Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Celebrate Summer Feast Days with a Chilled Rice Pudding.

I love Summer.  It is a season of ease and reflection; closure and anticipation.  Remember the wonderful feeling summer vacations offered as a buffer from life... no schedules, no home work, no school?  Remember the gratifying feeling of finishing one grade and spending the summer in anticipation of the one to come?

As we age, summer songs on the radio bring flashes of memories to the forefront and we smile as we drive with the windows down remembering the past.  We remember days of waiting, bored out of our minds, for something to do and when we finally had something to do our days were blissful. If we were lucky (blessed) we were able to attend camps year after year. Counselors and friends reconnected with us and reminded us of experiences we all shared; the things no one else could possibly understand, and they stood as a mark to reveal how we have grown. As we revisited these places we were reminded of who we once were and show how we've changed.  Cyclical experiences like summer vacations and annual events excite me because they become a Post It (a red flag; a notch on the door frame) on our memory and reveal who we are becoming. 
The Orthodox Church knows about cyclical experiences.  As we celebrate the Liturgical Calendar's feasts and fasts year after year, we grow in our understanding and experiences. Look at the blessings Great Lent had for us to refocus our lives to God's will and now, having recently celebrated Pentecost, we are about to close the season of movable feasts of the Triodion.  After we celebrate All Saints with a fast-free week (this year on June 30th) and when we reach the Synaxis of the Apostles (every year on June 30th) we continue with our regularly scheduled fixed calendar. 
Summer feasts and celebrations unfortunately are often forgotten by our schedule shift of summer ease.  During the summer we remember many strong and faithful women of the church: Sts. Paraskevi, Makrina, Markella, Mary Magdalene, Christina, Euphemia and Olga.  More importantly, we celebrate minor fasts and feasts: Apostles Fast (following All Saints till the Synaxis of the Apostles) which is non-existent this year because it was squeezed out by a late Pascha; Panagia's Fast (August 1-14th) encompasses Transfiguration, (August 6th) a Great Feast of Our Lord and Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15th) closes the Liturgical Year.

This summer celebrate the Feasts of the Church with a delicious summer treat of chilled rice pudding with a side of fresh peaches and whipped cream or celebrate the Fasts by following this recipe using Almond Milk (and skip the topping.)  Either way, you will be pleased. 



  • In a small sauce pan simmer, after boil, 1 c long-grain rice in 2 c water for 10 minutes or till liquid is absorbed.  

  • In a larger pot warm 6 c milk (2%, skim or almond) with 1 c sugar and 1 t vanilla extract.  Be careful not to scorch milk.   When rice is cooked and milk is warm, combine the two. 

  •  Continue cooking milk and rice over medium heat until rice is fully cooked and mixture has thickened, which should take another 40 minutes.  STIR OFTEN!!

  • After 40 minutes whisk 1 T softened butter and 3 beaten egg yolks in a separate bowl.  Do not add the egg mixture to the pudding until you temper it by slowly whisking it with 1/2 c of warm pudding. 

  • Add the tempered egg mixture to the pot of rice pudding.
  • Simmer another 2 minutes over medium heat.
  • Pour into individual serving bowls or a serving platter.  Be sure to let the pudding cool to room temperature before you chill in the fridge or a film will form.  You don't want that. 

  • When you are ready to serve, sprinkle with ground cinnamon.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

You Will Never Buy Whipped Cream Again After You Read This Post!

I had no idea it was this easy!!  and I will never buy fake processed whipped cream again.  Neither will you after you read this post. 

  • Chill metal bowl and mixer blades in freezer for at least 15 minutes. 

  • Pour 1 c heavy cream in bowl with 3 T sugar and 1 t vanilla extract.  (Whole milk will not work.)

  • Mix on medium speed till cream thickens.

Just keep mixing...  Just keep mixing...
  • You have to be careful not to over whisk... or you will shift from whipped cream to butter...
  • The best tip I have is that the cream will shift from glossy to matte.  When soft peaks form and the shine is gone, stop the mixer. 


Ta Da!!! 

Celebrating with a Feast!

This week we celebrate Pentecost and the Holy Spirit with a fast free week!

These previously marinated pork pieces were frozen and after they thawed I sautéed them in a cast iron skillet.

