Sometimes, in our life journey, the path we choose crosses the path of another person who has a positive influence on our life. Then there are times when we are truly blessed and God sends someone into our path that changes the way we think, the way we behave, and the way we live. We meet these people at all stages of life; when we are children, as teenagers, and even as adults. A big part of who we become depends on the people we choose to surround ourselves with at these various stages in our life.
Jim Perkins was one of those people that God sent into our path. His positive attitude, his persistent smile, his warm heart, and his immeasurable love for his family, gave us a glimpse of what God had in mind when he made human beings in His image. There is no doubt that God placed Jim in our lives to make an impact that would last for eternity.
I will never forget the influence Jim has had on my life, or the impact of his faith, hope and charity on his fellow human beings. Jim was an exemplary example of Christian love in our parish, our community, and in our lives. We are all better people for having known him.
Rest In Peace, Jim.
A few weeks ago I wrote about eFoodsDirect and their awesome emergency pantry foods. Through the generosity of eFoodsDirect, I received a package containing their Tortilla Soup, Creamy Potato Soup, and Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole.
The Tortilla Soup was very delicious. As I mentioned in my review of the Tortilla Soup, it was so good that I ate three bowls. The next item I decided to review was their Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole.
The directions for making the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole were quite similar to the directions for making the Tortilla Soup. Bring water to a boil, whisk in the contents of the pouch, and cook for a few minutes. Does it get any easier than that?
As I poured the pouch into the boiling water it smelled really good. Like any other packaged rice meal, I knew it was going to take a bit of time for this one to cook. I lowered the heat and settled in to read one of my textbooks while it cooked.
With five minutes remaining on the timer, I decided to check it, and I was a bit disheartened to see that the mixture had not thickened up as much as I thought it would have. The Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole contains rice, cheddar cheese, peas, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and sea salt. It also contains autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed corn protein. This matters, and I will tell you why in a few moments.
This product took much longer to cook than the directions indicated. After 25 minutes of cooking, it was nowhere near cooked, in fact some of the rice was still crunchy. I had to cook it an additional 15 minutes, at which point I decided to take it off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Even then, it needed an additional 10 minutes before it thickened up enough.
As I waited for the food to thicken, I finished reading the package. It contains 912mg of sodium, 7 grams of protein, 14 mg of cholesterol, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of saturated fat. The sodium content is much higher than that of the Tortilla Soup, and I was a bit nervous that this product would taste a bit salty.
The first bite was quite delicious. My first thought was, “This is real good, I could eat this everyday, forget emergencies.” The texture was just right, given the amount of cooking time, and I continued to eat the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole.
Four or five bites in, I noticed a strange aftertaste. I picked up the package to review the ingredients and that is when I noticed the autolyzed yeast extract and the hydrolyzed corn protein. As someone who suffers from adverse affects of eating foods that contain processed free glutamic acid, I have to be careful not to eat too much of those foods. Ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid are autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed corn protein, and the more commonly known ingredient, monosodium glutamate.
I did not suffer from an adverse reaction to the processed free glutamic acid, and I never figured out what was causing the strange aftertaste following each bite, but I decided not to push my luck by eating any more of the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole. I did not suffer from a reaction when I ate the Tortilla Soup either, which also contains both ingredients. The mere presence of those ingredients does not mean I will always suffer from a reaction, but I was not taking any chances.
In summary, I think the Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole serves its purpose as a food stored for emergency preparedness, but it did take much longer to cook and the strange aftertaste left me a bit perplexed. eFoodsDirect asked for my honest opinion about their products, and I honestly hope they work to remove additives like autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed corn protein from their ingredients for these products.
Three days ago I was nearly in a panic.
I have been taking calls, maintaining a list of recipients, and organizing our frozen food distribution program for three weeks. On the first Thursday of each month, our local Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference distributes frozen food to clients we have assisted and people within our community who have expressed the need for a helping hand. Through an initiative with Kroger grocery stores, the SVdP Conference Support Center in Atlanta is able to help provide frozen foods to the many conferences in our area and we are grateful for the opportunity to assist people within our community.
The response from our community has been nothing short of amazing. People have volunteered to help pick up, sort, and distribute food. Word spread this month and we were scheduled to help 98 people today. In order to help nearly 100 people we would need 10 fifty-pound boxes of frozen food. Our goal is to give each person 5 pounds of food, which should (in theory) provide them with enough food to supplement their diet for a week.
Three days ago, I received word that we would only receive half of the food we had requested for the distribution. My heart sank, my head was spinning, and I began to panic. I spent Monday working the numbers, dividing the pounds of food by the number of people, and the more I thought about it, the more I panicked.
Tuesday morning, during Communion Service, our own Deacon Gary read the Gospel and then spoke about the end of times. He reminded us that the end times could come many, many, many, many, years from now, or possibly tomorrow. He spoke about our wonderful Lord, and how he has been our refuge through every age. Toward the end of his homily he talked about prayer. Heartfelt, honest, sincere prayer.
Throughout the entire service, I could not help but worry about the frozen food initiative. I realized that the only way I was going to stop panicking was to turn it over to God. Deacon Gary’s homilies are one of a kind. No matter what he says or how he presents it, the topic always comes full circle and you find yourself wrapped in the moment, slowly consuming the Word.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us, “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” Before I walked up to receive the Eucharist, I said a silent, heartfelt, honest, sincere prayer. “Lord, please help me”.
I asked God for help. I reassured him that I knew He was capable of feeding thousands of people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, but I was a weak human being and needed help figuring out how to feed 98 people with only 5 boxes of food. I prayed that He would guide our frozen food ministry, and show me how to feed our own modern day multitude. The geographic area of our parish is very large. People would be driving many miles to receive this food, and I could not, in good conscience, give them a pittance of food and send them on their way.
