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.

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

Saturday, October 1, 2016

St Therese of Lisieux

Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers he has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay. It is just the same in the world of souls – which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but he has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice his eyes whenever he glances down. Perfection consists in doing his will, in being that which he wants us to be. Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person.
(St Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul)
Image source

Friday, September 30, 2016

ISO your favorite movie recommendations

One of my family's favorite rituals is Friday Night Pizza and a Movie. I love having my family together, the cares of the week behind us, the curtains drawn, and plenty of warm pizza and maybe a glass of wine rounding out the evening. Thanks to my favorite library book, Truly Madly Pizza (pictured: fig with cheddar and roasted red pepper; salmon and broccoli; white pizza with kalamata olives and broccoli; egg and cherry tomato), we have no trouble being inventive with the former, but a couple years in, and we are on the lookout for new movies (suitable for a five year old and a two year old, but not so dull as to alienate the adults). We started with the Disney animated films, then their live action movies like Swiss Family Robinson and Herbie, and classics like The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. We enjoyed the Kenneth Branagh Cinderella and are eagerly awaiting the live action Beauty and the Beast, but are looking for recommendations. What have you enjoyed?

St Jerome

Jerome is with the Saints, and I am sure that,
by God's will,
though the hat and the Bible were left behind,
the lion is with him still.
(Rumer Godden)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mr Popper's Penguins

At ten o'clock, Mrs. Popper yawned and laid down her mending. "Well, you can go on reading about those heathen birds, but I am going to bed. Tomorrow is Thursday, September thirtieth, and I have to go to the first meeting of the Ladies' Aid Missionary Society."

"September thirtieth!" said Mr. Popper in an excited tone. "You don't mean today is Wednesday, September twenty-ninth?...Why, this is the night the Drake Antarctic Expedition is going to start broadcasting."
(Mr. Popper's Penguins, Richard and Florence Atwater)

Before I had children, I most looked forward to reading chapter books aloud to them. My older son is now five plus, and we have started reading books I really enjoy aloud (no slight intended to all the beautiful picture books in the world, but after years of the same stories, it was nice to have a change). Winnie the Pooh was our proto-chapter book, and then we made our way through the first few Little House books over the course of the summer. But On the Banks of Plum Creek dragged out, and I wanted a break before we continued the series. Enter Charlotte's Web, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Stuart Little, and Mary Poppins. My mother believed it was immodest for a girl to read books written from a boy's perspective, so I have enjoyed discovering Farmer Boy, The Door in the Wall, The Sign of the Beaver, and Adam of the Road as an adult.

But in the midst of all this delight, I am a little wistful, because I picked up most of these books as library discards. I can't but help sympathize with Tuppence:

"Well, that's very kind of you, I'm sure, Mrs. Beresford. Of course, we do have some [special editions for children nowadays] given to us, you know... One does feel it's a pity that they should have to read all those old-fashioned books."

"Oh, do you think so," said Tuppence. "I loved the books I had as as child. Some of them...had been my grandmother's when she was a child. I believe I liked those best of all."
(Postern of Fate, Agatha Christie)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Good King Wenceslaus

Although people associate St Wenceslaus in connection with the Christmas carol (indeed, your Church Ladies invoked his patronage during many a wintry Rosary around the lakes at Our Lady's University), his feast day is celebrated today, the 28th of September.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Madeleines for St Mary Magdalene's day


A batch of madeleines, studded with summer blueberries, in honor of today's saint, Mary Magdalene (whose memorial was elevated to a feast by Pope Francis this year.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Smores for St John the Baptist

Last year, I was grieving a miscarriage when the feast of John the Baptist rolled around. To distract ourselves from the reality at hand, my family decided to hold an impromptu neighborhood gathering. I sent my husband to the grocery store for s'mores ingredients and whipped up a pitcher of lemonade for general consumption and cocktails for the adults. While we weren't able to have a St John's bonfire, we made do with the flames of the grill while making the s'mores. The serendipitous evening requiring minimal effort has now become an annual event- now with bonfire!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Chilled Soup for Hot Summer Days

The weather has been hot, but that's no reason to put away your soup tureen. I serendipitously discovered that pureed cold vegetable soups are an easy way to get my picky vegetable eater to get important nutrition as well as to make use of some of the less popular portions of the plant- all the benefits of hot soup, with no burned mouths. 


