The Fairy Pools and Religious Hatred…

The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scottland

Shaun, this is the place I told you about.  Where is it in relationship to where you are?

I have a Pinterest board entitled “places I want to go one day”.  It’s kind of a “bucket list” destination or dream board.  I LOVE to travel.  It’s probably my favorite thing to do and I’ve always dreamed of going places abroad but have never been out of my country!  Well, besides Mexico.

Yesterday, I Skyped with a friend in Scotland.  It was amazing to me to be sitting on my back deck in the middle of America, listening to my birds and knowing that I was able to bring Scotland SO close to me.  My girls were laughing because of Shaun’s accent, they thought he spoke a different language!  lol  It’s strange to me that we both speak English, the King’s language, yet the dialect makes it so hard to understand.  It didn’t take me long to understand him though.  I was also impressed with how different the UK is from the USA.  The differences in religion and the extreme hatred that goes on in Western Scotland and I’m guessing in Ireland between the Catholic’s and the Protestants.  They actually KILL each other over there in the name of Religion.  THEY say in the name of God but I’m QUITE certain that God’s going to “smite” them down for killing each other in His name! For shame.  I’m Catholic, by birth, and I’m ASHAMED of the Catholic’s who would kill a Protestant in the name of our religion.

Over here, in the USA, one of the our constitutional rights is “Freedom of Religion”.  For the most part, we respect each other. Oh there’s a lot of talking behind each other’s backs.  That’s about it though.  The worst I’ve ever experienced is when I went to my husband’s family’s church in Texas.  I went to Sunday School and I was alone.  It’s a Southern Baptist Church.  The Sunday School teacher began talking about the Pope and how he’s going to go to hell and how ALL Catholic’s are probably going to go to hell.  WTF???  Don’t they know that this is the EXACT reason that people aren’t attracted to Christians?  Out of respect for my husband’s family, I didn’t create the scene I’d wanted to create.  I sat there and seethed.  Later, my husband’s family heard ALL about it.  You can trust and believe that.  Not that I was blaming them, just that I wanted them to know how wrong I felt it was for their leader to say something like he did… not to mention the “Amen’s” I heard from the rest of the Sunday school class.  “Amen’s” coming from some people I truly loved and respected.  My family told me I should have pulled the Sunday School teacher aside and tell him that I’m Catholic and didn’t appreciate what he was saying.  I SHOULD have but I knew me, and I knew that I probably would have NOT been eloquent in my speech.  I would have ripped him up, chewed him up and spit him out.  THAT wouldn’t have honored my husband’s family.  So I let it go and forgave.  Something that was difficult.

My point being that we ALL live in this world.  We’re all united in that we’re HUMAN.  It doesn’t matter what color of skin we have, if we’re male or female, it doesn’t matter what religion we are.  God made us all.  Not ONE of us is better than the other.

Now, can’t we all just get along?  Much love to all of you and have a VERY Happy Friday!

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The New Pope: Bergoglio of Argentina

So it didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped but who am I, right?  lol  Just another fallen Catholic who’d hoped for a REAL, honest to goodness leader who ALSO has the added bonus of knowing how to laugh and put a positive twist on any given situation (Timothy Dolan).

Here’s the story as it’s written in the New York Times.  Welcome to the new pope , The new pope, 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.

(the crowd at the Vatican)

Many of us will continue to pray that the Catholic church will stop being riddled with so much scandal and that our new pope is a Godly man.

And the black smoke has changed to white!!!!

As a Catholic, I’m SO excited to witness, from my living room, that we have a new pope!  Who will it be?  Looks like we’ll find out in around an hour.

The Sistine Chapel has now released the “white smoke”.  This should go on for several minutes and the bells are ringing!

Secretly, I’m hoping that the new pope will be Timothy Dolan from St. Louis (my hometown). What an awesome and loving leader he’d be!

How can you NOT be infected by his humor and REALNESS?  Love to hear him laugh but more importantly, I think that the people NEED someone to lead who can relate to us and our concerns.

Whatever the outcome, I’m certain that we’ll have the outcome that GOD has ordained for our church.  Soon we will have the name of the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church!

