Moderation is, I think, the key to this mom's dilemma.
Recently in Food Category
The following is an article I wrote over 10 years ago - I am publishing it again because I can! You can find it here unless they took down the site since then!
Images of the Spirit
Three images of the Spirit in the Bible are as the creator, the water which nourishes and sustains us, and as light or fire. If you look at the sequence of the Bible, you will see the Spirit moving powerfully at the beginnings of events. In Genesis, the Spirit moves upon the void. In silence, the power of God brings order from chaos, brings substance from the void. We have here the creative power of God. Humanity is priviliged to share most intimately in this creative power when we say YES to the creation of new life. In the silence of the union of sperm and egg, the Spirit moves upon the water once again. We see here the power of God the creator, God the father of us all. The image here is of the power of the Spirit in silence.
In the opening chapters of the Gospel of John, it is revealed to us that "the Word is made flesh, and dwells among us". In the silence, we can listen to the Word that is spoken. The Spirit of our living God is incarnate (literally 'made flesh') in the person of Jesus the Christ, the anointed.
Parents share in the work of grace by welcoming new life into the world. God creates, God makes flesh, and breathes the life into the child, but parents are co-creators. Especially the mother, at this point, is responsible for treating the unborn child with love and respect, through taking care of her body, through good nutrition and avoiding harmful substances, and for rejoicing in the gift. Think about how Mary reacted when told she was to become the mother of our Lord! Surprised, yes, maybe a little fearful, but still she said 'yes'. "Be it done unto me according to your will" (Luke 1:38). This is our human model for accepting the gift of pregnancy and the potential pain that comes with the gift. The pain is not just in childbirth, but in the forknowledge that what hurts your child will also hurt you, that to love is to be open to loss. (Luke 2:35)
Another 'beginning of things' is in Acts 2. Pentecost, 50 days after the Passover sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus had breathed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples before His ascension (John 20:22,23) but the power was not made manifest until then. All of a sudden, those who had been fearfully crouching, hidden away in fear, became courageous (literally 'having heart'). They were literally 'made new' by the power of the Holy Spirit. Imagine the confusion and the chaos of that first Pentecost! The church, the Body of Christ, the People of God, it was our birthday. Like many births, it was noisy, and crowded, and didn't go according to any human plan. There were many strangers there who were struck by the Spirit. Their ears were opened, so that they could hear the Word spoken, each in their own language. The creative power of God was once again manifested.
Throughout the Bible, we have the image of the water of life. Moses draws water from the rock at the command of the Lord. Isaiah speaks of the streams that will burst forth in the desert. John the Baptizer washed penitints clean in the river Jordan, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. Jesus spoke of to the woman at the well of the living water He came to bring. In the silence of the womb, God breathes life into the unborn child, and sets around the child the living water of amniotic fluid. Without this fluid, the child cannot develop normally. The time in the womb, the child is continually bathed in water, created and made fresh through the miracle of the placenta. Our baptism in water calls to mind when Jesus said to Nicodemus (John 3), that we must be reborn of the water and the Spirit. When I am at a birth where the fluid splashes me as the baby emerges, I am again reminded of this truth. We, as humans, can live for longer without food than without water. As Christians, we need the grace of the Spirit, the water of new life, to constantly restore and replenish our lives in Christ.
At Pentecost, the Spirit manifested as tongues of flame. The image is of brightness, of light, of fire that burns but does not consume. Like the burning bush from which God chose to speak to Moses, the Spirit enlightens and brings life to light. How much more can we see when we are illuminated by the Spirit? And can we sometimes be blinded by the brilliance? A child is born out of the darkness of the mother's womb into a world that is incredibly bright and noisy.
So the sequence here is from silence and chaos, through the water of renewal, to the noise and brilliance of birth. The Spirit of our living God is in action. The triumph of the Spirit over chaos is repeated each time a woman carries a child to birth.
