Saturday, April 30, 2016

Overwhelming Memories

gripped my heart
a choke on my throat
a knot in my stomach.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Bird Chirps

The bird chirps
ushering a new dawn
a new day
a new beginning.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Like a Balm

Like a balm
the music
my headache
and complaining

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Through the Cracks

I attended a prayer meeting this morning and one member mentioned about her living with her shortcomings.  We all go the same thought as we reflect on how our day went and usually these shortcomings or faults get our spirits down and leave us "unwhole" or broken.  As the poster says however we need to remind ourselves that  "our faults are the crack that lets grace in". 

We are the harshest judge of ourselves sometimes, harsher than we treat others.  However, Jesus calls to heal our brokenness with compassion and not severe condemnation.  We need to love our whole self including the faults we have.  As Richard Rohr reminded the readers of his daily meditation from which this quote came from, Jesus "told us to let the weeds and the wheat grown together until the harvest, lest we destroy the wheat by trying to pull the weeds" (Matthew 13:24-30).  Rohr further reminds us to preserve what Thomas Merton refers to as our "hidden wholeness".  

Sweet Spicy Wasabi Popcorn

I brought this to a prayer meeting this morning and everyone loved it to my surprise since it is spicy.  The addition of brown sugar however balances off the heat of the wasabi and the result is this delightful sweet and spicy popcorn.  Delicious and unique.  Serve it for your next movie night.

I used two references, Kitchen Confidante and World of Wasabi.  I used the first reference for an idea of the sugar to wasabi ratio.  I increased the amount of brown sugar called for in Kitchen Confidante and it resulted in a better tasting popcorn.  I used the latter reference for the technique of working with wasabi paste in making the popcorn.  The Kitchen Confidante added wasabi powder to the popcorn while the World of Wasabi made a paste out of the powder by adding water.  In my case, I used wasabi paste straight from a tube I bought at the Asian store.

Sweet Spicy Wasabi Popcorn

  • 8 cups popped popcorn, warm
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste
  • 2 tbsp buttery spread (I used Earth Balance) or butter,  melted

In a small bowl mix the sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and wasabi paste.

Combine the spice sugar mixture with the melted buttery spread.

Place the warm popped popcorn in a large bowl. Drizzle the spice sugar buttery spread mixture over the popcorn and stir to distribute it over the popcorn.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Indian Quinoa or Super Grains Mix Pudding

I prepared Alton Brown's Indian Rice Pudding about two or three years ago and I never forgot how good it was.  I had a bag of Super Grains Mix which is a blend of buckwheat, millet, red quinoa and white quinoa.  I have about 4 cups cooked ones made which I have been eaten with my plant based food like Plant Based Filipino Sinigang etc. and I have plenty still left.

That rice pudding was haunting me with its goodness and I decided to resurrect it using the cooked Super Grains Mix.  I did tweak Alton Brown's recipe for the rice pudding skipping the cream.  I decided to add cinnamon to the mixture while cooking and sprinkled the cardamon on the cooked dish before eating.  The cardamon's taste is more intense this way rather than added to the mixture while cooking.

This delicious can be eaten without the garnish I used in the pictures like mint and berries which was used mainly for a dash of color.  The raisins and nuts (I used walnut but pistachio is more traditional) plus the sprinkling of cardamon will take you to Taj Mahal or bollywood.  Yes.


Indian Quinoa or Super Grains Mix Pudding

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or cooked super grains mix (buckwheat, millet, red and white quinoa) (Note 1)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk full fat from can
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • cardamon (optional) (note 2)
Combine cooked quinoa or cooked super grain mix, almond milk, coconut milk, cinnamon and maple syrup in a saute pan. Mix with a whisk.  Allow to boil and then simmer till thick with constant stirring with a spatula or whisk. About 5 minutes. 

Remove from heat.  Add the raisins and nuts and mix. You can sprinkle cardamon on top before serving.

You can garnish with mint leaves and red berries if you wish.


1.  Run water through the super grains mix and drain through a colander or sieve.  Do this till the grainy smell disappears.  Drain well through the colander or sieve and transfer to the rice cooker or pot and add water.  It is 1 part quinoa or super grains mix to 2 parts water.