This chilled cream of tomato soup is so easy that my incoming kindergartner can make it. Puree one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with a 15 oz can of coconut milk until smooth, then stir in a pinch of dried basil and white pepper. Chill at least two hours and serve in chilled bowls.

Broccoli was one of the first vegetables to come in at our farmers' market, and my family has been enjoying it grilled. But what to do with the stalks? Turn them into a delicate, fresh green soup. Dice three or four stocks very finely, and blanch stalks and a few scallions trimmed of roots, and a few stalks of any fresh herbs you can spare (lemon thyme is my favorite). Then puree the vegetables with 6 cups of stock and a dash of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, white pepper, and dill.  Chill at least two hours and serve in chilled bowls.

Both recipes serve four.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Temperatures have broken the three digit mark multiple times over the last few weeks- summer is here! 

Farmers' market produce has been gracing our Friday night pizzas.

The strawberry season was mostly washed out, but I did can a small batch of jam (though I had to stretch it with rhubarb)

But peaches! Local peaches started last week, and at the farmers' market this past weekend, I bought a quarter bushel of seconds. About half a dozen were perfect for eating, another for a pie, 6 half pints of peach ginger fruit butter, and three pints of spicy peach preserves.  I have also been hard at work on my six pack- the hardest preserve category of the county fair, which consists of six different half pints of jam. So far I have five of the six canned- blueberry, peach, rhubarb, cherry rhubarb, and strawberry rhubarb.

And of course there is the on-going task of keeping a growing family clothed. In some ways, it will be easier this year, since my older son will be wearing a school uniform. In an effort to clear out the winter merchandise, our parish thrift store had a sale on separates last week. My younger son fell asleep in the stroller, so I was able to really look through the books and found some classics for our home library, including a beautifully illustrated copy of King Arthur as a Fathers' Day present.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Neighborhood waffle night for the Annunciation

Last year's Annunciation Day evening was snowy and blustery, but inside the mood was cheerful. Waffles were the star of our breakfast for dinner neighborhood party, rounded out with sausage and potatoes, quiche, and fruit salad. Why waffles, you ask? Because Our Lady didn't waffle in giving her fiat.

And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Lk 1, 30-33)

Friday, March 11, 2016

40 Meatless Meals: Migas

Crispy strips of stale tortillas (or tortilla chips- I won't tell) are scrambled with eggs and cheese. What's not to love? This recipe is inspired by The Homesick Texan, but my crew favors a heartier ratio of tortilla to egg (and as with the slow cooker tortilla soup, I prefer baked tortilla strips to fried). My youngest son is allergic to dairy, so we pass the cheese at the table. This quick supper easily becomes a meal when combined with a salad and slow cooker re-fried beans. Serves 4.

Vegetable oil
8 corn tortillas

8 eggs
1/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup grated cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 400. Brush tortillas with vegetable oil and cut into strips. Arrange on cookie sheets and bake 10 minutes or until crispy and golden.  Reserve.

Whisk together eggs and spices in a bowl.

In a skillet, saute onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook a minute more. Add tortilla strips and egg mixture, scrambling gently until eggs are set but not firm. Top with cheese and cook until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 4, 2016

40 Meatless Meals: Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Think of this soup as a great way to use up all the leftovers from taco night- corn tortillas (of course),  rice (Spanish or otherwise), grated cheese, even some pico de gallo, sour cream, or guacamole if you have it. Inspired by The Homesick Texan, but with the heat level turned down a bit, because even my crew (who eats South Indian food most nights) found the original too spicy. Also, I maximize tortilla strips (baked, instead of fried) for direct consumption and thicken the soup with cornmeal instead. The tortilla strips and tomato/chile blend can be prepared ahead of time (refrigerate the latter until needed). Serves 6 to 8.

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 dried pasilla chile, stem and seeds removed
6-8 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 t chipotle powder, optional
2 t ground cumin
2 t dried oregano
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 T cornmeal
1/2 t anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce
1 t paprika
2 T lime juice
salt to taste 
1 cup cooked rice, optional
cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, or guacamole for garnish (optional).

Cook soaked beans in 6 cups water in a slow cooker on low for 6 hours.

Place the chile in a heat proof bowl or jar and rehydrate in boiling water for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400. Brush tortillas with vegetable oil, then cut into strips. Arrange on cookie sheets lined with foil and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Reserve.

