Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


March 2011

Worth saving…

The Sistine Chapel.

The Pieta.

Hagia Sophia.

Imagine for a moment that these great monuments to Faith, these magnificent examples of man’s ingenuity and God’s glory were no more…

Are they worthy of preservation? Would we be diminished by the loss of such great beauty? What would we be willing to undertake to protect and preserve them?

For hundreds of years the Church has endeavored to restore and safeguard these treasures of the Faith. Bound up in mortar and marble are more than just memory. The stones, statuary, tapestries and canvas are bound in the blood, sweat and tears of the artists and architects, the patrons and builders and, indeed, the faithful who’ve worshiped amongst them. At a time when art glorified God and not man, the very edifice of the Church gave testimony to the greatness of God…and man’s gratitude.

One need not travel to Europe to see such beauty. In small parishes throughout the world, working class men and women poured all of their time, talent and treasure into small, neighborhood Churches…giving the very best they had to give, even from their great want.

Holy Rosary – St. John the Evangelist in Columbus, Ohio is one such parish.

Built to resemble the Cathedral at Notre Dame, this small parish in a working-class neighborhood of German immigrants was solemnly dedicated on September 25, 1899. Noted for its incredible stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling depicting the Apocalypse, its splendor inspired generations. Unfortunately, years of neglect have left the interior in great need of repair. Crumbling plaster, plywood glued upon hardwood floors, statuary in need of restoration…St. John’s need is great.  And they are desperately seeking patrons…

One parish, Holy Family Catholic Church in Columbus, has adopted this poor, inner city church.  There was a time, not so very long ago, that Holy Family was destined to close.  The building was in tremendous need of repair, the community was in decline…but a faithful priest worked to save this parish.  Fr. Schweitzer poured himself into the parish with great energy and fervor, and what was once destined for destruction is now a vibrant, growing community of faith…home of one of Columbus’ largest soup kitchens, the Pontifical Jubilee Museum and currently, the only parish in Columbus that offers the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  This is our hope for Holy Rosary – St. John…that it may grow to realize its full potential and that the beauty of the structure be restored to its previous grandeur.  There is much to be done…and this is where you can help!  Would you consider a Lenten gift of alms to this poor parish?  The current goal is to remove the hideous carpet and the plywood that has been glued to the hardwood floors.  The cost for the floor restoration is approximately $10,000…a princely sum for a poor community.   Should the Spirit move you to give, please send your donations to either of the following.  Be sure to note that you are contributing to the restoration of Holy Rosary – St. John.

Holy Family Catholic Church
584 W. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215

The Jubilee Museum & Catholic Cultural Center
Administrative Office
584 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215

If you find yourself in the Columbus area, and would like to take a look at this beautiful church, or if you’d like to help with the actual repairs, you may contact Bryan Hamilton at  614-221-4323 Ext.110.  Meanwhile, here are a few photos that don’t begin to do justice to this amazing structure:

Holy Rosary – St. John
648 South Ohio Avenue
Columbus, OH 43205-2742
(614) 252-5926



















Your prayers for the success of this restoration project will be greatly appreciated by the priest and parishioners of Holy Rosary – St. John the Evangelist.  May God bless you for your kindness and generosity…


Lenten soups…week 4


Week 4?  Already?  It seems that the journey is nearly complete, as we’ve now passed the  halfway mark in the Holy Season of Lent.  This week’s menu required a bit of tweaking…family members made a couple special requests, so I’ll be including those recipes in this week’s menu.  A very pleasant surprise:  Bobby Flay’s Chicken and Dumpling Soup…recipe below!    Enjoy this week’s menu…and once again, feel free to submit your favorite recipe.  As we get further down the line, I’m really struggling for original soups!  God bless you throughout your Lenten journey…

Lenten Menu – Week 4


Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Homemade bread with rosemary and garlic



Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Cabbage Soup


Carrot, Apple and Raisin salad


Pasta e Fagioli

Homemade Foccacia topped with Parmesan Cheese

Caesar Salad

Saturday – Go Cats!  Tip-off 8:45 p.m.

Chili – Roger’s best!


Apple Fritters

Sunday (Feast!)

Spaghetti and homemade meatballs

Crusty Italian Loaf


Strawberries and Cream


SouleMama’s Tomato Carrot Soup

Garlic Toast

Bacon-Tomato Salad


French Onion Soup

French Loaf

Green Salad with Tomato and Avocado


Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup…from week 1)

Tortilla Chips and Toppings

Sliced Cantaloupe


Here are the soup and bread recipes…double as you need to…that’s what I do!  And a special note:  all measurements on my recipes are approximations.  Ask my friends…I never measure anything!  I’d say the approximations are still pretty close…but that’s the beauty of home cooking!  We take a recipe and make it our own…

Pasta e Fagioli – my recipe

 (meatless…though you can add pancetta, bacon or ham if you like!)

6 T Olive oil

2 lg. onions, diced

4 carrots, sliced

2 ribs of celery, sliced

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 lg. can tomato puree

1 lg can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 c. lentils (you may use cannelini beans if you like)

1lb. elbow macaroni or cavatappi

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

3 bay leaves

1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 T balsamic vinegar

16 cups of water

4 chicken bouillon cubes, or stock to make 4 cups…subtract four cups of water if using additional liquid

salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of a very large stockpot, heat olive oil until shimmering.  Saute onions, carrots, celery, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Once vegetables have softened, add water, bouillon (or stock), and all ingredients but the pasta.  Simmer until lentils have softened.  Add pasta.  Allow to simmer until pasta has softened and absorbed a good deal of liquid.  Don’t worry if the pasta “breaks” – this is a rustic soup and actually improves upon the second day!  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a good foccacia!

Kimberly’s Super-simple Foccacia

2 cups of very warm water

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Italian herbs…or a blend of rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano

5 cups (give or take) of flour

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, salt and 1 cup of flour.  Stir until mixed.  Slowly add the remaining flour, cup by cup, until all is incorporated.  Depending upon humidity, you may need more or less flour.  Your dough should be soft and elastic…not sticky, but a little moist prior to kneading.  Knead for 8 minutes, sprinkling surface with additional flour as needed.  Form dough into a large ball and place in a well-oiled bowl.  Cover and place in a warm location, preferably the stovetop where your soup is cooking!    Allow dough to rise for about 30 minutes.  While dough is rising, prepare a pan…I use a 9 by 15 glass dish for a thicker bread, but also have used my lasagna pan for a larger, thinner bread.  Your choice.  Pour about 2 T olive oil in the bottom of the pan and coat the sides, too.  Give the dough in the bowl a good punch to deflate it…don’t worry about kneading or shaping this time…simply press the dough into prepared pan.  Now the fun part…dimple the surface!  Using your fingers, make identations all over the top of the dough…this will provide nooks and crannies for your butter/herb/garlic/cheese topping.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Bread should be golden brown and you should here a hollow “thunk” when you tap the top of it.  Allow to cool for about five minutes while you prepare the topping.


