2 Sauces on Friday Foodies

I hope you have had an opportunity to check out my new You Tube Channel: JennyJennyGenesis! We are having a blast making all kinds of meatless meals for your Fridays this Lent. Today we made two sauces: Chinese Peanut Sauce, and Pesto!

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Chinese Peanut Sauce

From Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook

I usually double or triple this recipe as it keeps well and can be used in several wonderful ways! Over rice, noodles, vegetables, or as a dip for lettuce wraps!

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Pesto Sauce 

2 chopped onions

4 crushed cloves fresh garlic

1 Stick salted butter

3 TBS flour

3-6 cups milk, half and half, coconut milk (anything creamy will work)!

7oz jar of Pesto

Parmesan Cheese to taste

Directions:

Cook the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent, then add crushed garlic to pan, cooking until fragrant. Set aside and add stick of butter to pan. Then add 3 tablespoons of flour to pan and stir with a whisk to create a golden paste, called roux which will thicken your sauce. Once the butter and flour have been combined and heated through, slowly add the creamy substance of your choice. We used half and half and coconut milk in the video but we have successfully used sour cream and water in a pinch! The point is you use anywhere from 3-6 cups of liquid to the pan and stir slowly until you have the desired consistency. We ended up adding approximately 6 cups to ours. The viscosity was thick enough to coat a spoon! Then we added back in the onion and garlic and a 7oz jar of pesto.  I prefer the Costco brand pesto but have had great success with the other grocery store brands as well.

Mix it all together over low heat and pour over noodles, adding fresh shredded parm to taste. I recommend a hearty handful! Enjoy!

 

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Zucanoes! Friday Foodies!

This is a favorite recipe at our house! The kids love to make it, and I love to eat it. It’s vegetarian, so it’s perfect for meatless Fridays in Lent! This comes from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, my fave! I hope you enjoy it!

Also, please like and follow us on YouTube! The Zuccanoes video is up!

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The JennyJennyGenesis crew is having a ton of fun cooking up some hilarious videos for you all! Zuccanoes Recipe

 

Friday Foodies

Welcome friends to our Lenten experiment of becoming vegetarians! It’s gonna be awesome! I am looking forward to sharing fresh, creative vegetarian cuisine with you and your families! Xoxo- jennyjennygenesis placeholder://

{Reader Read This} Wabi-Sabi Welcome by Julie Pointer Adams

Recently I have been looking to put words to this phase of life that I find myself in. I wanted it to sound positive, even though stretched is really how I feel, and one day while roaming the libraries ‘new’ shelf I saw this title and it jumped out at me. I really want to be welcoming to my family and friends in a way that is exactly what was written on the cover of the book, “Learning to embrace the imperfect and entertain with thoughtfulness and ease.” Yes! This is what I want, I thought. So I cracked that book open, and haven’t looked back. I have Kon Maried, and now I will Wabi-Sabi! If you need a beautiful visual vacation, check it out!

“The idea developed when two separate words, wabi and sabi were joined to convey a certain look, feeling, and world perspective. Wabi means something like simplicity, humility, and living in tune with nature; it describes someone who is content with little and makes the most of whatever he or she has, always moving toward having less. Sabi on the other hand refers to what happens with the passage of time: it’s about transience and the beauty and authenticity of age. Practicing sabi is learning to accept the natural cycle of growth and death, as well as embracing the imperfections that come with this progression. Together wabi and sabi form a feeling that finds harmony and serenity in what is uncomplicated, unassuming, mysterious, and fleeting. ”

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One of the things I sometimes struggle with (holla if ya hear me) is Michigan weather and entertaining other than during the summer poses a space issue. I haven’t quite worked out a way to host in a way that doesn’t feel extremely claustrophobic. And then the kids are destroying the already destroyed underbelly of our house (the basement) which serves as a family closet. And I don’t want to be that mom who doesn’t let the kids play in the basement or bedrooms or whatever place that is very wreckable, and so I let it go in the name of hospitality, but what I’m really doing while trying to enjoy my guests is not obsess over the messy results of having friends over. Sigh. So if you have figured out how to make that work, please do tell- I’m very curious.

