Monday, March 28, 2011

Jelly Fish? That's not a good name for this dish...

...but I've used up all my creative energy reserves cooking. I know that cooking has become a major theme of late, but since we've switched to meat free, I've been spending a lot more time thinking creatively on food. You are the beneficiaries/victims of circumstance! Congratulations!

That's some good eatin' right there!
Jelly Fish
1 cup jelly (plum, apricot, pineapple)
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp cilantro (substitutes include marjoram or parsley)
4 tbs vinegar
splash of wine (red, blush, or white)
1 Tbs high heat oil (safflower or corn)
6 to 10 fish fillets

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Heat oil in a skillet. Dip fillets in the bowl to coat and cook for 4 to 6 minutes each side. Pour additional sauce on top of fish while cooking. Remove fish when it flakes with a fork. Pour additional sauce into skillet and heat, stirring constantly. It will thicken quickly. Serve fish over rice and drizzle sauce over top.

I'm attempting to find a cheap, tinned fish that would do well in the sauce. We've tried canned tuna, but it was too strong a flavor. If you have any success with a "poor man's" version of this recipe, would you let me know?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Lent? Yuck!" Cooking up a metaphor

Today a friend made a soup disaster. I shared a spice guide with her. It didn't help the soup but it helped her get intrigued by cooking again.

What fascinates me about cooking is how much it is like life. Think metaphorically with me here and I promise to pull it together at the end...Sometimes you make a mess that you are stuck with eating because you've used up all your time and energy making the gloop and there just isn't anything left to do but eat it. I made a fondu (fond glue) like that once. By the time I was done ruining the dinner I had hours of scraping ahead of me.

Other times you take one bite and decide that you just couldn't possibly be that hungry. "No thank you, I'm having water! Mmmm!" Putting up with me and some of my great ideas is just more punishment than doing without. Those are the creations that even the dog shies away from with that peculiar doggy look of "I'm not even rolling in that!"

Yes, indeed, the kitchen will humble us and make our families grow in holiness. "I don't care what it tastes like! Offer it up!" (Yes, I really said that and no I couldn't take myself seriously after that. We ate cereal instead.) Just when you think you've got things in hand, along comes a meal so bad it makes it to the family legend stage. "Remember that time mommy melted the spoon in dinner?" (true story) It all seems so simple. Put in ingredients in the right order, the right amounts, add heat and it is good, right? In theory, yes. In reality sometimes even scrambled eggs can be beyond me (shells, rubbery, bland).

But, hey, even when the last meal was bad, you gotta eat. Just like life will keep on chugging along, there's always another meal coming around. You can start over three times a day, not counting snacks.

So, now that you are past the fun, adventurous stage of Lent, now that your penance is actually starting to grind at you a bit, now that you've had three feasts right in a row to break both your fast and your penance rhythm, and now that you're seriously considering giving up on giving up something for Lent, I'm here to remind you cheerfully that yes, you are a failure. Me, too. We all are going to suck at most things at least some times. Even eggs. In life the difference between a good cook and a bad one is that the good ones learn from their mistakes and try again.

Spicing issues? Try it the Vegan Way!
(no, actual children were harmed in the writing of this blog)
Get cooking. And for fun, try out some of these spice combos. From Compassionate Cooks (Vegans).

 Which Spices/Herbs to Use
How many of us have spice racks with jars of spices we bought years ago and never used, whose sole purpose is to collect the dust in your kitchen? J Now is the time to dust them off (or replace them) and start adding flavor to your dishes. The correct spice or herb (whether it is fresh or dried) for any food is the one that tastes right for you. When you're at a loss about what to add to a dish, try something from the list below.


