Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blisfully Domestic Give-away

I'm putting my name in the drawing to win some of Sylvia's prizes. She's giving them away in honor of her new writing position and the reopening of Blissfully Domestic.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Riz et Pois - Haitian Rice and Beans

We ate this almost every day in Haiti. It's a pretty kid-friendly fasting dish (as opposed to, say, the overly spicy Kung Pao I made last week).

1 c. dried red kidney beans (a little more if you'd rather a higher bean ratio)
1 & 1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
3 TBS margarine
6-8 c. water
2 c. uncooked rice

Night before - rinse beans then soak in water.

If you skip this step, just boil the beans a little longer the next day.

Next Day
1. Add beans, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and 6 c. water to large pot.

2. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer partially covered for about an hour, or until the beans are tender but intact.

3. Drain in a sieve, reserving liquid (don't drain it down the sink!)

4. Melt 2 TBS margerine in heavy skillet. Drop beans in and stir until beans are heated through. Watch carefully for any sign of burning. Put the beans aside.

5. Measure the reserved cooking liquid and add enough water to = 4 cups.

6. Melt 1 TBS margarine over moderate heat, then add rice. Stir it around until it starts to get a little golden. Add liquid, bring to boil, then turn to low, & cover for 25 minutes.

7. Once all liquid is absorbed, stir in beans. Done.

8. Want a little more flavor? Top the Riz et Pois with a little Haitian Creole Sauce: brown a bit of chopped onion and garlic in some margerine; add tomato sauce or tomatoes and water, salt & pepper, and either watercress or cilantro for flavor.

I like this dish, not only because it reminds me of Haiti, but also because it is very inexpensive for fasting.

Fasting: From the Really Ancient Orthodox Mothers Digest Archives

I decided to go back to my saved copies of the original email group that inspired this blog. In August 2004, Jennifer Hock offered these great bits about fasting that she had learned from a year of reading about the topic:

1. "Fasting is not a mere matter of diet. It is moral as well as physical. True fasting is to be converted in heart and will: it is to return to God,to come home like the Prodigal to our Father's house." - Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia

2. In the words of St. John Chrysostom, it means "abstinence not only from food but from sins." The fast he insists "should be kept not by the mouth alone but also by the eye, the ear, the feet, the hands and all the members of the body. The eyes must abstain from impure sights, the ear from malicious gossip, the hands from acts of injustice."

3. "It is useless to fast from food, and yet to indulge in cruel criticism and slander - You do not eat meat but you devour your brother." - St. Basil

4. "As we fast from food, let us abstain also from every passion... Let us observe a fast acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. To control the tongue, to forbear from anger,To abstain from lust, slander, falsehood and perjury. If we renounce these things, then is our fasting true and acceptable to God.Let us keep the Fast not only by refraining from food,But by becoming strangers to all the bodily passions.
- The Triodion

5. Bishop Kallistos also goes on to say that fasting should always include three things: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. If you do not include the other two with fasting then you have "become pharisaical or even demonic". Fasting without prayer and almsgiving "leads not to contrition and joyfulness, but to pride."

6. In the Gospels, the devil is cast out, not by fasting alone, but by "prayer and fasting".

Monday, August 25, 2008

Making Memorial Wheat

2 cups of wheat berries (the "soft" ones cook faster; can usually find these from health food store)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. white raisins
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin

1 cup finely ground zweiback toasts (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
dragees or more nuts/ raisens for decoration

Day 1. Cover and soak berries overnight.

Day 2. Drain & rinse. Cover with water in large pot and bring to boil. REduce heat and simmer uncovered 1-3 hours, until puffy and tender (keep covered with water and stir occasionally).

Drain in a colander; rinse and drain again. Spread the wheat our on a smooth dish towel to dry overnight.

Day 3. Light a candle and pray. Mix all ingredients. Put combined mixture on a tray that has been covered with wax paper.

Heap in a mound toward center and press to make smooth.