As a young person I was constantly having people over, lots and lots of parties, I never even thought about the appearance of my apartment- I was just so happy to be spending time with people! I was all hygge and everything! I know you’ve heard of that whole hygge movement, right? Wikipedia says: “In both Danish and Norwegian, hygge refers to “a form of everyday togetherness”, “a pleasant and highly valued everyday experience of safety, equality, personal wholeness and a spontaneous social flow”. The noun hygge includes something nice, cozy, safe and known, referring to a psychological state. Collins English Dictionary defines the word as “a concept, originating in Denmark, of creating cozy and convivial atmospheres that promote well-being”.

Now, life in a big family doesn’t often lend itself to spontaneity, but what if we just stopped caring about the perfection that will never be there? What if we just joined forces with our brothers and sisters in the Lord and made it socially acceptable to have socks and back packs and candy wrappers on the ground while having friends over? Because sitting here in my living room that is essentially “clean,” there is debris on the floor. It’s not disgusting or anything, it’s just farrrr from perfect. That’s how my life is: not perfect. Pretty darn awesome, but just never flawless. Like I cook a nice dinner- all the kids aren’t home, I feel like a failure because I love having everyone all together….. Well, life is busy and it’s not perfect. So- I’m challenging myself to think in these moments: thank you Lord for this moment (even though I am struggling with it not being ALL perfect) that I get to be with these special people you have given me! Help me to love them with your love. Give me wisdom to be here now and know your will in all things. It’s just way more about accepting what it is than making it how I think it should be! I think hygge for me is letting go of my unrealistic expectations.

 

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The thing is about being invited over is when I am the company I always feel like I’m putting the other person out, and I am so grateful and blessed by the sacrifices that I know went into that interaction, specifically cleaning up and preparing food- I end up feeling like I am imposing, and so overwhelmed by generosity I could just weep! This happened last summer- friends I’ve known since Highschool, Eric and Bea (and their six lovely kids) had us over to their house- and I was so happy to reconnect with them, and see how they ‘live in a shoe’ as their house is even smaller than mine! Eric had constructed an awesome umbrellaed area outside to grill and deep fry food- keeping heat out of the kitchen and allowing socializing while cooking- ingenious! And Bea was chill just talking with us on the front porch while all our kids were running around the yard. She and Eric are an example of Wabi Sabi hospitality- they weren’t stressed out about our nine extra people coming over- they were just ready to spend time with us. Now— Eric must have put in some extra time with those wings- because they were insanely delicious- but we had so much fun. And I was inspired, not only to host again but to enjoy the whole process as these folks do.

There are still a few months of cold to look forward to, don’t you worry! So I plan on trying out some of the techniques in this book, creating spaces in my home that are easy to sit in and relax- not too much clutter, just cozy and simple furnishings that cause you to chill. And also very easy food- this book is full of super delicious food that really isn’t difficult. Here are some examples of the many recipes found inside: Baked Apples, Fancy Toast, Wholesome Bowl, and Pumpkin Pizza! YUMMMMMM! There are several recipes that are characteristic of each place the author visits as she takes us through Japan, Denmark, California, France, and Italy. I really like this aspect of the book because I WILL ONE DAY TRAVEL! It’s interesting to hear about the little tidbits from each place, like this from Denmark:

“Commit to Coffee Breaks- Drinking coffee with friends is nearly sacred in Denmark-it might even be considered the equivalent of the tea ceremony in Japan. Both rituals celebrate being present in the moment and stepping away from anything else for that period of time. Scandinavians in general regularly take time for warm drinks and treats, usually favoring something much slower and more social than caffeine to go. While the Danish don’t assign a proper name to it (in Sweden it’s referred to as fika), breaking from work or Saturday chores to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend is seen as a priority rather than a luxury.” p.78 

A really really beautiful book that is well worth the indulgence.

