Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A baby shower gift

My Bible study is holding a baby shower for a first time mom (of a son) this weekend, and I thought I would share the darling gift I was able to put together for a minimal cost (plus a few tips on thrifting clothes). All the garments were purchased from our parish thrift store (25 cents a piece) and the book was a duplicate from a reading program at the public library (free). 

Blue Chaps gingham shirt with red corduroy Gap overalls. While I certainly purchase secondhand knits for my own kids, there's no denying that woven garments often look newer and better suited for gifting (probably because they are reserved for dressier occasions). Also, quality garments look better on the rack- they have more vibrant colors and are less prone to wrinkling. 


Striped Gymboree footless romper. Often white garments show stains easily, but this one was impeccable. Being footless also saved it from rents in the feet. I have had good luck with removing spit up stains from light colored and striped garments with liquid dishwasher detergent- just apply a few minutes prior to laundering. 

Sweater vest, from the only mass market retailer in our rural county. A lot of people favor fleece and sweatshirts for daily wear, so secondhand sweaters tend to be in good condition. This one is so small he'll probably only wear it a few times, but it tied so perfectly into the red, white, and blue theme.


Indie shirt with Wrangler jeans. A good pressing and both pieces look like new. The shirt has a fresh, graphic look. Denim style has changed a lot in the last few years. This pair is a darker wash, relaxed but not too baggy.

Stuart Little. Books are a great present for babies (and their older siblings!)


In an age where most of our Christmas gifts came through the mail, I find myself wrapping less and less every year. I try to pick wrapping papers that can get more year round use. My husband mocked last year's solid red as "too Starbucks" so I opted for a more neutral plaid this year and used some of it here- a sunk cost.


If I knew the recipient a little better, I might have rounded out the gift with a pair of kitchen shears (the best thing for cutting baby's food into small pieces) and a scented candle (to freshen the air after smelly diaper changes). But I am not sure whether she has a pair of shears or her preference in candle scents.






Friday, March 3, 2017

Meatless Meals: Fried Artichoke Hearts with Succotash and Cheese Grits

A most dolorous Lent to you all! If you're looking for what not to serve for Lent, head on over to Amy Welborn's Gallery of Regrettable Lenten Foods. I'm afraid the recipe below, on the other hand, is 100% free of Ched-O-Bit or Fish Supreme.

There are multiple components to assemble here, but if you have a good mise-en-place, it all comes together quickly. Well before dinner time, I had the liquid for the grits in the pan, the succotash all chopped and mixed, and the artichoke hearts draining on a paper towel. After that, everything came together in the time it took to cook the grits.

You can use almost any kind of meltable cheese in the grits. The original recipe calls for smoked cheddar, but plain sharp cheddar, chevre, or swiss would all be tasty in their own way, too.

Adapted from The Southern Vegetarian

serves four

Cheese Grits:
  • 2 c vegetable stock
  • 2 c milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c grits
  • 4 oz cheese (1 c shredded)
Combine stock, milk, and garlic in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in grits, reduce heat to low, and simmer until done, about 10 minutes. Add cheese, stir until melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Succotash
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T oil
  • ¾ c fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • ½ c fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 small minced onion
  • dash cayenne or chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring only occasionally, until vegetables have browned a bit. Remove vegetables from pan.

Mustard Pan Sauce
  • ¾ c vegetable stock
  • 1 T whole-grain mustard
Deglaze the succotash skillet with the stock, add mustard and cook until reduced by half.

Panfried Artichoke Hearts
  • ⅓ c cooking oil
  • 3 large artichoke hearts, quartered, or one 12oz jar, drained and patted dry
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ c flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
Toss artichoke hearts in egg, then in flour. Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet until shimmering, then fry artichokes for about 2 minutes per side until browned.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

St Teresa of Avila


Know that even when you are in the kitchen, 
our Lord moves amidst the pots and pans. 
(St Teresa of Avila)

 We'll be celebrating with some paella on the grill- it's probably the last time it will be warm enough to grill out. My metal turkey roaster makes a perfect paella pan, and I simplify by using a bag of frozen mixed seafood.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hospitality and Hostess Gifts


My friend Jamie has an especial knack for bringing the loveliest hostess gifts. While wine and flowers are always appreciated, she always selects something thoughtfully appropriate for the occasion. During neighborly social calls while I was bed-ridden due to hyperemesis, she made sure I was never short of reading material and would bring a fancy beverage, like sparkling lemonade. While visiting me at the hospital following the Lenten delivery of my youngest child, she brought me a platter of homemade gingerbread and strawberries. For a recent high tea celebrating a hobby horse's birthday, the first pomegranates of the season. Her gifts are not expensive, but show a spirit of creativity and consideration I only wish I could emulate.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”

(Lk 17-19)


 Sunday Supper Idea: Eggs St Denis
(Feast day October 9)



(Image Source: The Healing of the Sick, fresco c. 980)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Our Lady of the Rosary

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

And if Our Lady of Victory wanted to interecede for Our Lady's football team, we wouldn't mind one bit!

Image source: Bray, Still life with Symbols of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Thursday, October 6, 2016

St Bruno

By your work you show what you love and what you know. When you observe true obedience with prudence and enthusiasm, it is clear that you wisely pick the most delightful and nourishing fruit of divine Scripture.
(A letter by Saint Bruno to the Carthusians)

And perhaps some pretzels to accompany your toast of the patron saint of brewers...

Image source: Vision of St Bruno, Ribera

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

St Francis of Assisi

Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society. 
(Saint Francis of Assisi)

Monday, October 3, 2016

St Theodore Guerin

With great trust in Divine Providence, Mother Théodore overcame many challenges and persevered in the work that the Lord had called her to do. By the time of her death in 1856, the Sisters were running schools and orphanages throughout the State of Indiana. Mother Théodore Guérin is a beautiful spiritual figure and a model of the Christian life. She was always open for the missions the Church entrusted to her, and she found the strength and the boldness to put them [the missions] into practice in the Eucharist, in prayer and in an infinite trust in Divine Providence. Her inner strength moved her to address particular attention to the poor, and above all to children. (Pope Benedict XVI, canonization homily of Saint Theodore)

Image source

Sunday, October 2, 2016

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied,
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

(Lk 17, 5-6)

Sunday Supper: Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Mustard and Sage