Archive for the ‘Fasting’ Category

Shrimp Creole

A lenten recipe our children loved. I plan to make the sauce in bulk and freeze. It will then be very quick meal to put together with our plain (unseasoned) parboiled rice.


1 minced onion

3 TBS veg. oil

2 sweet bell peppers diced

3 cloves garlic minced

4 cups diced tomatoes (2 big cans)

2 TBS Creole seasoning

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

3 TBS margerine

1 package of salad shrimp (could use diced squash or some other ‘meaty’ vegetable as an alternative)

4 cups cooked rice 

Saute onion and garlic in vegetable oil until transparent, then add bell pepper, tomatoes, and Creole seasoning. Cook, partially covered, on low for an hour. Once done cooking, add shrimp.

Grind dry bread into crumbs and saute in margarine. Set aside. Spread rice in an 8X13 oiled pan. Pour and smooth shrimp and tomato sauce over rice. Spread bread crumbs on top and bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.


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More Lenten Cooking

Last night, we cooked our parboiled rice (with the turmeric and green onion/parsley/dill/fenugreek spices already in), added chili spice and corn and turned it into Spanish rice. We served it with home made vegetarian refried beans. It turned out very well.

Today, I am finishing up drying the plain parboiled brown rice. We will bag it and probably bag the breakfast additions separately. I would like to come up with a variety of flavoring mixes that we can mix with the rice depending on our planned menu.

Today, we also intend to make some pre-mixes for muffins, biscuits, cookies and other baked goods. Some of them will be put into ball jars and set aside for gifts. To make these vegan, I have learned that you can grind flax seed with water, and use this as an egg replacer. It is one tablespoon of ground flax and 2 tablespoons of water for every egg. We will grind some flax seed and store it in the freezer (the oils in it will go rancid very quickly otherwise).

I will share recipes later. I need to make labels, including directions for our bulk pre-mixes too. I can share those too. It is my hope to have a well-stocked pantry of home made premixes that the children can easily cook themselves.

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Planning meals for a large homeschooling family during a fasting period isn’t easy. With a busy schedule, it is a real temptation to rely on convenience foods. But as our finances have become increasingly tight with the current economic slowdown, we no longer can afford such luxeries as rice mixes. But the inconvenience of preparing brown rice which requires 50 minutes of cooking, for a large number of meals during the week, can be daunting. I have seen parboiled (converted) white rice available in bulk. But I have not seen this for brown rice.

But by the mercy of God, we have found a solution!

First of all, it is the most inexpensive to purchase long grain brown rice in 50# sacks (I like Basmati, but you can use regular brown rice too). Bulk long grain brown rice can be found in a co-op, Middle East grocery, or a store like Whole Foods. For various reasons, it has been a while since we bought bulk grains this way. But in the past, we would store it in 6 gallon plastic containers (which we are presently working to do again). And now following the pattern of “Once A Month Cooking” I plan to have a day where I cook a bulk quantity of the brown rice.

Normally, brown rice requires 2 1/4 cups of water per cup of rice, and cooking time of 50 minutes. But to parboil, I use:

1 1/8 cups of water per cup of brown rice

1 cube of vegetarian bouillon per two cups of rice.

I add the rice to the boiling water, cover, set it to low and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the water is gone. Then I spread the rice on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven set between 150-200 degrees (if I leave it unattended overnight, I set it at the lower temperature). I occasionally stir the mixture, helping it to dry more quickly and evenly. Once the kernels are dry, I mix in a 1/2 cup of vermicelli (or broken angel hair pasta), to every cup of rice. I toast this in the oven by raising the temp to 250, for 20 minutes or so (until it starts to get a golden toasted hue). Then I take out the rice/vermicelli mix and place in freezer bags. In my case, since I presently have the freezer room and we have had a problem with grain moths, I am storing the rice in the freezer. But as long as it is thoroughly dry, I am sure the rice would be fine in ball jars or some other sealed container at room temperature.

There is a Middle East warehouse in our area that has unbelievably good prices for bulk spices. I put in a couple teaspoons of one spice mix that includes: green onion, dill weed, parsley and fenugreek into each of the bags. I also put in a teaspoon of turmeric into each of the bags. I then mixed them well by shaking.

Tonight was the first time we have cooked the rice to eat. To reconstitute the rice, I brought to a boil 1 1/8 cup of water for each cup of rice. I put in the rice, cover, turn to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Then it was done with perfect texture and all the kids loved it (I mixed in cooked garbanzo beans to make a balanced protein).