Annnnnnnnd, speaking of food- beginning next week my family and I are starting a weekly video of our cooking celebrations, just in time for LENT! It’s called Friday Foodies, I hope you pop in and see what we’ll be cooking on those infamous meatless Fridays! yipee!

 

 

Saint Mama, Holy Papa

I had the opportunity to hear the beautiful Dr. Gianna Emmanuela Molla- daughter of Saint Gianna-speak at Father Gabriel Richard Highschool the other night, at an I.d. 9:16 Special Presentation. I am still glowing from the inspiration I received from her beautiful testimony. I have to be honest, when I first heard the story of Saint Gianna, I was confronted with my own selfish response to the question: if I were a mother who was expecting a baby and found out that I had a cancerous tumor growing alongside my baby, would I be willing to lose my own life for the sake of my unborn child? Even if it meant leaving three young children and the love of my life- in order to give life to this wee baby? I surely do not know. I am so stuck in my human mindset- a child needs it’s mother, and a husband needs his wife, certainly! I was so moved by Gianna’s message because I wasn’t expecting to learn so much from her.

Here is what I learned:

  1. A person is a person no matter how small: Yeah, yeah- we already know that! BUT: Gianna and her dear husband Pietro understood the Catholic Social teaching that a baby, from the moment of conception is a person, with a soul, and an ability to change the world.  Check out www.usccb.org for more information on this concept. It’s a profound thought to say that a persons potential is more precious than one’s own life- and I think that’s where the grace must come in. Gianna sacrificed her life for her child and in doing so, she was trusting God that He would provide infinite mercy and practical provisions for her family. Oh Lord, give me that faith!
  2. “The way of the Cross is the right way for me.” This statement brought me to tears. Living the way of the cross is a very contrary way of life in this day and age, especially for, welp: everybody. We want comfort, we want it our way, and we want it now. Offering up our sufferings isn’t pleasant and it isn’t easy. I think if any of us knew ahead of time the troubles we would face in this life, we may just opt out! But what I see is that by leaning into these sufferings, and giving them for the glory of Jesus, Gianna was able to take her heartaches and difficulties and turn them into joy. Actually, being there with her last Thursday evening and hearing her story was one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve ever had. She said that often when people hear her story, they start crying because they feel badly for her, for the cross she has had to bear- not having a mother! She said for us to stop it! Stop crying! Gianna said she has never felt alone. She said in fact, her Saint Mama and Holy Papa were there for her, and that her faith was alive each moment of her existence.
  3. “She is doing so much more in Paradise!” Gianna said that her mother, known as the Saint of Everyday Life-  has done so much powerful intercession especially for couples wishing to conceive, that she has done way more work for others in heaven than she could ever accomplish here, on earth. This is another difficult concept. We feel uncomfortable in our humanness and inability to completely accept that the folks in heaven can actually work on our behalf. If this makes your brain hurt, or you are not Catholic, and feel this is a form of idol worship, I invite you to listen to Father Mikes super excellent video on this topic. Interestingly, the church goes through a process to decide if an individual can be made a saint, and this happened for Saint Gianna within the lifetime of her husband! If you want to know more here is an article on the five steps to becoming a saint.
  4. Choosing Closeness. The last and final point that I learned from Gianna was that the love of her parents was so real and so evident, that it literally changed the outcome of their marriage and family, and most likely everyone who knew them. In one of the letters that Pietro wrote to Gianna when they were planning to get married he said, “Our family will be a little cenacle.” It was that heart, with such a strong desire to do Jesus’ will that allowed Gianna and Pietro to keep their life on earth in perspective. She said, you know how you can live really closely with someone, even share a room, or a house– and not be close emotionally to that person, she described her parents relationship as being very close in that way-even though the six years they were married they did a good bit of traveling apart from one another…….. they still chose to write letters and know always what the other was experiencing. What a beautiful gift to their children and to us that this couple had that vibrant love, and that they used their vocation so fully, and so freely.

