Fish Fridays! (a reprise of More Yummy Food and Julia)

Since it’s Friday, and we abstain from meat on Fridays to remember that Christ died on Good Friday, I thought I would re-post (and revise a bit) “More Yummy Food and Julia” from my old blog.

A little addendum: the abstaining from meat on Fridays, especially on those during Lent, doesn’t mean we gorge ourselves on lobster and caviar. That totally misses the point. Lent is a time of penance. Of uniting our sufferings with Jesus. Of sharing with the poor our blessings. So while there is shrimp and crab in the recipe below, it’s canned and cheap. I try to make tasty but inexpensive fish based meals so that my picky eaters will eat, and that we’re not being wasteful or over indulgent by cooking two meals.

Who doesn’t like Julia Child? I, for one, love Julia Child. I love her voice, her quotes, and the drama of her way of cooking! She would have turn 100 on Aug 15th (2012)! PBS celebrated with “Cook for Julia“.  Her cooking shows, along with The Cajun Chef, The Frugal Gourmet, Jacques Pépin, Yan Can Cook (really any PBS cooking show), and my dad’s love of cooking has molded me in to the adventurous eater and home cook I am today. When I get my dream kitchen, I will have a cookbook bookcase full of PBS cookbooks!  What can I say, I love all things food. (I should say most because I am still leery of haggis)

I am passionate about cooking and food! Joe loves to grill and get creative in the kitchen too. We have fun when we cook together. Tasting and perfecting, chopping and boiling. It’s one of the things that keeps our relationship healthy. The kids get in on the preparing of meals too. And they help clean up. It’s now Ginny’s turn to be my silverware unloader. Clara thinks she should too, but usually runs off with a spoon.

We try to make most of our meals from scratch. Sure, there are some short cuts, such as boxed noodles, canned veggies, tomato paste and sauces (Yay Aldi!). It works for us. Don’t get me wrong. We have mac and cheese and hot dog nights. And chicken noodle soup when somebody doesn’t feel good.  And occasionally, I will resort to hamburger or tuna hand man box meals, but even with those I prefer to make my own. We do carry-out about every now and then, because it’s nice to have a night off every now and then. Whatever is on our plates, we sit down as a family to eat.

I think it is really important for families (with and without kids) to sit down and enjoy a meal that they have prepared together. It gives you a chance to catch up with each other. It’s a moment to unwind and relax.  It brings us closer together. It’s fun. And I know it’s not always easy with kids. They become a picky eaters. But it’s usually a phase, and then they chow down on everything on their plates. And yes, sometimes it is a pain with a picky eater (or 5) but, we still do it for family time.

But that’s enough of that! On to why I really am writing this.

In honor of Julia Child’s 100th Birthday Celebration, I will share my twist on a bisque, melding both the crab, shrimp, and cream based definitions. And this time I thought ahead and took pictures before I ate it!

(quick note, I don’t measure when I am cooking. I can eyeball olive oil and milk pretty well.  The onion, garlic, tomato, butter, condensed milk, tomato paste are dead on. The measurements of the spices are eyeballing guesses.  Make sure you keep tasting while you are  adding the spices, you may not like garlic as much as we do. I also added a link on how to make a rue, which after many trials, I can just do. Cooking is an art form, make it your own!)

Pasta with Crab, Shrimp, Tomato Bisque SauceYummy

Serves 4

  • 1 box of long pasta, I like fettuccine
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup of cream
  • ½ cup of milk (or you can use 1 1/4 cup half & half to replace the milk and cream)
  • Water (to thin the sauce to your liking)
  • ½ a can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes drained or 2 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 can of lump crab meat, drained
  • 2 cans of baby shrimp, drained
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of each: cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil to garnish


Prepare noodles according to directions on box. (I drizzle a little olive oil on the noodles so they don’t stick together.)

  1. In a large deep sided sauté pan, heat the olive oil and butter. Sauté the onions until soft, then add the garlic. Try not to burn!
  2. Once onions are softened and slightly browned, add flour to make a rue and slightly brown. Again, don’t burn.
  3. While constantly stirring, add cream and milk. Thin with water to a thick oatmeal constancy. (Start with just a little water. You can always add more, but you cannot take it away!)
  4. Turn the flame down to medium-low.
  5. Add diced tomatoes.
  6. Then stir in tomato paste until reddish-orange color.
  7. Add cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. (Remember to taste! Same rule for water apply! You can always add more, but you cannot take them away!)
  8. If needed, thin the sauce with water to your liking.
  9. Add crab and shrimp. Stir very gently.
  10. Serve over pasta with garlic bread. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.

