Crock Pot Fifteen Bean Soup

During the fasting periods I heavily rely on soups.  This is harder to do in the summer months, but it’s still doable, especially in a crock pot, because you don’t have to stand over a hot store and it won’t heat up the house.

I begin with a bag of mixed dried beans.  I pour 1/2 a bag of dried beans onto a plate and search through the dried beans for pebbles.

I pour the beans into a bowl, rinse them several times with cool water, and then pour into a crock pot.
I turn on the crock pot on HIGH and add:
-1 can tomato sauce (or one small can tomato paste)
-2 cans vegetable broth (Lately I buy the box of broth and measure it out in the tomato can.)
-and chopped vegetables: 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks and 1/2 onion.

Then add seasoning to taste… but add salt towards the end. The vegetable broth has plenty of sodium.

If you like it soupier (not sure that’s a real word) add more broth or a cup of water.


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Souvlaki

Souvlaki, like its cousin Shish K Bob, implies “cooked on a stick.” You can have chicken souvlaki, pork souvlaki, lamb souvlaki, shrimp souvlaki… I’ll stop now to avoid sounding like Pvt. Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue, from the movie “Forrest Gump.” The point is, find a good cut of meat, season it right, skewer it and cook it… you will be the hero of any summer meal.

PORK SOUVLAKI Greek Style.

I started out with 6.5 pounds of Boston Butt (Pork Shoulder.) I forgot to ask the butcher to debone and trim it, so I had to do that myself.

I cut the meat into 1-1.5 inch steaks…

And then 1.5 inch strips…

 

And then 1.5 inch pieces.

 

I put it all in a large bowl and pulled out my seasonings.

It’s just your basic Greek seasonings: olive oil, lemon, garlic, oregano, salt & pepper.

Souvlaki Marinade

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c wine vinegar
1/4 c lemon juice (1 medium lemon)
4 t salt
1 t pepper
4 t garlic
4 t oregano
4 t parsley

I simply squeezed a lemon over a strainer to keep the seeds from falling in. If you can fight the temptation, marinate the meat in the fridge overnight, maybe even a day or two. But if you can’t wait, it will still taste good after resting for 30 minutes.

Skewer 5-6 pieces on a wooden skewer. If the skewers are metal and large, you will need to cut your pieces larger. Squeeze the meat in the palm of your hand to evenly distribute it on the stick.

The six pound Boston Butt made about 25 Souvlaki.

This next step is the most important part of my recipe… you might have your own traditions… but at this point, my “secret” to grilling is my husband. I hand the skewered meat over to him, and he does his magic at the grill.

When they are done, he brings them back to me, and I finish the meal with a salad, rice and some homemade tzantziki, a cucumber yogurt sauce.

Enjoy! And be generous!


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A Natural Red Dye for Easter Eggs

Holy Week is quickly approaching and one of the traditions of the Orthodox Christian is to color eggs red on Holy Thursday.   There are many dyes and food colors to help you get the job done but I prefer to use yellow onion skins.  It’s a natural dye.  It’s an ancient practice.  The color is a deep rich blood red and not a candy apple red. But mostly because it think it’s cool that yellow onion skins make red dye.

Making the dye with yellow onion skins

Collect yellow onion skins. Yes, YELLOW ONION SKINS. Not red onions.  Yellow. If I didn’t do it myself I wouldn’t believe it either. A large pot of yellow onion skins, when boiled for 30 minutes in 9 cups of water and 3/4 c of white vinegar makes a red dye.

Start by saving the yellow onion skins as you cook during the fast.  Set a container on the counter and add a little at a time.  If you don’t have enough you can ask your produce guy at your local grocery store to help you out.

One half grocery bag of skins is more than enough for the average household.

Place onion skins into a large pot. Pour 9 cups of water and 3/4 cup of white vinegar over the skins and smoosh them down.  Invert a plate and weigh it all down with a glass cup.

Cook for 30 minutes.

Turn off heat. Strain the skins in a colander, saving the dye in a clean pot. It’s a good idea to strain them again with a mesh strainer to remove little bits that can stick to the eggs when cooking or you can use coffee filters in the colander.

You can make the dye the day before to save time.

Dying the eggs red

Before you boil the eggs, take them out of the refrigerator so they can come to room temperature. This will prevent them from cracking. Also, I understand medium eggs dye better than large eggs and there are some who insist on using brown eggs instead of white.  I used medium white eggs for this post.

Place the room temperature eggs into the dye and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook, simmering eggs for 15 minutes.

Some tips on online chat groups include leaving the eggs in the dye for 30 minutes before heating the water or leaving the eggs in the dye over night after they are cooked.

