Thursday, February 28, 2013

Notes from beneath the veil

Glad for distractions this week, I wanted to take a few minutes to post a link to Jen Fulwiler's Lenten experiment with wearing a veil.  Do go read it for yourself - her reasoning and reflection on the experience are both funny and beautiful (as always).

As a life-long seamstress, diy-er, and all-around cheapskate though, I have to admit that my first thought was "that veil would be so easy to make!"  The original came from this etsy shop, and at only $35 is a great deal, but if you'd like one right away for whatever reason, I have some suggestions here.

First of all, if you'd like the same concept, but don't want lace, you can find a nice tutorial on sewing your own infinity scarf here.

If you do want to make one of lace, it's even easier.

  1. Go to your local fabric store and find a soft lace with one or two finished edges.  For this basic version, you fabric will be somewhere between 45 and 60 inches wide.  (54" is also a common width.)
  2. Determine the length you want the scarf to be.  From the tutorials I'm finding, 54-60 inches seems to be a good length.  Since you'll be cutting along the length of the fabric, this is the amount you'll purchase.
  3. Cut the fabric in half lengthwise.  You'll have two pieces, each with one finished scalloped edge and one cut edge.  If you prefer, the pictorial directions at the bottom may be helpful.
  4. Sew the short edges together by hand or by machine.  Make the seam as neat as possible, since it will show (at least a little).  Again, owning a sewing machine is not necessary for this project!  You can find tips for sewing with lace in this Church Lady post.
  5. You can hem the unfinished edge of your veil if you'd like, but since many laces don't ravel it may not be necessary.
  6. That's it!  Oh, one more thing - you may have noticed by now that you have enough here for two veils.  The second one is for a friend.  (Aren't you wonderful!)

40 Meatless Meals:French Onion Soup (2)

8-10 large onions, sliced
1/2 cup butter
60 ounces beef broth
1 1/2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
3 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
10 slices french bread, toasted
grated Parmesan and/or shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Saute onions in butter until crisp-tender. Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Add broth, Worchestershire sauce, bay leaves.
  3. Cover and cook on low 5-7 hours.
  4. Ladle into bowls. Top with a slice of bread and cheese.
10 servings.
Source: Fix It and Forget It (2000), page 61

  • This soup was so flavorful and unbelievably easy.
  • I made half a batch.
  • I used a variety of onions (one red, one sweet white, and three yellows). I think this contributed to the delicious flavor.
  • The original recipe called for condensed beef broth (like Campbells), but I think that would be too intense and probably too salty. I just used a carton of store brand beef broth.
  • I usually think French Onion is oversalted, so didn't add any salt to this recipe. Surprisingly, that was a good choice. I didn't add any at the end either.
  • I buttered and toasted the bread on a grill (like a grilled cheese sandwich) and that added a nice flavor and texture to the bread.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Corn Chowder

If your February weather has been anything like ours, some nice warm comfort food is in order. Serve it in bread bowls, if you'd like an excuse to turn on the oven.

Serves six to eight.
(adapted from.)
  • 4 T Butter 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 3 whole sweet bell peppers, diced (different colors, if possible) 
  • 2½ cups of frozen corn (or 5 ears fresh) 
  • ¼ cup flour 
  • 3 cups vegetable stock 
  • 2 cups Half-and-half 
  • 1 cup (heaping) Grated Monterey Jack 
  • 1 cup (heaping) Pepper Jack 
  • ⅓ cups Sliced Green Onions 
In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions until softened and just beginning to brown, 5–6 minutes, then add diced bell peppers and cook until peppers begin to soften. Add corn and cook until warm. Sprinkle flour evenly over the top and stir to combine. Pour in broth and stir well, scraping up any browned bits of onion from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 3–4 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Stir in half-and-half, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring once or twice. Stir in cheeses. When cheese is melted, add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle green onions over the top and serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Tomato, Provolone, and Fresh Basil Pizza

Fresh basil is one of my favorite flavors and thanks to my good friend, Trader Joe, I got this great plant last spring that's actually still hanging on today! I found this recipe on the back of my Costco Provolone.

Homemade pizza crust (thanks, KitchenAid!)
3 Tbsp. olive oil (or less)
Provolone cheese
Parmesan cheese
Roma tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves
Spray pizza pan and spread dough out evenly. Brush unbaked crust with olive oil; top with freshly ground pepper, sliced provolone, tomatoes, basil and finally, grated Parmesan. Perfect.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes or until done.

