Monday, July 30, 2012

I can hardly wait…

One of the most delightful things about a garden is 
the anticipation it provides.

— W.E. Johns

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weeding made easy

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. 

— Author Unknown

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Citrus Spinach Salad with Mazatlan Lime Dressing

Imagine a fresh spinach salad created with colorful rings of red onion; crunchy water chestnuts and sweet, juicy orange sections balanced with the brisk, tart flavor of lime in the dressing. Franciscan Sister Mary Amy Schreiner’s Citrus Spinach Salad with Mazatlan Lime Salad Dressing reminds me of a little “fiesta in your mouth.”

Sister Mary Amy didn’t like spinach when she was growing up but her taste buds changed over time. When she discovered this inviting recipe in “Cooking á la Heart” she was delighted that the combination was not only healthy but also delicious. It’s the one she shared for the “Franciscan Heritage Recipes” cookbook that her community published in 2000. (I disfrute — Enjoy!) CJK

Citrus Spinach Salad with Mazatlan Lime Dressing
(Franciscan Sister Mary Amy Schreiner)

Mazatlan Lime Salad Dressing
1/4 cup vegetable oil*
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp. lime zest
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (optional)

Combine ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Yields 2/3 cup.)

Citrus Spinach Salad
5 cups fresh spinach (remove big veins of large leaves)
1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned**
1/2 large red onion, sliced and separated into rings
1/2 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/3 cup Mazatlan Lime Salad Dressing

In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

A note from Sister Mary Amy: *I like to use pure olive oil instead of vegetable oil for the salad dressing but tend to use less than 1/4 cup. **A 15 oz. can of mandarin oranges (drained) may be substituted for the fresh oranges.

A note from Carol: Franciscan Sister Mary Amy (Mary Katherine) Schreiner, 91, is well known as an elementary teacher in the St. Cloud Diocese. She taught for nearly 30 years at schools in Morris, Waite Park, Fergus Falls, Elk River and St. Cloud as well as for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana. 

She moved into parish work and hospital chaplaincy after receiving additional educational degrees and later still, began a ministry with Hispanics in Texas and Arizona. On August 12 she will mark 71 years as a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls. 

The “Franciscan Heritage Recipes” cookbook is a collection of favorite family recipes and inspirational quotes from the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minn. They are selling copies of their cookbook for $3, plus shipping and handling, if they are mailed. The books can be purchased through the Franciscan Gift Shop by calling 320-632-0601 or by emailing Other recipes from this cookbook that are featured on FFF include Aunt Sally’s Christmas Cookies and Homemade Sauerkraut.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Italian Pepperoni Salad

“This spicy salad goes over big with the younger crowd,” Diane Jacobson said, “because its ingredients bring to mind the flavors of pepperoni pizza.”

She’s been making this attractive, zippy salad for almost 10 years since one of her daughters, Tessa, brought the recipe home from a Family and Consumer Science class at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School. 

Last year Diane shared the recipe in Brooten’s parish centennial cookbook, “Fruit of the Spirit.”

What a perfectly delicious idea — “pizza toppings” served up with crunchy, fresh, nutritious greens! CJK

Italian Pepperoni Salad
(Diane Jacobson)

2 small tomatoes
1/2 cup Italian dressing, divided
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups cubed cheese
1 (5-7 oz.) bag pepperoni slices
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 head iceberg lettuce or 2 heads romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces*

Dice tomatoes and place in large bowl and add 1/4 cup Italian dressing and basil. Let set for five minutes. Add green pepper, cheese, pepperoni, black olives, Parmesan cheese and lettuce greens. Mix well. Add 1/4 cup more Italian dressing right before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

A note from Diane: This recipe is so versatile. It calls for green pepper but you could use any color pepper. I usually use cubed sharp cheddar cheese but have made it with shredded cheese as well — any kind would be good. Cucumbers would be delicious in it. I’ve tried the salad with various kinds of lettuce including iceberg, romaine and garden varieties as well as with spinach. In a pinch, I’ve also used around one and a half bags of prepared lettuce.

A note from Carol: Diane Jacobson, a co-owner of the Brooten Home Bakery, and her husband, Scott, have been members of St. Donatus Parish in Brooten for more than 30 years. They are parents of five adult children and grandparents to 10 — ranging in age from 10 years to two weeks.

Tessa and her husband, Eric Schoenberg, and their sons, Lane (two-weeks) and Hayden (5) are members of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Belgrade.

Contact the parish office at or 320-346-2431 to order copies of “Fruit of the Spirit” — $10 each plus $5 for shipping.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Miracles 101

“Why try to 
explain miracles 
to your kids 
when you can 
just have them 
plant a garden?”

