Monday, October 31, 2011

Of soup and love...

This fall, I've been adapting the recipes from Twelve Months of Monastery Soup to the slow cooker- it's been so nice to come in from a cold walk home from the train station to a pot of steaming soup. Paired with a green salad and bread rolls (and an omlette, if you are serving hearty eaters) this makes for a quick, nutritious, and economic meal- all pluses in my book. This endeavor has also boosted my confidence about cooking with dried beans/lentils.

Apartment Therapy has some really helpful ideas for improving slow cooker soups. I've been surprised to learn how little liquid I need- the perfect amount of liquid for 6 servings of soup in my 5.5 quart oval slow cooker is 7 cups. If soup isn't your style, check out their list of top ten slow cooker winter dinners.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday suppers

Celebrating Sundays has slowed down a lot in the last year and I'm sorry- 9 months of not cooking plus summer will do that. Here in New England we've had our first snowfall of the season, and my crockpot has been busy on Sunday evenings.

The latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens featured an article about a beautiful website, Sunday Suppers, "class-cooking-dining experiences, pairing friends and food." Check out the recipes here.

One of the silent promises I made myself on having children was to provide a home that mad a reassuring, all-comers-welcome tradition of Sunday lunch... I love the solidity of it all: I don't mean by that the robust nature of food alone so much as the weighty texture of hospitality, of plain food warmly given. (Nigella Lawson, How to Eat)

Octoberfest Pork Stew
1 onion, minced
1 t caraway seeds
1 t vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb pork shoulder, cubed
1/4 c flour
1 t kosher salt
1 t pepper
1 bottle beer
4 cups chicken broth
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 apples, peeled and diced

Sautee onion and caraway seeds in oil in a large frying pan. Dredge pork in flour, salt, and pepper. Add to onion mixture and brown, adding more oil if needed. Transfer meat to crock and deglaze pan with beer; pour into crock. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Cook on low 6 hours. Serves 6.

About Celebrating Sunday

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All Saints' Day Theme party

Hop over to kindred spirit Lacy's site to get the quickest, easiest, already-made-for-you plan for an All Saints' Day party EVER! She has tons of kid-friendly food suggestions and printable downloads for all the Saint tie-ins; everything but the shopping list.

If the menu weren't already set for my parish's All Saints' party, I'd definitely be using some of these ideas in our version of Saint Martha's kitchen.

Thanks again to Catholic Icing for their great ideas for making passing on the Faith memorable and tasty!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Quick Tips to Get Well Quick

Just in time for flu season, Apartment Therapy has a great list of items to keep on hand for when you're taken sick. After all, schlepping to the drugstore or the supermarket is the the last thing you want to do when you or a family member is ill. I always keep chicken soup and herbal tea in my pantry- what are your must haves?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bringing little ones to Mass

Faith and Family has an article today with some really sound advice, and as always whenever parenting is the topic there's lots of discussion in the comment box.

Necktie First-Aid

I have no particular plans to make a tie, but I certainly found this necktie tutorial from the Purl Bee useful when I needed to repair one of my husband's. The back stitching had formed an odd pucker, and it was very useful to see just how that seam is made, in order to redo the trouble section.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Danger Ahead!

Dieters, turn back now!

I have just successfully attempted a recipe for carmels that takes six minutes and uses ingredients that I always have on hand. You can't control the texture quite as finely as you can with stovetop caramels, but still, I'm quite impressed with the result. For a tasty flavor contrast, sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top after you pour into the dish.

For an extra treat, save the rest of the condensed milk, and stir a spoonful into your coffee.

¼ cup butter
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup sweetened condensed milk

Combine all ingredients. Microwave six minutes, stirring every two. Stir once more and pour into lightly greased 8x8 dish. Let cool. Slice into small squares and wrap in wax paper.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Margaret at Ten Thousand Places has just opened her jam shop for the season, and her flavors sound so wonderfully adventurous (Plum and Crabapple with Lavender, anyone?) I'm especially intrigued by the savory offerings, including a Pinot Noir jelly (for cheese tastings, of course!).