Monday, February 25, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Sweet Potato Latkes

There aren't a lot of foods I get cravings for (even while I was pregnant, aside from a brief American cheese phase), but since first trying these at a book club meeting I find myself wanting these simple but oh, so tasty latkes rather frequently. Add some greens (cooked or raw) and you've got a meal for two or three, or serve them as a side dish for twice as many. They seem to be popular with kids, too.

Once it's cooled, you can strain the remaining oil and keep it in a jar for other adventures in frying (or just more batches of latkes!).

Makes about 26 pancakes
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
Stir together all ingredients except the oil. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, scoop eighth-cup measures of potato mixture into oil and flatten to 3-inch diameter with a spatula. Cook until golden, about 1½ minutes on each side. Transfer latkes with spatula to paper towels to drain. Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream, if desired.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Vatican News

Vatican News has created a microsite to bring to you a collection of news reports, interviews and background stories on the final days of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate.  It's a good way to filter out the bias and ignorance and get your news from a reliable source.

40 Meatless Meals: Fritto Misto

Mixed fried fish in light batter (pictured with gnocchi in pesto and roasted vegetables)

3/4 cup flour
3 T olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 t salt
1 egg white, beaten

1.5 lbs cubed mixed fresh fish/seafood or vegetables

oil for deep frying
lemon wedges
fresh parsley

Sift the flour; stir in oil, then salt and water.  Let batter rest at least one hour.  Fold in egg white thoroughly.  Heat oil for deep frying.  Dip fish/vegetables in batter and fry until golden.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and fresh parsley.

Friday, February 22, 2013

CL Hint of the Day: Brining Beans

I just made the best batch of beans of my life. Seriously, I keep grabbing a few out of the colander just to munch. The secret ingredient? Salt. I added 3T of salt to a gallon of water (for 1 pound of beans) and let them soak overnight. Then I drained and rinsed them, and boiled as usual. My black beans took just over an hour to cook, and are a really creamy texture, with very few burst skins.

Find the original tip here (video).

40 Meatless Meals: Fresh pasta with butternut squash

Serves 4

1 lb fresh pasta (homemade or purchased)
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
8 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/4 t nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to boil in a dutch oven.  Add noodles and squash; cook until al dente.  Drain and reserve. Heat butter in empty dutch oven.  Add garlic, sage, and nutmeg.  Toss pasta and squash with butter sauce; add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ways with beans

Let's face it.  Beans are nutritious, economical, and good for the earth, but aside from refried beans and some Indian and Italian recipes for chickpeas, I didn't spend a lot of time in the dried bean aisle until recently.  Here are a couple of books from the public library that expanded my cooking repertoire.

Diet for a Small Planet (Frances Moore Lappe)
 The classic introduction into vegetarianism.  I'll be the first to admit that some of the recipes haven't stood the test of time, but the science behind the benefits of eating a less meat centered diet is fascinating and provides a call to stand in solidarity with the hungry of the world.

Bean by Bean (Crescent Dragonwagon)

Intimidated by dried beans?  Have no fear, Crescent is here. While canned beans are still less expensive than meat, there's no arguing that dried beans cost even less. Author Dragonwagon walks you through several methods for cooking beans.  If your first thought about beans is stodgy New England baked beans, you are in for a big surprise.  She has recipes for every meal course featuring cuisines from all around the world.  From soups to salads to casseroles, this book combines new recipes with witty commentary.

Spilling the Beans (Julie van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan)

Looking to stretch your grocery budget?  Tired of carb heavy meatless meals that leave you hungry later? Want to serve the more economical dried beans but can't get away from the convenience of canned?

Spilling the Beans contains recipes for supplementing the meat in your favorite recipes with beans and lentils, some new ideas for bean based entrees, ideas for preparing dried beans ahead of time, and most intriguing, incorporating pureed white beans into a variety of foods (including baked goods) to create whole proteins. 

40 Meatless Meals: Squash poriyal

Serves 4

3 t vegetable oil
1 t mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
1 t peppercorns or red pepper flakes
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
4 summer squash or zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup water, if needed

Heat oil in deep skillet or other heavy pan. Sautee spices briefly.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Add coconut and cook until flakes are slightly brown.  Fold in squash and cook covered until tender, adding water if needed. 