— Robert Brault

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thai Cucumber Salad

“Perky and refreshing” aptly describes this easy Thai-inspired salad that pairs perfectly with other Asian-style foods. It’s a recipe that my friend, Sheila Ballweg-Pulju, has prepared again and again since she discovered it online a couple of years ago. Her family loves the dressing — she’s found that it complements other vegetable salads equally well. She’s also experimented by adding shredded carrots, finely chopped cabbage or diced celery to the cucumbers, peppers and green onions. Sheila suggests turning it into a main course with the addition of cooked, peeled jumbo shrimp. Enjoy! CJK

Thai Cucumber Salad
(Sheila Ballweg-Pulju)

1 English cucumber, peeled or unpeeled
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro, lightly chopped
1/2 cup basil, lightly chopped
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, lightly chopped or left whole

Juice of one lime
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. Hot and Sour Tom Yum Paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. chili sauce (or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper)*
1 to 2 tsp. sugar (or more, if desired)

Cut cucumber in half lengthwise; continue slicing those pieces lengthwise, making eight long strips. Then slice the strips the other way to create bite-sized rectangular chunks. Place in a salad bowl. Add the red pepper, green onions, fresh herbs and peanuts to the bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a measuring cup, stirring to mix. Taste for a sweet-sour balance, adding more sugar if desired. (The dressing may seem salty and pungent at this point, but it will be just right when it is combined with the salad.)

To serve, transfer the salad to a serving platter or bowl. Right before serving, add the dressing and toss. Top it with more chopped cilantro, basil and peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings

A note from Sheila: Be careful with the amount of *chili sauce or cayenne pepper that you add — you don’t want the dressing to be too hot.

It’s important to add the dressing at the last minute — right before serving the salad. I’ve learned that the longer it sits with the dressing on it, the more liquid (released from the cucumbers) gathers on the bottom of the salad bowl.

This Asian-style dressing is good on any vegetable salad combination. Recently, I lightly cooked green beans and added sliced colored bell peppers, red onion, and small pieces of cauliflower and roasted pine nuts to them. It was absolutely delicious mixed with the dressing! (Slivered almonds would also be tasty in place of the pine nuts.) I doubled the amount of dressing for this creation and added it to the veggies right away, as it didn’t have the “water content issues” created by the cucumber.

A note from Carol: Fish sauce is one of the most common ingredients used in Thai cooking. This kitchen staple in numerous Asian cultures is a dark caramel-colored liquid extracted from the fermentation of fish with sea salt. In Thailand it goes by the name nam pla and is known as nuoc mam in Vietnam, it’s shottsuru in Japan, yu lu in China and prahoc in Cambodia. There is no real substitute for it — the flavor it imparts to a dish is truly distinct. It’s easy to find in the Asian food section of most supermarkets.

Hot and sour tom yum paste, available in Asian food stores, is a Thai spice paste that is essential in traditional hot-and-sour soups. It’s a mixture of herbs and spices that are crushed and stir-fried in oil before being preserved. Lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, garlic, chilies, galangal and shallots are typical ingredients.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Salads R Us

It’s hot! It’s humid! Let’s eat salad!

Whether served as a side or an entrée, I consider salads the mainstay of most meals this sultry season of the year.

Over the next few weeks “Food, Faith and Fellowship” will feature a number of enticing salad recipes that I’m sure you will enjoy. (And, in between, I hope the gardening insights add a moment of mirth to your day.)

So, plan to “visit” often and, if you haven’t already done so, consider signing up by email to receive new posts. CJK

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A gentle tug-of-war

“I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had 
with Nature over my perennial border. I think it 
is flower garden; she thinks it is meadow 
lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.”

                                                                                                             — Sara Stein

Monday, July 16, 2012


“I have never had 
so many good ideas 
day after day as 
when I worked in 
the garden.”

     — John Erskine

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Time to recharge

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.”

— Lindley Karstens

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mother Nature’s magic

“In every gardener 
there is a child 
who believes in 
The Seed Fairy.”

— Robert Brault

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Creating bread and friendships from ripe bananas

The simple act of sharing food can be powerful. A little of ourselves is entwined within each morsel that we give to others — demonstrating not only that we care about them but that we seek a level of synergy when we partake of the same fare.

When Emily (Lidbeck) Harrington, a young missionary, recently shared loaves of banana bread with a neighbor, visitors and an elderly street vendor in the Peruvian village she and her husband live in, she not only broadened their perspectives but also her own. With the three loaves she created, she forged new friendships, fostered goodwill and launched an unanticipated series of baking workshops that she will offer to the community.

She reminisces about the unforeseen outcome of her amiable generosity in a blog post titled “A Bunch of Bananas: An Unexpected Bridge to Friendship, Fun, and Ministry.” It’s a delightfully sweet story that I think you will enjoy reading. Additionally, she sends out a request for other recipes that she might prepare with the women and children in her neighborhood.

Emily and Rafael Harrington
Graduates of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Emily and Rafael Harrington, who were married in 2010, are missionaries in the community of El Porvenir, Trujillo, Peru, with the Camboni Lay Missionary Program. They arrived there earlier this year, planning to serve for three years. They occasionally chronicle their experiences in a blog called “True to Trujillo.”

