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Sunday, May 02, 2021

Menu Plan: May 2 - 8

Spring has finally sprung here for real. Now, we have lived here long enough to know that we might still see a killing frost between now and Memorial Day, but we have hope. Even our place, which is a little outside of town, has a different microclimate, and folks in town don't see as cool temperatures, as late into the year, as we do. We've had many years of lost fruit on trees, though, and have learned to be cautious. The flowers are blooming, though, and we have lilacs in abundance, violets, daffodils, tulips, and grape hyacinths. From now through July is the most pleasant, prettiest time of the year here.

It is also starting to warm up a little. The morning temperatures last week were almost never below freezing. We are supposed to be in the 70s most of this week. It is going to be pleasant and, except for my allergies making things more difficult, I plan to enjoy it as much as possible. We are still doing a lot of cooking out of our freezers and pantry. All our meals will either be completely safe for the numerous food sensititivities for Jerome, or have a simple alternative to make it so for him, as well as preserving our two meatless days each week. Breakfasts are honestly the hardest part of this for me, so I have kind of automated it to be mostly the same dishes or types of dishes each week.

Christ is risen!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Craft On: Finished Projects!!!

You cannot imagine how happy I am finally to have finished a couple projects. Alexander now has a pair of convertible mittens, I even covered the buttons with yarn so even plastic won't scratch on any aircraft, and these fingerless mitts make up my full set which will be perfect for the fall. Even though I have a lot of UFOs, I still had a strong desire to start something new and quick. We have had all sorts of trouble with dishcloths hanging down in the way of the main oven on our double oven, and falling down to the floor. So, I decided to make this tucked in dish towel, which at least has a chance of not falling off the rack.

Life has been so hectic lately, so I decided to pick up a happy, little murder again. I'm still trying to figure out if I like the book, Rogue Wave. Have you read it? What is your opinion? Desert Queen has been set aside for a little while, though I am pretty close to finished with it.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Menu Plan: Good Shepherd Sunday

I could not decide between this ancient icon and a more modern one, so I have included both. That this is Eastern and the other Western makes it even better. The other is at the bottom of the menu plan.

I was reflecting on the fact that while East and West are still separated, this week, our commemorations are similar. It is Palm Sunday and Holy Week for the East. It is the Sunday of the Good Shepherd in the West. In both, He is shown to us as laying down His life for us. That is my meditation this week.

My special lunches for the week didn't really work out because we had so much food leftover from each meal. We really were working to eat up the leftovers for lunches and so on, and didn't have the opportunity for special lunches as well. I even had to skip one dinner, one side dish, and one of the desserts simply because we had so many left over from other meals. We have been eating like it is a holiday almost every day now. Today, though, we begin a fast of sorts. We have made sure to keep part of the kitchen "clean" and absent the ingredients that Jerome cannot have (wheat, gluten, gliadin - including barley, rye, spelt, etc. - oats, sesame, lentils, peas, soy of any kind - including soy sauce/tamari sauce, tofu, fermented soy - coriander/cilantro, eggs - of any kind - dairy - of any kind, except ghee - cocoa bean/chocolate, oysters, bananas, pineapple, canola, lima beans, chestnuts and macadamia nuts), and are trying to plan dinners and most shared meals as things that are either entirely safe for him or have a component for which we can choose an alternative easily like we did last time. This time is just far more extensive and long term.

There was only one food that had to be re-introduced at a specific time, and only one that the doctor thought might be a permanent loss (along with the lima beans and canola, which we have avoided for years) and that is one he doesn't love, so for the rest I asked him which were his priorities to decide what order to return them. Some of that was expediency or convenience, he wanted to be able to eat chocolate at Christmas, and I wanted to make sure that foods we use a lot of during Lent would be more available to him. It will be October of next year before he has all of the foods back. Thank God for the Grocery Outlet! I was able to buy some good substitutes (not made of fake or overly processed foods) for a good price, and have them for him. Also, the weather is getting warmer and more fresh produce is becoming available to use locally, so that will make some of our meal planning simpler. A friend gave me a good recipe for gluten-free bread, and I will be trying my hand at it this week so Jerome can eat bread, at least - most of the ones I found online or in stores either included egg or pea protein or canola or sesame. Please pray for Jerome, for his healing, and for us as we walk this road with him. Christ is risen!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Sahlab, H'alawa, and Rice Krispie Treats


This is essentially a drinkable pudding. If you make this with less milk, it is a pudding that sets up and can be eaten as dessert. If you use the larger amount of the rice flour, the drink will be thicker, but I prefer it a little thinner, as it thickens while it sits, or if you refrigerate it. It is similar to the Mexican horchata, and when I did a little research, I became convinced that it most likely came to the Mexicans from the Spanish via the Moors and Arabs. Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, there are similar drinks made from or with grains, and this is one version of it. It is sometimes called Hejazi coffee or Hejazi almond coffee, and since my family is from the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, I settled on this version. Traditionally, you start with whole almonds, and boil and peel them. However, my mother used to make me do that task for all of our almond desserts and I promised myself that I would never do that ever again in my life. My children do not know the pain of the raw skin on your fingers from popping out three pounds of almonds from their skins. Anyway, I buy the pre-skinned almonds. It is worth the expense to me. Also, rosewater is not traditional at all, as far as I can tell, but I like what it adds to it. You can try it both ways. Also, for the garnish, I tend to grind them up together in my food processor and make more than I need, then just keep the excess in a bag in the freezer. It comes in handy for many desserts and rice dishes.

