Saturday, May 31, 2008

Summer Produce

A sample of our selection from the Farmer's Market this morning.



I was so glad our little town organized the market for this summer. Especially after seeing Mimi's produce from her CSA. I'll post a Menu Plan for the week tomorrow.

Last night, I had extra yellow summer squash that I needed to use before going to the market this morning. So I made my birthday cupcakes!



Lemon Squash Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients
3 c. flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c. softened butter (I used non-dairy marg. so little girl could eat too)
1 3/4 c. brown sugar
3 lemons - grate all for zest and squeeze to get about 1/3 cup of juice
1 1/2 c. grated squash

1. Cream butter, sugar, and zest

2. Beat in eggs. Slowly beat in dry ingredients, alternating with juice.

3. Stir in squash. Pour into greased pans of choice.

4. Bake at 350 until done (cupcakes took 15-20 minutes).

5. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat until smooth:
4 oz. cream cheese
3 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of powdered sugar

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things We're Thankful for Today

Every good gift comes from above...

44. random shouts of whoo hoo! darting through the High School as students finish their last final exam.

45. spending time with my Little Builder on the floor, finishing a Lincoln Log chicken coop.


46. Black-eyed Susans standing tall along the side of the road and in the ditch near our driveway.

47. Our 4x8 square foot garden, which used to be 16 blocks of 2 inch tall seedlings!

Thank you, Mamma & Daddy, for keeping it watered while I was away!

48. cherry tomatoes cascading down the vine


49. Surprise plums, no bigger than cherries, tart and sweet...Purple-red jems hanging on trees that I thought were just ornamental...Little Builder savoring the insides and then spitting out the pit, just like they do in his Cherry Festival book.

50. After 4 years of attempted gardening - Ah ha! A real, actual zucinni!
On the vine...

51. ...on our plates!


Here's the recipe:

Ingredients
2 little zucninni
bit of butter
shakes of parmesan to your taste
salt (I'll add pepper too next time, and I'm considering oregeno...)

Steps
1. Have the almost-5-year-old use a plastic knife to cut the zuccini while you feed the toddler an afternoon snack. This is the only way to achieve the varying shapes so distinct to this dish.

2. Put zuccini bits in a paper towel in a colander & sprinkle with the salt. Let them sit there while you play outside. This helps drain some of the liquid and any unwanted bitterness (works on eggplant too).

3. Heat bit of butter in a small pan, throw in zuccini, and saute until it is just starting to go golden-caramelly.

4. Take off the heat and sprinkle with parmesan. Toss a few times in the pan to melt the cheese onto the zuccnini.

5. Laugh at the books that tell you that getting a child to grow veggies in the garden and then help prepare them will make that child more likely to eat them.

6. Force child to eat two bites, then secretly be glad you get to eat his too, because you really are about to finish all of yours and want just a little more...

...which brings you to reflecting on the things you're thankful for:

52. Relishing every inch of that boy, who yesterday said he was too big to be kissed, but tonight is curled up in my lap with his head on my shoulder, falling asleep in the rocking chair.

53. The ache that come with that fervent prayer in the dark, Father, please bless this child, because the ache is a sign of deep love in my life.

54. Having you to share with me every good thing given from above!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gifts from God

While at the tournament, I went into a Walgreens to pick up a disposable camera. As I walked past the baby aisle, I teared up. In Walgreens. Over sippie cups! I usually enjoy debate tournaments, but this one was very hard emotionally, being away from my family. Better get to giving thanks, to get my spirits back on the right track.

#41 - After a tough weekend away from family, finally getting to wrap my arms around my kiddos and press them tightly to me.

#42 - First fruits of the garden! I'll show pics tomorrow. Don't know if the bees finally found the veggie patch, or if my cue-tip pollination did the trick, but two zuccinis are definitly growing past those yellow blossoms!

#43 - After three frustrating years of gardens-going-nowhere, getting the advice to move to a sunnier spot.

I feel a song coming... I get knocked down, but I get up again, ain't nothing gonna keep me down.
video
There was a funny version of this song on Youtube with a British Air Squadron lip-synching, but I couldn't get that one to load.

Anyway, it makes me laugh, in that I'd-rather-laugh-than-cry kind of way. The same way the Irish Drinking Songs mix cd did in those zombie no-sleep first months after our daughter was born. Picture the living room: baby in my arms crying endlessly, detested breast-feeding nipple shield dropped behind the couch cushion somewhere, preschooler going crazy in the corner, and my husband and I laughing to quit crying, as we listen to Flogging Molly singing...

It's been the worst day since yesterday...

I know St. Paul talks about getting knocked down and not quitting, and the proverbs discuss the value of a smiling face, but I really can't attach a verse of scripture to my secular silliness tonight(smile).

Much love to all and glad to be back!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'll be gone for a week...

Heading to Wisconsin with some of my high school students to compete in the Debate National Championships.

Take care and God bless,

Monica

Sunday, May 18, 2008

When Fun Things Arrive in the Mail



Well, mopping wasn't transcendant, but it wasn't too bad, either. (smile)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pascha Basket Cover Gift

With gratitude, I share. Please send or post pictures of your covers and I'll add those pics or links to this post.