Serve with rice.  Alternately, for an even quicker take on this dish, try green bean poriyal with frozen green beans.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Slab piecing + Easter cards

I recently came across the book Sunday Morning Quilts at my public library and can't recommend it enough.  It is chockful of ideas about how to make the most of fabric scraps - from organizing them to incorporating them into new projects.  Although I'm not a quilter, the parish thrift store has baskets of tempting fabric scraps available for a pittance (the fabric for the apron pictured above ran me 25 cents).  Many of the book's projects are built on the technique of slab piecing - putting together scraps or strips to form a "fabric."  Think Log Cabin, but with the strips all different widths to make the most of leftover fabric or crazy quilting on a larger scale. 
My forays into slab piecing left me with some small irregular pieces.  I'm the first to admit you will not find me making a postage stamp quilt.  A particularly bold paisley reminded me of Rechenka's Eggs, and I made these Easter cards from fabric scraps and basic office supplies:

5x8 unlined index cards
(Optional - printer with black ink)
2-3 brown paper grocery bags
(Optional - Brown marker, crayon, or stamp plus ink)
Colored fabric scraps
Scotch tape
Glue stick

Print or hand write text on to the cards. 

Cut the wide front and back panels off the bags.  Remove handles or areas of double thickness. Fold each panel into a square twice - now you have a square 1/4 of the size of the original paper.  Fold it into a triangle from the center to the outside edge and cut basket (split in half vertically across the diagonal fold) like you would a snowflake - 4 baskets.  If desired, use markers or stamps to add some texture to the baskets).  I found it easiest to cut proportional eggs if I held the fabric in small half square triangles, but there is a lot of wiggle room, as a large portion of the eggs are covered by the basket.  Use tape to position eggs on the wrong side of the basket and then glue in place.


40 Meatless Meals: Corn Curry

Serves 4

3 T vegetable oil
1 t whole peppercorns
1 t cumin seeds
1 t mustard seeds
1/2 t coriander seeds
1 T turmeric
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can coconut milk
16 oz frozen corn
salt to taste

Heat vegetable oil in a heavy pot.  Add spices and saute briefly. Stir in onions and garlic and cook until onions are tender.  Stir in coconut milk.  Fold in corn and cook until heated through.  Serve with rice.  You can also add 1/2 a pound of shrimp at the end for a fancier touch.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Dal Palaak

Dahl palak, a hearty and nutritious vegetable - lentil stew is a great way to clean out your vegetable drawer.  I've also made this recipe in the crockpot and with other legumes (generally chickpeas -soaked overnight).  Depending on the size of your microwave, you can either microwave the onions and spices directly in the crock or in a ramekin and then transfer it to minimize clean up.  Serve with a whole grain carbohydrate, such as brown rice or flat bread for a complete protein.

40 Meatless Meals: Lunches for Lent

If you don't plan a little, it's easy to be caught off guard at lunchtime.  These kid-friendly suggestions from a friend are quick and easy to keep on hand.

Sandwiches and sandwich-like:

  • Peanut butter (or sunflower butter or almond butter) banana roll-ups. Spread peanut butter on a tortilla and roll a banana up inside.
  • Banana dogs. Put a banana in a hot dog bun. Add pbj as "condiments."
  • Bagel and cream cheese. Put the cream cheese on the side to avoid sogginess. 
  • Sandwich Skewers. Cheese, bread pieces and veggies on a skewer. Serve with dip. For a mini version use toothpicks for skewers. 
  • Tuna salad (can be fun in a pita or a lettuce wrap)
  • Egg salad (ditto)
  • Cheddar apple sandwiches on baguette
  • Veggie wraps with a cream cheese spread (roasted garlic and cheddar, garden veggie or herb cream cheese spread and your choice of veggies)
  • Cold veggie pizza (roll out crescent dough in a sheet, bake and cool. Spread with ranch dressing and top with cold, chopped veggies and shredded cheddar or colby cheese)
  • Pita with hummus or baba ganoush

Snack options: (Combine several and you have yourself a meal)

  • Fruit and cheese skewers 
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Celery with peanut butter and raisins or cream cheese and black olives
  • Whole grain crackers
  • String cheese
  • Yogurt (Greek yogurt has more protein)
  • Build it yourself yogurt parfaits with yogurt, fruit and granola in separate containers
  • Fruit and walnut salad with yogurt for dipping (think McDonald's, but homemade)
  • Cheeses of the World (we did this once for about a month, trying different cheeses from different countries. It keeps the cheese + bread combo fresh.) So many options! Brie, Gouda, Manchego, Paneer, Queso Fresco.... the list goes on)
  • Breads of the world. Rye krisp, naan, pita, pumpernickel, caraway rye, tortillas, baguette...
  • Veggies and dip
  • Soft pretzels
  • Muffins 
  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Dried fruits
  • Trail mix
Thanks to Stephanie for the fun ideas!  (You'll also want to check out her family's Lenten devotion, under "Real" in this post.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Black tie fish fry

Friday night fish fries are taking it to the new level.  From a black tie fish fry at St Margaret of Scotland, fish tacos at Guardian Angels, and salmon at St Michael, fish fries in greater Kansas City are building community.  Many thanks to the Knights of Columbus and all involved!