This morning, my oldest son and I drove up to the SVdP Family Support Center in Dallas, Georgia to pick up the food. When the delivery driver arrived, I introduced myself, and asked him if he had five boxes of food for me. He said, “No sir, I don’t.” My heart sank again. I should have known better than to panic. He grinned and told me that he had 10, yes ten!!! I was stunned, to say the least.
Driving back to Carrollton, I could hardly contain myself. I know our God is an awesome God. I know He works miracles every day. I truly believed He would provide the food we needed, whether it was five boxes or ten, and He did! But today’s story does not end there.
When we arrived back at the church, we quickly emptied the boxes, and sorted the foods. It took us 35 minutes to pack 48 bags of food. We would have had 50, but some of the meat packages were small, so I doubled up a couple items to make sure each person received a fair portion.
We counted the bags on the table, we counted the bags when we moved them to the cart, and we counted the bags when we placed them in the freezer. I know it sounds redundant, but the total number of bags determines how many bags we can distribute to each family, in order to provide the most food to the most people.
The distribution was scheduled from 4pm to 6pm, but when we arrived at 3:30pm, there were a dozen people waiting in the parking lot. Most of them were elderly, and the sun was a bit warm today. I quickly organized the distribution point and opened the door. We had 48 bags of food for 98 people, and no room for error, extras, or mistakes.
Four of the first six people were not on the distribution list. They had not called our hotline, they had not reserved food, but they were standing in front of me, and they needed food. I felt the panic returning. I was going to have to turn these people away because I did not have enough food after all. I felt like a schmuck. Time stood still, but in that one moment I realized what I was supposed to do. I took each person’s name, entered them in my log sheet, and gave each person a bag of food.
After the initial crowd received their food, I decided to count the number of bags still on the shelf so I could re-work the numbers and spread the remaining food as far as I could. We distributed food to four people who were not on our distribution list, so we should have been four bags short. But we weren’t. When we counted (and recounted) the bags, we had exactly the number we needed to provide food to the remaining people on our list.
Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, we had more and more people show up that were not on the list. I took their names and gave them food. I did not turn anyone away.
By the end of the day, we had distributed 56 bags of food, assisting 115 people. Eight people did not show up and 12 bags remained on the shelf. Now that was the miracle God was working on this first Thursday of June.
All afternoon I thought the miracle was receiving 10 boxes of food, little did I know that He had something else in mind. A better idea, a greater plan. There is no doubt that we only had 500 pounds of food, in 48 bags, to help 98 people.
“When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’ So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.” (John 6:12-13)
Something tells me that only God can explain today’s events, but I need no explanation. I am grateful for the miracle that occurred, and I am humbled to have experienced it first hand. God answered my prayer, and I learned through heartfelt, honest, sincere prayer, that silence truly is the first language of God.
When the economy tanked, we were lucky. Oh sure, I lost my job, our finances were ruined, and eventually we lost our house, but we were lucky because we had taken some time to can foods over the weeks and months before I lost my job.
My wife had taken an interest in learning to preserve foods, so we were going all out. By the time I was laid off, we had corn, peaches, pears, pickles, pinto beans, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, blackberry jam, blueberry jam, muscadine jam, apples, potatoes, and a few other things on our shelves.
I cannot stress the importance of having some sort of food reserves on hand, in case of financial or natural disaster. I have been under- or un-employed for the past three years and those reserves came in very handy during the times we literally had nothing else to put on the table. As a volunteer for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, I can tell you that the number of people who are facing a food security crisis in our community is staggering.
eFoodsDirect is a company that provides an excellent solution for those people who want to build up their food storage whether it is for economic reasons, disaster preparedness, health considerations, or just overall food security. I recently received a package containing three free samples and decided to write a review for each product in the package.
I received a package containing their Tortilla Soup, Creamy Potato Soup, and Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole. Each meal comes in it’s own envelope, which you add to boiling water, and is ready to eat in under 30 minutes. Each envelope contains four one-cup servings (or two hearty servings). The envelopes are durable and have a shelf life of more than 20 years. The Tortilla Soup would not expire until February 13, 2027, if I had not eaten it this afternoon.
When I opened the envelope for the Tortilla Soup my nose went nuts. It smelled absolutely delicious. The aroma was quite similar to many fresh tortilla soup recipes I have tried in the past, so I was actually excited to try it. Twenty minutes and four and a half cups of water later, I was eating delicious Tortilla Soup.
The soup contained black beans, red beans, potato, cheddar cheese, onion, carrots, green chili, garlic, corn, sea salt, red peppers, and of course, pieces of tortilla. It did not look the greatest, but I think that is to be expected with a bean soup of any kind. As with many packaged products, the sodium content was a little high at 451mg per serving, but it contained 4 grams of protein, zero cholesterol, 3 grams of fiber, and only 0.5 grams of saturated fat.
The product was very tasty. It was so delicious that I ate three bowls. With the first bowl, I followed the package directions and included some butter for additional flavor. I did not add butter to the second bowl, because I would not have butter on hand if I was facing some financial or natural disaster, and I wanted to give an honest review for the product. Either way, the soup was absolutely delicious.
To tell you the truth, when I received the package I was a bit skeptical, but after trying the Tortilla Soup, I honestly believe eFoodsDirect delivers a good product and I can hardly wait to try the other two. Through a special offer from eFoodsDirect, in remembrance of the disaster in Japan last year, you can save 50% on their 7-day Pantry Pack, or 40% off their Soup and Entreé pack. Just make sure you use coupon codes ‘Food50′ or ‘Food40′ when checking out. Where else can you get 7 days worth of food for $24.95? Over the course of the next few days I will be reviewing the other two products separately, giving my honest opinion about each one of them as well.