Four years ago our sponsors commissioned a dear sister at Holy Apostles to make this basket cover for us as a Pascha gift.


The oil is represents the Holy Spirit and reminds us of our Chrismation.



The grapes on the cross and the wheat to the right are for the Body and Blood of Christ, as shown in the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist.


Every Pashca (Easter) we fill our basket with wonderful things, cover it with our beautiful cover, and bring it to church.

We hang it up near our Prayer Corner for the weeks after Pascha.

Christ is Risen, and he has bestowed on us

the gift of

LIFE!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chicken-n-Dumplings

If you ask my sister and me what our favorite childhood foods were, we would without hesitation hand over one dish from each grandmother:



From Nana - creamed potatoes, just dug from the garden
From Memaw - chicken-n-dumplings

Here's our family recipe for the latter. We usually want to save all belly space for dumplings and don't even bother with side dishes. Once I tried to add other spices for flavor and vegetables for color, like Martha Stewart or Emeril Lagasse might do. My mom warned me they wouldn't taste *right*. If you're looking for something colorful or fancy, don't make this meal.

We almost always double the recipe, but here are the original amounts for a pot that should feed 4-6:

Ingredients
1 young whole chicken, giblets and such removed
salt and pepper to taste
optional dash of poultry seasoning
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 TBS shortening
milk
butter - room temperature

If you divide the task into 2 days, it will be easier and you'll be able to defat the broth after it congeals overnight.

Day 1
Put the chicken in a large pot of water with salt and pepper (and poultry seasoning) and put it on the stove. You're goal is to end up with 4-6 cups of broth, but for now, just cover that chicken with water. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for a few hours. Or do it in the crockpot. Put the pot, chicken, broth and all into the fridge.

Day 2
1. Remove chicken & broth from fridge and scrape off top layer of fat. At this point you could use this fat in place of shortening if you wanted to.

2. Pull the chicken out of the pot, letting the broth drip back into the pot before placing the chicken on a large plate. Just leave it sitting there while you do the dumplings. Put the broth on the stove to simmer.

3. Make the Dumplings by mixing the flour, salt, and baking powder and then cutting in the shortening. Add water and mix by hand only as much as you have to in order to make it come together.

4. Role out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Spread it with butter. Cut into little rectangles.

5. Drop dumplings into the pot of boiling broth. I sometimes have to make a little space in the middle to keep dropping them, depending on how much room is there. You should have used a pretty large pot. Strongly simmer them (not just a few bubbles floating to the surface every few seconds... no, a simmer that is just short of a boil) for 20 minutes.

6. Debone the chicken into bite sized pieces while the dumplings simmer. We only use half of it for the dumplings and save the other half to make chicken enchiladas.

7. Add milk, as much as you prefer, salt and pepper to taste.

8. Add chicken. Simmer 5-10 minutes more. If you're patient and want them to thicken a little, turn the heat off and let them sit for 15 minutes.

9. Thank God for the chance to have a new generation join in dumpling making and enjoy!

By the way, I still call my mom in the middle of making these to ask her a detail I can't remember, so ask away if you need clarification!

What favorite meals do you make those first few weeks after Pascha?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Reflections on the Feast of Communion

I have no wedding garment.

As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.

What can I say, for such a gift?

A prayer: I thank Thee, O Lord my God, for Thou hast not rejected me, a sinner, but hast made me worthy to be a partaker of Thy Holy Things. I thank Thee, for Thou hast permitted me, the unworthy, to commune of Thy most pure and Heavenly, Gifts. But, O Master Who lovest mankind, Who for our sakes didst die and rise again, and gavest us these awesome and life-creating Mysteries for the good and sanctification of our souls and bodies;
let them be for...

the healing of our soul and body

the repelling of every adversary

the illumining of the eyes of my heart

the peace of my spiritual power

a faith unashamed

a love unfeigned

the fulfilling of wisdom

the observing of Thy commandments

the receiving of Thy divine grace

the attaining of Thy Kingdom

Preserved by them in Thy holiness, may I always remember Thy grace and live not for myself alone, but for Thee, our Master and Benefactor. May I pass from this life in the hope of eternal life, and so attain to the everlasting rest, where the voice of those who feast is unceasing, and the gladness of those who behold the goodness of Thy countenance is unending. For Thou art the true desire and the ineffable joy of those who love Thee, O Christ our God, and all creation sings Thy praise forever. Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fast Scratch Brownies



We add semi-sweet and peanut butter chips to them, just to make sure they will be good. If you're going to the trouble of making brownies, why not make excellent brownies ...



These pages aren't embarassed at being so dirty. The messy pages know they have the honor of sheltering the best beloved recipes. And that my son and I cannot handle cocoa powder without dusting everything in site. If you smear butter or oil on the page first, that really helps the cocoa powder stick.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Lady's Meme

from Michelle Melania

Outside My Window … it is dark.