3 T Parmesan cheese

1/2 stick of Butter

1/2 tsp Garlic salt

1 tsp. dried Italian herbs

Melt  the butter and stir in herbs and garlic salt.  Liberally brush the surface of the bread…use all of the butter herb mixture.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of bread.  Allow bread to cool another 5 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!   You may use this base recipe and add whatever toppings you like:  fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, bits of fresh mozzarella…whatever suits your taste.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup by Bobby Flay

*note:  I used nearly double the liquid for this soup…but then I like a lot of broth!



2 to 3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

1/2 stalk celery, diced

Meat from 1 chicken, cooked and shredded

4 to 6 cups chicken broth

1 cup fresh cut green beans

1 cup pearl barley

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper


1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cupall-purpose flour

3 eggs



In a small amount of cooking oil sweat the onion, carrots and celery. Add chicken, broth, green beans, barley, celery salt, parsley and bay leaves. Simmer until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes.

Make dumplings:

Bring the milk and butter to a boil, add salt and nutmeg. Remove from heat and immediately add flour stirring until dough leaves the sides of the pan. Incorporate the eggs, 1 at a time, forming a sticky dough.

Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add spoon sized balls of dumpling dough and simmer until dumplings rise.

Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Cabbage Soup – my own recipe

1 lb. bacon

1 head of cabbage

1 very large vidalia onion, halved and sliced

4 oz. container of bleu cheese crumbles…or crumble your own!

1 cup white wine

6 cups chicken stock

1 qt. cream

1/2 cup cornstarch mixed with 1 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of a very large stockpot, brown bacon.  Remove, drain and crumble…set aside.   Using the bacon drippings in the bottom of the stockpot, saute onion and cabbage until onions become translucent.  Add stock.  Simmer until cabbage has softened.  Lower heat, add cream, white wine, salt and pepper.  Once incorporated, raise heat again, but do not boil.  When soup is very hot, slowly drizzle cornstarch mixture until soup reaches desired consistency.  Stir in bleu cheese crumbles and bacon.  Serve with your favoriate bread and salad!

French Onion Soup

Published January 1, 2008. From Cook’s Illustrated.

Serves 6

Sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, will make this recipe overly sweet. Be patient when caramelizing the onions in step 2; the entire process takes 45 to 60 minutes. Use broiler-safe crocks and keep the rim of the bowls 4 to 5 inches from the heating element to obtain a proper gratinée of melted, bubbly cheese. If using ordinary soup bowls, sprinkle the toasted bread slices with Gruyère and return them to the broiler until the cheese melts, then float them on top of the soup. We prefer Swanson Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth and Pacific Beef Broth. For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.



3tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces

6large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see illustration below)

Table salt

2cups water , plus extra for deglazing

1/2cup dry sherry

4cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)

2cups beef broth (see note)

6sprigs fresh thyme , tied with kitchen twine

1 bay leaf

Ground black pepper

Cheese Croutons

1small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices

8ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)


1. For the soup: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.

2. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.) Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

4. For the croutons: While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

5. To serve: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Another week down, a few more to go! Enjoy the recipes…simplicity and nutrition in a single bowl.



For weeks we talked about…

Her first Confession.

I’ve been blessed with the most enthusiastic bunch of penitents…all of my children have approached the sacrament with such excitement, such trust…and most of them continue to frequent the confessional with regularity…one of them every week.

But this little one…my youngest girlie…was quite nervous.

I’d not been able to get her to share her fears, but continued to encourage and instruct her.  She’d been briefly quizzed by Father months prior.  She’d seen the inside of the confessional and had been reciting the Act of Contrition since the age of five.  On the surface, she was ready.  But underneath…uncertain.

We talked of mercy.  I tried to use language that she would really understand.  We talked about how much she dislikes the shower.  Or at least having to get ready to take one.  Gathering her pjs, her towel, making sure the water is the right temperature…it sure seems like a lot of work.  But once she’s in there, it feels pretty good.  And once she’s dried off and snugly wrapped in her favorite jammies…peace, comfort and sleep all come quickly.  I told her as she gets older, she’ll not dread a shower so very much, and even long for it.

Confession is pretty much the same, when we’re properly disposed and prepared.

Last week she said she’d like to make her First Confession this week.  We knew she was ready and her father and I were thrilled that she was making the move on her own, not through coercion.  But then the past week was so full of meetings, events, school and day to day stress…well…mom didn’t really mention the fact that Sunday was nearly upon us, nor did I purchase the traditional lily that she would plant as a reminder of her special day.

So this morning, as we traveled toward Church, I’d mentioned to her father that I’d not purchased the lily, nor had I really said much to her this week about her confession.   “It’s just as well,”  I said.  “She’s been so skittish.  I really don’t want to push her.  She’s still only seven.  And she hasn’t mentioned it.  We’ll wait.  Perhaps next week.  Or on the Feast of the Divine Mercy…”

Twenty minutes before Mass was to begin, we entered our pew.  Abigail was already in line for Confession, and the line was quite long.  There were at least seven people ahead of her.  I wondered if she’d have time.  Rylee and I knelt together.  All of a sudden, she stood.  “I think I’ll go make my confession now, ” she said.  Surprised, I glanced at the line of people.

“Sweetheart…I don’t think you’ll have time.  There’s quite a long line of people…” I said apologetically.

She looked stricken.

Quickly, I said:  “Hurry!  Go back there…if it’s meant to happen you’ll have time!”  She smile, genuflected and rushed to the back of the sanctuary.  Oh, such joy and nervousness…for both of us!  I made my way to the back of the church and approached Abigail, now fourth in line.   I pointed at Rylee…Abigail smiled and quickly changed places with her.  I left the sanctuary, and stood just outside the door, to see if I could snap a quick photo of Rylee as she exited the Confessional.

The red light went out.  Click.  The door opened and a little girl with a beatific smile exited that little, dark room.  It happened so quickly…the photo blurred…or perhaps it was my vision.  My baby…my last little one made her First Confession…

In her own time.

Prompted by the Holy Spirit and not a schedule.

Back in the pew she knelt and said her penance…and smiled with great joy as Abigail returned, having just returned from the confessional herself…she gave up her spot and still made it in the knick of time!

This week, we’ll pick out a perfect lily.  In the garden, beside our Blessed Mother, it will bloom, year after year…a reminder of purity, innocence and grace.


Annunciation Cake…

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Ave Maria...Gratia Plena!

Here is a lovely recipe, printed with permission from the Annunciation Society.  Enjoy!

Annunciation Cake

In the village of Tichborne, England,  flour was blessed on Annunciation day and distributed to the needy. Some of that flour was no doubt baked by the recipients into traditional English feast-day cakes called “plum cakes.” (In those days raisins were called “plums,” hence the name “plum cake.”) To make plum cake one simply kneaded butter or lard, sugar, spices, lemon peel, raisins, and sometimes eggs, into ordinary yeast-raised bread dough at home and carried it to the village baker to be baked in a large round loaf.