Breath, the Spirit, and Life
The word 'spirit' comes from the same roots as words we use for breath. We inspire when we take in a breath. When we expire, we breath our last, we die. We literally give up our spirit, our breath. Our breathing in and our is the process called respiration. When we teach breathing techniques for childbirth, we are reminded that breathing is a two-way process. If we only breathe in one direction we lose the trigger to breathe in, we hyperventilate. The treatment for this is to rebreathe in some of the exhaled air. God created us to breath in and out, in a balanced manner. And the miracle is that most of the time we don't need to think about it. Only when pain or stress diverts us do we need to focus on how we breathe, and the key is to restore the natural process that God has given us. (This is why I personally am opposed to the very unnatural Lamaze-type of breathing with the pant-blow, hee-haw, or hyperventilation producing techniques.)
Another concept here is that when God breathes His Spirit into us, we are called upon to breathe it back out to others. A lector or preacher inhales the Word of God and speaks it back out to the people. I have been present in labors where the task taken on by the husband is to simply read scripture to his wife, inspiring her with the courage of the Lord to accomplish the task of giving birth. We who have been gifted with the Spirit are called upon to exhale it back out to the people, through service in ministry. We can't hoard the Spirit. Working with pregnant women, birthing moms, and families, is a very real ministry.
We live in a culture of death. Abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, whether legal or accepted, are very prevalent. The ongoing debate seems to be not so much over the general morality of these actions but over the moral relativism. Not "is it justifiable" but "when is it justifiable". So we have in the blurring of distinctions, those who would argue for the abortion of 'defectives' but not for the infanticide of this same group. Those who argue for euthanasia of the terminally ill, or simply the terminally depressed. Absolute values of life and death are no longer accepted.
Think about this. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, "This is my Body". The same phrase is used time and again in the abortion and euthanasia movements. "It's my body, I decide what to do with it". Jesus was giving Himself up for our salvation. He was accepting the will of the Father. He had asked that the cup pass Him by, but in the end He was obedient, " even unto death on the cross" (Phil 2:8). When Jesus said 'this is my body', he was accepting the decision of the Father, not announcing His rebellion. He handed Himself over to death, for our life. But our God is stronger than death. So what does the service of Christ the King entail, in the midst of our culture of death? Simply, it is that we must forgive. We breathe in the Spirit of God, and breathe out forgiveness. Not acceptance of evil, not toleration of sin, but forgiveness of those who wrong us. We forgive even those who do not ask forgiveness, for are not they in most need? In forgiveness comes healing. We also need to accept that we are forgiven. The gift of salvation includes forgiveness. Our repentance opens up to us the door.
Sometimes, the best preparation for childbirth is to set one's spiritual house in order. A woman who goes into labor carrying around old hurts and angers is not going to do very well. Her relationship with her husband is paramount. If there is disharmony and hurt, it will affect her ability to listen and cooperate with him. If she has no husband, there is a hurt that needs healing and forgiveness, as well. Another thing that can interfere with labor is the woman who has not accepted that she has been forgiven for old sins. Abortion is a classic example, but there are others, both major (like infidelity) and minor (like childhood name-calling).
The scriptures include ritual for the healing of the body and the soul. (James 5:14). Laying on of hands and anointing with oil are mentioned frequently throughout the Old and New Testaments. Of special value is that touch, the laying on of hands, can speak to the soul amidst noise and chaos. Even when there is no silence for the Word to be spoken and heard, the presence of the Spirit can still be conveyed to our human senses through touch. The kiss of peace, between husband and wife, speaks volumes about love and forgiveness.
