Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Best Romanian Soup You Could Ever Have (not that I have an opinion about it! :) )

My friend A and I have been emailing about her soup!
I finally made it today and served it tonight to my Husband and
a good friend our ours!
Her recipe is below with my changes written in blue.
 1-2 pounds catfish (the more the better) (2 lbs)
2 potatoes (5)
2 carrots (4)
1 celery root (or 1/2 if it's large) (2)
1 big onion or 2 small ones (1 medium 1 small)
1 red pepper
1 can chopped tomatoes (200 grams)
200 grams of sour cream (8 oz)
parsley (bunch 14 oz without stems)

I used catfish - for this kind of soup it's best to use catfish. Dice the fish meat in cubes, put it in the boiling pan and add water just to cover the meat, then take the meat out of the boiling pan. (Put the meat separately, season with salt and leave it aside.) 
You need to do this so as to know how much water to use - it's critical not to use more, otherwise the soup will not be as concentrated as it should be. 

My changes to the above: So, I was concerned that I would not have enough 
broth for what I wanted in this soup so I pretty much DOUBLED the
amount of water my friend suggested.  I had about (or even a bit more than) 1 inch of water on TOP of the fish before I took the fish out of the water.... 

 The fish was about 2lbs of catfish that I cut up,
with at least an inch of water on top of the fish... 

I got this awesome mesh spoon ladle from an Asian store
a year ago (more more)! 
It worked perfectly!
Back to my friend's recipe... 

Next, wash and dice 2 potatoes, 2 carrots, 1 or 1/2 celery root, chop 1 onion (for 1 - 1 1/2 pounds of fish meat). 

My changes: since I was using 2 lbs of cat fish and knew I was adding more water,
I used...
5 potatoes (some small), peeled and chopped, 
4 carrots, peeled and chopped,
 2 celery roots, chopped with ends sliced off and 
2 onions about (1 medium and 1 small).

Add the vegetables to the water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. When the water starts boiling, add one chopped red pepper. 
When the vegetables are cooked (but not too soft), 
Note, this was about 5 minutes at MOST
add the fish after rinsing it under tap water. 
Next, add one can of chopped tomatoes. 
The can of tomatoes I used was 200 grams.  It was the perfect amount.

After a couple of minutes of boiling, add lemon juice - I use one lemon; the fish absorbs lemon juice, so at first the soup might taste sour, but after a few hours, it will be less and less sour. 
I juiced one big lemon, it was perfect.
Taste to see if it's seasoned to your taste. Boil for another few minutes - take care not to overcook the fish. Catfish needs about 10 minutes to cook fully after being immersed in simmering stock. 
I did all of her instructions from when the vegetables are somewhat soft 
to turning the burner (gas stove) OFF in 10 minutes, no more.
After you see that everything is cooked, turn off the stove and after 1-2 minutes add 200 grams of sour cream and mix everything well.
You will want the 200 grams! I used half of my new container of sour cream, 8 oz of the 16 oz!
The sour cream MAKES this soup.
 After that, add chopped parsley. 
I used a 14 oz bunch of Italian Parsley, leaves and stems leaves are on but not
the long stems under the leaves.  Perfect amount. 
The recipe looks long, but the process itself is really not long, nor difficult:).

Most the vegetables stayed at the bottom, with the onion floating to top.
Once you add the rinsed fish back it is a great hearty soup.

Because I added more water, you could not really taste the 
soup as a fish soup; the fish was not 'fishy' tasting and instead
it tasted JUST like amazing soup I had in Bucharest with lamb,
except of course this had no lamb, but fish.
But the broth was the same.
It was so good, I can't wait to have more on Sunday
when we will share the rest with some friends, 
God willing. 
And that is it for now!
I am so glad for this day and that the soup turned out so very well.
God bless each of you!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

About Today (And my new motto: Pray, not Panic)

