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Saturday, April 28, 2007

What Does Your Husband Do?

When you go out to run errands and leave him at home with the kids at night? After Rich finished up dinner, got the kids in bed and fed Jerome some pasta, this is what he did:

I came home to quite the nice surprise. At first, I didn't realize he had made them for me, and I wanted to know where he got them.

This one is his favorite.

He said he just couldn't eat them after making them. He didn't mind, though, as he said they are pretty much for me alone.

I made sure to take pictures before I took one bite. Rich says it made them look better than they do in real life.

What a guy!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Why Distrust?

When I was first becoming a Christian, I remember attending church with some people who stressed the importance of having your bible with you at church. I think this is important, it is good to make the connection with what is being taught and where to find it in scripture.

The major reason given to me was that by having your Bible open to the passage being preached or discussed, you could make sure that nothing was being changed. You wouldn't have to just believe the pastor, or take the church's word for it, you would know it for yourself. Again, I thought it was very important to know what the scripture said for oneself. Being familiar with the bible is part of how we understand God.

When I began my journey into the liturgical branches of the church, often the lectionary readings were printed in the bulletin. Some of my friends then, and even some now, would comment on how much better it would be just to have people use their own bibles, because that way you would know for sure that nobody had corrupted the real words of the bible.

I have to say that this struck me as being a bit overzealous. Why would you assume that your clergy would misrepresent scripture? If you are trusting them with exegesis and spiritual guidance, with the leadership of the congregation and family problems, why distrust them? If you suspect they are tampering with what the bible says, then all that other trust is misplaced. If you are that unsure that they are teaching directly what scripture writes, then it is time to leave to find a new congregation.

Several years ago, I read The Gift of Fear, and in it the author replies to some parents questions of whether or not to get hidden cameras to use as surveillance of a nanny or babysitter. He basically said, if you are already seriously considering surveillance, it's time to get rid of the sitter. For one thing, if you don't catch anything on film, it doesn't guarantee that nothing happened, just that it didn't happen there, so it wouldn't necessarily calm your fears, for another, if you did catch someone harming your children, what kind of relief would it be that you have it on film? Better to get your child out of that situation early on, or before anything happens, than to get the evidence.

This is the impression the whole make sure the pastor is really reading the exact words from the bible makes on me. We are to submit ourselves to our godly leadership. If we cannot submit, then it is either from rebellion in ourselves, or the result of an ungodly leader. If it is the first, we need to get over it, and if it is the second, we need to go through the proper channels to try to correct the leadership and, failing that, get our families out to another congregation.

By teaching this kind of distrust, we help to undermine the authority of the church both for ourselves, and for our children. Rich and I had to face this when we realized that the leadership in a church we attended did not believe in the truth and authority of Sacred Scripture. To make matters worse, the person who was in outright apostasy was the head of children's education. We spoke with our leadership, asked for their views, tried to do our best where we were. Eventually, though, we came to the conclusion that if we had to spend the drive to church explaining to the kids that not everything they heard would necessarily be in line with Scripture and Tradition (let alone Reason), and the drive home cross examining them on what theological errors might have been passed on to them, and telling them why we don't really believe that, we were undermining not only the authority of the Church, but also their own faith. If mom and dad say we don't have to believe this part of what we're taught, why do we need to believe any of it? The world is hard enough on our faith, we didn't need to add trouble to our children.

So, the value in knowing the scriptures, and how the Church has read them and taught historically and universally, isn't so you can catch the leadership getting it wrong and go home knowing you weren't hoodwinked, but rather that we can see an error coming and try to gently correct it, or at least inquire about it, in case it wasn't an error, but a misunderstanding. We don't feel the need to stand guard, waiting for our priest to try to trick us, but this is because in everything he's said and taught, he shows that he respects the Church, the Scriptures, the authority of God. If we didn't have this trust, we could not submit to his authority.


