Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

In the last several months, I have been given many gifts.  My dear friend Susan, upon finding that I was looking for a bread machine, offered me the one she owned but did not use.  We now make all our own bread in our home – white, cinnamon raisin, whole wheat – and we have a great time trying all sorts of new bread recipes. 

When she decided to buy a new one, my very good friend, Patricia, gave me her practically unused  KitchenAid Mixer.  If you have ever owned or used one of these, then you know that they are awesome!  The first time I used it, I was so excited I seriously considered videotaping it for this blog.  “Look, Todd!” I exclaimed to my husband, “It’s going around and around!”  He still loves me, thank goodness.  But we both love this mixer.

For some reason, the phrase that comes to mind is “the kindess of strangers” although it’s hardly the case in this situation.  These gifts were received from very good friends.  And far removed from Blanche DuBois, I think about the scriptures that direct us to think of the strangers in our lives to whom we offer kindness and from whom we receive it; our willingness to show generosity and – sometimes more difficult – our openness to receiving it.

Receiving kindness is often much harder than giving it.  Our culture and our faith are at sharp odds when it comes to the value of self-sufficiency.  We would very much like to rely on no one but ourselves, to be responsible for nobody but us.  Many feel that being in need is a shameful state and that to help others – to acknowledge their need – is to give offense.  We even confuse self-sufficiency with a virtue of our faith, but nothing could be further than the truth.

Jesus’ most famous parable, the Good Samaritan, had to do with the willingness to give and receive kindness of strangers (Luke 10:25-37).  A hated Samaritan was willing to give, and an Israelite, likely unwilling, was forced to receive.  But even more astounding, Jesus a few verses earlier sends his disciples out with the specific intention that they depend on others. 

[Jesus said] “Go on your way.  Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals . . . Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide.”  Luke 10:3-4, 7

Jesus didn’t have his disciples pack for the trip.  They were not told to bring enough with them so that they could avoid relying on others.  He fully intended for them to depend on the hospitality of those they met.  In fact, Jesus often did this himself, receiving meals as the guest in the home of others.  He knew and tried to teach us that we were meant to depend on one another.

Several years ago, I spent a few months in Melbourne, Australia taking seminary classes and getting to know the culture.  I lived in an apartment by myself and had to acquire everything I would need for basic living.  I had plenty of fellow students willing to loan me whatever they had to spare.  Nevertheless, I sat down and wrote a list of everything I needed, making my plans to buy it all at the store down the street.  The list was long.  I began to realize how foolish it was to hold on to my pride and insist on buying my own things.  It would likely all be thrown away when I left.  So I borrowed.  When my parents visited, they rolled their eyes in agony to see how many loaner things I had, how much I had come to depend on my neighbors.  Clearly, I come honestly by my severe independence.  But so do my parents, and so do we all.

In a culture that highly values self-reliance, we struggle to take on the radical new way of living Jesus taught us.  In it, we are required to shake off our pride and accept, even cherish, our dependence on each other.  This is a difficult step for most of us.  We fight against our lack of control, our inability to completely take care of ourselves, our own neediness.

Our food teaches us this lesson too.  While I might be able to grow a tomato without the help of other humans, I can’t do it without the cooperation of the soil and the grace of God.  Very little of this process is up to me.  So we might as well get used to it and assent to the fact that we need help outside of ourselves.  We require God to save us, whether it is from sin or from hunger.  We might as well sigh, accept the generosity and enjoy the bounty.

The recipes I made this week were amazing.  The Italian Meat Sauce was pretty easy to prepare.  Because I cooked it in the crock pot, every time I came home during the day the whole house smelled like dinner!  It was great.  The Deep Dark Chocolate Cake was to die for!  It was with this recipe that I inaugurated the KitchenAid mixer.  The cake was so moist, eating it was like having pudding with pudding on top.  I baked it in an oval dish.  When I had cut and served one corner of the cake, I came back into the room later to find that the cake had filled itself in.  It looked like it had never been cut.  I highly recommend it.  This was a wonderful meal our family had together.  May you be blessed in the cooking and serving of it.

Blessed eating!