1 cup skinned almonds
8 cups whole milk (divided)
1/3 - 1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon (plus more to garnish)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon rosewater (optional)
finely chopped almonds and pistachios, to garnish

Grind up the almonds in a food processor, or by hand, until they are fine, but not a paste. Set aside.

Heat 7 cups milk with sugar over medium heat. Sprinkle in the Ceylon cinnamon and cardamom, and the rosewater, if you are using it. Whisk to combine.

Whisk the rice flour into the remaining cup of milk. Stir into the pot of hot milk, sugar, and spices. Sprinkle the ground almonds into the mixture, whisking, until it is warm and thickened.

Pour into small glasses and garnish with a small sprinkle of Ceylon cinnamon, about 1/8 teaspoon per glass, and about 1/2 teaspoon of the chopped almonds and pistachios per glass. Drink warm.


This treat is so simple, that I really should not be buying it each year. I found a couple recipes online, but they included things like dry milk, which is not in the kind we eat, and seemed a little less sweet than we like, so this is how I modified it for us.

1 cup tahina
1 1/2 - 2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pistachios roughly chopped
safflower oil for brushing

In a deep bowl combine tahina, sugar and vanilla extract until well mixed. The h'alawa mixture should be more like lightly wet sand, not too crumbly and not too doughy. If your h'alawa is too crumbly, add little bit more tahina. To check, take some of the mixture and squeeze it in the palm of one hand, if it crumbled and did not hold its shape for 2 seconds then it needs more tahina

Add 1/4 cup of pistachios and fold them in the mixture.

Brush a container lightly with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper, divide the remaining pistachios in half. Sprinkle half of the remaining pistachios on the bottom of the container and add the h'alawa mixture and press down until firmly packed into your container. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pistachios on top and press into the h'alawa.

Cover and refrigerate at least overnight up to 24 hours.

Rice Krispie Treats

I know this seems like an odd recipe to share. These are so easy to make, right? Except people leave out vanilla and use margarine. Please don't. These are so delicious, and you will love them. This is one of the few times I use salted butter, but it really makes a difference. Also, I hear these can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days, but we never have them around that long. I also understand you can wrap them tightly and freeze them, but again, we never have any left.

1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
16 ounces mini-marshmallows
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7 cups rice krispie cereal

Grease a 9" X 13" pan and set aside. Measure rice cereal in a bowl, and set aside.

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. When it has melted, add the marshallows and stir gently to melt. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Immediately, add in the rice cereal, gently folding with a greased spatula. When it is completely mixed, gently press into the prepared pan, either with wet hands or a buttered spatula. Allow to rest for about an hour or two, then cut into 24 pieces to serve.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Flashback Not So Friday: April

This set of designs began as only a preemie sized vest and hat with a little burp cloth. I have since graded it up to a size 12 month infant. April 22 was the date that I ended up in the hospital with a ruptured amniotic sac, a leak in the pool, and had to stay in the hospital through May 19, first keeping Nejat in as long as we could, and then delivering her and looking after her in the NICU. When I created these pieces, I had that time in mind. The vest is open and buttonless. This was deliberate, so a baby who needed monitors, picc lines, or other wires or tubes, would be able to wear it. It is a great thing for any baby, who doesn't want to hold still for buttons to be fastened, though. Our little girl was born in mid-May, but even through our over 100˚ weather in July and August, she had a hard time keeping her temperatures up, so she needed a vest and hat a lot of the time. We often look back on that year as a year without a summer. It just never felt like it was summer that year, as we were busy with her health needs, and she was always cold. We spent the whole year keeping us or her warm.

Each piece in this set is available individually, but I also sell all three as a set for a good discount. They are little and quick to knit. However, the stitch pattern is interesting, and pretty, and I think appropriate for either boy or girl. It has enough interest that a worried mama or papa can be distracted, but not so complicated that it will be too much to handle while waiting for a wee one. Since even the largest size is pretty small, it is a good way to use up leftover yarn and will take a small enough time that you can make the whole set with time to spare. On both PayHip and Ravelry have the set of all three available for nearly 30% off the price of each individually. If you are interested in only one or two of the patterns, however, I have a coupon code you can use for 25% off each. Use the code eightyears for the hat (PayHip and Ravelry), vest (PayHip and Ravelry), and burp cloth (PayHip and Ravelry), when you check out, through 11:59 pm PDT, April 30, 2021 to receive the discount.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts on patterns like this one (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Menu Plan: Week of Reprieve

Jerome's new ad for LaCroix: Less disappointing than the orange flavor.

This is really our only week of semi-ordinary meals for the next year. This week, we are not bothering with any of Jerome's dietary restrictions, and are only keeping a mild abstinence for Wednesday and Friday. The year of restrictions and testing begins next week. We are recreating some of our Paschal feast for Jerome tomorrow, just because he didn't get to have it in its entirety on the actual day. I'm also making a mini-Thanksgiving dinner Saturday, since he will have introduced only one food completely and will begin to introduce only one other by then and will have to have a modified and restricted Thanksgiving this year. Many of the meals this week include either ingredients he loves and won't be able to have after this for a long time, or dishes/items he especially missed when we had them and he couldn't during his 60 days of the last restriction.