Every country had some version of plum cake whether it was Spanish pan de feria, Russian babka, Irish barm brack, or Italian pannetone. Here is a recipe for Annunciation feast-day cake adapted from a traditional pannetone recipe. (The recipe may be doubled, if desired, to make two loaves.):

2 packages quick rise yeast

3/4 cup warm water

½ cup sweet butter (1 stick) melted and cooled

1 t salt

½ cup sugar

2 room-temperature whole eggs, beaten

3 room-temperature egg yolks beaten till lemon-colored

grated peel of one washed lemon

1 T natural almond extract

5 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour

½ cup yellow raisins

½ cup black raisins

¾ cup dried apricots snipped into small strips and dredged with flour

1 silver coin, e.g. a quarter, wrapped in wax paper

extra butter for greasing tin and coating dough

bright green poster board

red, pink, and yellowish-green construction paper

small figures of Mary and the Angel from Christmas crib

1. Start early in day. (If desired, cake may be baked well in advance of use, cooled thoroughly, and stored tightly wrapped in freezer.) Soften yeast in the warm water.

2. Mix butter, salt, sugar, eggs, lemon peel, almond extract, egg yolks. Add the yeast and butter mixture to 2½ cups of flour and beat with electric beater. Remove beater and add as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a very soft dough. Grease your hands lightly with butter and coat them with flour. Knead dough on a lightly floured board till smooth and free from stickiness, adding only as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a very soft dough. Knead in raisins and apricots and continue to knead till dough becomes silky and stretchy in texture and bubbles or blisters appear.

3. Place dough in greased warmed bowl, turn dough once to grease top surface, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, such as the top of a radiator, until doubled in bulk, i.e. one to two hours. If dough does not double in bulk in this time, knead again and repeat rising process. (If you run out of time, punched-down dough may be covered and refrigerated overnight and the rising continued the next day.)

4. Knead dough again till smooth. Separate out a lump of dough large enough to halfway fill a greased and floured two-pound coffee tin. Insert wax-paper-wrapped coin into dough. (Any remaining dough may be baked in muffin tins.) Brush tops of loaf with melted butter and let rise again until doubled in bulk. The dough should just reach the tops of the pan. With a razor or sharp knife cut a deep cross in top of loaf.

5. Bake in a pre-heated hot oven (400 degrees) about ten minutes or till the surface begins to brown. Reduce over temperature to slow (350 degrees) and bake about 30 to 40 minutes longer until the loaf pulls away from the side of the pan and rings hollow when thumped.

6. Cool thoroughly upright on a rack before serving or storing.

7. On Annunciation day, decorate the cake with small Christmas-crib figures of Mary and the angel and four white candles. The Christmas message “Gloria” on the angel’s banner may be painted out with acrylic paint and the Annunciation message “Ave Gratia Plena” written on the banner with a fine-tip indelible pen. The angel may be suspended from its hook on the notched end of two large matchsticks which have first been spliced together with masking tape and the unnotched end inserted in the cake. Or, if desired, the angel may be suspended with thread from a chandelier above the cake.

8. Cut a crown from bright green poster board, stapling it together in the back. Cut tulip shapes out of red and pink construction paper; cut stems and leaves out of yellowish green paper. Paste or staple the tulip shapes around the outside of the crown alternating red and pink tulips. At dessert time light the candles and sing an Annunciation carol before cutting the cake. The person who finds the coin in their slice receives the flower crown to wear. The coin signifies that Christ has bought us; the flower crown signifies the bliss of heaven which Christ won for his people the Church. Annunciation day marks the beginning of our redemption for it is the conception day of Christ.

This recipe may be freely photocopied by churches, schools, and individuals for their own non-commercial use . Courtesy of the Annunciation Society.

Lenten soups…week 3

So, we journey onward with another week’s menu and recipes.  This past week’s favorites:  Olive Garden Copycat Minestrone…delicious!  And, of course, the St. Patrick’s Day Guinness Stew is always a hit…the bread bowls were an excellent addition, too.  Do you have any favorites?  Not necessarily the recipes I’ve posted…I’d love to hear about the soups you and your family enjoy throughout the year…feel free to include in the combox!


Lenten Menu – Week 3


Fr. Z’s Lenten Soup with Rice Noodles

Oriental Salad and Homemade Bread


Crab Corn Chowder

Corn Muffins

Fruit Salad

Friday:  Feast of the Annunciation!

Roast Chicken with Rosemary seasoned Potatoes and Carrots

Caesar Salad

Angel Rolls

Angel Food Cake with Strawberries and Cream


Chicken and Egg Soup with Pastina

Crusty Italian Loaf


Sunday (Feast!)

Roasted Pork de Provence

Red Potatoes in Balsamic-Olive Oil Marinade

Spiced Pears

Salad and Homemade Bread


Moussaka Soup

Rustic Spinach Feta Bread



Seuppe ou Piat (from week 1)

Grapes and Salad


 Taco Soup

Corn Chips and Condiments

Here are the soup and bread recipes…double as you need to…that’s what I do!

Crab Corn Chowder

“Creamed corn and crab meat intermingle with white wine, small bits of bacon, and cubes of potatoes in this soup. Try the chicken curry variation for a more piquant experience.”


1 russet potato, peeled and cubed

5 slices bacon, diced

1/2 onion, chopped

1 (6 ounce) can crab meat, drained

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes

2 tablespoons butter 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

1 cube chicken bouillon

1 1/2 cups milk

1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn

salt and pepper to taste


1. Wrap potato cubes in plastic wrap, and microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside.

2. In a saute pan, cook bacon over medium heat until heated through, and add chopped onions. Cook and stir until onions are clear. Stir in crab meat and parsley flakes. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large stock pot over low heat. Whisk in flour until mixture becomes creamy and takes on a eggshell color. Continue to cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine. Dissolve chicken bouillon in milk; when the flour mixture is crumbly, slowly whisk in the milk. Mix well in order to eliminate all lumps.

4. When the mixture is creamy and hot, stir in bacon mixture, cubed potatoes, and creamed corn. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. For a creamy curry variation add 2 tablespoons curry powder after adding the wine to the flour mixture, and substitute cooked, cubed chicken for the bacon.

Fr. Z’s Lenten Soup

Could it be any simpler than this?

Vegetable broth
Chopped up vegetables
Ginger root, shaved
Soy sauce and rice vinegar
Rice noodles

Bring broth to a boil with the ginger.
Put in the noodles and cook for a minute.
Put in the veg and cook for half a minute.

Season to taste.

Moussaka Soup

Servings: 5 (we;ll definitely double!)

1 ea Eggplant; Small

4 tb Olive Oil

8 c Lamb Stock

1/2 c Lamb; Cooked, Cubed

1/4 ts Salt

1/2 ts Oregano Leaves; Dried

2 ea Tomatoes; Lg, Chopped

1/2 c Peas; Frozen


1 x Grated Parmesan Cheese

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the olive oil in a 2

1/2-quart saucepan and brown the eggplant. Add the stock, lamb, salt and

oregano. Bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5

minutes or until the eggplant is very soft. Add the tomatoes and peas and

cook an additional 2 minutes. Serve hot with a garnish of grated Parmesan


Rustic Spinach Feta Bread

Ingredients: Makes four 1lb loaves

1 cup packed cooked (lightly steamed, boiled or sauteed), chopped spinach

3 cups lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (About 1 1/2 packets)

1 tablespoon salt

2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

6 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cornmeal for pizza peel

Mixing and storing the dough: Squeeze the cooked spinach through a strainer to get rid of excess liquid. Mix the yeast, salt, spinach, cheese and sugar with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty mixer (with dough hook). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days.