Image source: The Kansas City Star

40 Meatless Meals: Apples Au Gratin

This dish is great for a main dish or a side (or both, if have leftovers!). Make sure to use tart, flavorful apples, or it will come out rather bland.

Serves four to six as a main dish.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of ground cloves
4 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups grated cheddar or gruyere (or 1 cup each)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350º. Lightly oil an 11x7" baking dish.

In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Slowly add the milk to the flour, then add the salt and spices. Whisk continuously until the sauce starts to thicken. Stir for about 4 minutes, until thick. Remove from the heat.

To assemble, spread the apples and onion evenly in the prepared dish. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, and pour the sauce over the top. Scatter on the nuts, bread crumbs, and brown sugar, if using.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pious Men

“Navy Chaplain O. David Herrmann, of Omaha, Neb., attached to a Marine unit on Saipan, uses a destroyed Japanese tank for an altar as he holds services for the dead.”
From the Photograph Collection (COLL/3948), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections

Source Credit: Retronaut (which, I've gotta say is a fun little subscription to get in my daily email)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Mushroom-Cheddar Quiche

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion; about 1 medium onion
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme; use more or less to taste
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

One 9" pie crust.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Heat the butter.
  • Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms start to lose their juices, about 10 minutes.
  • Mix in the garlic, thyme, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Stir to combine; remove from the heat.
  • Combine the eggs, milk, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt.
  • Line the bottom of the crust with the cheese, top with the mushrooms, and pour in the egg mixture.
  • Bake the quiche for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edge of the crust is brown, and the filling appears set.
  • Remove the quiche from the oven, and serve warm.

Friday, February 15, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Baked Salmon

2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

  • In a medium glass bowl, prepare marinade by mixing garlic, light olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley. Place salmon fillets in a medium glass baking dish, and cover with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator about 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • Place fillets in aluminum foil, cover with marinade, and seal. Place sealed salmon in the glass dish, and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until easily flaked with a fork.
NOTES:  This was a very convenient method to use and it could easily be changed with different spice combinations.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

40 Meatless Meals: Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

It can be tricky to put together a meatless meal that doesn't skimp on the flavor. In this recipe, a pinch of baking soda helps the wild rice to "brown" as it cooks, producing a rich stock with many of the same flavors you'd find from a more carnivorous dish. Starch and heavy cream make up for the satisfying body that soups and stews get from the gelatin in meat. This soup freezes well, so make extra to put away for later in Lent.

The dried shiitakes can be found at most grocery stores, but will be least expensive at an Asian grocery.

Serves six to eight.
(Source: Cook's Illustrated January & February 2013)
  • ¼ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 4¼ cups water, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cloves garlic, one peeled, four peeled and minced
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 pound cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup dry sherry
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup minced fresh chives
  • ¼ tsp grated lemon zest
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375º. Grind dried mushrooms in a spice grinder (you should have about 3 tablespoons).

Bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, whole garlic clove, ¾ tsp salt, and baking soda to boil in an oven-proof saucepan or metal roaster over high heat. Add rice and return to boil. Cover pan, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender, 35–50 minutes. Strain rice, reserving liquid. Discard herbs and garlic. Add enough water to reserved liquid to equal 3 cups.

Melt butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, ¾ tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Cook until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, 15 minutes. Add sherry and scrape up any browned bits; cook until pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add ground mushrooms, reserved liquid, broth, and soy sauce, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.

Whisk cornstarch and remaining ¼ water in small bowl. Stir mixture into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Little Aid for Your Lent

I've often found that my mid-Lent slip-ups come not so much from a lack of will power as from forgetfulness. With that in mind, I've put together this little booklet to help keep track of Lenten sacrifices. You write your sacrifices, prayer commitments, etc., in the first column, and then check them off each day you complete them. I've greyed out Sundays and solemnities, since it's not necessary to fast those days (though there's certainly no reason not to pray!).

