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!

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!

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 36-37: Nothing to see here, people.

Really, there isn’t.  Late Thursday afternoon I had all the kids out for haircuts, so Mr. M made pizzas for us using the par-baked crusts spoken of in last weekend’s food prep post.

Last night, I had to use up the rest of that monster bag of bargain kale before it went south, so I made sauteed kale with mushrooms (bought on sale last week, also going south) and garlic.  I deglazed the pan with a bit of white wine, having forgotten to take out a container of vegetable stock to thaw.  Meanwhile I had angel hair cooking in our microwave pasta cooker… and I’m starting to give up on that thing.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but all but the first two batches of pasta I’ve made in that thing have been just this side of inedible.  They’re gummy and mushy and gross.  So, we had food last night, and it was all by the book, but it wasn’t very tasty.  Alas.  There wasn’t enough Parmesan cheese in the world to save it.

At last, a black bean burger worth blogging about!

You may have wondered (probably not, but maybe you have) why I have been blogging meatless Fridays (not to mention a nearly meatless Lent) for over a year now, and yet I still have not shared a recipe for that vegan/vegetarian staple, the black bean burger.  That is because every black bean burger recipe I’ve tried has tasted more like a breadcrumb burger with the token bean thrown in for legal purposes.  Alas, wonder no more.  We have, somewhat accidentally, discovered black bean millet burgers .

This coming Monday, we are hosting an International Lunch in celebration of International Education Week.  Middle dumpling wanted to make something with millet–not because of a country that fascinates her, mind you, but because our pet cockatiel’s favorite snack is millet.  So she picked Egypt based on our bird’s version of crack cocaine.  So now I have this five pound sack of millet sitting around my kitchen.  Thus we had slow cooker millet porridge for breakfast (meh–it’s okay).  I’ll be making food processor millet flour this weekend, which will then become millet bread on Monday.  So that leaves us with about 4.5 pounds of millet remaining, hurrah.  Google came through again this morning with the recipe linked above, couretsy of No Meat Athlete.

The only changes I made to the recipe was using a blend of olive and corn oil because, come on, grapeseed oil?  I’m not made of money here.  Also, I used less oil than the recipe seems to suggest.  Shocking, I know.  I’m like a Catholic Paula Deen over here.  I fried the patties on a cast iron skillet and I think that got them crispy enough without the extra oil.  Next time I make them, I’ll actually do them the same way I make our baked falafel.

We served these with a recipe for baked sweet potato fries that I found on Pinterest a few weeks ago.  This is the second time we made this recipe, and it’s the first time I pre-soaked the sweet potato slices for ten hours, changing the water once.  I think that made a good difference. The first time, with a soak of about 2 hours, they were crisp and tasty.  This time, with the longer soak and the changing of the water, they were “ohmygoodness, I have to sit down, oh wait, I’m already sitting down” good.

Overall, this was one of the more wonderful Friday night meals we’ve had in a very, very, very long time.  The one drawback:  this was very, very, very labor intensive.  There was a lot more slicing and mixing and mashing and shaking and standing and standing and standing and flipping things than I will usually subject myself to.  The only reason this worked for us tonight is that Second Shift took a later nap than usual and Mr. Mackerelsnapper came home about an hour early.  I’d like to make the burgers again, but I do think next time I’ll bake up the first half of the batch then freeze the second half for another, busier day.

Because of all the work involved in dinner, we did not get to make a dessert in honor of The Feast of St. John Lateran.  So, go make yourself some Golden City Marshmallows, appreciate the Church as people and value the beauty of the churches we share as people.

Two for Others Tuesday…. oh. Oops.

Serve others in Christ's name

I’m already late.   No sense wasting time with banter.

Happy Catholic:  When I went to CMN in August, I met a lot of people I’d never met before.  Since I spend most of my very limited blog-reading time on cooking blogs rather than Catholic blogs, I have read very few of the latter.  So when I met a bunch of Catholic bloggers at CMN, there were admittedly few to whom I could say, “Oh, yeah, I’ve read your blog!”  Julie from Happy Catholic is one of those, well, two, (the other being Jennifer F. at Conversion Diary).  She’s happy.  She’s Catholic.  She’s a Firefly fan.  She’s one of those people I kind of want to sidle up to and, all big-eyed, say, “Will you be my best friend?”