I am mourning this with Jerome, both for his sake, but also for all the easier for me to plan and make meals that I won't be able to use for our dinners. Especially as I think of things the family would love to eat, but then realize that it will be six months to a year and a half before it can be a general meal. I am planning a few extra special lunches this week for that reason, too (including some gruyère stuffed rolls and za'atar rolls). Just to give you a sense of what is being excised, he cannot have any wheat, gluten, gliadin (including barley, rye, spelt, etc.), oats, sesame, lentils, peas, soy of any kind (including soy sauce/tamari sauce, tofu, fermented soy), coriander/cilantro, eggs (of any kind), dairy (of any kind, except ghee - which we have at least!), cocoa bean/chocolate, oysters (which we eat only rarely), bananas, pineapple, canola (which we usually avoid, anyway), lima beans (ditto - he had a reaction to these some years back, and we just don't eat them now), chestnuts and macadamia nuts. He does get rice and corn back, moderate sugars/sweeteners (which is how we eat in general), dried fruit, no limitations on root vegetables, and all vinegars. Because we are out of Lent and Advent, for now, this means he can have almost all seafood and meat (with the exception of the oysters) on all days except Wednesdays and Fridays, also. It's a good thing we attempted to observe Lent closer to the strictest rules, as that has prepared me for cooking without dairy and egg for him, and will make our Advent observance simpler to plan this year.

Please pray for him, for his healing, and for us as we walk this road with him. We are still in the Paschal season (through the Ascension or Pentecost, depending on how you count it), and we are keeping that in mind. Christ is risen!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Craft On: Not Quite Matchy

We are back from the wedding and finished with the Paschal Octave, and I am just starting to get back into a normal pattern, or at least trying to, here at home. Normally, I take April as a sabbatical month. It is one of three times in the year I do that, and gives me a chance to step back from designing as work and to breathe a little. I didn't even really register that it was April, even though I knew it. Because I haven't been that productive this year, I almost didn't take it as my break, but I decided that it was still important to make that kind of delineation between my work time and non-work time.

In light of taking that month off, I did cast on mitts to make the last of my coordinated set with the hat and cowl I made a couple years ago. It coordinates, but isn't exactly matching. That is perfect for me. Of course, I won't be needing the whole set until September, but I will be ready! One work-y thing I am doing is participating in the Uplift Make Along as a designer. I should say that I will be participating in it. Between Holy Week, Bright Week and the wedding, I have not really been there at all. However, I hope to join in for real and find some fun projects to make, as well.

Still working on and enjoying Desert Queen. Rich and I read more in One Flesh as we drove to and from the wedding. It is such a great book. Once more, I am saddened by the division of east and west, though. This book and Theology of the Body in Simple Language are both needed together to give a complete picture, and correct the errors in the other. We pray for unity and the unification of the Church. Since we finished our weekly study, we were trying to figure out what to move on to next, and we have decided on Godspeed. You can watch the video here, and it is such a well done work. What are you reading?

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Menu Plan: Paschal Season (Last Day of the Paschal Octave)

Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

We have another week of mostly feasting, but since Jerome is still on his diet through the end of this week, we are having to be a little careful. We had been hoping that this would be the end of it for him, but it looks like he has a long haul with a slightly modified diet from this one (some things have been returned to him, but some have been removed) and it is for six months. Poor kid! He is holding up pretty well, and we are going to take a one week break with absolutely no weird dietary restrictions on him next week, which will be our really big week of feasting. Then his six months begin.

Since I don't want to make multiple meals multiple times a day, nor do I want Jerome to feel like he has to eat "weird" food while we eat the normal stuff, this means that, at least for dinner, we will largely be on the diet with him. This is going to be a bit of a challenge for all of us. He will start to get the foods back, one at a time, at the end of October, and the whole process should finish up around the end of October next year. This is a long term situation. Please pray for all of us, but especially for him, for his healing. His doctor was so great, and told him that having parents who already knew how to cook and how to prepare food from good ingredients was part of God looking out and preparing the way for him.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Green Lamb and Red Eggs

cooked a couple years ago

raw with the marinade rubbed all over the meat from a few years ago

Green Lamb

This is really more a technique, and I tend to do it by sight and smell and taste. If I don't have chives, I substitute scallions. Other than that, I keep the rest the same. It's called green lamb because a friend of mine saw me prepping it once, many years ago, and asked if lamb should be green. I assured her that it should. After you try this, you will agree. We used to host our entire church and roast two legs and grill two. Now, with our family and maybe two or three other families, we still roast about two or three legs each year.

4 pounds boneless leg of lamb, or 5 pounds bone in leg of lamb
1 head garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
1/4 cup loosely packed oregano leaves
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 large bunch of chives
8 large sprigs fresh rosemary, strip leaves off and discard stems
6 large sprigs fresh thyme
  1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Place lamb into heavy, stove safe, roasting pan.

Put garlic into a blender or food processor with the rest of the herbs, the salt and pepper.  Process to chop up into fine bits.  Add the oil, and process until a smooth purée forms.

Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula and spread over lamb, getting inside the rolled roast, if it is boneless, making sure all surfaces are well coated. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or up to four days.  Bring meat to room temperature before cooking.

Place oven rack on second level from the bottom.  Preheat oven to 500˚F.

For boneless whole leg, roast 1 hour, then reduce heat to 425˚F and roast 30 minutes more. For whole leg of lamb with bone, roast at 500˚F for 1 hour 10 minutes. Check the meat to ensure it is rare to medium rare with a dark crust. Do not cook this past medium rare. It might be fine that day, but if you have leftovers to reheat, they will be grey and overcooked and sad.

You can also grill a boneless leg of lamb, laid flat.  In this manner, it will only take about 30 - 40 minutes over hot coals.

