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Asparagus and Honey Lemon Chicken & Easter Reflections

Monday, April 15th 2024 6:00 am


Ingredients:
4 T softened butter, preferably unsalted
2 T honey
juice of 1 lemon, divided
¼ C cornstarch or flour
salt and pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
large bunch of asparagus, about 3/4 – 1 pound, trimmed*

*To trim asparagus, cut off the bottom inch or two with a knife or simply break it off with your hands.  You may also use a vegetable peeler to peel off the tough outer skin of the lower few inches.


Instructions:
In a small bowl, whisk together softened butter, honey, and juice of 1/2 the lemon.  Set aside.
In a pie plate, plate or plastic bag, combine cornstarch/flour, salt and pepper.  Add chicken and coat it evenly with the seasoned flour.  Dust off excess flour. 
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt honey butter mixture then add the chicken and brown on one side, about 5-7 minutes.  Repeat on the other side and cook until chicken has cooked through and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees with a meat thermometer.
Add the asparagus to the skillet and cook until just tender. Squeeze the remainder 1/2 of the lemon onto the cooked dish.
Optional:  Slice another lemon and after the chicken and asparagus has finished cooking, "cook" the lemon to use as a garnish as shown in the photo above provided by 

For more asparagus ideas, check out the Pioneer Woman's 30 Best Asparagus Recipes to Celebrate the Spring Veggie.  Read some Asparagus Facts after the story below!

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Story:
This Lent and Easter has led me to pray, read and reflect about individual conversion and service.  Saint Francis on his death bed, encouraged us to ask: “What is mine to do?”  What communities of service call and guide me to act?  I am definitely passionate and active about feeding the hungry.  I can cook from scratch, eat seasonally, garden, compost, help end food insecurity by cooking for unsheltered brothers and sisters, offering to coach people in the kitchen, encouraging donations to Food Pantries and Food Banks.  I also know that charity is not enough.  When it comes to feeding the hungry, how can I become more of an advocate for systemic change and transformation?
The Resurrection season confirms these questions in me.  Jesus’ rising changes everything!  No one should be bound by suffering and death.  To me, that means one act at a time.  It means acting in community with others toward changing systems that condones hunger, war, economic insecurity, racism and environmental injustice.  How do we act with others and learn, to see with new eyes, to wake up to what is possible?  Below are some resources that encourage me.  I'm learning.  Let us encourage each other to bring the power of new life, forgiveness and systemic change that lives out the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Bread for the World an advocacy group for addressing world hunger, tells us advocacy with Congress is valuable, stating: "Federal nutrition programs provide roughly 10 times as much food assistance as private churches and charities combined."

Pax Christi USA an advocacy group for peacemakers shares an April 6th article called Easter calls us to ensure the survival of humanity by Joseph Nagle, OFM.   Pax Christi International peace movement website shares how to Pray on Sunday, Act on Monday.  

NETWORK Advocates for Justice Inspired by Catholic Sisters, is a ministry well-versed in addressing White Supremacy and other ills that call for healing changes at the national and global level.   Their website states:  "The Catholic Social Justice principle of participation calls us to inform ourselves about the issues of the day, to engage in serious conversations with our neighbors about our nation’s future, and to learn to listen to different perspectives with empathy.   This responsibility to participate means each person must be equipped with the resources needed to do so."
 

Franciscan Justice Circles, supported by the Franciscan Action Network, offers ways to gather with others near you in person or virtually to work for justice.  "Our times need grassroots, Franciscan inspired advocacy and action connecting Franciscan-hearted individuals through prayer, action, and advocacy in cities across the country."  There is one called "Driftless Region FSC - Western Wisconsin/SE Minnesota".


Feeding Tomorrow,  a documentary by Oliver and Simon English, directly addresses the food system and ways to transform it.  Stream it free on Hoopla (an app from many local public libraries) that provides movies to view for free.  You can also rent or buy it on Amazon Prime. Read more at FeedingTomorrow, Starting Today. My dream is to gather people from all walks of life to watch the film and later, to gather at round tables to talk about it's impact and actions to take together!  More on “Feeding Tomorrow” soon.

Asparagus Facts:
•    Asparagus is one of only 3 perennial vegetables that thrive in the upper Midwest, along with rhubarb and horseradish, a yearly reminder of hope and resurrection!
•    Asparagus seeds or more developed “crowns” take 2-3 years to produce fruit.  Patience, trust and care, gardeners!  It can even be sown in pastures and harvested from among the forage plants.
•    The edible stems or “spears” arise from underground.  Asparagus season lasts about 6-8 weeks, early May to late June in MN and WI, so corresponds to spring and even the Easter season most years!  After that, we let the leaves in the form of beautiful “ferns” grow to strengthen the plant for the next cycle of new life. Even the ferns require some care to flourish.  Info above courtesy of University of Minnesota Extension.
•    In summer, fall and winter through April, some fresh asparagus at most stores is from CA, but most is from Mexico or Peru.  This trend is tied to rising water prices in the US, the passage of NAFTA, and the unintended effects of the US War on Drugs.  Boston Organics tells us that Peruvian farmers who once grew coca for cocaine were subsidized by the U.S to switch to asparagus.  Soon Del Monte moved its processing plant there to take advantage of lower prices.
•    Soon fresh, tasty local spears can be found at your favorite farmer’s market or co-op..
•    Seasonal eaters don’t shy away from sort of “gorging” on seasonal asparagus.  It can be roasted, blanched, pan seared, added to soup, risotto, pasta dishes, an open face egg or ham sandwich, quiche or served as an appetizer wrapped in bacon or Italian ham.  The recipe below is a one skillet meal with a built-in side of asparagus!  What is your favorite spring vegetable recipe to repeat while it is in season?
 

