Wee Cook No-Meat Fridays: A Vegetarian Feast!

I decided to rerun this post from June 2009 in honor of the first Friday in Lent, for those who would like a meatless meal idea!

The Vacation Bible School program at my church this year is called “Adventure with the Apostles,” and explores the Church around the world, each day focusing on a different part of the globe:

Today, in honor of the Church of Asia, I have for you this tasty and inexpensive lentil-and-rice feast (with Naan bread and cucumbers with yoghurt dressing) that is easy enough for the whole family to help with! 

wholemeal-naan-bread-food-recipe16To make Naan Bread, you will need

1 tsp fast-rising yeast
1 Tbls sugar
1/2 C warm water
2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 Tbls oil (olive works fine)
2 heaping Tbls yoghurt (save rest of 6 oz container for salad)
2 Tbls milk

1. Put warm water, yeast, and sugar in cup; stir to dissolve. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add oil, milk, yoghurt, and yeast mixture. Stir with fork to combine, then put on floured board and kneed 5-6 minutes until flour is incorporated and dough is soft. Cover with a wet tea towel and set aside 15 minutes. (Get rice-and-lentils started during this time.)

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a cookie sheet. Break dough into four equal sized balls, turn onto lightly floured board. Pat or roll into ovals approximately 6-8 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. (Don’t roll too thin, should be about 1/4 inch). Repeat for remaining 3 balls; place on cookie sheet. If desired, brush with milk. Rest 10 minutes. Bake 10-12 minutes, until bubbled and brown on top. To serve, tear in half with hands and place in basket.

(Photo credit: For an excellent recipe for whole-wheat Naan, check out “Jenna’s Kitchen” blog!)

For Rice-and-Lentils, you need:

1 C lentils (dried)
1 C rice
2-1/2 C water
3 small potatoes (sliced thin)
2 med. onions (sliced thin)
1/4 C oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt

1.  Rinse lentils and place in large pot. Add 2-1/2 C water, then cover and simmer on low 20 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, place rice in strainer, then put strainer in a pot of warm water deep enough to cover the rice. Allow to soak while you’re doing the next step.

2.  In frying pan, heat up the oil then layer onions and potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Cook 8-10 minutes, until nicely browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside (but do NOT drain off oil).

3.  When lentils have cooked 20 minutes, strain extra water from rice and add to pot along with curry, cumin, and salt. Stir well — add another 1/2 cup of water if it has all steamed away. Sprinkle potato-onion mixture over the top and cover again. Cook another 10 minutes, until rice is done. (Should be chewy, not sticky.)

For Cucumber Salad, you need:

6 oz carton plain yoghurt (less 2 Tbls for bread)
1-2 medium sized cucumbers, chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbls white rice vinegar (works best — white vinegar works okay, too)

Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Refrigerate until serving time.


Miracle Monday: Do you love “deep” or “wide”?

sarahs flowersAs a kid, there was a song we used to sing in Sunday school that went like this:

“Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.” (Repeat.)

What made the song was the hand motions. As the song went faster and faster, dropping another word each time, the frantic hand gestures kept everything on track.

Last week, I ran our church’s VBS — and during that time I got to play four different women saints: Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Rose of Lima, St. Faustina Kowalska, and Blessed Katharine Drexel (whom I told I resemble slightly). Standing at the front of the room, leading the music and thumping the old keyboard, I was in my element. The only catch: a certain seven-year-old, dearly beloved child, who did not want to share me with 100 other kids.

Every five minutes she was at my elbow, begging to be cuddled. “Go sit down, Sarah,” I’d hiss in less-than-motherly tones. “When I’m done here I’ll go with you to your next group, and we’ll have a cuddle.

But no, it had to be NOW. Honestly! With 100 pairs of eyes upon me, I steered my daughter back to her tribe’s blanket and resorted to outright bribery: She could hold Senor Froggie if she sat still. (My thirty-year-old frog puppet had traveled the world with me. I was pretty sure he could stand a little more loving.)

Sarah looked terribly unhappy … but she went, clutching the positive-proof evidence that Mommy loved her best of all the kids in the room. And I went back to my keyboard.

All that week, I thought about how just a couple of weeks before meeting Craig I had sent away for information from a certain religious order. At thirty-three, I had decided that marriage was just not in the cards for me.

But as I said, then I met Craig. And we found Chris and Sarah … and my life’s course changed unalterably. And I think mostly for the better.

Still, after a week of “church ministry” — leaving me short on temper, and long on nagging — I had to wonder. I find it so easy to walk into a room of children — preschoolers are my favorite — and love them. Really enjoy being with them. I feel happy, alive, enthused. Cast those love nets wide, and draw those little hearts close to Jesus.

But at the end of the day, when it’s just them and me — the two little hearts who see me at my best and worst, day in and day out — those love nets get pretty ragged. The “going deep” part is infinitely more challenging. When they whine, and cajol, and bicker, and argue, and sass … Oh, how I long just to lock them outside the toss away the key some days!

But the thing is — and if you’ve ever had days or even whole weeks like this, I think you’ll know what I mean — it’s the “going deep” that cleans out the gutters, and does the actual purificating work. The “loving deep” is what fits us for heaven.

So sing with with me now … “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide!”