On baking day: Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 1 hour (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty boiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before eating.

Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.

Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

Chicken and Egg Soup with Pastina


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 (2 1/2-to-3-pound) rotisserie chicken (on the bone)

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 lemons

1/2 cup pastina (small pasta)

2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks

2 cups baby spinach or other baby greens

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Crumbled feta cheese, for garnish (optional)


Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, the broth, 4 cups water and the juice of 1 lemon; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the pastina and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the soup thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken; when cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone and shred into bite-size pieces.

Remove the soup from the heat. Whisk the juice of the remaining lemon with the whole eggs and yolks in a medium bowl until frothy. Gradually whisk a ladleful of the hot soup into the egg mixture, then stir the warm egg mixture into the soup and return to medium-low heat. Cook until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the shredded chicken, spinach and dill, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls; garnish with feta, if desired.

Paula Deen’s Taco Soup


2 pounds ground beef

2 cups diced onions

2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans

1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans

1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles

2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles

1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional

1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional

1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix

1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix

Corn chips, for serving

Sour cream, for garnish

Grated cheese, for garnish

Chopped green onions, for garnish

Pickled jalapenos, for garnish


Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.

Another week down, a few more to go!  Enjoy the recipes…simplicity and nutrition in a single bowl.


Daybook…St. Patrick’s Day edition!

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAYMarch 17th, 2011

Outside my window: the sun is struggling for supremacy in a washed-out sky on this spring-like day.  Temperatures are to be quite mild today – perhaps after accomplishing a few unpleasant chores, we’ll venture to the creek for a real “sharin’ o’ the green” in honor of the Feast of St. Patrick!

I am listening to: my four young ones…at play…sounds like a lego battle…

I am wearing : blue jeans and a back linen blouse.  A sweater for now…hope to shed that later!

Gratitude list:

hugs from my second oldest child, too long away…

laughter and babble from a precocious two year old boy, my precious grandson…

chickens cackling in the yard, a raucous greeting whenever we return…

propane that lasted just long enough…

buds and sprouts all around…

seed catalogs…

rich and heady aroma of coffee scenting the cold morning air…

the Divine Office…Matins…

the wisdom of Archbishop Fulton Sheen…

the right words at the right time…

little girl in princess garb and crown…

little boys digging holes and building waterways…

big boys laughing over shared, private jokes…

hot soup and crusty bread…

I am reading: (re-reading) The Song of Bernadette.  On the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I found a vintage copy of this precious book by Franz Werfel, at one of my favorite thrift stores.  Thank you, Blessed Mother!  I love you…

From the kitchen: hot coffee and oatmeal.  A quick and easy lunch, perhaps outdoors.  For the Feast of St. Patrick:  Irish Beef and Guinness Stew served in crusty bread bowls…Irish Soda Bread…and Guinness for the adults…perhaps a green punch for the children…

I am thinking: about homeschooling cooperatives.  This question is currently before one of the homeschool groups to which I belong.  Do we or don’t we?  What do we really want?  I know what I want…something I had long ago…wonderful, supplemental programs, beautifully organized, inexpensively accomplished with special programs for the encouragement of home educating moms.  I was the Assistant Directors of a cooperative that did those things, so very well.  I just don’t know if I could head something like this again, or whether I’m being prideful in desire to see such programming again.  Last year was a really hard year…we missed so much, so many opportunities, not to mention fellowship.  And the group’s vision may be decidedly different.  I’m very interested in seeing what comes from all of these discussions…and I praise God for the creativity of home educating parents!

I am creating: our 40 Days of Soups for Lent is going very, very well!  I’m so glad that many of you have found our menu plans and posted recipes a blessing in your own lenten journey.  I’ve gained so much more time, our grocery bills are not nearly as high and I’ve lost six pounds!  What seemed a mortification and sacrifice, has been a real blessing for this mom…

On my iPod: playing Words with Friends with my daughter, Caitlin…fun!

Towards a real education: we’ve been doing quite a bit of creative writing and, praise God, I’ve discovered that one of my sons is actually…*gasp*…a writer!  It is truly humbling for this writer to have to struggle to impart the joy that I experience when writing.  I’ve felt like such a failure in this arena.  My first three girls all write…poetry, prose and journals…but my last six?  Only under duress…there’s been little I could do to entice them to write for sheer joy.  So…I eliminated their handwriting lessons and replaced them with creative writing…still focusing on letter formation and good penmanship, all while using writing prompts and story starters…no more copywork.  It’s working!  And the children are really stretching themselves.  Their 12 yr. old brother has discovered that writing is not the demon he once thought, and that he has the gift of creative expression.    This has, in turn, inspired a bit of healthy competition and I’m only too happy to witness this happy turn of events!

I am hoping and praying: for all my children…particularly my adult children…that they may seek and find God’s will for their lives, that their hearts be turned wholly towards Heaven, that they feel the love of God and family no matter where they are…that they know that they are beloved of God and family…

In the garden: I think I may start my herbs seeds today…it’s such a lovely day.  The grow table is beckoning and the garden is slowly beginning to awake from its long winter slumber….

Around the House: outside cleaning.  A shed that needs clearing out.  Junk from the garage that needs to be hauled away…bits of branches and debris to be picked up and taken to the brush pile.  Oh, how I long to do a deep, Spring cleaning.  Or do I simply hold out until our Easter Cleaning?  Hmmmm…

On keeping home: I’m considering moving the classroom back upstairs.  I don’t know…the playroom stays in a constant state of disorder…do I really want all the toys and legos back in their rooms?  A quandary…

One of my favorite things: order, not chaos.  I need more order right now…

A few plans for the rest of the week: Write down Holy Week and Easter plans.  Shop for Easter dresses for the girls.  New white shirts for the boys.  Plug away at school.  Order assessment tests.  Enjoy the improving weather…

A few picture thoughts I’m sharing…images from the past couple of weeks:

When she's not playing in the mud, she's comfortably attired in princess garb...
Is Cirque du Soleil looking for a "princess contortionist?"

Official gear for "mud season" in Ohio...
Contrary to popular perception, a teenage boy's usefulness far outweighs his appetite!

Hey chickens...I found your egg! can have your egg back, if you want!


Lenten soups – week 2

We’re approaching week two of our “Forty Days of Soup” adventure.  Thus far, I’ve received nothing but thumbs up!  My favorite soup this week:  Seuppe ou Piat…served on Ash Wednesday…very satisfying, yet meatless and light.  The rest of the family really enjoyed My Big Fat Greek Lentil soup…though I did add a pound of rigatoni as hubby forgot to pick up an extra bag of lentils.   The Mexican Pork and Sweet Potato Soup was a big hit, as well, considering that my dear husband really doesn’t like sweet potatoes, but still proclaimed it a success.