Remove meat to a serving platter, and tent with foil if you plan to make a pan sauce.

If you wish, you can deglaze the pan with 3 - 4 cups of red wine, scraping all the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook for a good 10 minutes or more, until the sauce is reduced to about 2/3 the original volume. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust as necessary. I never find I need more salt. Put in a gravy boat and pass at the table.

eggs after being polished with oil

This is also more of a method, but it works for us and isn't toxic like a lot of the red dyes that are out there.

Red Eggs

Collect enough yellow onion skins to fill a stock pot. I start collecting them at the beginning of Lent, but I've also asked the produce department if I can just fill bags with their onion skins from the bins when I didn't start soon enough. I tend to use about 12 cups.

Pour 8 cups of water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar over the onion skins. Weigh them down with a plate and bring to a low boil. Cover partially and reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes or more. Allow to cool completely. Strain the skins out of the dye.

You can store the dye in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Boil your eggs in the dye, for a couple minutes fewer than you normally would. Cool them in the dye, then carefully remove and polish with olive oil.

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Sunday, April 04, 2021

Menu Plan: Bright Week

Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Traditionally, the eight days of the Paschal Octave have absolutely no fasting in them. Because of Jerome's medical diet, that is only partially true for us this week. However, we have worked out ways for him to enjoy most of the foods we have during this time, and are planning some of those foods that we would normally eat for later parts of the Paschal season. I even found sugar free, naturally cured bacon for him so he can break the fast after the vigil with us with our bacon and eggs in the wee hours of the morning.

Blessed Feast!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Sheherazade

This cocktail is inspired by a few others I found online, and I thought it would be perfect for our Paschal feast and celebration. The recipe is per drink. If you want to make a pitcher, I have included instructions for that below. I will add a photo after we have recovered from our feasting. Blessed Holy Saturday to you all!

1/2 ounce pomegranate juice
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur
2 teaspoons orange flower water
2 ounces Prosecco, or other dry, sparkling white wine
1 dried Turkish apricot

Combine pomegranate juice, apricot liqueur, and orange flower water in a cocktail shaker.

Add ice and shake well. Strain into a champagne flute and top with the Prosecco. Garnish with a dried apricot.

To make a pitcher of these, to serve 16, use the following measurements and method:

8 ounces pomegranate juice
8 ounces apricot liqueur
10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons orange flower water
32 ounces Prosecco, or other dry, sparkling white wine
16 dried Turkish apricots

Combine pomegranate juice, apricot liqueur, and orange flower water in a pitcher. Mix vigorously and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.

Pour into 16 champagne flutes, evenly, and top with the Prosecco. Garnish each with a dried apricot.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Craft On: Not Much to Spy on this Wednesday

I would like to say that I finished those convertible mittens and made good progress on my cloche design and the sweetheart mittens. However, I cannot say that. I have hardly knit at all since my last post. Between normal busy-ness and Paschal preparations, I have not had the bandwidth to do it. Last night I fell asleep on the couch before 9:00. So, maybe tonight, since I slept a bit more last night, I can get the mittens finished, at least. Or at least closer to finished.

One thing I did finish was Songs of Praise. However, one of our study and prayer group members couldn't make it last night and we did not want to finish the study without her, so that is waiting a couple weeks, too.

This week seems a bit unproductive on these counts, but it has been more than productive on the spiritual level and on the practical level, so I will be satisfied with that.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Menu Plan: Holy Week

The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

We have made it to the hardest, most draining week of the year. It is our walking the Via Dolorosa with Christ. Meals this week are lighter and simpler, and follow the strictest fasting rules. Traditionally, a full fast begins on the evening of Maundy (Mandatum - from the new mandate/commandment Jesus gives, as He established the priesthood, the sacraments of the Eucharist and confession), and goes through the end of the Vigil on Saturday, as we await Jesus by the tomb.

For the first time in our family's history, most of the people will be keeping most, or all, of that fast. Usually, we have too many little people, I have been pregnant or nursing, or something else like that. This is going to be odd, because it is really hard for me to cook for only one or two people. For after the Maundy Thursday service, I can have some fruit and cut vegetables out for the littlest ones, though. Even Nejat, our little sweet one, has told us that she is fasting from one meal on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Jerome's diet continues for 13 days after the Paschal feast, but he refuses to break the fast completely and take his diet as his discipline, and had to be talked into eating the dairy and egg. So, it is only Mariam and Nejat who will be eating on Friday or Saturday. Mariam has been abstaining from two meals on strict fast days, and I have encouraged her to have dinner, so she does not go to bed on an empty stomach. These kids continue to amaze me with how they fast within their strength and understand how important it is to the practice and growth of our faith.

