Favorite Fast Times

Lent 2009 is upon us. For over 8 weeks now, I have been vacillating over this liturgical season and what I was going to do with it. Last year, I examined my conscience with The Examination of Conscience Guide from the back of my First Communion missal (as beat up and tattered as it may be) and thought about what to give up....what to sacrifice in order to strengthen my relationship with God. I've never really understood what Catholic guilt is, but I assume it rears its head this time of year.

"Jesus gave up His life, Susie. Surely you can give up candy for 40 days."

As a kid, after confession we'd go around saying, "Ihaven'tsinnedyet! Ihaven'tsinnedyet! I'mstillpure!" as if it were a contest to see who could go the longest without sinning. By the time the lunch bell rang, I'd forgotten to keep up with my Sin-O-Meter. I didn't know if I'd participated in some estrangement with God, so I'd give up the game and continue being an amoral child.

I still don't know what I am going to give up, with less than 10 hours to go til Ash Wednesday commences. But I'll figure it out.

What is do know is: I may live in the South and it may be characterized as being slow, but I'm ready to fast.

I don't want to interpret things wrong or tell you an untruth, so if you have any questions, I'm going to direct you to The Catholic Encyclopedia. It's like...just because I'm black, people ask me questions about "being black" all of the time, and I have no idea. There is no "black encyclopedia." And if there is, it's a farce. Ask me about literature. Ask me about food. I know about those.

Speaking of food, I made a fast-friendly meal that I plan on duplicating for the next few weeks.

Oven Baked Tortilla Chips

Simple and easy, these chips can be substituted as crackers.

12 6-inch wheat tortilla
nonstick spray
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stack 3 or 4 tortillas and with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the tortillas into 8 wedges. Next, spray a baking sheet with a thin coating of nonstick spray. Spread out the tortilla wedges in a single layer. Spray the tops of the tortillas. Sprinkle the wedges with the salt and pepper. Put the sheets in the oven, and bake the chips for about 6-7 minutes. Then rotate the sheets and cook for another 6-7 minutes.

Nikki's Pea Soup

It looks like something Oliver Twist or Charlie Bucket would be made to eat, and they probably did at some point or another. The only difference? This is made with love and pumped pull of nutrients.

1 lb bag frozen whole peas
1 onion small onion, small dice
1 cup diced carrots
1 shallot, minced
2 bay leaves, ripped
1 tsp cayenne
1-2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh ground back pepper
1 head butter lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp flaxseed oil
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Saute onions, shallots and carrots in olive oil until onions are translucent.
In a sauce pan, add peas, broth, salt, pepper, cayenne, bay leaves and butter lettuce. Bring to a boil. Add sauteed vegetables and flaxseed oil.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes, covered. Blend with an immersion blender, if desired.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. Mmmm! Pea soup sounds delish! I rarely comment, but I love getting ideas from your blog!

    Also, be the first to follow a blog that I will launch in a few months:


    It would be great to have you a part of a community of other young catholics trying to walk in thier faith while life buzzes all around us!

  2. Nikki, I love the honesty in you and the way you communicate it. I myself gave up organized religion many years ago when I realized it had absolutely nothing to do with my faith. I've believed for many years now that the sacrifice I need to make during Lent is not to give up anything, but rather to add something to my life that can help humanity. Just my thoughts. Love the Pea Soup recipe.

  3. I too gave up organized religion many years ago, but that doesn't mean I don't know where you are coming from. I am a former alter boy and I graduated from an Episcopal school. I just found that there was something not there for me in an organization as far as my personal faith went.

    I know, "thanks for sharing" :-)

  4. I'm not very good at self-denial, so I don't really do Lent. I am trying to drink less booze, though more for weight loss than for religious reasons!

    Your soup looks very nice!

  5. Okay, this really intrigues me-- shredded butter lettuce in pea soup? Having never made pea soup before I have to ask if this is common. Well???? What does this ingredient add to the finished soup? Hmmmmm???? Inquiring minds, you know... :)

  6. The tortilla chips and soup look verrry delicious. I'd love a little guacamole to dip the chips in. Best snack ever.

  7. Vicci, no butter lettuce isn't common. I put it in there for texture and I liked the way it crunched and slid across my tongue when I ate the soup. Something heartier, like the outer leaves of a head of romaine would be good as well but not as flavorful or sweet.

  8. If you go around bragging that you haven't sinned yet, doesn't that mean you have committed the sin of pride? ;-)

    I like your chips!

  9. Hope your travels went well! RE: Lent - I made the mistake of giving up red meat for Lent and, lo and behold, in a moment of distraction, I caved without thinking. That, my friend, brought on waves of catholic guilt. Gotta love Lent :)

  10. We need to try some pea soup. So interesting that you have lettuce in there!

  11. I just love pea soup! YUM!! those tortilla chips look great too! you go girl!


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