This post describes her stock, as well as promising details in future posts. Or, you can just head straight over to her shop to peruse.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hint of the Day: Waste bowl

Because washing a dish is easier than cleaning a counter!

A recent cookbook suggested using a bowl to collect all the discarded bits while doing meal prep. If you are clumsy like me, there is nothing more frustrating than dropping a carefully peeled garlic clove or carrot into the trash can. It's also helpful when you have multiple cooks in the kitchen.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hint of the Day: Brooches

Save small scraps of interfacing or heavy fabric from sewing projects in your jewelry box. Use them behind brooches to prevent sagging or damage to delicate garments.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hint of the Day: Freezer Paper

With a small family, repackaging and freezing meat is a necessity if we want to get a good price and still have some variety in our diets. Recently, I've made the switch to freezer paper to save money (6¢/ft vs. 7.4¢ per quart Ziploc), but I've found a few other advantages, as well. The freezer paper lays flat on my scale, making it easier to weigh out the amount I want; I don't have to worry about getting raw meat on the outside or the zipper, and I don't have to go hunting for a Sharpie in order to label them.

I admit, I also like the look of those little white packets all lined up in my freezer. Sort of a "brown paper packages tied up with string" feeling.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Perfect Popcorn

It's officially popcorn-and-cider season here at Chez Thérèse, so in honor of the occasion, I thought I'd share my method for popcorn with almost no old maids.

  1. Cover the bottom of a large saucepan with cooking oil; add a couple of popcorn kernels, cover, and place over medium-high heat.
  2. When your test kernels have popped, add enough popcorn to just cover the bottom of your pan in a single layer.
  3. Immediately cover the pan, remove from heat, and shake vigorously for a full 30 seconds.
  4. Return to heat until popping slows down, shaking frequently to prevent burning and sift the unpopped kernels to the bottom.
Step three is the key here. By shaking the kernels in the hot oil, you bring them all close to popping temperature, so that they are all evenly heated and pop closer to the same time when you return them to the stove. You can also make kettle corn by adding 1/4 c. sugar along with the popcorn, but keep a close eye on it, as it burns easily.

Plain old butter (3–4 T.) and sea salt is the topping of choice around here, but you might also try:
  • Seasoned salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Apple/pumpkin pie spice
  • Ranch dressing mix
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Taco seasoning
If you're looking for less work than the stovetop, you can make your own microwave popcorn simply by putting ½c. of popcorn in a brown paper bag, folding over the top a couple of times, and microwaving for about 3 minutes on high. Way cheaper than buying it, and no hydrogenated faux butter-like stuff.

If you don't want to do dishes, coffee filters make good disposable snack bowls.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Franciscan Habit

"He designed for himself a tunic that bore a likeness to the cross ... a very poor and mean tunic, one that would not excite the covetousness of the world. St. Francis wanted the garment to cost as little as possible and that it be mended with odd scraps of cloth when necessary rather than replacing the entire garment when it became worn. Art historian Cordelia Warr believes that the Franciscan habit was intended to make a very distinctive visual statement, and the tattered tunic, with its varied-colored patches, served as an unmistakable expression of extreme poverty. Francis's own garment has survived to this day and is on display in the Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy, a ragged and patched example of the poorest possible clothing a man might chose to wear.
St. Francis was concerned that the habit should reflect both the interior disposition of the friar and give a powerful exterior testimony of the monk's purpose. One popular Franciscan legend tells of the saint taking his companions into a town to preach. After they entered the village, they then turned around and left in silence. One of the brothers asked when the preaching was going to commence. Francis pointed to his habit and said that it already was complete."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for October, 2011

General Intention: For the terminally ill, that in their sufferings they may be sustained by faith in God and by the love of others.

Missionary Intention: That the celebration of World Mission Sunday may increase in the People of God the passion for evangelization and the support of missionary activity through prayer and economic aid for the poorest Churches.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father for this month.