Tuesday, December 30, 2008

God's Midwestern Gifts: or How to Prep a Southerner for the Snow

First, have Nana put on the gloves.

Next, the jacket.

Kindling the spirit of the film The Christmas Story, wrestle your toddler onto the floor and bundle her into a snow suit, hoping the whole time she'll be able to move once you stand her up.

Add snow.

Put that boy to work.

While Mamma sits inside enjoying the view and a good new book.

Thank you, Lord God, for Grandparents.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Gift We Gave the Most

Mimi first introduced this to me. It took forever to try it, but soon became a favorite: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day - read the whole article from MotherEarthNews.com, which summarizes the book and gives recipes.

We made up at least a dozen buckets of this dough and delivered it to our friends and family as gifts. As a little girl, my parents used to load us into the car, along with a dozen packets of homemade Bean-Pot Soup Starter Bundles or - my favorite - my dad's peanutbutter fudge. It is a blessing to give.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gifts from God - December Liturgical Life

St. Nicholas' Feast Day Morning in our Parish Narthex

St. Herman's Feast Day

The Blessed Nativity and the 10 years of marriage God has given us to enjoy it together.

The Gift of Salvation

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts From God - December Country Living

I gaze out of the window while doing dishes, God's creation carefully cultivated by my grandparents.

Droopy from the rain, the mums still drum up some color near the door.

Nandina does it's assigned seasonal duty, this season with red berries. Thank you, God for such a versatile bush.

The camellia, that I've watched pointlessly for 4 years, blooms for the first time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Thank You for Jennifer's Giveaway

I was blessed to win Jennifer's Giveaway and almost used up all the cards and mailed them off before I took a picture!

Thank you for the perfect gift that fit my need at this moment exactly!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

St. Herman's Feastday

Well, we were going to have a little gatthering of 14 people in honor of St. Herman's Feast Day on Dec. 13.

We were going to read a book about St. Herman, then chant his troparian and process around the house with his icon and candles.

We were going to feast on Alaskan Salmon Patties, Pea Pie, and Sweet Pretzels (which St. Herman made for the orhpans on his Island).

But many of our group became sick, and one by one called, the phone ringing with news that none of the kids could make it. So we put our lonesome, crestfallen, sick kid to bed and ate salmon patties.

We had gotten the idea from reading Father Seraphim Rose's Life and Works. The brothers at St. Herman's Hermatige celebrate with this little feast each year, in honor of their patron saint.

We wanted to set before us a model of a life dedicated to God - and an "American" saint at that! We also wanted to remember to love the poor and needy around us like St. Herman did.

The night ended up fine, the sick ones ended up mended, and we look forward to celebrating next year. That night, as I lay in bed comforting my sick, wimpering little one, I thought: well, I am living out the concept of caring for the needy children more this way than if I would have been partying!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tofu Spanikopita Recipe

This is adapted from one of my favorite fasting cookbooks: The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. Some of my modifications were based on family preferences, some on price, and some on what I could buy in our local store. This might be the only Spanikopita recipe you'll ever see that used Puff Pastry dough instead of Phyllo, but that's all I could find.

Obviously, I whole-heartedly encourage you to make it better by baking it to fit your life.

Gather up these Ingredients:
2 TBS olive oil
4 cups of thinly sliced onions
2 TBS chopped garlic
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregeno
salt & pepper
1 box of frozen chopped spinach
1 bunch of turnip greens
1 lb. of extra firm tofu, rinsed & squeezed
2 TBS lemon juice
box of puff pastry

Really, like so many fasting dishes, the onions probably make this dish. The first step is so close to M'Jeddrah.

The Steps
1. Simmer oil, onions, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and 2 tsp of salt for 25-30 minutes

2. Microwave the spinach according to package directions. Don't overcook it.

3. Those pile of greens. So pretty, but what to do?

Get your kids to tear the greens into little pieces after you rip them off the stalks. Drop them into a bowl of cool water to rinse the dirt off.

4. Transfer the greens to a large pot and steam over high heat, covered, for 5 minutes or so. Drain them in a colander then chop them up smaller. Now that I think about it, I don't think you have to tear them into little pieces before you steam them - just destalk them. I just needed an occupation for the toddler, so I added that step. Preheat the oven to 350.

5. Mash the tofu in another bowl. Add the greens, spinach, lemon juice, onion mixture, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well.

At this point, you could just eat this like a salad, honestly. In fact, I think I saved some away for my lunch the next day.

6. Lay one of the puff pastry layers on a greased pan. Brush it with olive oil. Spread the filling over the layer. Top it with the 2nd layer and brush with more olive oil.

7. Bake at 350 for 70 minutes or until nice and golden.

8. Invite some girls over who will appreciate this meal, because the husband and kids probably won't. Yeh, I know, they helped tear the leaves and everything. Still didn't like to eat it.

9. Give thanks to God for such lovely provisions.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Feeling Thankful... Gifts from God

Abundant and yummy foods, like Tofu Spanikopita, that make the fast more bearable.

Pudgy little fingers enjoying a blueberry muffin.

Cousins, leaves, autumn.

Playful eye peeping through.

St. Nicholas festivities start tomorrow night with Vespers and Artoklasia.