Monday, May 24, 2021

Powerful or Powerless?



 Powerless or Powerful? (Source*)
As the coronavirus lockdown began last year, I could feel the walls closing in around me. I watched the
news and saw stories of heroic first responders going out to save the world. Grocery store workers, postal workers, and yes, even trash collectors had an important job to do.


I, on the other hand, had orders to help by doing, well, nothing. There were even memes to the effect, “For the first time in our lives, we can save the world by lying on the couch watching TV. Let’s not mess this up!”


But, being home doing nothing doesn’t really feel good. Human beings have a basic need to be productive, to give. For all of history, the disabled, the elderly, and even prisoners have struggled with this too often thwarted desire to contribute, but it’s a fairly new experience for me, except during times of illness.


I tried to think of things I could do to help the world in this desperate situation. Every outlet seemed closed off to me, because of the risks that I might unwittingly contract and spread a virus that no one could see.


When Holy Friday came, I listened to the 12 Gospel readings from a new vantage point. Yes, listening to streaming services is different. But also, I was different, and I heard differently this time.


I had always previously dwelt on the physical sufferings of Christ – the sufferings that are so often emphasized in movies and books. I had thought of the pain of the nails, the length of the thorns, the difficulty breathing, the cut of the lash. I’ve always been a little surprised at the near silence of the Gospel about these vital details. The Gospels barely describe Christ’s physical sufferings, though they were undoubtedly severe. Instead, this sort of description is quite common in the Biblical accounts, When they had crucified him” (Matthew 27)  or  “ . .  .they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” (John 19)


But, this year, for the first time, my attention was drawn to something Gospels seemed to emphasize more than the physical sufferings. Words.


Some words are incredibly cruel:


Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matt. 27:39)




“He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.””(Matt. 27:48)


Other words convey unimaginable blessing of love & care:


“Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26, 27)


After hearing many, many such words read in the course of Holy Thursday evening, I developed an opinion. That while the physical wounds of Christ are not described in nearly as much detail as I would expect, but the wounds caused by words are described in much more vivid detail that I might have expected. And, the Blessing conveyed by words is also depicted in detail. Perhaps there was a lesson there that I was missing all these years? Maybe the Scriptures are painting for us clearly the power of words – power to heal or to hurt – power that we as Christians all too often underestimate.


I’d been meditating on this theme of the extreme importance of words since Holy Week.


Here in my home, my hands were largely bound. I could offer physical help to almost no one. On the other hand, my tongue – for better or for worse – was loosed. I fouid myself communicating with distant friends by the internet, or by telephone – or even by letter – in a way I haven’t done in years. And, verbal interaction with my family is also increased from pre-pandemic times. Sometimes that was a good thing. Sometimes it is not.


I noticed that in the world around me, everyone was communicating more, but with the heightened anxiety from world events and personal stresses, the increased communication could be either a blessing and a curse.


As time moved on, I was looking to Pentecost. Reading the Biblical account this time, once again I again noticed something that I had previously not fully observed. In Acts 1, Jesus promised, “ . . . you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. . .” Then, in Acts 2, the Power comes – quite dramatically, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind, and with Tongues of Fire. And, what was the first fruit of coming of the Holy Spirit in Power? I realized that once again, the miraculous occurrence was words. Mere words. Miraculous words that each heard in his own language, but still, words. The amazing Power of the Holy Spirit was manifest not in spectacular deeds, but in words. Granted, physical miracles would come later, but the first manifestation was words.


It was very tempting for me in times of isolation t despair, and think, “I can do nothing important, I can only talk to people.” Or in contrast to think, “I only said a few words, I couldn’t have possibly done much harm.”


But, truly, in this season of Pentecost, we need the Power of the Holy Spirit to give us strength to use the remarkable power of words for the Glory of God - whether isolated or not.


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)


*Photo Credit: "Isolated cumulonimbus" by otrow_photography is marked with CC0 1.0 


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Monday, April 26, 2021

What is Happening to the Church?

What is Happening to the Church?
What is Happening to the Church (Photo credit*)

Recently, I’ve been observing two contrasting realities:

First, I’ve been reminded of Christian history of past centuries. 