I mixed peas into mine after I was done cooking to add a little more color to my plate and to get some veggies into the kiddos. Lima beans would be good too.

This would also be awesome as an appetizer if you kept it on the thick side and spooned it into some mini filo dough cups, topped with parm and bake!

Thank you Julia Child for being an inspiration, aspiration, pioneer, and entertainer.

(Don’t forget to check out #CookforJulia)

“Bon Appetit!”

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” – Julia Child


Thursday After…

Where do I even begin? Yesterday morning I posted part of the 1st Reading we heard at Mass, not knowing that these words would take on a different meaning for me.

           “Return to me with your whole heart,
             with fasting, and weeping, and mourning”
                                                                       Joel 2:12

Yesterday didn’t start off on the best foot. Tony, our preschooler woke up at some point and snuck into our bedroom and took my phone. My phone is my alarm clock. Joe’s is his. We have another backup one set just in case. I should have just gotten up when the backup one went off, but both of us fell back asleep. It was nearly 40 minutes past what time we normally get up when Joe woke up with a very loud choice word that woke me up too. Because of this Joe was running 15 minutes late. All of us were running late. There was lots of rushing, hurrying, and shouting (my Lenten Fasting from yelling already broken on the first day. Today has been much better though) to get dressed and teeth brushed. It calmed down.  Everyone got hugs and kisses and lots of “I love yous” as the 2 oldest walked out the door to get the bus.

I got the girls dressed, Tony’s lunchbox packed, and out the door we went to drop him off at preschool. As I walked him to the door, his teacher asked if I could help with his Valentine’s Day Party. Of course! I had hoped to as I had helped at the oldest 2’s parties, and was kind of disappointed when I didn’t get a note in his bag on Monday. I called my mother in law who said yes she could watch the girls. Again, rushing to get their bag packed and head back out the door to drop them and get back to preschool in time for the party. I think the kids in class had a great time. I know I did.

I left and got the girls, went back to pick up Tony a few hours later. We got home and waited for Joey and William to get off the bus.

Yesterday, as we walked into our home, our sanctuary, the TV I left on told a story of kids that wouldn’t be getting off the bus. Of parents rushing to where their kids’ spend a majority of their time, their school, to find out if their child was among the dead or injured. I say it every time there is some sort of lockout/down situation in our district, rushing to the school to grab your kids isn’t the safest thing. It takes a toil on the police’s main job of finding and stopping the threat. But if, and I pray it never does, an active shooter were to happen here, I don’t know what would stop me from rushing to my babies.

As I watched in horror the story unfolding on the news, I opened one of my grade schoolers’ folders to find our school district’s safety protocol sheet. For sometime now they’ve been practicing active shooter drills along with the standard tornado and fire drills. There’s now 5 key phrases and actions that go along with each. Out of those 5, 4 of them cover what to do if the threat is in the form of a person.

This thought just keeps running through my mind and has since I was a part of the parent teacher advisory committee.
“Active shooter drills are our kids’ atomic bomb drills. But instead of the threat coming from some foreign country, it’s coming from our community.”

Tears welled up as our priest added a petition for all those killed, all those wounded, all those that love them, everyone affected. This effects everyone to varying degrees.

There’s been several shootings at schools* in 2018 so far. The fact I have to add “so far” breaks me. I’m sure it breaks every parent. That thought, that seed of fear I think is ever present in every parents’ mind: What if this happens at my kid’s school?

We do our best to not turn our families into hermits, even though that seems like a good idea at times, especially after tragedies like yesterday. We go to the grocery story, the movies, the fair, concerts, parks, church. Some are more vigilant, more watchful, more aware of those around them and their surroundings. Others hold their kid’s hands tighter. At times we relax our guard, like at church. At some point, many go back to what was “normal”.

We send our children off to people that love our kids probably the most after family: their teachers and other school community members. These men and women have dedicated their lives to helping us to educate our children. Parents and teachers, we’re partners in this important time of our children’s lives. Teaching is their profession, but there isn’t a class that teaches them to love their students.

