This past weekend, I was a joy-filled member of the cooking team for our remarkable and award-winning marching band, Spirit of America. The band is embarking on a very exciting groundbreaking opportunity to travel to Dubai this January (2017) to assist in starting the first marching field band in the United Arab Emirates!
Over the past few months, they’ve had 4 rehearsals together to pull off this enormous project — creating a field show with 150 people from all over the United States! One thing we knew for sure, they needed to be fed well! My job was to cook for those with special diets. It was fun to spoil them and experiment with recipes that were gluten free, lactose free and vegan! When the weekend was over, it got me to thinking about creating more healthy recipes that we could add to our diet. This soup is high in fiber and packed with flavor, especially if you like the tastes of curry and coconut.
Vegan Curried Chickpea, Coconut and Kale Soup
- First, sauté the onion in 2 Tbsp of olive oil until softened.
- Combine all ingredients, except the lemon zest and juice, in a blender and puree until completely smooth.
- Pour soup into a medium pot and heat on medium-high. Allow soup to simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally.
- Add the lemon zest and juice.
- Adjust seasonings to your liking and add fresh cracked pepper.
- Serve and garnish with the extra garbanzo beans and fresh kale.
If you are trying during Lent – as many households are! – to make your meals simpler, less indulgent, and more in keeping with the Lenten spirit, you will want to consider adding these crispy baked seafood patties to your menu. Last week at the convent we made these with tuna, but any seafood of choice (such as salmon or crabmeat) would lend itself perfectly to this recipe. High in taste and low in fat, these golden little cakes made a very satisfying, yet healthy meal which we all thoroughly enjoyed. For the sake of those who prefer a little touch of decadence we offered a modified version of tartar sauce to dress them up a bit. However most of us found them delicious without any added enhancement. Once you try them I’m sure you will agree they should not be reserved just for Lent, but enjoyed all through the liturgical year.
Crispy Baked Seafood Patties
- Mix together and shape into patties.
- Place on lightly greased baking pan.
- Cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown on both sides, about 20 minutes.
- Combine together ingredients for sauce.
Our Lenten journey has begun. The church has been dressed in violet and our promises to God for these forty days have been made. The chants for the season speak of hope, transformation and a return to God. In the monastery, it is traditional to simplify life, not only in our work but also in our attitudes and our eating. Many monastic houses fast from meat during Lent – a simple soup and bread for lunch and dinner are the norm. As we harvest the last of our winter squash from our garden, this simple yet hearty soup is the perfect beginning to this special season of the church year.
Vegetable and Lentil Soup from a Monastery Kitchen
- Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot. Add the diced leeks, celery, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and a small amount of the dill and parsley and sauté until golden and the vegetables are beginning to soften, stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat so the vegetables are sauteing, but not burning.
- Add the lentils and continue to sauté for a few more minutes.
- Add 6 cups of hot chicken or vegetable stock and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Cook for about 8 min. over medium heat, simmer, but do not boil.
- Add the diced zucchini and continue simmering until the lentils are cooked and the vegetables are softened, about 15 min.
- Remove from heat and add the baby spinach, the herbs and the lemon zest and juice and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. If desired, serve with grated parmesan cheese.
Tis the season of the Great Pumpkin! Beginning with Halloween when he takes center stage and captures everyone’s attention right on through to Thanksgiving when he’s sure to appear in and around the traditional holiday dinner and anytime in between. This “jolly good fellow” can make an unexpected appearance in any number of interesting and enticing ways, not the least of which is in this luscious ginger pumpkin custard.
When this happens he will once again have succeeded in stealing the show, by enhancing a dinner or lovely dessert buffet.
Milder in flavor and less dense than the traditional pumpkin pie this dessert will surprise and please the eater with its unexpected addition of candied ginger – lifting it out of the ordinary into the extraordinary!
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and fresh ginger until blended. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, milk, vanilla and salt until blended.
- Pour into 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Place custard cups in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place dish on oven rack in center of oven. Pour boiling water into pan around custard cups to a depth of 1 1/4 inches.
- Bake 35 minutes or until centers are almost set. Remove custard cups from baking dish and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or cold. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon and candied ginger just before serving.
One of my strongest childhood memories was watching my grandmothers in the kitchen preparing meals for our large family gatherings on Sunday afternoons. Both my grandmother and my great-grandmother were influential figures in my life and instilled a quiet passion in me for bringing your heart and soul to the table. They would create memorable and delicious dishes that would cause us to want to sit at the dinner table for hours, not just minutes, and share together. They were wonderful and patient teachers and, like a sponge, I would absorb their body language, their knife skills, and their innate sense of creating something out of nothing as I worked alongside them. They were frugal, but they would never let us know it, as we sat down to a meal fit for kings.
When my great grandmother died, I inherited a few of her cookbooks. They have her notes in them from World War I, when she was a cook for the soldiers. They hold a place of honor on my bookshelf. It helps me to remember what an important role food has to play both in life and in death. I thumb through the fragile pages from time to time, half expecting to hear grandma’s voice whisper a secret direction to me.
This is among one of my grandmother’s signature recipes–a relish made with green tomatoes. We put our gardens to bed this past weekend and pulled up our tomatoes–now it’s time to take a stroll down memory lane.
My Grandmother's Green Tomato Mustard Relish
- Grind and drain for 1 hr. the first 4 ingredients (green tomatoes, green and red peppers and onions).
- Mix the remaining ingredients together and add the vegetables.
- Cook until it boils and thickens, stirring constantly.
- Pack in sterilized hot jars.
- Store in a cool, dry place.
It’s not too early to start preparing for Christmas! By day, I am a sales rep. to our bookstores for our publishing house, Paraclete Press. For a couple months now, we have had our focus on offering our Advent and Christmas products to start stocking for the holidays. It always feels a bit odd, as the leaves are just beginning to turn, to talk about a season that feels so far off – but then again, it is almost October!
This is the perfect time to start thinking about making homemade gifts for your loved ones. The gardens are still yielding, and the season just begs us to do some canning. Since the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a long winter ahead, you might want to consider taking some time to get a jump start. Homemade gifts are a thoughtful touch, especially when you have put your own heart and time into preparing them. Cut down on the frenzy of shopping, and maybe you’d have a little more time to spend with Jesus!
This recipe was inspired by jalapeno peppers given to me from my parent’s garden. Gift wrapped with a box of Ritz Crackers and Philadelphia Cream Cheese, this is the ultimate homemade Christmas gift!
Cape Cod Cranberry Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
- Bring boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to a simmer.
- Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling the jars with jam. Keep jars warm and dry in a low oven.
- Make the Jam: add prepared fruit, peppers, salt and vinegar to a 6 or 8 quart pot
- Begin heating on medium high and stir in the sugar
- Once the mixture comes to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred), add the pectin.
- Return to a full rolling boil and continue boiling for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within an 1/8th of an inch of the top. Wipe rim with a clean, damp cloth, put lid on followed by the band, and screw tightly.
- Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into the canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and with a mitt, make sure band is tight, and invert the jar. After 10 min, place the jar upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)