Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prayer Request & Gifts from God

I'm taking 26 students to the Debate Championships this weekend. May all stay safe, healthy, and make wise choices.

* What a beautiful gift from God we all receive today, The Annuciation:
Today is the beginning of our salvation!

* Dinner with our Priest and Presvytera, a blessed time of fellowship.

* An appreciative email from a parent of a debater who has not always agreed with me in the past. A huge blessing to my teacher soul.

* A husband who actively and intentionally works at "dwelling with your wife in understanding"

* Wide, chubby-cheeked smiles to go along with the new words our toddler is offering.

* Returning health.

Thank you, God, for every good thing you have given us this past day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1 Bag of Beans, 3 Meals

Thankful for the Lenten Season. I've noticed many of you have slowed down or postponed blogging until after Lent, and I hope you don't mind if I join the technology slow-down during this Blessed Season of Fasting.

One handy offering for you: how to stretch a $.97 bag of beans.
I started with a one-pound bag of navy beans.

First Meal - Smothered Beans-N-Greens to Pre-sanctified Liturgy
Second Meal - Not-Tunafish Salad
Third meal - pulled out of the freezer for a quick supper - Bean Soup

These meals worked for us - a family of 4 - but I think you could double them for larger crews. Enjoy, and may your spiritual journey be blessed!

Smothered Beans-N-Greens
Adapted from one of my favorite's: The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley.

1 bag of beans (the original recipe called for 1/4 cup of pintos and 1 cup of Great Northern - but we're cooking extras on purpose)
3 TBS oil
4-6 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, diced fine
1 tsp dried oregeno
1&1/2 tsp salt
1 bag of frozen chopped spinach
1 can of chopped tomatoes
black pepper

The Steps:
1. The night before you want to make Smothered Beans, put your rinsed and sorted beans in the crockpot with plenty of water. Leave on low while you sleep. In the morning, turn them off and put in the fridge. You could also start this the morning-of if you're not super busy.

Day of - heat oven to 275.

2. Warm oil in a heavy pan, and add onions, oregano, and 1 tsp of salt.
3. Saute 5 minutes, until onions are soft. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or however long it takes to make them caramelly. Remove lid and stir every so often. Add garlic when the onions have another minute or two left.

4. While waiting on the onions, pull out the beans and drain them - SAVING the COOKING LIQUID!
*** Measure 1&1/2 cups of cooking liquid to use in this recipe.***
*** Rinse the drained beans, adding the run-off to the left-over cooking liquid. This will become your soup for meal #3.***

5. Thaw spinach in a microwave safe bowl, then dump2/3 of onions on it. Stir.

6. For later meals, pour the other 1/3 of onions into the left-over cooking liquid. Also, drain the tomato liquid into this future soup.Give it a whir with the hand-blender if your kids will not like the visible onion.

7. Assemble: Place half the greens mixture in a casserole. Add 3 cups of rinsed beans. Spread the remaining greens over the beans and top with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and some black pepper. Without disturbing the layers, gently pour enough of your 1&1/2 cups of bean liquid down the side of the casserole to barely cover the tomatoes.

8. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Add a little more water if you think it is drying out. Replace cover and braise for 20-30 more minutes. *Since I brought this to church for potluck, instead of the 275 oven at home, I just put it in the 250 warm oven at church with everyone else's stuff to braise for 1 & 1/2 hours. It was fine.

Set aside 1&1/2 cups of rinsed beans for tomorrow's meal, then add the rest to the soup and freeze.

Meal #2 - "Not Tuna-fish Salad"
Mix beans with whatever your family likes in Tuna-salad. We used mayo, mustard, and sweet relish. Serve with crackers or in sandwiches.

Another variation: beans, oil, balsamic vigegar, oregeno, parsley, onions, tomatoes.

Meal #3 - "Bean Soup"
1. Thaw beans and liquid.
2. Add to a pan with left-over spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce and spices you like.
3. Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add a handful of un-cooked pasta and a diced potato and simmer for 10-15 minutes longer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Good Advice for Fasting

Not from me, of course, but from Metropolitan JONAH of the OCA:

"Let our fasting be accompanied by the refusal to indulge in judgment and criticism of others: gossip, slander, suspicion and innuendo, all that is hateful to God. Let us fast from meat, as we fast from the carnality of hatred and resentment of others, which is the source of our passions, pain and addictions. Let us fast from cheese, as we cut out the bitterness that curdles the joy in our lives, the pure milk of love. Let us fast from eggs, so that the seeds of corruption do not hatch in our souls. Let us fast from oil, so that we do not grease our lips to slander and fry our neighbor. Let us fast from wine, that we might remain sober and watchful, to maintain the purity of our souls, minds and hearts."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Moving Words in the Liturgy Today

"This is the Apostolic faith, this is the Orthodox faith, this is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith that is the foundation of the world."