In a skillet, saute onion in oil until tender;  add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Put onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, chipotle powder, cumin, oregano, cloves, cilantro, and cornmeal in blender; blend until smooth, adding 1/2 cup bean liquid if necessary. Cook tomato mixture in skillet for five minutes, then stir into beans. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir in anchovy paste, paprika, lime juice, salt, and rice just prior to serving. Garnish as desired.

Friday, February 26, 2016

40 Meatless Meals: Carrot Lentil soup


Simple pantry ingredients thoughtfully flavored come together in this hearty soup inspired by Zuppe: Soups from the American Academy in Rome

1 1/2 cups dry lentils
2 lbs carrots, divided
1/4 cup vermouth or 2 T cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pinch paprika
1 t fennel seeds
red pepper flakes, optional
1 t lemon juice

Cook lentils in 6 cups water for 6 hours on low in slow cooker. Lentils should hold their shape but not be crunchy.

After lentils are cooked, prepare carrots. Peel them all, then cut half into large coins. Microwave cut carrots in vermouth and 1 cup water until tender; puree. Grate remaining carrots and reserve. 

Saute onion and grated carrot in olive oil in a skillet until onion is translucent. Add garlic, paprika, and fennel seeds and cook one minute more.

Stir pureed carrots and onion mixture into lentils. Add salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook on high for 15 minutes, then add lemon juice just prior to serving.

Friday, February 19, 2016

40 Meatless Meals: Provençal Seafood Stew (Weeknight Bourride)

 Reading through the second volume of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I was intrigued by her recipe for bourride, a Provencal fish soup enriched with aioli, with the bouillon and fish served separately. I have learned so much from Julia Child, but my inner frugal soul can't bring myself to use cups of vegetables only to flavor a broth or marinading a roast in a bottle of wine when a cup or two will suffice. So I took the ingredients of the bourride, increased and retained the vegetables, and served it as a stew. With the fish stock prepared ahead of time, this dish can come together quickly on a weeknight. Serves 6-8.

Seafood options are limited here in the wilderness, and the firm white fish Julia recommends are non existent. I opted to bolster the softer catfish with a bag of mixed seafood. 

An herby olive bread just crying out for aioli

It might have been a weeknight, but I pulled out the soup tureen.


3 T olive oil
2 cups each: thinly sliced onions, carrots, leeks
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
2 quarts fish or shrimp stock (can be part clam juice)
2 cups dry white vermouth
1/2 t each: fennel seed, thyme, and minced orange zest
1 T turmeric

3-4 lbs firm white fish, cubed or other seafood

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Sautee onions, carrots, and leeks until tender. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, fish stock, vermouth, and spices; bring to a simmer. Prepare aioli (recipe below).  Bring soup to a boil and add fish/seafood. When fish is cooked through, whisk in half of the aioli. Serve immediately with remaining aioli with bread.

3/4 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise
4 egg yolks
6 garlic cloves, minced
Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Friday, February 12, 2016

40 Meatless Meals: Cream of Fennel Soup


Fennel lovers, this soup is for you. Inspired by Twelve Months of Monastery Soup, this frugal and nourishing soup uses all parts of the vegetable. Serves 6.

2 T butter
1 leek (white and light green parts), chopped
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 lb parsnips or carrots, peeled and chopped
2 fennels: bulbs chopped, stalks finely chopped, greens finely chopped and reserved
1/4 cup flour
10 cups vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t fennel seeds
1/8 t red pepper flakes
Juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large Dutch oven or soup pot. Sautee leek, potatoes, parsnips, fennel bulbs and stalks. When vegetables are all dente, work in flour to form a roux and cook until golden brown. Whisk in vegetable stock, then add garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice and simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until no lumps of flour remain.  When vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, blend soup in batches until smooth, then return soup to a simmer. Stir in fennel greens and cook until they are wilted in the hot soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Soup books for a winter's day

We've had a mild fall and winter so far, but a warm bowl of soup has still been appreciated, especially on days when it was just warm enough to turn off the furnace. Here are a few soup books that I have found inspirational:

Twelve Months of Monastery Soups
by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila Latourette

As a young wife, I learned so much about frugality from this book, especially about making stock, so I now give this book as wedding shower present. Each month's chapter features seasonal produce. When I have a certain vegetable that I need to use up, I often find myself flipping to the index to locate one of the many recipes for each vegetable. The recipes are simple, and sometimes could benefit from some Maillard reaction and a heavier hand with seasoning. I often end up sauteing the base vegetables before adding the liquid. Almost all recipes are meatless. Also of interest is the Catholic origin of soup kitchens included in the introduction.

