Sunday, September 30, 2012

In love with fall…

I love fall! Fall is exciting.

It’s apples and cider.

It’s an airborne spider.

It’s pumpkins in bins.

It’s burrs on dog’s chins.

It’s wind blowing leaves.

It’s chilly red knees.

It’s nuts on the ground.

It’s a crisp dry sound.

It’s green leaves turning

And the smell of them burning.

It’s clouds in the sky.

It’s fall. That’s why...

I love fall.
— Author Unknown

Friday, September 28, 2012

Canadian Bars

Today is National Good Neighbor Day.

It’s a day set aside to recognize and appreciate our good neighbors and to be one our selves. There are infinite ideas for celebrating this meaningful day — ranging from simply smiling and greeting our neighbors to organizing a block party for the whole neighborhood.

Simple or grandiose, it’s a time to get to know our neighbors a little better, perhaps to have them over for a meal or help them out in a special way. Wait — shouldn’t every day be a “good neighbor day”?

Contemplating this occasion prompted me to take the concept to a larger scale including our nation’s great neighbor — Canada. I fondly remember the Canadian Bars my mom used to make when we were growing up. From their rich, buttery, chocolate crust full of coconut and walnuts to an exquisite custard buttercream filling crowned by more chocolate, they are what confection dreams are made of.

In researching I learned their true name is Nanaimo Bars. What a fantastic “gift” from our neighbors to the north! CJK

Canadian Bars
(Carol Jessen-Klixbull)

1/2 cup butter, melted
5 tbsp. sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
(Photo by Nikki Rajala)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sweetened coconut (flaked or shredded)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

4 tbsp. butter, softened
3 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp. butter

Crust: Mix together melted butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg. Add crumbs, coconut and nuts. Place in 9-inch square pan and pack firmly.

Filling: In a separate bowl, blend butter, milk, pudding mix and powdered sugar. Spread over first layer. Cool at least 1 hour in refrigerator.

Topping: Microwave chocolate chips and butter uncovered in a small bowl (on medium-high power) for 30 seconds. Stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 10 to 15 seconds. Stir. (Or melt chocolate and butter in double boiler over hot, not boiling, water.)

Spread topping over filling, refrigerate until set (about 10 minutes). Score bars into 18 pieces. Return to refrigerator until chocolate is set (about 30 to 45 minutes). Cut into squares.

Yield: 18-25 bars

*A note from Carol: I deviated from the original recipe recently when I made these bars and used prepared Creamy Supreme Chocolate Fudge frosting for the topping instead of melting the chocolate and butter together. (Scrumptious!)

Also, this particular recipe contains a raw egg, which people in at-risk groups should avoid eating. In my research I’ve seen many other recipes for these distinctive bars including a couple in which the crust ingredients are cooked in a saucepan or double boiler and another where the crust is baked in the oven.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

You are a powerful role model

Your children will become what you are; 
so be what you want them to be.
— David Bly

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eating dinner together does make a difference

Today is Family Day — a time to remind parents that eating dinner together makes a difference. 

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Colombia University in New York launched Family Day in 2001 after its research consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.

The CASA website offers numerous resources for parents as well as engaging activities to draw families together. Parents are encouraged to take the Family Day Pledge to reinforce their commitment to the well being of their families. CJK

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gratitude is a gift

“Feeling gratitude and 
not expressing it is like wrapping a present and 
not giving it.”
William Arthur Ward

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy World Gratitude Day!

“Some people grumble 
that roses have thorns; 
I am grateful that thorns 
have roses.”
Alphonse Karr

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you’?”
William Arthur Ward

 “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The United Nations Meditation Group created World Gratitude Day to express appreciation for the great things that individuals and groups do. On this day, the group presents an award for outstanding deeds in the spirit of globalism. They encourage everyone to show gratitude and appreciation to the people they know who have done good things and further suggest that each of us find something to be grateful for in our own lives.

I’m sure you agree that one day a year is merely a beginning! Let’s start now to make “gratitude” our daily “attitude.” CJK

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Light Lemon Salad

Celebrating Jubilarians 2012

Poor Clare Sister Mary Gabriel Metzger
50 years as a Franciscan Poor Clare Nun
St. Clare’s Monastery, Sauk Rapids

This is the sixth and last in an occasional series of recipes shared by jubilarians in the St. Cloud Diocese. A jubilee marks the special anniversary of one’s religious profession.

