Hospitality is an important ministry of Benedictines, but also with that comes the need for a spirit of flexibility! You never know when a guest can appear needing a meal or a place to spend the night. Being a Type-A personality and a perfectionist, this “gift” is not something that comes naturally to me. My life at the Villa was a wonderful time for me to breathe and let God take the reins.
It’s a place where I hear the gentle guiding voice of the Holy Spirit.
We had some special guests coming to stay at Villa Via Sacra, and as usual, we had many other things that felt equally important going on at the same time. I thought I should plan a meal that could be prepped, held, and baked at the last minute, so that we could be free to do all of these things, but still sit down and enjoy a meal with our guests, so I prayed about what should be served. Nothing immediately came to mind, which was frustrating! I needed answers, I didn’t have time to waste, and most importantly, I had to go grocery shopping! I guess God was teaching me a something…
Then one day, not too long before they arrived, this recipe came to mind, and it felt perfect. The guests were older, it was a hot day. They would be traveling for a couple hours before arriving, and I knew they would be very tired. This recipe is light, easy on the stomach, and pleasing to the eye. It turned out to be a wonderful, relaxing meal and a lesson to me about depending on God’s timetable, not my own.
Autumn and butternut squash, in my mind, are almost synonymous. I am happy to say that we have a generous harvest of them stacked on wooden slats ready to be taken to the root cellar for storage. It’s safe to say that much of it will be turned into butternut bisque, which for years now has also been synonymous with autumn, at least here at the convent. However, roasted winter squashes are also regularly featured in our cold weather menus, and they now rival the bisque in popularity. Such a simple way to prepare them, and so many variations that can add color and flavor to most any meal. Here is one of my simplest and most favorite.
On the Cape, with the tourist season, summer officially starts on Memorial Day. This year it has been rainy and cold — more than I ever remember. It is so wet that we have not been able to get into one garden to plant it, a record late date for this!! In spite of that, the strawberries are pouring in a tubful at a time, sometimes 2 tubfuls at a time in spite of the fact that they are sometimes literally under water.
On Fridays we do projects in the kitchen — jams, cookies, or prepping for retreats or events. It is a good-sized crew, and very faithful. Last week one of the sisters was celebrating a 60th birthday. I asked one of the sisters to put something together, so we had this wonderful spread of cheese dip, cheese ball, crispy tortilla strips and… strawberry bruschetta — surprisingly delicious! Another way to enjoy those juicy jewels from the garden (or grocery store!)
I love to be surprised by another new artistically crafted dessert that is original and breathtakingly beautiful. Some are so absolutely stunning and unusual that they really amount to works of art and one almost hates to destroy their beauty by eating them.
However I am equally as thrilled when someone digs into the old worn recipe box and comes up with an old-time favorite that is not necessarily glamorous or stellar in its presentation, but rather heartwarming in the way it satisfies one’s palette and leaves the eater feeling “cozy” and comforted.
That is why I was so pleased to learn that one of my oldest and most favorite dessert recipes was being revived and used for this coming week’s activity. It is a perfect accompaniment for the meal that is not elegant as much as wholesome and hearty. I know that the men are going to enjoy it as you will when you try it, and what a perfect time to make it while the rhubarb patch is at it’s peak.