Zuppe by Mona Talbott

This compilation of recipes from the American Academy in Rome is organized by season. The recipes excel in drawing maximum flavor from easily available vegetables and pantry staples. I was initially daunted by the amount of time needed to prepare some of these recipes until I realized that I could start the legumes simmering in the slow cooker and add the remaining sauteed ingredients closer to meal time (a few of these will be shared on Lenten Fridays). Most recipes are meatless and freeze well.

Soup: A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka

I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative of this book, although I found the recipes were either well known or called for ingredients not available in my small town.
The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer

My well loved copy of The Joy of Cooking (1981 edition) was a gift from Margaret Mary. While some of the soup recipes are of the "dump three cans together" variety, the book also includes soup recipes that have either fallen out of the collective memory or may not be popular in your region, such as Manhattan Clam Chowder.

All books were either purchased myself or checked out from the public library.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

40 Meatless Meals: Pumpkin Chestnut Soup

A few years ago, my extended family added a soup course to Thanksgiving dinner; they are often pumpkin based. Admittedly, I tested this soup (whose flavor profile was inspired by Twelve Months of Monastery Soups) in the fall, when chestnuts were plentiful. But after going through all the effort of roasting and shelling chestnuts, I think you can get a close approximation with almonds or almond butter. This creamy soup pairs well with crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Serves 4-6.

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 16 oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
10 cups stock
1 lb chestnuts, roasted and shelled OR 1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted OR 1/2 cup almond butter
1 t each: sage, parsley
1 t cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven. Sauté onions, potatoes, and carrots until onions are tender. Add garlic and pumpkin and continue to cook for one minute before adding stock. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, then add chestnuts or their substitute, herbs, and vinegar. Purée in batches until completely smooth. Reheat gently and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Today at the thrift store

A few weeks worth of finds here...

Week 1, for $3.57 total
Lady's Lands End down vest, like new ($1)
Children's shirts (8 at .25)
1 magazine and 1 book (2@.10)

Our parish thrift store doesn't really display clothes by seasons - aside from very explicitly Halloween or Christmas apparel, all seasons are available at any time of year. I am starting to look ahead to summer wardrobes for my boys. My younger son is in good shape with a lot of hand me downs; most of the shirts pictured are for his older brother. I am finding it increasingly hard to find thrift store bottoms for the latter (size 5 or 6) but hopefully one day soon my luck will change. I was really excited about the vest- I have been wanting one for a while, and it has been just the thing to keep me warm in our Victorian house.

 Week 2, for .79 total
Children's flannel and sweater (2@.25)
10 vintage all in one note cards (.10)
1 magazine (.10)

Still no luck in the separates department, but a much needed flannel shirt for "Cowboy Day" during Catholic Schools Week.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Easy, economical valentines

I am so grateful that our parish school held the Valentine's Day parties before Lent, but that meant we spent last week making these cards. Inspired by a recent magazine feature, my four year old son and I made these valentines for his classmates (and about half of our small town). 

We split the project over a couple afternoons. On the first day, I drew designs onto unlined 3x5 index cards with a white crayon and he used last year's school paintbox to watercolor over the design. After they had a chance to dry overnight, I helped him with the text, and we taped on an Andes mint (possibly the least expensive individually wrapped chocolate). The whole project was basically sunk cost, aside from the candy. And since index cards come in such large packs, we were able to make cards not only for his classmates, but our neighbors and other people who feature largely in his life... like the butcher.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

St Agnes Day cake

Don't wait until Easter to break out your lamb pan! This white cake was so simple my husband (whose cooking expertise starts and ends with pancakes) whipped it up after work. The lamb shape pays tribute to the lambs blessed by the Pope whose wool will become bishop's palliums.

Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord int he midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs. In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck. You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned. His right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and religion; Agnes preserved her virginity and gained a martyr’s crown. (On Virgins, Saint Ambrose)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Today at the thrift store

"If possible, do not be concerned about what you are given to wear at the change of seasons, whether each of you gets back what he had put away or something different, providing no one is denied what he needs." (Rule of St Augustine, Chapter V, Para 1

Our local thrift store is a wonderful example of this paragraph in the Rule of St Augustine. It is operated by our parish, and provides about 10 percent of the operating expenses for our parish school- no small feat given that it is located in one of the poorest counties in the state. Garage sales are not very typical in our area so I am glad to have our parish thrift store for clothing my growing family. Children's clothes in particular are priced low to help families. 

