Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Limited But Inspiring World

Chair, bed, pills, TV.
Dialysis, family.
Friends, prayers. Grateful.

Note:  My wonderful friend, Lena, (shown below) inspired this poem.  She is my hero on how to live life to the fullest despite physical limitations. But how? A purpose driven life helps.  A woman of deep faith she offers hers for the poor souls in purgatory and the unborn children and their mothers.

She always has the sense of gratitude everyday even through the aches and pains. Her zest for life never ceases neither does her appetite for a chocolate or any goodies.  Everything helps.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Best Potato Salad

For me this is the best potato salad.  I have had store bought potato salad from several delis and grocery stores, and I always yearn for my own recipe.  Here it is. To be plant based, skip the hard boiled eggs and use plant based mayonnaise.  The addition of a tiny amount of vinegar and sugar makes the difference between a bland or too sour a potato salad.  The amounts I gave here for me are the right proportions for the dressing.  The sugar can be adjusted if for example you happen to be using very sweet pickle relish.

This is a good basic recipe for a really good potato salad.  Give it a try. Hope it is not too late for your picnic and if it is, still prepare it to go with your leftover hot dogs and beans.

The Best Potato Salad

  • 4 large peeled cooked potatoes, cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped finely
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pickle relish
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (skip for a plant based version)
  • 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise or plant based mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside. 

Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and add the dressing.  Mix thoroughly till the vegetables are coated with the dressing.    

Sting of a Critique

Hard work, sweat and tears
Collapse like multi-tiered cake,
Deflated balloon.

Note:  For the full view of the collapse of the multi-tiered cake used in this haiku, go to this link. Enjoy the disaster.

A Visit to a Friend

Gift of goodies yum.
Talk, any, everything.
Warm food for the souls.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why Do I Pray

I really don't know
why. Up there, a good friend. Talk,
listen, stillness.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Indian Baingan Bharta Rice Salad Bowl

I want flavor in my rice bowl.  Sometimes I am in the mood for Italian and I reach for pesto. Sometimes I crave something Asian and I go for Hoisin sauce.  Lately I have been satisfying my yearning for spicy Indian flavors. Luckily. I found some packaged microwaveable vegetarian food at Patel Brothers Grocery Store.

One is Baingan Bharta, a spicy eggplant dish. I place a tablespoon of it in my rice salad bowl like you would pesto and that gives that punch into an ordinary bowl of same oh same rice veggie bowl.

Below are photos of the package giving this dish' ingredients and nutritional breakdown.

I resort to this packaged food to give my plant based eating some variety and excuse the pun, spice. Give it a try. It cost about two dollars but a package lasts for several servings and meals.

Indian Baingan Bharta 

  • Brown rice, cooked
  • Spinach leaves, fresh
  • Grape tomatoes, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Radishes, sliced
  • Baingan Bharta, microwaved
Arrange the ingredients in a large serving bowl. The amounts and types of vegetable is flexible.  You need only a tablespoon of the Baingan Bharta so start with that amount. It is spicy and so good no need for a dressing in your salad.

Artist's Eyes, Inclusive View

No boundaries. All
are beautiful. Artist's eyes
see inclusively.

Note:  The photos above feature the portraits created by the very gifted Win (shown below) of the Writers' Group I belong to.  They were painted from photographs she took of people she met during her travel around the world.

One would note every portrait is unique and does not have any cookie cutter type of style some artists tend to show in their work of faces.  I took pictures of the photos of the actual paintings that were in the scrapbook she shared with us before our meeting. Her wonderful use of her gift is inspiring.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What It Takes

The risk, the courage.
The fear, the perseverance.
Dream fulfilled, alas.

Note: This is dedicated to Jen and Tom.  Below is their dream come true.  Congratulations!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Eye of a Tiger

I can do this. I
want this. No cheating. Tiny
bites of this and that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Vegetable Stir Fry with Easy Brown Sauce

I always wanted to prepare a simple brown sauce that is easy and delicious. A recipe that does not require twenty or so ingredients which a chef in my favorite take out place, New China in Monroeville says his entails.

