Friday, February 26, 2010

Breakfast of Champions?

My husband and I (or rather, I did and kinda dragged him into it) gave up meat for Lent. He's feelin' the loss keenly, I think. For a farmer, each and every meal should and, I daresay, must have the flesh of a once-living animal in it.

Breakfast? Bacon, sausage, breakfast pork chops or occasionally steak. Lunch and dinner? Meat of any variety, preferably the medium rare kind, will do.

The first week went rather well, I thought. Penne with asparagus, mushrooms and feta cheese... roasted vegetable lasagna... baked potatoes and a salad with all the works... and I tried to replace the loss of animal flesh with fish each night. I was beginning to feel like our sacrificial Lent was too soft. I wasn't feeling the pain too much. My husband never complained.

But then it happened. Yesterday, I saw my "animal flesh at every meal" husband eating tuna straight from the can.  

For breakfast. 

I'd better make sure to get in my order for that Easter ham.
Free Friday continues

Today only, Starbucks is giving out free "peeled snacks."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fishy Variety


1. Have been getting to bed at a reasonable hour all week. (Despite the fact I like being a night owl, I never adjusted to the fact that my job starts at 7am, resulting in chronic crankiness, sleepiness and misery).

2. Resisted (at my husband's gentle urging) taking the "easy way out" and instead spent several hours putting together a video montage for the youth group (which was, I think, much more effective than just playing 30 minutes from the middle of the film).

3. Tried 3 different types of fish fillets this week (Red Snapper, "True Cod" and Dover Sole) to get out of the Tilapia and Tuna rut. My husband lightly coated the Cod in whole wheat flour and a little rosemary and pan fried it in a drizzle of olive oil. Uh... yum. The Sole and Snapper were really good, too.

Check out others' small successes and add your own this week at Faith & Family Live.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Timeless Litany

I don't have time to go to Mass in the morning. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to clean my house. Christ, have mercy.
I don't have time to make dinner for tonight. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to pray a Rosary. Graciously hear us, oh Lord.
I don't have time to eat a real breakfast. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to get a good night's sleep. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to make my work deadlines. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to exercise. Spare us, oh Lord.
I don't have time to read. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to call my friends. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to pursue my hobbies. Lord, have mercy.
I don't have time to write a letter. Lord, have mercy.

I turned my list of complaints into a prayer. Amazing phenomenon, but when I made time for Mass... the rest of it happened.

And I still have time to spare.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Homemade Crockpot Yogurt

Tasty Tuesday

Grab the button here and come join us, or just link to another site with a recipe you're going to try... or post a recipe in the comments!

Tasty Tuesday can also be a recipe you intend to try. My crock pot is out of commission right now, but as soon as I get a new one I'm going to try this. Crock pot yogurt! (No high fructose corn syrup, no dubious sweeteners or fillers, and a lot cheaper).

Crock Pot Yogurt
Copied from Nourishing Days

Recipe notes: This recipe uses a 2 quart crock. In using a 4 or 4 1/2 quart crock I found the yogurt to have a bit of a "springy" texture. I was able to alleviate this by heating the milk an additional 15 minutes for a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  • Turn your crock pot to low and pour in 1/2 gallon of milk.
  • Heat on low for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Once 2 hours and 30 minutes have elapsed turn your crock pot off and unplug it. Let the milk cool in the crock with the lid on for 3 hours.
  • After 3 hours remove 1-2 cups of the warmed milk and place in a bowl. To that add 1/2 cup of plain store-bought yogurt with live active cultures and mix very well.
  • Pour the yogurt-milk mixture back into the milk and whisk thoroughly.
  • Place the cover back on the crock and wrap the entire crock pot in a thick bath towel or two.
  • Let it culture overnight, 8-12 hours.
  • In the morning stir yogurt (if desired) and store in glass quart jars or a container of your choice.
  • For optimum texture, refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using.
After that, you can add your own fresh fruit, a little honey, or even jam.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I'm learning a lot of things about farm life.

This year is our first time with beef cattle. There have been 4 live births (plus one stillbirth) this month. Calves everywhere! Our fields are much cuter now.

But I've been amazed by how many of these first-time mothers reject their calves. They simply don't know what to do with them, so they leave them in the field and go about their busy cud-chewing lives.

When one of the cows gave birth to her first calf, she looked back and actually let out a startled moo and jumped in astonishment as she got her first glimpse of the strange bundle-of-legs lying behind her. Two of the other new mothers have refused to let their calves nurse (sequestering the cow/calf into a small pen, feeding some colostrum, getting the calf to her feet and letting "time run its course" seem to have worked thus far for re-introducing them... but that only works if the poor calf isn't born in the middle of the night when you're not around to save it).