2.  Alton Brown added the cardamon to the rest of the ingredients while cooking.  I prefer that it be sprinkled on the top of the cooked pudding.  The cardamon retains its flavor this way.

Finding a Long Lost Friend

Jenny (in pink at the back row) found me (in red at the back row) online. This was taken in 1977.  We have not seen each other since 1990.
A long lost friend
Found me
Through my blog
Among thousands
A miracle!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Having Grandchildren

Having grandchildren
Is doubly nice
You get to love your daughter

Friday, April 22, 2016

Plant Based Filipino Tinola

Chicken Tinola is one of the most popular comfort food in the Philippines.  Filipinos love the pungent taste imparted by the ginger in this stew.  It is the heart of the dish.  Chicken is the protein of choice and as far as the vegetables are concerned potatoes, cabbage and chayote or sayote are the popular options.  

Chayote or sayote (see picture below) is a green vegetable which belongs to the squash family.  It is hardier than a zucchini and has to be boiled as long as the potatoes.  It has a large seed in the middle which is removed while the skin is left intact during the cooking process. It tastes like the zucchini but has a sturdier texture which makes it ideal for stews.  

Chayote or sayote

I found chayote or sayote in the Patel Indian Store in Monroeville and happily used it when I felt a craving for Tinola.  Being plant based I skipped the chicken and just relied on sauteed ginger, garlic and onions to enhance the flavor imparted by the familiar vegetables used in tinola, cabbage, potatoes, and the chayote.  I wanted more green and nutrition to the dish and added spinach.  In the Philippines, they would have added dahon ng sile or leaves of small chilis.  Instead of this one could add for that spicy kick, if desired, one whole banana pepper.  For seasoning, fish sauce or patis is traditionally added to the stew while cooking as well as a side condiment to dip the chicken in while eating.  Again being plant based I just added salt and some pepper and skipped the fish sauce.  

This plant based version really satisfied my cravings for Tinola.  I got the ginger flavor from the soup and heartily savored the vegetables including the chayote with brown rice.  Life was really good while I savored this Filipino comfort food sans the chicken.  

Plant Based Filipino Tinola

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, cut into small strips
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cabbage, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 1 chayote or sayote, cut into large cubes (available in Asian Stores)
  • 4 loosely packed cups spinach
  • 1 whole banana pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tsp oil or 1 tbsp water in a pot in medium heat and add to it the onion garlic and ginger.  Saute till the onion is translucent.  Add the vegetable broth, cabbage, potatoes, chayote and whole banana pepper if using into the pot.  Allow to boil till the potatoes and chayote are tender but not mushy.  Then add the spinach at the last 5 minutes of cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy with rice.  

Three Little Words

Three little words
Lifted my heart
When asked
What do you say
After eating with unstoppable relish
The bag of caramel popcorn
I brought
My two and half year old granddaughter
To my surprize
Did not say thank you
But stopped and thought for a second
And said
I love you wistfully instead.
My heart
Leapt with joy
That she shared
The love she felt
And returned
The love I have
When I gave her
The caramel popcorn
I would have devoured myself.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Peas and Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Baden Dressing

I love this simple salad with a delicious homemade dressing I named the Baden Dressing after Baden, PA where the Mother House of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph-Baden is located.  I frequent this Mother House to attend meetings since I am an associate of this congregation.  I love eating some of the prepared salads with their delicious dressing served at their cafeteria.  The proportion of the ingredients in one of the dressings they used was shared with me by Fred the head chef of the Mother House cafeteria.  It is 1 part apple cider vinegar (not white vinegar), 1 part oil and 1 part sugar.  I refer to this as the basic Baden dressing.

They had served Peas and Bow Tie Salad at one of the special occasions at Baden.  In the recipe they shared with me they used store bought Italian dressing. They also used fresh red onions and shredded cheddar cheese as part of the ingredients. I wanted a version of this salad where the ingredients for the dressing is from scratch and straight from my spice cabinet and uses the basic Baden dressing I mentioned previously. What I did was follow the 1:1 proportion of the apple cider to sugar and lowered that of the oil to 1/2 part and added the spices found in the store bought Italian dressing to this basic Baden dressing.