If you wish to help support the community that Gianna Emanuella represents, she is on a mission to turn her childhood home into a shrine with perpetual adoration.  For this she needs funds to restore the home and make the place accessible for all to visit and be touched by this modern saints life and story.

I hope you are also inspired by this Everyday Saint- and that you and your loved ones are drawn deeper into the vortex of love that this faithful woman points to. Please share with me your favorite Saint! And even better- I issue you this challenge: what are you doing right now to help YOU become a saint?

Pockets, Close to the Heart

Long ago I had a friend who was very dear to me, still is, who was in a relationship with an atheist. She felt that she could leave her Christianity behind because of her love for this man. It hurts even now to talk about it, because I really had to let that go. What can be said when a person, friend or family has made up their mind? Nothing. All you can do is quietly love them from afar because embracing them full on is also accepting the logic they are using to reject God. It’s difficult. T_SHIRT_3_STEPS

There are places and people who feel like a warm pocket. Every time I go to them, I have an encounter with someone who recenters my faith, who brings me back to reality, back to God and His Church. I have had to make a distinct choice to spend time with these people, to linger in these places. I think sometimes we think that Christians must just be born faithful, must have some natural tendency towards wanting to be holy. It’s not true. Being a Christian is an every day, moment to moment decision, that takes guts.

Want to stay married and be in a committed and loving relationship? Be around couples who speak highly of each other. Want to have a good report with your children as adults? Hang with moms and dads whose children keep coming home long after college. Want to feel supported and part of something? Pick a parish and stick with it, volunteer your time, make it your responsibility. It takes perseverance and hard choices to get what you want out of life.

I know that some folks don’t want to hear me say this, because it may sting a little: we don’t live in a Christian world, anymore. Even when I was growing up there was some shame when a person did something that was obviously against the teachings of  Jesus, now- it’s ALL GOOD. Literally. There are so many confusions, I get confused about it. I have gay friends who are confused, too.  Can we just switch genders and change clothes and feel good about making everyone else and their mother feel super uncomfortable, sure- because we should do whatever makes US HAPPY, right!?!?! I know it’s counter-cultural to be a Christian, but I really truly believe in God and the teachings of the one, holy, Catholic Church! I know that must be okay because it makes me happy.

Recently, when I was at a prayer meeting I got a vision that Jesus wanted to take me and some of the strong women I was sitting close to and stick us in a pocket, a place where we could be safe and out of the way, I thought, somewhere where we could be together and not have to worry about the way the world sees us. It was a lovely vision. I feel like the way of life I long for is totally unattainable because of all the worldly influences that inundate us constantly. It’s almost like, even if there were a place to rally the wagons and create a bubble, it’s too late, because of internet access, constant media in our faces, and the comparison mirror staring into us, we cannot -NOT pop that Utopian bubble we’d sometimes like to surround around our growing families. But Gods ways are not our ways, and even though we are unpopular we will stand tall and proud and continue to try and be vigilant and protective as long as we can. We will find these pockets.

Later at mass, a different day, I was praying and found myself caught up in the after receiving the Eucharist bliss. That feeling so warm and so full. God loves us so much he is willing to come to us as food. How amazing. How satisfying. And as I’m praying I kept coming back to the crucifix, that standing announcement that nothing is simple, and every one of us suffers. I kept examining Christ’s face and longing to wipe away his tears, and like Mary must have felt, saddened that he had to receive this torture, but then my eye kept moving towards his strong chest. YES! That’s it, of course- God was letting me imagine pockets because he wants me in a specific pocket: HIS pocket. His Chest Pocket. He is always trying to move me closer to Himself if only I’d let Him direct me. I do want to be next to your Sacred Heart, Lord! I want to be right there where you can reach me.

Reach us, Lord, and use us. Help us to be instruments of your tender love.

