Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Beauty That Changes You (+ Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole)
I am one of those people who keeps an absurd number of unread emails in my inbox. I scan the list of new messages, click open one or two that are actually personally relevant to me, and then just move on to something else. Mostly, the unread emails are promotions I'm not interested in, newsletters and notifications I don't remember signing up for, that kind of thing. But once in a while a message pops up from a voice that never fails to be uplifting and refreshing, and I find myself glad to see them, like having coffee with a good friend after a long time apart. The Blessed is She reflections. A notification from Sarah Mackenzie that a new episode of the Read Aloud Revival podcast is up! Anything, just anything from Tsh Oxenreider.
Lately, I've been working through Tsh's Upstream Field Guide: an online course "to help you discover who you are, find your life's purpose, and take daily action so that your life makes more sense." It is jam packed with great stuff - podcasts, downloads, Spotify playlists to get your journaling juices flowing. I have been enjoying every minute I spend with it, and loving the fact that I can do it at my own pace. One of the journal prompts asked me to list some things that I find beautiful, and it has really stuck in my brain. As I go about my days, I'll find myself thinking, There. There is something that is beautiful.
In a homily last week, one of our parish priests reflected on the crucifixion. He knew an artist who tried to describe the balance of emotion that goes into a painting or other depiction of Christ's Passion. Pain, of course. Agony. But also ecstasy. Because He joyfully offered Himself on the cross, it was not only pain and suffering. He knew exactly what He was doing, and why. And for whom.
What tremendous beauty there is in such a sacrifice; a willing self-donation. Joy and love transform pain into beauty.
All through this week, I expect to find myself dissolving into tears as I witness - again - so many stunning displays of a love that transforms, that heals, that saves. In yesterday's Gospel reading, a woman pours out a liter of costly oil - a LITER! - on Jesus' feet, and dries them with her hair. How can you witness an act of such bold humility and striking sacrifice, and come away unchanged? Imagine the smell in that house - filled with that fragrance. Imagine the gasps of those watching, the tears on Mary's face as she loved Jesus with abandon. Let this beauty sit in your soul and change you.
This Holy Week, I decided to dedicate myself to decluttering, sprucing up, and using up the food that's in our house - preparing our home and our hearts for a big celebration. As I realize what a huge task I've embarked upon, I'm starting to think toward next Lent - maybe a big de-clutter in the kitchen during the first week of Lent, and then meal-planning to use up what's there, in an effort to simplify, save money, and be a good steward of the generous gifts God has given me. We are still using up things and eating up leftovers this week (gotta make room for a feast!), and this "unstuffed" cabbage was a great, easy way to do it. Hope you enjoy it!
Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and butter a 9x13 (or equivalent) baking dish. Toss the cabbage with a teaspoon of salt, and let it sit while you prepare the filling.
Sauté bacon until crispy. Pour off excess fat, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan. Add the beef to the pan and brown it, breaking it up as you go. Add onion, garlic, and seasonings and cook 3-5 more minutes, until onions are beginning to soften. Stir in tomato paste and wine. Remove pan from heat, and stir in the yogurt.
Spread half the cabbage in the buttered dish, and top with beef. Repeat with remaining cabbage and beef. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Enjoy!