Tag Archives: lent

Hamburgers and meatless Mondays

LentI apologize. I realize I left at least one of you hanging on the edge of your seat about what I was going to give up for Lent. And here it is, three days in, and I am just now getting back to you. In my defense, we had this little back flow preventer problem at work (you don’t want to even know what a back flow preventer is, I promise you, but it involves sewage) and then I had to make 847 bacon-wrapped water chestnuts for the Women of St. Paul’s bi-monthly cocktail party (okay, maybe 47, but it was still a lot).

So, I gave up hamburgers and one day a week, I’m going vegetarian. I know it’s not a monumental sacrifice. Although one day into Lent, King Daddy insisted we go to Krystal where those little square grease bombs taunted me mercilessly.

But my pain is relatively small. Let’s see. King Daddy gave up Scotch for Lent. I hate Scotch but it would be like me giving up wine. That would be a really tough one. One of my other friends gave up alcohol of any kind. I would shoot myself. Our youth minister is going not only vegan, but raw vegan for lunch every day. What is there left to eat when you’re a raw vegan? Betsy, my colleague at CRC, has given up fizzy drinks.

Some people want to “add on” rather than “give up” for Lent. That’s okay. Personal choice. But to me, this season is all about self-deprivation and contemplation. Like I’m contemplating a bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys right now. And it’s only three days in. What’s that saying about the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak?

Yea, that’s me.

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What to give up for Lent?

I am cogitating over this far too laboriously. What to give up for Lent?

Every year, the Catholics, the Episcopalians and the Lutherans give up something for Lent, which starts Wednesday. It is part of the season of reflection and self-denial. I am reflecting at the moment about how seriously I want to deny myself. It’s a fairly solemn 40-day promise and God does know if you cheat. I am convinced of that.

So let’s review the hit parade of food I will have a problem living without.

Filet Mignon with Bernaise SauceMeat. I did this last year. Well, sort of. I became a vegetarian for three days a week. It almost killed me. I was constantly reflecting on self-denial. King Daddy would be consuming a chili cheese dog at the Sonic while I “enjoyed” a BLT, hold the bacon.

Bacon BarBacon. That would be a hard one. What would I do for Bacon Wednesdays at CRC World Headquarters? Betsy might quit. We can’t have that so I believe I will cross bacon off the list.

Catherine loving her hamburgerHamburgers. Oh, boy. This is me a couple years ago the day after Easter devouring my first hamburger in 40 days. When you can’t have a hamburger for almost a month and a half that’s all you think about. And in my deprived state, I actually debated with myself if Krystals counted as hamburgers. Sadly, I realized they did.

I am sensing a theme here. Meat. Meat of any kind. How about this?

cropped-farmers-market.jpgYes, that’s the ticket! I could give up vegetables! King Daddy wouldn’t even care. But that would not be a very good decision. By the end of Lent, I would have to give up eating because I’d gain 20 pounds. No. We can’t go that way.

Like Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day. The last day before Lent. I’ll let you know what I decide. But if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

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Fried eggs with vegetable hash

Fried eggs with vegetable hashWeek 5 of being a part-time vegetarian during Lent begins. Mark says I am being a big cry baby over this vegetarian thing and I think he is right. My vegetarian days are Wednesday-Friday and every Saturday this Lenten season I have bounded out of bed to make bacon. Then Tuesday night, I spend way too much time thinking of my “last meal” as if I was being led to the gas chamber. Meanwhile, Mark has given up Scotch for Lent, which is a fairly big deal since the man loves his Scotch. And he hasn’t uttered a peep about how deprived he has become.

However, I think I am getting more creative in my vegetarian endeavors. I just want to say thank goodness for eggs. I practically want to go kiss a chicken.  Fried eggs with vegetable hash is mighty tasty as it is, but if you weren’t a vegetarian and you wanted to sprinkle a little crispy bacon over the top I don’t think the world would end.