In Peru, Emily works in the social work/psychology department at a small school for children and teens with disabilities as well as teaching baking classes for all age groups in the community and parents of the children at the school. Rafael teaches physical education classes at the school and English at another parish school in the area and has organized a soccer team for youth. The Harringtons also work in collaboration with local Peruvian lay missionaries to provide tutoring and activities for children in the community.

Prior to leaving for the mission, Emily, a native of Bird Island, Minnesota, had been working as a bilingual family advocate for Casa de Esperanza, a domestic violence organization in the Twin Cities. Rafael, originally from Venezuela, was working for Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota as a financial resources counselor. He previously volunteered at the Farm of the Child, an orphanage in Honduras, for two years.

Emily (middle) poses with members of a recent baking class.
“For us each moment is an opportunity to not only be witnesses to but also experience and accept God’s love in the people of El Porvenir,” Emily told Food, Faith and Fellowship. “We are both teachers and students of the people, sharing in life with them, accompanying and empowering one another. We are not giving up our lives or putting them on hold but rather receiving richly, as we serve and share of ourselves here.”

Banana bread — pastel de plátano — a comfort food bursting with the sweet flavor of an ambrosial fruit. The banana, botanically known as “Musa sapientum” which means “fruit of the wise men,” has lived up to it’s name in Trujillo — gently uniting a community of curious cooks and friendly folks with two gifted missioners from Minnesota. CJK

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What makes the difference?

“The difference between 
ordinary and extraordinary 
is that little extra.”

— Jimmy Johnson

Monday, July 2, 2012

Crunchy Pea Salad

Vera Barrows’ Crunchy Pea Salad would be terrific at your Fourth of July picnic outing this Wednesday. But don’t stop there — once you try it, you’ll likely add the recipe to your salad “standbys.” I prepared it for guests last weekend and it was a hit!

I used fresh dill, which always make a dish “sparkle” but Vera mentioned that she usually uses dried dill weed because she has it on hand. She’s been making it for years and years and says that everyone seems to love it. I do! It’s refreshing, nutritious and colorful. I think you’ll like it, too. CJK

Crunchy Pea Salad
(Vera Barrows)

1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen peas, thawed
1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
1/2 cup diced sweet yellow pepper
1/3 cup diced red onion

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

In large serving bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Mix dressing ingredients in small bowl, pour over vegetables and toss gently to coat.

Yield: 8 servings

A note from Vera: I find that I’m usually making this salad at the last moment so I’ve got a tip for thawing out frozen peas quickly. I bring a pan of water to a boil and drop the peas into the boiling water. I immediately turn off the heat and let them sit for three to five minutes. Then I drain them and plunge them into ice water. They taste just like fresh peas.

A note from Carol: Vera and her husband, Dave, have been members of St. Mary Parish since they moved to Mora in 1976. They are parents of an adult son and daughter and have two grandsons, a 3-year-old and an infant.

Vera’s Crunchy Pea Salad recipe is one of more than 200 recipes in the St. Mary’s “Loaves & Fishes and Other Great Dishes!” cookbook. Call the parish office at 320-679-1593 to order a copy of the book for $10 plus shipping and handling.

Other salad recipes you may wish to consider for your Fourth of July meals are: Jackie Osterhaus’ Black Bean and Corn Salad, Julie Tschida’s Creamy Cucumbers, Nikki Rajala’s Watermelon Tomato Salad, Kathy Chlebecek’s Mediterranean Watermelon Salad or a longtime favorite at our house, Broccoli and Cauliflower Italian Salad.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Layered Cabbage Salad

Yesterday I mentioned that potato salad is generally on the “must-have” list for many of us at picnic-type outings this time of year. Coleslaw is frequently part of that traditional lineup as well. With the addition of a number of crisp, fresh veggies and bacon, Marian Stark’s Layered Cabbage Salad puts a new slant on the conventional shredded cabbage and dressing version.

This recipe is especially precious to Marian as she first tasted it several years ago when her sister, Pat Boggs, brought it to a family event. Pat has since passed away but Marian and her siblings and other family members continue to enjoy it often when they gather together. CJK

Layered Cabbage Salad
(Marian Stark)

3 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups cauliflower
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup sliced radishes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup ripe olives, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

8 oz. bacon, diced and fried crisp

Layer the vegetables in a large serving bowl.

Mix dressing ingredients together and spread over the top of the vegetables. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for several hours or overnight. Before serving, stir the dressing mixture into the vegetables. Taste and add more salt or pepper, if needed. Top with the crisply fried bacon pieces.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings

A note from Marian: This salad is especially easy to make for gatherings because it’s prepared the day before serving.

A note from Carol: Marian has been a member of St. Mary’s in Mora for 80 years. She’s served in almost every capacity possible in the parish including being an original member of the Mission Circle Group, which has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. She’s been married to her husband, Ronald, for 62 years. The Starks have five children, 11 grandchildren and seven “greats.”

The late Patricia Boggs was a lifelong member of St. Mary’s also.

Marian shared the Layered Cabbage Salad recipe in the parish’s “Loaves & Fishes and Other Great Dishes!” cookbook. Call the parish office at 320-679-1593 to order a copy of the book for $10 plus shipping and handling.