So, we journey onward with another week’s menu and recipes:

Lenten Menu – Week 2


Kimberly’s Loaded Potato Soup

Homemade bread

Sliced Apples

Thursday (Happy Feast of St. Patrick!)

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew served in bread bowls

Peach cobbler


Minestrone – Olive Garden copycat recipe

Homemade breadsticks

Caesar salad



Homemade Foccacia

Sliced Cantaloupe

Sunday  (Feast!)

BBQ Ribs

Baked Beans

Buttered Corn

Salad and fruit


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Strips and condiments


The Lady and Sons Vegetable Beef Soup

Touch of Grace Biscuits

Fruit Salad


NO SOUP FOR YOU ! NEXT ! – Mulligatawny Soup (yes…the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” recipe!)

Chapati (Indian Flatbread)


Here are the recipes…double as you need to…that’s what I do!

 Kimberly’s Loaded Potato Soup

1 stick of butter
3 large carrots, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
4 chicken bouillon cubes (You may substitute water and bouillon with an equal amount of broth or chicken stock, my personal preference!)
7 cups water
10 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 qt. half and half or milk (I prefer the h&h)
1/2 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup cold water (for thickening)


crumbled bacon (leave out for days of abstinence)
chopped green onions
chopped chives
sour cream
shredded cheese

Or serve as the Soup of Suffering…no yummy toppings, just soup! ;-D

In a large stock pot, melt butter and sauté carrots, onions, celery and garlic until translucent. Quickly add the water and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes, thyme, parsley, and pepper. Cook until tender. Add half and half/milk (as much as you prefer…I use it all.) Using a potato masher, mash with 5 or 6 quick strokes. Bring soup to a boil and slowly begin adding cornstarch mixture until soup is desired consistency. Ladle into bowls, add your favorite toppings and serve with your finest loaf of home-made bread.

Bon Appetit!

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew
As per most recipes, we double this and serve in bread bowls!


2 pounds lean beef stew meat
3 tbs vegetable oil, divided
2 tbs all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 large onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 cups Guinness stout beer (or other Irish Stout)
2 cups carrot, cut into chunks

1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tbs fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


Trim the meat of any fat, cut into 2 inch cubes, and toss them in a bowl with 1 tbs of the vegetable oil. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Toss the meat in the mixture to coat.

Heat the remaining oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and brown on all sides. Add the onions and crushed garlic. Stir the tomato paste into a small amount of water (to dilute); pour into the pan, stir to blend, cover and cook gently (reduce heat if necessary) for about 5 minutes.

Pour 1/2 cup of the beer into the pan, and as it begins to boil, scrape any bits of food from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. This adds a lot of flavor to the broth. Pour in the rest of the beer, and add the carrots and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Here is the “bread bowl” recipe:

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

7 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition.
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Punch dough down, and divide into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 inch round loaf. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
To make bowls: Cut a 1/2 inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch-thick shells. Fill bread bowls with hot soup and serve immediately.

Yields: Six to Eight Servings

Minestrone – Olive Garden copycat recipe!

Just in time for winter, this soup is sure to warm your soul with it’s savory flavor and wonderful aroma. I’ve asked many an Olive Garden waiter for this recipe, but none gave it to me in detail. One waiter told me the secret ingredient was to add a little red wine to the stock, but I’ll leave that up to you to try.” Todd Wilbur


o 3 tablespoons olive oil
o 1 cup minced white onions ( about 1 small onion)
o 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
o 1/2 cup frozen cut italian green beans
o 1/4 cup minced celery ( about 1/2 stalk)
o 4 teaspoons minced garlic ( about 4 cloves)
o 4 cups vegetable broth ( Swanson is good *note: Do not use chicken broth!*)
o 2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained
o 2 (15 ounce) cans small white beans or 2 (15 ounce) cans great northern beans, drained
o 1 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
o 1/2 cup carrots, julienned or shredded
o 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
o 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
o 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
o 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
o 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
o 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
o 3 cups hot water
o 4 cups fresh baby spinach
o 1/2 cup small shell pasta


1. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
2. Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.
3. Add vegetable broth to pot, plus drained tomatoes, beans, carrot, hot water, and spices.
4. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency.
6. Makes about eight 1 1/2 cup servings.


*This lovely recipe is an absolute original twist on a traditional Tuscan peasant soup. My family loves this one…though my husband has, with his wry sense of humor, dubbed it “Catch-all Soup.” Anything goes, with ribollita…whatever is hanging out in your vegetable crisper!

4 cans cannellini beans (you may soak your own if so desired, but this is quicker!)
¼ cup olive oil or 1 stick of butter or margarine (olive oil is preferred)
4 ribs of celery, including their tops – chopped
5 -6 lg. carrots – chopped
1 lg. onion – chopped
8 cloves of garlic – minced
2 heaping T. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. oregano, dried
3 T. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
3 roma tomatoes chopped (or petite diced tomatoes in the can)
¼ cup parmesan cheese
12 – 15 cups chicken stock (equivalent vegetable stock or chicken bouillon with water may be used – amount depends upon how “soupy” you want your soup)
1 cup roughly torn spinach (you may omit – a lovely addition in the spring when spinach is fresh)
*2 cups of chopped ham, sausage or roast pork (only on those “non-fast” days!)
2 cups bread crumbs, Italian or plain (you may substitute stale, crumbled Italian bread or seasoned stuffing mix)

In the bottom of a large stock pot, sauté celery, onions, carrots and garlic in oil or butter, until onion is translucent. Add stock. Bring to a boil. Add beans, basil, oregano, parsley, tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Simmer, covered, for at least an hour. Uncover and gently mash (using a potato masher) with five or six quick strokes. Add torn spinach and bread crumbs. Allow to simmer for at least another 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite crusty Italian bread and just a small drizzle of good olive oil. Enjoy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth 1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
1 cup white hominy
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
crushed tortilla chips
sliced avocado
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
chopped green onions

In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, cilantro, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped green onion.

The Lady and Sons Vegetable Beef Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (if using chuck roast)
2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef short ribs or 2 1/2 to 3 pounds boneless chuck roast*
4 quarts cold water
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 tablespoon seasoned salt, plus extra for seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup sliced green beans, fresh or canned
1 cup frozen black-eyed peas
1 cup frozen butter beans
1 cup cut okra, fresh or frozen
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or canned
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni (I will omit…potatoes are enough carbs!)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves

If using chuck roast, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the roast in the skillet and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the roast from the skillet and cut it into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes; discard the fat. Place the beef cubes in a large stockpot. (If using short ribs, you can put them right in the pot with no preparation).