This blog post is dedicated to the memory of Rev. Don Richardson, a kindhearted man of innumerable talents.  I am deeply grateful for the friendship and the hospitality I have received from him and his family.  May the world continue to be blessed by the fruit trees he planted and the spiritual fruit he bore during his life with us. 

Italian Meat Sauce (Spaghetti) Recipe
1 cup chop. onion              2 stalks celery with tops, chopped
1-1½ lb. ground chuck, browned    1½ tsp. salt
1 T. sugar                                           2 cloves garlic
1 T. dried oregano                            1½ T. dried basil
1 lg. can (1 lb. 12 oz.) tomatoes      ¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. dried marjoram           1 (12-oz) can tomato paste
1 bay leaf                                 1 container of spaghetti sauce

Put all ingredients in Crock-Pot.  Stir thoroughly.  Cover & cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, or high for 3 to 5 hours.  For the bigger (4 ½ qt) Crock-Pot, ingredients may be increased by half.  I sometimes just make this in a Dutch oven & simmer a long time. – Marilyn Johnson

Note:  I used ground turkey.  It was good.  Also, I don’t know why the recipe calls for a container of spaghetti sauce.  I didn’t use it.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake
2 c. sugar                           1 t. salt
1 ¾ c. pl. flour                    2 eggs
¾ c. cocoa                          1 c. milk
1 ½ t. baking soda             ½ c. oil
1 ½ t. baking powder        2 t. vanilla
1 c. boiling water
Preheat oven to 350o.  Grease and flour 2 round pans or 9x1x ½ in. or 13x9x2 in rectangle pan.  Mix dry ingredients.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Blend on medium for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (mixture will be thin).  Scrape the bottom of the bowl and stir again.  Pour into pans and bake 30-35 minutes for round pans, or 35-40 minutes for rectangular pans, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Frosting
2 small packages of milk chocolate pudding        3 c. milk
1 large container of whipped topping
Mix the two boxes of pudding with the milk.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Stir the whipped topping in by hand.  Frost the Deep dark Chocolate Cake with this frosting. – Gena Jernigan

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saying Grace

Though I am late in reflecting on it, I want to share with you the experience I had last weekend.  I was in Athens, Georgia at the two day symposium Saying Grace: Food Justice and Sustainability, sponsored by Piedmont College.   Many thanks to the friends and blog readers who sent me the information.  It was marvelous.

The event was led by author, preacher and professor Barbara Brown Taylor who opened the Friday night banquet by asking, “Is the Bible Green?”  This is a relevant question for me and, I imagine, many of us who would like to believe the answer is yes, but who get hung up early on Genesis 1:28 and its directive to subdue the earth.  Have we no more responsibility than that?  I learned on Friday that the Bible tells us pretty clearly that we do, only it is sometimes found in the most obscure corners of the text.  Taylor pointed to the command in Deuteronomy 20 to leave fruit trees untouched when laying siege to an enemy city.  “Are trees people, that you should besiege them?” God asks of the people.  The answer was “No.”

Sometimes, however, the God’s concern for creation is not so difficult to find.  It is clear in the book of Revelation which describes God’s reign in terms of a renewed earth with trees that are constantly in fruit and whose purpose is the healing of nations.  As Taylor pointed out, the direction describing the final reign of God is not up – with believers flying away to heaven – but down, in a restored creation.

On Saturday morning, Norman Wirzba spoke on the topic “The Grace of Good Food – Eating and the Life of Faith.” The Professor of Theology, Ecology and Rural Life at Duke Divinity School, Wirzba drew our attention to the image in Genesis of God the Gardener, and to the Christ-like quality of the very dirt we walk on and grow food from – taking in death, absorbing and transforming it.  His words that I will remember most were “Food is God’s way of saying ’I love you.’” 

I attended two workshops on Saturday.  The first spoke to the importance of community gardens.  We heard speakers from Georgia Organics – Ed Taylor, who gave us the advice to “feed the soil, not the plant” – and leaders of community gardens.  Kamal Nuri introduced the Truly Living Well garden, which is based on small, reclaimed plots of donated land within the city of Atlanta.  Since their launch in 2006, they have been working to encourage a return to sustainable food production methods, and the return of food as a focus for community and family life.  From Clarkesville, Georgia, Justin Ellis of the Soque River Watershed Association told of their recently launched organic community garden near the Old Clarkesville Mill.  It is a recent addition to the many conservation and sustainability efforts in which they have long been involved.  I hope to visit and blog about both of these places soon.