Beans - cumin, cayenne, chili, oregano, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme

Breads - anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme

Fruits - allspice, anise, cardamom, Chinese 5-spice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint

Potatoes - basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

Salads and Salad Dressings - basil, caraway, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sumac, tarragon, thyme

Soups - basil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, star anise, thyme

Sweets - allspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary, star anise

Tomatoes - basil, bay, celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

Vegetables - chili, chives, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme


Allspice: An ingredient in many baked goods as well as "Jerk" sauces.
Anise Seed: Mild licorice flavor, used in cookies, or candies.
Arrowroot Powder: Use as a thickener in puddings, pies, soups, sauces, and gravies.
Basil: used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking, especially good with tomatoes.
Bay Leaves: Perfect use in stews, sauces, soups, and marinades.
Caraway Seeds: Great in baked goods and with fruits.
Cardamom, ground: A wonderful addition to Indian dishes.
Cardamom, whole: Dry roast the whole cardamom seeds for more flavor in your recipe.
Cayenne Pepper: Wonderful heat for any Mexican dish.
Chervil Leaf: Similar to parsley, a mild flavor for any meat, soup or vegetable dish.
Cilantro: Used in Mexican cooking & salsas; may also be used in Indian dishes.
Cloves, ground: Popular in desserts, syrups, and sweet vegetable dishes.
Coriander seed, ground: Citrusy, sweet & tart flavor to be used at the end when cooking.
Cream of Tartar: Adds consistency and stability to any cookie or cake.
Cumin Seed, ground: Wonderful with tomato dishes, chili, salsa & Indian dishes.
Dill Weed: Great in dressings and sauces and on potatoes.
Ginger, crystallized: Sliced ginger partially dried in a sugar syrup solution. For sweets.
Ginger, ground: A sharp, aromatic spice is used in many sweet baked goods and curries.
Lemongrass: A grass with citric oils, very popular in Thai cooking.
Marjoram: Like oregano & from the mint family, it has a sweeter and subtler taste.
Nutmeg, ground: A sweet, nutty spice is used in custards, pastries, and vegetables.
Oregano, Greek: A must for Italian cooking, Greek oregano has a mild, delicate flavor.
Oregano, Mexican: Slightly stronger than Greek and less sweet, used in Spanish cooking.
Paprika, hot: Mixed with cayenne, these red peppers make the Hungarians famous.
Paprika, sweet: This sweet, milder Paprika will add radiant color to any dish.
Parsley: This versatile herb can be used as a garnish or with anything other than sweets.
Poppy Seeds: Used in baked goods, breads & to flavor noodles.
Rosemary, ground: Use ground in sauces or stocks to avoid the "needle" look.
Saffron, whole threads: Use for saffron rice and Indian dishes.
Sage: Well known for use in stuffings.
Salt, Kosher: Coarser than regular granulated, easier to control in cooking.
Savory: Strong, peppery taste, good with veggies & stuffing.
Sesame Seeds: Used mostly for baking breads & rolls, nice for stir-frys.
Spearmint: A popular tea flavoring, used in sauces and veggie dishes.
Tarragon: Aromatic herb used to flavor vinegar, dressings, breads. Great with potatoes!
Thyme, ground: Great for Greek & Italian cooking, use ground for sauces & soups.
Thyme, whole leaf: Versatile in flavoring veggies, pizza, stews & herb blends.
Turmeric: Used as a natural yellow coloring for soups, sauces, rice, curry, & tofu scramble.



  • Store spices in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor more quickly. Although the most convenient place for your spice rack may be above your stove, moving your spices to a different location may keep them fresh longer.
  • As a general rule, herbs and ground spices will retain their best flavors for a year. Whole spices may last for 3 to 5 years. Proper storage should result in longer freshness times.
  • Because the refrigerator is a rather humid environment, storing herbs and spices there is not recommended. To keep larger quantities of spices fresh, store them in the freezer in tightly sealed containers.


  • For long-cooking dishes, add herbs and spices an hour or less before serving. Cooking spices for too long may result in overly strong flavors.
  • Use restraint! In general, � teaspoon of spice is enough for 4 servings.
  • Do not use dried herbs in the same quantity as fresh. In most cases, use � the amount in dried as is called for fresh.
  • Seasoning food is an art, not a science. Experimenting with herbs and spices can be fun and educational, and while you may occasionally be eating a less than perfect dish, you may also end up creating that recipe that will become a classic in your household.

