What’s for supper? Vol. 384: One caprese summer (relics notwithstanding)

Happy Friday! I had a week that was just plain weird.

Let me tell you about it, and also what we ate. 

SATURDAY
Nachos

Saturday I was still in the grips of whatever it was that made food into my mortal enemy last week. I went grocery shopping verrrrry slowly and cautiously, and then came home and made nachos, but did not take a photo, because I can buy food and make food, and even eat a little bit of food, but apparently pointing a camera at it is a bridge too far. 

My nachos are not terribly inspiring anyway. I just cook and season some ground beef and sprinkle it over tortilla chips, throw some jalapeños over that, and cover it with shredded cheese, then heat it up, and serve it with sour cream and salsa. It’s one of those dishes I don’t really want to start making better, because then people will expect it, and I need to preserve some quick and brainless meal preps for myself.

In the afternoon, I rested for a bit and then to the flower farm up at the top of the hill, because the rabbits gobbled my beloved poppies up, and I was just feeling tragic about my garden and its stubs. It had been murderously hot and and humid for several days, but it suddenly turned cloudy and breezy, and flower son stood gazing at the horizon, and said, “. . . In about five minutes.” And then it started to sprinkle.

So I scurried around grabbing what I came for (perennial dianthus, tickweed, and some eggplants), but not fast enough. SUCH A DOWNPOUR. I briefly turned into Fielding Mellish

But I got my flars!

SUNDAY
Grab whatever

Sunday was a little rough. I ended up having to leave Mass early and go sit in the car because I was feeling so blehhhhh. Not too bleh to take a selfie because my hair was having a nice day, though. 

Clara and Damien went to a Bonny Light Horsemen concert, and a bunch of the other kids were doing this and that, so I couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to cook anything for the small group that was left. I may have had a bagel, but I truly don’t remember.

MONDAY
Steak and peach salad

Monday I was feeling quite a bit better, and agreed to take the kids to the library. Then on the way home, I remembered we needed duck food; and then the exit from the feed store is a weird traffic spot where it’s hard to turn left, so I decided to go right and take the long way home, and as long as we were on that road, I asked the kids if they wanted to hit the Salvation Army. 

And that is how I found the first class relics of Saint Peter, Apostle, and St. Helena, Empress. 

I am not kidding. They were in the jewelry case for $3 each and I was like, “oh, um, could I see those little round pieces, please?” and then I was like, “um, oh, I will take them, please.” I zipped them into my Vera Bradley wallet, because I didn’t know what else to do. And that is where they still are, actually. 

I didn’t have my reading glasses onat the store, so I couldn’t read the little labels until I got home. It just felt too insane to take in, and still does.

But I carefully unscrewed the backs

and saw this:

I talked to Sean Pilcher of Sacra Relics and sent some photos, and he said they are “doubtlessly authentic,” and that the wax seal inside is the seal of Giuseppe Nicolini, the bishop of Assisi who founded the Assisi Network that saved hundreds of Jews during World War II.

So. 

I have relics. Most likely.

I still have to pack them up and send them over to be cleaned and repaired, and I hope they can be documented. Pilcher said one of the major misconceptions about relics is that Catholics expect you to accept on blind faith that they are what we say they are; but actually it’s a pretty rigorous process of authentication that draws on expertise from several different fields. So we shall see!

In the mean time, it sure looks like our household picked up a couple of amazing new friends. I’m working on writing a long piece about it, and just trying to understand what it could possibly mean that I’m temporarily sharing a bedroom with some nearly 2000-year-old bone fragments of a man who was chosen by Jesus to be the rock on which the Church is built, and the woman who found the true cross. I’m open to ideas! I’m open to all kinds of things. 

My sister and her husband are making a reliquary for them, for as long as they will be in our house, and I’m waiting to hear back from my pastor about whether our parish wants and can accommodate them, and I talked further with Sean Pilcher and left some messages with Fr. Carlos Martins who hosts Treasures of the Church. My first goal is to have them as local as possible, with as much access for the faithful as possible.

I just. I don’t know. At first I was frightened and distressed, but now I am growing attached. 