My daughter has been watching Torchlighters Videos on Redeem TV. These animated videos tell the Saint and Missionary stories - many of which I grew up hearing. People like Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, who were martyred for their faith. People like Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward and Adoniram Judson, who abandoned everything, risking life and limb, to share the Gospel with those who didn’t know Christ in foreign nations.

I’ve also been reading A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell, and hearing about those whose lives were changed by popular events of the late 20th century like the Jesus Movement, Campus Crusade for Christ, Billy Graham Crusades, and Evangelism Explosion. I’m reminded of concepts like “Personal Evangelism” and “Bring a friend to Church Day”

 I remember in my youth, hearing about heroic missionaries, and knowing many young people and adults who dreamed of influencing their world for Christ by traveling to a foreign country, and reaching those who had never heard of Him.

As an Orthodox Christian, I've been teaching my Sunday School students about those heroes who spread the Faith without regard for their own lives, people like St. Photini, Equal to the Apostles; St. Nicholas of Japan, St. Patrick Patron of Ireland; Sts. Cyrill and Methodius, Enlighteners of the Slavs & St. Nina Patroness of Georgia.

In contrast, I’ve also been witnessing a steady stream of disheartening news and commentary about our world, and the prevalence of Faith among Americans. The Gallup organization recently notified the world that American “Church Membership” has fallen below 50% for the first time in American history – for a current count of 47%

Even more alarming – the Gallup poll counts Synagogue and Mosque members as “Church Members” in their article (!) – so rather than 47% as reported, actual Church membership must be even lower. Not to mention, that even those counted at "Church Members" may not be devout.

When I travel around our country, and observe multiple states and religious denominations, I see things that concern me even more. I’m not talking here about one Parish or one town, or one denomination – I see this nationwide, across all denominations and Christian groups - even on the internet where people gather from all creeds and places.

In the Churches, I see fewer and fewer children or young adults. I see empty pews, and sparsely attended Bible Studies.

Clergy tell me that their members with advanced degrees in secular subjects don’t know even the most common Bible stories. If they wish to make a point in a sermon about the Parable of the Prodigal Son, for example, they have to tell the entire story, even to highly educated members. Even people with MDs, PhDs, and Masters Degrees don’t know the most frequently repeated Bible stories.  

I see more and more "nominal Christians" - people who use the label "Christian" but do not ascribe to the essential teachings of Christ and His Church.

When I hear Christians – even Clergy – discuss the current state of American Christianity, they often appear to be waving a white flag of surrender – using terms like “Post Christian,” and sharing gloomy predictions of future persecution. They talk about Churches closing, going bankrupt, or being forced by the government to violate their beliefs.All of these things are a definite possibility - IF we Christians do not pray, and obey God! But, they're not at all a foregone conclusion!

In the Early Church, when Christians were less than 10% of the Roman Empire, that small minority had a Faith in God that changed the world!

Now, we’re over 40 percent, and announcing His defeat!

Jesus said that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church , so this declaration of defeat is, of course, inaccurate.

But, there is a sad modern reality. 

Almost no one talks about how to love the more than 50 percent of Americans who are living lives without God and His Church. Those who could have a hope of Heaven and Eternity with God, but don’t. There is a lot of discussion about how bad this current trend reported by Gallup is for Christians, but very little discussion of its effect where it truly matters. What does this trend mean for those NON Christians and non-observant nominal Christians in our culture?

Meanwhile, our Churches have become experts in fundraisers & entertainment. Driving through town one day, I see an ad for a Church Barbecue. Another day I see an Easter Egg Hunt or movie night. On social media I see Baklava Sales, Festivals, Stage Plays, and Rummage Sales in various Churches all across the country. But, our actual attendance for services is getting smaller and smaller – and not just since the pandemic hit. Our fundraisers and entertainment events are full, but our pews are nearly empty!

Sadly, it has been years – maybe decades – since I heard anyone talk about reaching the lost outside their own congregation for Christ. And, I very rarely hear anyone discuss true Christian Education of Children – not entertainment or babysitting while Church is going on, or a little fun club for kids,  but a true teaching of the Faith.

I know almost no one who shares the Gospel with friend, neighbor, or colleague. Bringing a friend home to talk about the God Whom you love over coffee, or inviting a neighbor to experience a Church service with you is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

I know LOTS of people who pick fights with those same people over politics, economics, or parenting methods! So, it’s not that we don’t talk – we just don’t talk about the ONLY thing that really matters!

The fact is that human beings NEED God. Without Him, we are empty, hopeless and without a future. Without HIM, we are not living our only possible true purpose in life. As Blaise Pascal is quoted to have said,

 “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

If we fail to let others know about the Love of Christ – we are not “being polite” and “respecting their opinions,” any more than we’re being polite to the homeless person when we don’t share our food or money with them.

 What if we stopped looking at our secular neighbors as “the enemy” and started thinking of them as our “mission field?” What if we reached out to them?

 We assume that Americans who are not Christians have rejected the Gospel message, but the reality is that many Americans, having grown up in a secular public school and in less religious families, have simply never truly heard the Gospel or truly encountered Jesus Christ & His Church. In too many cases, they have only rejected an inaccurate portrayal of Christianity in T.V. shows,  movies and news. Or perhaps they have rejected the witness of those people who loudly proclaim to be Christians, while not living a life pleasing to God.

We used to dream of “going to the mission field” Now, the “mission field” has come to us!


Christ’s Great Commission has not changed.


Matthew 28:19, 20

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


What are we going to do about it?


We don’t need to travel to some foreign country to tell people about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – the mission field has arrived in our home town.We just need to step out our front door!


Think about this for a minute: If every Church-going Christian in America befriended one secular or non-Christian neighbor, and drew that ONE other person into the fold of the Church – in ONE year, we could become a country that was almost 100% Christian!


 A few suggestions:

  •  Make sure YOU are in Church whenever the doors are open – or as close to it as you can. The Bible is very clear that a branch that is not connected to the Vine cannot bear fruit!
  • Invite a friend over for coffee or for lunch and have a pleasant conversation – and mention how knowing God has blessed your life.
  • Invite a friend who doesn’t go to ANY Church to come with you some time.

  • Offer to share a resource that might answer some of their questions about the Faith, and draw them closer to God. Here are some that I like:

If they’re not interested right now– don’t push- God has His perfect timing, and they have freedom. 

And, pray! 

God Bless!

 *Photograph Credit:"mar16" by amboo who? is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Vegan Dump Dinner - Split Pea Soup

Vegan Dump Dinner - Split Pea Soup
Split Pea Soup is a great dinner - both comfort food AND healthy! 

This is prepared Dump Dinner style - simply put the ingredients in a Gallon Zipper Freezer bag or other freezer container and put in the freezer. The day before making it, put the container in the refrigerator to defrost. Then, the day you want to enjoy it, add it to the crock pot or slow cooker, and a few hours later, dinner is ready!

Here is the recipe:

Vegan Dump Dinner - Split Pea Soup
Place all ingredients in Gallon Zippered Freezer Bag or other suitable freezer container:
1 Pound Split Peas, rinsed and sorted
1 Bag Frozen Mirepoix Mix (or 1/2 cup each Chopped Onion, Celery, Carrot)
2 teaspoons Minced Garlic (from a jar is fine)
1 large cube Vegetable Bouillon, broken in pieces (such as Knorr or Maggi)
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons Celery Salt (or 1/2 teaspoon Celery Seed & 1 teaspoon Salt)

Seal bag. Label. Place in Freezer


Vegan Dump Dinner - Split Pea Soup

The day before cooking, place bag in refrigerator to thaw.

On cooking day, dump bag's contents into Slow Cooker or Crock Pot. 

6 Cups Water

Cook on High, 4 to 6 Hours

Serve with Crusty Bread or Crackers and Salad or Raw Veggies

I like to top my Split Pea Soup with Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Blend (that's not an affiliate link, just a suggestion : ) 

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Vegan Dump Dinners - Revythia (Greek Chickpea & Tomato Stew with Spinach)

Vegan Dump Dinner - Revythia - Greek Chickpea Stew
Making traditional Revythia is a time consuming process - starting from dried chickpeas, splitting them,
simmering them, adding sauce, simmering more, adding spinach, simmering even more. A delicious, satisfying dish - but not exactly a lazy day dish. Till now ; )

Of course, it is possible in Cyprus to buy chickpeas already split - but here in the US we decided to simply enjoy them whole. I think much of the reason for splitting them historically had to do with shortening cooking time and saving precious fuel - with modern methods that is less of a concern.

