The Frugal Catholic: “Three Simple Gifts and a Laugh” by Martha Wild King–October

I’d read the booklet Seven Daily Habits for Faithful Catholics by Father John McCloskey (see TFC August 30, 2012), taken it to heart, and was sitting in front of The Blessed Sacrament in The Adoration Chapel of our St. Cecilia Parish.  I was going to do more for Jesus. That day was scheduled to take dinner to a new mother of twin boys in our church. Catherine was breast feeding TWO and needed food, and I was visualizing myself as the Super Catholic in disguise—red cape blowing in the wind.  Pumped up with my-self-worth, I thought, what could I do to make my Skid Road Stroganoff from The I Hate to Cook Book grander and less leftovers?  It came to me: add some simple gifts along with the dinner.

Now The Frugal Catholic is always looking for CHEAP ways to give and three light bulbs lit.  First in the summer issue of Reader’s Digest, it demonstrated creating a flower vase from a plastic bottle and a rolled down sock—nearly free. A  Second low-cost gift was a dish from Goodwill filled with Dollar Store river rocks and a cake of soap on top.  Voila! An elegant soap dish.   Third, some extra canned goods would make an impression about my generosity.

So after my hour in front of The Blessed Sacrament where I mumbled to Jesus about my intentions, I drove home and prepared my gracious gift. The flowers were daisies gathered from my front yard with an old mismatched sock from the sock drawer; the soap dish a Mexican looking one since Catherine was from Columbia; and the paper bag was carefully rolled down to appear well-designed, and was full of canned goods from my pantry–a jar of mayonnaise, and cans of tuna, baked beans, pineapple chunks and enchilada sauce. I did consider throwing in some sardines and dog food, but felt that was a bit too generous.

I gathered the leftover noodles and salad in Ziploc bags and put the Skid Road Stroganoff in an old white Greek yogurt container.  Off I went to deliver my goods, but only the cleaning lady was there so I put the perishables in the refrigerator and placed the three simple gifts on the coffee table with pride.

The flowers in a water bottle and sock.

Flowers covered with the sock.

Catherine called and left a message of thanks, and two days later, I saw her after Mass and asked how she liked the Stroganoff?  She said, “What do mean; I thought the dinner you brought was all of those canned goods so I put the altogether and ate them.  I am as I hungry as a cow!”  Visualizing what she’d eaten, I explained that my Stroganoff was in the white yogurt container in her refrigerator. We laughed. Thank heavens I hadn’t included the sardines and the dog food.

In all of my endeavoring, I had failed to see the ONE whom I was serving. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (RSV) And PRIDE had gotten in my way. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (RSV) Next month, will be a Costco plate of prepared lasagna and a bag of peeled carrots. No frills from The Frugal Catholic this time, and no puffed egos either.

Skid Road Stroganoff from The I Hate Top Cook Book   by Peg Bracken  1960 (serves 4)

  1. 8 ounces noodles (cooked)

  2. 1 garlic clove, minced

  3. 1/3 cup onion, chopped

  4. 1 pound ground beef

  5. 2 tablespoons flour

  6. 1 teaspoon salt

  7. ½ teaspoon paprika

  8. 2 small cans of mushrooms

  9. 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

  10. 1 cup sour cream

  11. Chopped parsley

While the noodles are cooking, brown the meat in a skillet and after it is browned and drained of excess oil, add all the other ingredients except the sour cream and let them simmer for 10 minutes.  Now stir in the sour cream, serve over the noodles, and sprinkle with extra paprika.