Friday, September 24, 2010

What your kids really want at the dinner table is you

Monday, Sept. 27, is a day to celebrate something very special — your family! (Of course celebrating your family the other 364 days of the year is a good idea, too.)

It’s the 10th anniversary of “Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children.” Celebrated annually the fourth Monday in September, the day emphasizes the importance of family dinners.

Over the past 16 years, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse  at Columbia University in New York City, surveyed thousands of American teens and their parents to identify factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of teen substance abuse. They have found that a child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so. And, (no surprise) they’ve also learned that parents have the greatest influence on whether their teens will choose to use.

It’s not surprising either to discover that frequent family dinners really do make a difference. Their surveys consistently found that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs, and that talking around the dinner table is one of the strongest tools parents have to raise healthy, drug-free children because it is an opportunity to find out what is going on in their lives.

CASA has created a Family Day website that is well worth a visit. In addition to resources for parents such as statistics on the value of eating dinner together and how to raise drug-free kids, there are conversation starters, a placemat to color, children’s word games, a weekly menu planner and monthly family fun challenge board. Easy recipes for “Taco Casserole,” “Grilled Salmon with Citrus-Dill Butter,” “Steamed Green Beans and Mushrooms,” “Chicken Broccoli and Rice Bake” and “Szechwan Beef Stir-Fry” are also included.

You can even listen to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan talk with Joseph Califano, Jr., CASA founder and chairman. CASA research additionally points to the fact that teens who have frequent (five to seven times per week) family dinners are more likely to attend religious services weekly (four or more times a month) compared to teens who have infrequent family dinners. Regular religious service attendance is associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking and drug use, as well.

There’s no doubt about it — eating dinner together makes a difference in people’s lives and relationships. It binds families together, keeps kids out of trouble and provides a chance to pass along values and expectations. Eat together as often as you can — whether your meal consists of hotdogs and chips or turkey with all the trimmings — ultimately, you’re not only creating a better world for yourself and your own children — but for everyone. CJK


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Serving love and hope to Michigan’s marginalized

Visualize a card table topped with a loaf of bread, a jar of jelly and another of peanut butter. Imagine a young woman standing alone behind it making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and handing them out to the homeless gathered around her. 

Deacon Tim Sullivan of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Plymouth, Mich., witnessed that unsophisticated yet powerful act of generosity and love while walking through the Boston Commons in 2002. The previous day he and his wife, Gail, had met another woman — unkempt in dirty clothes — leaning against the wall of a building in downtown Boston.  The words “Help me. I’m homeless.” were written on the sign she was holding.

Deacon Sullivan gave her some money and Gail asked the woman her name, saying she would pray for her. Her name was Pam. As they began to walk away, Pam called after them — asking their names so that she could also pray for them.

Piecing the two scenes together on their flight back home, the concept of PBJ Outreach was born. Before long Deacon Sullivan and five volunteers from his parish set up one card table with a few jars of peanut butter and jelly and 20 loaves of bread in a vacant lot where the homeless often gathered in a rough area in downtown Detroit. That morning the volunteers gave sandwiches to about 30 people.

It didn’t take long before the ministry started to expand — adding cold and hot drinks, a variety of sandwiches, chips and snacks and simple hot meals like beans and franks or chili. The outreach program has flourished over the last eight years. Deacon Sullivan estimates they have probably served 120,000 people.

It’s become an ecumenical program where others from a wide variety of backgrounds including Protestant congregations, an Islamic mosque, service organizations, families and teenagers doing community or Christian service work join in to help members of the parish. Volunteers meet at the church at 6 a.m. every Saturday to prepare food that they will serve to more than 250 individuals — homeless, poor, elderly and lonely — in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in one of America’s most depressed cities.

In addition to the meals, they also pass out loaves of bread, jars of peanut butter and jelly, school supplies, first-aid items and clothing. Festive meals, such as turkey dinners are served on holidays and gift boxes are passed out on the Saturdays before Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas, when there’s also a visit from “Santa.”

Fellowship is another strong component of the program. Handshakes, hugs, prayers and love are all part of the “care packages” that are freely shared on those Saturday mornings — 52 weeks of the year.

We know God works in wondrous ways. And, we know that praying for each other, like Pam and the Sullivans, can transform lives. But, who would have thought the humble and unassuming peanut butter and jelly sandwich could also contribute such dynamic energy towards inspiring this boundless ministry of love? CJK

Information for this Breaking Bread entry was inspired by Gerald M. CostelloThe Power of PBJ in The Christophers’ Light One Candle column (August 2, 2010) and Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller’s “Peanut butter, jelly and love” Good News Profile in Our Sunday Visitor (June 20, 2010). To learn more about the program, visit or call Deacon Tim Sullivan at 734-502-1818.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Two of our friends from Paynesville, Jackie Osterhaus and her husband, Craig Lukow, brought a black bean and corn salad to a party at our house in June. It was fabulous! 

Jackie said she makes it every weekend of the summer and raved about its versatility — it’s good as a salad on its own, as a dip with chips, on cottage cheese or scrambled eggs or in quesadillas or burritos or you-name-it — there’s no limit to the ways to this “salad” can be served. 

I admit I’ve made it nearly every weekend this summer — it’s addicting! I’ve played with the ingredients and measurements every time, perfecting the taste for my husband, Ole, and myself. Jackie, a certified physician assistant and a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, said she does the same thing.

Black Bean and Corn Salad
(Jackie Osterhaus)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans shoepeg corn, rinsed and drained

1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ tsp. cumin

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 medium-sized lime)
½ cup Italian dressing

Mix vegetables together. Sprinkle spices over the top of vegetables and mix in. Then mix lime juice and Italian dressing together, pour over the salad and mix one last time.

