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The Catholic Table’s Guide to a Guilt-Free Thanksgiving, Part 1

Despite the fact that most of my kitchen is currently packed away in about 464 different boxes, I’m still planning on cooking this Thursday. Not the whole shebang, mind you. Just some of the shebang: sausage and apple stuffing, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, and winter spiced cranberry chutney.

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I’ll then tote those delights over to my mother-in-law’s house, where the rest of the shebang is being cooked. These are some of my favorite dishes I cook all year, and I’m not letting some pain-in-the-rear move keep me from happiness.

Moves, however, aren’t the thing keeping many a person from happiness at Thanksgiving. For many of us, it’s guilt…and anxiety..and poorly cooked Brussels sprouts. The devil is always at work, and he loves to turn what’s supposed to be a merry feast into an occasion for sin and fear.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. It is possible to navigate both seasons of feasting and seasons of fasting with peace, freedom, and ample amounts of tasty treats.

In Chapter 9 of The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet, I talk about how I do that. Here’s a small “taste” of my thoughts on the subject. Continue reading

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Books, Boxes, Bread, and Babies

You know what’s not easy?

Dealing with mortgage lenders. Also, finding contractors who actually show up when they say they will to give you an estimate. And most of all, staying off Facebook when you have 101 opinions about the recent election that need expressing, but also a dozen different deadlines that need meeting.

You know what else isn’t easy? Blogging and moving houses at the same time. It’s kind of like patting your head and rubbing your belly. Only harder.

Regardless, now that Facebook is moving on from the “Trump versus Clinton” debate to the Gilmore Girls’ “Dean versus Jess versus Logan” debate (I’m an ABD girl: Anyone But Dean), the publishers and I have decided that maybe it’s time for us to start talking about the little project that kept me hopping all last spring…

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The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet is here It’s bee-yoo-tee-ful! And it makes the perfect Christmas gift for anyone you know who likes to cook…or eat…or support the Help Emily and Chris Put Heat and Electricity in the Attic Where They’ll Be Living for the Next Four Months Fund. Continue reading

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Leaving Home

I hosted the first party in my Steubenville home on January 2, 2005. I’d only closed on the house a few hours before, but that didn’t stop me from calling up a half-dozen friends and inviting them to join me for dinner. We ordered Chinese, laid out a blanket on the floor of the empty living room, and ate off paper plates. It was a glorious evening.

I hosted my last party in my Steubenville home this past Friday night. There were too many of us to sit around the table, so we ate in the living room this time too. Only, there’s furniture there now. Life has gotten more comfortable over the past 12 years. The food has gotten better too. For the occasion (introducing my home’s soon-to-be-new-owners to some of my closest friends), I cooked one of my fanciest and easiest pasta dishes. Guests sipped martinis, and we all ate off my pretty English china. It also was a glorious evening, albeit with a touch of melancholy.

Looking Back

Twelve years ago, when we ate Chinese on the living room floor, there was the promise of more parties to come. On Friday, the promise was gone. In its place, however, was gratitude for parties past.

There was gratitude for Thursday Night Dinners—my once weekly dinner parties where children ran wild through the house and dozens of grown-ups found seats wherever there they could—sofas and chairs, basement floors, front porch railings, and garden beds.

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Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Roasted Tomato Pesto

Most Lents, God does a far better job than I do of picking penances for me. Take this year for example. I thought I’d do the usual no sweets, get to daily Mass more, and go light on Facebook before noon. He laughed and said, “How about bridesmaids’ dresses?”

Seriously.

Trying to find bridesmaids dresses for my postpartum, nursing, 30-something, moms of many bridesmaids, all of whom have completely different body types (and who happen to currently reside in Michigan, Illinois, and Washington State respectively) has been the bane of my existence these past four weeks. Throw in the comments of my (otherwise very supportive) mother, who is less than fond of my color selection, and this Lent almost has me recalling with wistful fondness my “vegan, Mormon, celiac on a diet” Lent.

Almost. Because if that were this Lent, I wouldn’t be eating today’s meatless Friday recipe.

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Simple Lentil Dhal

It is one of the great ironies of the culinary world. Few things on earth are as tasty and hearty as a simple Indian Dhal. But few thing things on earth are also as unappetizing looking as a simple Indian Dhal.

In theory, I knew this. But I was so excited to share this tasty vegetarian recipe with you this week, that I completely forgot about its less than photogenic qualities…until it came time for Dhal’s photoshoot.

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Meatless Fridays, Week 1: Simple Cauliflower & Gruyere Tart

It’s now officially Lent, and I am having a good, old-fashioned case of Catholic guilt.

I’m feeling guilty about not posting enough on the blog. I’m feeling guilty about posting anything on the blog when I really should be working on the new book. And today, I’m especially feeling guilty about posting pretty close-ups of food. Somehow, it doesn’t feel very penitential. Lenten fasting and all that.

To moderately assuage my guilt, I’m going to try to only post photos of meatless meals during Lent. To help with Friday dinner planning, of course.

Although, again, even with the lack of meat, “penitential” isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind when I think about this cauliflower and gruyere tart.

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Good Riddance: Four Steps to a Clutter-free(ish) Home

Apologies for the month-long posting break. I had the best intentions about coming back from Christmas and immediately wrapping up the Catholic Home series. But first there was some reading I needed to do (for the new book on food and faith I’m writing). And then, this happened.

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Needless to say, I’ve been a bit distracted.

We’ve set the date for July 1—this July 1—five months and four days from today. Not like I’m counting or anything.

This means in the next five months, I have a wedding to plan, a book to write, two ghosting projects to edit, and Guilder to frame for it. So, we’ll see how much blogging gets done. I’ll try, though. I’ll try.

In the meantime, I want to bring my most loved and most hated series of blogs to a quick end. Because I want to take more pictures of food.

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Keeping the Clutter At Bay: The Not So Magical Art of Knowing Thyself

Today, we’re beginning my wrap-up of the Catholic Home series with a little tough love. Because someone out there— maybe you, maybe not you—needs it.

My friend Jess is not one of those people. She has five small children under the age of nine, and lives in a 1,000 square foot home with no basement, no attic,  very few closets (and a very nice husband who is a little clutter prone). She does a fantastic job of keeping her family’s possessions to a minimum. But clutter still builds up. There are simply too many people (including that very nice husband) in too small of a space. No amount of decluttering will change that.

If, like her, you are living with a passel of children in a truly tiny home, with a spouse who doesn’t share your hatred of clutter, you should probably stop reading this blog right now and friend her on Facebook so you can commiserate. Your lot in life is hard, and today’s blog will probably just annoy you.

If, however, you are like most of America and simply have too much damned stuff, read on.

Some stuff, of course, isn’t damned. Some stuff is necessary. Some stuff is beautiful. Some stuff brings joy, beauty, and light to our lives, reminding us of God, our family, our friends, and days past.

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