Review: Sons of Cain

Hey, Mackerelsnapperites!  I have a review of Sons of Cain by Catholic author Val Bianco over on my author page.

Go check it out, then check out Sons of Cain for yourselves!

St. Clare rocks!

I have some fun stuff about the book trailer we filmed this weekend, over at my author blog.  Check it out!

Yesterday’s 7QT over on my author blog

Here are seven thoughts on the death of our good old dog, Willow:  pro-life issues, faith vs. works, and do all dogs really go to heaven?

I’m also searching for a mid-1980s era CYO boy’s basketball shirt.  If you live in the PA/DE/MD/NJ area and have one of these, let me know?  If you don’t, say a prayer to St. Anthony.  I need to find one by next Saturday, June 1, to use in the filming of my book trailer.

That was the calm, cool, professional prayer request.  Now allow me to go all kinds of “SQUEEEEEEE I HAVE TO MAKE A BOOK TRAILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!”

Review: The King’s Gambit by John McNichol

The King's Gambit

Check out my author blog for a review of the Catholic YA novel The King’s Gambit by John McNichol.  Good stuff!

http://erinmccolecupp.com/2013/05/06/review-the-kings-gambit-by-john-mcnichol/

Help?

First: Talk to me about veiling. Why do you? Why don’t you?

It’s been an issue on my heart for many a year now. I tried it for a while, somewhat subtly, starting first with scarves worked into my hairstyle, then just using at least a headband, then making sure I was at least wearing earrings as a sign of womanly obedience… and now I’m lucky if I’ve gotten a shower before Sunday Mass. I know it’s a symbol of humility, covering the glory of my messy, roots-showing hair. I know I should cover my hair because the angels are present when the Eucharist is consecrated and all that… but. I attend daily Mass as well, usually in jeans and sometimes in my pajama sweats, because that’s the only way to get the garden watered and the four pets fed before we leave and get three children there in time, and that’s even with 2/3 of them crying over something or other. A lacy mantilla with jeans? Um…

But. The older two are the only children available to serve at the altar in our parish at daily Mass. I’m okay with that (they’re serving Mother Church, not fructifying the sanctuary, just like a nurse serves at a delivery but doesn’t get the mother pregnant). If I veil, they’ll want to, and there’ll be no hiding it then. We’re already the only family that regularly attends daily Mass. I’m an introvert. I’m not sure I’m put together for answering yet more questions from well-intentioned acquaintances who already think we are weirder than weird. Will I have to justify why my kids are veiled and serving at the altar?

But. I’m in choir, and I’ve already gotten one “Wow, a scapular? Haven’t seen one of those things in years!” when mine was sticking out after a hurried shirt-change on the way to practice. I’ve also been asked to cantor. Am I ready for that much more on top of it all? See above, re: introversion.

Second: Kassie aka Mom and 8kidsandabusiness both gave me different blogging awards. It’s humbling and exciting… and I honestly don’t know what to do with them! I see others have their blogging awards posted constantly on their blogs, and I would know how to do that if I were still coding HTML from scratch, but I’m not, and I’m so overwhelmed that I’m about to cry from frustration or hormonal imbalance or from just long-term overwhelmed-ness… Anyway, I wasn’t ignoring the awards out of, um, ignorance towards you personally but out of ignorance of blogging. Can anybody hold my hand and pass me a tissue?

Third:  If you’d like to read an instance of me being at peace about something, visit my writing blog, Will Write for Tomato Pie.  However, that site is in need of attention from someone who knows what she’s doing, and these days, that someone doesn’t seem to be me.

So, it seems today’s theme is feeling/being called but not being equipped. Like, at all.

In honor of this being one of my few rants, please enjoy this picture of our new dog, Sigma.

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National Grilled Cheese Day

It’s the first meatless Friday after the Octave of Easter. What better way to celebrate than by participating in National Grilled Cheese Day.

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I don’t know why it’s today or how it came about. I do know that I love me some grilled cheese.

On a far more grim note, please take a moment to visit twitter’s #gosnell tweets. I’m @erinmcop.

“The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Set it loose. It will defend itself.”