Doing the Work of Christ
The mission of all Christians is to carry on the work of Christ. Christ is our priest, He is our prophet, he is our king. When we lay our hands on each other and pray, when we call down the Holy Spirit for healing, when we forgive and are forgiven, we are carrying on the priestly ministry of Christ. Our daily sacrifices, large and small, are gifts to the One who has given us all that we are. The Spirit is present in the ordinary parts of our lives, and transforms them. The ordinary becomes a miracle through the power of God. Especially during the times of pregnancy, birth, and parenting, the ordinary becomes sacred. Families are called upon to consecrate themselves to the glory of God the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Christ our prophet is indeed "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). The people of God, the church, is called upon to proclaim Jesus as Lord to the ends of the earth. We are called upon to evangelize by the testimony of our lives, first to our family and friends, and then to all others with whom we come in contact. We can't just talk it, we have to walk in the ways of the Lord.
One way in which this can be done is to remember the ways the Lord has worked in our lives. Midwives teach by telling stories. So do most childbirth educators. We tell birth stories, we recall what happened, what worked, what went right and what went wrong. How often do we remember to give credit and glory to God in telling these stories? Do we proclaim the mystery of our faith when we tell these stories? We have a responsibility to remember, to not forget, what God has done in our lives.
Christ the King is a paradox by the values of the world. He tells us that to rule is to serve. The last shall be first, and the first last. He showed His kingship when he washed the feet of His disciples. So too we share in His kingship when we serve one another. When we are obedient to the will of the Father, we share in the Kingship of Christ. Our obedience is in listening in the silence of our hearts for the word. It is in our prayers of praise, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession. When we act upon our Christian values, when we serve our clients and their families, if we act in the love and knowledge of God, we are sharing in His kingdom.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
The oneness of the trinity is a great mystery of our faith. It is greater than our human intellects can contain. It is only by the gift of faith that I can even begin to comprehend it. The poet Jessica Powers expresses it thusly: The Father seeks submission, Suffering draws the Son, But only by silence, is the Spirit won. Fr. Liam Carey of Portland OR expressed it thusly:
The Father is 'how things stand'. That which is beyond control. We are powerless in the face of the will of God. The Son is 'that which is possible'. The Son frees us from the burden of the inevitable. The Spirit is 'support (a foothold) on every side'. " Sure and present in the midst of danger". so, "How things stand is that all things are possible with support in every side."
Another view regards the Father as Creator in silence (Genesis 1), the Son as the Word of life spoken by the Father (John 1), and the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son as Light illuminating the darkness of our souls. Thus:
"In the Spirit of the Living God, silence lets Life come to Light."
When we were baptized into life with Christ, we were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our God is awesome. To each of us is given gifts to be used to the glorification of God's holy name. These gifts are given us to announce, to bear witness, to complete the mission of Christ. And each of us is given the gifts in different constellations. To serve God, I must be the person He created me to be, and I must be that person to the fullest. This means that I am called to integrate the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual parts of my self, and to dedicate them to the Glory of God.
Copyright © 1997 Alicia Huntley, CNM
All Rights Reserved
I know that the blog has been all Emma, all the time, but now I am going to branch out into a few other areas of interest. Food, for one. We have been blessed lately with an extravagance of fresh vegetables from our CSA AND there are several local Farmer's Markets. I have made a batch of pickles from the cucumbers and also some dilled green beans. I have frozen peas, green beans, and corn on the cob for the winter. My tomato plants and squash have not yet revved up to full speed, thank God, because the bounty from the CSA has been almost more than we can eat.
Here are a few recipes for what we have been eating. Amounts are variable and feel free to adjust to suit your needs.
The original recipes I have call for either making a puree of the ingredients or adding in a commercial tomato juice base. I have found that doing it as I describe below works just fine.
In the bottom of a fairly large non-reactive dish (glass bowl, ceramic dish) put a layer of peeled and sliced or chunked cucumbers ( I prefer the chunks). Salt liberally with a non-chemicalized salt (I use kosher or large crystal sea salt). Then add in a layer of onion (again, slices or chunks). Salt the onion lightly. (The idea is that the salt draws out the juices). Then a layer of bell peppers, your choice of colours, and if you choose, maybe a hot pepper minced. Use a garlic press and add some garlic puree to taste - I find that 2 or 3 cloves work pretty well. Then take your freshest local juicy ripe tomatoes. Hold them over the dish to slice them and add them as the top layer. You don't want to miss any of the juice. You could peel them if you wish, but it isn't always necessary and it take time. On the other hand, if you peel them you don't end up picking tomato skins out of your teeth....