I have seen it first hand. My grandma would recognize students she taught in kindergarten. You could see her eyes light up when someone would come up and say, “Mrs. Hathaway?” They would twinkle as she saw her 5 and 6 year olds who were now grown adults, much the same way they did when she looked at us. When she passed away, there were so many former co-workers and students that testified to the impact she made in their lives. That’s love.

I’ve seen the love my mom has for her students. The dedication to helping those struggling. The tears she’s shed for those that have passed away. The small things that make a huge impact on her students. That’s love.

If you’ve ever heard a teacher speak outside of the classroom, more often than not you’ll hear them to refer to the students as “my kids”. That’s love.

The story of the aftermath is on the news. The victims’ names are being released. Eyewitness accounts are being told. Pictures and videos are being shared.
Three of these stories are about about a teacher, a coach, an athletic director who died because they put themselves between the suspect and their kids. That’s love.

Paraphrasing John 15:13, “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for another.”  Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel, Chris Hixon, Victoria Soto, Anne Murphy, Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Michael Landsberry, and others gave their lives protecting our greatest treasures, our children. That’s love.

God says return to me with your whole heart. Bring me your wailing and weeping and mourning. He is there for us in the sadness, the heartbreak, the tears, the whys, the anger, the confusion, the love.

But He also asks, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” in Isaiah 6. Isaiah answers “Here I am Lord! I will go!” The Lord also calls out to Samuel by name while he slept. Samuel, not understanding it was the Lord calling him, went to his master, Eli. After a few times of this, Eli understood it was the Lord calling to Samuel and explained this to him. The next time the Lord called Samuel, he answered, ” Speak, for your servant is listening.”

He calls all of us by name like he did with Samuel, just as Jesus said to the disciples, “Come. Follow me,” and asks each of us to go for Him, to bring Him to them and them to Him. We can either choose to ignore it or give our answer to someone else, or we can answer the Lord, “Here I am. Here I am to follow You. To learn and live Your Love.”


I don’t have the answers and I don’t know why.
I’m not going to debate here the whys and why nots, the shoulds and should nots. It’s not that those aren’t important. It’s more because I can understand both sides. And there’s so many and each has a point, and each is right, and each is wrong. There’s no black and white. It’s just all shades of gray.

I wrote this as a Facebook post back in 2012 after Sandyhook. It’s just as relevant today as it was then, and will be after every tragedy until there are no more.

“I’ve been thinking very hard the past few days. My heart aches for those families and all touched by this shooting. I hugged my boys even tighter that night and every night since, grateful that I am able to do so. My mind cannot even try to understand why or how anyone could do this. I really don’t think I want to know. I cry every time I hear or read something about it.

I don’t know how to solve this problem. But I don’t think that going to any extreme is going to solve anything.

Schools need to be safe places, as do libraries, houses of worship, malls, movie theaters, backyards, parks, homes, everywhere.

It is unfortunate, but there will always be people who break the law, people who see violence as the answer, people who have no compassion or consideration for others. No matter how much anything is regulated, those people will find a way to at least try, if not succeed to do what they want to do.

But we need to remind ourselves that those people are far outnumbered by those that love us, care for us, and protect us. Sometimes it’s hard to remember because we aren’t bombarded by stories and images of good Samaritans and acts of kindness by the media. It’s hard to see that love and compassion with all the negativity in our world. But all we have to do is take a look at those around us to see “the good guys”: our families, friends, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, medics, service men and women, religious leaders, nurses, doctors, and so many others in our lives.

Maybe we need to work a little harder to be nicer, kinder, more compassionate and considerate to one another. Maybe we need to work a little harder to really appreciate “the good guys” every single day rather than just for a few weeks following tradgies such as this. Maybe we need to work a little harder to instill thoughtfulness in our children. Maybe we need to work a little harder to be less selfish and to listen to others better. Maybe we need to work a little harder on focusing on things that really matter. Maybe just maybe if we work a little harder we can make this world a better place for our children and ourselves.

I’m going to try a little harder everyday for the rest of my life. I know I’ll have my bad days and good days but I’m going to try. It’s the least that I can do.”


I hope that after all my rambling, that second to last paragraph sticks with you.
To try to work a little harder for Love.
I’ve been trying, and there have been days I’ve failed. But I’m not giving up.
I pray that you don’t either.





*These shootings include every discharge of a firearm that have happened on school grounds, not just those that fall under what most would consider “school shootings”. Everytown USA does not give a whole report of each firearm discharge incident that occurs at a school. Everytown USA is extremely biased because of its pro-gun control nature. Both the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner have pointed this out and have listed a more descriptive report of each incident.

