Monday, March 26, 2012

Fool Proof Guide to Killing Seedlings

64 little tomato seedlings are now buried in their peat moss graves. The popsicle stick label markers, made in a burst of creativity, are now grim headstones... cruel reminders of happier times.

I asked a master gardener yesterday what I was doing wrong, since this happens every time.

"How often should I water them?"

"About twice a week. How often did you water them?"

Guiltily: "Twice a day."

"Go to confession, woman. That's first class herbicide."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Week on Pinterest

From my "I Want to Make - Savory" Board: {Pin} Herbed Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

From my "I Want to Make - Sweet Treats" Board: {Pin} Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

From my "Hardy Har Har" Board: {Pin}

From my "I Want to Make - Sweet Treats" Board: {Pin} Chocolate / Chocolate Truffle Easter Eggs

"I Want to Make DIY/Crafty" Board: {Pin} How to Make Countertops from Wooden Doors

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Favorite Lenten Reading

We're squarely in the middle of Lent now. Three and 1/2 weeks in, three weeks and three days until Easter.

I encourage you to keep on keepin' on!

While meditating on the Stations of the Cross (especially St. Peter Julian Eymard's Eucharistic Stations) is a favorite, as is this meditation on the Passion of Christ by St. Thomas More, I'm really really soaking up the goodness of In Conversation with God. There are three little meditations each day, which are great for morning, noon and evening prayers, and they are so fruitful.

Which are your favorite readings and meditations during Lent?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good Christian Ladies

Reading the news, with its anti-Catholic anti-Christian anti-God bilge, sometimes it's so easy for me to lose hope and abandon the culture to the secular humanists. Not the least in a literally ad nauseum list of recent offenses are: the HHS mandate railroading our consciences, the legalization of same-sex so-called "marriage," the protection of hate speech against the Church as a 1st Amendment right but the pastoral letter of a bishop preaching the truth is censored by our government, and the debut of yet another God-mocking TV show, "GCB". 

And yet, when I get together with like-minded people I am so encouraged. There is so much good in our midst!

I think it's really vitally important, especially in this time of persecution of true Christians, to foster deep friendships and encourage one another in our faith. There was a great article in the National Catholic Register lately about church friends being super-friends.

A sad fact is, in most parishes, just going to Mass on Sunday is unlikely to score many friends. The stampede to the parking lot after Mass possesses the frenzy and urgency of front row tickets to a Justin Bieber concert in an all-girls middle school. It's intense, I tell you, intense. So unless you join some committees, groups, or societies, it's very easy to feel horribly alone in church full of people.

But you know what? Joining committees, groups and societies isn't so hard. I've joined a parish Bible study, the religious education program, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, the funeral bakers committee, and am an aspirant to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. I've got so many Good Christian Ladies (and gentlemen) around me that it's hard to be discouraged!

Ultimately, of course, our hope is in Christ our Lord. He has already won the victory over sin and death, amen?? "Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, as indeed you do." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Do you belong to any church clubs, groups or societies? How do you make godly like-minded friends? How do you keep your eyes fixed on Christ and retain hope in this culture?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Appetizers: 3 Delicious Dip Recipes

Bell peppers. Crackers. French bread. Carrots. Pita chips. Celery. Your Finger.

All of these are appropriate dipping apparatus for these beauts:


1 cup dried chickpeas
several cups cold water
2 Tbsp. whey (the watery stuff on the top of yogurt and sour cream) or vinegar

Soak chickpeas in cold water and whey (or vinegar) overnight. The next morning, rinse well in a colander.

large pinch baking soda
2 cloves garlic
pinch of thyme

Put soaked, drained and rinsed chickpeas in a pot and cover with water. Add baking soda, garlic and thyme. Cook on a low/medium simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, skimming all of the foam off during the first 10-15 minutes of cooking.

When extremely tender, drain, reserving a few tablespoons of liquid.

2-3 Tablespoons of tahini sauce (ground sesame seeds, usually found next to the peanut butter in the grocery store)
1 tsp. cumin powder
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
salt to taste
garlic powder to taste

Place all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor. Process while drizzling in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary -- if it's too thick you can add the reserved chickpea cooking liquid to thin.

Garnish with paprika (or cayenne pepper) and drizzled olive oil.

YES, you can skip the first two steps and use canned chickpeas, but if you're going to go to the trouble of making your own hummus, why not make it from scratch? I've made it with both canned and dried chickpeas, and I much prefer dried -- there's a distinctly fresher flavor and a decadently smoother consistence.


Now this one was a major surprise to me, because I don't like eggplant. But something magical happens on the grill and transforms the plebeian eggplant into gourmet aubergine bliss.

Baba Ghanoush

I followed the recipe exactly from Pioneer Woman Cooks, except I downsized the recipe to use 1 eggplant and I processed it in the food processor to be smooth instead of mashing it with a fork to be chunky.

I'm addicted to the stuff.

I like it so much I'm going to plant eggplant in my limited-space garden this year just so I can make more. That's love.

"Did somebody just come in from nearly dying in the desert and tell his wife 'Make me something cool and refreshing?' I mean, how else could they come up with something this light and refreshingly good?"

Apparently my sister-in-law likes this as much as I do. And I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiments. Tzatziki is a cucumber yogurt dip that belongs on every party menu. It tastes like Summer in a dish.


1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (or 2 1/2 - 3 cups regular plain yogurt, strained through a coffee filter or cheesecloth for a few hours)
juice from 1 lemon
handful chopped fresh dill (dried will do)
handful chopped fresh parsley (dried doesn't really cut it, but you could try)
handful chopped green onion (or minced regular onion)
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Chill for several hours (the flavor improves with time).

Any or all of these would be wonderful appetizers for a party, but... um... well... they're great afternoon snacks, too!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meatless Mediterranean-Middle Eastern Meal

I get weird food cravings. I crave foods I've never had.

How on earth is that even possible?

But it seriously happens to me! Last month I craved celeriac (good stuff, lemme tell you), and the month before that it was roasted parsnips, and the month before that it was fish roe (holy moly this stuff is good).

I'd never eaten any of those, but somehow the idea got into my head and I couldn't be sidetracked until I'd hunted 'em down and gotten a fix.

This month, the never-eaten-but-desperately-craving was Middle Eastern food. So over the course of a week, I put together this smorgasbord:

Tabbouleh (bulgur, parsley salad with mint, cucumbers, lemon juice, red onion, and tomatoes).

Muhamarra (toasted walnuts, roasted red peppers, pomegranate syrup... I won't be craving this one again, it was pretty funky).

Hummus (okay, I've had this one before but I NEEDED it).

Baba ghanoush (grilled eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, herb dip -- I didn't need a cracker after the first taste, just a spoon and no witnesses for my feeding frenzy).

Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves... rice, olive oil, lemon juice, currants, pine nuts, mint, parsley, spices: heaven).

Falafel: fried chickpea patties... moutherwateringly delicious, especially put into a pita pocket with kalamata olives and:

Tzatziki sauce (yogurt, lemon juice, dill, cucumbers) and...

Kefir cheese (I'd drained it in a coffee filter but had no idea it could be cheese just by draining it in a cheesecloth -- SO CREAMY DELICIOUS!!).

All in all I'd say the dinner was exactly what I was craving but had never tasted. Though it was meatless, it was about as far from a penitential meal as you can get.

Stay tuned for recipes this week!