To top it: Either just sift on 1 cup of powdered sugar, or first sprinkly with 1 cup of finely ground zweiback toast and then with sugar. (the zweiback keep the sugar from absorbing and disappearing into the wheat).

Make a cross in the center with koufeta, dragees, nuts, raisens, whatever.

May Their Memory Be Eternal!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Digging Back Up an "Old" Idea

Anne Voskamp and family are busy memorizing scripture, and one of the articles she links to for support of this practice this one about how memorizing makes good writers.

In the 8th grade, we kept a poetry journal of lines we had memorized and recited for the teacher. I was running my fingers over the faded blue journal, full of bubbly-rounded pre-teen penmanship, just yesterday. (I keep these kind of old things in my classroom). Wondering if such an activity would benefit my sophomore English students, I dismissed the idea.

But now! Another educator supports my suspicion...

Back to School

It has been a hectic week! The high school where I teach is renovating, so I started school by moving every folder, chair, script, computer, filing cabinet, etc. out to a portable building in the parking lot. I should rephrase: my very helpful students did all that moving.

My afternoons intentionally slow down, offering relaxation such as rolling the ball around on the floor with the kids or saying "ahhh" 100 times in response to either of the kids peaking around the couch with a "boo!"

Crock pot and hubby have enabled this nice downtime before supper!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Thank you, all who prayed for Jodie Backus, who was in ICU after a Lake accident with his family. It looks like he'll make a full recovery.

And MANY YEARS on this blessed feast day to the new baby boy born this morning of our Priest and Presvetera: Peter Basil!

Please pray for these families as they adjust to new life at home.

Blessed Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos to you and yours!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gifts from Grandparents

I took this picture when we were visiting my grandparents a week ago. It made me think about the spiritual heritage they bestowed on us.

I am thankful for their examples...

from Pawpaw - humble hard work
from Nana - fierce devotion despite all odds
from Memaw - loving advice to contain a wild spirit
from Popey - a co-creator with God, painting the world in oil on canvas

Thank you, God, for blessing my life with them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scrambled Looks Can Be Deceiving

In Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf was dressed like Granny...

In the Gospels, Jesus warns us that wolves can come in sheep's clothing...

In Snow White, the wicked witch appeared as an elderly lady selling apples...

In Ratatouille, everyone thought the boy was cooking but it was really a rat...

In my kitchen this morning...

... the wolf in egg's clothing was TOFU.

I can't say I'd recommend them piled on a plate. A better option would be wrapping the "scramble" in a tortilla with some refried beans and salsa.

It was worth a try. And if you want to duplicate the deception, here you go:


1/2 of a small onion, finely diced
a sprinkle (2 TBS?)of chopped bell pepper I had in the freezer
3 cloves of garlic, squished through the garlic press
1 TBS margarine
dash of salt
dash of pepper
1/2 a block of semi-firm tofu, drained & patted dry

1. Saute the onion & bell pepper in the margarine until soft. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds.

2. Crumble the tofu into the pan and season with salt, pepper, and a few sprinkles of turmeric to make it yellow.

3. Let it saute a bit and pull if off the stove.

4. Decide what to do with your yellow scramble.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Gifts from God

Lovely summer fasting with a tomato sandwich

Crazy hot pink flowers that "came up by themselves" in my mom's garden

Happy people quilt

Oh Heavenly King, the Comfortor, the Spirit of Truth
Who are everywhere and fillest all things

Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life,

Come abide in us

Cleansing us from every impurity
and save our souls, oh Good One.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Commitment to Loveliness

I've always read Emma's lovely ideas and wanted to join, but never thought I'd actually be able to do 5 things. So here's my 1 thing:

Take cup of tea, sit down and browse through Little Builder's pre-school drawings, looking for one or two to mat and frame. My mom recently did this with some of the grandchildren's drawings with lovely results:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Summer Poetry

Some like it hot

the rest of us not

so much.