Finished Object Friday: Not Even One Mitt

This should have been posted first thing this morning, but we all slept in instead, so it was rush the kids out the door after helping them finish some last minute homework and then go run errands and nurse the baby and I'm tired just thinking about it. You can see why I didn't get the mitt finished. Or Celia, which just needs three seams and the neck done.

However, you may have been more productive in your craft. Share what you have finished this week. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog. I will visit all the posts, though maybe not all today. It will give me some inspiration to finish!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sock Pictures

I've made sufficient progress on my second sock that I thought I'd share a picture with you.

Here is a detail shot of the aran braid. The color of this is off a bit, there is a tiny touch of periwinkle in this blue.

I was going to distract you by posting newer pictures of the kids, but the boys really need haircuts, and we didn't have time to take care of that, so the new photos will have to come later.

I'm also almost finished with my first Wine and Roses Mitt.

I have the picot top and the thumb to do before it is completed. This will have to do for knitting content right now.


Monday, April 23, 2007

God Bless America

This phrase seems to bother a portion of our society. I've seen bumper stickers that say God Bless Everyone, sometimes adding whatever their nationality or something to that effect. This baffles me. I've yet to meet anyone who thinks that God blessing America means He cannot bless anyone else.

I have to admit, were I to get any of these kinds of bumper stickers, it would probably be the one that says America Bless God, but I still don't understand why there is so much antagonism toward a sentiment seeking God's blessing on our nation. To me, it seems a bit like more knee-jerk anti-Americanism. Please don't tell me you are a patriot when you resent the idea that some people would seek God's blessing on America.

I ask for God's blessing on my family, but that does not mean that I wish for Him to curse all other, or any other, families. It doesn't follow that if one is blessed another must be cursed. Just as I can be proud of my nationality and still value other nations.

The only people who seem not to get this are those who are moved to buy the God Bless Everyone type bumper stickers.

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Menu Plan Monday: April 23

Alexander and Dominic are in the Wizard of Oz, as I think I've mentioned before. They have made their names in the school's play productions, so they are now no longer relegated to the chorus and other general spots for the little kids. They get to play along with the middle school and high school kids, Alexander as a flying monkey and Dominic as one of the Munchkins. Play practice begins in earnest this next week, so I am relying on a lot of long cooking, low maintenance and very quickly prepared meals.

We were able to buy 10 pounds of strawberries for $0.99 a pound this week at one of our favorite produce stores, so Rich is going to help me make a little batch of jam, and we will be eating them fresh and I'll make some topping for a cheesecake for the potluck when our Bishop makes his episcopal visit this next weekend. We haven't seen him since last summer, I think, so it will be nice to have him celebrate the mass at church on Sunday, but he is coming with his wife for the whole weekend, so we will all get to visit a bit more than the usual one day. This man is amazing, he remembers us in prayer, by name and situation, even after meeting us only once. We are in a mission diocese, so he covers a lot of ground, and he still remembers our names, family situations and prayer concerns even though we only see him about twice a year. We are blessed to have him as our bishop. He loves the Lord, and he loves the people he shepherds.

What is on your menu this week?

Mr. Linky is having problems on Laura's blog, so I cannot link myself there, but I will keep checking and add this later. If you wish to participate, you'll have to add yourself later also.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

May Colorswap: Purple

Here is the notice for next month's swap. The deadline for registration is 12:01 a.m PDT. April 27, 2007. This is Thursday night. If you wish to sign up, send me an email with your full name, mailing address, email address that you check regularly, and blog url. This is open to knitters worldwide, but I am going to make a big effort to pair people within the same nation or at least continent, since there is only a month in which to allow for something to arrive. I am going to limit the swap to the first 50 respondents. Please feel free to spread the word about this, though.