At the start of winter, I calculated that I spent $6 on my older son's winter wardrobe, including parka and snow pants. And as I gathered up the outgrown summer clothes, he asked me if I was taking them back to the parish thrift store for another boy to use (yes- after his younger brother has a turn with them). 

"She is not concerned for her household when it snows—
all her charges are doubly clothed." (Proverbs 31, 21)

From bringing up a baby on a grad school stipend in Boston to living on one income in a rural town, over the last several years I have had the opportunity to hone my thrift store shopping skills. Each week, I'll share what I have been able to find for my family at the parish thrift store to encourage frugality. 

Today, for $2.94, I bought
-a ladies J Crew dress ($2)
-a toddler polo (.25)
-child's Wrangler jeans (.25)
-current issues of Cooking Light and Food & Wine magazines (2@.10)

Breakfast of Champions

Weekends are awesome when you have a Pious Man to make waffles or pancakes. 

But then the week starts up. Cold, dark mornings. People who need breakfast so they can get started with their day. What's a Church Lady to do?

Last winter, I started making a big pot of steel cut oatmeal and reheating individual bowls over the course of the week. But between heating water for the French press, warming up four bowls of oatmeal, and the baby's milk, this simple breakfast was taking me almost twenty minutes to get on the table.

capitalized on my family's fondness for steel cut oatmeal and scaled down my mother in law's recipe for overnight slow cooker oatmeal to make just enough for one meal. The following quantity works great for my family of four, but using a ratio of one part steel cut oats to four cups liquid, you can adjust the quantity to your needs. I find that the slow cooked dried fruit adds sufficient sweetness. Cooking in a stoneware bowl inside the insert makes clean-up a snap and eliminates burning. Now I pop this into my slow cooker before bed and wake up to a hot breakfast every morning.

Overnight Oatmeal for Four
Oil or cooking spray
2/3 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
1 cup coconut or evaporated milk (regular milk can curdle)
1/3 cup dried fruit in bite size pieces (flavor ideas below)
1 tsp vanilla or extract of choice
Pinch each of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Grease bowl. Combine ingredients in bowl. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Favorite flavor combinations
Dried cherries plus almond extract
Dried apricots plus grated fresh ginger
Dried blueberries plus lemon zest or extract
Dried cranberries plus orange zest or extract
Dried pineapple or mango plus coconut extract
Grated fresh apple plus raisins
Plain, served with sliced fresh banana and peanut butter

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Baptism in the Jordan

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn 1, 29)

Image source: Simon Bening, Beatty Rosary, c.1530

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Twelfth Day of Christmas: Building our own Epiphany traditions

Epiphany has long held a special place in my heart. A dear Belgian family friend would hold a glorious Epiphany tea every January 6.   In my married life, especially as my children get older, Epiphany has become the Christmas of our domestic church.

We are fortunate to have so much of our extended family living within a day's drive and celebrate from Christmas Eve thru New Year's Day with them. Although Epiphany Sunday was celebrated on January 3, my husband and I opted to hold our celebration on the 6th because we got back in town late Saturday night and were exhausted/not prepared/waiting for packages to arrive. 

Last night (January 5, the vigil), we held a procession through the house with censer, candles, and bells, chalking the exterior doors 20+C+M+B+16 on our route.

Most of the Christmas decorations save the Nativity set and the tree have gradually been making their way back to the attic. I found this great image of the Adoration of the Magi in an old calendar and taped on our front door (we do have a storm door, so it's holding up well).

Tonight's celebration will start with Lessons and Carols, assisted by a set of discarded Worship hymnals. I developed this order of service based on this template. Then we will exchange gifts within our nuclear family- three for each of something you want, something you need, and something to read.

I find inspiration for my Epiphany menu in that the Magi came from the East. Some years, we have ordered Chinese take-out, but this year I am trying out slow cooker biryani- an Indian rice pilaf. Friends from the neighborhood will be joining us. I'll round out the meal with a winter vegetable slaw, and cheater's Buche de Noel- a chocolate rehrucken cake with a plastic baby Jesus hidden inside, plus chai and any leftover Christmas chocolates.

Happy Epiphany, from our family to yours!

Image source: Juan Reixach, Adoration of the Magi, 1450-90
Image source: Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Twelfth Night, c.1619