 

 

Hot out of the pot they might look brown but as they cool they turn a deep blood red.

When they are just cool enough to touch, dip a rag into a small bowl of olive oil, and coat the eggs for a gloss.  Multiple applications of oil may be necessary.

Things to consider:  Use glass or stainless steel and be careful of staining your clothing.  And we encourage you to light a scented candle.  When you are working with onions, vinegar and boiled eggs, it can get a bit stinky.

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Lenten Chocolate Cake

Today the Sunday School sponsored Coffee Hour and so I brought my Famous Chocolate Cake. Well, famous here at my address. It’s so easy and moist that you will want to make it every chance you get. It calls for vinegar and baking soda to substitute the egg and believe me, you don’t taste the vinegar. If you are still worried, you could add some Lenten chocolate chips, crumbled Oreos or walnuts. (I just thought of adding crumbled Oreos and will definitely try it the next time I make this cake. I wonder what it will taste like.)

To start, you need to preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine 3 c flour, 2 t baking soda, 6 T cocoa, 1 t salt, 2 c sugar. I stirred it with a whisk to evenly balance the dry ingredients.

Then add 3 T vinegar, 2 t vanilla, 3/4 vegetable oil, and 2 c cold water and beat well till blended. I was just fine mixing it with the whisk. No need to get another thing dirty.

 

Pour it into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.

I let it cool on the stove top, sifted powdered sugar on top and served it from the pan.

It is so moist and yummy! It doesn’t need icing.

 

 

Lenten Banana Bread Always Pleases

There are many opportunities to show hospitality during the Lent and it’s always nice to have something vegan to offer.  Here’s a recipe that always pleases.  It comes from Adventures of an Orthodox Mom.  She calls it Curious George Bread. We call it Delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients (and then set aside)

· 1 3/4 c. flour
· 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
· 1/2 tsp. baking soda
· 3/4 tsp. salt

Beat together
· 3/4 c. oil or tahini for non-oil days (I use coconut oil)
· 3/4 c. sugar
· 1/4 c. cold water

Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture. The mixture will be thick but don’t worry. The bananas will add plenty of moisture.  (I made a double recipe so we could have cupcakes and froze them for a ready snack.)

Mash 3-4 bananas and incorporate into mixture

Add Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Chocolate Mini Chips

Pour into a greased loaf pans and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. I like to add chopped walnuts inside and then put larger pieces on top so we can remember which ones have nuts and which don’t. 

Or pour into lined cup cake trays and bake for 15 minutes.

If I need a quick cake, I pour the batter into a greased and floured glass cake pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Once in a while, I add orange zest instead of chocolate chips for a fresher taste. 

I dust the top with cinnamon or powdered sugar for an added treat, but they are sweet enough that a topping really isn’t needed.

For more Chocolate substitutes, visit: https://www.godairyfree.org/dairy-substitutes/how-to-substitute-chocolate

 

 

Remembering the Dead

Why does the Church like to remind us twice a year that we are all going to die?  It’s such a downer.

(Where’s the sarcasm font?)

In reality, I think it’s very important to be reminded that we are all going to die one day and that this life was meant to be temporary.  It helps us remember to stop sweating the small stuff, look at the big picture, forgive and repent.

For the procrastinator in all of us, the Church Calendar has two Saturdays named “Saturday of Souls” where we remember the dead: the Saturday before Meatfare Sunday and the Saturday before Pentecost… the beginning and end of the movable festal calendar.  The other Saturday of Souls services in the beginning of Lent are associated with the ascetics who didn’t have descendants to remember them in prayer and  St. Theodore concerning the Miracle of the Koliva*.

On these memorial Saturdays we offer boiled wheat, a.k.a. Koliva, and ask the priest and those present to pray for our departed family members and loved ones.  I have a friend who pays extra attention to pray for his loved ones and friends who didn’t have children (like the ascetics) and who will probably be forgotten through the generations to come.  As it is, each of us depending on the if we taught our children this sacred tradition or if our names are on a building or invention of some sort, will probably only be remembered for a short time after our death (in comparison to eternity.)

Holy and Great Lent is less than two weeks away and today we are preparing the ingredients for the first Saturday of Souls, February 10, 2018.  Do you prepare Koliva?   Do you offer a list of names of the dead?   How far back do you go?

I highly encourage you to learn how to make koliva.  If you need instructions or a recipe, you can go to an early post for koliva, or if you are a more visual learner, here’s a video.

May their memory be eternal.

