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It’s been ten years since I first posted to this blog.  I wish I’d known then what I know now and that is: I will never have another kitchen as nice as that old pink kitchen.

My tastes have changed, my cooking style has changed, and my diet has changed dramatically.  I almost never eat grains, and can only barely tolerate legumes unless they’re sprouted.  I eat ridiculous amounts of vegetables.  I don’t say that to win praise but IMG_20200318_112943824_HDRpity.

Still…

Two things haven’t changed:

  1. The rigor and beauty of Orthodox fasting
  2. I am still a terrible food photographer

Thank you for still reading this ol’ blog.

The following is adapted from the book Twelve Months of Monastery Salads by Brother Victor d’Avila-Latourrette, to include sesame seeds and a reduced amount of juice and onions.  You should probably buy his book.

You don’t have to use homemade cider vinegar strong enough to peel your face with fumes but you can if you’re me.

EXTRA SUPER SPECIAL BONUS This recipe is a COVID crisis friendly recipe because these vegetables keep well for the long haul.

Purple and Green Cabbage Slaw

2 cups green cabbage, shredded 

2 cups purple cabbage, shredded

3 medium carrots grated, about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup onion, finely diced

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil

5 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons orange juice or 1 tsp frozen OJ concentrate

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt or more to taste

2-4 tablespoons sesame seeds recommended but not required

black pepper

 

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all dressing ingredients plus diced onion.  Stir well to emulsify.
  3. Add remaining vegetables and toss.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

When I was a kid, my mom never shared her favorite treat of microwaved mushrooms with butter.  Consequently, I grew up believing that mushrooms are valuable, delicious, and coveted.  Luckily, my husband doesn’t share this view.   He lets me buy mushrooms with (near) impunity and I can eat them all!  I love all varieties of mushrooms and their musky, hearty flavor.  I love the slight chewiness and juiciness of mushrooms.  I love mushrooms so much that I should probably give them up during fasts.  But, only when I’ve reached a higher spiritual level.

In the mean time I want to share my own delicious mushroom pasta concoction with you.  I realize that this might be utterly disgusting to some people.  But some others of you I hope might enjoy it.

*You can toast your walnuts before starting in a dry skillet or quickly toast them in the oven at 300 or in the toaster oven.  Or, if a good walnut flavor isn’t important, you may add them at Step 3.

*If after you add the walnuts, the mix looks dry you can add more olive oil.

Mushroom Black Olive Delight

1/2 pound shell pasta, 1/2 cup cooking liquid reserved

1 1/2 cup of chopped white mushrooms, Portabellas, or Baby Bellas

1 can of chopped or sliced black olives, drained

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped finely

1/4 cup cooked quinoa

1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 Tablespoon (or more) Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon butter substitute

SALT to taste

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2.  Cook pasta in salted water, drain, and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Step 2. Heat oil and butter substitute in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Gently saute onions until fragrant.  Stir in mushrooms.   Cook, covered, until mushrooms start to lose moisture.  Remove lid, continue to cook until mushrooms begin to darken.

Step 3. If you have not toasted your walnuts add them now to cook them.  Cook nuts 3 minutes to develop flavor.  Stir in olives, quinoa, and parsley until warm.

Step 4.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of cooking liquid to the sauce, stirring until it reaches desired consistency.  The starch will help to thicken the sauce so it sticks to the noodles.  Stir in pasta.  Serve.

Indian cooking is great for the Fast because most of it is already vegan or pretty darn close.  The key to flavors is lots of spices and time.

In this recipe, the essential ingredient is the fenugreek leaves.  I could not find them in our grocery store so I had to order them online.

The finished curry should be slightly thick like a good gravy.  It shouldn’t be runny.  You can mash some beans at the end to thicken the sauce.

You can also make this recipe in the Instant-pot.  To do that: soak the beans over night, make the curry, add the beans, and cook on high pressure for 25-30 minutes, let the pressure down naturally, add the fenugreek leaves, simmer gently, serve

Ingredients

1 cup kidney beans soaked overnight with 1 teaspoon salt

1 large onion (1-1/2 cups) chopped

2-3 tomatoes (1 cup) chopped

3 garlic cloves pasted or grated on a microplane

1 inch of ginger pasted or grated on a microplane

1 green chile (optional) pasted or grated on a microplan

1 teaspoon ground coriander (or roasted and ground fresh coriander seed)

1/4 teaspoon red chile powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves)

2 tablespoons oil

1 1/2 cups of reserved bean cooking water or plain water

**Family size should double this recipe

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Rinse soaked beans and cook 1 hour on the stove top or until tender, or 40-45 minutes under high pressure Instant pot.  Reserve cooking liquid.
  3. Make the curry: Heat oil in the pot and gently saute onions until they are lightly brown or even to caramelization
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, and green chile past and saute on low until fragrant (a very short time)
  5. Add the tomatoes and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes
  6. Add all spices, turmeric, red chile, coriander, garam masala, stirring constantly
  7. Add the beans, stirring
  8. Add 1 1/2 cups of bean cooking liquid (the start helps the sauce thicken) or plain water, stir
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened
  11. Add the fenugreek leaves, stir and simmer briefly
  12. Serve over rice

Here’s a scandalously easy recipe.