The first thing to come to mind in terms of color is, of course, yarn, but please don't limit yourself to that. Handmade cards, candles, soaps, bath salts, stationery, candies, chocolates, knitterly tools or gadgets, knitting themed accessories and roving/fiber for those who are spinners as well are all good idea for gifts. Knitting something for someone would be a lovely gift. Including shipping, the minimum price for this swap should be considered at $25 (remember, that includes shipping and any packaging). I know how difficult it is to determine the monetary value of something handmade, or handspun or hand dyed, and I do not consider those things as cheap, but please keep in mind a general sense of the price of the package being sent. Participants should expect to receive one package and to send out one package for each round of the swap. Packages should arrive by the end of each month, preferably earlier.

Remember that registration for May ends 12:01 a.m. April 27, 2007 and the color theme is Purple. Have fun!

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Two Birthdays

It has been over a month since Amira's birthday and I still haven't posted about it. While trying to organize this post, I realized we took absolutely zero photos of Elijah's birthday, so I'll have to describe it really well.

March 10, 2007: Amira's Third Birthday

We had a small family party for her this year.

I had gotten some fun girly clothes for her, jeans with embroidered stars, a pink ruffled shirt with a denim play dress, a blue tank top with a crocheted snowflake on it. Rich and I both had a princess tea set for her which is all contained in a large plastic tea pot. This was a huge selling feature for me. The boys played along and had a tea party with her that morning while Rich made breakfast.

Alexander made her an airplane with Happy Birthday Amira written on a banner trailing behind her and Dominic made her a birthday crown and a birthday card. We also picked up a mylar birthday cupcake balloon for her.

We brought a chocolate cake with ganache on it to church the next day to celebrate with our church family. Amira was so excited to be able to celebrate her birthday on two days. Of course, to her birthday means present, so she kept asking for her birthday and wanting to know where it was.

We are truly blessed to have had her for another year, especially with her near miss almost two years ago. Even though we have expressly forbidden choking since that incident, she keeps trying to do it anyway. She will put an entire boiled egg in her mouth.

Three Amazing Things About Amira

So, on to Elijah...

March 25, 2007: Elijah's Fifth Birthday and the Feast Day of the Annunciation

We always joke that we should have an Annunciation themed birthday party for Elijah. We figure the other little boys will ask why there is an angel on his cake and why there is a fairy theme. He usually has his birthday fall during Lent (he was born the Monday of Holy Week), so there isn't much in the way of feasting then, but his birthday is a feast day! Unless it falls on Good Friday, as it did recently, or during the Triduum, we can celebrate his birthday on his birthday. This year it fell on a Sunday, so we didn't have to worry about that as much. Next year will be the first year it happens after Easter in his entire short life.

He had been wanting the movie Cars for some time, so Rich and I decided to get that for him. When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday he said chocolate cake - mostly because he had seen his sister get it for her Sunday celebration. I told him he would definitely get that, but what else. He said a treasure hunt and candy. All admirable things for a birthday celebration.

I worked on the cake and the wrapping of the present. Rich worked on the treasure hunt. Since Elijah is still interested in Blues Clues, he made paw prints and a handy dandy notebook. The kids first saw the preview for Cars at our priest's family's home, and it was introduced to Elijah by Marthie, our priest's wife, who also plays the piano at church. So, Rich made the clues to be: Marthie (who played along and wore her clue like a pinned corsage), sheet music and the piano. This was a little abstract, but his brothers were helping him, and pretty soon our priest's kids were helping him, too. They all had a great time chasing down the clues, and figuring them out, and Elijah was so excited to have his treasure hunt. He was thrilled to pieces to get Cars, and we watched it with a hot dog dinner (the kids pick their birthday dinners at our house, and he changed his mind about five times) that evening. It was so much fun for everyone, and great to watch him figuring out what to do for his treasure hunt. He kept his handy dandy notebook with his drawings of the clues, and he still has those pawprints.