On the October 25 menu for a dinner honoring Poor Clare Sister Mary Gabriel Metzger’s 50th jubilee is a light lemon salad that is a favorite of the sisters as well as priests and other guests who have sampled it on special occasions at the monastery.

“For my jubilee I get to choose the menu,” Sister Mary Gabriel explained. “I’ve been thinking about it and the Lord laid it on my heart to have this salad.”

It does sound tasty — a blend of slight tartness and generous sweetness that nearly melts in your mouth. Best wishes for your special day, Sister Mary Gabriel! CJK

Light Lemon Salad
(Poor Clare Sister Mary Gabriel Metzger)

2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant lemon pudding
4 cups cold milk

1 (16 oz.) container Cool Whip®*
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 (15.25 oz.) can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 (12 oz.) container cottage cheese (optional)

Prepare pudding with milk as directed on the package. Gently fold prepared pudding and all the rest of the ingredients together. Chill and serve.

Yield: 12 servings

Cook’s Notes: *One pint of whipping cream (whipped) would equal 16 oz. of Cool Whip®.

A note from Carol: Poor Clare Sister Mary Gabriel Metzger is an extern with her community. When she made her final vows 50 years ago she took the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity but not the vow of enclosure that the cloistered Poor Clare Sisters take.

As an extern she takes care of the external duties of the monastery. She is the sacristan of the chapel, serves breakfast to the chaplain and Mass server who come each morning, takes care of overnight guests, is a part-time portress assisting with the phone and door duty, accompanies sisters to the doctor and runs errands for the monastery.

An extern is granted permission to visit her family for various reasons, such as impending death, a funeral or to celebrate a 25th or 50th jubilee. Sister Mary Gabriel recently returned from a 12-day visit back to the New Munich, Minnesota, area where she is originally from. She is the fourth of Ray and Eleanore (Kulzer) Metzger’s six children. Her homecoming was combined with a large Kulzer family reunion at her cousin Tony and his wife, Barbara, Welle’s farm near New Munich.

Sister Mary Gabriel will be honored with a special Mass celebrated with her community October 25 — the day that she and the late Sister Mary Clare Kellsen took their first vows together 53 years ago.

Other jubilarians featured in this occasional series, which began last April, include Franciscan Sister Mary Joel Bieniek with the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls’ homemade sauerkraut recipe, Poor Clare Mother Mary Matthew Tomsyck and her monastery’s zucchini casserole recipe, Benedictine Sister Ingrid Anderson dishing on her anchovy sauce for pasta, Franciscan Sister Mary Pat Zangs sharing her secrets for Italian meatballs and Benedictine Sister Herman Tschida recalling Concord grape pie.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Optimists have more fun!

“Nunca es tarde cuando la dicha es buena.”
— Mexican folk saying

(“It’s never too late for joy.”)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

South of the Border Dip

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day. The history I share here is taken directly from the Presidio La Bahia website. I found it interesting to learn about Father Miguel Hidalgo and this important time in the history of Mexico...

In the early 19th century, Mexico, with a little influence from the U.S. and France, began talking about a revolt against Spain. Father Miguel Hidalgo from Dolores, Mexico, was a leader of one of the rallying groups. Father Hidalgo and his officers were planning a revolt for late fall of 1810. The Spanish people found out about the revolt, which led the Spanish government to order the arrest of Father Hidalgo and his officers.

When Father Hidalgo found out, he called a meeting at his church. He rang the church bell on the night of September 15, 1810, to call his congregation to Mass. Here Father Hidalgo rallied the people to fight. He gave the speech that is now known as “Grito de Delores,” saying “Viva Mexico” and “Viva la independencia!” These famous words have been remembered and are said each year at the Independence Day celebrations.

Everyone fought together, including the Criollos (wealthy Mexicans of Spanish descent), Mestizos (children born from the marriage of a Spaniard and an Indian), and Indians. Armed with clubs, knives, stone slings and ancient guns, they fought as they marched to Mexico City. A battle took place in Guanajuato between the Spanish soldiers and Father Hidalgo’s followers. The army sacked the town, killing the Spaniards. They continued to fight on their way to the capital. When they finally reached Mexico City, the army hesitated before going in to fight and some of them even disserted the army.

Before the year was over, Father Hidalgo was captured and executed. Some people continued to fight for the cause and Father Hidalgo’s Grito de Delores (Cry of Delores) became the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence. The people fought for 11 years before they finally won their freedom.

Today Mexican Independence Day is a major celebration in Mexico and is bigger than Cinco de Mayo. The actual day of September 16 is similar to July Fourth in the U.S. There are rodeos, parades, bullfights, horseback rider performances and grand feasts.

This South of the Border chip dip would likely fit right in with the foods served at many of the Mexican fiestas today. (I disfrute — Enjoy!) CJK

South of the Border Dip
(Carol Jessen-Klixbull)

2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can Mexican-style diced tomatoes (with jalapeño peppers and spices), drained
(Photo by Nikki Rajala)
1 red (or yellow or orange) pepper, diced
1 small bunch cilanatro, finely chopped
6 to 8 green onions, thinly sliced
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced*
1 (3.8 oz) can sliced black olives
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 cup (or 2) sour cream*

Tortilla chips

Mix all vegetables and chopped cilantro together. Pour the lime juice over this mixture. Blend garlic powder and spices into sour cream. Combine sour cream mixture with veggies and chill for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 24 servings

*A note from Carol: This combination has a bit of a kick to it — not overly hot but a pleasing bit of heat lingers on your tongue. Cut back on the heat by using only one jalapeño pepper and less cayenne pepper. If you like a hot and spicy combination, but don’t want to cut up the jalapeños, you could substitute a can (4 oz.) of diced jalapeños for the fresh ones. (Or add half the can to the dip and serve the rest of the jalapeños on the side for those who really like to “kick it up.”) If you prefer a mild sauce, consider substituting a (4 oz.) can or two of mild diced green chilies for the jalapeños.

One cup of sour cream is enough but using two (as shown in the photo) stretches the dip further for additional servings and the extra sour cream keeps the dip on the cooler, milder side.

This dip is also great as a “salad” on top of cottage cheese — with a few crushed chips on top. Serve it alongside scrambled eggs for breakfast or take it a little further to create your own unique huevos rancheros. It’s great in wraps, tacos, tostadas or as part of a fajita ensemble. You guessed it — the possibilities are endless…

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Feisty and fiery

Ahora es cuando, chile verde, 
le has de dar sabor al caldo.
— Mexican folk saying

(“Time has come, green chili, to give your flavor to the broth.”)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Concord Grape Pie

Celebrating Jubilarians 2012

Benedictine Sister Herman Tschida
60 years as a Benedictine Sister
St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph

This is the fifth in an occasional series of recipes shared by jubilarians in the St. Cloud Diocese. A jubilee marks the special anniversary of one’s religious profession.

Many varieties of grapes have already been harvested in our area over the last few weeks and the tart Concords will be ready for picking within days. Most of those purple, highly aromatic grapes will be made into jelly, juice or Communion wine. But a few of them will be baked into pies. Concords are a slip-skin variety — their skin is easily separated from the fruit — and they have fairly large seeds, making them a good choice for a pastry filling.

Benedictine Sister Herman Tschida still remembers the Sister of Charity from Leavenworth, Kansas, who gave this unique recipe to her more than 50 years ago. At that time, Sister Herman was the young cook for the other 10 sisters from her community that operated St. Paul’s School in Anaconda, Montana.

“It was an unusual recipe,” Sister Herman recalls. “I’d never heard about it before then and have never seen another one like it. It takes time to make but it’s very good. It’s different than a pie made of berries — it tastes just like a grape — the flavor is rich and concentrated.”

You know the old saying — It’s easy as pie. CJK

Concord Grape Pie
(Benedictine Sister Herman Tschida)

5 1/3 cups Concord grapes
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 tbsp. flour
1 1/3 tsp. lemon juice
Dash of salt
Double piecrust
1 1/3 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wash grapes and separate the skins from the pulp by squeezing the end of each grape opposite of the stem. Save the skins.

Put the pulp into a saucepan (without water) and bring to a rolling boil. While hot, run the pulp through a strainer to remove the seeds and then blend with the grape skins.

Mix sugar and flour together and add to the grape mixture. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt.  Pour grape mixture into pastry lined pan and dot with butter. Cover with second pastry shell. Finish edges and cut small slits into the top crust for steam to escape.

Bake at 425°F for 35 to 45 minutes (until crust is nicely browned and juice begins to bubble through slits in top crust.) Serve the pie cool or slightly warm, not hot.

A note from Sister Herman: I have friends that wait for my fudge, peanut butter balls and haystacks. And, I do bake cookies occasionally around Christmastime or for someone’s birthday. I also love to make raisin pie.

A note from Carol: Sister Herman (Stella) Tschida grew up on a farm north of Freeport, Minnesota. Her family belonged to St. Rose of Lima Parish in nearby St. Rosa. The fourth of Herman and Mary Tschida’s six children, she began working in the St. Benedict’s Monastery kitchen after completing eighth grade and has spent most of her life cooking for the sisters of her community — at the convent in St. Joseph; the hospital the sisters founded in Ogden, Utah; the community’s school in Anaconda, Montana; St. Raphael’s Convent in St. Cloud and small parishes in a number of locations. 

Sister Herman originally shared this recipe in “Saint Benedict’s Monastery Cookbook, Volume I.” The 120-page cookbook features 300 favorite recipes from 90 sisters in the community. It is available for $8.95.

It is one of four cookbooks the Benedictine Sisters have published. Others include: “Saint Benedict’s Monastery Cookbook, Volume II,” “From the Monastery Kitchens — The Sesquicentennial Recipe Collection” and “The Art of Chinese Cooking.”

To purchase any of these cookbooks, stop by the Whitby Gift Shop and Gallery at the monastery in St. Joseph, the bookstores at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph and St. John’s University in Collegeville or the St. Scholastica Convent gift shop in St. Cloud.  It’s possible to order online as well.

Others featured in this series include Franciscan Sister Mary Joel Bieniek with the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls’ homemade sauerkraut recipe, Poor Clare Mother Mary Matthew Tomsyck and her monastery’s zucchini casserole recipe, Benedictine Sister Ingrid Anderson sharing her anchovy sauce for pasta and Franciscan Sister Mary Pat Zangs’ Italian meatballs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vinegar or fine wine?

“Men are like wine — 
some turn to vinegar, 
but the best improve with age.”
— Pope John XXIII

Sunday, September 9, 2012

God replenishes…

“If God gives you a cup of wine and an evil-minded person kicks it over, He fills it up for you again.”

African proverb (Ghana)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Embraced by the sun

The sun, with all those
 planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.

— Galileo Galilei

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Knowledge vs. wisdom

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. 
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

— Unknown

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Over the Top Rice Krispie Bars

Kids of all ages — including me — love Rice Krispie bars! To be honest, there’s nothing that needs to be changed in the original recipe of this three-ingredient comfort food we know from our childhood.

That being said, this rich and decadent version takes the simple treat to a whole new level! They should be served with a warning label — highly addictive — it’s hard to stop at one. My suggestion is to cut these bars very small… CJK

Over the Top Rice Krispie Bars
(Susan Twardowski)

8 cups Rice Krispies®
1 pkg. (14 oz.) caramels
1 cup butter, divided
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 pkg. (10.5 oz.) miniature marshmallows, divided

Butter or spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with no-stick spray. Measure 8 cups Rice Krispies into large bowl.

Unwrap caramels and place in medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup butter and sweetened condensed milk.

Place 1/2 cup butter, peanut butter and 1 package of marshmallows in large saucepan.

Over low heat, cook mixtures in both saucepans at the same time, stirring frequently — until both mixtures are just barely melted and combined. Quickly blend the cereal into the marshmallow mixture and gently spread half of the combination into the prepared pan. (Wet your hands or a large spoon with cold water to make spreading it easier.)

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 package of marshmallows over the Rice Krispie layer. Pour hot caramel mixture over marshmallows. Immediately top with remaining cereal mixture — and quickly (but gently) press down over the caramel layer. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate bars to keep the layers from becoming overly soft.

Yield: 20-60 bars

A note from Susan: I used to take these bars to every potluck we went to. They were a hit every time!

A note from Carol: Do your Rice Krispie bars sometimes turn out dry and brittle? Over time, I’ve discovered a few tips that make consistently good bars. Start with fresh, soft marshmallows — don’t be tempted to use older ones from your pantry that have lost some of their moisture. Melt the marshmallows and butter together over low heat, stirring often. Don’t overcook this mixture. I stop cooking it when I can still see a few bits of unmelted marshmallows. (By the time you add the cereal these disappear.) And, I don’t push down hard on the cereal mixture when I press it into the pan — gentle pressure does the trick.

Susan Twardowski, and her late husband Roger, have been longtime members of Christ the King Parish in Browerville. She shared this recipe (under the name Deluxe Rice Krispies) in the Christ the King Family Recipes Cookbook published by Christ the King School.

FFF has featured two other recipes from that book — Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Chili and Potluck Peanut Butter Oat Bars. Copies may be purchased for $12 each (plus postage and handling) from the school. Contact Roxanne Determan, school secretary/bookkeeper, at 320-594-6114 or to buy one.

(Photos by Nikki Rajala)