Friday, November 23, 2012

Sausage and Cheese Soup and Unscheduled Evangelical Poverty

Hello, internet.  It's been a while (as usual) so here is a recipe just so you know I'm alive and I still think of you every now and again.  We have Ryan's parents here visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We were very relaxed on Thanksgiving Day, Skyping with the rest of the family, going for a hike on a gorgeous day, playing with the children.  Well, I was.  My father-in-law and husband were hard at work grilling the turkey and cleaning up our yard before our house is appraised on Monday.  Then the ladies had a frantic hour when the turkey was done much earlier than anticipated, the babe needed to be nursed, and we had no stuffing or mashed potatoes prepared.  Served me right for being so Zen (read: lazy) all day.  My in-laws are very good sports.  George even mashed the potatoes.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day too!

Today we'd had a big lunch, and not yet ready for more Turkeyish delight this evening.  So I made this soup from odds and ends, and it was a winner.  As always, measurements are approximate.

Bring to a boil:
  • 6 cups turkey broth
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
Reduce heat to simmer.  Tie together in cheesecloth:
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 3 cloves
  • part of a cinnamon stick
Cook for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender.  Meanwhile, nurse the baby yet again, cook in a skillet and drain the fat from:
  • 1 lb. sausage
Remove the spice bag and puree the soup.  Stir in:
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 2 cups baby spinach
When cheese is melted and spinach is wilted, add the sausage and salt and pepper to taste.  I like to use white pepper because it disappears into the soup, but it tastes the same as black.  We have been eating a lot of squash this fall.  Squash has been 35 cents a pound, so that's why.  I'm not tired of it yet.

So, yes, our house is getting appraised on Monday.  We are in the process of refinancing our mortgage.  If anybody reading this is a homeowner and doesn't already know:  Now is a great time to do this.  Interest rates are as low as 2.63% right now!  We're taking advantage of the much lower interest rate to change over to a 15-year mortgage, so we will be debt-free by age forty.  We'll have to come up with more money each month, but it will be so worth it. 

We had the mortgage broker at the house last week and he just kept running the numbers over and over to tell us in so many different ways what we already knew:  We are saving a boatload of money by making this move.  He was practically giddy.  Actually, he was a really nice man about the same age as us.  He was so happy to meet a family serious about getting out of debt.  He called it a "breath of fresh air," and being debt-free by age forty is such a rare thing nowadays.   He told us that he'd worked with a couple who both worked for the same company as my husband and had high incomes.  They we in their forties, had a $400,000 house and $100,000 in credit card debt.  They signed a new 30-year loan.  He says they are not unusual.  Part of me still can't get over that.  I hate being in debt, even though ours is all "good debt." 

There's no such thing as far as I'm concerned.  I want it gone.  I want that seemingly gargantuan amount we pay out on loans every month to be free to do something better than maintain the status quo.  I'm talking giving it to the Church, or to good charities like Heifer International, or building up our little farm.  If all our debt money went to these things instead, it makes me so excited to think just how far that money could go.  Evangelical poverty has to have this kind of purpose.  "Love of God" sounds great but at least for me I'm not at the level of sanctity where I immediately see the connection between loving God and walking down the ice cream aisle without stopping.  Love of God, I hope, is the underlying motivation, but I need a more concrete-feeling bridge between the two if I'm going to actually make the sacrifice most of the time. 

Also, what do we want to get out of debt so soon for?  Certainly not so we can finally have all the ice cream we want.  The hundred-grand-on-the-credit-card couple proves that debt is not an obstacle to gratifying little desires.  It is an obstacle to the big dreams, and being able to give generously when the opportunity presents itself.  Anthony's godfather, for example, purchased two houses downtown outright to convert into the house for the Oratorian fathers to live.  He just couldn't have done a thing like that had he been drowning in debt.  We also are not getting out of debt so we can just watch our bank account get fatter and fatter.  We are stewards only.  When Judgment Day comes He won't be interested in our bank statements, but whether we fed the hungry and clothed the naked.

This is getting rather long and completely stream-of-consciousness.  And my consciousness is fading fast. The nitty-gritty of tithing will have to wait for another (fort)night.  I need a pithy sentence to sum up with and call it a night.

"Money, if you'll pardon the expression, is like manure.  It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow."  Thank you, Ephraim.


  1. does this mean that you plan to still live in that same house when you are 40? (sorry if my ignorance of home-ownership/mortgages is showing)

    1. No, it just means that if we keep paying our mortgage as scheduled, it will take 15 years (for us that's age 40). We can sell the house before that, and pay off what's left of our principal with the money from the sale. When you hear that homeowners can't sell because they are "under water", it means they owe more than the house is worth. If they sold it, they would have no house and still owe money for it!

  2. Happy one year of not blogging anniversary!