Prayer Inside reads:
With the Saints give rest, O Christ,
to the soul of Your servant
where there is no pain,
nor any sorrow, nor any sighing,
…but Life everlasting.
From Orthodox Funeral Service
Item #: 10-002
  • In 361, Julian the Apostate was doing his utmost to restore pagan customs. Knowing that the Christians were accustomed to sanctify the first week of Lent by fasting and prayer, the wily tyrant told the Prefect of Constantinople to have all of the food set out for sale in the markets sprinkled with the blood of animals sacrificed to the gods, so that no one in the city would escape the contagion of idolatry. However, the Lord did not abandon His chosen people, but sent His servant Theodore to outwit the tyrant. Appearing in a vision to Patriarch Eudoxius (360-364), the holy Martyr informed him of what was happening and told him to instruct the Christians not to buy food from the markets but instead to eat kolyva made from grains of boiled wheat. Thus, thanks to the intervention of the holy Martyr Theodore, the Christian people were preserved from the stain of idolatry. The Church has commemorated this miracle ever since on the first Saturday of Great Lent, in order to remind the faithful that fasting and temperance have the power to cleanse all the stains of sin.

 

Cheese Fare Cornbread, Zymaropita

This cornbread is a real treat when you find yourself needing to clear out the fridge during cheese fare week.  It needs 4 zucchini, one onion and a box of JIFFY cornbread.  Then you add feta, cottage cheese and anything you have left.  I’ve made it with Parmesan, Asiago, ricotta, yogurt and even cream cheese.   Yumm!

ZYMAROPITA

Preheat oven to 375*

Grate 4 zucchini (I use a big food processor) and a pinch of salt. Let sit in a strainer to draw out the moisture.

Chop 1 Vidalia onion. Sautee onion in 2 T butter until transparent.

COMBINE:

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Bread/Muffin Mix
  • ½ c cream of wheat,
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
  • 8 oz. well crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ c milk
  • (I will also add any grated hard cheese I have including asiago, Parmesan, or Romano.)

Drain and squeeze zucchini and add to transparent onions and sauté for a few more minutes to remove more moisture.


Add zucchini/onion mixture to other ingredients in bowl. Stir and put in greased 9×13 cake pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden on top.


If you can wait, cool for 15 minutes.  You can also serve at room temperature or cold.  Any way you plate it, it’s delicious!

For the Lenten Season

The Prayer of St. Ephraim for the Lenten Season on a single card and in a pack of 10.

Preparing Koliva

Have you prepared koliva for memorials yet?  Here’s a video and recipe.

For a small memorial service, like Saturday of the Souls or a family memorial, you will need the following ingredients: 2 c whole wheat (uncooked), 1 c chopped walnuts, 1 c blanched / slivered almonds, 1/2 c raisins, 1/2 c golden raisins, 1/4 c Italian (flat) parsley, 1 c whole sesame seeds, 1 t cinnamon, 1 t pumpkin spice, 1 t honey, 2 c powdered sugar, Jordan Almonds.

Rice Pudding

In a small saucepan simmer, after boil, 1 c long grain rice in 2 c water for 10 minutes or till liquid is absorbed.

In a larger pot warm 6 c milk (2%, skim or almond milk if you need a lenten dessert) with 1 c sugar and 1 t vanilla extract. Be careful not to scorch the milk. When rice is cooked and milk is warm, combine the two.

Continue cooking milk and rice over medium heat until rice is fully cooked and mixture has thickened, which should take another 40 minutes. STIR OFTEN!!

After 40 minutes whisk 1 T softened butter and 3 beaten egg yolks in a separate bowl. Do not add the egg mixture to the pudding until you temper it by slowly whisking it with 1/2 c of warm pudding. You can skip this step for a lenten recipe.

Add the tempered egg mixture to the pot of rice pudding.

Simmer another 2 minutes over medium heat.

Pour into individual serving bowls or a serving platter. Be sure to let the pudding cool to room temperature before you chill in the fridge or a film will form. You don’t want that.

When you are ready to serve, sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

Scoop out a portion and garnish with peach slices and homemade whipped cream. Yumm!!

 

Greek Potatoes in the Oven

 

Peel and cut 5 potatoes in half and then cut eat half into thirds.
Soak in water for a few minutes.

Remove from water and dry on paper towel and return to a dry bowl.

 

 

 

Marinate with 1 T olive oil, Cavendar’s seasoning, and lemon juice. If you don’t have Cavendar’s use dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Put marinated potatoes in a baking pan and roast about 50 minutes, stirring a few times for even browning.

I like Greek Potatoes in the Oven. It’s something we can all eat and pairs well with a side of hummus or steamed broccoli. I served them with sauteed shrimp and mushrooms.