The Business of Being A Mom

The wonderful part about being a mom is that you always feel needed. There isn’t a day (or a moment) that goes by that I don’t feel that I am needed. It’s a blessing, to have people that depend on you because then you have the joy of feeding them or helping them with whatever it is that they need. It’s not something that everyone gets to do. I have to remind myself of this on especially busy days, but overall I don’t take it for granted. They say that the children grow up, and move away– and it’s true….even though that frightens me to no end- I do treasure the times I get with my kids as they are becoming adults and teens and having more of a social life. It’s so funny because when the kids were all little, I would have people tell me all the time, “Just wait until their teenagers!” As if I was having too much fun with the little ones and they wanted to appropriately warn me of what horrors were to come! HA!! Boy were they wrong- my teens are the light of my life. Truly. I see in them brilliant people with hearts for God, with hearts of gold- and I’m tempted to take credit for their awesomeness, when really what is so wonderful about it is that they are becoming more and more themselves! It’s an incredible privilege to witness their spiritual awareness, their friendships growing and deepening, the inspiration they take out of the world. And not to mention their physical prowess-OY!

The interesting thing I am experiencing at this stage of parenthood- with one foot in babyhood fading with the two-year-old, and a grown-up moved-in-with-girlfriend totally independent son, and then the inbetweeners- is it’s a practice in gratitude. I am thankful for the littles and the funny things they say, and I am thankful for the articulate elders who can make me feel so amazed and humbled at their own intelligent and deep thoughts and observations.

I am not sure if the feelings that I have been experiencing are normal or not, but there is a general haunting feeling of “hold on tight” right now, I so don’t want to forget to treasure the fleeting moments when the kids do things for the first time, or actually need me just a little bit longer. Now that the big boy is off in the world, it makes it all so raw and fresh: this will continue to happen! They will keep getting older and move on. It makes me sad and incredibly nostalgic and hopeful all at the same time. If the kids we are pouring ourselves into move out and go and do the things that God is calling them to–watch out world! Here comes a generation of kids who want to please God, and help others in a way that perhaps no other generation had the ability to do. It’s pretty incredible the reach that our kids have now with access to the entire world via the internet!

Thank you for hearing my awakenings, and thank you for sharing yours. Any moms out there with grown children who have and tips or pointers?

I had the privilege of hearing Barbara Morgan speak again a few nights ago, and was again profoundly touched by her wisdom. One of the parents had asked this question: Aiming heavenward with our children, with earthly tasks at hand (future careers, household chores, etc), how do we/should we try to do it all???

I loved Barabara’s response because unlike me, who often ends her day in a puddle of glee/crazy overwhelmed, unequipped to really know how to do any of the things I’m doing, including homeschooling!!! She said: “homeschool families are already making an effort to raise their children Catholic. The tiny babies who are full of sanctifying grace- will one day get to the point where they can choose sin- and they will! Everybody has a sin problem! It’s our job as parents to teach them how to repent to one another, and use the tools that we have (like the Sacrament of Confession) to deal with this sandpaper ministry we are involved in!” I think it’s really important to talk about this because I know some of you are really struggling with your kids for different reasons. Barbara was really encouraging and focused on how as parents we need to repent to one another in front of the kids, and to really make an effort to KNOW each and every child that GOD blesses us with. What are their interests? Have their interests become OUR interests? They should. We need to be trying to encourage them by using the things we know they’re into. I was really humbled by that. I’m not a big sports girl- but my husband LOVES LOVES LOVES sports…. and I just tune it out or attempt to push it aside, she said during her talk that she knew there was a really imortant basketball game on that evening because she makes it a point to be into what her husband is into, also! That really convicted me to try harder to be into the stuff my family is into, even if it’s not something I naturally lean towards. Barabara, thank you for sharing this, and one last thing she said: ” You can’t do everything that it would have been good to do for each child! But God is going to honor what you put into them, and they will turn out bigger and better than you ever could have imagined.” That was a relief to me, and I hope to you also- God will honor our efforts, and even though it isn’t going to be perfect, he will bless it!! Amen!!