Told you I was having a weird week! And yes, I did go back to the Salvation Army to see if there was . . . anything else. Which there was not, except for a silly nicknack from Target or something that looks exactly like a monstrance, except with a mirror in the middle. I talked to the manager about what I had found, and she said that, if someone drops off relics again, they will call a priest. (I was like, “So, for future reference, these are human remains. . . ” and she was like, “We can’t know everything!” and I was like “OH, I KNOW.”)

But! Relics none the less, I still needed to make supper. And this is still a food blog. So.

London broil was on sale, so I got four nice cuts. I seasoned them with salt and pepper, heated a skillet up screamingly hot and melted some butter on it, and then seared each steak for three or four minutes per side. 

Very nice. 

Some of it was a little underdone, even for us, so I threw those pieces back in the pan and finished them up while I cut up a bunch of peaches. So we had mixed greens, beef strips, peaches, crumbled goat cheese, and a sweet vinaigrette. 

Superb. I was feeling extremely depleted in general, so some lovely rare beef really hit the spot. 

TUESDAY
Corn dogs and chips

Tuesday I was feeling very much better, and RELICS NONETHELESS, I scurried around getting caught up on weeding and mulching and yard work. The grass was pretty high, and that is how I mowed right over an aerosol can of bug spray, which exploded with a bang and a cloud. No biggie, I have St. Peter and St. Helen in charge of the house now. I can run over whatever I want!

I’m just talking. I don’t know what is going on, for real. 

WEDNESDAY
Caprese pasta

Wednesday was our long-anticipated annual dumpstravaganza, relics howbeit. The kids cheerfully and willingly, just kidding, helped me drag a year’s worth of clutter and horrible crap from the yard into the driveway

and then I ruthlessly cleared off the porch, and four trips to the dump later, it looks like human beings live here.

You know you’re having a wonderful day when the dump guy asks if you’re okay. I was okay! I was just hot and exhausted and deep in “WE HAVE TO THROW EVERYTHING OUT AND WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THESE PEOPLE AND WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THIS HOUSE” mode. You’d think a dump guy would be familiar with that look, honestly. 

Got home and decided to tear down the vines that I had spent the last five or six years cultivating to grow over the porch to disguise its shabbiness. I had ordered Concord grape vines, which arrived as bare roots. I dutifully watered and fertilized and trained them, and was so excited that they finally started putting out fruit last year! And that is when I discovered that I may have ordered grape vines, but what they sent me were actually porcelain berry, which is poisonous and invasive. LE SIGH. So we’re starting over. 

Around 5:00, I saw to my dismay that I had scheduled myself to make a brand new recipe, which wasn’t ideal for how hot and pissed off I already was, but I didn’t want to waste the tomatoes and basil I had bought. So I made this caprese pasta from Sip and Feast.

Tiny little bit of prep work

but it came together very fast, and I thought it was delicious. 

Tasted exactly like what it was, of course (you can’t see it, but there are hunks of half-melted fresh mozzarella in there, and a good amount of red pepper flakes), which is a good thing. Lovely summer dish.

And now the last three times I made pasta, I did not overcook it! I can learn. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

On Thursday (relics regardlessly) I finally finally finally got back to working on the deck. In my old age, I have gained enough wisdom to realize that nobody who is feeling weak and shaky needs to be messing with a Sawzall, so I kept putting it off and putting it off.

But Thursday I was ready, and I got so much done. I took out the bad joist and put in a new joist with different hardware (and it fit, and *ahem* I rejoist) and cut and installed some floor planks, to close up the gap between the original structure and the new platform

Before:

and after:

Then I added a post on one corner and reinforced it with a sort of sheath of two long boards; and then I put a bottom sort of kickboard thingy (I don’t know what you call anything) and a top railing on. 

So today, all I need to do is buy some spindles or something, to fill in the railing, and then paint or stain it all, and it will be DONE.

I really wanted stairs for it, but that will be next year’s project. It has a ladder on one end and a climbing wall on the other, so it’s easy enough to get up and down. I know this, because I did it approximately 927 times yesterday, because I am constitutionally incapable of thinking about what tools I will need before I climb up a ladder.

I am so pleased with how it’s turning out.  I know it still looks very much like something that most people would be finally getting around to getting rid of; but it’s quite stable and strong, and the kids like hanging out of it. Once it’s had a little sanding and it’s all one color, I think it will look a lot more reputable. I have a vision, I tell you! And my secret is being too dumb to stop even when I realize I don’t know what I’m doing. 