Honestly, it’s tempting to make really elaborate vegan versions of non-fasting foods and spend a ton of time and money on them.  Food is one of my greatest weaknesses so I feel you.  But, for the Fast we should keep it cheap, simple, and healthy.  So, for those nights that you’re out of time and energy -a boxed mix.  You hopefully have some pre-cooked beans in your freezer or a can of beans in the pantry.

Two years ago the kids and I stopped in New Orleans on a road trip.  We were graciously hosted by the priestly family of my favorite Greek friend.  We visited Father and Presvytera’s church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the oldest Greek church in North and South America.  The parish was beautifully restored after Katrina related flooding.  Presvytera’s parting gift to us was a couple of boxes of Zatarain’s.  I’d never had it before and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.

Because the beans and rice in the mix are parboiled they won’t tide your over for days, but I like to add an additional cup of cooked red beans for every box mix.

Ingredients

1 cup salted cooked red beans (small red  beans or kidney beans), or one can of beans

1 box of Zatarains Dirty Rice mix (or the Aldi brand is pretty good)

1 cup of diced red or orange bell peppers

**Note- this serves 2-3 people, for a family double all of the above

  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Prepare according to box directions.
  3. 2-3 minutes before the rice is finished stir in diced bell peppers
  4. Serve.

 

You won’t beleef how much you’ll enjoy this stir fry.  (That’s for you, Gabe.)

This recipe is adapted from Jet Tila’s broccoli beef recipe.  Instead of using the first ingredients to marinate some delicious, savory, satisfying meat, you’ll turn it into a sauce for some tofu.  It actually works, you just have to do the tofu right.

First, press, drain, and dry your tofu block.  Place the tofu between two plates and pop something heavy on top for an hour or so.  Pour off the liquid.

Cut the tofu in half longitudinally then into 1/4 inch slices and fry until the edges look dry.  Flip and fry the back.  That’s it!  It’s easy and it makes the texture much better.

 

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Side note: Smaller might be safer.  Cut smaller cubes of tofu so your children don’t actually choke while they pretend to gag on the tofu.

Sadly, there’s no way around the oyster sauce here if you don’t eat shellfish during the fast.  However, there are “oyster” sauces without oyster juice in them, just read the ingredients and decide what you think is best.

Ingredients

1 pound broccoli florets

1 tablespoon soy sauce 

1 teaspoon sesame oil 

1 teaspoons cornstarch (1 tsp makes a clingy sauce, 2 tsps makes a sticky sauce) 

1/3 cup vegetable broth

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1/4 cup oyster sauce 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Drain and slice tofu.  Fry until dry on the edges, 2 or more minutes per side.  When complete, remove from wok or skillet and rest.
  2. Cut broccoli to desired size and steam on the stovetop or microwave for 1 -2 minutes.
  3. Mix soy sauce, seasme oil, cornstarch, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, and oyster sauce in a small bowl.
  4. Heat oil in skillet or wok until hot.  Stir in garlic until fragrant, add broccoli for 2-3 minutes until cooked to desired softness.
  5. Drizzle sauce over cooked broccoli in skillet, stirring, until slightly thickened.  Stir tofu back into skillet.  Serve over rice.

A simple soup with a creamy texture using cashew cream.  Cashew “cream” is made by soaking cashews overnight then blending them into a very smooth consistency.

The cashew cream doesn’t add much flavor but it does deliver some fat and protein.  However, this is a  light carby soup and it might not stick with you. So, if you have blood sugar issues and carby makes you crabby pass this right over.

If you use soy you might balance the carbs with a bit of soy milk.  Alternatively, you could use a 1/2 cup of tahini provided the tahini is pretty oily and not over roasted.

If you don’t give a hoot about the protein then use any old non dairy milk.

My kids love this soup so we also eat it during ordinary time with milk instead of cream.

This recipe is adapted from Robert Irvine’s on Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

8 cups vegetable stock

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 leeks (whites only), thoroughly washed and sliced

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon of salt

pepper

1 cup of raw cashews for cashew cream (or 1/2 cup tahini)

Cashew cream:

  • 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight in enough water to completely cover
  1.  Drain soaked cashews, add cashews and 3/4 cup of water into a blender or use a stick blender and blend until absolutely smooth

Directions

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Put the vegetable stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor), blend the soup until smooth.
  4. Pour the soup into a medium pot; add the cashew cream and simmer briefly.  Serve.