From Koinonia Farm in Americus Georgia, member Sarah Prendergast talked to us about the emerging use of Permaculture.  Permaculture is a method of growing food that is not only sustainable, but that also works more closely and flexibly with the land, making use of its own order rather than imposing ours. 

Though I have long known of Koinonia – began in 1942 by Clarence and Florence Jordan and Martin and Mabel England – hearing its story again is always moving.  Wanting to become a “demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God,” this intentional community began a simple farm where they worked and worshiped.  They were extremely controversial in their early years because of the simple welcome they extended to anyone who chose to join them, well before “regardless of race” was a common policy.

Our closing worship service was a celebration of our created world and an expression of our desire to maintain it.  Taylor preached about Jesus’ sharing of bread, multiplied by what his disciples brought to the table.  We closed with the eating of bread though not in communion, but through a different kind of “sacramental” act – taking bread with honey, with cheese, with produce from nearby providers who are all committed to practices that will honor the earth and its Maker. 

It is no surprise, I suppose, that Jesus spoke of himself as bread.  There are few things more real, more needed and basic to our lives, and few that will more viscerally connect us with our origins.  Bread reminds us from what and from whom we have come.  In this way all bread, all food becomes sacramental.

And really, Jesus might have called himself any kind of our food.  It might have varied a bit depending on culture, but like the grain in bread I can imagine him naming himself through something that comes to us directly from the dirt, just like God made us.  I am the corn of life, he might have said; the olive, the beet.  Because anything that nourishes us must point us right back to God.

When I teach about spirituality and eating, I wonder aloud why God built us to need food as we do.  Why we can’t fill up once a week, like I feed my car?  Or once a month, as often as my dogs need their heartworm medicine?  Why are we so inconvenienced that we have to eat not only every day, but several times each day!  I’m barely finished with lunch before I’m ready for popcorn or chips and salsa.  It seems an awfully inefficient way to be.  But God never did seem to hold much to efficiency.  More important is our recognition of our own need and of our God’s extravagant generosity.

In truth, I am only an aspiring gardener or foodie.  My enthusiasm is a mile wide, but my knowledge is much slimmer.  I came to this symposium hoping to learn, but also wanting to find new avenues to acquire information that can help me to be a better preacher, teacher, parent and eater.  I think I found it.  It was a wonderful step in the journey that introduced me to many fellow travelers, and many new routes to discover.  As I explore them, I’ll write about them here to be a map of possibilities for your journey.  Thank you for taking it with me.

Blessed eating!

Recipe for Holy Eating
Slice bread, any variety.  Top with cheese, or honey, or jam, or tomato or other vegetable, or eat with fruit.  Give thanks.  Savor.  Share with friends.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heavy Doses

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.       Matthew 6:34

The meal I cooked was bigger than usual.  I finally decided to try the mysterious Porcupine Meatballs which, no, are not made with the actual animal.  They are beef with rice mixed in.  Very cute.  I also provided more side dishes than I normally do, trying to give the family a few more options for fruits and vegetables.  I made “Good Potatoes” and tried to sneak in some additional onions and broccoli.  We resurrected the broccoli cornbread from an Advent meal, because it had been well liked.  Some baby carrots added color to the meal with no cooking.  Our dessert was Four Ingredient Cake served with summer peaches we still had in the freezer.

My ongoing efforts are to serve my family heavy doses of food that is healthy.  I am hoping that lots of options will help them find something they like.  I am also hopeful that the continual appearance of these foods on their plates will result in some acceptance of them, or at least a surrender to pressure.  I’d like for them to develop a taste for what is good.  A lot of the foods I give them were things I liked, or at least tolerated, as a child.  Carrots, raw cabbage and sweet peas were among my early staples, because my parents knew I would eat them.  I am always surprised when my own will not.