On the way home from church we stopped at the store, and I took Elijah with me while Rich took the other kids to the dollar store to pick up presents for their brother. Alexander and Dominic used their own tooth fairy money to get presents and Amira and Jerome were given money to buy him something. Alexander bought him a rubber snake, Dominic got him a huge blow up ball with clown fish all over it, Amira picked out a soft football and Jerome thought his brother ought to have a mylar balloon like Amira did, and chose one of the birthday balloons there.

Elijah is another child we are fortunate to have. We could have lost him at any time during the pregnancy to heart failure, and during or after his surgery to take the tumor off when he was born. Even now, there is technically a risk of the tumor returning, though none of his blood tests or physical examinations have shown anything for which we should worry. He has one more blood draw and examination before they call him all clear.

Five Delightful Things About Elijah

Happy birthday to two of my precious children!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Finished Object Friday: Dragon Scales Washcloth

The Wine and Roses Mitts aren't finished, but I am working on the last several rounds on the first one.

The dragon scales washcloth is finished, though. I finished it on Wednesday, which was a big day for accomplishments in our house. Jerome managed to figure out crawling and sitting up on his knees that day, also. I probably could have done another half a repeat, but I was ready for it to be finished, so I did my six rows of garter st and bound off. Here is picture of it with the rest of the gift basket in our west window.

I'm sending this along with a jar of my homemade blackberry lime jam, peanut butter cup cookies, chex mix and cinnamon nuts to someone as a care package. I would tell you who it is, but she reads my blog occasionally, and I'd like to surprise her.

Working with the linen was as much of a pain as everyone says it is. Slightly better than cotton, but still tough on my hands. It is so much nicer to be working with the alpaca on the mitts. There is nothing like a linen washcloth or towel, though, and it softens up so much when it is washed.

Anyway, here is the information about the washcloth:

The pattern is the Dragon Scales Washcloth from Knitter's Stash. I used Louet Sportweight Linen and size 3 needles. I didn't change anything about the pattern, except for possibly stopping about three quarters of an inch sooner. This would have been a really quick knit, if I could have stood working with the linen for decent stretches of time. It probably took me six hours of actual knitting time, but it took me about a month to do it. I think it is worth it, and I have another skein of linen, in white, that I'm planning on using for a seed st stripe washcloth for myself. Sometime after my hands have a chance to recover.

Now this part is mostly because I've been wishing for a reason to post a Mr. Linky for some time. Please share what you have finished this week. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog. I hope I get some takers. I won't always have a finished object to post on a Friday, but I will try to always have a Mr. Linky up, so you can showcase your work to other crafters.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Finished Objects and Works in Progress

I've been knitting and crocheting a little bit more than I could for a while, and so I have some progress to share.

I finished off a pair of toddler mitts for a swap.

I am debating whether or not to either crochet a chain or make an i-cord to connect them and reduce the chance of one getting lost. What do you think?

I also finally finished a crocheted bath puff for myself.

All it needed was the ends woven in, but I just hadn't gotten to it, so I did that on Friday, and now I have a new, pretty bath toy.

Linda's Knit-n-Stitch had a 10% off sale on Brittany Birch needles the same week I called to ask if she had any size one dpns in, so I made my way up there, bought the size ones, and a set of zeros and a couple skeins of Koigu in a lovely purple colorway that I think will become a shawlette. I was highly tempted by a deep bing cherry to almost black colorway, and I'm sitting on my hands so I don't drive right up there tomorrow and buy all of it.

However, since I had the size ones, I could get back to the Wine and Roses Mitts from the Winter Interweave Knits that I was making in Alpaca Glimmer. I'm actually a little farther than this now, but this is the picture I have.

While I was visiting my cousin, I got all of one cable repeat finished on the second Aran Braid sock I've been working on for so long. Since then, I've done another three repeats. So, I may have a pair of socks by this fall! Didn't get any photos of the sock. It is not very interesting progress, just because of how slowly I'm working on it.

