Friday, June 21, 2013

Bringing Home the Bacon...

So many times I am still amazed at the way God answers prayer. This shouldn't necessarily be the case, but in all honesty, it is. Take the past few weeks for example. Brian and I'd been talking for a while about the cash flow in our family (or how it seems to just flow away), so I'd been considering a second job. Now Craigslist is fine, and there are a lot of jobs on it, but I was more concerned about a couple of things. 1) my résumé. I have been teaching and coaching fencing for eight years now, but that's pretty specialized as was my previous job as booking agent/ administrative assistant for Master's Image Production. Of course, I also have the wife/mom/home educator thing under my belt, but it doesn't sound very impressive to the business world. 2) scheduling. Would I be able to get a job that would allow me to keep teaching and coaching, take care of family stuff, and not have to work on Sundays? This was all taken care of a few weeks back when my dear friend, Annette (she of Fordyce Farms fame), texted me asking if I'd be interested in working part time in the F. Farms kitchen helping her husband, Ray, with the marvelous baking he does. After polling the kids and talking with Brian, I texted back saying yes to the job. With the new job comes new busyness. Between the two jobs, I have been working full time (plus still doing the homemaker stuff), which is a really new thing for me. I finally realized after doing it all for a bit more than a week, I needed to ask for help in domestic-land. Whoever coined the whole bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, etc. etc. etc. thing was either a man or someone who could afford to have live-in help (I don't mean children, either)! Anyway, I decided to put my homemaking pride on the line and ask husband and youngest daughter for help in the kitchen. I then pretty much stepped back and let them plan the menu for July. So far, so good. I've only had to help a few times plus I've only had to cook a full meal twice- Sunday brunches with the kids help. The food has been tasty, and no one is starving. Of course, there have been some glitches like forgetting to put pasta on the grocery list and things like that. Thankfully, Mary is a whiz in the kitchen, so she's helping her dad quite a bit. I am still trying to use my one full day off to bake bread and make other necessities like mayonnaise and salad dressing, but it is really nice to have dinner ready when I come home after one of my really long days. Would I have done this earlier when the kids were younger- no way. Am I glad to be able to get to do it now as they are all transitioning to full grown up land- absolutely! The other fun thing is still getting to try new recipes, like the Mexican Tater Waffles I made a few weeks ago. It's a great recipe and so easy, not to mention it tastes excellent! Who would have thought you could use your waffle iron for something so creative? Try it, you'll like it!

Mexican Tater Waffles
1- 1 lb. bag frozen tater tots, thawed
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1-4 oz. can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tsp. taco seasoning
Cilantro, sour cream, salsa and extra cheese, for serving, if desired

Preheat waffle iron. Mix all Ingredients in large bowl, being sure to break up tots. When waffle iron is hot, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon about 1/2 cup of potato mixture into waffle iron. Cook for 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Top with cilantro, sour cream, salsa and extra cheese, if desired.

Strawberry Bread

 Mangia Mamma’s Strawberry Bread 
with Strawberry Icing
2 cups sliced fresh or frozen Strawberries- if frozen, let thaw for 10 minutes to soften 
2 cups unbleached flour  
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour  
2 cups sugar  
1/2 tsp. nutmeg  
1/2 tsp. ginger  
1 tsp. baking soda  
1 1/4 cups butter, softened  
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup confectioners sugar  
2 tbsp. strawberry syrup (I make my own, but you can use any strawberry syrup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. 
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl; mix well. Add butter and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, being sure to blend before adding next one. Once batter is mixed, fold in strawberries, mixing just until combined. Divide batter into pans.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes; turn out onto rack.
While bread is baking, make icing. In small bowl, mix together confectioners sugar and strawberry syrup. If icing is too thin, add a bit more syrup. Once desired consistency is reached, drizzle over warm bread.
Cool iced bread completely before cutting. 
This is very good for anytime of the day, and it’s delicious served with cream cheese and strawberry jam. It would also make a great base for bread pudding.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Some Pomp and Circumstance...for the Class of 2013

I never got to make a speech at either my high school or community college graduation. If I had, I think it might have sounded a little like this:

Professors, Guests and Fellow Graduates,
After doing a little research on the song we refer to in the U.S. as Pomp and Circumstance, I found out it's actually called Land of Hope and Glory. The music was written by Sir Edward Elger and lyrics~ yes there are words to the song~ by A.C. Benson for King Edward VII's coronation in 1902. Here are the lyrics:

Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee ?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set ;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

 Even though this was written over a century ago, in Great Britain, I believe we can pull out some ideas for today. Here are a few I came up with.

