Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday night veggie delights

If you are anything like me, you are enjoying the last few weeks of Saturday morning farmers' markets as summer slips into fall. Here are a few meatless Friday entrees to to make sure your produce drawer is ready to receive this new bounty:
1. Stirfry
2. Pasta primavera (Lasagne, if you have ricotta and feel ambitious)
3. Veggie pizza
4. Vegetable soup
5. Veggie enchiladas or quesadillas
6. Roasted vegetables over slow cooker polenta
7. Veggie omelette or quiche
8. Gardener's pie 
9. A vegetarian curry, such as coconut braised chickpeas

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Make it: Mini Saint-of-the-Day Shrine

I'm slowly becoming resigned to the fact that I'm probably never going to be the mom who has the perfect dessert for every big feast day. (Plenty of people are, including some of my co-bloggers, and more power to them.) I still wanted this to be the year that I upped my liturgical game, though. So, having been inspired by this Facebook photo of unknown origin, I set out to create a shrine for our home altar that could be a home for our saint of the day.

  • dollhouse room box (I'm having trouble finding anything similar online, but these are from the dollhouse furniture section at Michael's)
  • gold acrylic paint
  • fancy scrapbook paper
  • miniature egg-and-dart trim (found in the craft wood section of Michael's)
  • small crucifix, about 1½" or less (ours are from broken rosaries)
  • medium-sized wooden bead, or gold polymer clay (to hold the crucifix)
  • paintbrush
  • small hand saw, sandpaper, and wood glue (for trim. The wood is soft, so I imagine a utility or craft knife could be made to work in a pinch)
  • spray glue or rubber cement
Michael's sells the dollhouse boxes in two sizes. On the left is the small size with, from left-to-right, a saint block from AlmondRod Toys, a standard craft store peg doll*, and a larger peg doll (3 5/8"). The same dolls are shown in the larger-sized box on the right.

Cut the trim to just a hair longer than the width of the box (to allow for sanding), and sand the ends smooth. Attach with wood glue so that the top of the trim is even with the top of the shelf, and let dry.

Paint the box and trim with the gold paint, leaving the back surface white. This took more coats than I'd expected (5-6), but the paint dries quickly, so you really only need to give it five minutes or so between coats.

Cut the scrapbooking paper to fit (centering the motif, if necessary). The boxes weren't quite square, so we cut them just a tad big, and shaved off little bits until they fit. Glue to the back with rubber cement or spray glue.
We used wooden beads with holes large enough to accommodate the crucifix, painting them gold to match the shrine. (Something like this might also work, but I haven't tried it myself.) If you can't find something similar, you can mold a base out of polymer clay, using the crucifix to make the hole in it before baking.** Whichever you use, use a tiny bit of hot glue to secure the crucifix if necessary, then use hot glue or wood glue to place it on the top shelf of the shrine.

The glue is dry, you are ready to display your saint of the day! If you don't have figurines, I've found that the larger-size box is just right for propping up a standard holy card.

Other ideas:
  • A paper banner, reading "Saint of the Day," or "Ora pro nobis," instead of the trim.
  • Tiny silk flowers in a vase made from a large fancy bead or a wooden candle cup.
  • Tiny votive candles (just for decoration, of course!)

*Sorry, I don't have the dimensions. Maybe when Margaret Mary is back from Philly, she can help me out.
**I was really hoping these would work, but sadly, they're just a tiny bit too big!)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday night pizzas

Artichoke and kale; crab and corn; farm eggs and braised scallions

With the warm summer weather, our weekly Friday night pizza has migrated to the grill and we have abandoned our usual pantry staple toppings for the bounty of the herb garden and farmers' market. While these pizzas might be meatless, they aren't lacking in flavor. Frugal Friday tip: roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds make an economical substitute for pine nuts.

Kale pesto with sweet potatoes and Vidalia onions

Clam and parsley; zucchini

Parsley pesto, zucchini, and heirloom cherry tomatoes

Monday, August 10, 2015

Back to School done right

I just got home from parish school registration for my older son. I wasn't initially motivated to go- all finances from tuition to milk money are handled through a tuition management company, my son won't need the school uniform until kindergarten, and somehow we muddled through last school year without attending. While in my heart I wish school started after Labor Day, I have nothing but props for how well the school staff set up this event geared towards parents (there will be a parish wide family hot dog dinner the night before school starts next week).

Entering in the school gym, one went through a circuit of informational tables: first, we were welcomed by the Principal and received the School Calendar and Handbook. Then followed the middle school religion teacher, a young religious brother, staffing a table geared to middle school needs. Next came the opportunity to share time, talent, and treasure by volunteering for Parent Teacher Council events and ordering SCRIP. A representative from the uniform company was available to answer questions, and secondhand uniforms were available for purchase.  Subsequently, athletics waivers could be turned in; laptops were available to register for inclement weather alerts. The last leg reinforced the connection between the diocese, parish, and the school: Virtus registration, verifying parish census information; and receiving a children's Sunday lectionary from the parish priest. Additionally, student club tables were located in the adjacent lobby. All in all, it was a well coordinated event that bodes well for the new school year.

Image: Vincent Van Gogh, "The Schoolboy"

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (Jn 20, 17)

Franciabigio, Noli mi Tangere, 1520-25

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
 (Jn 19, 18)

Antonello da Massina, Crucifixion, 1475

40 Meatless Meals: Black Bean Soup

A simple slow cooker black bean soup pairs well with pumpkin bread for a nutritionally balanced Good Friday meal. I have often frozen the pumpkin bread with excellent results, so this meal can require very little hands on time on this somber day.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (Serves 4-6)
1 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight and drained
7 cups water or vegetable broth
1 lb frozen corn
1 T olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 t cumin
1 t oregano
1 t lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Plain yogurt and grated cheese for garnish, optional

Combine beans and water in slow cooker and cook for eight hours on low. Right before serving, add corn to crock. In a skillet, sautee remaining onion, garlic, and peppers until tender, then add to crock. Season; garnish before serving, if desired.

Pumpkin bread notes: I usually bake the batter for Smitten Kitchen pumpkin muffins (whole wheat version, with dried cranberries) in a greased loaf pan at 375 for 70 minutes.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." (1 Cor 11, 23-24)

Fray Nicolas Borras, The Last Supper, 1570s

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spy Wednesday

[Judas] went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. (Lk 22, 4)

 Lippo Memmi, Betrayal of Judas, 1340