Too bad I didn't have a camera for the procession. Next year.

I pray you are all having a blessed Lenten season. I am truly grateful for this time of reflection and preparation: a Gift from God.

Other Gifts:
* slight weight of toddler's arm resting over my shoulder in one of those rare moments when she'll give in to me snuggling her and holding her.

* cabbage, onions, carrots, chard, and sugar snap peas in the ground.

* fox gloves in the ground for the Theotokos.

This picture isn't my garden design, but just an illustration of a Mary Garden, which I think is a lovely concept.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Throw it in" Sweet & Spicy Vegetarian Chili

One last addition to the Bean Soup Party. Thank you, Anna B., for sharing this recipe that makes 20 (1/2 cup) servings. By the way, Anna says that you don't have to have all the ingredients.

1 bottle of beer
16 oz can of frozen apple juice
4oz pack of chili seasoning
28 oz can of chopped tomatoes with juice
12 oz can of tomatillos, drained
4 x 16oz cans of chili beans or 1 lb of dried beans cooked
4oz can of chopped green chiles
16 oz jar of green salsa
16 oz jar of salsa
1 small can of chopped black olives, drained
1 small can of sliced green olives, drained
1 onion, chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
2 TBS dried basil
16 oz pack of frozen corn

In a large pot, throw all ingredients in and bring to boil. Cook about 30 minutes to 1 hour on medium. Leave in warm oven during Liturgy, to enjoy with your parish afterwards.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bean Soup Recipe Party

May you have a great Great Lent!

Check back in a few days, as I'll add more recipes as they come in. Here are a few to get started:

Updated 3/2/09:
Christina has both bean soup and other recipes compiled very nicely for you here.

Mimi offers this version with squash.

Every fast I hear our parish ladies volunteer to bring Fasolatha to a potluck, but I never knew how to make it until I saw Sylvia's Fasolatha recipe.

Red pepper flakes and spinach make this Low-fat Lentil Soup from Michelle call my name.

Here's one I like - Rustic Italian Bean Soup
1. Soak overnight, drain the next morning, then put in a crockpot on low and cover with water:
cup of dry red kidney beans
cup of dry pintos

2. When you're ready to make supper, chop an onion, a bell pepper, a carrot, and saute in oil with a bay leaf, Italian Seasoning, celery seed, salt, and pepper.

3. Add chopped garlic to the saute once the other ingredients have had a chance to caramelize.

4. Pour the beans and bean liquid from the crock pot into the pan (or the other way around) - along with a small can of tomato paste - & simmer until creamy. Or do it the other way around and pour the veggies into the crockpot and let that simmer. Whatever.

5. Adjust seasonings and serve with bread. Of course, this is better the next day!

Katie says this is her favorite.

From Ortho-Vegan's Kitchen I'm linking to 2 delicious ideas:
1) Tuscan White Bean Soup
2) Gaucho Beans

Greek Lentil Soup is about as easy as it gets.

Stephanie, of crock pot fame, likes Smokey Refried Bean Soup and Morroccon Lentil Soup.

Although it's not soup, it is Crispy Black Bean Tacos from Emily at Stay at Home Big Sis. These look Yum!

Phyllis from Hunsucker's Home offers this favorite! She usually doubles it. It's very quick and simple to make. From the More with Less Cookbook:

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup
Combine in soup kettle:
1 c. lentils
4 c. water
1/2 t. cumin
Cook until lentils are soft (30-45 minutes), adding water if necessary for good soup consistency.
Heat in skillet:
1 T. olive oil (I don't know if that's allowed while fasting. You could do without and just throw the onions and garlic into the soup. I've done that in a real hurry before. :-)
Add and saute:
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Blend in:
1 T. flour (If you're skipping the oil, skip this step, too. Just turn the soup off and add the lemon.)
Cook a few minutes. Then add sauteed ingredients to lentils and bring soup to boiling point, stirring occasionally. After soup boils, remove from heat and stir in:
2 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
She adds: Lately we've had trouble getting juicy lemons. I've just used lemon pepper instead.

Coming soon... Sweet & Spicy Chili