I reek of the odor of onions and garlic and raw meat. I’ve been in the kitchen all day with my mother, cooking up beef and seaweed soup and Korean BBQ for an old lady in our church. And while my hands were busy peeling garlic and chopping onions, my mind has also been busy reminiscing and reflecting on a lot of things.
The lady we’re cooking for is Lee Mama, the mother of one of our church elders. The elder is the same person who held my hand while I was in the ER getting my eyes flushed, and his whole family has been one of my biggest supporters and encouragers. But recently Lee Mama had been diagnosed with both brain and breast cancer. Yesterday she just came back home after a long painful surgery, only to fall and break her femur this morning and be hospitalized again. Now another surgery awaits her.
Thinking of Lee Mama brings tears to my eyes, but not because I feel sorry for her. No, I weep because I am cut to heart by Lee Mama’s strength and grace even in the midst of her suffering. This lovely woman stands only 5 feet tall and has small, beady eyes (well, she’s ASIAN), but she has the biggest and strongest spirit and she sees everything with such great depth and wisdom.
When I was still really sick and malnourished, and could barely walk uphill, she rushed up to hold and support me. Can you imagine? An 80-year-old woman supporting a 21-year-old?
I was even more amazed on the day she was hospitalized, getting ready for chemotherapy. At that time I was still pretty weak, and my parents took me to see her. There she was, lying on the bed, with all sorts of tubes sticking out of her tiny body, and there was not a single negative word or complaint. Instead, she was singing praises to God. Singing. Praises. To. God(!!!??). And when she saw me, she grasped my hand and fussed over me like I was the patient, not her. I went to comfort her, but instead she comforted me.
At that time I was majorly confused and stunned. What is this? I wondered. What is her secret to maintaining peace and joy even in such hardships?
I sat next to her, listening to her talk. From beginning to end, all she talked about was how thankful she was to the Lord, how hopeful she was towards the future no matter what happens, and how happy she was that she, too, was allowed to bear the cross of Jesus Christ. And I knew then that this ability to face hardships with grace and strength and joy was not from her own greatness. She had a firm foundation, a support to which she could lean on during trials. And that foundation was her faith in God, in His love and power and guidance.
I always try not to get all religious in my blog, but I have to say this, at least just once: I cannot live without a foundation in my faith, either. I know how weak and flawed I am. By myself, I would crumble into rubbles. But with God as my base and my faith as my groundwork, I am slowly building up myself to the strong and stable spirit that Lee Mama is.
Situations and circumstances change, but these things stays the same: The love, support, and comfort of God, my family, and my spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. That is what will keep me unwavering and resilient in all the future challenges awaiting me.
And that brings us to today’s lunch. I had a tough time finding a good foundation for the crab filling I had made earlier that morning. I’ve had this idea of making some kind of crab salad for lunch, as I had two cans of crabmeat needing to be used in the pantry. I originally planned to just use it as a filling for a wrap, but decided that it would taste way better baked. But it would crumble into random pieces just baked by itself. I needed some kind of base to support it!
Enter my mother with her grocery goods! She came back from grocery shopping just at the right time. As I helped her put the groceries away, I came across a fresh packet of tilapia. My eyes lit up. Perfect!
So everyone, today I present to you…
For the crab-crust:
- 6 oz can crabmeat, drained well
- 1/2 cup Three-blend Italian cheese, shredded
- ~1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Tapenade
- 1/4 cup whipped cottage cheese
- spoonful Greek yogurt
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
For the tilapia:
- 1 piece of tilapia fillet
- salt and pepper
- several sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 tomato, sliced
For the crab-crust, mix all the ingredients together except for the Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Next, season both sides of the tilapia with salt and pepper. Put it onto a baking dish, on top of the fresh rosemary. Lay the tomato slices on top.
Spread the crab-crust all over the fish, then sprinkle top with the Parmesan cheese like this:
Bake at 350 Fahrenheit degree for about 20-30 minutes until done. Remove the rosemary leaves, serve.
Oh man…It was torture waiting for the fish to bake, because the whole house smelled so good from the rosemary. The fragrance really infused the whole dish!
Just look at the cheesy crab-crust! With a topping like that, I’ll bet I can even eat my macbook. Yum~
Whoa, I missed that single rosemary leaf there, but whatever, it still looks good!
Digging into the luscious flesh…Oh my…
One tantalizing bite…
And just another bite…
Damn, that was tasty. The tilapia made a great foundation for the crab-crust. It was firm and held its shape even when I lifted it whole out of the baking pan. Also, its mild taste didn’t overwhelm the subtle, sweet taste of the crabmeat at all.
Well, I’m in need of a good shower after all the garlic-peeling and raw meat-handling. I hope Lee Mama will enjoy what my mother and I have cooked for her!
Question of the day: What is your foundation during times of hardship? And if that’s too personal…Which is your favorite fish?