***

I am thinking … about how I'd like to splurge on some nice-smelling floor cleaner, like lavender or basil and mop the floor. The tiles need cleaning so badly, and I so badly need some little extra encouragement to do it.

***

I am thankful for … two little sets of "helping" hands, cooking dinner with me.

***

From the kitchen … chicken and dumplings

***

I am wearing … black, grey, lavender skirt with black shirt

***

I am creating … financial statements for my students on the Speech & Debate Team. How mundane.

***

I am going … to see a play with my mother and sister tomorrow night.

***

I am reading … at school, 12 scripts at once to find good performance pieces... Father Seraphim Rose at night in bed.

***

I am hoping … to cultivate an appreciation for cleaning.

***

I am hearing … the dishwasher's swishy song.

***

Around the house …my little ones are sleeping, hubbie is studying, and my bed is whispering to me gentle reminders of the time.

***

One of my favorite things … holding either of my children, snuggled on the couch, in the morning when they just wake up and aren't ready to go wild yet.
***

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: attend a play, attend a "Women's Night Out" party, see my neice's dance recital...
***



Here is a picture thought I am sharing … this seems like yesterday, but many days have slipped away between then and now. Lord, help me be thankful each day and not wish them away.

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. If you complete this meme on your blog, please leave a comment. And please, can anyone tell me what "meme" stands for anyway?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Women with Icons

What a great place to pause a while and be encouraged.

With all these witnesses to faith around us like a cloud, we must throw off every encumbrance...our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom faith depends from start to finish...
from The epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 11

Gifts List #35: Having saints to show us what Christ living in a person looks like, to encourage us to live that life too, and to surround us and pray for us on our journey.

Playing Priest

My son's Godmother once discovered her kids, one up on a chair higher than the others, chanting. In place of "Wisdom, Let us attend", they were entoning...

Wisdom, Let us Pretend!


For some reason, the bathtub beckons my little boy to this priestly play.

In the past he has prepared commuion:


Tonight he was chanting something about holy water. Displeased with the results he was getting annointing his sister using the baby shampoo bottle, he found a better way to deliver the "holy water"...




The faucet gets a blessing.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Empty Tomb Cookies

For Emily and anyone who would like a Paschal Project for Saturday, this recipe is from my baby's beloved Godmother Elizabeth.

Ingredients:
1 cup of pecans
1 TBS vinegar
3 egg whites
3/4 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
zip lock bag
wooden spoon
tape
Bible

Preheat oven to 300

The Project:

1. Put pecans in ziplock bag and have kids beat them with the wooden spoon until they are broken into bits. (Honestly, this never works for me and I usually purchase them already in bits! If any of you know the secret to making this work, let me know!) Read John 19:1-3

2. Smell the vinegar and have the kids put it in a bowl. Read John 19:1-3

3. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life and Jesus gives us life. Read John 10:10-11

4. Sprinkle salt into the kids hands and let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. This represents the salty tears Jesus' followers shed and the bitterness of our sins. Read Luke 23:27

5. Add sugar, which is the sweetest part; Jesus died becuase he loved us. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16

6. Beat with a mixer on high for 12-15 minutes. The color turns white, which represents our purity because of Jesus, who cleaned us. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3

7. Fold in nuts and drop by teaspoonful onto wax paper on a cookie sheet. This represents the tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60

8. Put in oven and give each child a piece of tape to seal the oven door. Read Matthew 27:65-66 TURN OVEN OFF!

9. Leave cookies overnight; Jesus' followers were sad he was in the tomb. Read John 16:20,22

10. In the Morning, take off tape, give all a cookie, notice the cracked surface and take a bite. They should be hollow like Jesus' tomb on Pascha Morning. Read Matthew 28:1-9

Warning
Don't triple the recipe or all those cookies will not cook. In the morning they'll be soft and definitely not hollow!

Smile
Little Builder was really getting into all of the "this represents..." bit and started making little points in the cookies as we put them on the sheet. These represented the spears the guards held who guarded the tomb. Of course.


Gifts List
#31: shared ideas from other mothers

#32: baby's cheek resting on my chest as I rock kiddos before bed

#33: honeysuckle vines, so little ones can learn how to suck the honey out

#34: this book about Father Seraphim Rose, which I had put off reading for so long, but am being blessed by

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Meat Meals from Pascha Leftovers

Sylvia asked for more Leftover ideas, and here were ours for this week:

Sunday - talk about slaughtering the fatted calf - the grillers at our Agape vespers picnic grilled an entire whole pig! ... in addition to kefta, lamb kabobs, sausages, and burgers. Since my husband is in school and no other college students were there, we were generously sent home with marvelous amounts of meat.

Monday - cheese burgers and potato salad made with Pascha eggs

Tuesday - pork simmered in barbecue sauce, served on buns

Wednesday - pork Mexican Chowder

Thursday - cold grilled diced sausage, egg, cheese and lettuce salad

I'm putting the ham bone in a pot with some split peas tonight. The rest of the pork went in the freezer: one bag for stir fried lo-mein one meal and one for gumbo next week (with left-over sausage).

The absolute very best Pascha leftovers: the hymns still humming in my mind!