1) Graduates in the United States do live in a land of hope and glory. My great grandparents came to this country in the hope of a better life than the one they left in the old country. As we have been celebrating graduations with my family over this last month, I know our young people still have a hope and are free to explore what our country has to offer.

2) With so many people being negative about these times we are living in, our graduates have the opportunity to make a difference. It's time for young people to be willing to have a strong work ethic, to study things that will benefit them not just monetarily, but in all aspects of life, and to stand up for what is right.

3) The opportunities for impacting the world has never been bigger. There are people all over the world who need help- from storm victims in Iowa and New Jersey to the poor in Africa and Asia. Our graduates can get involved at a local food bank or become part of Americorps or even go overseas as part of a team building houses or running a medical clinic.

4) Even though the last two lines of this song actually have to do with England when it was written, our graduates must realize the only way for them to become the people they are intended to be is by asking the Lord to guide and direct them. This will help them to become the men and women they were meant to be.

Thank you and may God bless you all.

I dedicate this to my son David, who will be graduating tonight with his Associate of Arts Transfer Degree from Chemeketa Community College. I am very proud of you, son, and I am looking forward to seeing what God has planned for you as you transfer to Christendom this fall.

Mangia Mondays #2

Coming off another great weekend, I was happy to wake up to another day with sunshine. The house was relatively quiet with Mary and Josh at work plus David working on his schedule for his time before heading back to Christendom. Even with it being Monday, I had a smile on my face as I folded laundry and baked the weekly batch of bread. This smile was due to a few different things. 
First, we are going to be the recipients of a new-to-us dining room table that seats TWELVE. even as the kids grow and start to leave the nest, we are doing more entertaining. I am looking forward to not having to borrow tables from work. The table that we've owned for the last 15 years belonged to Grandma Pitalo, and it will be heading over to Cari's apartment. This also means we'll be getting Cari's table to use on our front porch. I love having my morning coffee outside, and a table means I can read, eat breakfast or even blog while sitting on the porch.
Secondly, I won something! That's right, I actually won a The Thirsting's Companions of the Lamb CD from Maia over at from little hands. Not only am I excited to have something to give to David for graduation (shhh...don't tell him), but I have enjoyed their songs too. Thanks, Maia, for not only a fantastic blog- be sure to check it out if you haven't yet- but for making this Monday a winner!
Lastly, I've been waiting to make turkey curry on flatbread for a month. As I finally had all of the  ingredients, it was on today's menu for our afternoon meal. It got rave reviews from everyone as being "just spicy enough" and "really delicious". We had some avocados that needed to be used, so I made up some guacamole to go with it- not very Indian, but it did add a nice flavor. Here's the recipe:

Here's the recipe:
Turkey Curry on Flatbread 
(adapted from EveryDay with Rachael Ray Magazine
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil, divided
  • onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 Greek-style flatbread (we used Papa Pita from Cash & Carry- they're the best next to from scratch)
  • Guacamole, if desired

  • 1. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese until blended. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt, lemon peel and lemon juice; set aside.
  • 2. In a small bowl, mix the tomato, cilantro and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  • 3.  Place a warm pita on each plate, top with the turkey curry, tomato salad and guacamole, if desired. Fold over and enjoy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday

As I sit here starting this today, I am listening as I often do, to EWTN radio. The show on right now is Women of Grace with Johnnette Benkovic. She's actually talking about something that's been on my mind this week~ control. I have once again realized how much I want to be in control,

but how, as a daughter of Christ, I need to keep surrendering my control to Him. Case in point- my food budget is smaller this month as we are trying to 1)be able to pay off some "extra" bills, and 2)cut down on spending overall. My stress level started rising as Brian and I started arguing about this last week. I finally realized I don't need to worry or try to be in control, and this week has gone much better. Control isn't as important as I think it is, and I need to pray instead of push. Then I can do as the old saying, and "let go and let God."
As David graduates from Chemeketa Community College Tuesday night and gets ready to head to Christendom College in August, I am realizing that Brian and I are closer to the "empty nest" thing. Mary will be the only one living at home, and she's planning on taking classes at Chemeketa as well as working this fall. 