As I watched the latest calf reject on Saturday, I couldn't help but think of the Planned Parenthood clinic they're building in our area. Which reminded me, I hadn't signed up for this Spring's 40 Days for Life. Have you?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Hobby of Consumerism

The more you have, the more you need.

I like doing things well. If I'm gonna do something, I've gotta aim for professional quality. But besides filling my house with clutter, it's expensive!

For photography, a simple point and shoot won't do. No... my needs soon include lenses, flashes, editing software, carrying case, battery charger, memory cards, memory card reader, lens covers... all so I can take the perfect picture of a loaf of bread.

Drawing... paper and pencil, right? No. Leather-bound sketch pad, graphite pencils of varying thicknesses, smudgers, graphite erasing doodads, lacquer, drawing books, portfolio... all to scratch out mediocre copies of greater masters.

Baking... I actually heard myself say out loud, "A 9 inch round pan just won't do... I need 8 inch round pans to go on my 10 inch cake circles." Heaven help me!!!

It's the same with gardening, painting, knitting, sewing, needlework, cake decorating, piano, clothing (need new shoes to match that skirt after all)... even my Bible needed a cover, tabs, and special highlighters.

I refuse to get into scrapbooking because I know it would take over my house, and possibly my life.

Ah the opulence of desire! The extravagance of "simple pastimes."

This Lent, I'm trying to abstain from my perfectionist's profusion. Get back to basics. Not everything I do has to be professional quality. And if I use all-purpose instead of high gluten flour for those bagels, it may not be perfect, but I think I'll still live to see another day.
I'm giving up "Free Friday" for Lent. 

Not really... I just couldn't find any good free stuff this week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1. Haven't broken my Lenten fasts yet (okay, it's only Thursday morning, but it's a small success!).
2. Lesson planned for homeschooling instead of "winging it" each day. I think we got more accomplished this week than all of last month combined!
3. Am doing some meditational reading and gaining a real love for the Rosary (haven't finished it yet, but so far really recommend The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary by Karen Edmisten).

Check out others' small successes and add your own this week at Faith & Family Live.

And JOIN US next Tuesday for Tasty Tuesday!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lenten Reading

I'm ashamed to admit that I went from reading the greatest works of Western theology, literature, history and philosophy to reading... well... cookbooks.

There's truth, beauty and goodness to be found in vichyssoise, right?

I haven't bought a work of great literature since quitting the PhD program in Philosophy to marry my true love. I haven't even read a work of great literature since then. In the earliest months of our marriage I thumbed through Being and Time occasionally but it was more for its sedative effects than cognitive stimulation.

Baby steps.

This Lent I'm trying to get back into reading. I'm not going to start out with The Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals. I enjoyed it in college. No kidding. But it'll be a while before I crave straight dry philosophy again.

For now, I've ordered Fr. Dwight Longenecker's highly acclaimed The Gargoyle Code (which is along the same lines as C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters), and Karen Edmisten's The Rosary: Keeping Company with Mary and Jesus.

Who knows? Maybe by the time Easter comes I'll be re-reading the Summa Theologica... in Latin.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday

Grab the button here and come join us, or just link to another site with a recipe you're going to try... or post a recipe in the comments!

Mardi Gras sounds so much better than "Fat Tuesday," but let's face it, we're all going to get a little fatter today before the fast tomorrow.

This is what I plan on indulging in today:

From Annie's Eats, & adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

  • ½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise)
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Lightly butter a 2-quart oval baking dish.  Melt the 2 sticks of butter and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs and sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until thick and light yellow in color.  Meanwhile, combine the flour and cocoa powder in a medium bowl and whisk together until blended.
When the eggs and sugar are finished mixing, add vanilla (or scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixing bowl).  Add the flour-cocoa powder mixture to the bowl as well.  Mix on low speed just until combined.  With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the melted butter and mix again just until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Place the baking dish in a larger baking pan.  Add very hot tap water to the outer baking pan to create a water bath, coming halfway up the side of the baking dish.  Bake for 60 minutes.  The center will appear very under-baked, that is the way the dessert should be.  Allow to cool slightly before serving with ice cream.

I'm having a sugar coma just thinking about it. Tomorrow's stale bread and black coffee might be welcome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Paper Shredder

The other day my husband ran into the kitchen with the most impish smile on his face. He looked like a little boy on Christmas who has just gotten the toy of the century, such was his delight. "I'm going to run this statement through the paper shredder."