Rich has given me a mandate to break the fast earlier than everyone else, so I can taste the food I am preparing. It is a hard thing for me to do this and feel like I am "cheating" and enjoying things my family cannot have, but in submission to my husband, and for the benefit of my family, I do it, and try not to show them my tasting things too obviously. It is a sacrifice for me to break with the fast at this point. In many ways, Jerome's diet was my sacrifice, too, because I had to do so much more planning and checking and cooking. I'm looking forward to that being over, because I will be walking it with him through April 13. We have been looking for ways that Jerome can still enjoy the foods we make for our feast, beacuse so many of them include grains and/or sugar! Even the bacon and eggs we break our fast with after the vigil includes sugar in the cure. So, please pray I can find some good sugar free bacon for not too much so he can share in it. The plan now is to freeze many of the things that he can't eat, either as is, or prior to cooking them, so when he is able to have them, I can thaw or cook them for him to enjoy. He may share in our Paschal lamb, the hummus and baba ghanooj, the hot sauces, the laban bi chiyar, the vegetables, olives and pickles, and if I leave out the rice from the meat mixture in a separate batch, he can have the waraq 'ounab (grape leaves). Our breakfast is mostly things he cannot eat, so I am going to make my own sugar free chorizo to wrap his scotchicanese eggs, and leave off the panko, so he can have that and the fruit in the morning. I also figured out a way to make him hot chocolate with his monkfruit sugar, so he can have that, too. He is being so good about this, and encourages us to eat the things he cannot, even when we all feel a bit awkward having them in front of him. The kids have really made me so pleased and proud this Lent.

May you have a blessed Holy Week! If you are Orthodox, I pray for a continued Holy Lent.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Craft On: Socks and Other Madness

Socks and Madness

This is my third year trying to compete in Sock Madness. The first year, I made cheerleader, and that was great. Last year, between Elijah's seizure and all the restrictions, I just couldn't handle it, and didn't even finish the one sock to be a cheerleader. This year, I made cheerleader again, but it wasn't nearly as fun. Even in previous years, when there had been harder (for me) and newer to me methods, the designers had always been so kind and helpful, and this time, it seemed like everyone was so afraid of how difficult her patterns were, but in actuality, they were just fiddly. It is a beautiful sock. As soon as I saw smocking and beading, I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to finish in time, because both of those slow me down considerably. The pattern was written in an unnecessarily confusing manner, in my opinion, and there were one or two new techniques. I really liked the cast on, though it took me a bit to get the hang of it. It is both stretchy and firm, though, and that is useful in a sock. Besides that, it was just following the pattern, but there were random underlined parts, the transition rounds were not placed together, and the heel gusset (which is great, and I can see many ways to use it in other socks) was written in a way that caused all sorts of questions, when it could have been written in a little more clear way, which probably would have reduced the number of questions which seemed to annoy her. I normally don't like to say anything bad about other designers but, in this case, the few unclear parts and the one missed instruction right at the end were really not the issue. It was the sarcasm and rudeness that met people who had legitimate questions (even if they had been asked numerous times by other people, since there are thousands of posts in the chat - as of this moment, there are 11718 and climbing - and sometimes you miss a post or don't use the right search terms to find something). I observed this kind of rudeness with other participants, repeatedly, and eventually resigned myself to "silent" searching for clarification and trying not to ask anything. It made the experience lesser than previous years have been.

In previous years, even when I had obvious ignorance, or saw it in others, the responses have been kind. Sometimes a bit abrupt or direct, but never rude or sarcastic. It sucked the fun out of it for me this year. Never before this year did I see someone told that he or she was too lazy to read the pattern when asked about a clarification (I saw this directed at someone who was not being rude and was simply explaining how he had to figure it out to understand). So, while the design is gorgeous, I am still a bit annoyed with it. The heel gusset, as written, was too shallow for me, even though the fit is otherwise perfect on the leg and foot, and since one of the rules is to knit it to specifications, I couldn't fiddle with it to make it a little deeper, which I would do if I were to knit something like that again. Instead, they will go to Mariam. After I have a little break from this pattern, and can look at it without being annoyed about the qualifying experience. Once the second sock is knit, Mariam will have a perfect, flowery, beaded pair of socks that will thrill her. In the meantime, I had to really force myself to read in the cheerleading thread, and I don't know if I will ever participate again. I'm taking some deep breaths and enjoying the new patterns, especially since I can knit them to my preference and fit.

Have you noticed in the predominately female led fiber world that people think it is mean to expect professionalism from dyers/designers/yarn producers? I remember seeing it when I was part of a yarn club which had numerous delays and little to no communication regarding the delays (the news only came when people pressed them for it). When people asked what was going on, politely, they were told that the company was run by these women and they were "nice" and it was "mean" to ask these things, because they were working hard, and trying their best, and it would hurt their feelings. We had all paid a significant amount of money for the yarn club and this was not a favor being done between friends. They run a business. It is their job to communicate with their customers. I'm seeing this on the Fiber Social Media that shall not be named as well. Even though the owners are running a business, and they are paid and make money off of it, we are supposed to pretend we are all buddies and so no criticism is allowed. I have to admit, I am a bit fed up with it. Again, I am trying to take some deep breaths and let it roll off of me, but I'm also rolling my eyes.

Anyway, I am so close to finished with Alexander's convertible mittens. Actually, technically, they are finished, but I am not happy with how I attached the button loop. I didn't make a note of how I did it on the first one, because it seemed so simple, but I have redone this twice, and I am going to undo it and try again tomorrow. I have a simple, vanilla sock on needles, and have the second of three mittens in progress for Basbousa. Because I want to make it for MalMarch, I am casting on a cloche hat for a fall design tonight. There are a few days left in our Around the World Stitch-Along, and it has been so much fun. The projects made by our participants have been gorgeous and amaze me with their skill. What are you knitting?

The kids and I finished Jo's Boys, and I am almost finished with Desert Queen. My weekly study and prayer group has only one more week before we finish Songs of Praise, and we are trying to decide what study to do next. I have three or four here, and am hoping they will have some suggestions, as well. As I need a little light reading, I picked up another happy, little murder, Yarn to Go, which is fun and silly and what I need for a break. What are you reading?