I also started a linen washcloth from Knitter's Stash. It seemed like it should not have taken me as long as it has to get as far as I've gotten. I'm a bit over half way through with it, and I like the pattern, and I like how it will end up, but I'm not so thrilled with how tedious it is. I work on it while falling asleep to the Lord of the Rings at night. Somehow working on a dragon scales pattern while watching it seems appropriate.

This is where it was a few nights ago. I have about two more repeats of the dragon scales pattern to go, then six rows of garter st, then I'll be finished. It will be going in a gift basket along with another bath puff, some body wash, lotion, a bar of honey soap and this hair scrunchie I crocheted a while back.

The progress that is most interesting though is, of course, the kids. Alexander and Dominic are in the Wizard of Oz at school, Elijah and Amira both had birthdays and continue to amuse us with comments from the randomizer, and Jerome has four teeth now, and is working on number five. He is eating all sorts of different food, and scooting around on the floor. He can almost sit up without help. Rich evidently took a picture of the two of us sleeping on the couch at the end of February. I cropped it so you cannot see me, since I didn't like that picture of me, asleep, but you can see my darling little boy.

A few days later, we took this picture of him playing with his piano. He's a musical genius. It's even more amazing when you realize he can play Mozart Concertos with only four piano keys.

I have a few more recent shots of the kids that I'll get posted as soon as I can. I also still have all of Amira's birthday and Elijah's birthday to report on here. I've been remiss. There has been a lot going on lately, though, with the holidays and travel, school and family, so that will have to be my excuse.

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Menu Plan Monday: April 16

Last week sped by, and I'm sure this week will, too. We're still getting our lives back to normal here after Lent and Easter. I'm also cooking up some things to put in a care package for someone, as well as knitting up a storm on things for myself and for gifts.

Not Baked Beans

The beans I'm making for tonight are kind of my version of baked beans, but they are not baked and they include some things which wouldn't be in traditional baked beans.

2 cups small white beans (I've used pinto beans when I was out of white beans), picked through for stones and debris
4 cups water
8 oz tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
8 oz bacon, diced
2 onions, roughly chopped
salt, to taste

Put the beans and water in the crockpot, cover and cook on high for at least two hours. Reduce to low, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, molasses, mustard and pepper. Cook bacon on med-low heat until fat is rendered and bacon starts to brown, cook onions in the rendered bacon fat with the bacon. Add all of this to the crockpot and cook for at least two hours. Check to see if the beans are cooked to your liking, and taste for salt. Add salt, if necessary.

Serve with biscuits or cornbread and a salad.

The shredded chicken for tacos is so easy to make. I put a large onion, diced, in the bottom of a crockpot, a few boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or thighs into the crockpot along with some peeled, whole garlic, a whole jalapeno (without the stem), or two, some cumin, salt and pepper. Cover this and cook on low all day, until the meat shreds easily and the vegetables are soft. Take a fork and mash up all the veggies with the chicken and shred the meat. Serve with warm tortillas, rice, avocados, salsa, sour cream, whatever you like.

What is on your menu this week?

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pink Treats

Do you remember that stand up sketch that Bill Cosby had about his daughter coming downstairs and seeing the chocolate cake in the cupboard behind him? He did not make it up.

Last week, we had a pink box of baq'lawa on our counter that my cousin sent us. We were saving it to bring the the Great Vigil so we could share it, break the fast with it and so I wouldn't have more cooking to do that day. Well on Thursday, I was getting juice for the kids and Amira pipes up that she likes pink treats. I was pouring cranberry juice, so I thought that's what she was talking about. Then she said that she wanted a pink treat. I said that we didn't have any pink treats. She pointed to the box on the counter that I had been standing in front of, and said those pink treats. I explained to her that we were bringing it to the Vigil on Saturday and that she would get some then. That satisfied her.

Well, Saturday's Vigil is late at night, it started even later this year, closer to 9:45 than 9:00 because of some set up issues. About a third of the way through it, Amira fell asleep. We just laid her down on the pew with some blankets, and it was not a big deal. We figured she would wake up when the bell ringing started and ring her bells. She did not.

