Saturday, November 23, 2013

I find myself reading and following several blogs of LGBTQ Christians, mostly Catholics, these days. That is not a cross that God has given me to bear, but I have spent a lot of breath and incurred a lot of heart ache in the past few years as I struggle to put myself in the shoes of my friends who feel Different, while I simultaneously try to hold fast to the teachings which I know are life. But I believe that the "issue" of the apparent conflict between the Church's teachings on sexuality and the struggles of LGBTQ persons does not simply draw us as matter for compassion, while us lucky straight people can simply hum and nod in pity for the poor gays. The conflict is compelling because we do sense that there is something deeply wrong here, but perhaps we then shrink back from it not out of disgust with our fellow men, but from the fear that while casting flashlights about in this labyrinth, we may strike something reflective which bounces the light back onto our own tangled and overgrown hearts.

I have been moved by what I have read on these traditional, orthodox Christian, LGBTQ blogs because these people have skin in the game. The dissonance between straight/mainstream Christian attitudes, LGBTQ struggles, and Christ's love is more than an academic or political problem to them. They are hanging on for dear life to Christ, despite attacks both from the mainstream gay community and from within their churches, because, as the Apostle Peter said, surely trembling, Lord, where else would we go? You hold the words of truth and life.

My struggles start to look very fluffy in the light of that resolve. My comforts are abundant and my efforts are anemic.

Here is my favorite of the bloggers, a Catholic wife and mother, philosophy/theology nerd, and fantasy writer, who used to identify as a lesbian, and now (I think?) recognizes herself as still gender-queer.

Here is an interview with one of the editors of Spiritual Friendship, along with Orthodox priest Fr. Josiah Trenham.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Huevos Rancheros

Well, I done went and told all the women under 40 in my church how to find my blog, so hi guys! Every time I think someone I know is reading my blog, I have to go back and read it through their eyes. Good thing I don't have too many readers or I'd get sick of myself.

I have been tres fatigue (Rachel! That means "really tired" and it's pronounced "trey fatty-gay!") recently and my kitchen is a wreck. It's very small so it doesn't take much to wreck it, and I get discouraged when it looks bad. When I'm languid I'm lazy obviously so yeah, it's bad.

I have three unbaked pans of this huevos rancheros breakfast casserole that I just sort of made up sitting in the refrigerator for church tomorrow. I am sharing the recipe now, not having tasted it yet, but I will let you know what everybody thinks. I have to confess that most of the time when I post a recipe on this blog, I sit down and write it while the dish is simmering or in the oven or whatever, before I forget what I did. So yes, I usually post the recipes before I taste them. (Unless I say "I made this last night and it was great!") But so far they've all turned out great, EXCEPT for the Lenten Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Don't make that. It was bad. I never went back and told you that.

EDIT: It turned out great!

So here's what I would do to make just one of these possibly really good casseroles.

In New Mexico this would be made with sublime roasted Hatch green chiles. Everywhere else you'll have to settle for the canned stuff. It's not even 1% as good but still, my eyes started to water a little bit with tears of bitter joy when I opened the can and smelled even the hint of Hatch. A glimpse of heaven.

For three casseroles, I mixed three 7 oz cans of chiles in a 12 oz jar of tomatillo salsa that I happened to have around. Tomatillos are bright, acidic little green tomatoes that go very well with the smoky deep chile flavor. You'll find the two paired often in New Mexican cuisine. But if you don't need to stretch your chiles, no need to adulterate!

Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Casserole
6-8 corn tortillas (Our favorite brand in the whole world is Milagro. Mexican grocery stores, in the midwest, at least, seem to have them consistently.)
(2) 7 oz cans green chiles, if you're not in the Promised Land 
8-12 eggs (how hungry are you?)
3 or 4 cups of grated cheese (a big block,) such as Pepper Jack, Cheddar, or a Mexican queso
1 can black beans, drained
a bit of oil to fry the tortillas

Fry the tortillas in lard or coconut oil. Let them cool and then rip them into several pieces each. Cover the bottom of a casserole pan with half of the tortilla fragments. Dump all the beans in the pan and spread them around evenly. Spoon half of the green chiles evenly over the beans, and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Cover with the rest of the tortilla fragments, then the rest of the green chiles and then the remaining cheese.

