Monthly Archives: November, 2015

Not Alone Series: A Kitchen for One

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What are some great recipes for just one person? How do you handle shopping, cooking, and eating for one? Do you have any kitchen advice or cooking tips for singles? (Thanks to Bek and Laura for suggesting we give this one another go!)

I basically make 3 types of meals:

  1. The basic meals-for-one that a child can make, like cereal or a sandwich
  2. Slightly more involved meals-for-one, like a chicken quesadilla (for which I always have the ingredients handy and which I eat about once a week)
  3. Family-size meals that I make to intentionally generate leftovers

Type 1 meals make up most of my day. I have a bagel for breakfast every weekday morning and cereal on the weekends. I have a sandwich for lunch every workday and slightly fancier sandwiches on weekends. There’s not much variety, but there is a ton of brainpower left over for bigger priorities.

Dinners vary between Type 2 and Type 3. If I know I’ll have to eat and run before an evening activity, I make a Type 3 meal on an earlier night. If I stay at home after work and want something freshly cooked, I’m all about Type 2.

I also take advantage of being single by building my budget in a way that allows me to eat out. The time, location (Austin is a big town!), and convenience make the financial sacrifices worth it for me. And since I’m just one person, I buy fewer groceries when I eat out more.

My favorite meal is a giant batch of pasta. I call it Pasta Lindsay. I cook rotini, ground sausage, and store-bought sauce (because making it from scratch is not how I want to spend my time); combine everything; and call it dinner. I started making it that way back in college, when my friend Hana pointed out that Hamburger Helper is more expensive than just putting it all together yourself. I patched together a DIY version and have never switched back! It’s so simple, and the sausage is the key to making it flavorful.

But I do buy Tuna Helper when it’s on sale during Lent. #TexasPerks #thanksHEB

My secret tip to cooking for singles is this: your freezer is your friend. I have a good chunk of recipes that can be made in a large batch, frozen in individual portions, and thawed for reheating in the microwave. I own too many portion-sized containers, so after I cook and eat, I fill up at least one container (sometimes four) with the leftovers. I usually put one or two in the fridge to eat within the week. I freeze the others.

Apparently many people don’t think you can freeze pasta with sauce on it. False. I always toss my pasta with the sauce. I had too many spaghetti dinners growing up where I had too much sauce and not enough noodles. I also freeze chicken divan (chicken with broccoli in a cream sauce), soup and chili, and even mac and cheese. The only thing I don’t freeze is rice. I just make extra and keep the rest in the fridge. When reheating rice, add a splash of water and vent the container lid; the steam helps dramatically.

My secret tip to grocery shopping for singles is this: buying in bulk is your enemy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t stock up on nonperishables. Do that. But don’t try to kid yourself into buying food you won’t eat. I buy pre-cooked, fajita-seasoned frozen chicken for my quesadillas: a store brand (because I live in Texas) and in a large bag. And I gradually eat up the whole thing. I buy individual pints of milk because the second half of my quart always spoiled before I could use it. A lower cost per unit doesn’t matter when it’s in the trash. On the other hand, I buy the largest box of Honey Nut Cheerios I can find, and I stock up when any item I purchase regularly goes on sale. Shop smart, friends.

Finally, here’s a recipe. I went to a soup swap a few weeks ago. The other ladies and I all prepared soups with the specific intention of freezing them for later. My contribution was a soup I make all the time:

Chicken Tortilla Soup
(serves 5–6)

2 cups (1 lb.) cooked and shredded chicken
2 14-oz. cans chicken broth
1 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn kernels, drained
1 onion, diced
2 T minced garlic (you can eyeball this)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp. or more if you like spicy food)
tortilla chips or strips
Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

Combine all ingredients (except ground spices and chips) in a large pot and stir. To stretch, add a can of tomato soup; to thicken, add more tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as the flavors marry. Add spices and continue simmering for an additional 10 minutes. Serve in bowls over crushed tortilla chips or strips with optional Monterey Jack cheese.


Next week’s topic: Rejection

How do we gracefully and graciously handle rejection? How do you avoid falling into self-doubt or bitterness? How can you help or encourage others who have gone through rejection?

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Rachel at Keeping It Real.

Booking Through Thursday: Nostalgia

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What book (or books) from your childhood do you think about most often? Which had the [greatest] effect on your life?