Friday, March 25, 2011

7 Quick Takes

1 The dog is being fixed this morning. He is staring at me with those Labrador eyes, perhaps pondering, "What is broken?" Nothing yet, puppy. Nothing yet.
(random internet pic--not my dog, not my sectional)
((seriously, do you think I'd do off-white with 5 children?))

2 Once I had a dog who wore the "Cone of Shame" after a vet visit. Grandma Ella (the relation is too complicated to explain without another post), upon seeing her, scolded me for letting the dog get herself tangled up with my lampshades. She didn't like the explanation of the cone any better than her supposition. "It just looks silly." My dog agreed with her.

3 Although the dog does not like the cone, the children do. I will spend much of the next three or four days watching that the children do not steal the cone to wear as a fashion accessory. Think Queen Elizabeth...

4 Speaking of dogs, I woke up to barking at 5 a.m. It was the toddler.

5 On a different note, I am enjoying the company of children. I'm babysitting the younger three children of a dear friend. There are eight children, 7 and younger, running around the ugly yellow trailer. It's my contribution to the effort to get ready for the Pro-Life Banquet on Sunday. My friend makes blankets for the Pregnancy Center. Please go look. It's a good idea and there's a picture of one of my children on the site. Isn't she cute?

6 I've always found that in a certain sense, the more children there are, the more work there is, but the easier the burden. I guess I was just made to be a kid wrangler. Babysitting and having eight little ones around is stirring the pot and making me anxious to finish the house so we can foster more children.

7 Speaking of fostering. There is not really an update on the adoption of our fosterchild, Sissy, just news that the paperwork is finally starting to trickle in. If you ever do foster, keep every scrap of paper on every child--the only accessible copies in the system were in my hands due to her going out of the system at the last "permanent" family placement. Everything got boxed up and archived at that point. Once her social worker and I were able to figure that out, we could get the ball rolling again. The adoption won't be in April as hoped. Perhaps by the end of summer. It looks like the April court date will now be merely another placement review hearing, possibly the last of its kind?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Both Elizabeth Taylor and my Great Aunt Doris...

...lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the rise of Communism, the rise of Solidarity and the ultimate fall of Communism as a world power in Europe. They experienced the grief of the nation at both Pearl Harbor and September 11. They lived in interesting times and died within a week of each other.

They both survived women's liberation, ladylike, with their class very much intact.

Unlike the movie star, my aunt was never in any way concerned about finding herself. Ever. Besides, everyone always knew where to find her--with the children, singing! Elizabeth began her career as a young girl on the silver screen. My aunt began her career of mothering first as an aunt--she was 12 when my dad, her nephew, was born--then as mother to her own two children, later as grandmother, great aunt, and great-grandmother.

They both really knew how to love people. Elizabeth Taylor was loyal and passionate and Doris was loyal and devoted. Both women were religious. My aunt was firm in her faith and gentle in her evangelization. She asked the preacher to ask this question at her graveside, "Do you know where you are headed?" before she extended the invitation to meet up with her later.

There is something about this generation of women. There is, at their hearts, a seemingly endless capacity to give of oneself. It truly is a wonder of nature, the generosity of these women.

Elizabeth Taylor will live on in film. My Aunt Doris will live on in our family. I wanted to share this wonderful woman with you today and share something she gained a bit of fame for: her chocolate cake. I find it very appropriate that she would be known for something so sweet.

Grandma Doris' Chocolate Sheet Cake
2 sticks oleo (margarine) or butter
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk (make with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tsp of vinegar, stir and let set for 10 minutes)

In a small saucepan, combine oleo, cocoa and water. bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Meanwhile sift together (or whisk) flour and sugar. Pour cocoa mixture over flour and sugar, mix to combine and let cool. Add buttermilk, egg, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour into a 10 1/2 x 15 1/2 inch ungreased sheet cake pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

The Icing
1 stick of oleo (margarine) or butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup water
1 lb of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Boil oleo, cocoa, and water in medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix with hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Pour over cake as soon as you take it out of the oven.