Clara kindly made pizza for us. One pepperoni, one cheese, and one with leftover goat cheese, leftover basil, and red onion, which was fantastic. I forgot to eat all day, so believe me when I tell you. That was some good pizza. Relics notwithstanding. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Just tortillas, frozen breaded fish, avocados, salsa, and sour cream. I just this moment realized this is supposed to have shredded cabbage on it, which I forgot to buy. Maybe I will chop up some collard greens, which are coming in nicely and desperately need thinning.

Oh, and fish tacos are supposed to have cilantro and limes. WELL, maybe I will go to the store. Maybe I’ll go to Aldi and find the Ark of the Covenant, who knows? 

Also, in relics notwithstanding news, I think I can say for certain that the weight loss I experienced when I was in full on NO FOOD NO HOW mode was not “just water weight.” I lost nine pounds when I was super sick, but I’ve been back to eating normal food for several days now, and, deliberately riding the wave of encouragement from having lost nine pounds, I lost another three pounds, meaning I’m back under The Terrible Number once again. 

My only regret is that I’m still revolted by even the idea of shrimp. Shrimp used to be my all-time favorite luxury treat, and now it feel like more of a threat. But you know, when I was about six, I had some Crackerjacks and then threw up out the window of my grandfather’s Toyota on the New Jersey Turnpike, and it was years and years before I could even think of Crackerjacks again. But now I can! Crackerjacks, crackerjacks. See? I’m fine. So I’m sure someday I’ll live to shrimp again. 

And that was my week! Headed to adoration in a bit, and I will ask St. Peter and St. Helena to watch over all of you, and make your collards grow or your power tools behave or your fat melt or your kids be helpful or whatever it is that you need. It’s on the house, especially if you’re too dumb to stop when you realize you don’t know what you’re doing. What a world. 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 384: One caprese summer (relics notwithstanding)”

  1. Wow!

    What a blessing. You were exactly the right person, in the right place at the right time.

  2. Loved reading this. Looking forward to hearing more about those relics.
    Btw what is ‘London broil’? I am almost a Londoner but I have never heard of it except in this blog.

    1. Its an American creation – no clue why its called London Broil

      it is tradionally a flank steak, marinated for several hours, then cooked at high heat quickly so its still medium rare in the center. Its cut against the grain.

      Its soooooo good.

  3. So glad you are feeling better and also so glad you are the person who found the relics and they got into the right hands!

  4. Simcha, congratulations and I am sure the saints are very pleased to be hanging out with you. Glad you are feeling better, and the caprese pasta looks delicious.

  5. I don’t even know what to say about those relics at the Salvation Army. That is crazy. I told my family about it immediately, and my six-year-old daughter asked “How much did they cost?” And upon learning that they were three dollars each, she shouted, “THREE DOLLARS?! Those are the BONES of SAINTS!” So she was shocked, too.

    We also had an epic dump run on Friday, after cleaning out the horse shed and our giant covered porch that collects junk. It involved a pick-up truck AND a trailer, and we felt so much lighter after getting rid of all that stuff. Also bewildered as to why it was hanging around for so long.

  6. Simcha, there were so many hidden treasures in this, I had to snort laugh multiple times.

    Rejoist in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoist.

  7. I had something similar, though not as incredible, happen to me. There’s a man who collects and sells all kinds of stuff, like defunct water wheels and weird things, whose house we drive by daily. Suddenly there was a beat up statue sitting there and it was most definitely St. Therese. This is in southern Appalachia….very few of us Catholics here. I’m so curious how she got here but we had to buy the statue, even though we have no idea how to fix up it up. She’s sitting next to the Blessed Mother’s statue that was on the local freecycle. The guy had no idea who the statue was of but I love when the saints give “shout outs” like that!

  8. Thank you so much for the prayers. Right back atcha.

    I’m boggled at the relics finding thing. I’ll tell you what it means: God loves you and you’re meant to be the next pope. Or at least a cardinal. You look good in red, yes?

  9. Glad to hear you are feeling better, 2024 seems to be the year for moms everywhere to get horribly ill.

    Re: spindles or “whatever,” if your wood is strong enough, what about using large eye hooks on the top and bottom slats and threading weatherproof clothesline in a V pattern. It looks kind of nautical is should be way cheaper than spindles.

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