Priceless = Precious (and pear cake)

Our friend Angilee gave us this knife as a wedding present. She was with us in spirit in Mexico as as used this knife daily to harvest wild edibles, chop veggies from our little garden, and trim this bountiful harvest of pears. — Anna Lisa Gross

Jesus preached, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21) and I enjoy the surprise. We think he’s going to say, “You’ll put your treasure where your heart already is.” Because that makes all the sense in the world—we give our treasures of time, talent, money to what we care about.

But Jesus is saying that what we give to, we care about. We’ve all certainly experienced that—taking time to read the newsletter of an organization after we wrote them a check. Or, more profoundly, the depth of love we cultivate by caring for an animal companion or a child.

And here’s another opposite that is also true! Sometimes having no cost, no price, makes something all the more precious.

When Phillip and I lived in Mexico, a woman showed up at our gate with a confusing request in Spanish. I was muddy, and she wore heels and full make-up. I apologized for our rustic sidewalk, and we sat on camp chairs in the outdoor kitchen.

Turns out Janet was a friend of our neighbor and wanted to make a natural swimming pool. Our neighbor recommended Phillip as a consultant. (Did you know you’d need the same surface area devoted to plants as you want for swimming? Janet gulped to learn that!) We acquired a bit of intermediate Spanish vocab: bomba (pump), pisina (pool), cascada (waterfall), grava (gravel). Janet liked Phillip’s suggestions of a meandering canal and waterfall to add surface area.

She offered to pay, but we had no idea what price might seem offensive, and what would sound silly.

Janet’s hillside was so steep it hadn’t been cut for farming, and the trees were thicker and taller than most in Morelia. — Anna Lisa Gross

We asked for fruit from her orchard, a steep hillside of paradise.

We brought home as much fruit as we could carry on our bikes: limón real (lemons), pera (pears) and a few early manzanillas (small, apple-like fruits). We returned for more apples later, and then shared this bounty with neighbors and friends. The chickens enjoyed the trimmings.

I don’t usually get excited by pears, but these priceless pears were abundantly satisfying because they carried the juicy flavor of trading favors, new friendships, and biking across paradise. Purpose and belonging are essential to our well-being as humans. Following Jesus is thick with purpose, though our callings may be myriad and will change with time.

Following Jesus can root us in relationship with others, even as we belong to people we wouldn’t have expected. Janet’s pool project offered a brief and satisfying portion of purpose and belonging during our year in Mexico.

The pear haul gave me an excuse to create a new dessert, too. The variety of ingredient options reflect our tastes, and our Mexican offerings.

We learned that a portable grill requires trial and error, but we found that errors were usually edible! — Anna Lisa Gross


* 1 1/2 cups flour of your choice
* 3/4 to 1 cup cocoa powder
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 3/4 cup coconut or olive oil or butter
* 1 cup sugar or other sweetener
* 1 1/4 cup yogurt (sour cream, milk, buttermilk, etc. would be fine)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs
* 1 cup chocolate chips
* 1 pear, cored and sliced


* 1/2 cup crema, sour cream or cream cheese
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
* 2 tablespoons rum, vanilla or other flavor of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 9-or 10-inch cake pan with wax paper, foil, or oil and flour.
2. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl.
3. Whisk together oil or butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy.
4. Whisk the yogurt and vanilla with the oil mixture.
5. Whisk in the eggs.
6. Mix the dry ingredients in with the wet until just incorporated.
7. Fold in chocolate chips and pour batter into cake pan.
8. Arrange pear slices over batter.
9. Bake in the oven at 350°F for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.
10. Run a knife blade around edges and cool cake on rack. If using wax paper or foil, remove cake from pan to cool.
11. Whisk together crema and ground ginger (and rum, if using). Drizzle over cake and top with candied ginger.

Anna Lisa Gross

Anna Lisa Gross grew up on a mini-commune of Christian hippies, who prefer to call themselves the Grosses and the Read More

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