Add the water, tomatoes, onions, dried parsley, beef bouillon, dried Italian seasoning, House Seasoning, seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, garlic powder, black pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot; reduce the heat so that the liquid simmers, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. If using short ribs, remove them from the pot and cut the meat from the bones, discard the bones and fat, and return the meat to the pot. Add the remaining vegetables and the macaroni and return the soup to a boil, stirring to distribute the ingredients. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper and add fresh chopped parsley. To remove excess fat from the surface of the soup, swirl a lettuce leaf around the surface—it will pick up a lot of the fat.

*The chuck roast will yield more meat, but the bones from the short ribs give the soup an incredible flavor.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

NO SOUP FOR YOU ! NEXT ! – Mulligatawny Soup

You’ll Need:

16 Cups Water
6 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Potatoes, Peeled & Sliced
2 Stalks Celery, With Tops
2 Cups Peeled & Diced Eggplant (About 1/2 Of An Eggplant)
1 Onion (Medium), Chopped
1 Cup Frozen Corn
2/3 Cup Canned Roasted Red Pepper, Diced
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
1/2 Cup Shelled Pistachios
1/2 Cup Roasted Cashews
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/4 Butter
3 Tbls Sugar
1/2 Tsp Curry Powder
1/2 Tsp Pepper
1/4 Tsp Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
Dash Marjoram
Dash Nutmeg

Let’s Get Started

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot over high heat.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 to 3 hours or until soup has reduced and the consistency is thick and brownish in color. It should have the consistency of chili.
Stir occasionally for the first few hours, but stir often in the last hour. The edges of the potatoes should become more rounded, and the nuts will soften.

Your (Soup Nazi’s) Mulligatawny Soup is ready to be enjoyed piping hot.

Chapati:  Indian Flatbread

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup hot water or as needed

In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the olive oil and enough water to make a soft dough that is elastic but not sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth. Divide into 10 parts, or less if you want bigger breads. Roll each piece into a ball. Let rest for a few minutes.
Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot, and grease lightly. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the balls of dough until very thin like a tortilla. When the pan starts smoking, put a chapati on it. Cook until the underside has brown spots, about 30 seconds, then flip and cook on the other side. Continue with remaining dough.

And that’s that…at least for the coming week.  Hope you enjoy your Lenten journey this week…be sure to give a couple of these recipes a try!


Good habit…

…or, “Rylee’s new school uniform…”

I love little girls with “good habits!”


The Fast, as Taught by Holy Lore…

The fast, as taught by holy lore,
We keep in solemn course once more;
The fast to all men known, and bound
In forty days of yearly round.

The law and seers that were of old
In divers ways this Lent foretold
Which Christ, all seasons’ King and Guide,
In after ages sanctified.

More sparing therefore let us make
The words we speak, the food we take,
Our sleep and mirth, and closer barred
Be every sense in holy guard.

In prayer together let us fall,
And cry for mercy, one and all,
And weep before the Judge’s feet,
And His avenging wrath entreat.

Thy grace have we offended sore,
By sins, O God, which we deplore;
But pour upon us from on high,
O pardoning One, Thy clemency.

Remember Thou, though frail we be,
That yet Thine handiwork are we;
Nor let the honor of Thy Name
Be by another put to shame.

Forgive the sin that we have wrought;
Increase the good that we have sought;
That we at length, our wanderings o’er,
May please Thee here and evermore.

We pray Thee, holy Trinity,
One God, unchanging Unity,
That we from this our abstinence
May reap the fruits of penitence.

from an 11th century manuscript, of unknown authorship



Lenten soups…week 1

As many of you know, our family is planning to eat a lot of soup throughout our Lenten journey.  Sundays will remain true “feast” days, but during the rest of the week, we’ll be eating soup at our main meal…and occasionally salad and fresh fruit, to round things out.  I plan to begin our days with Fasting Bread (see recipe below)…this will serve as my morning breakfast, though I’m sure the children will use it as a supplement to theirs!  It is my sincere hope that this lighter, easier menu will not only free me from the time constraints of large meal preparation, but will also be a healthier and more economical approach…thus embracing the true spirit of Lent.  So…here’s our first week of soups.  We may see repeats, throughout the season, depending upon how popular a particular soup is, but otherwise, I’m trying to implement many new recipes, holding to simplicity, cultural diversity and affordability.   Here’s the week’s menu, beginning with Ash Wednesday, ending the Wednesday following:

Ash Wednesday

Seuppa Ou Piat

Salad and Sliced Strawberries


Albondigas Soup

Tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheese


My Big Fat Greek Lentil Soup

Homemade bread and salad



French bread

Spiced Peaches

Sunday:  FEAST!!!

Roast Chicken de Provence

Garlic and Rosemary Potatoes

Steamed Broccoli with Lemon Butter

Fruit and/or Salad


Mexican Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

Tortilla strips and salsa


Chicken Corn Chowder



Chili Con Carne with Cornbread Dumplings

The Recipes:

Soup with Bread (will probably substitute the Fontina for a more affordable cheese…mozzarella…the children will prefer this!)

Seuppa ou Piat

serves: 6 servings

This might seem like an unusual dish, a pasticciata (a layered casserole) of bread and cheese that’s baked, cut into portions, and served in a bowl of hot broth. Yet the tastes and eating pleasure of seuppa ou piat will be completely familiar and welcome to anyone who loves the gratinéed crouton of French onion soup or enjoys a crispy grilled-cheese sandwich with a bowl of rich chicken broth alongside. This is a good dish for company, because you can have both the broth and the pasticiatta hot and ready to be put together when your guests come. (Chicken stock is my preference, but a savory vegetable stock or a meaty beef broth is just as good.)

8 cups tasty chicken broth, (or clear beef or vegetable stock)
kosher salt, to taste
1 tablespoon butter, softened for the baking dish
½ pound Fontina cheese
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated, plus more for passing
18 slices Italian bread, cut 1/2 inch thick, left out to dry overnight


Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 400 degrees. Heat the broth almost to a simmer-season with salt to taste-and keep it hot. Butter the sides and bottom of a 3 quart baking dish. Shred the fontina through the larger holes of a hand grater and toss the shreds with the grana (grated hard cheese).

Arrange half of the bread slices in one layer in the baking dish. Ladle out 1 cup of broth, and drizzle it on the bread slices, slightly moistening them all. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the bread in an even layer.

Cover the cheese with the remaining bread slices, filling the entire surface of the dish. Moisten these slices with another cup or so of stock; top the bread with all the remaining cheese, scattered evenly.

Tent the pasticciata with a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, arching it so it doesn’t touch the cheese topping, and pressing it against the sides of the baking dish. Set the dish in the oven, and bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking for 10 minutes or more, until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Take the dish from the oven, and let it cool and set for 5 minutes or so.

To serve: Cut out large squares of pasticciata and, with a spatula, transfer them to warm shallow soup or pasta bowls. Ladle a cup of hot broth over each portion and serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.

*Country Italian bread is best for this pasticciata. The width of the bread can vary since it is layered snuggly in the baking dish then cut in squares when served.

