Saturday, April 09, 2011

Menu for a Party When You Can't Prepare

So what do you do when you're having 18 people over for Sunday dinner, but you'll be gone from 7:00 until 12:30, arriving at home from church the same time as the guests? All my standard company dinners (lasagna, meatloaf & mashies, tetrazzini, brats & burgers) wouldn't work in this situation. I needed something that could be prepared on Saturday and then served straight out of the fridge or the crockpot(s). Here's what I came up with:

~ sub sandwiches: buns, meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, green pepper, peperoncini, olives, mayo, mustard, ketchup, pickles
~ roast vegetables, roasted the night before and warmed in the crockpot on Sunday morning
~ baked beans (same plan as the roast veggies)
~ fruit: based on availability, we have a bowl of fresh pineapple, a bowl of grapes, a platter of sliced oranges with dried dates
~ potato salad
~ beverages: sweet tea, unsweetened herb tea, wine, beer, water, milk
~ dessert: Glenda's most evil dessert plus whatever Katie brings

It's been a long time since I've cooked for company. Today has been fun! As much as I like my job at the bank, today again has me dreaming of catering.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Katie's old blog disappeared. That's where I stored my gumbo recipe. I used to just wing it, but she and Rachel wanted to follow my recipe. (Recipe? There's a real recipe?) So the deal was for me to make gumbo while somebody wrote down the tweaks to the written, "kinda-sorta-guideline" recipe. Gary helped me find a cached copy of her blogpost, and now I'm rescuing it from electronic destruction when the caching peters out. And so, without further ado, my gumbo recipe --

Stew one chicken (or four leg quarters).
Let cool enough to handle.
Debone. Chop chicken.

1 onion
2 ribs celery
1 green pepper
some hot peppers if desired.
Saute in olive oil until the onion is softened and translucent.

Add 1/3 pound sausage or ham.
Fry until meat is cooked.

Add 1/4 or 1/2 cup white flour.
Cook on low heat 10-40 minutes,
scraping the bottom of the pot frequently
so that the flour browns and you don't have a mess stuck onto the bottom of the pan.
(A few minutes will work if you're in a real hurry,
but if you can make yourself keep browning that flour for 30 minutes, that's when you make a fantabulous gumbo!)

the chicken and broth
1 pint can of diced tomatoes
small can of shrimp or crabmeat (optional)
garlic (to taste)
1 tsp sugar
2-3 tsp salt
black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano

When boiling, add 1-2 pounds frozen chopped okra.
Cook about 10 minutes, or until okra is done.

Serve over rice. Add cayenne or Frank's Red Hot for those who desire more heat.


One week old:

Posted here because there are blog-readers who aren't Facebook-friends with Katie to see what she posts there.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Oh, sadness, oh, woe. I think yesterday I may have eaten my last donut.

I was working the polls. The town administrator brought in a box of hard rolls and pastries for us. Discipline; smarts; thinking nutritionally. I was a good girl.

For a while.

C'mon ... a box of crullers and Danish and Bavarian-cream-filled donuts and apple fritters. Finally I decided I could have one. Right? Just one. They were calling to me, begging to be eaten, looking delicious, smelling wonderful.

Dang it. I'm old. And donuts are sweet. And full of fat and white flour. And they weren't little donuts. I can't remember the last time I had a whole donut. I think it was at Emmaus, South Bend, so it would have been several years ago.

Ten blissful minutes of savoring that donut, and I paid for it all day with an upset stomach. I intend not to make that mistake again. (But I wouldn't be surprised if my tastebuds overrule my stomach again someday when I am weak.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Light of the World

In Sunday's [3-year] Gospel, we hear about Jesus' giving sight to the man who was born blind. The story starts with the question about "Who sinned?" that this man should be punished with blindness. Jesus explains that it wasn't a punishment for a particular sin, but that it was in order that God's works might be revealed in him. Then Jesus tells them that He is the light of the world.

Huh. I didn't realize that line was in that story. I knew "I am the light of the world" from the previous chapter. Huh.

So Pastor's making a point in the sermon about how the miracles of Jesus are merely signs. The point is not that somebody with bad legs could walk now. The point is not that a blind person could see, or a deaf person hear. The point is not that Lazarus was brought back to life. After all, these healing miracles were not permanent: these people eventually died. These are signs which point to the greater reality: the true healing found in the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body.