Fried eggs with vegetable hash

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium zucchini, peeled and coarsely chopped

½ red onion, diced

½ cup orange pepper, diced

1 10-ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes, drained

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 eggs

4 slices sturdy farmhouse-style bread

Butter

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet  and add the zucchini and onion. Saute until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Add the orange pepper and continue cooking until the pepper is soft. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the oregano and lemon juice. Turn the heat to low and simmer for five minutes.  Remove the vegetables from the skillet and reserve.

Wipe the skillet clean and add the vegetable oil over medium high heat. You will want enough oil in the pan so you can baste the eggs. Crack the eggs into the skillet and once the whites have set, tip the skillet slightly and baste the yolks with the oil until they begin to appear opaque. When the eggs are done, season with salt and pepper.

Toast the bread and butter it. To assemble, place the eggs over the toast and top it with the vegetable mixture.

 

 

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Anne Burrell’s braised beef short ribs

I love situational ethics, don’t you? So when Noah was much younger, his adventurous eating gene hadn’t kicked in yet and I would make two dinners. For him, for years, it was mini cheese ravioli with butter.  Or mayonnaise, salt and pepper sandwiches. I know. I think that second one borders on child abuse, but he really liked them. Then I made a grown-up supper for Mark and me. And Mark ragged on me mercilessly about Dammit Boy dictating his dinner.

For Lent this year, I am going vegetarian three days a week.  “Good luck with that,” Mark said, not taking into consideration that the days of making two meals for supper is long gone. Mark is a meat maniac. He would brush his teeth with liver pate if it weren’t so expensive. But he didn’t say a word after wishing me luck. You know how that silent treatment goes. I filled the void thinking about vegetarian dishes he would actually eat. I stopped after anything involving portobello mushrooms, which is the only meat substitute King Daddy recognizes.

If I were a stronger person, I would not have done what I ended up doing. I would have shoved sticks and twigs down his throat and forced him to smile while chewing. But I am not a strong person and I ended up making Anne Burrell’s terrific recipe for short ribs and a big pot of chili, food I will not be able to consume but which will keep Mark from crying like a baby at dinnertime.

And you know what? How the screw does turn. While I spent five hours providing him with alternate meals, he did not say a word.

The recipe calls for bone-in short ribs, but I often find the ones at the supermarket are too skimpy. Costco has beautiful boneless short ribs that work just as well. Also, the recipe in Anne’s wonderful Cook Like A Rock Star includes horseradish, a nice kick. So I included it in the recipe on the blog, but the recipe on the Food Network site leaves it out. You choose.

Anne Burrell’s Braised Beef Short Ribs

6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
1/3 cup horseradish
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leavesSeason each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again. Add the tomato paste and horseradish. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.

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Grilled gumbo

T-minus two days and counting to the beginning of Lent. For those of us who observe Lent, it means giving up something you really, really love. For me, it’s usually hamburgers but I’m going to really stretch it this year and become a vegetarian three days a week. Mark almost had a heart attack when I told him. He’ll be down at the Sonic a lot.

I have not yet figured out what sorts of vegetarian things I’m going to make since I am a committed meat eater and especially a devotee of pork in all it’s various forms of glory. So if any of you want to throw me some vegetarian recipes, I’m all ears and eyes.

What I will not be eating is my glorious grilled gumbo, which has sausage, chicken and pulled pork. But you can hop on over to the Char-Broil site and get the recipe for yourself. Go on. Get on over there.

 

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Welcome Happy Morning…the end of Lent

In the Episcopal church, especially in our Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s, we always greet Easter morning by belting out a soulful rendition of  “Welcome Happy Morning.” Father Bob can’t get enough of that song. It just kind of sets up the whole service of joyful worship and, not incidentally, it marks the end of the 40-day season of repentance and fasting known as Lent.

Happy morning, indeed, because this is Hamburger Day. Every year, someone asks me what we’ve having for Easter dinner, imagining baked ham or roasted leg of lamb. “We’re having hamburgers,” I say. “At Five Guys.”

Every year I give up hamburgers for Lent. I adore hamburgers. I am like Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons, the character that ferociously downed hamburgers but couldn’t pay for his habit. “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” he would plead.