An odd note to hit on a Wednesday morning

Moral relativism means, ultimately, there is no difference between good and evil. There is no objective standards from which to judge. The moral relativists who frighten me the most are the ones who lived through the horrors of the last century, who were alive when the concentration camps were emptied, who watched as the wall came down and who can still say that evil is merely a construct of the mind. The people of the Americas merely witnessed these crimes, so they are likely the next ones to be seduced by the lie. I tell you that down the road, I can see people taking power who will take advantage of the shallow thinkers the Information Age has produced. These will be the people who think that the fascists and communists of the last century were not a failed experiment, but merely an idea ahead of its time--because ultimately it is only one idea that drives them, that man is the ultimate end of man and there is nothing that transcends us. I feel it in my bones, what is coming, but I am not afraid. I know, in the end, Who wins. I only pray for the strength to endure.

From Cambodia

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring has sprung

So I'm not blogging so much as I'm mulching and watering and chasing the new Labrador puppy out of my freshly watered flower beds.

He loves gardening almost as much as he loves me, as it turns out. He ate the tops off of my onion sets today, so I have to buy more, reharden the new ones outside (somewhere else) while hoping I don't push the harvest too far into the heat of summer. It also means that the puppy breath is more oniony when he jumps up to slobber me hello. Did I mention the freshly watered flowers?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Our family loves this day! We will be making colcannon (see recipe below), along with a beef pot pie, and potato bread. The children will, of course, be making shamrocks with plenty of glitter, and rainbows. Our studies today will encompass everything from geography, the study of Ireland and Wales, to science, how a rainbow is split from white light, to the life of this saint, who endured slavery and then later came back to the place of his enslavement to set the people who enslaved him free from a religion that demanded human sacrifice as one of its tenets.

I like our Welsh-born patron saint of Ireland. He wasn't a good Christian before his capture, but adversity turned his heart to God. During his slavery, he also learned to love the common people of Ireland. These commoners were treated little better than he was in his enslavement by the druids and kings, so they were hungry for the word of God and the equality and justice offered by Christianity. Patrick was able to explain Christianity easily to the Irish by digging beneath the symbols of their nature worship to pull out the seeds of truth God planted in His creation and transform them into readily understandable symbols of Christianity. For example, they loved the shamrock, so he used it explain the mystery of the Trinity.

The Irish became powerhouses of faith for the world, sending missionaries to all parts of the world for centuries. In our modern world, we have the thousands of conversions taking place daily in Africa. I wonder, will Africa become the new wellspring of missionaries to the world?

The Celtic Cross places the Christian symbol of
Christ over the pagan symbol of the sun.

Feast Day:March 17
between 387 and 390 at Scotland
Died:between 461 and 464 at Saul, County Down, Ireland
Patron of:Ireland, Nigeria, Montserrat, New York, Boston, Engineers, against snakes

The field of St. Patrick's labors was the most remote part of the then known world. The seed he planted in faraway Ireland, which before his time was largely pagan, bore a rich harvest: whole colonies of saints and missionaries were to rise up after him to serve the Irish Church and to carry Christianity to other lands.

Read more:

Colcannan Recipe

5 potatoes (steamed and peeled)
1 bunch kale (washed and chopped)
1 onion chopped
1 pat of butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper (to taste)

Quarter potatoes and put them on to steam. When soft, cool and peel and then mash the potatoes. Wash kale in a sink full of cool water, swish to remove debris and dirt, then pat dry with a towel. Remove leaves from the stems (being sure not to include the thick stems which are stringy) and place them on to steam until they are wilted and soft. In a pat of butter, saute the onions in a large skillet. Add a bit of water if the onions begin to stick. Combine all ingredients in the skillet and on low heat reheat the potatoes and kale while stirring the spices, onions and kale into the potatoes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brown paper bloggers all tied up with string!

It's not just for bloggers, that's just
me and my alliteration addiction.
These are a few of my favorite Catholic on-line media things!