I carried her little limp body up to the communion rail to be blessed, because she was still asleep and didn't receive the Eucharist. So, then we thought she would wake up at our breaking the fast afterward. She did not. We made the boys solemnly promise not to mention anything they ate that night, or that we ate anything at all if she woke up.

We ate the whole meal, chatted away for an hour or so, and then we remembered. I had promised her some of the pink treats, and she was asleep. I rushed over to the box, and it was empty.

Rich told me not to worry, she didn't know what was in it, so I said I'd take the box home, put something in it and that would be her pink treat. We finished up the meal, Rich started putting the kids in the car, and helping take down the baptismal font and cleaning up. I went to get the pink box.

It was not there.

Someone had thrown the box away. So Rich went digging in the garbage, it was just on top, it wasn't gross. I set it on the table with me while I talked to three of our priest's sons. When Rich came back from upstairs, I picked it up to go, and got a handful of ranch dip. Evidently, one corner of it had been sitting on ranch dressing.

Rich got it cleaned up, put in a plastic bag and we brought the thing home. Easter day, I slid a bag of sweet tarts in there, and Amira got her pink treats.

And she is none the wiser.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rocks in My Dryer

As a mother of boys, I laughed out loud the first time I read the name of Shannon's blog. I frequently find rocks in my dryer and have made loud pronouncements that there will be NO MORE ROCKS brought into this house.

Most of the time I read Shannon's posts, I still laugh out loud. Today, I was moved to tears. Yesterday's post was about getting a little perspective, or rather having the Lord give you some when you least expect it. Today I am praying for God to show me someone who needs my prayers, someone who needs to be noticed and remembered.


April Color Swap Underway

We had a few computer snafus, but they seem to be resolved and I believe everyone has her assignment. We are sending neutral colors this month, there is a lot of room for creativity here.

Our participants this month are:

Please feel free to take one of the buttons above for your blog. Also, remember that at the end of this I will have a prize for one of the people who designed a button. So far, only one person has submitted buttons, those above, and if nobody else does, she automatically gets the prize. You can send me an email with a jpg, gif or whatever kind of graphic file. Thank you!

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One Skein: One Down, One Considered

This photo isn't the best, but it gives you an idea

I received back one of my submissions to the new One Skein Wonders book. I submitted one that was super basic, and quick, an easy project for a very beginner knitter, and one that used fine yarn and took a little thought. It was hard to predict which type they would be most interested in, so off they both went. The super basic one, this headband and pin set, came back, and they aren't using it, but the other one is still under consideration, so it has made the first cut, at least.

It would be exciting to have a design of mine in a book, even if it is a collection, so I am hoping and praying that my little project makes the next few cuts.

If anyone shows interest in this pattern, I will post it for sale for $1.00 each, in a pdf. I will also have a drawing for a kit. So let me know if you are interested.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


This is easy, inexpensive, filling and tasty. You can halve the recipe if you like, or not. It reheats well and is good for leftover lunch.

olive oil
8 large onions, thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups basmati rice
3 cups lentils, any kind you like, I use the French green lentils the most
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt + more for the crisp onions
1 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes (but if you can get the Aleppo pepper, I really recommend it)

In a medium-large pot, heat about 1/3 cup olive oil over medium-high heat, coat the pan liberally with the oil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the onions, until they are soft and brown, just starting to crisp, stirring every 5 - 10 minutes, more as they get browner. Remove about half the onions to a frying pan.

Add the rice and lentils, along with the spices and salt, and stir until the rice is fragrant. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Add enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you wish.

Heat the frying pan to low and cook onions slowly, stirring until they are fully caramelized, crisp and very dark, but not burnt. Season with salt.

Serve the mejeddarah with the crisp onions and with laban bi chiyar (cucumber yogurt salad) or just plain yogurt.