After you have layered all the veges, sprinkle the top with some red wine vinegar and some quality olive oil. About equal parts of each. Cover the dish and let it sit in a cool place (fridge or some such) for a while. Maybe an hour. You can sip your beverage of choice or work on other meal items while you are waiting. Then, take the tool of your choice and amalgamate the ingredients to some degree that will also express more of the juices. I personally like to take my freshly washed hands and smoosh things together, but you could also use a spoon or a spatula.
Serve in small bowls with garlic toasts or croutons on the side.
Prepare a large cooking pot with thick bottom, put in plenty olive oil.
Chop 1 or 2 onions, put them into the pot and start it cooking slowly. Slice and garlic (about 6 cloves).
Cut up 1 or 2 bell peppers into small strips, and stir in.
Peel an eggplant, cut it into big chunks, then throw them into the pot. Do the same to some zucchini and/or other summer squash.
Wash the tomatoes, chop them up in big chunks, and throw them in (no peeling) and stir in well. You need 2 or 3 big beefsteak tomatoes, or an equivalent amount of other tomatoes.
They then need to be stirred down frequently until they've merged with the rest of the ingredients. If you wish, you can add in some fresh chopped basil, parsley, thyme and similar herbs now or at the end. Other possible additions are capers and mushrooms.
This can take as long as 45 minutes and I suggest that you have the pot on the lowest possible heat. Depending on your tomatoes, you could get caramelization and that is not the goal here.
Ratatouille can be served as a main course, as a relish over meat or fish, on pasta or potatoes, or as a side dish. It can be served hot, warm, or cold. You can roll it in crepes or put it in an omelet. It is delicious and versatile.
The other thing I have done with my vegetables lately is to oven roast the root veges. Fingerling potatoes, onions, carrots, and beets, with some garlic (of course!). yum.
A book I read as a child was about France just after WW2 was over. It concerned a French child who wanted to be able to follow her family tradition of pancakes the night before Ash Wednesday. I remember in England cooking pancakes over the wood stove of the school I attended. The recipe below is from my mom - I think that she got it from Monique but I could be wrong!
Make in blender. (easier than beating by hand!)
1 ¾ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
2 TBS sugar (optional)
¼ cup booze (brandy, rum, bourbon)
2 tsp lemon rind (grated) or extract
¼ cup melted butter
2 – 3 cups milk
put in blender in order listed. – use 2 cups milk at start. Blend until smooth, add in extra milk as needed to get to consistency of thin cream. Let rest one hour or more in fridge.
When ready to cook, have some melted butter in a dish with a heatproof pastry brush, to brush the pan between each crepe.
I use my cast iron griddle (10" round) to make crepes. My daughter uses an omelette pan. They both work just fine.
Heat the pan (cold water flicked on it should dance), and brush with butter. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter on the heated surface, and swirl pan so that batter covers it in a very thin layer. As soon as the edges start to get dry, turn the crepe over in the pan and just barely cook the second side. Repeat until all the batter is cooked. You can keep the crepes warm in a stack with a damp towel over the top. You can let them get cold and heat them just as you use them. You may need to post a guard to keep your family from grabbing them to eat as fast as you can cook them.
Traditionally these are served with lemon juice and sugar for Shrove Tuesday - or you can roll them with jam, or fill them with just about anything. I don't recommend syrup, though, because it is rather overwhelming.
Tomorrow night's dinner! a good last meal before the Ash Wednesday Fast.
I live on tea the way many others live on coffee. This place looks intriguing.