I have a faint memory of a colorful book that I was reading out loud to my friends one day. We were sitting in the grass behind our central mail delivery unit. (The book is the faint part of the memory; everything else is vivid.) I was happily reading when I felt a tickle on my other hand, the one that was not holding the book. I looked over and saw a hornet perched right on my palm. I panicked. It stung me.

And you thought reading a book was a nice safe activity. Wrong!

The other standout childhood book is my picture Bible. I don’t remember when I got it, but I held on to it for a long time. It was a gift, and it was the only Bible I owned until eighth grade. (True story.) I would open it up to the beginning and look at the impressionist paintings of Adam naming the animals in Genesis. Sometimes I would flip on a few pages to Cain’s murder of Abel, or even all the way to Samson pushing the pillars down to crush his enemies.

It was years before I knew that the Bible is not really meant to be read cover-to-cover like a novel. As a child, though, I knew that the end of the “book” was really scary. Those pages had pictures of a raging fire. I didn’t like that part. Currently, I am nearing the end of a Bible study on the Book of Revelation. There’s not as much fire as Little Lindsay thought. There’s some fire, but there’s also the New Jerusalem. That part is pretty sweet.


For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

Booking Through Thursday: Damage

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Have you ever damaged a book? Dropped it in the bathtub? Spilled a bottle of ink? Used it to mop up spilled wine? Just broken its back (poor thing)?

Oh, no, books are not mops! I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally had anything liquid around a book, unless you count whatever I am drinking while reading-and-eating. I usually read during my lunch break at work; it’s the only way to keep up my pace for my Austin CNM column. I don’t think I’ve ever spilled anything on a book, though. Crumbs, yes. Drinks, no.

Yet I have damaged books before. It’s hard to keep from cracking the spine of a thick enough mass market paperback. They are made cheaply by design, so they’re not terribly sturdy.

I own at least one book that was damaged when I got it My copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets leans noticeably to the left. The poor spine just didn’t know what hit it in that bookstore pile. That was back in the days before Harry Potter had really hit it big, so it wasn’t snapped up off the shelves immediately (or purchased straight from the publisher’s shipping carton at midnight).

The worst damage is to my copy of Catholicism for Dummies. I eventually read and reviewed it, but I owned it for several years beforehand. At some point when I was in undergrad, it sustained significant water damage. The lower right portion, right where you turn the pages, is thick and warped from being wet and drying out. That scene from The Incredibles when Elastigirl is blasting the books with a hair dryer? It’s a lie.

I’ve thought about replacing it with the second edition, but it’s hard to justify replacing reference books unless you really use them extensively. In the Internet age, it’s hard to even justify owning reference books in the first place. Why buy a thick tome when you can get up-to-date information in seconds?

Have you ever betrayed your book friends with environmental damage?


For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

Not Alone Series: Single Scriptures

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What is your relationship with Scripture? Do you read the Bible every day? What is your favorite translation or edition? Do you use Scripture for prayer (a.k.a. lectio divina)? Do you play Bible roulette (flip to a random verse)? What are some Scripture verses that speak to you as a single woman?

Way back in 2007, I got a brand-new Bible and a brand-new plan to read the Bible in a year. I promised I wouldn’t give up until I finished it.

I haven’t finished it yet. But I haven’t given up, either!

My Bible reading these days is always in small chunks. I have never been the kind of person to just sit down and read the Bible, although I hear that is a great way to get a new perspective on the Gospels: reading a whole Gospel in one sitting. The big scenes happen one right after the other; they only feel like they take a long time because that’s how we experience them at Sunday Mass. That experience is probably why I struggle to just sit and read through books of the Bible. I tend to read slowly and get lost in reflection when I have a regular book. I can only imagine how lost I’d get contemplating the Word of God!

What I actually do is pray Night Prayer (from the Liturgy of the Hours) every night, so I read a psalm or two plus a few other verses in the course of that prayer. I also receive emails from Evangelio del dia to get the Gospel of the day plus a reflection in Spanish. That helps me practice my Spanish and grow in faith, so it’s a win on two fronts. On Sundays before Mass, I preview the other readings (in English) in addition to the Gospel. That’s my day-to-day experience.

Once or twice a year, I join my parish’s adult Bible study. They did the foundational course of The Great Adventure Bible Timeline a few years ago, but they haven’t repeated it since. That’s too bad, because I want to do that one, even though it does mean committing a whole school year. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of growing in my knowledge of and love for Scripture. In the meantime, I’ve done the short version of the Bible Timeline (recently re-released as “Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible”), the course on Psalms, and currently the one on Revelation. They’re all stellar.

