“No matter what their age from the youngest to the oldest” everyone
in the Community of Jesus gathers together for Saturday morning beehive,
a time to busily work on everything that needs doing in the community that week.
Each is assigned a job he or she is capable of doing.
Last Saturday while I was in the convent yard I heard excited shouts and
squeals of fun and laughter coming from the apple orchard. Although we
still have not reached peak apple season we have an abundance of
drops each day and we never waste any of them. That day the nursery school
kids were having a contest to see who could gather the most.
The two sisters responsible for child care had cleverly come up with a way
for them to be useful while at the same time learn a lesson in good stewardship
of God’s gifts to us.
Their mission accomplished, the little wagon full of drops were drawn to
the convent kitchen where they were magically transformed into a
favorite old fashioned dessert that everyone without exception enjoyed
at the coffee hour break…..that is EVERYONE no matter what their age
from the youngest to the oldest!
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a shallow 8” x 8” baking dish.
- Place half the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining cubes with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and set aside.
- Stir together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, orange juice, orange rind and the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the bread cubes in the dish and then top with the reserved bread cubes.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes covered with foil at 400 degrees Fahrenheit then uncovered 10 minutes or so until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.
Current surveys show that Italian food still ranks highest in popularity on restaurant menus across the country. With so many other ethnic foods gaining interest in the food world this surprised me a little when I recently found it out. I know it is true in our convent (that’s why we have Italian night on Friday of every week) but didn’t expect it was on such a large scale. This being the case let’s consider some more Italian versions of favorite meals and perhaps something other than provincial tomato sauce dishes that usually come to mind when we think of Italian cooking.
This week I experimented with chicken using some very typical Italian ingredients with the exclusion of tomatoes. I came up with a beautiful and flavorful Italian chicken featuring citrus fruit as well as figs, olives, garlic and herbs and seasonings all native to Italy.
Roasted Chicken with Citrus, Herbs and Olives
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large roasting pan, season chicken with salt and pepper; drizzle with oil. Squeeze lemon and orange over chicken, then add fruit to pan. Add wine, orange juice, and thyme or oregano. Roast 25 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven; rotate chicken pieces if browning unevenly. Add olives and whole garlic cloves. Roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken breast (avoiding bone) registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, about 15 minutes more.
- Transfer chicken and citrus to a platter.
- Place roasting pan over high heat, until sauce is reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour over chicken; serve.
As I write this, it is snowing again. Wow,what a winter it has been, and continues to be. I begin to wonder if spring is truly going to come. But like any issue of faith, one just has to believe. Spring has always come, with its promise of new beginnings and life, and it will be all the more special this year when it does.
Usually I would be starting to think of things like asparagus and lemon, lamb and baby beets–but it’s just a little too chilly still for the spring forerunners. I’m still thinking about hot stews and soups, lovely warm desserts like apple crisp in little ramekins with ice cream melting on it. So, to keep us warm through these last chilly days of winter, here is a recipe for orange-tinged mini apple crisps.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Butter 6 ramekins.
- In a medium bowl mix together flour, walnuts, 2 Tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
- Pour butter over and mix together with a fork. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl combine apples, remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar and orange juice, tossing to coat.
- Divide among ramekins, top with flour mixture.
- Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.
This year Palm Sunday was a bright day, and even though it was cold, it felt like a promise of things to come. Everything about this week points to Easter. As I write this, we are beginning the Triduum, the three holy days before Resurrection Sunday, and some of the most special services of the year. Often we celebrate Maundy Thursday with a meal of lamb, pita bread, bitter herbs (endive). Good Friday we usually have hot cross buns together as a community after the Lauds service, and then later that night, the convent has a “Lenten meal”: home made bread, cheese, honey, eggs. It’s amazing how food is so integral to our holiday gatherings. I love Easter breakfast — with egg dishes, french toast, fruit, and everyone’s favorite — orange rolls. We began making these several years ago in an effort to use up a generous donation of candied orange rind, and they were a hit — the citrus taste makes me think of spring!
For roll dough:
- Boil 1 cup of water in saucepan and set off stove.
- Add butter and shortening and stir until melted.
- Add sugar and salt.
- Cool to lukewarm.
- In a large bowl put 1 cup of warm water, add yeast and stir to dissolve.
- Add butter – shortening mixture and eggs to yeast mixture and mix.
- Thoroughly mix in flour. This is a very soft dough.
- Cover and let stand 2 hours.
- Place sugar and peel or rind in food processor, and mix for about 20 seconds.
- Roll dough out on flour covered surface to make a rectangle about 15″ by 26″.
- Spread the butter all over the dough, and then cover generously with the sugar mixture.
- Roll up rectangle like a jelly roll.
- Cut into 1 inch slices.
- Place rolls into greased pans (9″ round pans, or muffin tins, square pans, or rectangular.) You will have roughly 24 rolls.
- Let rise about 1/2 hour or until puffy. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
- Combine above and drizzle over rolls to glaze.