I modified my traditional recipe and turned it into a Dump Dinner this year. So - put all the ingredients in a zipper freezer bag, and toss in the freezer. Then thaw in fridge and dump in Crock Pot or slow cooker. Couldn't be easier. And, as it happens, it turns out to be quite tasty, but with a fraction of the work. 

I keep Yachni Sauce in my Fridge or freezer during Lent, so these Dump Dinners can be prepared in a jif. See below for instructions. This sauce can also be used to make all of these meals.

 Now, on busy Lenten days, when a meal needs to be consumed in a narrow window of time between work/school and Church - or after Church when everyone is tired and hungry - you're ready! 

Here's my recipe:

Revythia Dump Dinner (Greek Chickpea & Tomato Stew with Spinach)
Add to Gallon Freezer Bag or Container
5 (15 oz) cans Chickpeas, Drained
5 cups Yachni Sauce (see below)
1 (12 oz) bag Frozen Spinach
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, or preferred Lenten Oil (more or less to taste)
2 - 3 teaspoons Salt

Label & Seal Bag. Place in Freezer.

TWO days before preparing, put container in refrigerator to thaw. It thaws more slowly because the large volume - don't be worried if it's not perfectly thawed before preparing.

On the day you will consume it, add the contents of the container to the Slow Cooker or Crock Pot with 

2 Cups Water.

Cover & cook 6 to 7 hours, on high. 

Enjoy with Crusty Bread, Salad & Olives. 


Here are the instructions for making the sauce. Make sure to check this link for other recipes using this versatile sauce

Vat O' Yachni


1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (or up to 1 cup, depending on your taste)*
2 12oz bags frozen chopped onions (or 6 cups fresh chopped onion)
2 Tablespoons Garlic

Then add:
2 #10 cans chopped tomatoes with juice (OR 14 (15oz) regular cans OR 8 (32oz) cans)
4 Bay Leaves
1/3 cup dry Parsley
6 Tablespoons (one small can) Tomato Paste
2 teaspoons Salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Pepper

Bring to a simmer, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Ready for use immediately, or may be frozen in 4 batches (5 or 6 cups per batch) for future use.

Double Batch Yachni
(for smaller freezers or smaller families)

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or up to 1/2 cup, depending on your taste)*
1 12oz bag frozen chopped onions (or 3 cups fresh chopped onion)
1 Tablespoon Garlic
Then add:
1 #10 can chopped tomatoes with juice (OR 7 (15oz) cans OR 4 (32 oz) cans)

2 Bay Leaves
3 Tablespoons dry Parsley
3T Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Bring to a simmer, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Ready for use immediately, or may be frozen in batches (5 or 6 cups per batch) for future use.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Vegan Dump Dinners - Black Bean Soup

Vegan Dump Dinner - Black Bean Soup
This soup offers the best of several worlds. It is unbelievably easy to make, delicious and satisfying to
eat, and frugal. It also passes the kid-approval test in our house : ) 

I've been making it for years, but this year I simplified the method even more, and made it into a dump dinner - so it can be prepared with no hassles. 

You make it from dry beans, but it requires no soaking : )

I like to serve it with optional toppings: Rice to scoop on top, Sriracha for those who like a little heat, Fresh chopped tomatoes or Salsa, and Tortilla Chips. Avocado is also a delicious topping with this soup. 

For those who aren't vegan, or who aren't doing Lent, you can also offer Sour Cream and Mexican Style Shredded Cheese toppings, or even some Kielbasa slices.

