Thursday, January 31, 2013

Citrus Roundup

  • America's Test Kitchen makes limoncello. Make it with whatever citrus you like (I did a batch with grapefruit last year). If you don't care to drink something quite that strong, it makes a great mixed drink with a bit of club soda. It takes four weeks to steep, so if you get it going in the next few, you can have some ready in time for Easter!
  • I made this pasta with Meyer Lemons again last Friday, and it was every bit as good as I remembered. This time around, I made it with basil pappardelle. 
  • Food in Jars has a great post on the general principles of making marmalade. I used the grapefruit jam  recipe she links to use up all the fruit from my grapefruit-cello, and it's truly amazing on English muffins. I'm planning on starting a batch of her blood orange marmalade tonight.
  • It's probably not on the docket for this year, but these Meyer lemon champagne preserves sound downright elegant.
  • The official drink of the Church Ladies is, of course, the gin and tonic, but variations on the theme are quite nice, too. I pulled a few blackberries out of the freezer last night for this cocktail, and used mint syrup left over from the summer's juleps.
  • This fashion-inspired cake is a real feast for the eyes in this grey weather.
So, what will you be doing with your citrus while it's in season?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reminder: Buy Your Candles!

Just a reminder that this Saturday, February 2, is Candlemas, the day on which you can bring your household's candles to Mass to be blessed.  Stock up for the year!  Personally, I'd love to carry this into Mass, but once again, I'll probably restrain myself.

For the past few years, I've purchased Advent candles* in advance and had them blessed at this Mass.  Having a few sets on hand can help you assemble thoughtful wedding gifts throughout the year (I combine them with a crucifix or small piece of sacred art, and a bottle of holy water taken from the church where the wedding takes place or another significant church).

*I have yet to find a better source than Hobby Lobby for Advent candles.  My local store generally has the perfect pink and purple in stock, in multiple sizes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Prayers Requested

If you could keep a personal intention of one of the Church Ladies in your prayers today, we would be most grateful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Staying Warm

It's a balmy 18º here right now (at the height of the day's warmth), with a brutal wind chill to go along with it. I've been spending plenty of time right next to the fire place, but I have a couple of other tricks as well. Church Ladies can't quite live by tea alone (pots and pots of it), so I've been trying to mix it up a bit with recipes like this:

Chai Concentrate
(adapted from this source)
  • 4 1/2 cups water 
  • 1 stick cinnamon 
  • 1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
  • 10 whole cardamom pods 
  • 2 whole star anise pods 
  • 10 whole cloves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 
  • zest of one orange 
  • 10 bags of black tea 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 
Bring the water to a boil, add the spices, tea, and orange zest and remove from heat. Allow to steep for half an hour (more if you like). Strain the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, honey and the vanilla, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a quart jar and store in the refrigerator. To serve, mix equal parts concentrate and milk and heat.

Yield: 1 quart jar full, plus enough to have a cup right away.

If you save the strained spices (discard the tea bags) and return them to the pot or a small slow cooker with a generous amount of water, you can set them to simmer for a lovely air freshener that also humidifies.

Also pictured above: Spatterdash Wristwarmers in KnitPicks Palette in Marble Heather. I added a pattern repeat so that they cover my arms even when I'm wearing ¾ sleeves.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Just a reminder

Today is a day of penance and prayer for the protection of the unborn in the United States. If you are still looking for something to do, might I suggest praying the Office for the Dead (pdf), or preparing a meatless dinner? The US Bishops are also promoting this novena, which you can join in progress by signing up for email or text message reminders.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for January

The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.

Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
(Apologies for the late post.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

CL Tip of the Day: Tenderizing Meat

I always hate recipes that call for tenderizing or flattening a steak or chicken breast because of the mess!  Either it's splashy or I end up with little pieces of waxed paper embedded in it.  This could be a brilliant solution though.  Do you ever buy cereal that is packaged into those really, really tough bags - the kind that you have to open with a scissors?  Simply tap the crumbs out of the next one you get and save it in a clean place for your next tenderizing need.  Not only are these bags super tough, but they're food grade plastic and will enclose both sides of the meat.  And they're free.
Subtitle: Why didn't I think of that?
I haven't tried it yet, but this seems like a really great idea.