Today was a day full of various things.
Morning cleanup and then making more of my favourite Pasta sauce
As I wrote elsewhere: 
We opened a bottle of red wine Sunday night for our
 meatfare chicken dinner we had...
 this week is what we call 'Butter Week' or 'Cheesefare week' ...
 the week that we have already given up (for Lent) meat 
but not fish or dairy. But red wine did not fit in with the meals 
we had so I poured it all (more than the recipe 1 cup) into this pasta sauce! 
I've done so before and it is delicious!! 
I've been making it for years! 
First time I made it I think was in Walnut Grove BC 
when I was still living in BC!
So I prepared that before lunch.
lunch was a delicious fried egg and raisin-cinnamon toast with Peanut Butter 
and a nice pot of tea of course, and kombucha, so good! 
Then I packed up everything to make a simple blini (Russian large thin crepe)
for L. who moved to a new place for more rehabilitation since she
broke her hip in December.
Her lungs still are not that great and have problems.  Asking your prayers!
She loved the blini, she had farmers cheese and apricot jam warmed up
and then some sour cream on top!
I got some new tea today,
I made salmon for dinner and 
got the fia pasta sauce prepared for freezing tomorrow. 
And DV tomorrow, I plan on making fish soup... 
I wrote this a bit earlier today:

From this article -- serious stuff -- 
"SARS killed 774 people and infected 8,098 between November 2002 and July 2003.
 The new coronavirus has killed more than three times that many people in eight weeks."

I am seeing more people talk about this - 
and have gotten emails from medical offices about it.
 I keep thinking "Pray, not panic; Pray, be prepared; 
Pray for those impacted; 
Pray, for wisdom to know how to be prepared; Pray, not panic" ...

I think one of the hardest things right now about this is merely that 
we simply do not know what will happen worldwide 
or within our communities themselves. 
Pray, not panic; Pray for a peaceful heart as you prepare.

I know some are not worried much at all; 
I am sure it is coming to where I live; 
we are so close to NYC which is 40% of the airspace of the US....

Pray for a peaceful heart; pray, not panic.
 I think this is going to be one of my Lenten disciplines! 

Nearing Great Lent + reflections on fear when the world is panicking

Well.  Time is just going by!
I feel like I can barely remember what I did on Monday!
Yesterday I went to Trader Joe's for a few things, 
tomorrow I get groceries delivered for a special meal
 on Friday evening and Sunday evening.
My Husband decided he wanted to stock up on some things so we went
grocery shopping this afternoon.
My, let's just say we had 2 carts AND I got things at another store as well.
We are both aware of the virus going around now in Europe (Italy), South Korea,
 a bit here, a bit in Canada,
a lot in China and how the world is reacting to it
and is scared scared scared. 
I think the fear is on many levels.
From my reading of it, it's a few things.
First and ultimately, it is the fear of dying and of suffering.
For oneself, one's family and friends.
Second, it is the fear of being stuck in a place where you have to stay home
and the panic of a city all raiding the stores for every last thing. 
We saw that with Hurricane Sandy.
Third, it is the fear of the unknown and how long this will last
and when the fear about it will end. 
Forth, of being alone in a hard situation.  
Sorry to talk about fear, but if I name it I understand it more.
What is difficult in all of the news is that they don't know how to address a lot
of the basic fears.  
Lord have mercy this world needs Christ! Christ's love, Christ's light, the saving truth
that is found in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. 
And this world surely needs Psalm 23, the Psalm of the Good Shepherd. 
Last, we all need the basic prayer to Christ:
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me. 
That is first and can help calm panic and fear.
It can remind people that right now wherever they are no matter what
God is with them, God can comfort them and provide for them.
God can help them face whatever today holds.
Great Lent begins for us on Monday.
For many it begins tomorrow.
May God bless us and protect us
and bring is ever closer to Himself! 
And may this Psalm always comfort us 

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Enjoyed a nice dinner with two newer friends,
such enjoyable conversation! 
Thanking God!