Here's the meme: Today, March 15, everyone with a blog, podcast, or Facebook page is listing their favorite 3 blogs, 3 podcasts, 3 other media, 3 random Catholic things online, (don't forget your own projects). Post the link to the list here. While you are at it, head on over to iTunes and promote some quality Catholic projects over there by writing at least 3 positive reviews for various Catholic podcasts and 3 positive written reviews for Catholic mobile applications.

Spread the love, people, and get the word out on some of your favorite Catholic on-line media internet thingies! 

3 Blogs 
I read these every time they post anything. I'm a real bloupie! (blog groupie) I bloup a lot of other very good blogs, but I'm following the rules here, you understand.

It's the best I could do, Mike.
I like the way he thinks.

I like the way she thinks.

I just can't help myself.

3 Podcasts
I'm a bit new to the podcast area of the internet. Mostly what I listen to on-line are reruns of radio broadcasts, but that counts, right?

An actual podcast I actually seek out! Where food meets faith! You know I can't get enough of the Catholic Foodie. (Zero calories and high drool potential)

Kresta in the Afternoon
How can I resist? This man has interviews from people perched on every branch of human endeavors.

Where I get my daily dose of Docasin so that I can better my parenting and raise my IQ scores at the same time!

3 Other Media

They are my favorite on-line radio not only for their content but because their gadgets are rarely glitchy. They run even on my Dell Monster.

Here they are on the web, but where they really excel is their television and radio broadcasts. They need a bit of work on-line still (their streaming media is glitchy and they are still building the EWTN Kids section 3 years later), but they are providing content for radio and television around the world. It is good stuff.

Catholic Fiction
Father Elijah, Fatherless, Motherless. What more can I say other than we...need...more! Request them at your local library and check them out. Buy them for your own shelves.

3 Random On-Line Categories

Although it is not exclusively Catholic, this is where many of us Catholic bloggers go to let our hair down. It's a social networking site that works. I'm temporarily setting my privacy to public so that if you click on the link, you can view my page, and you will be invited. There's a bummer to this because it is Lent and a lot of us are fasting, but you can get a lot of quality Catholic discussion on Plurk, as well as some steam-releasing silliness. Love it.

What can I say other than he's a funny Catholic musician apologist. 

Excellent magazine with an excellent on-line presence. 

I know I should have more pictures and make this a prettier media promotion, but  I'm feeling rather lazy and...oh drecks. It's Lent! I'm trudging off to cut and paste and emptying a wing of Purgatory. This will make no sense because by the time you can see it, *sighs*

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Prayer Request...

We have this ability to stare in the face of a miracle and be unimpressed. The sun rises, babies are born, and we are unmoved. The citizens of Heaven are astounded at our hardened hearts. Sometimes we need God Himself to draw us closer to the miracle so that we see it for what it is. Then we watch the colors unfold into day, we witness the birth of our child. Then we are made new.

Every conversion is a miracle. It is God moving and acting in the life of someone. It is extraordinary. It is also common. We take it for granted because God asks everyone to convert from our ordinary lives to one of uncommon love. He touches every heart with his invitation to get to know Him better. So few answer.

We are so busy. We are so proud. We have more important things to do than wonder at a sunrise. We are astonishingly dense in that way.

Even the converted must be converted almost daily.

So pray. Pray and pray. Let us not be lazy in this. Let us not be selfish or stingy in this. Pray hard.

The whole world needs it. It happens every day. It is a commonplace miracle and yet every once in a while God will use an ordinary person in an unusual way to unveil a bit of the truth. He uses dramatic conversions like mine to point out that every conversion, even the quiet but certain whispers of the soul, are the result of God's finger gently turning our chin and saying, "Look, little one." 

Pray that we look, that we see and are amazed. But pray, more importantly, that we remember in that moment to thank Him. 

You who know God have a duty to those of us who do not. You know the warmth and light of the dawn. You've seen it with your own eyes, felt it in your own heart. Don't forget us out here in the cold. The dawn is coming, but we insist on staring into the darkness because we have turned our back on the light. Pray that a finger of light will break over our heads and draw our attention to the glory and the spectacle that is taking place. Pray that we notice somehow that even in our darkness, He has placed stars.