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Menu Plan Tuesday: Bright Week

I am late again this week, I was recovering from our church schedule and feasting last week. The chipotle rubbed steak is the easiest thing in the world to make. Take a tablespoon of chipotle powder and a teaspoon of kosher salt and rub all over the skirt (or flank) steak, grill over hot coals, quickly, let rest and slice across the grain on the diagonal. Serve with rice, beans, avocado if you have it, salsa and or sour cream. You can stuff it all in a tortilla, if you wish. The lasagna recipe is taken from Fine Cooking; the two lasagne recipes from that issue, the chocolate cheesecake recipe and the mustard-horseradish potroast recipe I've gotten from them have made my subscription worth the money. I renewed it year by year for some time, then two years at a time, and this last time for three years. I like them that much.

There is a danger to posting these. My inlaws were shocked that I'd changed the menu on Friday, for instance, because they came expecting Baked Potatoes in Cheesy Broccoli Sauce, and got instead Eggs in Purgatory with toast. My father in law questioned whether or not the cheesecake would be at the Paschal Feast after that, saying that you just couldn't believe everything you read on the internet.

We are on day three of Easter. There are five more to go, Easter is an octave. This is a week of feasting, and even the traditional Friday (and Wednesday and sometimes Saturday) abstinence is not required, as fasting on a feast of the Lord is prohibited. So, we're eating lots of rich foods this week, and we may actually not be able to handle it all, but we'll do our best.

Rich and I did our hour of prayer each for Maundy Thursday (from the Latin, mandatum, command, the night the Lord instituted the Eucharist, as well as giving the command to love one another as He loved us, which is the harder command to keep), and I was convicted of our Lord's reproof to the disciples, I had a hard time watching with Him one hour that night. There is always one thing that particularly strikes me at these services each year. At the Stations of the Cross, it was the reading of Christ giving up his spirit to Death. He was no mere victim, which I already knew, but the force of his not being defeated, but offering himself revealed itself to me in a greater way this year.

My inlaws came Friday evening and went to the Stations of the Cross with us, they helped us clean, and clean, and clean. They said that as long as our kids still call them grandma and grandpa and don't refer to them as the cleaning staff, it's okay with them. Both of them were a bit tired from our rigorous schedule on Saturday, so they didn't go with us to the Easter Vigil, and instead found a church in town to go to morning services on Sunday. The vigil was beautiful, and holy, and I was again left in awe of the majesty of our Lord. We got home about 2:00 a.m., got the kids in bed and quickly got to bed ourselves in preparation for that morning's work. I have a funny story about Amira that I'll have to share in another post about that night's breaking of the fast.

Our Paschal Feast was a success, we made four herb roasted legs of lamb with a red wine sauce, pita and hummus, tabbouleh, pickled eggs, harissa, triple chocolate cheesecake, lemonade and iced tea. We put out some kalamata olives as well. Rich's mom made a salad with sliced apples and feta and lots of devilled eggs. Our church family brought a pasta salad, a green salad with mango, green beans, Mexican rice, more devilled eggs, chicken stew, sodas, wines, two lemon cakes, a chocolate fountain with fruit and angel food cake and Resurrection rolls. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I made the laban bi chiyar, but left it in the fridge, so we found it after everyone went home. I also forgot to put out the Prosecco. I don't think my father in law has forgiven that.

Our priests said the blessings over the lamb, wine, bread and eggs and we feasted and enjoyed our celebration. Our Laudate kids hid Easter eggs for the little kids, and the younger ones had a great time finding them. Games were played, jokes were told, and a great time was had by all. It was an earlier night than usual this year, everyone went home by around 8:00 p.m. That was alright, truth be told, as it gave us a little bit of a rest.

I will post the mejeddarah recipe today, as well as some knitting content!