A note from Carol: “Halved grape tomatoes were ingredients in the salad Jackie brought to the party. I’ve left them out and added more peppers and the white beans. I like the shoepeg corn in this recipe but “regular” canned corn could be used as well. Of course any of the ingredients or amounts can be changed to suit your own taste. Have fun making the salad your own creation!”

Jackie and Craig’s world changed soon after that party at our house in late June when her teenage daughter Kristyn was involved in a tragic car accident in northern Minnesota July 3rd. She was ejected from a jeep, landed on her head in the grass and snapped her neck, leaving her paralyzed from her chest to her toes. She was transported by ambulance to North Country Hospital in Bemidji and airlifted from there to North Memorial Hospital in the Twin Cities.

Kristyn is currently at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the nation, specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord or brain injury. She plans to return to Paynesville in the next four to six weeks.

Please pray for Kristyn and Jackie, Craig and the rest of their family. And, consider attending a benefit hosted by the City of Paynesville and the Paynesville Lutheran Church from 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Paynesville High School. The event includes a dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, chips, bars and cookies and a silent auction.

The Paynesville Lutheran Church is also hosting a golf scramble fundraiser for Kristyn Sept. 19 at the Koronis Hills Golf Course beginning with a 2 p.m. shotgun start. Supper will be served at 5 p.m. at the church. (Non-golfers are invited to attend the supper.) The event also includes a silent auction. For more information, call the church office at 320-243-3624.

Donations are being accepted at the Paynesville Lutheran Church, 657 Maple St., Paynesville, MN 56362. Please write Kristyn Osterhaus in the memo line of checks and mark donations for the Kristyn Osterhaus Benefit. CJK

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cajun Mashed Potato Salad

The ratio of potatoes to eggs for this unique potato salad is one egg to one potato but it depends on the size of the potatoes, of course. If the potatoes are quite large, consider using one or two more eggs. 

Cajun Mashed Potato Salad
(Roy and June Bergeron)

Yellow mustard
Dijon mustard, optional
Cajun seasoning*

Peel and cube potatoes. Heat water to boiling in a large saucepan and add potatoes. Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain and cool them.

Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. Add cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Over high heat, bring them to a boil and then remove the pan from the burner. Cover the pan. If the eggs are large, let them stand in the hot water about 15 minutes (12 minutes for medium eggs; 18 minutes for extra large). Drain immediately or cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water. Peel eggs when cool.

When the potatoes and eggs are cool, mash them together until smooth.

Spoon mayonnaise and mustard/s (to taste) into the potatoes and eggs. Sprinkle with the Cajun seasoning and mix it into the mixture. (This is all done to taste.) Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*A note from June and Roy: “Konriko Creole Seasoning is our top choice for this recipe. If you can’t find it, we recommend Louisiana Fish Fry Cajun Seasoning — it comes in as a close second.”

Roy and June Bergeron of Gonzales, La., members of Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant, La., in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, share this uniquely Cajun recipe. June is originally from Illinois but moved to Louisiana when she and Roy, born a Cajun, were married. Her mother-in-law taught her to cook Cajun and this recipe is one of those she learned early in her marriage.

June says she’s never has gone back to making vegetable potato salad with chunks of potatoes, onions and celery (as most of us know it.) The Bergerons recommend this potato salad with a side dish of gumbo — a spoonful of gumbo followed by a spoonful of potato salad — well, you get the point.

Roy and June are active with the Baton Rouge Red Cross. When disasters strike in that locale, they open and manage the Red Cross shelters. CJK

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Up North French Potato Salad

A few years back Liz Senseman, a native of New Zealand living in St. Cloud, shared this special family recipe with her neighbor Rosie Imgrund. The Sensemans have since moved out of state but Rosie still enjoys making the potato salad and fondly recalls their times together. “She and John and their girls were wonderful neighbors,” Rosie said. “Liz was a master gardener and her yard was filled with flower gardens. The yard was beautiful as was her personality. She had an infectious laugh and was such a warm and generous person.”

Up North French Potato Salad
(Rosie Imgrund)

16 oz. bacon
3 lb. small new red potatoes (unpeeled)
1 lb. fresh green beans

1/2 cup olive or salad oil
1/4 cup white or tarragon vinegar
1/4 cup canned beef consommé
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. tarragon pepper*

Cut bacon into 1 to 2-inch pieces, fry and drain.

Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Heat water to boiling in a large saucepan and add potatoes. Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain.

Trim beans and cook in boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Mix the dressing ingredients. 

Combine the beans and potatoes and pour the dressing over the warm vegetables. Add the bacon and gently toss the salad. Serve warm, within 1 to 2 hours after preparing.

A note from Rosie: *“I haven’t found the tarragon pepper in this area and so I use fresh tarragon or dried tarragon flakes and just a tiny bit of pepper. This recipe makes a large amount. It’s easy to divide in half — and you will still have quite a bit.”

Rosie and Pat Imgrund, members of Holy Spirit Church in St. Cloud, are very involved with their parish. Both are eucharistic ministers there and Rosie volunteers as a communion minister at the St. Cloud Hospital. She also cantors and sings in the adult and funeral choirs at Holy Spirit. For the past year she has been studying to be an oblate at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph. She will make her final commitment in September. Pat, who is retired from the St. Cloud Fire Department, is active with the Knights of Columbus, Council 961.

 The Imgrunds share an interest in cooking, reading, hiking and golfing. “We’re great friends so we do a lot together,” Rosie said. “We hiked the Grand Canyon two years ago with a couple of our neighbor friends. It took us a full day to get down, we stayed two nights at the bottom and hiked out after that. Pat hikes in Superior National Forest every fall with a friend of his.”

The couple enjoys cooking together also. Rosie has a sizeable collection of church cookbooks. “They are the best,” she said. CJK