Friday, March 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes

My poor husband is puny due to a tooth that has been giving him fits. Way back in his bachelor days he was cleaning the gutters of his roof and slipped. He caught a tree branch on the way down which broke his fall, but it was a big, old, heavy branch. When it started cracking, he dropped to the ground. The branch landed on top of him. It almost missed but he caught it in the face. The sandy soil saved his head and his Ray Bans saved his eyes and sight (if you need sunglasses, this is a shameless plug). He has a rakish scar above his eyebrow where they reattached his face to his head, but the main point of all this is that his teeth have cracks in them from the impact. Every few years he has to get fillings as the cracks wear into cavities over time. This one tooth had cracked close to the nerve and the filling aggravated it. The dentist thinks that there was some nerve memory from the accident that caused a surplus of pain for my poor guy. He got it yanked yesterday and with a puffy face from the post-operative swelling he's been telling me how much better he feels. That must have been one bad tooth.

Here in the south when we meet someone new we do a review of where "our people" are from and a quick genealogy check to see if we're related. Almost invariably we turn up some connection somewhere. Having done this recently I've discovered that we need more names for obscure relations. We tend to lump all the relatives in the older generations as "Aunts" and "Uncles" when we start to get too complicated in tracing our routes. We don't say, "She's my dad's great aunt Mildred." We say, "She my Auntie Mildred." Cousin works for anyone of your own generation or younger. We drop the second cousin and third cousin once-removed monikers after awhile and just claim them a bit closer than what they technically are. If someone around here says, "This is Frank. He's my cousin," you know Frank is a first cousin. If he's introduced as "This is Frank. He's a cousin," you can gather that the relationship is a bit more distant. Seriously, if this person is close enough to keep track of their relation to you, they are close enough to have a name. Maybe making up names for obscure relatives can be my new hobby.

I'm discovering this year that it is normal to feel a little hungry throughout Lent. This is all new to me because I've been exempt for the last 8 years or so due to pregnancy and breastfeeding. It's not much of a revelation, but it is giving me some thoughts to ponder.

We have our Crown of Thorns on the table. This year it is made of paper and tape because we lost the florist mold crown I made several years back. When we are short-tempered with one another in our little family, we apologize and then put a toothpick in the crown. When we do something nice for that person, we get to take it out. It's meant to be a visual reminder throughout Lent to really step up and actively work on being a kinder person, but the kids LOVE to put the toothpicks in, almost to the point of being encouraged to be nasty to one another. What I've had to do to avoid that is allow them the chance to put them in for me and my sins. Now I have all these little Pharisees following me around. "You almost said a bad word! I'll get the toothpick!" God is determined to make me a better person. "Better put in two, baby."

My on-line gaming is really suffering from all this Internet fasting. I just need to go on record with that whine.

I have to share this Ash Wednesday story from when we only had two children. We got to the front of the procession to get ashes and my husband presented the baby before getting his own ashes. I was guiding my oldest, just barely three, behind my husband. There was some hesitation in him so I was actively positioning him to take his place at the front of the line when suddenly he rang out with an indignant, "Father put DIRT on the BABY!" He slapped both hands on his forehead and glared daggers at Father John who tried valiantly to maintain his composure. When Mass was over and I came out, Father started laughing so hard he almost wept on my shoulder.

Speaking of obscure relatives, my Goddaughter just had a (beautiful, wonderful, glorious) baby. What do I call him? A Grand Godson? My Godgrandson? Surely there has to be a name for this?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cooking in the Garden Lenten Edition--Spring Greens

As my Zimbabwean friend says, we need "to tame the flesh." We Americans live lives of indulgence and entertainment. Lent is a way of building up our spiritual muscle gone flaccid with the ease of modern existence.

