Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I couldn't figure out a good time to have the orange juliuses I'd planned, and then decided breakfast was the perfect time. :-) We had them with raisin bread toast, spread with olallieberry jam. Yum!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tonight's Outdoor Dinner

Last week, in celebration of spring, we bought a "baja burner"--one of those outdoor fireplace thingies to have a contained outdoor fire. We burned almost all the yard waste that we had, which included a big branch and a small branch, both broken off trees by the boy in our house. Now we've continued burning, because we like it, and Paul's now making trips to the Rebuilding Center to get used wood for fire wood.

We had our dinner outside by the fire tonight--it was such a beautiful spring day and it was still warm in the evening--warm enough to have a fire and eat in comfort. Paul's been having services and meetings every night during Lent, so it surprised us all when he said his meeting tonight was cancelled! He said we should have wine tonight in celebration of the "feast of no meeting." :-)

We had "Mexican Night" tonight, which always includes homemade tortillas and homemade refried beans, usually black. Then there are the variable ingredients--whatever veggie I have on hand--tonight it was collard greens, sauteed with garlic. Add freshly made guacamole, salsa (I just found a good salsa in Portland! I'd just about given up. It's Salsa de Rosa, and it's made in Washington state), and my great new find--Wildwood "Sour Cream." Sorry, I don't have any pictures--we were enjoying it too much. We usually enjoy this meal with cheese and real sour cream, but I think it was just as good made Lenten.

Now, we have always loved this meal, since I began serving it some 4 years ago. One time, right after Easter when we lived at St. Nicholas Ranch, Paul was at a clergy retreat at the ranch (weirdest thing ever to go to a retreat where you live) and of course, being right after Easter, the menu was very heavy on meat. So I brought him over a meal, so he could have his vegetarian meal and be with his fellow priests, too. I came into the dining hall, with a little bit of a feeling of trying not to be too proud bringing this beautiful dish with wonderful organic veggies in front of all these guys. I set down the dish in front of my husband, and the priest next to him looked at it and said, "Oh, come on! It's Pascha! Live a little!" I stared at him like he'd grown another nose on his face. I guess it's just indicative of how far from the mainstream we've moved.....

Raisin Bread

Wow, did these loaves ever rise! They look wonderful. Remember that fateful post with the botched bread? And the vasilopita that wouldn't rise? Well, I think I figured out the problem. After the botched bread, it turned out much better, but always....just a bit disappointing. Well, I finally thought of chlorine in the water. When we lived at the ranch, we had well water, and it was wonderful and I never had to worry about chlorine because it wasn't treated with chlorine. And when we lived in San Francisco, I never dreamed of putting tap water in my bread because I could taste the chlorine in it. We always filtered our water. But here, the water tastes good and I never thought it had too much chlorine.....well, I finally figured it out and bought some bottled water to use in bread making. Paul argued that we shouldn't be drinking it either, but that'll have to wait. Good bread comes first. :-)

And this picture is just because Zac wanted to be in a picture on my blog.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Onion Dome

The Onion is known to be a satirical newspaper, and the Orthodox Church has it's own The Onion Dome, which is a hilarious parody of the areas where we Orthodox take ourselves a little too seriously. Paul looked some of these up tonight, and read them to us all while we all howled. Here are two that we particularly enjoyed.....They are no longer on their website, because they are publishing a book.

Originally published on The Onion Dome website.

COROC Synod Elects First Openly American Bishop
In a move which is being denounced, applauded, and/or ignored by many, the synod of the Church Overseas of Russian Orthodox Christians (COROC) announced today that it has elected its first openly American bishop.

"There may have been COROC bishops before who were closet Americans," said COROC spokesman Father Vasiliy Vasileivich of Sydney, Australia, "but as far as we are knowing this is first American-born bishop with openly American lifestyle."

"I am appalled," said one COROC bishop who spoke on condition of anonymity. "You can be sure I am having voted against such mockery of Gospel of Jesus Christ. Was Our Lord American? Were Holy Apostles American? Holy Theotokos? No, this action is clearly showing COROC's disregard for Holy Bible and traditions of Fathers."

"Which of the apostles were Russian?" wondered our intrepid Onion Dome reporter.

"Hmf! Stupid new-calendarist sergianist ecumenist reporter!" said the Bishop, whose name by the way is SERGE Sergeivich.

"Hey! You were supposed to keep name in secret!" complained His Grace Bishop SERGE.

"Was it anonymous bishops in Nineteenth Century Russian synod?" asked our intrepid Onion Dome reporter. "No, it was not."

"This must not be seen as modernization or ecumenicalization of COROC," warned Fr. Vasiliy. "New bishop will still do services in Slavonic."

"It will just be badly butchered Slavonic," added our intrepid Onion Dome reporter under his breath.

"I kheard that!" said Fr. Vasiliy.

Response to this daring move has been mixed throughout the Orthodox and heterodox Christian worlds.

"Who? They did what?" said His All-Holiness PATRIARCHUS the Nth, Ecumenical Patriarch of Northwest Upper Central Eastern Midtown Istanbul.

"Who? They did what?" said His Holiness FEOFAN, Patriarch of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and all the Russias Besides.

"Who? They did what?" said Frank Grizzly, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Anglican Catholic Protestant Church, USA.

"Who? They did what?" said George Smith, a janitor at a small independent Baptist church close to our intrepid editor's home.

The COROC faithful, on the other hand, have been staunchly behind the action of their bishops.

"Whatever," said COROC member Linda Kellogg of Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

"Could be," admitted COROC member Pierre LaBlanc of Paris, France.

"There'll be hell to pay for this one," said COROC member Vladimir Vladimirov of Dallas, Texas, USA.

"I am thinking this will be all right in end," suggested Fr. Vasiliy. "After all what is important is person's faith in Jesus Christ's holy COROC synod, not country name on passport."

"Maybe someday they'll make an Australian bishop!" suggested Bug Vasileivichivich, Fr. Vasiliy's son and erstwhile Orthodox rap star.

"That will to be day!" exclaimed Vladimirov. "Is hard enough to understand Slavonic with American accent. Australian accent would be impossible!"

Reutorooters and Untied Press Interrational contributed diddly and squat, respectively, to this report.


Dear Father Vasiliy,

This may not get to you until after the election, but I am really not sure who I should vote for in this election. Neither candidate is Orthodox, and both have good and bad points, so it’s not easy to decide which one I should vote for. Can you give me any pointers for choosing political candidates?

Voter in Vicksburg

Dear Vicksburg,

This democracy is new-fangled invention which was certainly not ever practiced in Holy Russia before Bolsheviks, whose name I spit on, deposed beloved Tsar and Father and ruin good country. What is God-given form of government? Of course this is autocratic Tsar. Thus to decide which candidate to vote for, determine which will rule most like autocratic Tsar. Which will make arbitrary rules and enforce them or not depending on whim? Which will launch glorious wars to bolster his own renown? Which will do most to make life miserable and therefore increase prayer and dependence on God among peasantry? Vote for this man.

—Father Vasiliy

This report was filed by intrepid Onion Dome editor Alex Riggle


We found a great video store. We had liked the Videorama on Alberta just fine--a local chain. But they don't have the best selection ever. Paul wanted to find the movie Brother Sun Sister Moon, a movie about St. Francis. We were just hearing about how they used to show this movie at the seminary on Clean Monday, and one Clean Monday someone who saw it decided to quit seminary and live in solidarity with the poor of Boston, and actually live with them. I would imagine that's why they no longer showed it on Clean Monday when Paul was in seminary. :-P

So, we looked for it at Videorama and they didn't have it. I called around and possibly the only place in Portland that rents it is Movie Madness on SE Belmont. What a great place! They have all kinds of hard-to-find titles, plus they have great costumes in the store that stars wore during famous movies.

Brother Sun Sister Moon was really thought-provoking and inspiring. I would highly recommend it.

Today we went back and found another movie we'd meant for a while to watch (but hadn't found when we lived in San Francisco): Last Holiday. It's about a guy who mistakenly is diagnosed with a fatal disease and is told he will die within weeks. He takes his small savings and goes to a nice resort. He still isn't happy, even living among all that wealth, until the workers of the hotel go on strike and the guests are forced to fend for themselves. They all work together and are able to cook for themselves and clean, and one even answers the phone and allows children to come as guests to the hotel, which hasn't been allowed before.

He spends his last weeks telling people what he really thinks, instead of cowtowing to the whims of people more powerful than he. He comes into money, he comes into women (hand't been married before) and get offered lots of business partnerships. Finally, he finds out that he does not have the incurable disease that he thought he did, and drives over to tell his doctor off. On his way back to the hotel, he crashes the car and dies.

A good movie. I liked the St. Francis one best of the two.

Falafel update

We had the last of the frozen falafel batter tonight, and I wanted to report that it tasted very good still. Froze pretty well--except that it was a bit crumbly tonight. (I didn't notice that last week when I used the first of the frozen portions.) But that could have been from different things--that it wasn't all the way defrosted when I started cooking it, that I used olive oil instead of a more all-purpose oil, or who knows. Crumbly falafel still tastes good, though.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Support our Troops by bringing them home safely

We attended a peace march in downtown Portland on Sunday. It is the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war and soldiers and civilians are still being killed. We hear all the time about the US soldiers who are killed, but one thing that is not reported in the US press is the number of civilians that are killed in Iraq. Here is a website devoted to just that, with amazing documentation, called Iraq Body Count.

It was a big gathering--we noticed that right away, but we couldn't see just how big as we were part of it. But the march went on and on for blocks and blocks. The police didn't block off the streets! I felt badly for the people whose cars were stuck there while thousands of us trooped by. The police did start stopping the march to let cars go through intersections, which I thought was silly. Why not just redirect? They always blocked off the streets in San Francisco.

When we got home we looked it up--9 to 10 thousand people participated! That's a huge march.

And then to read in the paper this week that Bush has announced that we will have troops in Iraq past his presidency--ARG! Funny how we didn't hear about that before the 2004 election. Hopefully whoever comes in after Bush will have some notion as to how to resolve this whole mess.

Last Night's Dinner

No pictures, as we were enjoying it too much. :-) And our camera's been acting up.

I just bought the Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak. I'd read on Vegan Lunchbox about making a vegan "cheese" fondue, and was having a hankering to try it. (I'd forgotten that Jennifer posted a recipe there....) I used the Traditional Fondue recipe from the Uncheese Cookbook and served it with bread cubes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, chunks of fried tofurkey and boiled cubes of firm tofu. I really liked it! It truly smelled like cheese fondue and tasted very similar. Paul liked it but thought the yeast flavor was a bit too much. Alas, neither of the kids have ever been cheese fondue fans (even when Hibi wasn't a vegan) and mostly ate the dippers, not the cheez. Which means there's plenty of dip left for lunch today. :-)

Then on to dessert. Before Lent, when we went to YaHalla with Fr. Alban and Khouria Krista who we met at seminary and are now blessed to live in the same neighborhood with, Krista and I went over to the little market next door. I love looking through those places, and mostly I can say "oh, that looks interesting" and resist the urge to buy anything except what I know I'll use in recipes. But the big sheet of dried apricot paste caught my eye and I bought it and told myself I had to find a use for it. So, I put my thinker to work. I thought, puff pastry. But it needs something more....I'd never used almond paste (marzipan) but I thought that would be just the thing to make it a bit creamy. So, I did it. Well, turns out almond paste is not creamy, really, but it did taste good. It just didn't quite turn out how I'd imagined. Actually it was the apricot that hardened and became quite chewy. I think maybe next time I'd puree it with a bit of water or rice milk. I have to do something with the rest of this apricot paste! I'll be doing some experimenting.

I was also reminded of a drink we used to make--my mom used to make it for us, then we used to have it during Lent especially because you can substitute soy or rice milk for cow's milk and it's delicious. It's Orange Julius and you can find a recipe here. Yesterday when I did my shopping I bought frozen orange juice concentrate so I can make it. Now I just have to find my blender lid, which apparently got put away in the wrong place by one of my wonderful helpers. :-)

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm not sure how that happened

So, to preface this post, Paul and I have been vegetarian for almost 5 1/2 years. Plus it's Lent when Orthodox Christians don't eat meat or dairy products.

Today was Paul's day off and we started it off by having Lemon, Orange, Almond, and Olive Oil cake, found on Jess' blog, which is a vegan adaptation of an eggy cake. It was good! Then we took the bus and the Max (light train) to the art museum. We had a great time there, but when we were ready for lunch we couldn't find anyplace to eat. The cafe at the museum was mobbed and we couldn't find a menu to look at, so I still don't know if they had anything we could eat. So we went out looking for a restaurant. Paul took us over to Higgins, a restaurant he went to with Eric Sten, city commissioner (shameless name-dropping), which he said focused on local, fresh, organic foods. But it was after two and they were only serving at the bar and kids, of course, can't be allowed into the bar. So, we wandered and finally thought, let's get back on the Max and start for home, then look for a place and if we don't find one we can just eat at home.

So, we spotted a bakery that has great bread and also serves soup and sandwiches. We jumped off and went in. They had a great-sounding veggie sandwich--it had roasted red pepper, cucumber, sesame hummus, and other good sounding things. They also had a veggie soup. Paul and I decided to split a soup and a sandwich, Zac had half a sandwich and Hibi just chose soup.

We ate our sandwiches hungrily, and noticed that it had grapes in it! Very interesting. It was very tasty and the filling was in a creamy sauce which I assumed was the hummus, but it was different from any hummus I'd ever tasted. The soup wasn't as good, Paul and I thought, but Hibi enjoyed it and didn't want a taste of our sandwiches.

Paul and I finished our sandwiches. Zac was still working on his, but was getting filled. I started picking at the stuff that had come out of his sandwich. Grapes, yum, tofu, oh, tofu, I hadn't remembered that there was supposed to be tofu in it. Hmm. This tofu is a bit stringy. At that point I looked back at the board and didn't see tofu listed in the veggie sandwich. And where were the red peppers and cukes? Those weren't in my sandwich.

Paul grabbed the order form I'd filled out. I looked at the entry above "Veggie Special" and it said "Curried Chicken Salad." Oh. Huh? Did we just eat a whole chicken sandwich? Um, yeah. I cannot for the life of me figure out how we didn't realize it was chicken after the first bite! We all (except Hibi) felt queasy all afternoon. It just tasted mild while we were eating it. I don't think I'd have ever figured it out if I hadn't been picking at Zac's.

That was the first meat I've eaten since Christmas of 2000. I kept thinking, if I was going to eat meat, I wish I'd at least have known it! I've wondered recently if I'd like it at all now. Of course, as Zac pointed out, if I'd known I wouldn't have eaten it.

Paul said he thought about going and telling them they'd messed up our order but then he imagined their response--why were you stupid enough to eat the whole thing? Why didn't you figure it out when this sandwich wasn't anything like what you ordered? We just beat it out of there.

Hibi is making dying chicken noises behind me now. She says she will quit if I say she's doing this on my blog. :-P


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sprouting Cauliflower and Tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Oh, so good! This appeared in the Oregonian's Food section on Tuesday (March 14), and was contributed by Mollie Katzen. It was originally Broccoli and Tufu in Spicy Peanut Sauce, but I had sprouting cauliflower from our CSA box, and it was SO good!

Broccoli and tofu:
1 pound firm tofu
1 pound broccoli (or sprouting broccoli or sprouting cauliflower--or even another leafy green vegetable)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion (I just used one largish onion)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced or crushed garlic

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
3/4 cup natural-style smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup boiling water
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
cayenne pepper

1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts, lightly toasted
2 green onions, minced (include both whites and greens)
Hot cooked rice

Start rice cooking--brown rice will take about as long as it takes to cook the rest.

Cube tofu in 1 inch pieces and put in a saucepan with water to cover, then heat over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until needed for recipe). While tofu cooks prepare sauce.

Place peanut butter and 3/4 cup boiling water in a medium bowl and stir until homogenous. Whisk in vinegar, soy sauce, and molasses. Season to taste with cayenne.

Trim broccoli or cauliflower and cut into bite-sized pieces. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat, then add oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onioin and stir-fry for a minute or two. Add broccoli, ginger, garlic and salt. Continue to stir-fry over high heat for another 5 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp. Stir in tofu and stir-fry for another minute or so. Lower heat to medium and pour in sauce. Stir until everything is well coated. Serve immediately over rice, topped with lightly toasted peanuts and minced green onions.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lentil Soup

Yum....this one was a real winner!

This is from Flavor it Greek, which is put out by the Philoptochos (Ladies charitable society) of the Portland Holy Trinity community. But I added a secret ingredient--well, not so secret now, hey?

2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (I used my regular amount--you know, a good dollop)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 quarts water and/or vegetable broth (I used my homemade that I made from vegetable scraps and leftovers and then freeze--it's really squashy right now because we were getting a ton of squash in our CSA box)
3 cups diced tomatoes (I used a 28 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes)
a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (my secret ingredient!)
2 cups lentils, washed (I used freedom, uh, French lentils ;-)
salt to taste

In a large soup pot, over medium heat, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, celery, and carrots. Reduce heat and continue cooking about 10 minutes. Add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (I only simmered for 1 hour).

It makes a very large amount of soup. In fact, it filled my 5 quart pot, so that's how much it made. There'll be plenty left for lunches or I could just pull it out for another dinner. We ate it with a nice loaf of whole wheat bread from Grand Central Bakery.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Cinepoem

My sister-in-law is a poet. A real one, with a book. She does these things called cinepoems, where it's like a music video but she recites one of her poems along with other stuff going on. They're pretty neat, but her latest one kind of blew me away. You can see Alice is my Middle Name here.

You can check out her other cinepoems on this site, too but I should tell you that LaDonna's dark side is much bigger than mine....or perhaps I should say that her dark side is more overt.

Lenten Treat

My latest Lenten/Vegan yummy treat found at Alberta Coop: Chili Covered Dried Mangos. Yum! Very zesty! Just hot enough to make you wonder if you're going to need to find a glass of water, just cool enough that ultimately you don't.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Falafel night!

All of us are falafel lovers, and it's one of our favorite Lenten oil foods. I've tried different recipes for it....I've even used fresh fava beans when in season (and we were getting a ton of them in our CSA box and didn't know what to do with them!) which was good. But favas aren't in season yet, and dried chickpeas always are.

I was thumbing through _In Presvytera's Kitchen_ and found this recipe. This is a collection of the Metropolis of San Francisco's presvyteres' recipes. (One or two of mine are even it it!) The falafel recipe was contributed by Presvytera Jamal Kuehnle, whom I haven't met yet, but when I do I'll tell her how delicious her falafel recipe is. I did find the falafel pretty crumbly to shape and fry, but with a bit of perseverance it worked with just a couple of fallen apart falafel. The flavor was very good and fresh.

This recipe makes a lot of falafel. She notes that you can freeze the batter, which I wouldn't have thought of. So, I made all the falafel I wanted to make, then froze the rest in two separate ziplocs so that I can make two meals without defrosting both. You could just reduce the recipe if you want. I served these with tahini sauce and cabbage and radish slices, all on pita.


4 cups dried garbanzo beans
2 large onions
1 head garlic
2 bunches parsley (I used one)
Hot green pepper, according to your taste (I just used a mild Anaheim)
2 teaspoons cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Soak the garbanzos overnight (I just started them in the morning), then drain. Combine beans, onions, garlic, parsley, and hot pepper. Grind twice through a meat grinder or food processor (I used my mini food processor, and ground in batches until the beans were coarsely ground and the rest was pretty much pulverized). Add salt, pepper, cumin and baking powder; mix throoughly. When ready to fry the falafel, add baking soda (I added it in with the rest). Shape into patties 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick (I shaped into the traditional balls). Fry in deep hot oil until light brown and crisp. Serve hot with tomato slices in Arabic bread. Add tahini sauce and the slices of onion and garnish with parsley.

Tahini sauce: mix together 1 cup tahini, juice of 3 lemons, 2 cloves of garlic, crushed, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add enough water to make a thick sauce.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Scratching Post/Cat perch

Scratching Post/Cat perch
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.
The other day I went to our local "green dog" pet supply store. It really strives to sell sustainable supplies for pets. I went there to buy a scratching post/perch for Cordelia, our new cat, since we aren't letting her outside. I wanted a good place for her to scratch, since she doesn't have trees available for her to scratch, and somewhere she can see the birds and other outdoor activity. I looked through the catalogue (ha!) they had there at the store and was dismayed to see how pricey these things are. I started to look also at how simply constructed these things are...and then thought, hey, we could *make* one! So, I said to the owner that I was thinking about making one instead, and she was so supportive! Instead of seeing it as revenue gone, she saw it as a way for materials to be re-used. I told her that SCRAP has carpet samples, and she told me someone used to make posts for the store using all re-used materials. She'd use a spool from newsprint, from the Oregonian, for the pole. So, we went to SCRAP today and found the carpet AND the spools there. We got a bit ingenious, and came up with some great ideas, and now we have a great cat scratching post and perch for only about $26! The rope was the priciest thing--it was 80 feet (yes, 80 feet!) of rope and it cost $20. The rest of it was re-used stuff from SCRAP and two pieces of wood from the ReBuilding Center. Cool, huh?

Snow in Portland in March

Snow in Portland in March
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.
It snowed yesterday, all morning! It really came down, but the temperature ranged from 38 to 41 so it didn't stick. Perhaps the best kind of snow....the kind you can enjoy watching, but it doesn't cause any problems driving. My kids would beg to differ, I am certain.

But when I took them over to the other side of town for art class
I discovered the different microclimates of Portland. It was sticking there, and there was a *lot* of snow on the ground! I dropped them off and then was going to head to downtown. I soon abandoned that idea, as I was on a back road to avoid the traffic of the freeway I'd seen going in that direction. But the back road climbed in elevation and didn't have the snow plowing that the more major streets had. It had lots of impacted ice, and lots of traffic, and cars were beginning to slip around. So, I turned right around and walked around in a grocery store near the art class instead.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006


To the person who found my blog from the Google search "lenten fasting is chicken allowed":



Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Clean Monday Retreat of Silence

I have to tell you about our retreat yesterday. It was amazing! Paul has led a retreat of silence before, but I didn't attend, as the kids were small and I had other things to do. The kids really got into this one, too.

We started out at 9 am (yawn! Awfully early for a homeschool family!) and did the service of Holy Unction. They always used to do that at the seminary, have a healing service on Clean Monday, and Paul has always tried to do it every Clean Monday whenever he was in a place where he could. I got to chant! I enjoy it a lot, and I've been happy that my knowledge of the tones has seemed to gel, since learning them intensely at St. Nicholas Ranch, where I chanted for Presanctified Liturgy every week during Lent (I asked Paul for one service a week all in English, and he said sure! but we'll need someone to

So, we had a beautiful service of healing, where we were all annointed with oil, and Paul shared how this is the meaning of Lent for us--healing and wholeness.

We then sat and talked about silence, and Paul read from Met. Anthony Bloom's book, _Beginning to Pray_. He is so earthy and real. He talked about silence, and how after you have said to yourself "now I am alone with myself" you begin to feel bored and you go through layers and layers of silence until the only response you have is crying out to God.

Then we at lunch, and with lunch, we began our silence. To eat in silence is an interesting thing. Paul said the food has so much more of an intense flavor when eaten in silence. I noticed that it was a relief to not have to think of things to say, but just to be together, to commune together.

Paul also noted later that even the children (there were three other than our kids) got into the silence. After the little chit-chat just after we began our silence, we all settled into it, and the silence was infectious.

After lunch we were all free to practice our silence however we felt led. I walked outside for a bit. It was raining and I didn't want to get too cold and wet. But I did sit outside under the shelter for the barbecues for a while and contemplated the ferns, the trees, the shelter itself, the chair I was sitting on. I found myself looking at a thing and thinking about it's essence, how it works, and how it interacts with it's surroundings.

Two hours is plenty of time for lots and lots of existential thoughts, I found.

I came back inside, and sat with others in front of the fire. I looked out the window and saw the trees. I tried to imagine myself as the very tippy top portion of one of the trees, but I found I couldn't. I had to imagine myself as the whole tree. I closed my eyes, because I also couldn't imagine the tree seeing, and felt what the tree would feel and heard what the tree would hear, the wind, the sun, the animals, the whole forest.

I looked at the floor and saw a crumb of bread. What will happen to this crumb of bread? Is it just lost? It will be swept up and thrown away in the trash. But is that the end of it? Is it just destined to be trash? No, I thought. An animal might eat it. Or it may just break down. Either way, it will go back to the earth, to nourish the earth and the earth will bring forth more of everything that it brings forth.

So, nothing is lost. Things may be tied up where they are not a part of a whole for a time, but they are not ultimately lost.

This morning, while we were eating our oatmeal, Paul had what I thought was a disturbed look on his face, and I asked him why. He laughed because he was just concentrating, not disturbed, and those two looks seem to get confused a lot. He said he was focusing on what he was eating, really tasting his food. He said when you look at a loaf of bread, really look at it, you can see not just bread but the hands who kneaded it, and the hands of those who, for many millenia, have kneaded bread and passed on this skill. You can see the farmer who grew the wheat and other ingredients for this loaf of bread, along with all the farmers who have passed on the skill of farming, seed saving, tilling, and caring for the land. You can see all the animals and creatures who live in the ecosystem where the loaf of bread came to be, one dependent on the other. If you look hard enough, you can see the whole universe.

Everything is connected, and nothing is lost.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Beginning of Lent

We had a beautiful, albeit small, gathering to celebrate Forgiveness Vespers. Beforehand, the four of us went out for dinner. Hibi got to choose where, because Paul wasn't able to make it for dinner for her birthday, so this was a birthday dinner. She chose Ethiopian food, which we've discovered in the last year and love. If you eat vegetarian Ethiopian food, you also are eating vegan, since they don't use dairy or eggs in their cooking. Which makes for an interesting pre-Forgiveness Sunday dinner--usually I try to eat as much dairy before church, and then during the service when we're changing over to Lent, I feel weird because I still have a cheesy taste in my mouth. But not tonight!

While we were eating dinner, we were talking about the Clean Monday retreat that Paul is going to be leading tomorrow at Camp Angelos, which is only about half an hour from here. Paul was trying to figure out where he could get some inexpensive notebooks to give out, so people could make notes if they wanted to. But buying "inexpensive" at the expense of people in Taiwan who work for pennies wasn't his goal. Then Hibi had an idea. We could make them ourselves! We had books of fabric samples that we bought at SCRAP for Zac's party, and I was going to use the rest for little bags for my homemade soap. But they are the perfect size to put around a few pages of folded-in-half paper. And, while I sure didn't think I was buying a sewing machine to sew notebooks, I did just buy one because I like to keep one on hand for repairs and to make simple things like the invisibility cloak I made for Hibi. But we used it tonight for sewing the notebooks. Here's how we did it (and it was definitely a family project!) We took three or four pieces of nice, 8x11 paper and folded them in half. Paul cut fabric to cover with just a bit of overlap. I sewed them down the crease in the paper, down the middle of the opened notebook. Zac then trimmed any threads. They're very rough, with non-hemmed (and raveling) edges, but they'll do for jotting a few thoughts down.

We were starting to glue the end papers to the fabric, but found that a. it wasn't sticking very well and b. the paper was getting wet and it just wasn't working. So, we'll just leave it as is.

I think that anyone could benefit from a trip to SCRAP, just to see the creative ideas they have for re-using. I was thinking today, as I brought my plastic cup home from eating kolliva in at church, that I could wash it and save it along with other kolliva cups and take them and donate them to SCRAP, because someone would be able to use them. Or, I could start bringing a small bowl and spoon with me to church, for kolliva and snacks, and a mug for coffee, then that's one serving less of disposables that will be thrown away. Paul was talking about the gospel of the feeding of the five thousand, how one of the gospels tells that Jesus told the disciples to take up all the remains of food, so that none should be lost.

I hope you all (who are observing) have a wonderful, blessed Lent. On this Sunday of Forgiveness, please forgive me of any wrong I have done to any of you.

Hibi is 12!

Yesterday was Hibi's 12th birthday. We had a great time miniature golfing with a few of her friends, her choice of what to do for her birthday party (which was a lot less work than an at-home party!) It was the 12th anniversary of our parenthood, and the 12th anniversary of walking into the hospital, at 2 am, after my water had broken and contractions were coming every 2 minutes or sooner, and I was certain that the baby would be born that day. So, I said to Paul, "March 4th." He looked up at me, thoughtfully, and said, "Yes, we are." I said, "No! The baby's birthday will be March 4th!"

One of Hibi's gifts from us, since she has enjoyed cooking so much lately, is a new vegan cookbook, called Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook. (I guess there's a small chain in southern California called Native Foods, which the author founded.) The author is Tanya Petrovna, and we put the book to work for us right after she got it. Hibi found a cake recipe in it she wanted for her birthday cake. It's called Elephant Chocolate Cake. ("Did you know that most people love elephants and chocolate?)

So, we made it and took it to the party, and it was a hit. It was such a rich cake, that some weren't able to finish their piece. So, apologies to Cheesefare Sunday, here's the recipe:

Elephant Chocolate Cake

1 cup unbleached flour
2/3 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup sunflower or safflower oil
1 cup maple syrup
12.5 oz firm silken tofu (we didn't understand this--we just used firm tofu)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Peanut Butter Cinnamon Topping

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Put oil, maple syrup, tofu, and vanilla into a blender and blend well. Fold liquid ingredients into dry ingredients along with the chocolate chips. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Let cake cool, then top with:

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Topping

Whisk in a bowl: 1 cup smooth peanut butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/3 cup maple syrup, and 1/2 cup water.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

chocolate cheesecake

chocolate cheesecake
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.
Katie's comment on her blog about cheesecake reminded me that I usually try to make a cheesecake during Cheesefare Week. The problem is making it early enough in the week to eat it all before Lent starts! Seems we should be able to do it this time. Yum, yum.

Fudge Truffle Cheesecake (cut out of something years ago--magazine? advertisement recipe booklet? Who knows!)

Chocolate Crumb Crust

In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa and 1/3 cup butter, melted. Press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan.


Preheat oven to 300. In large mixer bowl, beat 3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened, until fluffy. Gradually beat in 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted, 4 eggs, and 2 teaspoons vanilla; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 5 minutes or until center is set. Cool. Chill. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Homemade Bread

Just one more post!

Yay that Cordelia likes homemade bread! Our old cat, Smokey, liked homemade bread. I would take a slice of fresh warm bread into the living room, and she'd come sit with me and beg and beg until the bread was all gone. Then she'd beg me until I got up and got another slice.

Cordelia doesn't like it that much, but she did just eat some innards of a bread bowl.

Cheesefare Week: Cheese Soup in a Bread Bowl

Gosh, I'm bloggy today! I just found What I'm Cooking Now and was inspired to also post recipes from Lent.

But first comes Cheesefare. In the Orthodox church, we ease ourselves into Lent. First we have Meat Fare (which, as vegetarians, we don't observe), and then a week where we can eat as much cheese, eggs, and dairy as we can.

This recipe is one of our traditional Cheese Fare week's recipes. I now use a recipe for bread dough from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, an all whole wheat bread, and just use about a half a loaf's worth for each bread bowl. Shape into a tight round and place on a greased cookie sheet to rise and bake. After it's baked and cooled, cut off the top and scoop out the inside, being careful not to get too close to the outside wall.

But you can use white bread dough, even the store-bought kind.

Here's the soup recipe:

Cheese Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup beer
2 teaspoons worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sautee vegetables until tender. Add flour, stirring constantly until flour is no longer raw. Reduce heat; stir in beer, worchestershire sauce, salt, mustard, and tabasco. Simmer 10 minutes. Add cheddar and parmesan cheese and stir until melted; do not boil. Ladle into bread bowls and serve.

I had sprouting purple broccoli from our CSA and I used that instead of celery. It was good, but it made it more like broccoli cheese soup instead of just cheese soup.

Zac eating cheese soup from a bread bowl

Here's Zac enjoying his cheese soup in a bread bowl, along with a bottle of Virgil's, the BEST EVER root beer.

Hibi eating a vegan Gardenburger

Ahh, poor Hibi. I usually try to make her a vegan version of what we're having. But there's no veganizing Cheese Soup in (buttermilk) Bread Bowls. So, here she is, eating her Garden Burger (vegan variety), also with a Virgil's root beer and Muir Glen ketchup.

fries and Ash Wednesday

Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.
I've been wanting to attend an Ash Wednesday service for years, and today, finally, I just did it. I went to The Grotto, which is a beautiful retreat center in east Portland. I really enjoyed it! It's unlike our traditional start of Lent, but beautiful, too. Orthodox start of Lent is Vespers of Forgiveness, which you can attend this Sunday evening. We switch over the altar cloths to purple of Lent in the middle of the service, the official start of Lent. "Do not turn your face away from your servant, for I am in trouble. Hear me quickly, harken to my prayer, and deliver me." At the end of Vespers, we each go to every other person in attendance and ask for forgiveness. It is a beautiful way to start Lent--in a community.

So, anyway, I came home from the Ash Wednesday service to find that the kids had made french fries! Yum. They kept making them, too, because they were so good.

Cordelia and Hibi

Cordelia and Hibi
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.
No sleepless night! Cordelia seems to be fitting right in with no adjustment time. I'm in awe. The only other time we've adopted from a shelter, the cat definitely chose us (just like Cordelia) but she cried all night the first night, after hiding behind the books on the bookshelf. This kitty is just curious, and comes right up to us. Doesn't mind us picking her up at all. Last night she was the first to signal that she was tired and ready to settle in for the night--on the couch. All of us had been hoping she'd pick each of us to sleep with, but she chose the couch. Sometime during the night, she did visit each of the kids' rooms, but didn't sleep with anyone. She did stay under Zac's bed for a time, probably because there's a heater vent there.