We had the rice mix and steamed vegetables with pita that was warmed with Zaatar seasoning (a seasoning mix from Lebanon consisting of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, salt and sumac that is tasty and also available very inexpensively in bulk at our local Middle Eastern warehouse store). When we attended an Antiochian Orthodox parish for a time, the Palestinian women would bring in their pita with this Zaatar seasoning during potlucks. It really adds to the flavor of pita.

I also plan to parboil brown rice to be used as a rice cereal (I hope to do this tomorrow). I plan to cook it first without any flavoring. Once the rice is cooked, I plan on adding vanilla, a sweetner, cinnamon and allspice. Then I will dry it in the oven. When I bag it, I can add ground nuts and/or dried fruit. And then when we are ready to use it, I will reconstitute it just like with the savory rice above. A ten minute cooking time, will make this a more practical breakfast food than conventional brown rice.

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Sermon XIX:

On the Fast of the Tenth Month VIII

By St. Leo I, Pope of Rome (AD 390-461)

I. Self-Restraint Leads to Higher Enjoyments

When the Saviour would instruct His disciples about the Advent of God’s Kingdom and the end of the world’s times, and teach His whole Church, in the person of the Apostles, He said, “Take heed lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and care of this life.” And assuredly, dearly beloved, we acknowledge that this precept applies more especially to us, to whom undoubtedly the day denounced is near, even though hidden. For the advent of which it behooves every man to prepare himself, lest it find him given over to gluttony, or entangled in cares of this life. For by daily experience, beloved, it is proved that the mind’s edge is blunted by over-indulgence of the flesh, and the heart’s vigour is dulled by excess of food, so that the delights of eating are even opposed to the health of the body, unless reasonable moderation withstand the temptation and the consideration of future discomfort keep from the pleasure. For although the flesh desires nothing without the soul, and receives its sensations from the same source as it receives its motions also, yet it is the function of the same soul to deny certain things to the body which is subject to it, and by its inner judgment to restrain the outer parts from things unseasonable, in order that it may be the oftener free from bodily lusts, and have leisure for Divine wisdom in the palace of the mind, where, away from all the noise of earthly cares, it may in silence enjoy holy meditations and eternal delights. And, although this is difficult to maintain in this life, yet the attempt can frequently be renewed, in order that we may the oftener and longer be occupied with spiritual rather than fleshly cares; and by our spending ever greater portions of our time on higher cares, even our temporal actions may end in gaining the incorruptible riches.

II. The Teaching of the Four Yearly Fasts is that Spiritual Self-Restraint is as Necessary as Corporeal*

This profitable observance, dearly beloved, is especially laid down for the fasts of the Church, which, in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s teaching, are so distributed over the whole year that the law of abstinence may be kept before us at all times. Accordingly we keep the spring fast in Lent, the summer fast at Whitsuntide, the autumn fast in the seventh month, and the winter fast in this which is the tenth month, knowing that there is nothing unconnected with the Divine commands, and that all the elements serve the Word of God to our instruction, so that from the very hinges on which the world turns, as if by four gospels we learn unceasingly what to preach and what to do. For, when the prophet says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork: day unto day uttereth speech, and night showeth knowledge,” what is there by which the Truth does not speak to us? By day and by night His voices are heard, and the beauty of the things made by the workmanship of the One God ceases not to instil the teachings of Reason into our hearts’ ears, so that “the invisible things of God may be perceived and seen through the things which are made,” and men may serve the Creator of all, not His creatures. Since therefore all vices are destroyed by self-restraint, and whatever avarice thirsts for, pride strives for, luxury lusts after, is overcome by the solid force of this virtue, who can fail to understand the aid which is given us by fastings? for therein we are bidden to restrain ourselves, not only in food, but also in all carnal desires. Otherwise it is lost labour to endure hunger and yet not put away wrong wishes; to afflict oneself by curtailing food, and yet not to flee from sinful thoughts. That is a carnal, not a spiritual fast, where the body only is stinted, and those things persisted in, which are more harmful than all delights. What profit is it to the soul to act outwardly as mistress and inwardly to be a captive and a slave, to issue orders to the limbs and to lose the right to her own liberty? That soul for the most part (and deservedly) meets with rebellion in her servant, which does not pay to God the service that is due. When the body therefore fasts from food, let the mind fast from vices, and pass judgment upon all earthly cares and desires according to the law of its King.

*The four yearly fasts of the Church: Great Lent (spring), Apostles Fast (early summer), Dormition Fast (late summer), Nativity Fast (winter).

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