Overall, though two Bible verses speak straight to my single-lady heart. The first is my favorite verse in the whole Bible:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

I know my life could be much harder, but that doesn’t negate the hardship I experience now in my singlehood and in general. That verse reminds me that the Lord is always there to bring rest in the end. We will experience suffering, but he will reach out to us with compassion.

The other verse just gives me hope:

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. —Jeremiah 29:11

In context, Jeremiah is preaching to the Israelites who are exiled in Babylon. They’re prisoners. Their great nation has been scattered. They have no idea that the Messiah is coming soon and salvation is right around the corner (relatively speaking). It’s much easier for us to wallow in the status quo, to think that this is as good as it gets. That’s not true, though. The virtue of hope means that we trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises. He has promised us salvation if we only trust in him.

So I will lean upon him when I am weary, and I will trust in him, and we’ll get through this life together.


Next week’s topic: Recipes for One

What are some great recipes for just one person? How do you handle shopping, cooking, and eating for one? Do you have any kitchen advice or cooking tips for singles? (Thanks to Bek and Laura for suggesting we give this one another go!)

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up below!

What I Wore Sunday: Back in Action

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All right! I was so sick last weekend that I couldn’t make it to Mass. I haven’t been too sick for church in a long time. It was a struggle to watch time ticking by, but I couldn’t drive, I go alone, and I couldn’t see all the way anyway, so I decided to stay home.

Today was a good day to be back. The Pharisaical part of my heart wanted to hear a mention that All Saints Day is a holy day of obligation, as is every Sunday, but I was just glad to be in the pews once again.

What I Wore Sunday, November 1

Top: Target
Skirt and shoes: Old Navy
Necklace: Charming Charlie
Earrings: Claire’s? (they’re so old I honestly can’t remember)

Missing a week and having an afternoon activity threw off my schedule, so this was the first outfit that popped to mind and is therefore what I wore. I wore this back in the early spring. I liked it then, and I like it now. As usual, fall arrived with Halloween, so I think my white skirts and sandals will be retired for the year as soon as I pick a time to put clothes away.

Mass was definitely not business as usual. Our pastor is a composer, so he wrote us a new Gloria. (I really liked the old one; it won awards.) It’s nice, but it’s not the best for parishioners to sing. It has several time signature changes, and the rhythm is not intuitive. I know that because I keep messing it up. Our music director referred to learning it as “a learning curve,” which sounded a little condescending. Very few of us are paid musicians, so we are going to need to be cut some slack.

I also got confused during Communion. The physical layout of the sanctuary is unique. Fr. Pastor designed a new path that is designed to “increase access to the Blessed Sacrament” and get everyone moving in a roughly forward direction to receive the Eucharist. I was sick last week and lectored the week before, so tonight was my first time in my usual section. Somehow, I wound up behind one cup minister, having incorrectly guessed that there were now two in that section instead of the usual one. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I’m still not sure what happened. There was definitely a traffic jam forming. I hope it makes sense soon, but if not, this wouldn’t be the first time Fr. Pastor brought in a big change and then abandoned it.

We had Fr. Associate Pastor for Mass, and I really liked his homily. He said, “Saints are the masterpiece of God’s creation,” and I liked the sound of it so much I committed it to memory so I could blog it here!

I’ve been to numerous All Saints Day Masses, but I can’t remember hearing the Beatitudes as the Gospel reading before. I’m probably just not remembering. Regardless, he also challenged us to find where we fit in the beatitudes. Are we merciful, poor in spirit, and hungry for righteousness? Or do we fit better in a list of sins?

One of the example sins he listed was “self-directed satisfaction,” a turn of phrase so striking and awkward that I also committed that one to memory. It didn’t make me want to roll my eyes as much as when priests say “the marital act,” but it came close. For the record, he came right out and said “pornography,” so there was that much, at least.

Finally, I learned a new word tonight: supernal. It’s the opposite of “infernal.” I spotted it in the last verse of “For All the Saints” and wrote it down to look up later. I like that song, so I wasn’t as suspicious as I am of the language in more contemporary hymns, but I will admit to having no idea what it was when I sung it. Forgive me, St. Augustine! And all you holy men and women in heaven, pray for us!


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