Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Edible Sprouting Around the Kitchen

My tomatoes are sprouting!

ML stands for "Mortgage Lifter." I'm trying to grow some new varieties of tomato this year: Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, and Brandywine.

This sprouted lentil salad is quickly becoming my favorite. A few cups of sprouted lentils, green (or red) onion, feta (tomato basil feta is really good here), black olives, garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Last week I put some green beans in it, too, but I can only imagine the possibilities this Summer with a garden full of fresh produce.

Today I had some on the side of minestrone soup with a hunk of buttered sourdough bread. I shouldn't eat this well during Lent!

Here is some sprouting wheat.

I'll probably grind some into sprouted flour.

But most of it is going to be made into tabbouleh!

I have to dehydrate it first.

And then stick it into the blender to make bulgur.

I've never made bulgur before, so this is an experiment.

If it doesn't go well, I've always got my sprouted lentil salad.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lenten Penances: Self-Denial or Dieting?

Happy Shrove Tuesday!

One of the most common conversation starters for Catholics around this time of year is, "what are you giving up for Lent?" or more commonly, since "doing something extra" for Lent is trendy these days, "what are you doing for Lent?"

I'm in the annoying camp who loves to ask this question but dances, dodges and darts around the answer myself. It's a matter of humility, actually... and not the false kind.

"What are you doing for Lent, Jane?"

"Oh, I'm praying all 20 decades each day, donating my life savings to charity, going on a mission trip to Africa, and fasting on egg-free, gluten-free, dairy-free rice cakes until Easter. What are you doing?"

"Uum... I'm gonna 'try to lay off the sweets.'"

My Lenten regime of the past few years looks more like a diet than an observance of voluntary self-denial for the penitential season of Quadragesima. "No sweets, no white sugar, no white flour" suspiciously resembles my doctor's recommendation for weight loss.

There are many good reasons for fasting and abstinence. Among many others, 1) It's a form of loving solidarity with those who really have nothing to eat. 2) It's an act of sacrificial love for God, united with Christ's suffering on the cross for the salvation of sinners, including ourselves. 3) It's a training and strengthening of the will against sin by denying ourselves licit pleasures so we will be better able to reject illicit ones. 4) It's a purging of selfishness and an awakening to the needs of others. 5) It's an expression of trust in the providence of God, from whom all good things come. 6) Voluntarily being hungry for earthly bread makes us hunger for Christ in the Eucharist.

But... er... lose 10-15 pounds to look smashing in that new Easter dress doesn't actually fit on that list, come to think of it.

So this Lent, with the grace of God, I'm going to break with my traditional Lenten diet penance, hit myself where it hurts, and actually strive to fast and do penances for the right reasons. I have a hunch that slashing internet time, excess sleep, and meat, and filling the void with Adoration, almsgiving, and fasting might be better for my soul than the Atkins diet.

What are you giving up (doing?) for Lent?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Day After Valentine's Day: For Married Ladies

Yesterday was, as expected, beautiful. Just the two of us eating dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Dessert and board games with friends. Home to wine, cheese, and some of my favorite treats. *happy sigh*

But today? Today is the Day After Valentine's Day.

Yesterday was the day for mushiness and love and sap and all that goo. You were expected to be lovey dovey yesterday. But nobody expects anything romantic today.

Love inspires more than the law requires.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could surprise our husbands with some extra love on this First Annual Day After Valentine's Day?

I challenge you to do one gratuitous act of babying your husband. Untie his shoes when he gets home, warm his bath towel in the dryer while he showers, fluff his pillows, jump up to refill his water glass -- something unexpected, unnecessary, and utterly loving. Simple. Little. but Gratuitous.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Story of Life, Love, and Loss... Or Maybe Just Starting Seeds

It was a fatal day in high school when the pernicious seed was planted in my tender mind: gardening would be a perfect hobby.

Sunlight. Fresh air. Relaxation. Warm earth. Good exercise. Abundant fruit.

I should have doused the idea with RoundUp the moment it germinated. But alas... it took root and my garden fantasies have proven a much more fertile ground than my backyard ever since.

It all started with 96 styrofoam cups, strategically arranged in my mother's cake pans. I plunked some virgin dirt and a few seeds in each cup, poked holes in the bottoms, set them in her cake pans with some water, and put them in the warmest brightest spot in our house I could think of: the top shelves of my closet.

Yes, dear friends, I was a closet gardener.

But my secret didn't last long. When my sister wanted to bake and couldn't find the square cake pans, I was forced to sacrifice some of my precious incubating trays for a dish of cornbread. My seedlings never forgave me. One by one the bright spring green shoots flopped over, limp as a tantruming toddler, and they never rose again.

Of the 96 seeds started, exactly one survived. I babied it in my windowsill so long it actually grew a little cherry-sized pepper. When it threatened to die, I ate the pepper and buried the plant in the compost alongside my dreams. Gardening was a bitter disappointment.

And then I married a farmer.

Suddenly, gardening sprang back up from the depths of the smoldering compost heap to the upper echelon my interests. I was a natural born gardener! I was made for this! It's in my bones!

Old fantasies die hard.

Despite the mixed success/failure of our gardens the past few years, that little seed of interest sown back in high school continues to bloom each year, and once again I find myself on this cold February afternoon...

... starting seeds.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Slow Cooked Chipotle Rubbed Pulled Pork

This is one of my favorite recipes of all time.

We had company the other day, and in four drafts of the menu possibilities, this smoky succulent little meal made the short list every time.

It is so moist.

It is so tender.

It is so flavorful!

And best of all... it is SO EASY!!

The guests loved it, and most importantly...

... so did my husband.

I served it in some homemade flour tortillas with guacamole, sour cream, cilantro and lime juice, but I also used some leftovers the next morning in a heavenly scrambled egg taco. It would work fine on a bun, or on its own aside beans and corn.

Just make it.

Slow Cooked Chipotle Rubbed Pulled Pork

For the rub:
1 Tbsp. kosher salt (you may need more to taste after it's finished cooking, but this is for the rub)
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 Tbsp. Chipotle powder

Olive oil
3-5 lb. pork shoulder roast

1. Mix all rub ingredients together in a small bowl.

2. Pour 1/2 the rub onto the shoulder roast (in a crock pot or dutch oven) and drizzle several tablespoons of olive oil on top. Rub thoroughly onto the top and sides (adding more oil if it's too pasty). Flip the roast over and repeat on the other side, being sure to use all of the rub.

3. Put lid on crock pot or dutch oven. Cook on low crockpot setting (or 200° oven) for 12-18 hours, or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. There should be no resistance whatsoever. Taste and adjust seasoning (adding any or all of the rub ingredients). Shred and serve.

Canned chipotle peppers are, in my opinion, way stronger and hotter than the powder. I'm sure you could easily use the canned ones if that's what you've got, but I couldn't tell you how many to use. The powdered version has never failed me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

16 Friday Funnies

Because we all need a good laugh or two... or 16:

 All of the pictures above are from Pinterest.

All of the pictures below are from a great Facebook page called "*Very Clean* Funny Pics.


Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012