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Menu Plan: Passion Sunday

So, another problem with the West's deviation from the Early Church's calendar and observance of Lent is that we now don't really observe Passion Sunday, which really is the final Sunday of Lent. Holy Week was always its own, separate, observance. We marked the Passion on the last Sunday of Lent, as a remembrance of what Christ did for our salvation, then we walk that final week of His life with Him during Holy week, from Palm Sunday, through His betrayal on Spy Wednesday, His Last Supper and the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist, His arrest and trial, His crucifixion, and His rest in the tomb, as He harrowed Hell to free those captive to death. We live through the events of that week each year. However, in the west, we also throw the Passion in there, and after we commemorate His triumphal entry, but before we actually commemorate the events of His Passion, as though it were too much to ask people to live those days with Him and with the Church. It is jarring and confusing, especially when even our own calendars and prayer books show that vestige. Regardless, the prayer book marks this day as Passion Sunday still, and we are remembering it. Since this week includes a birthday and the feast of the Annunciation, as well, we have a lot of bright spots to cheer us during this time.

It has been 33 days since we have eaten any meat or meat products (broth, etc.), and have only rarely eaten dairy or fish (for the oldest six of us, anyway), and will be 47 days by our Paschal feast. This is the first year we have been able to even attempt the more accurate fast as the early Church did (we had always had kids who were too young before, and I was either pregnant or nursing for a lot of that time), and while it has been a challenge, again, it has made us appreciate the food we do eat. Just the other day, I ate some carrots as a snack, and was amazed at how delicious carrots are. When we do get to have a bit of cheese or piece of fish, we are so grateful for it. The kids are amazing and encourage us in our fast. They have had us make fasting friendly foods for even their small birthday parties, which was really neat to see. Amira's friends didn't seem to notice that the meal was Lenten, and Elijah almost always gets a break on his birthday, since it is the Feast of the Annunciation. We are truly fasting within our strength, and reaping the benefits of obeying God's will and the teaching He has given us through His Church. We are so much more in awe of our Eastern brethren, who are much more strict about this than we are. It is definitely a discipline that grows us, though, and we look forward to increasing our observance and the increase in faith and in holiness that is offered to us through it.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Colcannon Fish Pie

This is a really simple dish to make, and is remarkably tasty. One thing you will need to resist is making the mashed potatoes loose and wet, you want them a bit drier than normal so they crisp up in the oven. This is the quantity I make for my family, but it can easily be made at a third or half of the quantity. Because of Jerome's special diet, we have discovered that you can directly substitute tapioca starch for the flour. If you make a salad or a fruit plate to go with it, you have a pretty good meal.

For the Colcannon:
6 pounds potatoes, peeled
4 leeks, sliced thinly
4 cups finely chopped kale or cabbage
8 tablespoons butter + 4 tablespoons more
1/2 cup half and half or milk
salt and pepper, to taste

For the fish filling:
6 tablepoons butter
3 leeks, sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups white wine, dry vermouth or dry sherry (or add more stock)
6 tablespoons flour or tapioca starch
2 cups fish stock
2 cups milk
salt and pepper, to taste
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 heaped tablespoon dijon or grainy mustard
3/4 pound cod, halibut, or other white fish fillets
3/4 pound salmon or tuna fillets
1/2 pound smoked trout or smoked salmon

To assemble:
1 cup grated parmesan or other hard, aged cheese

For the Colcannon:

Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water for 20 minutes or until really soft. Drain and immediately add 8 tablespoons butter. Mash (or mix thoroughly in a food processor). Stir in half and half. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Sauté the leeks in the additional butter until softened and starting to brown. Add kale or cabbage to the butter and cook for another 5 minutes, until softened. I like to season the leeks an kale with a little salt and pepper, too. Fold together the potato, kale and leek. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

For the Filling:

In a pot, sweat the leeks in the butter for 10 minutes until soft. Add the wine (or equal amount of stock) and reduce by two thirds. Add the flour, stir to incorporate and then drizzle in the milk and stock. Stir often and cook on a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the lemon zest, juice and mustard and stir to combine.

Trim the fish of any skin and bones and cut into large chunks. In a large casserole dish, about 11" X 15", place the fish around the bottom. Top with the sauce.

Spoon the Colcannon on top in several dollops, then spread them out a little to connect them together so they cover the pie. Use a fork to then fluff up edges and make lines everywhere. Try to keep the mash as high as possible. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top.

Cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Make sure to allow at least 20 minutes to cool before serving. We usually serve ours with steam sautéed green peas with garlic and tarragon, and fruit.

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

Menu Plan: Laetare Sunday

Laetare is milk-joy Sunday. It is the Mother's Day of the Church, remembering the Church as our Mother and the Blessed Mother herself. This week has a couple fish days in it for us, and is a little bright spot in the work and discipline of Lent. One of Rich's favorite saints, and one of our family patrons, is celebrated this week. The feast of Saint Joseph is Friday, and we are excited. Next week, we will have the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (and Elijah's birthday), and with the Paschal feast, we will have the whole Holy Family, which is of special devotion in our home. This week marks the fourth Sunday, fifth week, of Lent in the West, but the beginning of Lent for the East. It is years like this, when the distance is so far between us that I think I grieve the most over the disunity in the Church. Christ is not divided, though, and neither is the Church triumphant. Since both East and West are a little off on their calculation of the date of the Paschal feast, I think that we should all join together, get that settled and let the bunny and egg people just celebrate that on the old western date, and then the Church can celebrate on the more accurately calculated date and get marked down chocolate. Who is with me?