On Lent, Catholic Guilt and Shrimp Etouffee’…

Fridays during Lent, for a Catholic usually mean dinner without meat.  Or fish fries.  For some reason, it’s okay to eat fish, just not meat.  It’s no secret that I HATE eating fish.  I’m not a picky eater but I can’t think of any one food that will actually make me gag more than fish.  I can eat shell fish all day long (especially crab legs drenched in butter or shrimp scampi) just not the kind of fish that you have to “scale”.  lol  NOT a good Catholic.  I was raised very strict Catholic and we upheld the Lenten rules.  We were told that it was a way of “fasting” to show Jesus that we appreciate his dying on the cross so that we can go to heaven.  I’ve fallen away from the Catholic church for the most part but I still DO observe some of their teachings.  The “Catholic Guilt” has never left me though.

All my adult life, I’ve not observed Lent.  I just felt like it was stupid to believe that Jesus wanted us to eat fish only on Friday’s during Lent.  Another thing we do is “give up” or sacrifice something that we really enjoy all through the week (again, only during Lent) but we get it back on Sundays.  Who comes up with this stuff?  I feel like a good “fast” is fine and even can be productive but why do we do this kind of thing only during Lent?  IDK…  I’m not knocking it for other people but it just didn’t make sense for me.  So yeah, I’m a very bad Catholic.  AND I feel guilty about it.  lol

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Crazy girl Esme’

Tonight, my 4 year old niece is coming over to spend the night with her adoring Aunt Michelle (me) and she is being raised very strict Catholic, just like my brother and I were.  Did I mention that I’m also her Godmother?  That means that I’ve promised before God and our family and friends to help raise little Esme’ Catholic.  It’s Friday so we’re not allowed to feed her meat so what do I do?  I consult the Great Paula Deen is what I do!  lol  I’m going to make Creole style shrimp etouffee for the second time in my life!  It’s actually delicious!  What makes it Creole and not Cajun?  The fact that tomatoes are added.  True Cajun Etouffee’ does not have tomatoes and it calls for crawfish, not shrimp.  Originally, I mean.  Now days, they throw a little of everything in the pot.  Etouffee is the French word for “smothered”.  Anything smothered.

Food historians trace back Louisiana crawfish etouffee to the crawfish capital of the world, Breaux Bridges, Louisiana. According to culinary history, etouffee was first served in the Hebert Hotel in the early 1920s when Mrs. Hebert, along with her daughters, Yoli and Marie, made crawfish etouffee using crawfish tails, crawfish fat, onions and pepper. Later on, the Heberts shared their recipe with their friend, Aline Guidry Champagne. Ms. Champagne later opened a restaurant, the RendezVous Café, and began serving the dish there.  Now days, the recipe has been altered.  We use a thicker sauce and we use oil and NOT crawfish fat.  Yuk.  We also use other types of shellfish.

Here’s the recipe:

Shrimp Etouffee (Creole Style)

Adapted from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 large yellow onion (I always use Vidallia or sweet)

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp Creole seasoning

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (green onions) (plus extra for garnish)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

2 or 3 dashes of hot sauce (or more if you like more heat)

1 8 oz bottle clam juice

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies

salt

2 lbs small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 TBSP (1/2 stick) butter

6 cups cooked rice (for serving)

Directions:

1.  In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan (or Dutch oven), combine the oil and flour over low heat to prepare the roux.  Whisk the flour into the oil to form a paste.  Continue cooking over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns a caramel color and gives off a nutty aroma.  15 to 20 minutes.

2.  Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the black pepper, white pepper and cayenne pepper, Creole seasoning, 1/2 cup green onions, parsley and hot sauce.  Pour in the clam juice and diced tomatoes, stirring to blend. Add salt, starting with 1 teaspoon, then add more if you like.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

3.  Add the shrimp and stir. It will take only about 3 minutes for the shrimp to cook, so be sure you don’t overcook them (they’ll be rubbery if you do).  Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the butter.  The heat from the dish will melt the butter.  Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

Serves 6 to 8 as a main course

Happy Friday and enjoy YOUR fish during this Lent season!