I haven't blogged any food lately. I've thought about it, but I haven't done it. Actually, that has been the story of my life the last few weeks - thinking but not doing. I'm so frickin tired so much of the time.
Anyhow, last night I got off the dime and made a winter squash risotto. I adapted a recipe I found in the Boston Globe Magazine.
2 shallots, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups pureed roasted squash (I used pumpkin that I had frozen previously, thawed) (You can also use canned in a hurry)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
4 cups vegetable broth ( I use a boxed roasted vege stock)
Bring the broth to a boil and keep simmering on the stove next to where you are making the risotto. Keep a ladle handy.
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesano (may also use asiago, romano, or similar)
fresh parsley or sage for garnish
In a large, non-stick pot, saute shallot in butter until translucent. Add arborio rice, stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup wine and bring risotto to a boil. Once liquid is absorbed, reduce heat to medium. Stir in the pureed squash with 1/2 cup of the broth, simmer until mostly absorbed. Gradually stir in hot broth 1/2 cup (one ladle full) at a time (make sure to allow liquid to be absorbed between each 1/2 cup). Taste the risotto for consistency (after all the liquid is absorbed, the risotto should be tender but not soft, moist but not runny). Remove from flame. Stir in cheese and chopped sage.
Spoon the risotto into bowls, top with herbs.
For Vegans (or dairy free fast days) omit the cheese and add in a little salt.
I also like to spice it up with a little tabasco sauce.
Well, one thing that many women do when we are under this kind of stress is that we cook. Alas, I don't have any place to take the quantities of foods that I want to stir up, and the fridge is getting full. I don't know about you, but I always want to take a covered dish to the wake. I guess that the basics of food and drink remind us that we are human.
I was struck by a line from today's first reading. Acts 2:46
cotidie quoque perdurantes unianimiter in templo et frangentes circa domos panem sumebant cibum cum exultatione et simplicitate cordis (Vulgate)
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart (New American)
They ate their meals with exultation and simplicity of heart.
Sounds like a good idea to me.
Herewith, a couple of recipes for simple foods that you can fix and forget. I use a slow-cooker but you can also cook them on very low at the back of your stove if you don't have a slow cooker.
1 bag frozen shelled edamame (10 to 16 0z)
1 bag (same size) frozen kernel corn
1 quart vegetable stock (Trader Joes sells a nice roasted vege stock)
one onion, chopped OR 1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 bell pepper (red preferred, green OK), chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes (15 to 28 oz size, your call)
Herbs to taste (I suggest thyme - about 2 tsp dried or 2 TB fresh)
Throw everything into the crock pot. Cook on low all day. If you want it to cook a little faster, preheat the stock while you are chopping your vegetables. If you have a little more time, saute the chopped fresh veges in a little olive oil before throwing them in the pot.
Black Lentil stew
This recipe came about because I bought some black lentils at Trader Joes and then had to figure out what to do with them! I am sure that it would work also with the green French lentils. Don't know about the red or brown ones, though, since those varieties can get pretty mushy.
1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock - Put in slow cooker and start heating on high while you chop the following and add them into the pot.
1 head garlic, peeled and pressed (chopped if you don't have a press).
one onion, chopped OR 1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 bell pepper (red preferred, green OK), chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
Now add in 2 cups black lentils and 1/2 cup pearl barley. Turn cooker down to Low and cook undisturbed at least 6 hours.
1/2 hour or so before serving, add in 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes and 3 TBs good vinegar. Taste and add in salt and pepper if desired.
He had a most excellent post earlier this week, on cooking. Allow me to quote a bit here:
Cooking, to mean anything, must involve the transformation of raw ingredients into satisfactory edibles.
Cooking prowess can be divided into stages:
1. Following exact directions with a basic command of culinary technique.
2. Modifying existing recipes based on experience with a variety of ingredients.
3. Creating brand new recipes.
4. Improvising brand new recipes.
5. Total culinary virtuosity: improvising brand new recipes with improbable ingredients (if you have read Tony Bourdain, foie gras with a Starburst candy reduction should immediately come to mind).