I kept thinking this would not be hitting me as hard as it is, but I am starting to freak out just a bit. As there have been quite a few days this summer that all of the kids are gone, I don't know if I am all that excited about not having anyone home. It's not that I want to control their lives (see #1 above), I just really enjoy my kids right now. You've probably heard to enjoy all the moments with your kids as the time will fly by, and it's TRUE. Be sure to hug your kids today for you'll be saying goodbye sooner than you think.

I've been reading George Weigel's biography of Blessed John Paul ll, and I highly recommend it. As someone who knew very little about JPll (since I was not a practicing Catholic at the time of his pontificate), this book has helped me realize what a wonderful man he was. To be honest, it's a really thick book, but Mr. Weigel writes in an easy to read style that is also very engaging. If you want to learn more about the man many people call, John Paul the Great, be sure to pick up a copy.

The annual Salem Right to Life Rummage Sale starts this Wednesday (6/19) at St.Joseph's Church- corner of Cottage and Center Streets, in Salem. Trust me, if you are looking for almost anything, you will find it here and at a good price. Last year I picked up a like-new couch cover; two brand new bras- normally not what I'd be picking up at a rummage sale, but they were from Lane Bryant and had tags; a belgian waffle maker, and a cassock for Josh to use at school when he serves (yep, a well tailored cassock that fit him perfectly). So, as you can see, they do have LOTS of stuff. David's working at the Knights of Columbus concession stand, and I'll probably be working the floor, so be sure to stop by. You'll not only be able to pick up some great stuff, but also be helping the babies!
--- 5 ---
I read the book of Tobit this week. It is one of the Old Testament books that I really enjoy and learn from at the same time. The U.S.C.C.B. website says this about it:
The Book of Tobit, named after its principal character, combines Jewish piety and morality with folklore in a fascinating story that has enjoyed wide popularity in both Jewish and Christian circles. Prayers, psalms, and words of wisdom, as well as the skillfully constructed story itself, provide valuable insights into the faith and the religious milieu of its unknown author. 
If you've never read it, you should. It has lessons for everyone, and especially for those of us who are looking at trying to have a good marriage.
David and I took some of our friends up to Portland Airport yesterday morning as they are traveling back east to see family as well as visit a couple of perspec- tive colleges for their daughter. Whenever we get the chance to head up that way,we also try to do something else. This time, it was a trip to IKEA.
It did have abit of a purpose as Mary had asked me to pick up a couple of storageboxes for her. Well, it happened to still be breakfast time, and neither of us had eaten before we left. We were able to enjoy the IKEA "big breakfast" that hadscrambled eggs, sausage for me, bacon for David, a scoop of home fries and three french toast sticks. He also had some orange juice while I enjoyed a decent cup of FREE coffee- thanks to my IKEA family card. We ended up sharing a plate of Swedish Pancakes with cream and lignonberry jam. Not only was it filling and tasty,but it was cheap! The whole thing was about $7. We then walked around, as one must do when one visits IKEA before picking up the boxes, a pair of slippers and a really cool wire mesh basket that I am going to use for something cool (haven't quite figured out what yet). It was a great trip.
Trip to IKEA: $16.00
One on One Time with David: Priceless
I actually have the day off tomorrow from not only work, but from any outside activity. As the house and yard are in sore need of work, I won't be just sitting around, but I am excited about getting the place ready for our Nativity of St. John the Baptist Celebration next Sunday. The weather is supposed to be nice, as far as I know, so I'll get to put on my "Martha Stewart" outfit- not really her brand or anything, I just imagine her wearing something like it- and add some beauty to the yard.
We'll finish up the day with my NY style pizza and probably head over to our 
friends house, where Josh is housesitting, to watch a movie and eat popcorn!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Mangia Mamma's Five Favorites- vol. 5

1. Mediterranean Food & My Grandpa
Here's Grandpa during WWll
Chief Petty Officer,
U.S. Navy
Having grown up in a family whose background includes a variety of nationalities, I haven't really met a cuisine that doesn't at least interest me. I've been fortunate to try everything from Syrian to Irish, Sicilian to Croatian, Austrian to English, and that's just some of the foods of my family. One of my favorites is the Syrian food I grew up with going to my mom's parents home. My Grandpa Aziz is a fantastic cook and many a night did we spend waiting to eat until after 9:00 p.m. with the whole time knowing it would be worth the wait. Monday night we celebrated my Grandpa's 91st birthday. My Uncle John and his wife Cindy were up from California, so we had a nice dinner with Mediterranean food from Salem Downtown Market along with some amazing chicken my mom made and assorted desserts. It was fun to see Grandpa critique his meal as we knew it might be good but would no way match his. If you're looking for a recipe to try, here's one with a definite Mediterranean flair:

Baba Ganoush

Makes about 4 cups

3 medium eggplants
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons tahini
2 T. Zaatar (can be found at Penzey's)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1-2 lemons
2 T. parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. paprika
Preheat broiler to 500°F.
Broil eggplants about 2 minutes then turn. Continue doing this until all sides are charred.
Turn oven down to 400°F.
Prick each eggplant 5 times with a paring knife. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, then bake for 25-30 min, until the eggplants are very soft. The skin should look wrinkled.
Let the eggplants cool for about 15 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Slit them open and scoop out the flesh, leaving all the skin behind. Transfer the flesh to a bowl. Break up the eggplant so no piece is bigger than bite-sized. This should be super easy since the eggplant’s so soft. Try not to turn it into a puree.
Add the garlic, salt, tahini, 3 tablespoons olive oil, zataar, and the juice of 1 lemon. Gently stir to distribute. Taste for balance of flavors, adding more olive oil, lemon juice, or salt to taste. Serve as is, let cool to room temperature, or store in the fridge and eat cold.
Top with a drizzle of olive oil, parsley and paprika. Serve with pita bread triangles.

2. Paint chips 
When my husband and I were engaged, we would often start our Friday night outings at Home Club   (a precursor to Home Depot). This was mostly due to Brian starting his carpentry career, but it was also fun to dream about our future together in amongst the 2x4's and power tools. One of my favorite things to be found at home improvement store was, and still is, paint chips. I've always been fascinated by the color schemes and trying to decide what colors I would choose for certain rooms.  I have a pretty good collection started, and I've even been known to use some for gift tags/cards or other little crafty items. Now, after almost 28 years of marriage, we still like to occasionally head to Lowe's (our home improvement store of choice) just to look around. And yes, I still saunter off towards those luscious colors, looking for the right one that we might just use someday.
3. Unexpected Encounters
Last Thursday I got an email from the gal in charge of the priest's luncheon that Fr. Molinari has every month at St. Joseph's for all the local priests. The lady who was supposed to cook this month ( which was yesterday) had to cancel, so she was looking for a sub. After trying to figure out if I could do it- both time and "do we have any food in the house for this.", I let her know I would be happy to. It worked out so well. I made a sausage-rice bake, green salad, homemade bread, panna cotta with strawberries (soaked in the strawberry-basil syrup I made last week) and ricotta cookies with cake spice icing. As I knew Fr. Zerr from St. Edward's is gluten intolerant, everything on the menu, except for the bread, was gluten free. There were a total of six guests, five priests and one seminarian. The unexpected encounters for me were getting to talk with a few of the dear ladies from St. Joseph's as I was trying to find a corkscrew as well as chatting a bit with Kyle, husband of my friend, Karmyn and corkscrew finder extraordinaire. I also got to catch up with Rolando Moreno, the person who helped our family come into The Catholic Church as the RCIA director. If I had said no to Bev, I wouldn't have had the unexpected encounters I was blessed with Tuesday!

4. Kendall Jackson Chardonnay 2011

After coming home tonight and starting dinner of Greek Meatballs, flatbread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and yogurt,I mentioned to Brian how I wish we had some white wine. To my surprise, he offered to go get some down at Roth's. He ended up bringing home a bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay 2011, which he said would go well with dinner. As I was making the flatbread, he poured me a glass to try. Wow- it was good! With flavors of apricot, quince and fig, it was fruity but not too sweet. It went really well with dinner too. I know it's one I'll want to try again. Needless to say, Brian got a big hug and thank you out of the deal too!

5. Trader Joe's Bedtime Tea

I've had a cup of tea before bed the last couple of nights. Bedtime Tea from Trader Joe's has been the tea of choice both nights. Why? It's soothing and tasty, simple as that. I like my tea sweet, but I don't have to put anything in it. Even though it is a good choice to drink before heading off to count sheep, I also like it over ice. It's blend of chamomile, peppermint and other herbs helps this to be a favorite.

Be sure to check out Hallie's Five Favorites at as well as some of these: