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Blog: Eggplant-Mozzarella Melt

Here’s another great recipe for your vegetarian resolutions!  Desiree DiMauro says, “I found this tasty recipe for an easy “burger” grill in the summer issue of Martha Stewart Living and made a few changes and additions (in parentheses).”

Eggplant-Mozzarella Melt


  • 4 slices of eggplant, 1 inch thick
  •  1 large red onion, sliced in ½ inch rounds (I used sweet onion, like Vidalia)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing (I used olive oil spray or mist)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ pound mozzarella, cut into slices
  • 4 brioche buns, preferably with sesame seeds, halved (I used King’s Hawaiian hamburger rolls)
  • 4 small leaves of Bibb or Boston lettuce (I used spinach, because that’s what was in my frig, and all worked out OK!)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (we added slices of tomato too)


  1. Preheat grill. Spray eggplant and onion with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill onion until it’s softened.
  2. Grill eggplant on one side. Flip and add cheese to new side. Grill until cheese is melted.
  3. Layer basil, eggplant with cheese, onion, tomato, and spinach on roll and enjoy!

Christian Education Series: Immigration and the Lutheran Church

Join us for a three-week series on immigration and the Lutheran church,  Hear incredible stories and learn about the wonderful work of our Lutheran Church in today’s world.  Speakers will present during Christian Education hour at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays.

January 18- Kelly Baugh from King of Kings, and Marion McInturff will share stories about the Metro DC Synod delegation trip to El Salvador this past August.

January 25 - Ivone Guillane will speak about her journey to the US as a child, what it means to be a “dreamer” and her current work on immigration issues.

February 1 – Folabi Olagbaju, National Grassroots Director for Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service will discuss the work of this organization.

Blog: Care for Creation’s Meatless Meals: Kale and Blackeyed Peas and Grits

Care for Creation is providing the Emmanuel community with vegetarian recipes throughout January and February. See the article in on page 6 of The Evangel, for information on how going meatless just once a week can help green our planet. From Desiree DiMauro: “Here’s a super-tasty recipe I found in The Washington Post – perfect to bring good luck in the first few weeks of the year!” Kale and Blackeyed Peas with Smoky Grits Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
  • 1 cup regular grits (do not use quick-cooking or instant)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 8 ounces kale, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup homemade or no-salt-added vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cups cooked or canned black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

Instructions 1. Combine the water, salt and 1 teaspoon of the smoked paprika in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in the grits; reduce the heat to medium-low so the mixture is gently bubbling. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grits have the consistency of creamy oatmeal, about 20 minutes. Add the pepper, taste, and add salt if needed. Cover and keep warm. 2. Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and garlic; cover and cook until soft, 5 minutes. 3. Add the kale, broth, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and a little salt plus pepper to taste. Cook just until the kale wilts, then stir in the black-eyed peas; cook until the kale is tender and the peas are hot, 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. 4. Divide the grits among shallow bowls, then top with the kale mixture.

Buy Tickets for the February 7 Sweetest Dance

Congregational Life invites sweethearts and families of all ages to join them for an evening of carefree fun on Saturday, February 7 from 7-10:00 p.m. in the church Fellowship Hall. You’ll be able to dance the night away to tunes spun by a DJ and take “funny” pictures in a photo booth. For those not familiar with the concept of a “sweetest dance,” it is typically a dance shared by a parent or grandparent and child.

Tickets are $5 and are available after Sunday morning worship services. See Matt or Heather Crudder for more details.

Job Posting: Office Manager

Emmanuel Lutheran Church seeks a full-time Office Manager. Responsibilities include (1) providing administrative and programmatic support to the pastors, church staff, Congregation Council, and lay ministry leaders; (2) assisting congregation members and visitors; (3) preparing the church’s print media and church reports; (4) directing, coordinating, and overseeing office volunteers; (5) maintaining the church calendar and scheduling building usage; (6) maintaining church records and files; and (7) overseeing office databases.

