Friday, February 19, 2010

Green Bean and Potato Soup

Are you making M'Jeddrah or Tofu Spanikopita any time soon? If so, cut and fry extra onions, and save some to use in this filling soup!

This recipe made just enough for our litte family of four (kids = 3yr & 6yr)


1/2 to 1 cup of caramelized onions
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/3 of a bell pepper, chopped
12 cups plus more water
1 TBS salt
1 TBS coffee creamer
1 bag of frozen green beans
1 large and 2 small potatoes, diced (that's what we had - adjust accordingly)
3 sprigs of rosemary
3 sprigs of thyme
1 TBS tahini


1. Simmer strongly the onions, carrot, celery and bell pepper in the water for 30 minutes. You're making a stock. If you need to use a small dash of dried herbs instead of fresh, you could go ahead and add them now.

2. Blend the stock & veggies to make your soup base. I use my hand-held immersion blender.

3. Add salt, creamer, and green beans and cook until as done as you like them. I did 30 minutes at a rolling boil, adding water as necessary.

4. Add potatoes and herbs and boil until the potatoes are tender.

5. Remove herbal twigs and whisk in tahini.

6. Adjust seasonings. I added some pepper.

Sorry no pictures, we devoured it too quickly, with a side of multigrain healthy bread.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gifts from God: Thoughts for My Journey through Lent

The choir sang the first minor-keyed "Lord have mercy."

The priest's vestments changed to purple.

The prostrations began.

Experiencing these ancient traditions, I tangibly felt myself take a spiritual step into the journey of Great Lent.

Here are the thoughts I'm taking with me, thoughts that God has been gently and graciously revealing to me over the past few weeks, starting with this troparion, and last week with these words from Saints Barsenuphias and John.

And there is the Prayer of the Optima Elders, which includes these lines:

Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will.


When things unforeseen occur , let me not forget that all cometh down from Thee

In the book I have been reading, Lynette's Hope, this theme has marched steadily through the pages:

God gives us what is profitable for our souls.

This book is a compilation of Albanian missionary mom Lynette Hoppe's newsletters, journals, and web posts as she struggles with stage 4 cancer. She writes:

One of the gifts God has given me recently is a spirit of deep contentment. I am contented with the cross I have been given, because I know that it is rooted in the goodness of God. Because God is good, all that He sends us is for our good.

Although she (and hundreds of others who loved her!) prayed for a miracle, Lynette also accepted the will of God:

I do not believe something bad has happened to me. I see this cancer as a manifestation of my Lord's desire to draw me nearer to himself. He wants all of me and not just a half-distracted nod in his direction now and then. I am honored to be entrusted with such a gift. I just hope I am worthy of it... My prayer is not for healing, but for the grace to walk with courage and joy through whatever I may encounter. I don't want to become ill-tempered and whiny. I want to shine through this and gain that for which it is intended: a deeper love for God and a closer walk with Him

As for me, I doubt my ability to have such faith in that circumstance, but here's what I am left with: If Lynette Hoppe can count cancer as "an eventuality that cometh down from Thee", if she can trust God in that extreme circumstance that the pain can have a purpose of drawing her nearer to God, then I can accept my lesser struggles and pain as an opportunity to grow closer to God. I can seek Him and His peace and joy in the present moment instead of worrying about our future.

Just this past week, we received a newsletter from our beloved Saints Mary and Martha Monastery, which encouraged me with these words:

The voice of the Lord is in each of our moments. He is ever present in the current activity whatever it may be: keeping a home, caring for self and others, worshipping, the job, or resting. Every relationship allows us to encounter our good God; therefore, if we look to Him instead of worrying about what if..., His peace will abide.

One last source of encouragement has wrapped it's arm around me. In the prayers at the end of the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children, lips sigh, "Oh Lord, give them that which is profitable for their salvation."

Again and again and again.

God gives us what is profitable for us.

I beg Him to help me trust in His great Love. I am thankful for this season of Lent, for the chance to offer myself to be molded by Him, to be drawn closer to Him. I don't want to ruin it with my lack of faith and acceptance. I beg God to help me surrender my pain and impatience to be transformed by His Love.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quick Pantry Savers for Great Lent

I'm inviting you to a party, and hope you contribute!

Although our ideal is to eat locally grown, non-processed, whole food as much as possible; our reality sometimes betrays that. Especially my reality, which can be a little forgetful.

I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have ingredients for several easy meals waiting in the pantry or freezer. Then, on those days that get hectic and I can't soak and cook beans in time for dinner, we have some sure-fire savers to fall back on.

Here's an example: Black Bean Mexican Soup

Ingredients = 3 cans from the pantry

Pour them into a pot.

Add a few dashes of cumin and garlic powder.

Simmer for 20 minutes and pour into bowls.

This serves our small family of 4 (the kids are 2 yrs. and 6 yrs.), but could be easily doubled or tripled. If I have time I make cornbread as an accompaniment, but pre-made tortillas work just as well.

I need more recipes like this to have as a safety net during the Great Fast. Do you have any ideas to share? Just post a blog about it in the next week, and let me know the link. I'll compile all the links into one post for a "Quick Pantry Saver" party!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When God Delays...

Last night after supper, my husband read to us about the Saints for the next day.

Today we remember Sts. Barsanuphias and John.

"Oh." he said. "We have their book. Father Seraphim and Fr. Herman translated their advice on the Spiritual Life for the monks living at St. Herman's."

"We do?" I pondered. See, last weekend our priest walked us through some writings of St. Basil, helping me to believe that it was indeed possible to read the spiritual fathers with understanding and benefit. I know, I know: this is something I was told 6 years ago when we became Orthodox, but my first venture into the Ante-Nicean Fathers was difficult; I had not yet been weaned from the milk of Max Lucado to be able to handle more mature food.

My husband replied, "Sure - it's over there in the bookshelf. I'll go get it."

This morning, while waiting for the computer to load, I opened Guidance Toward Spiritual Life to see what sort of guidance these holy men were giving.

from pg. 49:
When we pray and God delays in hearing (our prayer), He does this for our benefit, so as to teach us longsuffering; wherefore, we need not become downcast, saying, "We prayed and were not heard."

God knows what is profitable for a man.

Rejoice in the Lord, leave off all your cares, and pray for me, O my beloved brother, one in spirit (with me).

Advice I need to accept, ponder, and obey.