Whisk up the eggs in a bowl or big measuring cup. Salt and pepper them to taste. (That means to your liking, it doesn't mean taste the raw eggs to see if you like them.) Pour the eggs over the whole thing. Some people don't break the yolks, which is yummy, but I was hoping the beaten eggs would permeate all layers of the casserole rather than just sitting on the top. That seems easier to divide into small portions for many people.

Let it all sit in the fridge overnight.

Tomorrow I'm going to bake the casseroles at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. I'll check back in with you after church.

Also, I would definitely garnish with green onions if they had not been oddly absent from my grocery store today! Cilantro seems like a decent thing to do. Avocado and sour cream are also recommended.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Manhattan Clam

You can't call it chowdah if it isn't from Maine. My husband was suspicious of this soup because he grew up spending summers in Maine, and his family lives there now. So a tomato clam chowder just doesn't sound right. If I had just called it "Tomato Clam Soup" he might have felt differently. But Manhattan Clam Chowder sounds so fancy!

It's really easy, cheap, and you probably have all the ingredients. The only thing that kept my version from being Lenten was the lard I used to saute the vegetables at the beginning. You can use olive oil or just soften them with a little clam juice or water.

Manhattan Clam Chowder (Can Be Lenten)
1 Tbsp lard, olive oil, or butter
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 medium onions, diced
2 biggish carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
2-5 cloves garlic, minced
2-14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of minced clams
3-5 large potatoes, cubed
Tabasco or Tapatio to finish

Do I even have to tell you what to do? It's so easy. Saute the vegetables except potatoes until they are soft. Add the tomatoes and the juice only of the clams, along with the potatoes. Add a couple of cans of water so that you have enough liquid to cover the potatoes. Salt generously, because the potatoes need it! Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 30-40 minutes. Add the reserved clam meat and seasoning.

Now, if you are really fancy, you will use the last 10 minutes of simmering to steam some REAL LIVE clams in their shells! Ooh la la.

Sorry that this is just a recipe blog now! I'll get back on this horse someday. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

spanakoriso, three ways

It's fall, blah blah. The leaves are orange. Actually, some are still green here, even though it's November 2! I'm confused.

I've been hankering after spinach recently so I made this Greek Spinach and Rice dish. It's terribly simple and cheap. Here is the recipe straight from Greek Cooking For The Gods by Eva Zane.

Eva Zane's Spanakoriso
2 pounds fresh spinach
1 cup uncooked rice
2 medium onions minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Wash and dry the spinach, and tear into pieces. Saute the onions, garlic and rice in olive oil until the onions are soft and golden; add tomato sauce, and stir; add spinach, bay leaves, salt and pepper, mix well and add beef broth; cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

I didn't have fresh spinach so I used two 12-oz bags of frozen spinach. Although that sounds like it should be less than 2 pounds, I think it was weighed when frozen, so in fact it ended up being more spinach-heavy than I think it was supposed to.  We are out of olive oil so I substituted butter. I will go to confession tomorrow I guess. Additionally, I have no idea what she means by tomato sauce; perhaps paste? I didn't have that either, so I just dumped in a can of diced tomatoes. I would recommend using pureed tomatoes next time so that you don't have chunks, but my results are still very tasty.

Here's the way I made it, with the ingredients in the order in which they are used:

Mallory's Non-Lenten Spanakoriso
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice, rinsed
(1) 16 oz can tomatoes, diced
 (2) 12 oz packages frozen chopped spinach
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
2 cups homemade chicken broth

Saute onions, garlic and rice in butter until onions are golden and soft. Add tomatoes and stir. Add spinach and cover to steam and melt the spinach a bit. Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer about 25 minutes (longer to let the rice absorb the moisture from the frozen spinach.) Stir as needed, but cover it quickly so the rice can cook. When the rice is puffed up and edible, it's good.

This is how I would make it if I were fasting from olive oil, meat, etc and didn't want to use a barbaric oil like coconut or sesame in a Greek dish.

Mallory's Theoretical Lenten Spanakoriso
Same ingredients as above, except substitute veg broth or water. 

Cook the onions, rice and garlic in a little bit of broth (no more than it takes to moisten everything) to soften the onions. Then proceed as above.
You may need to add more salt to make it taste good.

I garnished my bowl of spanakoriso with kefir (you can use yogurt), lemon juice, salt, pepper, and like four drops of olive oil from our empty can. More olive oil would have been better! One time I added parmesan cheese, I don't know why, and it basically became a risotto. It strikes me that ground lamb or sausage would also be a good addition if you are very hungry and want this to be your main dish. But if you stick to the Greek method, you can't go wrong.