The Job Description specifies responsibilities, required qualifications and core competencies, and provides salary and benefits information. Resumes and inquiries must be submitted to no later than March 1, 2015.

See the full job description.

Blog: Start the New Year off Right by Greening Your Diet

By Desiree Di Mauro

A popular environmental goal is to “eat lower on the food chain.” What exactly does this mean?

What is a food chain? Food chains always start with a plant (an autotroph, in ecological terms) which converts sunlight energy into energy that can be used by plants and animals. Plants are the source of energy and nutrients for all animals. As we move up the food chain, we’re looking at animals (heterotrophs) that eat certain plants. Moving further up the food chain, we’d see animals that eat the animals that ate the plants. A sample food chain would be:


Eating low on the food chain saves energy. Much energy goes into the production of food for our industrialized society. The higher one eats on the food chain (meat, that is), the more energy that must go into producing that meat. So, if you eat a 2,000 calorie per day diet, a diet of vegetables will require much less energy input, than a 2,000 calorie diet that contains substantial amounts of meat.

Eating lower on the food chain can also help to reduce greenhouse gases. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that meat production is responsible for 1/5 of global greenhouse gases!

Eating low on the food chain is easy to do in Northern VA. Since we live in an area with a lengthy growing season, a plant-based diet is a realistic goal.

But what if I don’t want to go totally vegetarian. Many folks say they can’t or don’t want to go totally vegetarian. How about one night per week? The Utah State University Cooperative Extension website states that if “1000 people replaced one meat meal per week with a vegetarian option, it would save over 70,000 lbs grain per year!” That amount of grain would really feed a lot of people, with much lower environmental impact.

Where do I find vegetarian recipes? To help you go meat-free once a week, the Creation Care Committee will be posting tasty (and family-tested) vegetarian meals during January and February on the church website and Facebook page. To find more vegetarian meals, visit and search on “meat-free Friday,” or check out the Lutherans Restoring Creation meatless Monday site.

Blog: A Green Christmas is about more than the tree

By Desiree Di Mauro

While it’s great to be environmentally conscious when choosing a Christmas tree, it is also important to extend that awareness to all of our holiday preparations. In a continuing effort to help us all be better stewards of God’s gift of nature, Emmanuel’s Creation Care Committee has a few additional tips to help guide you through the holiday season:


Most of us come from a proud line of Christmas card senders and Christmas letter writers. So how can we green up this annual tradition?

Send cards and letters online. Friends and family can read about your adventures in the past year, and then save, print or delete.

If you still want to send cards, try an eco-friendly card company that uses soy inks and recycled paper. Send cards that support a green organization (such as National Wildlife Association or World Wildlife Fund), or another organization you support (such as Heifer International or Church World Service).


There are fun green gifts that don’t lead to forced smiles and insincere thank yous!

Honorary gifts are great, especially for adults. Gifts of Hope are always available at Emmanuel, and we’ve also sponsored the activities of Heifer International – who wouldn’t want a beehive in his or her stocking?

Symbolically adopt an animal. Many organizations will send you a plush toy, certificate of adoption, poster or photograph. Young children get a toy, and wildlife organizations get badly need financial support. Check out the websites of the National Zoo, National Wildlife Federation and World Wildlife Fund.

Buy bikes for the family. By giving bikes to not just the kids, but also the adults in the family, you’ll be encouraging the option of green transportation for local trips. Plus, you might lose a few of those Christmas cookie pounds!

Invest in new non-Teflon coated cookware. Have you wanted to upgrade your cooking utensils? By trading up for pots and pans that aren’t coated in Teflon, you’ll be reducing your family’s exposure to many harmful chemicals.

Gift gardening equipment. Got an avid gardener in the family, or do you want to become one? Christmas is the perfect time to set someone up for a successful butterfly or vegetable garden in 2015. Garden tools, seed, composting equipment, even rain barrels are gifts that your family can enjoy throughout the year. Bird feeders and birdbaths are a nice addition to any garden. If you want to go all out, how about beekeeping equipment?