I really shouldn't be eating peas and peanuts since my arthritis sometimes flares up on the joints of my fingers when eating either of these foods but I couldn't stop eating a serving instead of just a tablespoon for tasting. It is that good.  And so simple. The saltiness of the peanuts complements the sweetness of the dressing and gives the salad a crunchy texture.  The cooked frozen sweet peas in the salad makes it irresistible. You can add cheese and red onions if you want and also increase the amount of oil but why would you?  This is good enough.  If you are in a hurry you can use store bought Italian Dressing but I tell you this dressing is worth preparing. Enjoy this salad in what seems to be the start of Spring unless this moody weather changes its course once again.

Peas and Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Baden Dressing

  • 6 oz cooked bow tie pasta or farfalle 
  • 6 oz cooked frozen sweet peas
  • 1/4 cup peanuts or nuts of your choice
  • dry parsley flakes or fresh parsley for garnish

Baden Dressing
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp sugar 
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tbsp dry onion flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients except the bow tie pasta and peas in a small jar and shake with the cover on or just mix these ingredients with a fork in a small bowl.  Place the pasta, peas and peanuts in a bowl and pour the dressing over it and toss.  You can garnish with fresh or dried parsley if you like.

Serenity and Acceptance in the Face of Change

In the face of having to make some changes in ones life, one does need confidence.  One of the hardest things to do is to admit the so called nuisances that show up in ourselves.  However, non acceptance of these nuisances could erode our so called confidence in ourselves perpetuating our lack of motivation to change what can be changed in these nuisances.  Whew!

Nuisances should not be hidden but accepted according to C. Joybell C..  Accepting them does not mean that they could not be changed.  I did realize this and I found myself resisting changing them however at first. This stubbornness must have arisen from the self- hate that self scrutiny can do.  This in turn results as a bad start in the challenging task of any change.  

Once I read this quote in the poster above, I felt some kind of serenity.  As I embark on tackling the changes, I will discover what I could change and some I could not.  The latter is still OK with me.  I can accept them as part of what I am made of together with the millions of "molecules and atoms" in me.  This realization actually made me more confident rather than defeated.  I also know I am not alone.  I know I have Him to help me along.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lychee Chia Almond Pudding

We have a favorite easy dessert called Almond Jelly in the Philippines.  We just pour the contents of cans of fruit cocktail into a large beautiful container and add cubes of almond flavored gelatin prepared from Knox unflavored gelatin to which we have added almond extract.  If we want to splurge we put a can or two of lychees.  That is it. The juices from the cans of fruit flavors and sweetens the dessert.  It is a fruit soup that is a dessert.

This pudding is inspired by this dessert and is as simple to prepare.  The chia seeds thicken the juice from the can of lychees.  Almond extract is then added together with almond milk to result in a pudding like dessert.  I decided to use only lychees and to skip the fruit cocktail.  I love the resulting flavor especially from the juice of lychees which also gives the sweetness to the dessert without the addition of sugar.

Lychee Chia Almond Pudding

  • 6 tbsp lychee juice from a can  of lychees 
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 lychees from a can
  • maraschino cherry
Mix the first four ingredients with a fork.  Allow to set.  Place the lychee pieces and cherry on top.   

Love is the Answer

We are facing many challenges today which encompasses not only our little self but the whole world.  We want change and we have a tendency to rely on science and technology. In today's Meditation from Richard Rohr he gave this part which further elucidates the poster shown above and could be the answer.
As Sr. Ilia Delio says so well, "Christian life is a commitment to love, to give birth to God in one's own life and to become midwives of divinity in this evolving cosmos. We are to be wholemakers of love in a world of change. Teilhard [de Chardin] saw that creativity and invention would forge the modern path of evolution, but he also saw that science alone cannot fulfill the cosmic longing for completion. God rises up at the heart of cosmic evolution through the power of love, which science and technology can facilitate but not surpass. The future of the earth, therefore, lies not in science and technology, but in the spiritual power of world religions and the power of love. We are born out of love, we exist in love and we are destined for eternal love. . . . [I]t is time to reinvent ourselves in love." [1]
As one famous song says, love is the answer.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cauliflower Vegetable Curry

I bought several boxes of ready to eat Indian vegetarian dishes in microwaveable packets during a shopping trip at the Patel Indian Store in Monroeville PA.  Since the past week had been very hectic due to babysitting chores these ready made Indian delicacies had been my go to food for lunch, dinner and even breakfast. The curry sauce in these dishes were really tantalizing and haunting. They just made me crave them.  However, a couple of the packets had green peas and/or beans as their ingredients and I noticed that the arthritis or gout in my finger joints flared up after I ate these dishes.  I have a sensitivity to these two vegetables.

I decided to make my own plant based curry dish using cauliflower, eggplant and peppers.  I opted for cauliflower as one of the ingredients to add that crunch factor into the dish.  I originally wanted to use red curry paste but I could not find it in my loaded freezer.  I decided to use mostly curry powder and the other spices to mimic that rich sauce in the store bought Indian vegetarian dishes.

This dish got the thumbs up from my daughter Wendy who had it for lunch when she visited me.  She also gladly took some home. As for me, I had this morning, noon and night. that day and the next.

This is a healthy, easy and delicious alternative to store bought Indian dishes or the ones you eat at Indian buffets.  Do try it and you will be hooked.

Cauliflower Vegetable Curry

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or 2 tbsp water
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 Japanese eggplant, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 yellow or green pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips 
  • 1 can coconut milk, full fat
  • 1/2 cups vegetable broth (optional for thinning the sauce)
  • Cilantro
Heat the olive oil or water (if you are strictly plant based) in a large saute pan at medium heat.   Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute these spices till the onion is translucent.  Add the curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, turmeric, tomato paste and salt and continue to saute till the spices are heated through. Add the cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, coconut milk and vegetable broth (if using) and allow the mixture to simmer till the vegetables are cooked but still crispy.  Season with more salt if needed.  Garnish with cilantro. Serve with naan bread or rice.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Charism Retreat 2016

The Associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph-Baden held their yearly retreat with the theme "Charism" at Medialle Hall in Baden from April 1 - 3, 2016.  This was presented by Sr. Judith Justinger, CSJ,  a  member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Buffalo Congregation and Maureen Brown, CSJA,  an associate from the same congregation.

Sr. Judith Justinger and Maureen Brown.  

The wonderful team of Sr. Judy and Maureen effectively utilized different tools consisting of thought provoking questions, handouts and songs which I am sharing in this blogpost.  Their goal is for the associates to internalize what they wanted them to reflect on and most importantly learn and live from them.

The retreat committee team from the CSJA Baden group consisting of Srs. Paula Drass and Sue Clay and associates Sue Boyce and Barbara Borzym enhanced the amazing retreat with beautiful prayers and meaningful rituals. The hospitality committee headed by Kathy Lotzmann was responsible for providing us places to sleep and goodies to munch on in between meals. Patty Hammond provided the Prayer Partner cards as she had done every year.  As always the food from the cafeteria was awesome.  Thanks to all.

Here are photos of the retreat as well as some reflections as seen in the photos of the handouts and songs.   Some thoughts that I gathered from the sharing section are also given in this post.  I am giving the retreat according to the sequence of the events that occurred at the time.

The retreat started with the song by Kathy Sherman "May We Become the Compassion of God" as shown in the handout below.  This song set up what Sr. Judy and Maureen asked us to reflect on in the form of the questions shown on top of the same handout below.  The session ended with the Litany of Being God's Instrument of Goodness by Joyce Rupp as shown in the same handout.

On reflecting on the question "What instrument are you?" Lois Wendel came up with a unique and meaningful metaphor of herself as one string of a violin.  She expressed it in the form of a poem I published in this blog. Here is the link.

In keeping witlh the theme of the retreat we then tackled the challenging question "What is charism?" We then shared that one word that we came up with that was synonymous with it.  Here is the photo of the poster board of the words that were shared by the associates.  What is yours?

Sr. Judy shared with us the mantra of the Srs. of St. Joseph Buffalo, NY which emphasizes the importance of the quality of our presence in carrying out ones ministry.  Here is the reproduction of the bookmark.

Maureen invited us to sing a song entitled "The Presence" which explains what it means.

The eloquent letter written by an associate from their congregation, Joy Cownie, was shared with us by Maureen. This letter encapsulates the meaning of being an associate.  One part answers the thought provoking question "Does it matter if I am there at the celebration-meeting?".

More questions were asked of us in this interactive and engaging retreat.  In the afternoon we were given each one question from the following 7 questions given below. Answers were generously shared after some reflection by the associates.  What would be your answers to these?  

The retreat continued the following day where we answered more questions shown below.  Again what are your thoughts?

As in every year, the retreat ended with the reception of the new associates during the Mass at the Chapel. Thank you Mary Cay Burke Hamill for the effort you put into the orientation program for the new associates for the past years.  Welcome to Judy Lewis, the new chair of the program.  We also congratulate Carla Gregory for accepting the position of co-director of the associates.  Thanks to the outgoing co-director Chris Hoffmann for her service these past years.  

Here are the pictures of the new associates and their sponsors.  More pictures can be found in this link.

The three new associates and their respective sponsors:  left to right.   Sr. Ann Francis Hanley, Richard Cauley, Mary Cay Burke Hamill, Maria Javonovich, Sr. Florence Hebeler and Elizabeth Miller.

Richard Cauley, Maria Javonovich and Elizabeth Miller.
We hope to see you at next year's retreat.  Here is a poem I wrote about the joy I felt when I saw Marlane Pizzi and Jan Carpenter at the retreat and Sunday Mass.  It was nice to see them back and all who attended. This post is for all the associates especially those who could not attend due to their health and other circumstances.  I hope you felt the spark that Joy Cownie mentioned in her letter as you read this blogpost.

(Thanks to Lois Wendel and Sr. Gerrie Grandpre CSJ for the pictures.  I hope to post more in the future of those taken by Patty Hammond..  Thanks also to Donna Ciarcinski for taking and sharing the pictures at the Mass).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Easy Cola Soy Sauce Ribs

This recipe entails just three other ingredients aside from the ribs.  They are commonly found in your pantry: Coca Cola or similar drink, garlic and soy sauce.  The method I used in cooking the dish is the reliable "slow cook it and forget it" approach.

I have heard of savory recipes calling for the use of Coca Cola or similar drinks but I have never tried the approach before.  It is supposed to tenderize the meat you are using as well as flavor it.  I saw a TV show (I think it was Unique Eats) and the chef used Coca Cola for preparing a turkey dish.  I decided to try the combination of ingredients mentioned in this show for the slab of ribs I had in the freezer.  

I slow cooked the ribs in Coca Cola, soy sauce and garlic cloves for 3 hours.  I did not marinate it overnight at all like the way they did in the TV show with the turkey. I decided the slow cooking process will accomplish the same purpose.  

The verdict:  it works.  It has a mild sweetness to it that counteracts the saltiness of the soy sauce.  The garlic gives it that punch of a flavor.  It did tenderize the meat at the same time and the result is the "fall off the bone" yummy ribs.  Most of all it is a reliable and easy recipe with ingredients everybody has in the pantry. You can serve this decadent dish with your favorite cole slaw and mashed potatoes for your next picnic.  Let us think summer despite the bipolar weather we are having.

Easy Cola Soy Sauce Ribs

  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can Coca Cola 
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 5 lbs pork spareribs
Place the garlic, coca cola, soy sauce and cornstarch in the slow cooker and mix them with a fork.  Add the pork spareribs.  

Slow cook for 4 hours at high setting or 3 hours at low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker at slow cooker setting for 3 hours.


1. You can remove the fat by refrigerating the cooked ribs with sauce in the fridge overnight and scoop out the fat.  This is definitely a decadent dish and removing the fat would help your carnivores in the family kind of healthy.  

2.  You can also grill the ribs after slow cooking it either in an outside grill or oven.  Microwaving also makes the sauce thicken.  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Do They See?

Evangelisation can evoke many images.  It can make one see wonderful and brave people in foreign soil preaching the Word of God to those who have not heard of Him. Some might recoil from memories of a well meaning friend reminding you of what you are doing wrong that you must change or you will go to hell. This is their idea of evangelisation and which I hope it is not what there is to it.

The quote in the poster above for me made me see the meaning of evangelisation. It is simple and humbling. It is non threatening and non judgemental.  It is done based on unconditional love.  It is simply helping others see Jesus working in their daily lives during their highs and lows. During epic life changing times like the birth of their child, a bout with cancer or just sitting in their kitchen table waiting for the Keurig machine finish making their coffee. It might be during stressful times they just said things they wished they did not and wanted to take it back.