And that is seen so well by looking at the two locations where Jesus claims to be the light of the world. First, Mary Magdalene is caught in adultery and is about to be stoned for it. Jesus speaks to her accusers, and they go away, and He says to her, "I do not condemn you." That's when He says He's the light of the world. A little later, still in Jerusalem, when He talks about being the light of the world, the important part is still the forgiveness of sins. But this time Jesus has a sign connected to His gift of merciful absolution: the man's physical eyes were opened to physical light, just as his eyes were opened in faith to the Light of the World.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Responding to Someone's Foot in the Mouth

One of the guys at church was admiring Zoe after church on Sunday morning. He teased Rachel that she was not keeping up with Katie. Katie has two kids, and Rachel doesn't have any yet.

I was stunned. I couldn't think what to say.

Rachel's face was pretty stunned too. But she gently and kindly responded, "I suffered a miscarriage in December." The man dropped the teasing, apologized, and expressed sorrow for their loss.

It was awkward.

But what do you do? He didn't mean anything hurtful by his teasing. Rachel didn't want to make him feel bad for having brought it up. But what do you do?

Seems to me that the honest way Rachel responded was perfect. She didn't lie or pretend; neither did she blow up. He could not undo what he'd said, but he could say he was sorry. Sometimes that's all that can be done. Honesty and concern and forgiveness go a long way to smoothing over those blunders that sinners commit against each other. I was truly quite impressed with how my daughter handled the interchange.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Rocks in the Rain

Just when you could use a run of sunny days to help a newborn overcome her slight [and perfectly normal] jaundice, the forecast has days and days of clouds and rain. And rain it did during church this morning! When you looked out the door after church, it looked like there'd been snow, the hail was piled so deep. Luckily, the massive amounts of hail came down in tiny pieces.

Interesting perspective to be in the back of the church, with the lights thinking about flicking out, seeing the zots of lightning out the window, hearing huge rumbles of thunder, glad to know the words Pastor was saying from the liturgy because the banging of hail on the roof sometimes made it a bit hard to hear. It made me think of Noah and Mrs Noah in the ark, safe and secure inside the refuge God had provided, no matter what was going on outside. In reality, that's what church is every Sunday, even when the weather is lovely; the devil and the world rage against her, but inside we are safe.

Anyway ... while we visited with our family's Chicago-Contingent in the narthex after church, and of course ogled Baby Zoe, Alia decided she had to go outside. Philip accompanied her to ensure that she didn't go out into the traffic of the parking lot or wade through 40° water up to her ankles. When he wouldn't let her wade, she had to walk on the driveway littered with pebble-sized hail. "There were rocks in the rain!" Yes, dear, that's about the size of it.

Arranged Marriages

What does a person do with a whole day to herself? (Well, besides clean and cook and catch up on all sorts of tasks?) Last week the kids were visiting friends, and Gary was at work. After cooking lunch-for-one (and I managed to pare back the recipe appropriately, amazingly enough!) I sat down to watch the beginning of a movie that none of them would want to see.

Self-control didn't kick in very well. I watched the whole movie that afternoon [like potato chips -- so good that ya just can't stop] and I didn't accomplish one lick o' dusting while watching.

The movie "Arranged" is about an Orthodox Jew and a Muslim. The two gals met each other as first-year teachers. Even though many people expected them to view each other as enemies, it turned out that they got along with each other better than with their co-workers, who had very different views of morality and faith and family. Each girl had reached the age where the parents were ready to arrange the daughter's marriage. Were they scandalized by the prospect of having the family involved in choosing a husband? What did the people around them think? How does it work?

I enjoyed the movie simply for the sake of a mushy love story, as well as a story of friendship. But what resonated most with me was how the main characters were fairly comfortable with their own beliefs in spite of being misfits with so much of the world. Yes, there is discomfort in knowing that the rest of the world thinks you're off your rocker, but not enough discomfort to abandon your integrity. I wonder sometimes how my co-workers see me: as a complete oddball or as just a little different?

A link to a video from a Lutheran pastor about the topic of dating and marriage.
A link to an article about homeschoolers being oddballs and proud of it.