Christ has risen!

Sunday, April 12th 2020 9:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Happy Easter from Show me a sign

cross-colorful-sky

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

May the joy of the resurrection of Jesus fill our hearts this day and throughout the Easter Season.

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.

Mantle of grief

Thursday, April 20th 2017 2:15 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

In moments of despair and grief in my life I have longed to hear the words “It’s going to be okay;” okay meaning others will walk with me through times of pain and loss (although not everything will be exactly like it was before, even when my heart longs for the way it was). Affirmation and assurance of care and concern have been like balm for my soul, in my own experiences of loss.

In the Gospels this week I have found companions in the lives of the disciples. Pain and sorrow shroud their vision. The mantle of grief is so heavy on their shoulders that they could not recognize the risen Christ. Through tear-stained, bleary eyes each one encounters transformation and deeper faith as they recognize who stands before them. Patiently Christ extends love and compassion to each one, revealing the truth of his resurrection to be more than a prediction. With renewed energy and purpose the disciples hasten to share the news of the resurrection. These stories stand as not only testimony to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus but also as encouragement to face our own moments of crisis; when the death of someone we love or the loss of what we thought was our direction in life suddenly shifts.

chapel-easter-cross

We stand in the grace of time as we know that Jesus has risen redeemed as the Christ, journeying together through the church year as we celebrate the events of the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is difficult to see this same cycle at work in our own lives as we experience our own grief-stricken moments; situations in which the grace of time has yet to be revealed and our faith is stretched nearly to its breaking point. Like the disciples, we have to learn from the events of our day. We cannot fast forward our lives and look back from the future, expressing to our past selves that what you’re experiencing now is going to help you in the long run. We must rely on our faith in God and know that when we need it most, we'll recognize Jesus standing before us with our own resurrection moment in hand.

There are times in discernment that grief will be a part of the journey; where you may feel all is lost and the happily ever after you long for is not yet on the horizon. Remember the disciples; remember that the transformation is just a few dark nights away. Easter alleluias always come; God will not abandon you on your discernment journey. As in the Gospel you will be renewed, transformed and then sent forth to help others in their own passages, singing your irreplaceable alleluia as you go.

This week, ask yourself …

How have your worst experiences transformed into new life? 

What barriers did you have to break through to come to this realization? 

Who were the agents of transformation—those who helped you open your eyes to the reality in front of you?

 

 

 

Crisis reveals goodness

Thursday, September 14th 2017 3:00 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

I have been captivated by the power of wind and water as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have battered the southern coastline of the U.S. The destructive combination forces of wind and water hammered homes and businesses; cars were smashed into deadly chunks of metal and inches of water swelled to several, dangerous feet. Entire communities were engulfed. People were swept away by the current. 

It is difficult — in the wake of such devastation — to find light underneath the rubble.

But God has created resiliency in the human spirit. It seems for every crushing story I’m also finding one overflowing with compassion and care, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances reaching out to help each other. Communities are rallying around one another for survival and living what it means to lose everything not as individuals, but as neighbors.

These stories don't end in loss: resurrection follows, new communities take shape through sharing values; people put aside self-interest and commit to the common good.


St-Rose-fire-bystanders

In December, 1923, the community gathered at the scene of the St. Rose Convent fire

Walking together — and sticking together — takes courage and conviction but also generates power to shape the future. I am reminded of the stories I‘ve heard, images I’ve seen, of a fire that burned a section of FSPA’s St. Rose Convent to the ground in 1923. Many people flocked to the scene and helped not only rescue sisters but also to provide comfort, food and shelter. The goodness of people prevailed and the convent was rebuilt by 1925. (And there is so much more to know about FSPA history!)


firefighters-St-Rose-Convent

Photo courtesy of "La Crosse Tribune"

And as a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, I know that my sisters will be here for me and I too will support them, not only in the significant life trials like death and ill health and transition of ministry but also in the day-to-day ups and downs.

This week, ponder how you have or might react when life changes in an instant. Do you reach out to help others or do you pull away and retreat?

How has your discernment revealed who is firmly by your side, committed to helping you create new beginnings during hurricane moments?

*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation. 

Rejoice in love and resurrection

Sunday, April 21st 2019 7:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Joy and Easter blessings to you

easter-lily

Image courtesy pixabay.com

May our hearts overflow with joy as we celebrate God’s love for us and the resurrection of Christ this Easter Season.

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation. And, stay tuned to Show me a sign for new videos in the FSPA discernment series! 


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