Reflections on the various dimensions of feminine vocation from liturgical homemaking and child rearing to education and the spiritual life.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Domestic Goddess? Check.

We've been having a cricket problem at our place.  Crickets? A problem?  Well, we thought the first one was cute and harmless.  Then we got acquainted the rest of her family . . . her sisters, brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, first cousins, second cousins, BABIES, third cousins, etc.  Then we observed the cricket cuisine: fallen Cheerios, phone ear plug cushions, the bite valve of my sports bottle. . .  Um. No more Mr. Nice-Guy.

So, today I prepped rooms for insect spraying, packed separate bags for the children, took out the trash, vacated the home for said spraying and drying/airing, turned in paper work at the housing office, napped baby at a friend's place, returned home, put daughter down for nap and—all while juggling baby and keeping him away from pesticides and disinfectants—vacuumed, swept, mopped, wiped down the baseboards in every room with disinfectant, put the rooms back together, and took a cool shower to recover.  I must have vacuumed up over a dozen crickets in the living room, most of them still alive and hopping.

And yes, it was 107 degrees today in my neighborhood. And, no, we don't have central air.

Then I nursed the baby down for another nap, read the daughter a story, made venison meatloaf from scratch with an original brand-new recipe (which we all loved), wiped and polished bookcases and shelves, served dinner and got children down for bed.

Oh, and the venison?  Hunted in the wild and made into sausage at home . . . by my uncle (a master bowman), not me.  But still.

Today I feel like Diana, goddess of the hunt. Beware my vacuum wand, O leaping green stags of the carpet!

So, yes; I am a domestic goddess. One that comes replete with your common household goddess attributes such as rage, ire, and fury, unrealistic demands, fickleness, vanity, and general unpredictability. 

There are three things for which I am grateful, three for which I give thanks:
(1) I am grateful for a most patient, accommodating husband.
(2) I am grateful that my children will not remember every moment of their time with me in childhood.
(3) And most importantly, I am grateful for the fact that I am not God.  (And so are a lot of other people.)

Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorified in holiness,
Marvelous in praises, doing wonders?
-Ex 15:11

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tomatillo Chicken: Entrée Evolution

When mothering small children it is hard to balance the all responsibilities of maid, nanny, and cook.  One way I stay sane is by cooking double (or triple) for leftovers.  I don't have the time or patience for cooking from scratch every day of the week. 

Here's a recent success building multiple menus using leftovers:

Day 1: Chicken Verde Tacos
  • 2.5 lbs. boneless chicken breasts (thawed if using from freezer)
  • Salt and 
  • Freshly ground black pepper.
Add to slow cooker along with
  • 1.5 C tomatillo salsa verde (I use Trader Joe's)
  • 1-3 t chopped or crushed garlic.
Cook for 2 to 3 hours on low or until chicken is cooked through but still moist.

Shred chicken using two forks and serve in warmed corn tortillas with shredded lettuce, salsa, pico de gallo, and lime wedges.  (Store remaining chicken in the cooking sauce to prevent dry out, and retain all the sauce for day 3 recipe.)

In our house two to 2.5 shredded chicken breasts serves two adults and one preschooler.

Day 2: Chicken Taco Salad
For each adult, toss the following together in a serving bowl: (measurements are approximate)
  • 2-3 handfuls lettuce
  • 1-2 handfuls tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1/2 C leftover shredded chicken verde
  • 1/4 C red kidney beans
  • 1/4 C grated raw zucchini
  • 2 T sliced black olives
  • Corn salsa to taste (optional)
  • Pico de gallo (optional)
  • Shredded cheese (optional)
  • Salsa verde (or other salsa of your choice)
  • Ranch dressing or homemade dressing (see below).

Simple Homemade Taco Salad Dressing
Shake together in a tightly sealed jar
  • 1/2 C Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C lime juice
  • 1 T finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 t crushed garlic (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Day 3: Tomatillo Chicken-Potato Casserole & Corn Bread
Combine in slow-cooker
  • all remaining leftover shredded chicken verde and sauce
  • 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, cut in half or smaller for bite-size pieces
Cook on high for two to three hours or until potatoes are tender.
For the last hour, add to the crock
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2-3 oz. sliced black olives 
If the sauce is too runny, put a towel across the top of the crock pot, under the lid, and replace the lid slightly ajar.  This will allow steam to be released/absorbed making the sauce thicker.
For the last 20 minutes of cooking, sprinkle on top
  • .5 to 1 C shredded Monterrey Jack cheese.
When all the vegetables are cooked and the cheese is melted, serve with hot sauce and molasses corn bread muffins (see below).

Serves three.  (If you want to serve more or have eaters with heartier appetites, add more potatoes, zucchini, olives, and cheese.)

Molasses Corn Bread Muffins
Follow the recipe on the back of your corn meal box making the following substitutions:
  • Use white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.
  • Replace 2 T of the sugar with 2 T molasses.
  • In our house, we also replace the milk with almond milk.

The artistry does not compare, but I like to think of this kind of menu planning as similar to a classical musician's "variations."  When I do have the energy and/or a creative streak, it is joy to make beautiful, healthy, innovative meals.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Innovation of Christ with Regard to the Dignity & Equality of Women

Some of my favorite passages of summary from Pope John Paul II's Papal Encyclical "On the Dignity and Vocation of Women":
Christ's attitude to women confirms and clarifies, in the Holy Spirit, the truth about the equality of man and woman. One must speak of an essential "equality", since both of them - the woman as much as the man - are created in the image and likeness of God. Both of them are equally capable of receiving the outpouring of divine truth and love in the Holy Spirit. Both receive his salvific and sanctifying "visits".
The fact of being a man or a woman involves no limitation here, just as the salvific and sanctifying action of the Spirit in man is in no way limited by the fact that one is a Jew or a Greek, slave or free, according to the well-known words of Saint Paul: "For you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).
[. . .]
The "innovation" of Christ is a fact: it constitutes the unambiguous content of the evangelical message and is the result of the Redemption. However, the awareness that in marriage there is mutual "subjection of the spouses out of reverence for Christ", and not just that of the wife to the husband, must gradually establish itself in hearts, consciences, behaviour and customs. This is a call which from that time onwards, does not cease to challenge succeeding generations; it is a call which people have to accept ever anew. Saint Paul not only wrote: "In Christ Jesus... there is no more man or woman", but also wrote: "There is no more slave or freeman". Yet how many generations were needed for such a principle to be realized in the history of humanity through the abolition of slavery! And what is one to say of the many forms of slavery to which individuals and peoples are subjected, which have not yet disappeared from history?
But the challenge presented by the "ethos" of the Redemption is clear and definitive. All the reasons in favour of the "subjection" of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of a "mutual subjection" of both "out of reverence for Christ".

For a full treatment of the biblical and traditional Christian teaching regarding the dignity of women see the rest of the Encyclical.