Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break

James was on Spring Break last week, so we took a little weekend trip to a popular spring break destination. The weather was beautiful.  We frolicked on the beach, enjoyed some fine dining, saw the sights, and did a little celebrity watching.

Oh, wait, actually we went to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Weather? It rained the whole weekend.  But at least it didn't snow!  Beach? We didn't even think to bring swimsuits to take advantage of the hotel pool. Fine dining? We had Chinese food, which is kind of a treat for us, anyway. We also went to Burger King. Did you know they have veggie burgers?  I hadn't been there in years, and I had forgotten. Burger King was one of the highlights of our trip, actually, since we got to spend a leisurely lunch talking with Emily and Ben while their kids played in the playground.  So Burger King gets five stars from me.

And sights? Yes, there were certainly sights to see.  We got to attend the Opening of the Doors for St. John Chrysostom's beautiful new building, as well as the first Divine Liturgy celebrated in their temple. Celebrities?  His Grace Bishop MARK was presiding. Through a confluence of events the year we were Chrismated, James and I saw His Grace in so many different cities, that he joked upon seeing us after the fourth or fifth place, "Here come my groupies."

OK, so not a beach vacation at a popular spring break destination, but a still a lovely little spring break. The Opening of the Doors was joyous. It was wonderful to attend during Lent, since I can't help but anticipate hearing the same dialog from Psalm 24 on Pascha and thus being reminded of Our Lord breaking the gates of Hades and His victory over death.

You can read about the Opening of the Doors and see more of the sights at Emily's blog.  And the first two pictures are from a trip that James and I took a couple of years ago to the San Francisco Bay area.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lenten Lentils: Sloppy Lentils

1 1/2 cups red lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 cups water
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 Tbs. dried basil
1 dash cayenne pepper
1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Couple of drops liquid smoke

Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer. Stir occasionally, and add more water if needed, until lentils and kale are tender, about 40 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

As you can see, I like to serve this as an open faced sandwich on a bun. You can also serve it as a stew. I really like the kale chopped more finely than this for sandwiches. I guess I was being a little rushed when I made this. This recipe is very forgiving. I make it a little differently every time.  I found the recipe here originally. It's one of those adaptations of an adaptation of an adaptation, as most recipes are. I have changed it up a bit to reflect how I make it. I also tried to give more precise directions, but the amount of seasonings I use for this actually varies pretty widely. Sometimes I use twice as much as this, but this is a good starting point.  It's really easy, tasty, healthy, and  no-oil.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lenten Lentils: Curried Lentils

1 cup dried lentils (brown or red)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
3/4 tsp. dried ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
3 1/2 cups or 2 14.5 oz. cans vegetable broth
1 cup diced canned tomatoes, or 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 to 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach (I use the flash frozen kind, no need to thaw or drain. A few good handfuls of fresh would be fine too.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sort and rinse lentils. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, add onion and saute until transparent, about 10 minutes. Add spices and cook another 2 minutes, stirring well. Stir in the lentils and broth, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes and spinach.  Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender.  Serve over rice (of course). We love this with naan or chapatis, too.

I forgot to take a picture of this, but it's one of my favorites. I make it at least once a month all winter long. I've adapted it from a recipe from OK, So Now You're a Vegetarian by Lauren Butts, a cookbook I've had for about 10 years which is pretty much falling apart from use. There are several recipes from it that I still make regularly.  Since I don't have a photo to share, I'm including a bonus recipe, which is my own creation.

Lenten Pumpkin Cake

1/2 cup margarine, softened (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups dark brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. dried ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 14.5 oz. can pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and dust with flour a 13x9 baking pan. In a large bowl, cream together margarine, oil, and brown sugar. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. To creamed mixture, stir in alternately a cup of the dry ingredients, half the pumpkin and applesauce, another cup of dry ingredients, the rest of the pumpkin and applesauce and the final cup of the dry ingredients until well blended.  Spread batter in pan, and bake about 40-45 minutes until done (toothpick poked in center comes out clean)

So far I've just served this dusted with powdered sugar, but I suspect it would be really good with a maple icing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Books I Read in February

Blackout by Connie Willis

Two of my favorite novels are Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, both by Willis, so I was excited to see she had written another of book about her time-traveling Oxford historians. This book is set during the London Blitz and it was totally engrossing.  I really enjoyed it right up until the cliff-hanger ending.  I didn't realize it was part of a 2 volume work, and I was left reeling. Now I have to wait until All Clear comes out. I devoured this book, and I recommend it with the caveat that you might want to wait to read it until the second volume is released in October.

The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

Book eight of the Wheel of Time series. See Books I Read in January for my comments on WOT.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

I had never read this before and didn't know what to expect, so I was surprised by this book. I don't want to give away the premise if any of you are unfamiliar with it. It was a very quick read, but thought-provoking. It is told in a very engaging manner, but I found it quite sad. It's rather depressing to consider all the ways we separate ourselves from God. I highly recommend it.

Thus concludes this short edition of Books I Read. The brevity is partly because I'm in the midst of reading several books which I have yet to finish. It's also partly due to spending half of this short month attending church services. Books aren't the only thing I'm reading less of this month.  My blog reading has fallen off as well. I tend to do it in concentrated bursts once or twice a week.  So somewhat belatedly, I mention that I was delighted to see this kind write-up of my blog by Anastasia at Kyrie, Eleison!  And also very amused at her assessment of what my stash size says about my status as a "True Knitter."  At least through the joys of blogging I can vicariously enjoy the stash of others while I aspire to enter the ranks of the True Knitters.