Albondigas Soup

Ground beef and sausage meatballs are simmered in a tomato and chile beef broth base. Rice and corn add starch for a hearty meal in a dish. Serve soup topped with crushed tortilla chips and shredded Mexican cheese blend. The traditional version does not include corn, so you may omit it. The meatballs may be made up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerated. You may substitute ground chicken and/or turkey, if you wish.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes

* Meatballs:
* 1 pound chuck ground beef
* 1/2 pound pork sausage (spicy is nice)
* 1/2 cup cornmeal
* 1/4 cup cream (or milk)
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 1/2 cup minced sweet onion
* 1 large clove garlic, pressed
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Soup:
* 2 quarts beef or chicken broth (or a combination)
* 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
* 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped mild green chiles, with liquid
* 1 cup diced sweet onion
* 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon liquid hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
* 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
* 1 cup frozen corn kernels
* 1/4 chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves
* Salt and pepper to taste
* For Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs, crushed tortilla chips, shredded Mexican cheese blend

Combine ground beef, pork sausage, cornmeal, cream, egg, onion, garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, and pepper with a large fork. Do not overmix. Form into small meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. Set aside. (The meatballs may be made up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerated.)

Place beef or chicken stock, tomatoes, green chiles, onion, oregano, cumin, and hot pepper sauce in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Carefully add meatballs to the broth and simmer an additional 10 to 15 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Add corn and cook until heated through. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in chopped cilantro leaves just before serving.

Garnish each bowl with crushed tortilla chips, a sprinkling of Mexican cheese blend, and a sprig of fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Yield: about 8 to 10 servings

Bouillabaisse – simplified


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
* 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
* 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
* 1 large pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tablespoons orange juice for 10 minutes (optional) (will omit…can’t afford saffron!)
* 1 strip orange zest
* 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, in juice
* 6 cups seafood stock (sold at most fish markets) or clam juice
* Some or all of the following seafood (ask your fish seller for enough to serve 4 to 6 people): halibut, cod, tilapia, or snapper (in large chunks); shell-on large shrimp or lump crabmeat; clams or mussels
* 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and fennel and saut until just brown, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the saffron (if using), orange zest, tomatoes, and stock or clam juice.

3. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to medium and add the fish (but not shellfish). Cook for about 2 minutes.

5. Add any clams, mussels, and shrimp. Simmer until the shells just begin to open, about 4 minutes more.

6. Add any crabmeat.

7. Cook until all shells have opened, the shrimp is pink and curled, and the fish flakes easily, about 2 minutes.

8. Serve from the pot, sprinkled with the parsley and topped with crusty bread and a dollop of rouille.

Mexican Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

Traditional Mexican flavors get a Southwestern twist in this scrumptious pork tenderloin and sweet potato stew that’s seasoned to perfection with garlic, cumin, cinnamon and cilantro.

* Active Time: 10 minutes
* Total Time: 30 minutes

Recipe Ingredients

o 1 olive oil
o 1 1⁄4 lbs pork tenderloin, cut bite-size
o 1 1⁄2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 2 poblano chile peppers, seeded and sliced
o 1 cup chopped onion
o 1 chopped garlic
o 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
o 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
o 1 can (14 oz) reduced-
o sodium chicken broth
o 1⁄2 cup water
o 1 cup frozen corn kernels
o 1 1⁄2 cups salsa (we used Old El Paso Fresh Mexican Style Smooth Chipotle)
o Garnish: chopped cilantro, tortilla strips

Recipe Preparation

1. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a deep nonstick skillet. pork; cook over medium-high heat 7 minutes or until browned. Transfer pork to a plate.

2. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in skillet. Add potatoes, peppers and onion. Cover; cook 5 minutes, stirring, until peppers and onion soften slightly.

3. Stir in garlic, cumin and cinnamon; cook a few seconds until fragrant. Add broth and water; bring to a boil. corn; cover and cook 5 minutes or until vegetables soften.

4. Stir in salsa and pork; heat through. Sprinkle servings with cilantro and tortilla strips if desired.

My Big Fat Greek Lentil Soup

Back to lentils, this time Greek-style. These smooth, delicate flavors will tickle your tonsils with pleasure. This could well be what Aristotle Onassis used to enjoy on his yacht!

2 cups of small, brown lentil, rinsed
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, halved and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
3 bay leaves
3/4 cup of pommodoro sauce (passata)…I’ll be using tomato paste with a splash of red wine…
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
8 cups of water
3 cloves of garlic, smashed + 5 cloves of garlic, minced for the end
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
salt to taste

1) Into a large pressure cooker, add your lentils, olive oil, onions, carrot, pepper, tomatoes, paprika, bay leaves, smashed garlic and water.
2) Close the lid; bring to a whistling boil on high heat.
3) As soon as your pressure cooker is whistling, turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 45 minutes.
4) Take off the heat, release the pressure from your pressure cooker and safely open the lid.
5) Add your 5 cloves of minced garlic, your oregano and adjust seasoning with salt or Vegeta seasoning.
6) Serve with good bread, black olives and pickled sweet peppers. Yield of six servings.

Chicken Corn Chowder

You can have this chicken corn chowder on the table in less than 30 minutes! (I’ll be doubling this one to serve my crew!)

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/4 cup chopped onion
* 1/4 cup chopped celery
* 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
* 2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breast halves)
* 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (about 3 ears)
* 1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn


Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and jalapeño; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about 5 minutes).

Chili Con Carne with Cornbread Dumplings

2 lbs. beef round steak
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, chopped
1 sm. green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed OR 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
2 (16 oz.) cans whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 (15 oz.) can hominy, drained
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies, drained
2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans beef broth
1/3 c. pepper jelly
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper, crushed


1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
1 egg white, beaten
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. cooking oil

In a small mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg white, milk and oil. Add to flour mixture, stir with a fork just until combined. Trim meat and cut into small thin strips, 1 1/2 x 1/8 inches. Heat oil in 5 quart saucepot or Dutch oven. Add meat and brown evenly. Add onion, green pepper and garlic. Saute 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drop dumplings onto boiling stew. Cover and continue cooking over medium heat 30 minutes. Do not lift cover as dumplings cook.

Fasting Bread (makes three loaves)

Recipe and text source:

3 1/2 cups Stone Ground Wheat
2 1/2 cups All purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1Tbs. Sugar
3 Tbs. Active dry yeast (two packages)
2 cups Luke warm water
1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1/2 cup Virgin Olive oil
1 tsp. Holy water (How could you not add this for a fasting bread?)
1 cup Oats – soaked in 1/2 cup hot water for 2 minutes
1 cup Pecan pieces – broken and skillet toasted 2 min (or Walnuts)
1 cup Dried Montmorency cherries or Golden raisins soaked 5 min in 1/4 cup hot water

1. Combine first three dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
2. Clear a small area in the center of the dry blend.
3. Add sugar, dry yeast, and the 2 cups of warm water. Let stand for 3 minutes until yeast proofs and forms bubbles. Combine with flour mixture and liquid. This will be thick but more liquid comes later.
4. Add maple syrup, olive oil and holy water. Stir mixture until well blended.
5. Add walnuts and raisins with their liquid.
6. Add soaked oats to the flour mixture.
7. Blend everything together in one bowl.
8. Turn out onto a floured board and knead by hand for 10-12 minutes adding more flour as needed to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead the dough by flattening somewhat and fold-in from the outside towards the center. Press down hard on the center. Rotate the bowl and repeat the process until smooth and elastic and forma “ball”
9. Return the “ball” to the mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil, cover and let rise 1 hour.
10. Remove to a floured board and kneed several more times as above. Cut into three equal pieces.
11. Place each piece into a loaf pan coated on all sides with olive oil. Drizzle loaf again with olive oil, cover and let rise for another hour. Olive oil produces a tasty crust.
12. Slash loaf tops and bake in the middle of a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until brown on top and bottom. Loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
13. Remove bread from pans and cool on a rack.

