If you don't have a plan for dinner tonight yet (and I'm amazed I actually do, since "meal planning" hasn't existed in my house since before Linus was born), may I suggest making the ever-delicious Pasta Carbonara? This is a dish I first tried when I visited Rome in college, and I looked up the recipe as soon as I got home. It's a perfect dish for Mardi Gras, as it uses so many of the ingredients that were traditionally forbidden during Lent: eggs, cream, cheese, and bacon (!).
This is the recipe I use, though I typically reduce the amount of bacon, because - and this is not something I ever say - there's simply too much bacon.
"Bacon, shallots, onion and garlic, cooked in a thick creamy sauce, and tossed with fettuccini."
5 teaspoons olive oil
4 shallots, diced
1 large onion, cut into thin strips
1 pound bacon, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package fettuccini pasta
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
|1.||Heat olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Saute shallots until softened. Stir in onion and bacon, and cook until bacon is evenly browned. Stir in garlic when bacon is about half done. Remove from heat.|
|2.||Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, then return it to the pot.|
|3.||In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cream, and shredded Parmesan. Pour the bacon mixture over the pasta, then stir in the cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper.|
Some Lenten practices we're going to try as a family this year:
Keeping the house sweet-free: no candy, cookies, juice, etc. during Lent (except Sundays!). But if we are out of the house, and someone offers the kids a piece of candy or something, I'm just going to let it go. I'll be reminding the kids why we're doing this, but I have a feeling that the first week or so will be filled with some whining and complaining.
Printing out Lenten calendars that the kids can color in each day as we get closer to Easter. Catholic Icing has a good one, or check out the one at Pondered in My Heart if you follow the traditional calendar (it includes Ember Days, Passion Sunday, etc.).
A crown of thorns to use as a sacrifice-counter. This is a very similar idea the manger that our kids add "pieces of hay for baby Jesus" to during Advent. Except in this case, each time they make some sacrifice during Lent, they will get to remove a "thorn" from the "crown of thorns." I bought a grapevine wreath for $5 at Michael's, and we'll stick some toothpicks in it to represent the thorns. I'm not certain whether the kids are quite old enough to really get this one yet - baby Jesus did not, as it turns out, have a very cushy bed by Christmas morning! Either way, it will make for a good Lenten centerpiece on the table.
Stations of the Cross. We say a family Rosary every night before the kids go to bed. On Fridays of Lent, we'll switch to saying the Stations of the Cross, using the The Way of the Cross by St. Alphonsus Liguori (the booklets only cost a couple bucks, and are definitely worth having). We also have a couple new Stations of the Cross chaplets, which I'm looking forward to using with the kids (similar to this).
Baking pretzels! Pretzels are traditionally a Lenten food (and the recipe contains only Lent-friendly non-animal ingredients), and can help teach kids about the meaning of the season. This one is still my favorite recipe.
That's it, so far. Every Lent, I think about how the focus is meant to be on "prayer, fasting, and almsgiving." And I always struggle to know what to do with the almsgiving part, especially with the kids. If you have ideas, please share them with me!
What are your families doing to observe Lent this year?