In our parish, we say a mantra at the end of the Sunday mass which goes "Christ has no hands nor feet on earth but mine" which reminds us how we can help others see Christ. The challenge actually starts rather immediately and with difficulty as we get out of the crowded parking lot.  Ouch!

Evangelisation is here, now and everywhere we are. It is a challenge to live in order for others to see Jesus in us but we can do it. We are never alone. He is with us.

Happy weekend.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Microwave Chia Lemon Bread Pudding

I like single serve microwable dessert.  I always wanted to make a single serve microwave bread pudding.  I also wanted one without using eggs.  I thought of using chia seeds and that was what I did in this recipe.  This is very similar to the Chia Lemon Pudding recipe in this blog but of a different texture and density due to the bread present.  I topped the bread pudding with kiwi and it went well with the lemony taste of the pudding.

Microwave Chia Lemon Bread Pudding

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 pieces whole wheat bread, cubed
  • kiwi fruit slice
Combine the milk, chia seeds, lemon juice, lemon zest and maple syrup in a ramekin.  Stir.  Place the bread pieces in the mixture and allow to soak for 30 seconds.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Let it set for 1 minute. Garnish with kiwi slices.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Being in Christ

No longer do I live but Christ lives in me.  It is a letting go of self and allowing Jesus to live in us.  St. Paul mentioned the words en Christo more than 70 times in the Bible.  It is a reminder that we are participating in something bigger than ourselves.  And thus and more importantly as a result we should be living in Christ.  Have a nice day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Deconstructed Brown Rice Edemame Sushi with Wasabi Hoisin Dressing

I wanted to make Vegan Onigiri which is a triangular shaped sushi but I could not make the brown rice stick together to form the triangle.  I still wanted the taste of sushi particularly the one I buy at the Giant Eagle Grocery Store that is covered with French Fried Onion from a can.  Yes the one you use for your favorite holiday Green Bean Casserole dish.

I decided to make a deconstructed one.  To recreate the sushi taste, I resorted to mixing the wasabi paste I bought in a tube at the Asian Store in Monroeville PA with the Hoisin Sauce.  I wanted a simple preparation that mimics the taste of the sushi without resorting to the use of a mayonnaise based sauce.  I follow the plant based approach in eating which as much as possible avoid even plant oils.

I gave exact measurements of the ratio of wasabi paste to the Hoisin Sauce since the first time I prepared it I did not measure anything and just squeeze an amount of this and that.  My nose really what would you say got overstimulated to put it mildly.  This is a simple rice bowl with a sushi flavor and very versatile.  You can add nuts and other vegetables but the recipe below gives you an idea how to come up with a sushi deconstructed for your convenience.  I highly recommend the edemame.  It gives the rice bowl texture and complements the spiciness of the dressing.  The French Fried Onion gives it an interesting note not found in most rice bowls.

Deconstructed Brown Rice Edemame Sushi with Wasabi Hoisin Dressing

1 serving

  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup edemame
  • 1/4 cup French Fried Onions (from a can)
  • 1/4 cup tofu, cubed
  • 1 tbsp dried cherries
  • cilantro 
  • Wasabi Hoisin Dressing (recipe below)
Place the rice in a bowl and top with the edemame, French Fried Onions, tofu and dried cherries.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with the wasabi and hoisin dressing.

Wasabi Hoisin Dressing (Note 1)
  • 1/8 tsp wasabi paste
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce

Mix the wasabi paste and hoisin sauce in a small bowl and mix it with the rice bowl.

1.  You can double or triple the amounts but do follow the proportions given or else your nostrils will cry and yes clear up.  

Daring to Speak Up

It takes courage to speak up.  It carries a lot of risks including the possibility of being misunderstood.  We do have a choice to just shut up or to be assertive enough to express our views.  We also need to know when to say things and when not to say them.  Not necessarily never to say them at all but to have the patience to wait for the proper time.