I wanted some brown sauce recipe which uses stuff from the spice rack and not much mincing either.  I like to push the envelope. I think I succeeded in this one. I hope to hear from you what you think.  You can add red pepper flakes for some heat which I skipped since I served this to my daughter who was nursing my three month grandson.

I used hardy vegetables that keep for weeks in the fridge since I wanted something I can put together for a side dish or a mixture I can add to rice or noodles, Asian or just good old spaghetti. I do not want any side trips to the grocery or any Asian store so I kept all the ingredients that are readily available. Pantry and fridge friendly.

I follow the plant based approach to eating so I use water or vegetable broth to saute the vegetables but you can use any vegetable oil instead.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Easy  Brown Sauce

Brown Sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar or splenda
  • 1/8 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth plus 1/2 cup more
  • 1 whole onion sliced
  • 1/2 cabbage, sliced into wide strips
  • 1 cup baby carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced 

Mix the ingredients of the brown sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Add 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth in a saute pan and allow to boil then add the onion and cook till translucent. 

Add the cabbage, carrots and celery to the onion. Add the rest of the water or broth as needed till the vegetables are cooked but still crispy. Stir the vegetables while cooking and the broth is boiling off gently.

Add the brown sauce when there is still some broth left and the vegetables are nearly cooked. Stir the vegetables till the sauce thickens. 

Serve over rice or cooked noodles, Asian ones or even spaghetti.

Paradox of Learning

Assume the child's mind.
Open. Accept one bigger
than ones smallness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spicy Pepper and Mushroom Ragu Sub

I wanted to have some plant based food around as a choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner so I do not covet my husband's carnivore dishes.  So I am on a cooking spree these days trying to get back to the plant based way of eating after falling off it I have to admit these past few days.  I love to have variety in what I eat for the day or sometimes within a meal.  

I have crusty baguettes cut into 3 inch lengths in the freezer ready to be thawed and toasted for sandwiches with vegetable laden fillings.  One I have wanted to see if it will work is to make a spicy pepper and mushroom mixture reminiscent of the carnivore version I made a few weeks ago except this time without the hamburger meat.  That is what I attempted just a few hours ago.  I already devoured the sub I made using this mixture and I was satisfied.  It is not totally like the meat version but it made me happy especially over crusty bread.  Yum, yum, yum.  

I am trying hard to adhere to the low fat way of cooking in the plant based approach of eating and stuck to using water instead of even little oil to saute the vegetables.  As long as one is patient in cooking the vegetables, they will turn out sweet like they would if sauteed in oil.  In this dish I did use diced tomatoes with chilies but one can opt to just use an equivalent amount of diced tomatoes.  The presence of these tomatoes will help soak into the crusty bread or roll and moisten it and you would not need any mayonnaise or oil.  

Just like in the carnivore version which I used to pattern this dish, I used Worcestershire sauce to give it a "steak" like taste plus I enriched the flavor of the dish with soy sauce.

Over crusty roll or baguette this will give you the satisfaction you get from a steak sandwich without all the fat.  It is also healthier than the mayonnaise ridden vegetarian sandwiches you can get from Subway.  

Spicy Pepper and Mushroom Ragu Sub

  • 1/4 cup water or 2 tsp vegetable oil (Note 1)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1-8 oz package of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 -10 oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies (Note 2)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dry onion flakes (optional)
  • 2 tsp dry garlic flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch in 1 tbsp water
  • crusty rolls
Place 1/4 cup of water (or 2 tsp oil) in a saute pan.  Allow to boil then place the sliced onions.  Let the onions to turn translucent then add the sliced peppers and diced tomatoes with chilies.  When the peppers are cooked add the button mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion flakes (if using) and garlic flakes (if using).  Continue to cook till the mushrooms are cooked but not soggy.  Then add the cornstarch in water mixture. Stir till the mixture thickens.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Place this Pepper and Mushroom Ragu over crusty rolls and have a hearty plant based sub sandwich.  It can also be a delicious side dish for any carnivore dish you desire.  