QUALITY INGREDIENTS AND THEIR SYMBOLIC REFERENCES:  This marvelous bread combines pure, wholesome ingredients with symbolic references found in Sacred Scripture.

Stone Ground Wheat and Oats: Symbol of the pain of being crushed by the wheels of God’s Justice – which “grind slowly but exceedingly fine.” “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” Jn 12: 24
White Flour – a reminder of the manna given by God to the Hebrews during their forty years in the desert as Moses led them to the promised land. Manna foreshadowed the Holy Eucharist, also the called “Bread from Heaven”. Exodus 16:35 Jn 6:41
Yeast – unifying many parts into one; a symbol of the the kingdom of heaven and of the Church. Mt 13:33
Salt – Christ said to his Apostles: “You are the salt of the earth.” Mt 5:13
Water – Giving life to all things; a symbol of baptism; cleansing. Lenten penances aid the washing away our sins. “He who drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst.” Jn 4: 14
Olive Oil – Acclaimed throughout history as a source of strength, olive oil was used by the athletes of ancient Greece to prepare for them for the contests. Mixed with wine it was found useful in healing the wounds of those injured on the battlefields of medieval Europe. Olive oil is used by the Church in the Holy Oils applied in sacramental anointing.
Pure Maple Syrup – Collected in pure form flowing from a tree; symbolic of the cross and of the sweetness of the Blood of Christ which flowed freely from the tree of his cross, the tree of life; shed so that “sins may be forgiven.” A symbol of God’s love by making this sweet nutrient a gift to be discovered.
Holy Water – A sacramental used in blessings and bringing new life in Baptism. Holy water carries a blessing just by its use and when introduced with the sign of the cross how could this not be a must an key ingredient of fasting bread for lent?
Walnuts and Pecans and Cherries – These pleasant gifts found in abundance from prolific trees are reminders of Christ’s command to go forth and “produce good fruit;” They are reminders of our own call to perform works of charity, prayer, fasting and almsgiving; the fruit of good works to be undertaken during Lent. Jn 15:16
Raisins – Made from pure grapes, raisins are the fruit of the vine; a reminder of the miracle of water changed into wine at the wedding feast in Cana; of the wine changed into the Blood of Christ at the Last Supper and at the Consecration during Mass. These serve as reminders of that mystery where wine is described as the “fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our Spiritual Drink.”

Recipe and text source:

I’ll post next week’s menu on Tuesday…God bless you on your Lenten journey!



Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAYMarch 2nd, 2011

Outside my window: blue sky and the promise of Spring.  Bits of green herald the appearance of daffodil sprouts…and the local hardware store is advertising onion sets.  Oh, yes…Spring is on its way!   

I am listening to: Quiet conversation between two brothers…we’re starting school a little late this morning.  I’ve been up since 5:00 a.m., dropping off two teenage sons who are, once again, on their way to lend support to Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill.  Warriors in the fight for life…  

I am wearing : blue jeans, green cardigan and white button-down.  Dark circles…and a smile.

Gratitude list:

the beauty of a waning crescent with Venus brightly juxtaposed…

grocery store stocked with everything that anyone could need…

heated seats in a cold SUV…

pink and gold ribboned sky as sun makes its debut…

receding flood waters…

fellowship with the most amazing Catholic moms and dad…

raucous laughter of Catholic youth enjoying their own fellowship time…

hubby who saves his wifey the very last Snickers snack bar…

three small scars on the body of a healthy little girl…

muddy boots and muddy floors that loudly proclaim the coming of Spring…

I am reading: The Divine Office…the full text, a lovely gift from a good friend.  And looking forward to the delivery of Motherless by Brian Gail.  2nd book in the trilogy…

From the kitchen: hot coffee and strudel…waffles for the kiddies.  Dinner:  homemade chicken noodle soup and fresh bread.  Oatmeal Scotchies for dessert…

I am thinking: about so many things.  About projects I need to begin…some I need to finish.  About school and addressing burnout (again…and always during and after February!).  About home and organization.  Reflecting on a discussion I had with another mom about veiling…what it means and why we do…more on that later.  A million posts are swirling in my head…there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all.  Baby steps…

 I am creating: a menu plan for Lent and an outline for our Lenten devotions.  Is it wrong that I’m so happy that Lent begins in March and not February?  Sacrifice is much more palatable when the sun is shining.  Also, made two pretty veils for the little girls…Kimberlee has a wonderful tutorial.  I followed her basic suggestions, but ended up cutting mine out first, and then machine stitched them, due to time constraints.  They turned out quite well!

On my iPod: a funny little app called “Bump” that lets me trade apps with my son by simply “bumping” my ipod with his.  Kinda neat…

Towards a real education: we’re limping along…reading much…having a great deal of fun creating pictures by graphing coordinates…in sore need of  some creativity.  Isn’t this always the way right before spring?  And itching for real, live nature study…you know…the kind you get when you actually go outside!  Of course…we must brave the wind, the mud and the still very chilly temperatures…

I am hoping and praying:   for the proper disposition as we enter the Holy Season of Lent…

In the garden:  I’ve been checking my seed stash…probably won’t need too much…can’t wait to begin starting a few trays on my grow table.  Will probably do that in a couple weeks.  Roger is planning to “brew” a little “tea.”  Trust me…you don’t want a pot of this stuff!  But it’s very, very good for the garden…

Around the House:   Considering converting an old wardrobe into a liturgical and feast day cabinet.  I’ve too many things scattered here and there.  One space, dedicated to all of our Lent, Easter, Advent, Christmas, Marian feast day items and materials would certainly be nice…

On keeping home:   Need to make plans for our annual Spring and Easter Cleaning.  Boy…this place could use it right now!

One of my favorite things:   A quiet house…they’re all outside…enjoying the bright sunshine and mud.  Silence…is…good!  In moderation…

A few plans for the rest of the week:   Write down my Lenten plans and menu, begin organizing the wardrobe, purchase bins for the same, try to get outside for at least a little bit each day…

A few picture thoughts I’m sharing:

Two pretty girls with orange soda smiles, sporting veils made by Mom...
...and two nifty drawstring pouches to hold those pretty veils!


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