We don't have a paper shredder.

I watched on in amused silence as he ran the kitchen water and garbage disposal. He cackled maniacally as the bank statement disappeared.

Strange? Yes. Brilliant? I'd say so.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Whey Way

I was telling my husband last night about making yogurt cheese. The conversation went something like this:

"You just hang the yogurt in cheesecloth and what drips off is whey."
"No way."
"Actually, there's a little."

Free Friday: 

Get a free 8x10 collage print (these are pretty cool... I did a black and white one of my baby nephew a while ago and it was really beautiful) at Walgreens. Select "pick up at store" for free shipping, and enter the code "VDAY" at checkout.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Site Update

I updated the "Recipes" button on the taskbar above to have an index of this blog's recipes (instead of just showing all posts labeled "recipes"). Check it out!

Baby Steps


1. Made homemade whole wheat pasta this week. (Realizing it does no good to spend boocoodles on KitchenAid attachments if I never use them). It was stinkin' delicious!! (And I normally don't like whole wheat pasta from the box, so this is good. Baby steps, baby steps.)

2. Have looked ahead in the girls' school books and am adjusting the curriculum to their levels (instead of "a page a day") and am supplementing from the library. Wow, I'm actually homeschooling! It's kind of exhilarating.

3. I think I've lost about 3 pounds this week. Praise the Lord!

Check out others' small successes and share your own this week at Faith & Family Live! 


So I'm really really pleased with the first Tasty Tuesday! Thank you SO much for all who participated! I can't wait until next week to see what y'all are making. I'm going to try to make as many of the recipes as I can.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tasty Tuesday Inauguration

So today is the first Tasty Tuesday.

I'm kind of really excited.

You can read about it and get the button here. Even if you're not a blogger, please share your recipe in the "comments" section of today's post!

Please link directly to your recipe and not to the main page of your blog (so if we click on your link a few weeks from now we'll go straight to your yummy recipe post!).

Tasty Tuesday

Swedish Meatballs
Adapted from The Mixer Bible by Deeds and Snyder.
We're having a priest over for dinner tonight and these are fancy enough to make for him, but easy and delicious enough that I'm not stressing out.
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper (and seasonings... I always add garlic, onion powder & paprika) to taste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • A splash of red wine (optional)
  • Chopped cabbage (optional)
Okay, I know what you're thinking: "cardamom and coriander? I don't have those!" Well, don't buy them if you don't have them, but they do add a really nice flavor if you do. (And I don't think I've ever added 1/2 tsp of anything... these are just suggestions).

1. Mix all ingredients except butter, flour, and stock. Roll meat mixture into 1 inch balls.
2. Melt 2 tbsp of the butter over medium/high heat, add meatballs and saute until browned. Transfer to another plate, add the remaining 2 tbsp butter. Add flour and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, or until roux becomes foamy. Add stock/wine and cook, scraping any bits on the bottom until thickened (about 5 minutes). Return meatballs to the skillet, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
3. If you're going to add cabbage, add it within the last 5 minutes of cooking, or just until wilted.
4. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or noodles... or on a hoagie bun. Definitely serve with a beer.

In the interest of full disclosure (so y'all will know sometimes I cheat) I used packaged brown gravy last time I made this.

And it was beautiful, but my husband tasted it right away. "This tastes a little... packaged."

So this time I'll be skipping the package and using the flour/stock.

Oh yum.

I added some coleslaw mix to this last time, but now I have a head of cabbage so there won't be any carrots.

I'll start my exercise regime tomorrow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gourmet Snub

I was making my meal plan for the week. The bed was covered with grocery ads, cookbooks, notebooks, printed recipes, magazine cutouts. I was bangin' on all cylinders.

"Sesame crusted pan-seared Ahi tuna with a wasabi glaze and ginger fried rice" and "red velvet cupcakes with chocolate ganache served with a homemade raspberry granita" were some of the many exciting new recipes on my meal plan.

Hoping for yet another muse, I called my husband seeking input and inspiration.

"What would you like for dinner in the next few weeks, dearest?"

"Well, I was thinking maybe it would be nice to have... well, you know... meat and potatoes. Maybe some fresh fruit for dessert. A few green salads."


Friday, February 5, 2010

Geaux Saints!

I live in the NW... which is very far from the Gulf Coast. I can't get crawfish. I can't get real oysters. I can't get Gulf shrimp. I can't get okra. (Salmon on the other hand? Mm hm). So I can't make a decent po'boy, muffaletta, gumbo or crawfish boil.