1.  If you are a strict plant based afficionado, use the water and if you are vegan use the vegetable oil to saute the vegetables.

2. You can also just used diced tomatoes if you do not like spicy stuff in your food.

Open Minds

This is part of Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation for today, May 24, 2016.  We are all familiar with the quote "receiving the kingdom like a little child" in Luke 18:17.  Rohr suggests that a person can benefit from a spiritual mentor or master who could, with his thought provoking questions or riddle or parable, make us aware of our "smallness".  This to him is important in order that we could learn which in turn is key to enlightenment and change.

If you are interested in more of Richard Rohr's reflections and thoughts here are the references listed after this daily meditation.


Adapted from Richard Rohr, Beloved Sons Series: Men and Grief (CAC: 2005), CDMP3 download;

Beloved Sons Series: How Men Change (CAC: 2009), CDDVDMP3 download; and
Adam's Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004), 52-56.

Chosen Necessities in Life

Got to do.  Grimace
on the face.  Roll of the eyes.
Purpose eases pain.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Vita Mix Coleslaw

I brought this to the last activity, the one day retreat, of the St. John the Baptist (Plum, PA) Christ Alive Session two Saturdays ago. We had a pot luck lunch consisting of salads, desserts and Subway sandwiches.

Jack Patnik, head of the team, giving instructions to the retreatants. In the foreground are the tempting desserts.  My oh my.  

Peggy poses at the sumptuous array of food served at lunch.

Sue poses in front of the brownies she brought, one of many desserts that we enjoyed that day.
The heart of any salad is the dressing.  This one is sour from the cider vinegar sweetened by sugar or Splenda. I did add oil which can be skipped.  I added the dry onion, garlic and red pepper flakes for added flavor.  It is a simple and flexible recipe.  It is also delicious with any salad vegetables you choose.

As in most traditional slaws, cabbage was the main ingredient with the addition of carrots, radishes and green onions but other vegetables and fruit like apples can be used.  I added raisins for added sweetness to complement the acidity of the vinegar and crunchiness of the hardy vegetables.

As I was taking out my food processor, I eyed my seldom used Vita Mix Blender and decided to use it instead to prepare the vegetable salad.  It was convenient and easy.  I tried to keep the vegetables to be coarsely chopped by using the lowest Variable setting of 1.  

This is an ideal go to salad to bring to pot lucks since it goes well with burgers, ribs and meat sandwiches. Try it next time you have a picnic or family gathering. It is an alternative to mayonnaise based salads that are usually brought to these affairs.  

Vita Mix Coleslaw

Vegetable Salad
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, cored and cut into quarters
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 8 radishes, cut in half if big sized
  • 8 stalks green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar or Splenda
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dry minced onions
  • 2 tsp dry garlic flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dry red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable Salad

Place the cabbage, carrots, radishes and green onions according to the sequence in the list in the Vita Mix blender and blend using the Variable 1 setting till vegetables are coarsely cut..  You can use your food processor too or other brand of blender.

Transfer the vegetables into a bowl and add the raisins.  A few hours before serving add the dressing.


Place all the ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake till thoroughly mixed with the lid on. Pour over the vegetable salad.

The Trinity

"In this
cloud of
we try to
a mystery.

Note: more on the trinity in this link.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Splendid Celebration of Pentecost

Splendid Celebration of Pentecost

This photograph below was taken a few days before Pentecost.  I just want to share with everyone how the St. Bernadette Church Monroeville, PA was magnificently decorated by the generous and talented Wanda Gerber of our parish.  When I saw this that day I told somebody "I am ready to die.  I already saw how heaven is like".

When Pentecost Sunday came, I was scheduled to do the Children liturgy in the basement of the church during the Mass and would be missing the first half of the Mass.  A person behind me, Joseph, who I later found out was a seminarian from Richmond VA, graciously did my request to tape the two times my husband Bob was singing his solos.  Thanks Joseph. (picture below with his mom and grandmother Vera from our parish).