Why Ashes?

When Joey was 3, we went as we normally do to the Ash Wednesday Mass in the evening at St. Edward’s. We all lined up for the distribution of ashes, and Joey who was walking by himself was first in line. He got up to the gentleman, stared with wide eyes at the thumb loaded with ashes reaching for his forehead, and shouted, to my horror and the amusement of everyone else, “NO HAIRCUT!” The ashes were placed mostly square on his little noggin. And as soon as we got back to our place in the pews, he proceeded to use his sleeve to wipe them off. Ah well. It was a memorable Ash Wednesday to be sure.

Ash Wednesday starts the Liturgical Season of Lent. We’ve all heard Lent is a Forty day time period before Easter. But Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter Sunday. Why?
Well there’s 2 reasons. One is we don’t “count” the 6 Sundays during Lent because each Sunday is a mini feast day. Some set aside their Lenten abstainings, others don’t.
The other reason is because while technically Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the following Thursday, Friday, Saturday are before the 1st Sunday of Lent (3 days there) and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are part of the Easter Triduum (3 more days). So either way, 46-6=40.

The number of 40 has some special meanings to both the Jewish people and Christians.
There were 40 days and nights of rain in the story of Noah’s Ark. Moses spent 40 day in the presence of God and Elijah traveled 40 days to find God. Nineveh 40 days to repent. And the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert. Forty, whether days or years, was the prescribed amount of time in Jewish tradition for preparation for doing works to receive God’s grace and blessings.

It’s this 40 days and nights of preparation Jesus spent fasting and praying in the desert before he began teaching to the public, God’s workings so that we may receive the saving power of His Grace so that we maybe believe in Him and have eternal life with Him.
He was tempted by the Devil while he was out there. He refused to give into human temptations that lead to sin, the turning away from God who we should love with all our bodies, minds, and souls, by practicing the virtues of fortitude, prudence, temperance, and justice.

Ashes on our foreheads also has roots in Jewish traditions. You can find it mentioned in many books of the Old Testament: Job, Esther, Daniel, Jonah, Jeremiah, Numbers,  Maccabees. When the Jewish people were grieving and mourning usually the death of a loved one, or atoning they dusted themselves with ashes. They also wore sack-clothes that were rough and fasted when they were repenting or preparing themselves to be worthy of God’s graces and blessings. The ashes from a sacrifice (usually a heifer) weren’t just worn on the forehead as we do today, but covered the whole head and body. The repentant person wore the ashes to show the community that they had sinned but were sorry and asking for forgiveness.

Catholics continued the practice of wearing ashes as a sign of repentance. In early Church history, public penance was a thing for mortal sins. After receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, the penitent man would have ashes sprinkled on his head. Sometimes they would wear hairshirts (akin to sack-clothes) that were blessed by a bishop on Ash Wednesday, doing penances for 40 days, not returning to the church until Maundy Thursday.

Priests would also bless the dying. When a person was about to die, they would be laid on a sack cloth and sprinkled with ashes. According to
“The priest would bless the dying person with holy water, saying, “Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” After the sprinkling, the priest asked, “Art thou content with sackcloth and ashes in testimony of thy penance before the Lord in the day of judgment?” To which the dying person replied, “I am content.” In all of these examples, the symbolism of mourning, mortality and penance is clear.”

Part of the should sound familiar. I’ll get to it in a moment.

Our ashes, instead of coming from a heifer, come from another Lenten event: Palm Sunday. Specifically the Palm Sunday of the previous year. After taking our blessed palms home, sometimes folded into crosses, and displaying them, we bring them back to the church where they are burnt and stored for Ash Wednesday. At St. Edward’s if the weather permits, our CFF classes participate as a faith community.

The ashes are blessed and then distributed at Mass. During the distribution of ashes, the priest or lay ministers will make the Sign of the Cross with the ashes on the foreheads of the parishioners saying either “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

The first is from Genesis 3 which tells us of Original Sin and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The phrase comes from verse 19.
The second reminds us that we are all sinners needing to repent and need to come back to God and His laws for us that we hear of in the Gospel- the Good News!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “By the solemn 40 days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.” It’s with this preparation season of Lent that we ready ourselves by repenting, praying, fasting to be ready to live our commission.

May we all turn back to God and listen to and live like His Word, Jesus.