs.
I didn’t hear any complaints. –s
Cuban Sandwich (Cubano) Recipe
1 loaf Cuban bread (I couldn't find Cuban bread so I used soft sub rolls)
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound ham
1 pound Cuban pork (recipe to follow)
1/2 pound Swiss cheese
15 slices dill pickles
To make four generous Cuban sandwiches (Cubanos):
Preheat a pancake griddle or large fry pan to medium hot.
Cut the bread into sections about 8 inches long. Cut these in half and generously spread butter on both halves (inside.)
Make each Cuban sandwich (Cubano) with the ingredients in this order: pickles, pork, ham, and cheese. Be generous!
NOTE: Most people use a sweet cured ham (jamón dulce) or bolo ham for Cuban sandwiches (Cubanos). If you can find these hams in your area, great. Otherwise, look for a slightly sweet, soft textured ham with a mild taste. You don't want the flavor of the ham to overpower the rest of the ingredients! Also, never use shaved ham or pork in a Cubano sandwich!
Spread a little butter on the hot griddle or fry pan and place the Cubano sandwich on the pan. Use a heavy skillet, bacon press, or foil-wrapped brick to flatten the sandwich. (You really want to smash the Cubano sandwich, compressing the bread to about 1/3 its original size!)
Grill the sandwiches for two to three minutes then flip them over to toast the other side. Once the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown on both sides, the Cubano sandwiches are done.
Make sure your griddle or fry pan is not TOO HOT! Otherwise, the crust will burn before the cheese melts.
Slice the sandwich in half diagonally and serve.
(1) 4- to 6-pound pork shoulder roast (NOTE: You'll only need about 1 pound of the cooked meat for the Cuban sandwich recipe above.)
1 head garlic -- about 10 to 15 cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup sour orange juice (If you can't get sour oranges in your area, use two parts fresh orange to one part fresh lemon and one part fresh lime)
1 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 cup Spanish olive oil
Mash garlic, salt, and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle. Stir in sour orange juice, onion, and oregano. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan until hot, but NOT deep frying hot! We're looking for something in the neighborhood of 220 degrees F. Remove the oil from heat and quickly whisk in the garlic-orange juice mixture until well blended. Let cool before using as a marinade!
Pierce pork roast as many times as you can with a sharp knife or fork. Pour garlic mixture (save a little for basting while roasting) over pork, cover and let sit in refrigerator for two to three hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Using a suitable roasting pan, sprinkle remaining marinade over pork and cook uncovered at 375°F for 20 minutes. Immediately reduce temperature to 225° degrees F and cook until the meat is soft and you can pull it apart easily with a fork. Baste occasionally while roasting.
Bring the pan juices to a boil and simmer until the juice is reduced by half. Sprinkle some juice onto the pork when you put it in the sandwich.
recipe from the Three Guys in Miami