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Menu Plan Monday: April 2

My visit with my cousin in West Virginia was lovely! I haven't seen her in nearly 24 years. The last time we visited was when I was seven. Since then, we have both gotten married, she has had four children and I have had five. The last picture I saw of her children was of her eldest when he was an infant, and he's almost 19 now, a handsome, kind and intelligent young man in his first year of college. She has three other sons, a 14 year old, nine year old and four year old, who are all very sweet and handsome boys as well. What a pleasure to spend time with them. She is working on her PhD in psychology, and fortunately, her husband was able to get leave from the Saudi Navy to come and stay with the family while she is in school. It was a short visit, but we had a great time catching up and getting to know each other. I was even able to practice my Arabic a bit. I quite surprised my cousin, because I kept saying how bad my Arabic was, so she really expected me not to be able to speak, but she heard me talking to her neighbors in complete sentences and paragraphs. She said she couldn't believe it was me.

Since plane tickets for six would eat away at a lot of the money we have put away for the boys' schooling next year, Jerome and I were the only people they were able to meet. I brought pictures of the rest of the family, and I'm working on getting them to come out either for Thanksgiving or for a longer stretch around Christmas. Also, I suspended my Lenten fast while I was there, they are not Christian, and I didn't want to make their lives more difficult just because I was there.

Aside from staying up all night talking to my cousin, we visited with some of her friends and neighbors and they threw a traditional Saudi party the last night I was there, with so much wonderful food and all the women dancing and talking and laughing. I was made to feel so welcome, and Jerome was doted on by all who saw him. My cousin's husband has quite a sweet tooth, it turns out, and loves chocolate. It was determined that he adores cheesecake, so I made a triple chocolate cheesecake with my cousin for him, and then the next day made a vanilla cheesecake with strawberry topping that we brought to the party.

I'm glad to be home, but it was sad to leave them all. I arrived here just in time for Holy Week, and this is a busy week at our home. We are getting the house cleaned up and ready for the Paschal feast we are hosting Sunday. Thursday through Saturday, we have services every night, Saturday being the Great Vigil. I am very excited about the Vigil this year, because I will have something corrected that was in error. My baptism was invalid, it turns out, and so although my priest has told me not to hesitate to take communion, because I had a devout baptism of intent, we are going to rectify the sacramental issue and baptise me along with a young man from our church at the Vigil. Since the church teaches that there is one baptism, and no need to rebaptize, so long as three conditions are met to make the sacrament valid, this isn't actually a rebaptism, but a real baptism. My first was invalid, two out of three of the requirements were not met, so sacramentally, it didn't effect a change.

After the Great Vigil, we will have a mini-feast at around midnight. It will be quite a late night, so after we get the kids into bed, we will try to get some sleep and wake up to cook and do last minute cleaning. Rich's folks will be here, and they always pitch in to help, so we'll have many hands making the work speed along.

Originally posted July 27, 2005 to Tales from the Kitchen

Sausage and Cabbage Soup

I know it sounds awful, but it was really wonderful! And even better the second day. It took very little time to put together, and was very tasty. With two whole grain baguettes, it cost all of about $10 to feed us for three meals.

I made this for dinner on Saturday, and we had enough leftover for reruns for lunch the next day, including a babysitter, and a few more bowls for lunch on Monday.

16 oz Polish sausage, sliced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken broth (homemade or the box)
1 12 oz bottle hefeweizen (wheat beer)
1 pound thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and diced (I used red potatoes, yukon golds would have been nice, too)
1 medium head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
4 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
salt, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Whole Grain Mustard
Sour Cream

In a 5 quart pan over medium heat, stir sausage often until lightly browned. Spoon out and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan (which I don't do, ever).

Add onion and garlic to pan, stir often until limp and slightly golden.

Increase heat to high, add broth, beer, potatoes, cabbage, carrots. Tie spices in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmer until potatoes are tender to bite, 10-15 minutes. Discard spices. Season with salt.

Stir in parsley. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with mustard and/or sour cream as garnish.

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