Being introduced to Christianity in a tradition that does not accept the blessing of a Liturgical Year, my friend answers the call to periodic fasting by choosing January, the month of his conversion. He understands the need for periodically calling yourself to a higher standard, for pitting your will against your desires. As Americans, we do indeed need to tame our overindulged lives a bit.

This year, our family is taking the plunge and going meatless for Lent. So the recipes over the next several weeks will have a Vegetarian spin to them. In addition to the discipline of abstaining from something we want and enjoy, we see this as an opportunity to broaden our palate, explore new recipes, and save some money.

While trying out some recipes in anticipation of Lent, we discovered Kale. My kids barely allow me the chance to get it cleaned before they are sneaking bites. I prefer mine cooked and in quantities! It is so incredibly good. Maybe this will entice you to give it a try, too.

I didn't take a picture of mine, this is from the Food Network.
Too many onions!
Gingered Kale
1 medium onion chopped
1 Tablespoon oil
1 dash ground ginger (or 1/2" slice of fresh, finely minced ginger)
1 bunch kale washed and stripped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Toss in all the ingredients and saute until the onions are translucent and the kale wilts. Serve warm.

To wash and strip kale
Fill a sink full of cool water and swish the kale to remove dirt. Let drain in a colander. Pat dry with a towel. Strip the leaves, being careful not to include too many of the stringy stems. My five year olds love to be in charge of this job, but I have to be watchful that there is enough left to cook after all the nibbling!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I woke up this morning after having dreamed of an old friend I had to drop because she started picking off the men in my life to have sex with. If I was close to them, she'd get closer. I didn't know it at the time, but her promiscuity was a salve she was applying to a very big wound.

Someone had told her that her greatest attribute was her sexuality. She tested that theory and became pregnant. Her parents, overgrown hippies, helped her to an abortion, then a few more, all the while supporting their daughter's "choices." She was buying urine to submit for her drug tests the I last heard from her.

She's resurfaced in my life to a certain degree, with a child. I'd like to say she's had a wonderful change and is now a rock solid personality with the drugs and alcohol a thing of the past, but I honestly don't know. I've not initiated contact for various reasons. If my life was open for a transformation, surely hers was, too. I content myself to pray for her when she comes across my radar and I pray for her beautiful child.

Abortion didn't help my friend. It made her miseries harder to bear. After that first one, she wrote a few poems, took a stuffed animal to help another friend grieve through her abortion, she talked. After the second one, that girl disappeared--the one who could express her emotions and use them to connect with others in any way I understood. In her place was a young woman who would do just about anything to go numb.

We had a lot in common. We both spun out of control in our own way. There was one major difference between us. Growing up, politically I was Pro-Choice and she was not. I was the Pro-Choicer who would never have had an abortion. She didn't like abortion but had several. Was that the defining difference? I can't say. What I can say is that she is part of the reason I became Pro-Life later. Some of the conversations we had jarred me in my Pro-Choice rhetoric just enough to nag at me for 20 or so years until I took a second look.

Our friendship didn't last, but her influence did. She showed me the pain abortion can cause a woman and the havoc the aftermath can wreak in an already complicated life. Hers is one of the many faces I place in the forefront of my mind when I write or speak about abortion, so that I am careful with such painful truths.

In the build-up to the 40 Days for Life, keep my friend in mind when you march, speak, and write. Pray for her. Think about her. Most of all, be careful with her. She may be listening. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Watching way too many movies

We've got the flu and I'm watching an old Lassie movie. The dialogue is making me laugh until I cough...

"What do you think of Carol?"
"Well, she seems competent."

What a gal!

Now they're hunting a mountain lion and Lassie is actually tracking it and coming within sight of it. Again, what a gal!

Every dog I've ever seen in the presence of a mountain lion cowered in fear and urine on the porch trying valiantly to disappear between the cracks in the boards while simultaneously eating the front door.

Lassie, meanwhile, seems to have the psychic ability to communicate with big cats and is helping move the cougar's young to a new den under the watchful eye of the momma cat.

So much for realism.

Meanwhile I'll be back with a guest blogger when I've coughed up my other lung.