The spirit in which things are said is also important.  I remember taking an assertiveness course and what I got from it was something I use when I am afraid to speak up.  To gain courage, our lecturer said these two things must be remembered.  1.  You are important and therefore you have the right to speak up and 2. You are there to speak up because you are important and not because you want to change the person's mind.  In other words, do not think outcome. You do things to respect your own opinion and to find your voice. When the motive is to control the other person or persons, then you put a lot of pressure on yourself. You would think it is an impossible task to accomplish and just give up or when you speak up and the other person reacts in a manner you did not expect or desire, an altercation can occur.  Sometimes we imagine the latter in our mind before we speak up and totally freeze not wanting it to occur.

Speak up and then shut up.  You have done what you set to do. As the poster says, you stood for - YOU.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Napa Cabbage Cilantro Mint Rice Paper Wrap with Almond Thai Sauce

I wanted a Vietnamese Rice Paper Wrap that did not require any chopping and using as little ingredients as possible.  I just purchased a big bunch of cilantro from the Patel Indian Store in Monroeville and a bag of mint that I wanted to use while fresh.  I also had some left over Napa cabbage that was sitting in the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator.  I was pretty tired to chop any other vegetables so I decided to stick with these two herbs and the Napa cabbage to satisfy my craving for a Vietnamese style rice paper wrap.

This definitely will not be complete without a good sauce and I opted to mix almond butter in a jar with store bought Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. Peanut butter can also be used instead of the almond butter but I am allergic to it.  

I had this yesterday for breakfast and again today.  It is that satisfying and comforting.  You can add more stuff to the ingredient list of this recipe but for me this works.  No chopping.  Hooray.  I have my fiber (vegetables and herbs) and protein from the almond butter plus the variety of nutrients from all of them.

Napa Cabbage Cilantro Mint Rice Paper Wrap with Almond Thai Sauce

4 wraps
  • 8 Napa cabbage leaves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 16 mint leaves
  • 4 rice paper
Place one rice paper one at a time in a shallow bowl filled with water enough to submerge each rice paper.  Leave it there until it is no longer crispy and you can lift it up without tearing.  Do not over soak.  

Transfer the rice paper into a plate and place two whole pieces of Napa cabbage in the middle of the rice paper and arrange the cilantro and 2 or more mint leaves on top so they are evenly distributed on the cabbage.  Fold one end of the rice paper over the vegetables and tightly push it towards you and then roll the rice paper tightly.  Cut in half and serve with the Almond Butter Thai Chili Sauce (recipe below).

Almond Butter Thai Chili Sauce
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • water if needed 
Place the almond butter and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce in a small bowl and mix with fork until smooth. You may add water to thin it out if you like a thinner consistency.  I prefer mine thick.  

Seeing Friends Again

Friends you have not seen
Appeared and lo
The joy I felt was like the one I had
Peering out of the window
And seeing
The buds shooting out
On what once were barren branches
Announcing spring was back.

At this homecoming
What once was just a thought
A wish
A hope
Came like the much awaited spring
Delightfully surprising
That made my heart leap with joy
And gratefulness.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Easy Meatball Sandwich

Are you expecting a crowd and you need an easy dish that will appeal to everyone? This is the recipe for you.  You just stick the two ingredients, meatballs and pasta sauce in the crock pot overnight at the Keep Warm setting and you have the filling for your meatball sandwich.  You can also cook it at low for 2-3 hours. The two main ingredients are available in all grocery stores.  No sweat and No fail recipe.

I did not believe my exercise teacher, Bonnie, when she said she cooked it at the Keep Warm setting in her crockpot. I am pleased to say it works at the Keep Warm setting.  This is not surprising since the frozen meatballs are already cooked as well as the pasta sauce.  She prepared it the night before and her mother brought it to the Silver Sneakers Christmas party at Webbs Gym in Penn Hills for the luncheon buffet the next day. Easy and so delicious.  Here are some of the pictures from this party.

Easy Meatball Sandwich

  • 5-6 lb bag frozen cooked Italian beef meatballs
  • 1- 48 oz Ragu Original Pasta Sauce (or your favorite brand)
  • sausage buns
  • provolone cheese
Place the frozen meatballs and pasta sauce in a crock pot.  Cook overnight using the Stay Warm setting or at low setting for 2 -3 hours. 

Serve on a sausage bun with a piece of provolone cheese.  Enjoy.