So this morning, after the 8:45 service, we headed to Five Guys. It is apparent that eating hamburgers was not a religious experience for most of the diners because they were dressed in t-shirts and shorts. Heathens. Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe they were all Jewish. Then again, probably not. It’s Passover and I’m pretty sure Five Guys is not kosher. Druids. They were probably Druids. Whatever.

You know how it is when you deny yourself something and the deadline for ending your fast draws nearer and nearer? You just want that forbidden thing all the more. For the past week, I’ve imagined hamburgers all day long. I’ve superimposed them over the faces of my friends.

A Five Guys burger with sauteed onions, mushrooms, lettuce and mayonnaise. Oh, yes. That’s what I ordered. I was tempted to tell the clerk at the cash register of this momentous occasion, my first hamburger in 40 days, but he was wistfully looking past me at the line of Druids still waiting to order so I just took my order slip, No. 71, and moved on to the Diet Coke dispenser. By the way, Mark and I were the first people in line. How is it we’re No. 71? I don’t get that.

Bliss. That’s all I can tell you. Worth waiting for. Worth dreaming about. Worth giving up because getting them back is so sweet.

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Burger love

We are only seventeen days into Lent.  Twenty-three days to go. And all we Episcopalians can do is talk about what we’ve given up. It’s a source of constant conversation. Kind of like the weather.

“How about that storm last night and sure wish I had some chocolate…”

I have one friend who has given up steaks and red wine. The first thing he does after Easter Sunday is go to the Palm and order a big ribeye and a glass of red. I have another friend who’s given up meat entirely. His favorite place is Chick-fil-A and, sadly for him, there will be no chicken sandwich on Easter morning because they are closed on Sundays. But I will be rewarded on Easter Sunday because I have given up hamburgers and I believe somewhere in the greater Nashville metropolitan area there will be a hamburger joint open.

But now, I am obsessing over hamburgers. Oh, an ode to Krystal right about now. These little puppies were extremely tasty: Krystals with barbecue sauce and fried onion rings. So wrong and yet so right. Is it unnatural to take photos of your hamburgers so you can gaze upon them lovingly during Lent? It probably is. But the packaging says it right there. Special. They are special. If you don’t live in the South you will never know how special they are. Particularly at three in the morning. After the possibility that you may have been slightly overserved. A sackful of Krystals will put you right.  Hardee’s Blue Cheese Steakhouse Burger:  blue cheese, Swiss, A.1. steak sauce, mayonnaise, crispy onion strings, lettuce and tomato. Oh, Lord, please don’t let this special go away until after Lent is over. Please?

And then there’s the Juicy Lucy.  I am about to faint. Genuine, Grade A, processed American cheese sandwiched between two beef patties and grilled to perfection so that when you bite into it the cheese oozes out the middle. On a sesame seed bun. I have gained five pounds just thinking about it.

O.K. Get a grip. Just twenty-three days to go. Avert your eyes when you pass the Burger King. I can’t see you. I can’t see you. I will go make a salad now. Salads are just like hamburgers only greener. And less greasy. One of the downsides of salad.

Twenty-three days to go. Twenty-three. Sigh.

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We are worms

It is the first day of Lent. If you are not Catholic or Episcopalian, this probably means nothing to you. But if you are, this is a BIG season. From now until Easter, it is the season of self-examination, introspection, denial, and, yes, worms. As in, whatever riches or fame we have…it just doesn’t matter. We are sinners in search of redemption. We are worms.

Now, then. The classic feature of Lent is giving something up. And that most often involves food. Isn’t that telling? The most painful, self-sacrificing thing we can think up to deny ourselves is food. So for most of the day, I have been thinking about what to give up. My friend, Kim, noted that usually you figure this out before the Imposition of Ashes, or as we call it, “getting ashed.” I got ashed at noon today and at 8 p.m. I am just getting around to the denial part.

So I have been pondering. Wine? Should I give wine up? No, no. no. That would be creatively counter productive. And unhealthy. Wine is one of the good food groups, being primarily made up of grapes, which is a fruit. We need our fruits and vegetables and since they don’t make wine from radishes, I need to keep the grapes.