Here's the recipe from an earlier post... http://presvassi.blogspot.com/search/label/souvlaki

Friday, June 14, 2013

Today's JAR- Just a Reminder

Today's JAR: Sunday is a day for Liturgy... No one HAS to go to church for Liturgy... in the same way that no one HAS to eat or breathe on their own.

Without Liturgy your life is as "lived" as a patient in the ICU. Technically you are alive...


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Make Over Time... all across the board.

It is a little late for Spring Cleaning but I have had my own little awakening lately and it's time for change. 

There are things I do, habits that have imprisoned me and thought processes that haven't been nice.  And I am finding myself beginning another summer (a great cyclical marker) where I am not in the "place" I hoped to be by now.  So many things I thought I'd accomplish over the past year have slipped though my fingers and here I am.. the same as last year: same size, same hair cut, same routine, same excuses.  So today I have made a decision.... It's time for a makeover.  My business and blog are no exception as they are a reflection of me (note the new layout.)

How did all this happen?  I think the root of my problem is that although I hate failure (not using the word lightly) I had forgotten to just get up instead of not try at all.  And yes, I hear you all cheering as I type and you read!  "Way to go, Vassi!"  I'm even saying it myself. 

I'm not going to belabor the point.  I am going to move forward.  And I would like to thank anyone who has been praying for me.  It's working! 

First goals: drink more water, wake up earlier, read more, keep house cleaner, walk more.  FIVE THINGS.  Five things that will change my life. 

  1. Drink More Water:  I am getting older and my body doesn't work like it used to.  I need to take better care of it.  I am going to drink more water.  It's a no brainer. 
  2. Wake Up Earlier: One of my daily struggles is that I don't have enough Me Time.  It's a bit narcissistic, but I have found that there are things I have to do alone and in my own space.  Now that Summer Vacation is here... three months that terrorize any unorganized stay at home mom... I am not going to get that much needed time unless I wake up earlier.  There is no other way.
  3. Read More:  We need to convert from a family of TV'ers to a family of Readers.  It needs to be done for my son's sake... he HATES to read.  We bought him books when he was a baby.  We read to him every night.  But it has yet to click that he needs to read for himself, he's 10. Truth is I never cared for reading.  Reading requires too much concentration and I absorb it so deeply that I have to be cautious of where the author is taking me.  A bad experience one summer threw me off reading for years.  It was an Oprah Book Club book.  The story was moving along so nicely with delightful details and insight and then BAM! the girl was raped in the woods by her brother's friend.  I threw the book away right then and there.  What a terrible thing to write about.  I have no tolerance for it; not in life and not as entertainment.  But now I have a bad habit of not reading and I have become an even worse example to our son.  So, I will read more. 
  4. Keep House Cleaner:  In all fairness, my house isn't a science experiment but it isn't necessarily always company ready.  I've been depending on the help of FLY LADY  and it has worked for a while... but now with summer here, it needs to be tweaked... I found a new website Simple Mom. She thinks like me.  Fly Lady was good, but it doesn't stress the Mom Factor enough.  I'm going to try this and I'll let you know.  I already love the way she set up her Daily Docket and I plan to tweak it to my needs and use it. 
  5. Walk More:  I am terrified of exercise but I need it desperately.  I have decided to start with the least invasive approach... walking.  It's one of the first things I learned to do and so I think I will be pretty good at it. 

These are the five things I am going to work on to improve my life.  Say a Prayer, I could use all the help I can get.  (Don't send good thoughts... I think that is a ridiculous thing to say...)

Today's JAR- Just a Reminder

Today's JAR- Just a Reminder: This is the last day we greet each other with "Christ is Risen" The season ends today. Tomorrow we celebrate Ascension and then in 10 days, Pentecost!

Has Pascha changed you or have you returned to "normal" in the past 40 days leaving the news of our Lord's resurrection a faint memory? The days of fasting and extended services aren't a coiled spring where we bounce back where we were. Each Pascha carves out a new normal. Each Pascha Season we build upon who we are and our relationship with God and one another.

Enjoy today in celebration of our Lord's resurrection!

Till next year with health and illumination.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

For the message of the cross...is the power of God.