–St. Augustine

The Lent 2013 Challenge Wrap Up: “I learned something today” X 40

  1. Appreciate the time you have. Before this project, I could regularly be heard to say, “I don’t have time.” The hardest part of the Lent 2013 Challenge wasn’t going meatless. It wasn’t even surviving on $90/week for five people. The hardest thing was making a healthy meal for five different palates, all within 20 minutes. Oh, how I’ve missed making fresh pita and homemade bagels. I have a better understanding now of how very, very hard it is to avoid processed foods when your time is truly and honestly spoken for by other aspects of survival, like holding down a job… or trying to find one. 
  2. The work done by a “stay-at-home” parent has real, concrete, monetary value.
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    I’m assuming you now see how little value our culture has for a parent who stays at home instead of going out to work. Sure, we hear platitudes, “Of course you work, honey. You just don’t get a paycheck.” I already knew this going in to Lent 2013, but the work I do as a homeschooling mother is the equivalent of our family hiring a cook, laundry service, (very bad) cleaning service, three private school tuitions, private transportation… shall I go on? I save our family tens of thousands of US$ per year. Why is it that if a woman earns that much, she’s a valued employee, but if she saves that much, Google autofill describes her as a lazy, annoying, stupid leech?Just because you don’t see what you’re giving your family in terms of dollars and cents, girlfriend, your worth is beyond rubies.

  3. The domestic church is becoming more important than ever. Or, The way to evangelize the anti-Catholics may be through their stomachs. When I first started this blog over a year ago, I thought I would draw most of my readers from those Catholics who, like me, are trying to find our way back to traditions that once gave us identity and our choices greater meaning. Sure, I have a few of those visiting. What has been even more humbling and sweet to me, however, is the many (well, not many, but several) non-Catholic, even full-on-atheist vegetarian and vegan visitors who have spent a moment or more in my family’s virtual kitchen. If I had only tagged my posts “Catholic,” these people would have skipped over it as if I had tagged them “misogynistichomophobeswhopromotepedophilia.”Right?

    As Ven. Fulton Sheen said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” No, you probably should not receive a consecrated Eucharist in which you don’t believe (if you value your integrity, anyway)… but you can come on over to my kitchen table, and I’ll feed you some love and laughter and a slow cooker of vegan black bean soup. Can you still hate me then? Can you still say I hate you? The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ on earth. The domestic church is how we can be that Body of Christ in a world hell-bent on crucifying us.

    Before you pick up those nails, though, would you like a freshly-baked pita?

  4. If you plan on doing something to care for God’s people, even if you don’t have the start-up capital, He’ll find a way to provide. When we started this Lent, it was my goal to give to our local food cupboard one of each of the tools that we used the most in our Lent 2013 challenge, paid for out of the money we saved on our new, voluntarily low budget. So, how exactly was I going to get a quality slow cooker, a microwave and a hand blender all for $70? I just shrugged and said, “God, You want these people to get small appliances? You’re going to have to provide the money, ’cause you know what we have on hand, and it ain’t much.”A few weeks later, a reader (who shall remain anonymous unless she comments and claims it) sent us $200. We went shopping tonight.
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    Tomorrow I’m taking First Shift shopping, because they decided to buy the stick blender. Okay. Gotta go get a hankie…

  5. Bloggers:  don’t ever bemoan your small audience. I’m not Jennifer. I’m not The Anchoress. Guess what? Ain’t. Even. Bovvered. By God’s grace, it just recently occurred to me, I never gave up my blogging “mission,” if you will, just because my highest number of hits in one day is 80, and that was last year. I know plenty of people who give up what they love because it’s too hard to get the attention that they want. True humility is true freedom. If you don’t need validation from others to do what you know is good and right, then there’s nothing to stop you. Which brings me to…
  6. Never say “I can’t do that. It’s too difficult,” unless your next words are, “without God’s help.”   

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 44: Good Friday Krabby Stuffed Potatoes

Outwardly, this seems luxurious for Good Friday: Seafood? Really? With white wine? When seen in the light of using stuff up in the fridge, though, hopefully the indulgence factor drops. I also based this on a family recipe that called for a can of condensed lobster bisque, but we’re aiming for from-scratch per the rules.

I had wanted to have some deep, meaningful reflections for the most solemn day of our faith year… but between choir practices and making sure Mr. M was equipped to manage a loud, squirmy preschooler through collective hours of Triduum doings… stuffed potatoes with salad it as good as it got. Humility can just show up in the form of a recipe without a reflection.

Wait. Did I just give a reflection in spite of the humility? Sheesh, you can’t even dress me up, much less take me out.