Although ate cabbage and carrots when I was young, I can’t say the same for beets, Brussels sprouts, radishes or any other number of vegetables, especially when they were cooked.  I was as picky as any child.  But as an adult, that won’t stop me from trying with my own kids.  I believe that appreciation for and even enjoyment of foods can be learned, so I will continue to give my kids heavy doses of good foods even if they take some coaxing to go in.

Life comes in heavy doses.  None of us have everything we want on our plate, all the time.  I often get tired from my life as it is right now.  Don’t get me wrong, my life is great.  I have work that I believe in and a family I wouldn’t trade for the world.  But all of these marvelous things take a lot of energy.  In my more weary moments, I reflect on the brief span of time that my life will be like it is, when my work is manageable and my children will be at their current adorable ages.  When this phase is gone, it will be gone. 

I remember when I was a young adult and had just moved to Atlanta.  I knew no one.  The lonely weekends I spent in my apartment would drag on forever.  Even if I went out to find something productive to do, it was always with my own company.  I would yearn to go back to work on Monday where I would have some human contact.  Eventually I made friends, but I remember the real isolation I felt during those lonesome days.

Now I look back and can’t help but think longingly about those quiet days, and how nice it would be to have an entire weekend responsible for no one but me.  I hardly want to return to that solitary era in my life, but I often wish for just a taste of the it; just a little bit to mix in the with activity-filled days I have now.  Still, as harried as I sometimes feel, I also cringe at the reality that my children will not always be at the wonderful, demanding, accessible ages they are now.  They will one day be grown and I will ache to hear a child’s voice asking for a drink, or otherwise begging for my attention and time.  I may, in fact, be begging for theirs.

Our lives are not taste tests.  They are full courses laid out before us that will usually include some version of both filet mignon and boiled spinach.  Even so, these are plates we should clean, because when they are taken up, the same dishes will not be returned.

This makes our lives a long practice in contentment.  As long as we are breathing, we will take in heavy doses of whatever is in front of us for the moment.  We will be called to fully embrace what we love about our lives, and to accept what we like less.  The enjoyment of each delicacy will be fleeting and must be fully experienced here and now if it is to be ours at all.  Hopefully, we can learn to appreciate anything that stays in front of us long enough.  It is all we have.

What do you enjoy most in your life, right in this moment?  What are your Brussels sprouts?  Finally, what will it take for you to relish every bite of the meal you have been given?  My prayer for you is that you can broaden your palette enough to take delight in all that God has served you, now and always.

Blessed eating!

Porcupine Meatballs with Mushrooms
1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef          ½ cup rice
1 tsp. salt                                      ½ tsp. pepper
2 Tb sp. Minced onion               1 can cond. Mushroom soup
In large bowl, combine meat, rice, salt, pepper and onion.  Shape into small balls.  Heat mushroom soup and ½ c. water in cooker, using brown function or not closing lid.  Drop meat balls in soup mixture.  Close cover securely, then bring up to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes.  Let pressure drop of its own accord (natural pressure release).  Serve over hot cooked noodles. – Lisa Wade

(Note:  I do not have a pressure cooker, so I cooked in a pot on the stove.  It worked fine.)

“Good Potatoes”
Potatoes                              onion soup mix
Sour cream                         milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Skin potatoes.  Slice and cook with onion.  Place in dish with sr. cream.  Mix in a little milk and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the day before serving. – Jean Godwin

Four-Ingredient Cake
1 box strawberry cake mix (suggested:  Duncan Hines)
12 oz. Diet Sprite Mix these together, bake according to package directions, spraying cake pans (2 round or 1 sheet pan) with Pam.  Cool.  Topping:  Mix 12-oz. fat-free Cool Whip & 12-oz. no-sugar strawberry preserves. 
Variation:  Chocolate Cake mix & Diet Coke, topping of Cool Whip mixed with sugar-free chocolate syrup.  I used more than 12 oz. of Diet cola, because batter looked too dry.  Another variation: Lemon cake mix, Diet Sprite.  Cool Whip & low-fat or fat-free lemon yogurt. – Marilyn Johnson

(Note:  I used the last variation, lemon.  I only used first two ingredients because I topped with peaches.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Taking Stock

Creel Chapel at
Camp Sumatanga

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

I bought pork chops and blueberries for my most recent dinner.  The problem is my husband did too.  I would have sworn he said he hadn’t, but there they sat, looking at me from my refrigerator.  Clearly, Todd and I got our wires crossed.  Taking stock is something I wish we did a little more often in our refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Todd probably wishes that I would do it before buying pork chops.  I wish he would before making muffins, forgetting I have bags of them in the deep-freeze downstairs.

