f Morning Rose Prayer Gardens: 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



This week and next my time is focused on the Catholic Writers' Conference in PA. So this posting is quick, short and will remain until August 9th.

I've been harvesting from my little garden in the backyard and love the small bounty I receive each summer. I've added a few new veggies like lemon cucumbers and sweet million tomatoes, but for the most part I grow my favorites like zucchini, beans, roma tomatoes and potatoes. And always oodles of basil!

The recipe I've included, though not part of my recent cookbook, is a wonderful summer salad and goes well with anything grilled. The trick is to slice the zucchini paper thin.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbl. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
2 pounds medium zucchini, very thinly sliced
1/2 c. coarsely chopped basil
1/4 c.  minced almonds, pecans or pine nuts
Parmesean cheese to taste

Whisk together first five ingredients, set aside. Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer, slice zucchini into bowl, add chopped basil and nuts, toss, add dressing, toss again. Refridgerate. Consume within two days.

Sending you all God's choicest blessings!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



It’s been a week of sowing seeds and of being sown. I feel the seeding within myself as God’s small hard fruits land and take hold in the soil of my soul. This sowing is not new. He has repeatedly scattered seeds with reckless abandon upon the landscape of my heart. On all the different terrains with deep or shallow soils, among my weeds and along his path, often divergent to my own, he has broadcasted his grain. And then he waited. God can afford to be extravagant with sowing seeds.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Portion of New Book

Winter Roots Beef Soup

I’m a gardener and have often kept a root cellar, or something similar for storing harvested produce. In one house it was literally a hand dug portion of the basements exposed to tree roots and in another a fieldstone ‘Michigan’ basement. Putting food by just seems like a natural progression for those of us who celebrate life with soil between our hands.
At one time I lived in an old farm house on a double lot. My vegetable patch wasn’t very big, although it sure felt like twenty acres come harvest time. Many of my homegrown root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, garlic and onions would be set in a cool dark corner underground.
In this old farm house, I’d head down the back kitchen stairs into the Michigan basement, and from inside the cellar unlock the bulk-head doors over the cement steps that lead outside. I could then carry into the basement directly from the gardens bins and bags of barely cleaned root vegetables for storage.
A lot of these old fieldstone basements were formed with a ledge about four feet up. I’m not sure why, but thank the Good Lord for a perfect place to set the produce. The overhead beams were old and as hard as the stones, so twine was threaded between them and the up-stairs floor-boards to hang the garlic…the herbs went into the attic. Once everything was hauled into place, the mouse traps would be set. Michigan basements are known for harboring the neighborhood mouse population.
There was also a fair amount of tomato canning that took place. That is until I got the upright freezer and stopped the boiling-pots-in-August insanity. I never made sauces with the tomatoes after that, preferring to freezer-pack them fresh and often unpeeled. When they thawed out, the skins just slipped off and the added flavor from them was worth the mess.
Feeling a bit out of sorts as the dark days of winter wore on, I would often look through cookbooks and old magazines for meal options. The publications from the Christmas season always showed fancy foods and fabulous families, neither of which were part of my world. The days were dark, and I was feeling much like the produce in the basement waiting for purposefulness.

Thank you Marcia Butterfield for this wonderful picture of my soup.

I needed to do something, I needed to share. I had no idea who would be the recipient of the food I was fixing to cook, but I knew the Holy Spirit would make a suggestion.
I had a fair amount of pot roast left from the previous night’s dinner. To this day, I still haven’t figured out how to make a small roast! I decided that this would be the protein I needed in a soup. I grabbed a stock pot from under the sink and headed to the basement with my old yellow lab slowly following me down the stairs.
Loaded with the produce I would need, back up to the kitchen I went. The pot was so heavy that I plopped it down every other step until I got to the linoleum. Up and onto the counter it went, and out the veggies came into the sink that I now started to fill with cold water.
I had a sweet potato in the fridge; one of the magazine recipes had used sweet potatoes instead of white ones in a stew. It sounded like a nice note to add, so I pulled that out along with the meat, celery and seasonings.
With the wooden handled veggie brush, a Fuller Brush housewarming gift from long ago, I scrubbed the skins of the potatoes and carrots. Peeling the parsnips and store bought rutabaga; I set them all together on the oversized walnut cutting board next to the cabbage.
Having already rinsed the kettle and set it on the stove to dry, I dumped in the stock and lit the burner and donning my apron, albeit a little late, I set about combining the soup.

Winter Roots Beef Soup
6 cups beef broth (avoid bouillon, it gives the root veggies an
             odd saltiness)
½ to 1 lb. leftover beef roast, diced
1 large potato diced, peeled if the skin is tough
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
½ rutabaga, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
¼ head red cabbage (or green) shredded
14-16 oz. diced tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ sweet onion, finely sliced and then cut slices in half
¼ tsp. celery seed
¼ tsp. thyme
1 tbl. parsley flakes, or ¼ c. fresh parsley, diced
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Literally, dump all of it together into a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until potatoes are tender. Serve.

This is a hearty soup with a rich beefy flavor. You can use leftover turkey by switch the broth to 3 c. vegetable and 3 c. beef. Realize that using chicken or turkey stock changes the taste significantly. Leftover pork does not work well at all.
I often freeze leftover roasts in anticipation of making this soup knowing that I can easily double or triple the ingredients. But be mindful of the herbs and seasoning if tripling. Double them first, and then after simmering a while, taste to see if want to add more.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Illuminating Moth

     One night about 15 or so years ago, I saw a moth the size of my hand. Because it was dark, I couldn’t get a clear look at its markings, but knew it was the largest moth I had ever encountered.
     I shared my experience with someone who knew about these sorts of things, and I was told it was a Luna moth. And that was the end of that.
     Until last week.
     While watering at the retreat center, I stopped dead in my tracks and slowly turned off the hose. There, on the curb, not ten inches from where I stood, was another of the same large moths I had seen ages ago. I assumed it had just hatched because its wings were not fully spread and its fuzzy head was still smooth and flat. It was ever so slowly moving its wings…to which a five inch spread would be realized.
     In my excitement I called to another gardening volunteer who came scurrying over to view my discovery. Then I called over the priests from the retirement community next door, who were out for their morning walks.
     I couldn’t contain myself and wanted to share this experience with everyone I could. I called people out of their offices, pulled them from their chores, stopped them as the drove by. We all looked and exclaimed and marveled at the beauty and size of this winged creature.
     I knew, from what I had been told years earlier, that seeing one of these moths was amazing in itself. To see one in broad daylight and freshly hatched was truly miraculous! And I said so to all who came to see, and told them how privileged we were for the experience.
     Eventually we all returned to our tasks, slightly richer for having seen another of the Creator’s amazing creations.
     About two hours later I learned that it was not a Luna moth at all, but a Saturn moth. I felt a deep sense of bewilderment and almost shame for the error I had made. I blindly believed what I was told by someone I thought was an expert.  I had spread this false information to others and it felt like I had deceived them into experiencing something that was not true.
     What should have remained an awesome experience was now tainted. I was saddened by what should have remained a joy.
     To those whom I could, I corrected myself and apologized for misleading them. In my heart I knew I had innocently shared misinformation as “truth,” naively perpetuating a falsehood. Graciously, and with minimal disappointment, they each expressed delight in having shared a moment of wonder.
Image by endlessforest.org

     My lesson in all this is that truth bears out. The truth is that the moth was an amazing creation given to delight us by our God, and that my ostentatious expletives (to elevate my character?) did not add to the beauty of the gift.