Hamburgers. I dearly love hamburgers. But giving them up would mean 40 days of never darkening the door of Five Guys. Can I really pass by Five Guys for more than a month? Well, maybe. Let’s put that one on the possible list.

French fries. Geez, if I’m giving up hamburgers French fries would be a breeze. But this isn’t supposed to be a breeze. This is supposed to be hard. French fries aren’t epic enough.

Velveeta. Oh, gosh. Velveeta not only involves the processed cheese block, but also the slices that go on the sausage bagels. I have a package of those cheese slices in my icebox right now. Will they keep until Easter? Who am I kidding. They’ll keep until William and Kate produce an heir to the throne.

What else? Pigs in a Blanket? No, don’t eat those often enough. Pizza rolls? Ditto.

God is watching me now. He is taking a close personal look at me. My choice is important. I know this.

O.K. I’m digging deep here. Hamburgers. No more hamburgers. Five Guys, Rotiers, Brown’s Diner…bye, bye for 40 days. Do Krystal’s count? Yes, unfortunately they do.

However, there is one catch in the contract that Episcopalians keep at Lent. It’s the “Sunday only” rule. That is, if denial is just too much you have an “out” on Sunday. Slackers. We are not only worms, but we are also slackers.

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Crepes

I am an idiot. Or as Mark’s Granny Belle used to say, an “idjut.”

Every year at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church the youth throw a pancake supper to mark the end of Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent. The youth actually do the work of flipping the pancakes and serving the congregation, but there is a substantial assist from the adults in the area of pre-prepared items like potato casseroles and, yes, crepes. Why we have both pancakes and crepes I have no idea.

But whoever has made them in the past apparently moved away or died. Kristi, the youth wrangler at St. Paul’s, gingerly approached me a few weeks ago. “Uh, could you make a few crepes for the pancake supper?” she asked. I have a complete aversion to the word “no” apparently and even though I had never made a crepe in my life, I immediately said “sure.” But I failed to ask that crucial question: how many?

A couple of weeks ago, Kristi e-mails me the recipe. Only then, do I ask how many. “We’ll need 150,” she says, “but I can get you help if you need it.” Help? If we have learned one thing from the English Tea it is that disaster lurks just around the corner if you have more than one person making any one kind of tea sandwich. They all must be precisely the same. And, unfortunately for me, the same goes for crepes.

So I set about making 150 crepes. It takes a long, long time to make 150 crepes. Although the repetitive aspect of doing something exactly the same 150 times is oddly soothing.  I made the first batch and got 10 crepes. Fourteen more batches to go. I noticed, sadly, that at the end of the first few batches there was not one crepe left over for the cook. However, I then realized if I doubled the recipe and skimped just ever so slightly on a few of the crepes there would be an extra one left. For me. I hope nobody at the pancake supper will  notice they got a slightly paltry looking crepe.

So I now consider myself somewhat of an expert crepe maker, although I am sure someone such as Howard, travel agent to the stars who travels in France extensively, will take one look at this photo and offer some gentle advice. I don’t have that long wooden spreading thing that I know real crepe makers have and I made them in an 8-inch skillet, which I know is not correct either.

However. They tasted just like the real McCoy. My cook’s treat was taking a few of those leftover warm crepes, spreading them with boysenberry jam and butter, and folding them into quarters. I ate them at the kitchen sink just as you do a tomato sandwich so the juice, or in this case melted butter, harmlessly drips away.

My apologies that I do not know where this recipe comes from so I cannot give credit to its author. I am sure it’s been handed down through 20 or so pancake suppers. But I do know it works. One hundred and fifty times worth.

Crepes

2 eggs

1 cup milk

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions

  1. In a blender combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and oil. Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Pour 1/4 cup of crepe batter into pan, tilting to completely coat the surface of the pan. Cook 30 seconds on one side or until the crepe is loose in the pan. Flip and cook another 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining batter.

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