The salad needs some help.
One I probably should have used Romaine lettuce.
Two, that onion needs to be calmed down, the bite was WAY too strong.
I consulted with a culinary friend who knows more and learned some tricks
to calm that onion down - here is one of them:
"Just peel and slice the red onion as called for in your recipe, 
then submerge them in a bowl of cold or ice water. Let them sit for at least ten minutes, 
stirring once or twice, before draining and using them in your recipe.
For added flavor, you can also soak the onions in lime juice, lemon juice, or vinegar. This method also works for other onions and bitter melon." (again this info is from here).
My friend also said you can salt the onion to lose it's pungency but it will also
make it softer (i.e. the crispness will be lost) but this is perfect for potato salad. 
To do this she said that to prepare the onion this way you: 
"You just cut or chop, salt, and let sit for 5-10 minutes,
 or you can even massage the salt into them a bit with your hands before you let them sit."
My friend also said: 
"With some vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes,
 that's actually a technique used to concentrate flavors:
 cut them, then salt them, let them sit, 
drain off the liquid that is drawn out, then add to the salad."
I found this about salting tomatoes to be helpful also. 
My friend said you can also salt the entire salad but you have to serve it soon afterwards
as the salt will draw water out of the vegetables and make it soggy.
Also I think I should have added more dill... 
I hope to try some of these techniques soon to make a better salad... 
If YOU have any suggestions to add to this, please let me know! :)
I feel like the salad I had this past week was so good, I just want to recreate it!

It was a really nice time, for which I thank God for!
It meant a lot to me to talk with our guests who know
a lot of the same people we do, all the way from Ottawa to various
parts of the States.  
I was really grateful for this time. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

My writing table is back and I ponder the mystery of time

A lot done today!
My writing table is back,
the yellow German pottery is back on display,
I took a 2 mile walk in cool brisk air to see Lady Liberty,
and I talked with my Grandma and Mom.
Tomorrow DV I will prepare the chicken for roasting on Sunday
and also prepare potatoes for roasting as well. 
Tonight a friend texted me that is father died.
That would be the third really heavy thing for news
this week...but as my Grandma said to me, at her age,
she and her friends all have serious things to deal with in 
terms of sickness and death... 
Not very cheery perhaps, but real.
But also real was that my Grandma and I talked about God's love,
about how only He understands the full picture of what is going on 
and that He can bring good out of what we cannot understand.
My Husband patiently listened to me yesterday about the mystery of time;
that we can know someone in their late 20s, for instance, when we are children
and now that we are middle aged, that person is in his or her in their mid-60s.
How is that a vibrant person who is in their 20s becomes one day, 
yet so suddenly, in the mystery of it, elderly?
I know, it takes time, even 50 years, to go from 20 to 70, which is not
elderly but I think you understand what I mean.
How is it that we can be young and then a bit older and know that
'older' is the only thing we are going to get.
And really, time flies as they say; 50 years is nothing, 
just waking up every day and living that day.
It goes fast.
But with that same fast time our bodies age.
Babies are born, new parents are born at the same time, as it were,
the parents of the parents become grandparents and the grandparents
great grandparents and it is beautiful but it is a mystery. 
Though, as I told my Husband, when I turned 40, I was not staring my
mortality in the face, but instead suddenly the understanding that I was
in the second half of life in terms of loss.
That, if things went according to time and age, I would lose my parents.
That I would never feel ready, even if they lived another 20 years.
My Mom commented about how we must live in today and with God.
And YES we must.  
It is such a balance; what does it mean to get deeply discouraging news, 
such as we got on Tuesday (with the court case) and feel like you are reeling
but yet have to come back to standing upright.
How does one keep that stance of prayer; 
that discipline that is easy when one is reeling but harder when
one is either unable to face the continued hard of a situation or 
it is sunny and one does not want to think of it; 
what does it meant to be at prayer, to really keep praying like
Christ says to, like the persistent widow. 
Well, my Grandma and I closed our conversation with the
sense of HOPE we get from God.
And it is truly only with God that one can make
it through and, I pray, pray with greater consistency in
the way God made one to pray;
thankfully we have a merciful God who loves us
and understands our frailty and our hearts, better than we do,
ourselves... May God have mercy on us and save us!