Jerome is really being a trooper about his diet. Nejat got to join him in a limited diet this week, as she had to have a soft foods diet all week from trying to bash out one of her teeth by performing acrobatics off the toilet. (Big sigh). At lunch, they sit together in the limited diet section of our dining table (which I didn't realize we had). I have to admit that not being able to use bread, pasta, corn, or rice as we normally do (or oats or rye or spelt or barley or any other grains) has been a pretty big challenge for me, especially during Lent. We have worked around it, and I am trying to make meals that we all can eat for our shared meals, at least, with few modifications for Jerome (and now Nejat), rather than multiple meals. In the end, that is still easier than making two or three meals, but the mind space it takes is a little tiring. Especially since he also cannot have any added sugars, including honey, molasses, or maple syrup (or most of them, really), no dried fruit, no pineapple, banana, grape, mango, kiwi, no juice, no balsamic, rice wine, or apple cider vinegar, and only three servings of root vegetables or sweet winter squash each week. You might notice that each week, I only include three meals that include carrots or potatoes or squash. Even that is something I have to check and count. My Lenten discipline, much like his, was not exactly chosen by me. That is alright, as we don't focus as much on what we are individually giving up, but rather what the Church in Her wisdom offers us as discipline for our growth, which we do corporately with Her. However, sometimes God adds a little more, and this is one of those years. Jerome has been teaching me about cheerfully accepting it. He has been so grateful, and so good about whatever his limits are. When the answer has been no (like could he use date sugar, since it is just ground up dates), he has simply accepted it and gone on with what he needs to do. That is pretty good for a 14 year old.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Sunday, March 07, 2021

Menu Plan: Third Sunday in Lent

Saints Perpetua and Felicity are two of my favorite saints. They were a married noblewoman and her servant who were brought to be executed for their faith. Felicity was pregnant and delivered while in prison. The image of her bleeding, recently delivered body being set against wild beasts in the arena was too much even for the Romans, who were so used to this kind of violence as entertainment, and seeing them martyred in this way was the beginning of the end for this kind of execution in Rome.

This week is the opening of birthday season in our home. Amira is trying to plan a covid friendly birthday party outdoors. Thank God the weather has been warming up so it is even possible. She has had snow on her birthday here in previous years. She has been hard at work cleaning and putting together the gazebo we got for me several years ago that the wind blew over like a sail and damaged a bit. On her actual birthday, we are making a Lenten cake so the family can share in it, but we always let birthday kids break the fast if they wish on their birthdays. We will see what she chooses now that she is older. I don't think she chose to last year or even the year before. She might go for some dairy this year, though, I might if I had that option right now.

Anyway, we had a rough week last week, and I am hoping this week is much calmer with little excitement besides the birthday. Nejat was so excited to pick out a special present for Amira, and she made her a present and a card, as well. I love how our children love each other. Please pray for peace around us.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Craft On: Stitching Along

Craft on March 3

Alexander's convertible mittens are nearly finished! I am still looking for a way to make yarn covered buttons so he doesn't scratch any aircraft if he is wearing them while working. Basbousa is moving right along, but my insomnia is still slowing me down. Being tired is really a pain! The good news is that I have been getting almost six hours of sleep each night. The bad news is that with Rich's sinus/breathing trouble, I am having my sleep a little disrupted, even when I don't wake up fully. Still, I am grateful for more than two or three hours of sleep.

As for my SAL project, I told you I was slow at crochet, but it is coming along, too, and I really like it. I just noticed that all the projects I mention here are for hands - either mittens or fingerless mitts or convertible mittens. Evidently, I have a theme right now. Do some of you more seasoned crocheters have a suggestion as to how to regulate my tension? I have it loose enough that I can manipulate the stitches alright, but it feels like the stitches themselves might be loose or tight and it doesn't seem to have a rhyme or reason. Is there something I should be doing?

If you want to join in on the stitching and fun on either our Ravelry Group or Instagram feed, the Around the World Stitch-Along will go through March 28, 2021. (And we have prizes!!!)

We didn't finish Jo's Boys, mostly because this has been a really busy week that had a few unplanned trips. I have picked up Desert Queen exactly once. I need a 36 hour day with 12 hours of sleep each night. (You can see that Building the Way to Heaven: The Tower of Babel and Pentecost arrived. It is a great book, and wonderful for children, but I really think that Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus was executed better, and suited to both adults and children in that way that all good children's books are.)

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Craft On: Better Late than Never

Elementary, my dear

This has been an exausting week. I feel like I have been busy all the time, but at the same time have not been accomplishing much. So, needless to say, this post is coming rather late.

My Stitch-Along project is back on track, I started it last weekend, only to find that the crochet hook I had was making my stitches a bit too tight, but I didn't have the right size, so I had to wait for an order of hooks. I undid the work I had done before, and restarted it, and now I am doing pretty well. Crochet is slower for me, and this slip stitch pattern grows a little more slowly, anyway, so I am really hoping I can have a finished object before the SAL ends. However, it is beautiful, and I am enjoying making it. This is yarn I bought in Tokyo, and it comes from Denmark. It seemed like a perfect choice for our Around the World SAL event. Please consider joining in the stitching and fun on either our Ravelry Group or Instagram feed. The Around the World Stitch-Along will go through March 28, 2021.