On Friday night, I made Pork Chop Casserole and Blueberry Bars.  They were very good and not hard to prepare.  I had to cast around for a vegetable to go with the meal, but at least had fruit in the dessert.  I am thinking that honey might be substituted for the sugar next time to make the dessert a little healthier.  Very likely, I will try it soon . . . now that I have plenty of blueberries.

Taking stock is something that I wish we and every family did more often.  We would probably find ourselves with much more than we think, and probably a bit more than we need.  But there is a different kind of taking stock that has been on my mind lately.

Coming back from a recent trip to my hometown, Florence, Alabama, we decided to take a detour to a place that was important to me when I was young.  We visit the United Methodist retreat center in Alabama, Camp Sumatanga.  In my UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) years, I would find myself at Sumatanga several times during the year, for one retreat, festival, conference or another.  It was the site of much of my early spiritual formation and is very dear to my heart.  I have missed it these many years.

The camp itself is beautiful, set in the woods of central Alabama hills.  The route we took getting there took us on the curvy roads and switchbacks that are common in this remote area. 

Seeing Sumatanga meant revisiting not only an old haunt, but an old self; a person I used to be who could only wonder at what was ahead.  The kind of taking stock I did on this trip involved remembering who I was then, asking myself if I am who I thought I would be, and noting the disparity between expectation and reality.  The differences are plenty.   I’m not the world traveler I had hoped to be, nor am I fluent in as many languages (my count is still one).  But in thinking through my life, I realize that I am proud of my journey.  I am not sorry to be who I am or to have come this particular distance.  My life has given me both scars and irreplaceable ventures.  I wouldn’t trade them for the highest skyscraper.  My journey has made me a person that I am glad to be.  I can only hope to say the same in another twenty years.

Camp Sumatanga sits in a valley.  On Chandler Mountain immediately behind the old lodge, a large cross stands among the trees.  By night, it is lit up and can be seen from a distance.  By day, energetic campers can hike to it.  The path is steep.  The mountain begins its ascent almost immediately outside the back doors.  I made this climb when I was a teenager and would have made it on my recent trip, but the weather was cold and wet, and my 5 and 8 year olds would likely have protested.  So after a half hour of wandering the sleeping wings where I stayed decades ago, and watching the kids play on an antiquated playground, we began the drive toward the cross.

The directions we were given were almost flawless until we left the main road on the top of the hill.  A sign at first pointed us toward the chapel and cross.  Then, the dirt road forked without offering any clue which road went where.  We went to the right and bumped along for a while in our meant-for-the-paved-streets minivan, before backing up and trying the other way. 

Then suddenly we found ourselves at the foot of the cross.   It was nothing fancy, just a 20 foot metal cross with an amazing view.  I remember this breathtaking view in the springtime – literally – of my youth.  As the weather turned warm, I felt a hope in new beginnings and the promise of what was yet unseen; the kind of bright-eyed expectation that only a young person can have, with no real experience of future or history, but all the belief in the world in what might be.  And I felt a strong belief in a God I had not known for long, but whom I had always found to be faithful.

It was good to have a visit with that old self.  I hope we can be in better contact in the future.  I may not be the same person anymore, but I never want to lose her.

Have you taken stock recently?

Blessed Eating!