Here's the super-easy recipe:

Vegan Dump Dinner - Black Bean Soup
In a Gallon Zipper Bag (or similarly sized Plastic Food Storage Box) Place:
1 Pound Black Beans, Rinsed and Sorted (2 1/2 cups)
1 (12 oz) bag Frozen Bell Peppers and Onions (or 1 cup Bell Peppers & 1 Cup Onions, in Crescents)
Scant Tablespoon Salt

In a Quart Zipper Bag (or similarly sized Plastic Food Storage Box) Place:
1 Can (15 oz) Chopped Tomatoes, with their liquid
1/4 Cup Dry Wine (any Color - may be omitted if you don't do wine)
Contents of 1 Packet Taco Seasoning, or 2 Tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning

Label Both Bags. 

Seal the small bag, place it inside the large bag, seal the large bag & put it in the freezer. (If using freezer boxes, put them next to each other in the freezer - possibly using a little tape so they don't get separated)


Vegan Dump Dinner, Black Bean Soup, in Progress



Vegan Dump Dinner, Black Bean Soup, Ready for Freezer


To make:

The day before, put the bags in the refrigerator to defrost. 

The day you want to enjoy the soup, remove the small bag, and leave it in the refrigerator. Put the contents of the large bag in your slow cooker or crock pot. 

Add 7 Cups water. 

Cook on high till beans are very tender - about 5 hours

Just before serving:

Add contents of small bag, and allow to warm (about 20 minutes - while you make the rice and set the table)

Then, Blend the soup with an immersion blender. I like to leave some of the soup chunky - with some whole beans, so I don't blend it until it's completely smooth, but I stop blending when it has reached my desired chunky-ness level : )

Serve in Bowls with above listed toppings to be added by each diner.


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Monday, March 29, 2021

Vegan Dump Dinners - Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

Vegan Dump Dinner - Moroccan Red Lentil Soup
 Need a delicious soup to come home to in the evening? 

This is a great one to put in the slow cooker or Crock Pot, and come home to after Lenten services, or some other time that you need dinner to be ready when you are.


This is how to make it:


Moroccan Red Lentil Soup Vegan Dump Dinner
Fill Gallon Zipper Freezer bag or Plastic Freezer Container with the following:

1 # bag (about 2 1/4 cups) Split Red Lentils, Rinsed well and sorted
2 (15 oz) cans Chopped Tomatoes with their liquid
1 Cup Chopped Onion (frozen or fresh chopped - about 1 onion)
1 teaspoon minced Garlic (I use the pre-minced stuff from a jar in the produce section of the grocery)
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Salt
A few grinds Black Pepper

Label, Seal, and Put bag in freezer.
The day before you use it, put it to the fridge to thaw.


Split Red Lentils

To Prepare:
Add Contents of bag to slow cooker with
7 Cups Water
Cook 5 Hours on High 

To serve:
Puree with Immersion Blender &Season with the following
(put more of these on table for diners to season to taste):
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (to brighten flavors)
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Salt

Can be served with Crusty Bread, Rice, or Tabbouli, and Garden Salad or Crudites

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Orthodox Lenten Menu 2021, with Less Time in the Kitchen

Orthodox Lenten Menu with Less Time in Kitchen
This year, Orthodox Christians celebrate Pascha (Easter) much later than do Catholic and Protestant
Christians. While others are about half way through Lent, our Lent just started on March 15. 

Orthodox Lenten foods exclude meat, poultry, most fish, dairy, and eggs. In other words, mostly Vegan foods. This menu is all Vegan, with an emphasis on reducing your time in the kitchen, and your money spent on foods, so that you can focus on the tasks of Lent - Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving. 

If you really hate cooking, but still want to observe Lent, check out this post:

40 Day Lenten Menu for People Who Hate to Cook

If you have family members who do not observe Lent, and you need to prepare food for them, check out these posts:

Month of Meals for Vegan and Omnivore Family 

This year's Lenten menu is a simple double. I made a three week plan, and then repeated it for a full Lent worth of recipes. Many of these recipes can be doubled for the freezer, so I'll make a note by each one to give freezer ideas. If you play it right, half the days of Lent (which can be quite busy with services!) will be almost cooking-free : )

