Monday, April 16, 2007

Revisiting the Lenten Resolution

My attempt to simplify my life this Lent was to start using the slowcooker. I am still in search of finding slow cooker recipes that please my palate, but the expirement was a success. The girls appreciated being able to have my attention during the witching hour of need and I appreciated the fact that slow cooker meals are so huge that they generally could be spread over 2-3 nights. So, by using the slow cooker twice a week, I generally took care of 4-6 meals that I could change up nightly by various easy to prepare side dishes. It was great! I'm continuing this quest for simplification by adding to the week Cook & Freeze meals (you know, like bake two meatloafs at one time, eating one and freezing the other for later in the month). So, my goal is to only cook 3 nights a week using Slow Cooker and Cook & Freeze meals, building the other weekly dinners off leftovers.

Now, note that we generally only ate vegetarian meals and not vegan because of my pregnancy, so these may not work as Lenten meals for all of you, but the top family favorites during lent were:

1. Jen's chickpea curry
2. Betty Crocker's slowcooker lasagna (meat ommitted)
3. any chili recipe!
4. This egg casserole recipe my MIL sent me (broccoli can be subsituted and I used sauteed onion instead of green onions and cheddar cheese instead of American):

prysnac serbia (broccoli casserole)
1-10 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli
6 eggs, beaten
1 24-ounce carton cottage cheese (creamed, small curd)
6 tablespoons flour
8 ounces american cheese, diced
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 green onions, chopped
salt to taste

quickly thaw frozen broccoli by placing in a colander and holding under hot running water. separate the pieces with a fork, drain well. combine broccoli with all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and beat until well blended. pour into greased crockpot. cover and cook in high 1 hour, then on low 2 to 4 hours. stir after the first hour. serves 4 to 6

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bright Week

Well, now that Lent is over and Pascha has come, this blog will be taking a much slower pace, as the focus is only on the Great Feasts and Fasts of the Orthodox Church year. Besides, as a 6 month pregnant mother of two toddlers, I'm worn out! But I digress...

Pascha is not just a one day celebration! In the Antiochian tradition (at least the American) which we are a part of, we have a 40 day fast free period from Pascha to Ascension day. Some traditions only have a fast free period the week following Pascha until Thomas Sunday, at which time the regular Wed/Fri fast begins again. Regardless of the fasting tradition you celebrate under, the 40 days until Ascension are a time of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ with Bright Week jump starting it all.

For the little ones: Dress in bright colors all week long to celebrate Christ's Resurrection. Let them help you make some goodies to share with visitors and neighbors in celebration of the Resurrection. There are plenty of kid friendly recipes out there. Easy candies, cookies, etc. Have fun making a big mess and let them taste their creation (as much as they want to!!!!). Although the focus of this period is not on food, food is such a great way to experience joy with other people. Feasting is something everyone can participate in, young and old alike, and the joy is contagious. A favorite Bright Week tradition we have picked up from a parish we used to attend in S. CA is a Bright Friday Steak Run. Yep, folks, pull out that grill and some red meat and, well, feast when you normally would fast.

Reminders for the next 40 days:

1. Don't forget your white Paschal candle. Light it every night at the dinner table and sing the Resurrection hymn (see post below for details).
2. Keep your 'Christ is Risen' banner hung for the 40 days.
3. Read the story of the Resurrection from a children's bible before bedtime or tell it to them yourself.
4. Show and tell: Use icons of Christ on the cross and the Resurrection and talk to your children about Jesus' 'owies' and how he heals us. A fun little project to do with this is to get each of your toddlers/preschoolers and box of band aids and help them to re-decorate the box. They can be their 'Jesus' band aids; special band aids to help heal their owies like Jesus heals the owies of our bodies and souls.
5. Bring in flowers! Lots of flowers! Overflow your house with flowers! Little, beautiful signs of life and celebration. It's springtime everyone!

If you have any ideas you would like to add, please feel free to comment.