Pork Chop Casserole
6 or 8 Pork Chops                             1 Cup Rice uncooked
1 Pkg. Lipton Onion Soup Mix     ¼ Cup Crisco Oil
2 ½ Cups of Water
Put rice in casserole dish, sprayed with Pam.  Braise (light brown DO NOT COOK) chops in Crisco Oil, then place on top on rice.  Ad soup mix and water to pan (don’t drain oil) stir and bring to a boil.  Pour over pork chops.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Serves 4. – Joyce Bass

Blueberry Bars
Base and topping:
3 c. oats, uncooked                         1 c. flour
1 c. light brown sugar, packed    ½ t. backing soda
2/3 c. margarine, melted

1 ½ c. blueberries, rinsed and drained    3 T. sugar
2 t. cornstarch                                                   1 t. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350o.  Line a 9”x13” baking pan with foil, letting ends extend above pan on 2 sides.  In a large bowl mix oats, brown sugar, and baking soda.  Add melted margarine and stir until evenly moistened (Mixture will be crumbly).  Reserve half for topping.
Press remaining half evenly and firmly into the bottom of the ungreased, foil lined pan (I spray mine with oil anyway), and bake 12 minutes to set crust.  While that is baking, mix the filling ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering.  Simmer over low heat, stirring often until juices are no longer cloudy, about 2 minutes.  Spoon over crust.  Spread reserved crumb mixture over the top.  Bake 30 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Lift by foil ends onto a cutting board (I usually loosen the sides with a butter knife first).  Cut into 2 inch squares.  – Diane Taylor

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Green Beans and Brown Sugar

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. . . Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  Genesis 1:31-2:1 (NIV)

I wouldn’t have put them together.  I never would have imagined green beans and brown sugar in the same dish.  But that’s what the recipe called for, so I did as instructed, anxiously awaiting the results.  This was one part of our meal.  The other was Coca-chicken, which was very easy and very good.  It made me think of the BBQ chicken of my childhood, served with lots of sauce over white rice.  Even the kids didn’t complain too much – their equivalent of rave reviews.  I didn’t tell them there was sugar in the beans.

We don’t often blend together unlike things.  Last week, we heard the State of the Union address.  In an effort at reconciliation and courtesy, members of congress did not sit where they usually do – divided along party lines with an empty aisle buffering them.  Instead, they sat side by side with their opposite.  They chose to mix, to spend the evening with someone of different opinions and ideology, to keep company with a Hatfield or a McCoy.  While we have yet to see if similar civility can be shown in the legislative process, it is at least a start.

We can’t pin our partitioning only on our politicians.  It is human nature to stick with our own, and we do it in a lot of ways.  We are likely to live in a neighborhood with houses that are all of similar size and value.  Our neighbors will have a lot in common with us.  We will probably have similar incomes, similar ethnicities, similar lifestyles.  None of us ever planned to do it.  It’s just what we do; we hang with people who are like us.  We keep ourselves apart.

I think this is why some people are afraid to travel.  Things are different out there!  There is unusual food (that may or may not agree with us), unknown languages, unfamiliar surroundings and entirely different cultures.  Our uneasiness might keep us from flying around the world.  It also might keep us from travelling around the block.

Too often we avoid or even disdain what is unfamiliar.  We push away what challenges us.  Much easier to ignore the world and all its people on our doorstep than deal with the questions they make us ask ourselves.  But sometimes, unexpected things can go together.  Or better still: they can go with us.

When we work too hard to maintain our space of comfortable familiarity, then we build a wall between us and the wonderful diversity of our world.  If, however, we can make some room for the unfamiliar, then our world expands to let in amazement and delight of all of the people and things that God created.  That doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me.

So I will keep cooking green beans with brown sugar, and I will try to keep my door cracked to let in the strange unknown.  May we all embrace it with courage.

Blessed Eating!

Sweet Garlic Beans
½ lb. bacon                       3 cans green beans
½ c. brown sugar              1 t. garlic powder
Cook bacon until crisp.  Drain.  Pour leftover bacon grease into a 2 qt. saucepan and add beans, sugar and garlic.  Cook uncovered until most of the liquid is gone.  Crumble the crisp bacon to serve on top. 
4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless         1 cup catsup
12 oz. diet cola
Put chicken breasts in skillet (might be nice to brown them in Pam a bit), mix cola & catsup (& I add some garlic & Worcestershire sauce) & pour over chicken.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer covered 30 minutes.  Uncover, turn up heat till sauce thickens.  Serve over rice.  Sally Johnson