Catholic Cuisine: I don’t think I met anyone from Catholic Cuisine at CMN, but if I did, I apologize for not putting your real face with your virtual one. I’ve been reading Catholic Cuisine for years, because every time I search for ideas on how to cook something that is related to a Catholic feast day, they are the first hit. Their stuff looks lovely. I have to admit, though, that I read CC much in the same way I read Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age etc etc, homemaking magazines, or 97% of Pinterest: I think, “Wow, that looks awesome.  But we all know nothing like that is ever going to happen.”  And then, voila!  Somebody makes it happen.  That somebody, when it comes to fancy spiritual confections, is Catholic Cuisine.

Two for Others Tuesday: Spinning Book-shaped Plates

Wait, before I forget, please take 4.2 seconds to vote in my Lent 2013 Challenge Poll?  Should the challenge be…


Thankee.  And now, on with the show.

I ❤ free clip art!

Right now I’m in the process of reading not one but two books of fiction.  Impressive, no?  Actually, I probably should’ve written, “Impressive, eh?” in honor of both books being from Canadian house Full Quiver Publishing.  The first book of theirs I’m reading is Emily’s Hope by Ellen Gable Hrkach.  I’m not far into Emily’s Hope quite yet, but what I’ve read is keeping me looking forward to the moment I get back to it. I met Ellen at the Catholic Writers Guild conference last month.  I love her mission of illustrating Church teaching through story rather than just arguing about it.  I heard someone on Catholic radio recently say that we’re not going to win anybody with arguments; we’re going to win them with love.  Wait… was that Catholic radio or Father Barron on Catholicism?  I’m confused.  I guess that’s what I get for spinning plates.  But don’t let that stop me!

I’m also about one-third of the way through Angela’s Song, the debut of author AnneMarie Creedon.  “But Mrs. Mackerelsnapper,” you say, “Angela’s Song doesn’t come out until next month!  How can you possibly be one-third through it already?” Ah, my dear, you see, when you go to the CWG conference, you come home with SWAG.  And by SWAG, I mean “stolen without a gun,” not anything of the gangsta realm.  Think pirate booty, not the other kind.  Anyway, loving Angela, especially since the author took a chance and wrote it in first person, present tense.  “Oh, the horror!” cry all the publishing gods.  The publishing gods are silly and have silly hang-ups.  This works for Angela.  Again, I can’t wait to get back to it.

Before I got sidetracked on my plate-spinning reality…

… I was trying to get to the mission of Full Quiver Publishing.  Outwardly, it’s about “Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage.”  Really, though, all that means is that it’s about love–charitable love, selfless love, love that lasts beyond the present moment.  And if that doesn’t conquer hearts for God, then what possibly could?

Two for Others Tuesday: Sorority Girls, Cupcakes, and the Zombie Apocolypse

Here it is, our second….

Serve others in Christ's name

First up is Exposed:  Inexcusable Me… Irreplacable Him.  I met the author, Shannon Dietz, at the CMN conference last month when I stopped by the Ask Seek Knock booth (a ministry to survivors of domestic abuse… and believe me, ASK deserves their own Two for Others Tuesday, but one thing at a time, people).  She’s a generous soul in person.  Her book is generous as well, and I feel like it was a generous gift to me personally.  Both of us had difficult childhoods and abusive relationships, and both of us came to Christ through the Catholic faith while in college.  The main difference being I was a pasty-faced theatre nerd and she was a sorority sister.  Exposed reminded me on a new level that surface appearances are just that:  surface.  Underneath it all we all have that God-shaped hole, even those who look like they have it all together and don’t need things like Eucharist or obedience.  I needed this reminder, especially during this political season, when going on Facebook can amount to emotional abuse most days.  Besides that, I totally love a memoir that doesn’t blame everybody else for the author’s shorcomings.  I love her message that, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve been abused, you still have to take responsibility for your own actions.  It’s a brave message, and she’s a brave woman.

Second:  Ora Et Labora Et Zombies.  Ryan Trusell is one of those people I kind of want to smack.  Just a little.  Not enough to hurt or anything.  He has written an “epistolatory novel” (you know, the kind Pride and Prejudice actually started out as) and is mailing it out piece by piece.  The cruel tease handed out the first one for free at CMN.  Now I have to actually waiiiiiiiiit for the next one.  Cruel, cruel author.  Anyway, so far, Ora et Labora et Zombies is worth your time.  It’s got a love story–gasp!–within an already established marriage.  And a toddler.  And monks.  And cupcakes.  And Mardi Gras.  I am hooked.  I want you to be hooked.  These letters just might eat your brains.