1. Lentil Soup over Spaghetti (Double Lentil Soup and Blend it to Freeze. Serve with Vinegar on Holy Friday)

Lentil Soup over Spaghetti

2. Bamies Yachni (Quadruple Sauce, and add to Peas & Artichokes, and to Revythia, and Gigantes to serve later in Lent. For the second 1/2 of Lent, you may want another quadruple batch of sauce)

Bamies Yachni

Peas and Artichokes Yachni
Peas & Artichokes


Gigantes (Greek Giant Beans)

3. Chinese Stir Fry Over Rice (Cook Extra Rice for Freezer, but veggies must be made fresh)

Chinese Stir Fry Over Rice

4. Greek Style Black Eyed Peas


Greek Style Black Eyed Peas

5. Calzone Casserole (Make Extra Bread Mix to use later - you can use it to make breadsticks to go with Spaghetti, or with a number of other meals)

6. Revythia (use Sauce from Freezer, day 2)


7. Spaghetti (you can make noodles in microwave & use jarred sauce, or make homemade sauce & freeze half) Use your Bread Mix from day 5, if you like.


8. Veggie Fajitas (Make Extra Sauteed Veggies for Freezer, and Extra Refried Beans for Freezer. You can also send the Refried Beans in Lunch Burritos)


Veggie Fajitas


Refried Beans

Lunch Burritos with Leftover Refried Beans, Rice & Salsa

9. Skyline at Home (Double Bean Recipe for Freezer)

Skyline at Home

10. Peas & Artchokes Yachni (use sauce from freezer)

Peas and Artichokes Yachni
Peas & Artichokes

11. 10 Minute Lazy Day Lo Mein (This is a super easy recipe, but still, it is possible to freeze cooked spaghetti & veggies to use later, if you like & have the freezer space)

10 Minute Lazy Day Lo Mein

12. Chili over Rice (Make Extra Chili for Freezer & serve over potatoes later in Lent)

Chili over Rice

13. Gigantes (Use 3 to 4 cups of Sauce from Freezer)

Gigantes (Greek Giant Beans)

14. Veggie Burgers, Oven Fries (both from Freezer Section of Grocery Store - I use Vegan Boca Burgers & serve with all the fixin's - buns, mustard, ketchup, onion, tomato, etc). If you prefer homemade, here's my recipe Burgers & Fries, Vegan Style

Burgers & Fries, Vegan Style


15. Moujendra (This may be doubled & frozen)


16. Eggplant Stew  (Both the Stew & the Rice may be doubled & frozen)

Eggplant Stew

17. Black Bean Soup (May be doubled & frozen)

Black Bean Soup

18. Pad Thai (cannot be frozen - needs to be made fresh each time)

Pad Thai

19. Tabbouli & Lentil Salads (Grains & Legumes may be doubled & frozen for later use - then after thawing, add fresh veggies & dressing)




Lentil Salads

20. Fasolia Yachni (may be doubled & frozen to serve later)

Fasolia Yachni

21. Bulgur Pilaf (may be doubled & Frozen)

Bulgur Pilaf

And, of course, even during Lent, sometimes you need a little treat. Many Converts to Orthodoxy are shocked to find that sugar is not one of the foods on the forbidden list (though, without a doubt, it should not be overindulged in during Lent). 

To keep our easy cooking theme, I'll share one of my more popular easy desserts - 

Vegan Cookies from a Store-Bought Cake Mix.


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Monday, March 15, 2021

Vegan Dump Dinners - Lentil Soup (Oil Free, Gluten Free)

Vegan Dump Dinner - Lentil Soup
In Orthodox homes, Lentil Soup is the classic dish to serve during Lent. I always say that that's why they're called "Lent"ils. But no one believes me ; ) 

However they got their name (the real story is some boring thing about how they're shaped), they're traditionally served on the first day of fasting seasons (such as Great Lent and Advent), as well as on other days of strict fasting, like Holy Friday or Christmas Eve. This recipe is Oil Free - so it is perfect for those occasions. 

Of course, during Lent we have a lot of services to go to, and our main focus is not supposed to be food and cooking. Which makes Lent the perfect time for "Dump Dinners." 