I generally consider myself to be between level 3 and level 4. Let me give an example.
Earlier in the week, John called me from the store to ask what he should bring home that I could cook for dinner. He was standing at the fish market. I drew a mental blank and told him to bring home whatever, I would figure out a way to cook it. He brought home a pound of sea scallops and a pound of boned salmon.
I started some rice cooking in the back ground, and got out my favorite pan (it's a 10" covered skillet aka a chicken fryer - but a wok would also work).
I peeled and diced 2 carrots, chopped up two celery stalks and a baby vidalia with greenery (you could also use a bunch of scallions or a leek)and sliced a couple cloves of garlic. These I sauteed in a little butter in the pan. I then added in a cup of sake and simmered until the sake was almost completely evaporated. While that was evaporating, I rinsed the scallops and cut the salmon into scallop sized chunks. I tossed them in to the pan and seasoned with a seafood herb mix I keep on hand (Trader Joe's Seafood broil) - probably about a tablespoon or a little less. I sauteed this until the the fish lost its translucency and then I tossed in a 4 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts with their marinade and heated through. Served it over the rice with a green salad on the side and some crusty bread. Yum.
Would this be level 3 or level 4?
Via Julie D.
1. Name 5 things in your fridge (steering clear of the regular suspects: milk, eggs, etc.).
Leftover pasta, tapioca pudding, wasabi cream cheese, blueberry-pomegranite juice, half a can of tuna.
2.Name one thing that is always in your pantry and tell why.
I have an extensive collection of canned beans and canned seafood, and when I use one I replace it. I am able to throw together a nutritious meal in minutes using these as protein sources and adding in whatever else I have on han.
3.What one gadget would you most like to throw out the window? On whom would you like it to land? Don't touch my gadgets! My husband's popcorn popper, on the other hand, is always falling out its cupboard and attacking me.......
4. What is the last thing you cooked in your microwave?
Last night, I used it to precook a white sauce and the broccoli that I used to throw together a crockpot cream of broccoli/cheddar soup. Mostly the microwave is used to heat vegetables and leftovers.
5. If you could go to a grocery store right now what would you buy?
Who's paying? If it was a supermarket sweep, I'd get lobster, shrimp, salmon, lots of good wine, fresh pasta and imported fruits and vegetables. But if it were on my nickel, probably bananas, bread, grapefruit and salad greens. I tend to keep my larder fairly well stocked, so that if we have a disaster of some kind we could keep going for a week or so. I think that's a legacy of growing up in the land of earthquakes to two Depression baby parents.
THE AMERICAN FRUGAL HOUSEWIFE
DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT ASHAMED OF ECONOMY.
BY MRS. CHILD,
AUTHOR OF "HOBOMOK," "THE MOTHER'S BOOK," EDITOR OF THE "JUVENILE MISCELLANY," etc.
A fat kitchen maketh a lean will. "FRANKLIN"
"Economy is a poor man's revenue; extravagance a rich man's ruin."
ENLARGED AND CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR.
Cockaleekie soup, bread, and beverages.
It is rainy and grey, and even though hot soup seems bizarre in the middle of August, it is what fits the weather.
We may also serve some brie with fruit and crackers for dessert.
My garden has been generous with tomatoes, and later this week I will probably make gazpacho. Yum, gazpacho. I will probably also try Erik's recipe for tomato grappatini, now that I have both good fresh tomatoes and decent grappa.
The best thing about this weather is that it makes it easier to go back to work after vacation.
It is Community Supported Agriculture time again, and I have in my box this week a vegetable that I have never gotten along with - turnips with their greens. I am hoping that some southern guy or gal can give me a recipe for turnip greens (I have some truly yummy bacon drippings reserved) as well as suggestions for what to do with the neeps.