To put together the book after you've printed it out (diagrams here):
  • Fold in half and crease, with the text facing out, along the registration marks, both the long and wide way. Since every printer is different, you may have to trim a bit of the margins to even up these edges. 
  • Open it out, and then fold each side in to meet in the center (again following the registration marks). 
  • Slit the paper along the tops of the center two sets of pages, then pull open this slit at the folds. Fold book so that the covers are in front and back.

40 Meatless Meals: Ash Wednesday Pretzels

This is more of a snack than a meal, to be sure, but since two of today's meals are supposed to be snacks at most anyway, it seems like a good place to begin. I've made this recipe several times, and it's always turned out well. They freeze well, and can be warmed up in the microwave or oven. For a real treat, hunt up a jar of Bavarian Sweet Mustard for dipping!

More on pretzels and Lent.

Makes eight.

  • 1½ cups warm (110 to 115º) water 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1 package active dry yeast 
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4½ cups 
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted 
  • Vegetable oil, for pan 
  • 10 cups water 
  • 2/3 cup baking soda 
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water 
  • Pretzel salt or other coarse salt
Combine the water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit until the foamy. Add the flour, salt, and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush or spray with oil. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Pouring a Soothing Balm

As we move into Lent we travel with Christ, here shown as a child, but still with the instruments of His future torture and death.

The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

The Loving Heart of Jesus
pours a soothing balm 
even upon things most painful

These lacy, die-cut cards are beautiful, but it's rare to find one in pristine condition.  Here's another version of the image, cropped a little tighter.

Monday, February 11, 2013

More kitschy Catholic fun

... this time with the Rosary.
Made to help keep track of your Rosary prayers (or to entertain a toddler long enough that a mom could pray a decade or two), simply press the clear button at the top (barely visible at about 1 o'clock).  The arrow then moves to the next bead.  Isn't that fun?

I tried to pin down the date using the patent information on the back, but even my husband (who is quite familiar with such things) was unable to find it.  Perhaps one of you will have better luck?
PAT D-17156
Other Pat. Pend.
Box 383 
St. Cloud, MN

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Eternal High Priest

 It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Practical help for an effective Lent

Are you stuck in a rut on what to give up for Lent?  Looking for some ideas that may have more spiritual impact?

101 Practical Fasting Ideas offers lots of creative alternatives, but requires something of you first:

[...] before we choose something to give up for Lent, it’s important to assess our current spiritual state:
  • What habits do I engage in that are destructive to my spiritual health?
  • To what material things am I too attached?
  • What areas in my life are unbalanced?
  • To what do I devote too much or not enough time?
Only after asking questions like these are we are ready to decide what to give up or what to add to our lives during Lent.

From there things are divided into categories to make it just a little easier for you:

  • 1-10: The Usuals
  • 11-20: Prayer
  • 21-30: For Those Addicted to Popular Culture
  • 31-40: For Internet Users/Bloggers
  • 41-50: For Those Who Need to Be More Grateful
  • 51-60: For Those With Lives Out of Balance
  • 61-70: For Those Who Need Spiritual Nourishment
  • 71-80: For Those Who Need to Increase Their Service to the Needy
  • 81-90: For Those Who Need to Be More Active in Their Parish
  • 90-101: Potpourri
  • Bonus! 10 More Fasting Ideas

I hope you'll find it as helpful as I have!

A Child's Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

I'm not sure if this child in this Swiss holy card is a Saint, or if the picture is just offered for an ordinary child's inspiration, but what a lovely exchange the three of them are having!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cooking for Christ

From Amy Welborn comes a review of a charming-looking piece of mid-century Catholic literature, Cooking for Christ, by the Catholic Rural Life Conference.’s an invaluable glimpse into the era, as the first sentence of the Preface indicates:
This book is an extension of the Missal, Breviary and Ritual because the Christian home is an extension of the Mass, choir and sacramentals.
That era being clearly resistant to stereotype and caricatures of an unengaged laity. As the author herself says in the very next paragraph, We need not shed tears over the past; neither should we exalt the present as the zenith of perfection or condemn it as the nadir of depravity.
Part cookbook, part reflection, it looks like a lovely addition to any domestic church's library. And the good news is that it's still in print!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Holy Cards

I recently acquired a whole bunch of antique holy cards and am excited to share them with people who appreciate such things (you, of course)!

Judging from the back of this first one, it's a sample of a product from Benziger Brothers.  A deal in 1906 - only $6 for 1000!

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for February

Migrant Families. That migrant families, especially the mothers, may be supported and accompanied in their difficulties.

Peace. That the peoples at war and in conflict may lead the way in building a peaceful future.