Most dump dinners (including this one) can easily be thrown into a gallon zipper bag or plastic food container, and put in the freezer with ten minutes or less time investment. The night before you want to prepare it, put the bag or box in the fridge to thaw. The day you want to eat it, dump it in the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker - and a few hours later you have dinner all ready and waiting for you when you come home from Church : )

This is my own recipe - designed from scratch (tho this is its first year as a Dump Dinner). I've been making it for about 30 years, and it is one of my most requested by the extended family. Most of the family loves it. My daughter, however, will be happy to work out a deal - especially if, like Esau, you'd like to sell your birthright for a bit of Lentil Stew ; )

Cooking this one takes 4 hours on high. So, if you plan to come home at 7:30, put it on to cook around 3 or 3:30.

Lentil Soup Dump Dinner

Put ingredients in Gallon Freezer bag or Box

1 Pound Bag of Lentils, Rinsed and Sorted (no need to cook before freezing)

1 Bag Frozen Mirepoix Mix OR 1/2 cup each Onion, Celery and Carrot (more to taste)

2 teaspoons Minced Garlic  (I use the kind from a jar sold in the produce section of the grocery)

1 Bag Frozen Chopped Spinach

1 Can (15 oz) Chopped Tomatoes with their liquid

1 teaspoon Dry Mustard

1 teaspoon Dry Ground Ginger

2 teaspoons Salt (more or less to taste)

Label Bag & place in Freezer (note: I don't add liquid till cooking time to save freezer space)

The day before using, put in refrigerator to thaw

Vegan Dump Dinner Lentil Soup - ready to Freeze


To cook: Put in large slow cooker or crock pot with 8 cups water (tap temperature). Cook on High 4 to 4 1/2 hours. 

We like this dish three ways in our family:

1. As prepared, with Crusty Bread and Fresh Veggies and Olives for garnish, 


Lentil Soup with Olives

2. Blended, with Wine Vinegar added at the table; or 

Blended Lentil Soup - Just add Wine Vinegar


3. Over Spaghetti Noodles the next day. 


During Non-Fasting Seasons, or if you have a family member who doesn't fast, it's also delicious with Shredded Cheddar Cheese over the top - just starting to melt.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Mediterranean Primavera Bake


Mediterranean Primavera Bake

This delicious combination of Veggies, Cheese and Eggs is easy to make, and delightful to eat.It doesn't require precise measurements of veggies or cheese, but can be thrown together according to your tastes.

The combination of zucchini, tomatoes, olives, cheese and oregano gives it a bit of a Mediterranean twist.

If you love Tomatoes, and hate Black Olives, you're free to add more tomato and leave out the olives. Likewise, if you dislike onion, just omit it.

The idea is to layer about 1 inch of vegetables into the dish, then about a cup or cup and a half of cheese, and top with blended egg mixture. 

If you'd like to make this in advance, dish can be assembled the night before covered, and stored in the fridge. The next day, uncover and bake when you're ready. It's a great dish when you plan to have friends over for brunch.

This is how I make it.

Mediterranean Primavera Bake

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

 Grease a square glass baking dish

 In the baking dish, Layer

2 Sliced Zucchini 

2 Roma Tomatoes, diced

1/4 small onion, cut in thin crescents

6 Black Olives, Sliced

1 teaspoon Oregano


Mediterranean Primavera Bake - Layer Veggies in Dish


Top with

1  Cup Shredded Mozzarella

1/4 to 1/2 Cup Cubed or Crumbled Feta 

Mediterranean Primavera Bake - Veggies Topped with Cheese

Then Blend:

3 Eggs

1 1/2 Cups Milk

3/4 Cup All Purpose Baking Mix (such as Bisquick or Great Value Brand)

1/2 teaspoon Salt

A few grinds Black Pepper

Pour Blended Egg Mixture gently over veggies and cheese in dish - the mixture usually just comes to the top of the veggies & cheese.

Mediterranean Primavera Bake - Veggies Topped with Cheese and Egg Mixture

Put dish in preheated oven and bake till golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, and wait 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving. (it will deflate a little at this point - no worries!)


Mediterranean Primavera Bake - Fresh from the oven

Serve with Crusty Bread and Salad, or with Muffins & Fruit.

Mediterranean Primavera Bake - serve in Squares

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