 

Some ideas for the Lenten pantry if you’re new to Orthodoxy.  If you’re experienced and you’d like to add something, tell me in the comments.  These are the things I keep around for all of the recipes you’ll read on this page.

Dry Pantry Goods

  • Better than Bouillon vegetable base
  • Cartons of vegetable broth
  • A small variety of canned beans
  • Dry beans (black, navy/white, chickpeas, and kidney beans)
  • Lentils, red, green, and brown
  • Nuts
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Powdered peanut butter to add to oatmeal or other hot cereals
  • Quinoa
  • Pea protein (mix it into a smoothie or with water for a boost)
  • Pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Rice noodles
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Mung beans for sprouting
  • Sprouting seed varieties
  • Onions, potatoes, garlic

Freezer Stock

  • Shrimp
  • Precooked beans, two cups in a container
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable patties for breakfast

Refrigerator

  • Tahini for drizzling on vegetables, adding to hot cereals, and making hummus
  • Lemon juice
  • Fast friendly salad dressings
  • Non dairy creamer
  • Unsweetened juice, like V8
  • Earth balance spread
  • Baby carrots and sweet peppers for dipping in hummus
  • Variety of hummus
  • Mayo alternative

If shellfish are on your allowed list you might enjoy this curry.  It is mild and kid friendly.  If you don’t eat creatures try bean sprouts or tofu for protein.

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple magazine October 2004

Ingredients

1 large unpeeled tart apple, such as Granny Smith

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (omit if necessary and gently simmer in water)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened, full fat, coconut milk

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and veined (I use the 12 ounce bag from Aldi and it’s plenty)

1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

Directions

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Quarter,core, and slice the apple into 1/4 inch thick pieces; set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the ginger, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and golden, 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes
  5. Add the tomatoes, apple, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the peas and coconut milk and cook for 5-8 minutes.
  7. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes until just cooked.  Stir in the cilantro.
  8. Serve over brown rice.

45 minutes, 4 servings

After I had my daughter, eleven years ago, Proeteasa Joan brought me this lovely cake along with Florentine Cannelini Soup.  She hoped that the iron from the molasses and the spinach would help me recover.  I’m still touched by her thoughtfulness.

She gave me a copy of the recipe with these notes:

This heirloom recipe for Molasses Cake was found in the 1920 cookbook of Therese Farrell.  Cooks in the old days (remembering my mother and grandmother, now) were artistic in their cooking and thus, a cup of flour may not necessarily be a level cup because they cooked by feel and by experience.  It may be that this batter is a bit thin, however, if it was I would still try it first and see if it worked.  Again, we have to remember that the gluten content of today’s flour is higher and less flour can make more volume than it once did.

I like this cake with cool applesauce and a dash of cinnamon.

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup molasses

3/4 cup lard (use shortening or some other suitable vegan solid fat)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 level teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 heaping teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups strong, black coffee at room temperature

 

  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Grease and flour 9 x 13 cake pan.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Cream together sugar, molasses, and shortening.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and baking soda.
  5. Cool 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) strong, black coffee to room temperature.
  6. Combine the dry mixture with the lard/sugar/molasses mixture.
  7. While combining, slowly add the black coffee and stir vigorously until all ingredients are well mixed and a smooth batter is formed.
  8. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick or butter knife.

 

I typically eat one of two fasting breakfasts.  I eat either an apple sliced with peanut butter or this vegetable hash.  If you prefer to keep it low carb, omit the quinoa and substitute some nuts or get your protein elsewhere.  If you want it really low carb just don’t eat.  Sometimes I forget that if I were truly pious I wouldn’t eat breakfast.

On days I observe an absolute fast, this recipe plus 5-6 lightly beaten eggs serves as a quick dinner for the kids.

I keep cooked quinoa in the fridge for salads and adding to dishes.  If you like this recipe keep a couple of cups in the fridge so you can whip this up for breakfast.

Let the following photos serve as a reminder of why most of my recipes don’t have pictures.

IMG_20180226_085424805

Gently saute until brown

img_20180226_090252166.jpg

Add kale just to steam and wilt

 

IMG_20180226_090430993

Stir in cooked quinoa

Ingredients

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup shredded zucchini

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup diced onion

1-2 cups kale

1 tablespoon oil

Salt to taste

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Cook quinoa, set aside.
  3. In a skillet heat the oil until shimmering.  Saute the onion and mushrooms until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the zucchini stirring gently.  Salt all the vegetables.  Continue to cook until zucchini softens and loses it color slightly.
  4. Layer 1-2 cups shredded kale on top and allow the vegetable steam to wilt it slightly.  Gently stir.  Cook until kale reaches desired doneness.  Stir in quinoa.  Serve.