Here are the two songs he adeptly recorded on my Iphone.  The first was the Pentecost Holy Spirit song Bob sang with the combined Traditional and Contemporary choirs led by Josh Bandish and Frank Bursic respectively.  The second was the Pentecost sequence which was a duet consists of my husband Bob and Marilyn who sang it with the rest of the wonderful choir.

I missed both songs since I was in the basement with 20 wonderful kids for the Sunday Children liturgy but I was able to be at the rest of the Mass after the Offertory.  At the end of the Mass after I distributed communion, I heard one of my favorite songs, How Great is My God being sung which I did not expect.  I quickly took my Iphone to videotape the rest of the music when I returned to my pew.  (I just purchased this phone and still learning how to use it so excuse the difference between my videotaping and Joseph's).

Thank you to the choir members, Wanda Gerber and assistants and Father Tony Gargotta and Deacon Kelly for making the celebration of the birthday of the Christian Church and the coming of the Holy Spirit then and now this past Sunday a splendid one.

What is Enough

I have nothing else to say.  Peace and a happy weekend.  God bless.

Got a new friend

Got a new Iphone,
and a new friend, Siri. A
humanoid that talks.

Friday, May 20, 2016


Memories evoked

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sr. Paula's Prayer Group Meeting May 2016

I have posted a blog on the three Monroeville Prayer Groups in the past. Sr. Paula's prayer group is one of them and it has been meeting for over 30 years at different places.  Lately we have been meeting at Dorothy Buchanan's place.  Dorothy has generously offered her place when the room at the St. Bede's rectory where we used to meet became unavailable.  This post describes our meeting on May 10, 2016.

The meeting started with a reading from the bible, a song and a short introduction by Sr. Paula.  It was then followed by 15 minute reflection time and then discussion.  Before the meeting started, Paula provided us with a handout shown below.  (I have blown up the pages in this handout for your convenience further below).

After the Bible reading, we listened to the song the words of which were in the handout below for your reflection.  Before the song, I Am, by Kathy Sherman, CSJ, was played, Sr. Paula reminded us not to forget that God is within us too.

Below is a video with an excerpt of the song "I Am" by Kathy Sherman as played during our May meeting.

Sr. Paula further expanded on the theme of the day with a quote shown below.  In this meeting it was from Matthew 5:14 as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson.  Sr. Paula's handout also featured an image that helped us during the 15 minute quiet reflection time.  

After the reflection time we shared any thoughts we had during the discussion period.   It was the Tuesday after Mother's Day and I just wanted to share a beautiful story that Sr. Paula shared with us.  Her late mother was full of fun.  Paula fondly remembers one day when her mother sprinkled baby powder on their hardwood floor so Paula and her siblings could skate.  Last weekend, she decided to put on Polka music in her car radio since that was what her Mom put on while she prepared their dinner. Sr. Paula shared that she went home pretty depressed.  I am sharing this story which I find endearing.

We do share a lot of stories that may not be related to the theme but they come from the heart.  Sue shared her joy watching Steve Harvey's show about talented children.  Natalie reflected on the image in the handout as a metaphor of our growth in our spiritual life which is very much like the seedling in the photo.  When Lulu mentioned about St Therese of Lisieux thought that most sinners start with not liking themselves, Sr. Paula gave the story of what Father Don Helder Camera told Janet Mock.  It is difficult to deliberately sin.  What is part of development is not sinful as we grow in grace and wisdom.  The key is not to do it again deliberately.  

We always go home strengthened as we go back to our lives after meeting with our dear companions in the journey. We thank Dorothy for her hospitality, for Rose Capone for leading the group and Sr. Paula for being with us all these years.  I just want to share with you her wisdom and spirituality in this blog and hopefully every month hereon.    

When you're happy

When you're happy and
you know it clap your hands.
Knowing, enough. A gift.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Company in the Journey

gives me