Support life-long learning. Gift certificates for classes are a waste-free gift that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Be it cooking, archery, knitting, photography or architecture classes – you know they’ll love it! You can even get gift certificates for lectures at the National Geographic.

Buy a gift that encourages outdoor exploration. How about a gift that will inspire someone to enjoy the great outdoors? Camping equipment was my most recent birthday gift! Not into camping? Then how about binoculars or a field guide for an aspiring bird or butterfly watcher, or a camera for the budding nature photographer?

Hopefully, this list gives you a little food for thought as you head into this beautiful Christmas season. Here’s to a blessed, white, and GREEN Christmas!


Remember the Environment this Holiday Season

By Desiree Di Mauro

As the Advent season and Christmas roll closer, many of us are dreaming about a white Christmas, but what about a GREEN Christmas?  Keeping in mind our desire to take good care of nature’s gifts that God has provided, Emmanuel’s Creation Care Committee has a few tips to help you be more environmentally conscious this season:

Recycle the wrapping paper. Even the Grinch knew that taking the wrappings might put a damper on things as he left Who-ville:  “He packed up his sled.  Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings! The tags…The trimmings! The trappings!” But then again, according to Earth911’s website, wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S. None of us wants to be a Grinch, so how can we green up the wrappings?

If you want to wrap gifts in wrapping paper, why not try recycled paper?  And follow your mom and grandma’s lead – reuse that wrapping paper!

  • You can always wrap gifts in tissue paper (I use the tissue paper that’s stuck into dry cleaned clothes), fabric, or even the comics.
  • Reusable gift bags can be used year after year (I have some bags that have been through at least 5 Christmases).

Consider a real tree. Okay, it’s an age-old debate, should we use a real tree or artificial one? What about a tree in a pot to plant later? Here is some information to help you make an informed decision:

  • Most artificial trees are made of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable metal and PVC. When you throw them away, they’ll sit in a landfill for many generations to come.  Since my family keeps their artificial trees for decades (my mother has had her artificial tree for nearly 50 years), I’m not losing sleep over this.
  • According to Earth911, a U.S. based toilet bowl brush manufacturer, the Addis Brush Company, created an artificial tree from brush bristles in the 1930s, acting as a prototype for modern artificial trees.  I’ll remember that tidbit, as I relax next to my beautiful fake tree that I enjoy year after year.
  • Over 30 million real trees are sold in the U.S. each year, and 93% of those trees are recycled into mulch. However, unless they are grown organically, these trees have pesticides and fertilizers. If you go this route, just say no to plastic mesh wrapping!
  • Real, live potted trees are the most eco-friendly option. You can keep the tree in your house for about a week or two, and then plant outdoors after the holidays.

If after reading this information, you still think an artificial tree works best for you, take a look at for recommendations on brands to try.

NEXT UP: How to Make Greeting Cards and Gifts More Green

Fall 2014 Care for the Soul Series

Join us this fall as we learn more about how to understand and integrate our motivations, emotions, desires and behaviors under God’s direction. Improving self-awareness and God-awareness heightens our understanding and allows us to deepen our personal relationship with Christ and others.

The series, which is open to the community, will meet at Emmanuel from 9:30 a.m.– 11:00 a.m. on the following dates:

    • September 11, 2014 – “Cultivating Compassion”
    • October 9, 2014 – “Is there a Purpose for Suffering?”
    • November 13, 2014 – “Healing Power of Forgiveness”
    • December 11, 2014 – “Letting Go: The Illusion of Control”

Ellen Murphy, LCSW, of St. Mark Counseling Center in Vienna is the facilitator. She works with individuals, adolescents, adults, couples and families using a holistic mind-body-spirit approach to help them grow and persevere through life’s struggles.

Registration is required by the Monday prior to each session. The fee is $25 per session, and a portion of each fee will support NOVACO/Shelter House–an agency that helps to support families fleeing domestic violence.

Get more details here: ELC Care for the Soul Series