Most of my extended family lives in Louisiana. I was born (but not raised) in Slidell, LA. By blood I'm a Creole (French/Spanish, as opposed to Cajun which is straight French) girl through and through.

So come Sunday, I'd better not see a shade of blue, even in my peripheral vision. Black and gold all the way, baby!

Who dat!? Geaux Saints!!

"Creole" Chicken Poppers
I put "Creole" in quotes because this isn't really Creole. You can't just put Tony Chac on something and christen it "Creole," but these are really tasty nonetheless. And it's about the best I can do in the NW!

1. Cover chicken tenders in buttermilk; marinate overnight (or at least several hours).
2. Mix 2 parts flour with 1 part corn starch (corn starch makes it crispy) and some generous dashes of Tony Chach. Mix well with a fork.
3. Coat chicken tenders in the flour; tap to remove excess flour.
4. Sprinkle one drop of water into the oil; if it pops and spatters then it's hot enough (if it's too cold you'll have greasy chicken). Put chicken in without overcrowding the pan (you'll probably have to do several batches but you can skip the pre-game coverage... these'll be worth it). If it starts to turn dark brown immediately then the oil is too hot, drop the temperature a little. ONLY FLIP ONCE. When they're nicely browned on each side, remove and sprinkle with a little more Tony Chach.
5. Repeat over and over in your most trash talk voice, "Who dat? Who dat? Geaux Saints!"

I'll also be making crab and caramelized onion stuffed mushrooms, bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, chicken enchilada roll-ups and Swedish meatballs (sorry, no recipe on this one yet, just mouthwatering pictures).

And no Super Bowl party would be complete without chips and dips:

Free Friday continues --get a free bag of tortilla chips this Sunday (you don't have to pay so it's not "shopping on Sunday") at On the Border.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Coming Soon: Tasty Tuesday


1. Resisted the urge to "pick up something quick" at the grocery store for the youth group last night and, instead, baked 7 dozen chocolate/white chocolate chip cookies. Result? An empty plate, and the following actual Facebook quote from a teen: "YOU NEED TO MAKE MORE COOKIES NEXT TIME! THEY WERE YUMMY!!!"

2.While I was making said 7 dozen cookies, I only ate about 1 dozen's worth of cookie dough. Okay, I don't know how this is a small success... uh... but... I could've eaten more!

3. I started a new meme! Bloggers and non-bloggers alike, please join us next week for "Tasty Tuesday"!! Start thinking about your tasty recipe now!

Check out others' small successes this week at Faith & Family Live.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Joys of Aunt-Hood

As my nieces were leaving yesterday, they offered one of the best and most sincere gifts ever...

"Would you like some pistachios? They haven't been licked!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Non-Paid Infomercial

When I lived in the city and had TV reception and spent many a happy Sunday afternoon lazing about with my siblings, we used to watch infomercials.

Other people turn them off in frustration. We gloried in them. Clean entertainment that wasn't animated!

Not just any infomercials, mind you. I mean, exercise equipment? Immodest! 52 ladders in one? Not so much. Vacuum cleaners? BORING. But you give us an infomercial with a kitchen gadget... Chef Tony doing the Miracle Blade, Ron Popiel with his Showtime Rotisserie, Jack LaLanne's Juicer, the NuWave Oven, XPress Redi-Set-Go!? We'd be entertained over and over again. George Foreman got his grill started on infomercials, you know. (Additionally, Time Life Music Collection infomercials were also a big hit.)

There is one infomercial that stands out, though, as perhaps the best. The Magic Bullet. (Part 1, Part 2) It has class, wit, charm, shock and awe wonder, and just the perfect amount of cheesiness.

My husband wants one, I think. Since introducing him to the infomercial, he's asked me on several occasions, "you think that Magic Bullet could do that?" Hm...

Anyway, I mention all of this not to show you how weird and entertainment-starved I was, but to point out that there's a recipe they show that I'd really like to try.

Peppermint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Shakes

1 handful hard peppermint candies
1 or 2 chocolate bars
1 giant giant squeeze of chocolate syrup
1 behemoth glob of vanilla ice cream
1 generous splash of cream

Put all of the ingredients (in that order) into your blender and mix 'em up.

I'm not sure how it'll taste, but I want one every time I see that infomercial. And uh... you don't need to know how often that is.

Monday, February 1, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I indicated on this post that I'd really like a pizza stone (for bread baking).

Well... thanks Mom!!

Crusty fresh bread, here we come.