Krabby Stuffed Potatoes (prep time: 3 min + 15 minutes)

5 baking potatoes, scrubbed and baked in the slow cooker on low 6-12 hours
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 c white wine or vegetable stock
1 8oz can PLAIN tomato sauce
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c shredded sharp cheese
1/2 lb “krab” pollock seafood flakes

As your potatoes are baking in your slow cooker, melt butter over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk flour with salt and pepper. Sprinkle seasoned flour over butter, then whisk in wine/stock. Let that reduce over medium-high for about 3 minutes, then whisk in tomato sauce and cream. Once that’s all bubbly, fold in cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Fold in “krab” and heat through.

Cut potatoes open on their individual serving plates, then pour “krabby” stuffing inside.

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Speaking of humility, it tasted way better than this picture looks.

And, folks, there you have it: a meatless, cheapo Lent for 5. I shall post our obligatory “I Learned Something Today” reflection sometime soon. Stay tuned, Mackerelsnapper fans. Erm, all three of you.

OH! Gluten-free friends? Corn starch for the flour should work.

 

Lent Challenge 2013 Day 43: Bread Alone?

Ah, the Lent Challenge.  Boy, that takes me back.  All of four days ago, we were still fasting and so busy with the Triduum that it took me until Easter Monday to finish the blogging of it all. Just as our Jewish older sibs get rid of all the chometz (every single crumb of leaven) in the house heading into Passover, we thought it would be kind of meaningful to use up all the bread in our house in anticipation of Good Friday.

It's a pot! It's an oven! It's...

Slow Cooker, you’re my hero!

Slow Cooker “Quiche” (prep time:  10 minutes)

8 c cubes of leftover breads (I say “breads” because we used everything we could:  naan, pita, rolls, leftover French bread, etc.)
2 broccoli crowns
1 onion
1 c chopped celery
1 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c parmesan cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c milk (if your “quiche” seems dry, add more milk until it is at least malleable)
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

 

Chop broccoli stems in your food processor first, then chop the florets, to make sure they’re all chopped evenly. Then go ahead and chop your onion in there, too.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until well-mixed.  Spray your slow cooker liner with cooking spray.  Pour in “quiche” and cook on low 4-5 hours.

This makes an ENORMOUS batch.  It can be halved easily, but as this was an experiment, I don’t know how that would affect the cooking time.

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 42: Slowcooker Falafel. Seriously.

We had a perfect cucumber for making tzatziki. Oldest kid is a huge falafel fan. Alas, our 20 minute rule could not possibly permit for falafel… or could it? On a whim, I googled “crock pot falafel,” and God bless Stephanie at Crockpot365. She has a recipe for falafel! That was the feature of our meal last night.

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See how golden brown those falafel got, all without deep frying?  I’m not going to kid us both and tell you they’re better than fried:  they’re not.  Seriously, these were just as good as baked and a million times faster.  All kinds of yum.

However, the meal as a whole is best made in installments. Because of the timing, I’m going to start you off with our…

Tzatziki Cous Cous (prep time: 3 min +5 min + 6 min)

1 1/2 c plain yogurt
1 whole seedless/English cucumber, ends trimmed off
juice of 1 lemon
1 T chopped oregano (we were out, so we used cilantro)
1 T chopped mint
1 T minced garlic (as usual, we used more–shocking)
1 t salt
1 1/2 c vegetable stock or water
1 c whole wheat cous cous
1 t butter or oil

Line a strainer with coffee filters and place yogurt over filters. Place strainer over a bowl and then place the whole contraption in a refrigerator, allowing the yogurt to strain for 4-10 hours. (If you have Greek yogurt, use that without straining, but on our budget, we are using just regular American, non-drinking, spoon-only yogurt).

Shortly before serving, cut your cucumber into thumb-length chunks and chop it in a food processor until finely diced. Add lemon juice, herbs, garlic and salt, and pulse to process. Add strained yogurt (discard whey in the bottom bowl).

Just before serving, boil stock/water and oil (in microwave for 5 minutes should do the trick. Add cous cous, stir, then cover immediately. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir in tzatziki.

Top this lovely dish with Crockpot365’s Falafel. And feta crumbles if you have them.  I whipped our falafel together in less than five minutes, using the food processor. Some day, I’ll make these vegan with ground flaxseed as an egg substitute.

I did make what was supposed to be “suddenly pita,” but due to circumstances beyond my control (a. k. a. needy preschooler), I was not able to fit those into the 20 minute time frame, so they weren’t part of our “official” meal and instead became part of lunch earlier in the day.

Y’all know by now that if you’re looking for prayers and reflections on Holy Thursday, you probably need to look elsewhere on the #catholic tag.

If you’ve gotten this far, please pray for several special intentions for several friends and family members of mine, all going through tough, tough times.