What Kind of Rice Is That?!
By Sister Mary Scholastica, O.C.D.

I signed up to make creamy chicken soup with wild rice for our sisters’ Easter Sunday lunch.  To show how clueless I am in the kitchen, I figured the rice comes in a box and the chicken comes already cooked and somehow I just combine together.    

Well, we’ve not gone to the store and I’m not a cook (to say the least) so, when there was no wild rice in a box to be found and the chicken was raw, I found myself in a bit of a dilemma.  Growing up in the city and being ignorant of the basics of “Farming 101”, I asked a group of sisters what I needed to do to “make” wild rice.  To which they emphatically informed me that you GROW it, you don’t make it.  Alright, first lesson learned. 

In cooking, you use all sorts of words and terms that can make it feel like a foreign language.  “Sift the flour”, “grease the pan”, “make the roux”.  I know what all those words mean separately, but combined into phrases like that, what in the world are you talking about?!  How do you sift flour and why would you want to do that?  Only greasy pans I know of are the ones post-bacon cooking.  How am I supposed to make the roux when I don’t even know what it is?  See what I mean?

Going back to my creamy chicken soup.  I was once again in the kitchen laboring through the steps.  Another group of sisters were in the same area.   I was talking about the wild rice and talking through what I should do and one of the sisters chimed in to say, “just use day-old rice”.  This was literally what was going through my head:  “I’ve never heard of that kind of rice, I wonder how you grow it?”  So I proceeded to ask, “What kind of rice is that?”  To which the sister replied, “Rice that’s a DAY OLD!”  We had such a good laugh about this!

Where Do Eggs Come From?
By Sister Mary Scholastica, O.C.D.

As we were eating lunch, the topic of chickens and eggs came up mostly because we were (at that time) not able to obtain eggs.  We were joking about getting some chickens for the convent.  So of course, growing up in the city (I grew up thinking food came from the market) I asked lots of questions.  How many eggs does a chicken lay?  Etc.  One of the sisters said, “Well, we could get lots of chickens and we’d need to get a rooster.”  To which I proceeded to say, “Why, what’s the rooster for?”  Even as the question came out of my mouth, the bells went off in my head….ding ding ding.  The actual term that came to mind almost immediately was, “DUH”.  I’m telling on myself here.  Thought you might enjoy this!

Hungry for In-N-In Burger
By Sister Isabelle, O.C.D.

How do 30 Carmelite Sisters, spiritual daughters of Mother Luisita, keep themselves entertained during quarantine?  Here is a little glimpse into what we do for family fun!  Toward the beginning of the stay at home period, a group of us got together to brainstorm how we could put on a special dinner for the rest of the sisters.  Several ideas of dinner themes came up, like creating an Italian Restaurant ambiance or even a Christmas theme.  In the end, the idea that won out is something that is very close to the hearts of Californians.  I discovered this when I met some for the first time at college in Steubenville, Ohio.  They couldn’t stop raving about In-N-Out Burger. 

So, that’s exactly what we did!  We created our own In-N-Out Burger!  The only change was that we decided to call our fast food restaurant, “In-N-In”, since nobody was going out!  Sister Anita Mary created “In-N-In” hats and we found some red and white aprons, head piece sets and pads of paper for taking orders.  Sister Michelle and Sister Jeannine Marie were the burger crew, seasoning and forming the patties, making the sauce, sautéing the onion, and preparing the lettuce and tomatoes (we offered animal and protein style!).  Sister Mary Scholastica and Sister Anita Mary made fresh buns, tang spritzer surprise using oranges from our tree and key lime pies.  I helped by getting Sister Carmelina’s recipe and made broccoli salad with lots of bacon in it.  We also changed the words to some familiar songs to sing for the sisters, making them fit our night’s theme. 

Well, you should have seen the sisters’ faces and heard their excited voices when they came out of Holy Hour and found us all decked out in our “In-N-In” gear!  We even had name tags on with our made-up waitress names.  Sister Michelle and Sister Jeanine Marie had the whole costume on as they flipped burgers at the grill (we made sure to open the serving windows so everyone could see them working).  While Sister Mary Scholastica, Sister Anita Mary and I took the sisters’ orders – “Welcome to In-N-In.  May I take your order?” – Sister Margaret Mary and Sister Joseph Francesca helped assemble the plates in the back.  The Sisters had so much fun we could hardly believe it!  It was a big hit and we hope to do it again sometime soon.  It’s amazing how a little love can go such a long way!!! 

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention!
By Sister Meredith 

We sisters have literally been pushed into the virtual world these last few weeks.  We certainly didn’t enter the convent with the technical wherewithal for anything, and now we’ve become quite the producers, film crew, and editing staff of our now virtual retreat platforms for Sacred Heart Retreat House!

I wanted to have a smooth walk down the chapel aisle to simulate someone walking into the chapel to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Well, the only thing on wheels we had was a dish cart we use to bus dishes during our weekend retreats. So, I made an announcement to the deeply recollected sisters in prayer to please “not mind the dish cart being rolled down the aisle while you’re praying, it will only be for a few minutes, God reward you, Sisters!” I then coaxed an innocent bystander to push me slowly down the aisle as I sat on top of the cart with the camera!

What a sight we were, but it worked, we got the footage! 

 A Funny Thing Happened….
By Sister Isabelle

A funny thing happened before Easter when the pest control man came to help us with our discovery of evidence of some little friends who had been chewing the computer internet wires in the cellar.  He told Sister Marie Andre that he thought the little creatures would not be inclined to leave if we did not clean things up and remove the “decorations”, such as some “poinsettias”.

Sister Marie Andre communicated this to Sister Jeannine Marie and me, since it was underneath our office space.  After some concerted effort, and elbow grease, Sister Jeannine Marie and I managed to pull open the sticky and heavy cellar door.  Cement stairs were revealed, covered in a thick layer of dust and grime leading into the dark area below that was full of cobwebs.  I was on my way to my hour of adoration, so Sister Jeannine Marie bravely ventured down to take a look around to see what we were dealing with.  She later reported to me that she found a pile of old computer parts and some old paint cans but no decorations of any sort, certainly no poinsettias.  She and I laughed about how it definitely did not seem like a place to store decorations and we actually wondered if we had the right room.  Later, another sister chimed in that we could ask the pest control man what kind of holiday he thought we could be decorating for?  Halloween or something?  This was definitely not our idea of holiday décor!”  One more elbow jab to the funny bone, a much needed release from all the corona tension. 

Well, Sister Jeannine Marie and I rolled up our sleeves, donned our colorful corona masks that her sister, Beth, had made for us, put on our full length aprons and went to town down there, cleaning things up.  To the credit of the pest control man, we did find a dusty old half-eaten poinsettia and an old plastic Christmas tree in a box that had been covered with a throw cloth.  The pest control man has very good observation skills.  He’s hired!

We expect our furry friends to move on to find a new home now, that is, unless they, too, find themselves quarantined!