In other news, I have been working on Alexander's convertible mittens and also Basbousa, and also, because I am so distracted right now, a stripy sock. I was hoping to have Alexander's mittens finished, or at least the knitting finished tonight, but I am pretty sure that will not happen. They are close, though. I need to cover the button with yarn so it won't be something that could scratch any aircraft he might be working on, too. Do you have any recommendations for doing that

We should be finishing Jo's Boys this week. I'm still mostly having sleepless nights, or interupted sleep, so my goal to finish Desert Queen has not been realized, but I am hoping to get enough rest to read and enjoy it this week. Even though we are a week and a half in, I haven't picked up a Lenten book, though I have been reading the short stories to the kids about the season and about the crucifixion and resurrection and the saints from our Lenten book bin.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Menu Plan: Second Sunday in Lent

Be steadfast, brothers, and do the little things.

So, I like to buy good coffee. I get heiromonk roasted coffee from either Father Michael's or the Vashon Monks. It is a little more expensive than coffee is at the store, but it is so much better, and a fresher roast, and we get to support a Christian monastery when we do it. Now that most of the kids drink coffee, it is rarer that I have a lot leftover, but usually there is a little. In order to steward our money and food better, I heat it up the next day and drink it with milk or cream. Normally, I prefer my coffee strong and black, but in the interest of being wise with the expenses we make, I do this, because I don't want to throw it out and because I don't care for the overcooked taste when it is reheated. Now that we are dairy free for Lent, it means that there is a lot more coffee left. So, I have gone back to making coffee cubes to freeze. We pour the dead coffee into the ice cube trays, freeze them, and then pop the cubes into a freezer bag. When we are in Bright Week, I am going to have so much coffee iced chocolate milk.

We found a great deal on shrimp the last time I went grocery shopping, and so we had it this past week, and also are having it a couple times this week. It feels decadent to eat it right now. Everyone had come to a point where we really needed something like that as a boost. The fish tonight will be awesome, too. It is only five more weeks before we can break the fast, and honestly besides the spiritual benefit, I think it really makes us appreciate things like dairy products, eggs, and meat. It is easy to become so used to these things that we forget how wonderful they are and to be grateful for them. Fasting, even this abstinent diet, teaches us how much we need God, and for that reason alone, it would be worth it. That He offers it to us as a tool to grow us and to join our lives to His and to appreciate His creation is just a bonus.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Muhamarrah



This is such a delicious dip. It is hearty enough to make up a good part of a meal, and you can use it as a sauce for pasta or rice with kofta, too. On top of all of this, it is really simple to make with a food processor. Since Jerome is on his grain free, sugar free diet, we had to modify this a bit more recently, so I can tell you with confidence that you can omit the bread crumbs and increase the walnuts to make up for it, and it is quite fine that way. You may also leave out the pomegranate molasses and increase the lemon juice, but we did so reluctantly, as it really is much better with it in there. However, the walnuts are really essential to this recipe, so if you cannot have them, you may want to try something else. Pine nuts are not traditional in this, but would probably make an admirable substitute, and if you can have them, you could swap that for the walnuts.

6 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (or 2 12-ounce jars of drained, roasted red peppers - save the liquid for soups or cooking rice)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 bunch of parsley, ends trimmed
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to serve
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (you can omit this, and increase the lemon juice by an equal amount, but it really adds something to it)
juice of 2 lemons, strained
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

In the bowl of a food processor, place the roasted red peppers, garlic, walnuts, bread crumbs, and parsley (including the stems), and pulse until a coarse mixture is made, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally. When the pieces are uniformly small, add the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, Aleppo pepper flakes, salt, cumin, and coriander, and pulse several more times, until a relatively smooth mixture is formed.

Pour out into a large, shallow dish, and use a spoon to make furrows in it. Drizzle with more olive oil. You may wish to garnish with a walnut half, or a few sprigs of parsley. Serve with bread.


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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Menu Plan: First Sunday in Lent

There are many beautiful icons of the Temptation of Jesus, but this painting by Duccio captures the essense of our Lenten journey with Christ in the desert. After being driven to the desert to fast for 40 days and be tested (not as a trick or pop quiz, but to model for us and to teach the way we make our spiritual battle), He commands Satan away, with the angels waiting to attend Him.

Jerome is doing so well keeping to his diet as well as our Lenten fast. It is really hard on him, especially the bread part. He missed that. I found a chickpea flour bread that was both safe for his diet and Lenten, so I am going to try to make it this week. We are doing pretty well either having an easy alternative for him in our meals or making meals that he can join us in as a family. There were these tiger nut "tortilla" chips at the Grocery Outlet, and they are safe for his diet, and taste good, and were really inexpensive. They taste almost like a cross between corn and flour, so they are rather versatile, too. We crushed them up as the breadcrumbs for the topping on his "macaroni" and cheese, and he has used them instead of tortillas when we have burritos and uses the filling we do as a topping.

We are still eating dairy and eggs and some fish on Sundays, and it was amazing how good scrambled eggs tasted after only four days of not eating any. It makes you appreciate such simple goodness. Most of our menus are Lenten for both East and West. This year of such a long separation between our observance has us praying more fervently for unity. That is a Lent the Church must endure, but it will bring a glorious Resurrection.

This week is also the feast of one of my favorite saints, Saint Polycarp, who was taught directly by Saint John the Evangelist. So much of what we know about the Apostles' teaching comes from him and men like him. Take some time to read his martyrdom, and his life. His faith is a model for ours. The early church used his bones as a lesson to catechumens that in choosing Christ, they were choosing martyrdom. It is a good thing to remember during Lent.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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