Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lenten Soup/Stew Recipies (Vegan)

Quick Bean Soup for a Crowd (Lenten)

One Wednesday afternoon during Great Lent, we got busy and I forgot to make the main dish for our Lenten meal at Church which, at St. George’s, always follows the mid-week Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified gifts. Quickly, I looked through our pantry and put together this soup. After it's assembled, the soup can slowly simmer all during the service, to be ready whenever you are! It’s easy to add more beans and such to stretch the batch for a bigger crowd, or to decrease the quantities for a smaller family or group.

A bit of oil…
2 Lg. or 3 Med. Onions, Chopped
½ Head Fresh Garlic, Cloves Slivered
½ C. Celery, Thinly Sliced
¼ C. Fresh Parsley, Italian or Curley, Minced
¼ C. Fresh Cilantro, Minced
1 #10 Can Pinto Beans (White or Black Beans would work fine, too.)
2 Cans Diced Tomatoes, or Tomatoes with Green Chile Peppers
½ Container Frozen, Chopped Green Chile Peppers, or 2 Small Cans, Mild or Hot
2 Cans Vegetable Broth (or Vegetable Stock)
1 Small Can Tomato Sauce
1 Tsp. Dry Oregano
1 Tbsp. Ground Cominos (Cumin)
¼ C. Mike’s NM Red Powdered Chile Mix

In a large soup pot, quickly sauté onions, garlic and celery in the oil. Add parsley and cilantro. Stir together then add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until you’re ready to eat. A nice fasting meal-in-one when served with fresh, warm corn or flour tortillas on the side.

Lebanese Lentil, Potato and Greens Soup, Lenten-style

Norma Hodge, a Lebanese American Founder and Parishioner of St. George's Church served this delicious soup to us for lunch one day when we took a load items over to her home for the annual Parish Garage Sale, which fell within Great Lent that year. The following recipe is how she told me to make it.

Vegetable Stock – Homemade or Canned
½ C. Celery, Optional
Fresh Spinach, Chard or Kale, Chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 Lg. Onions, Sliced Thinly
Olive Oil

Cook lentils until half-way done. Add potatoes, celery, salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are soft and nearly done. Add greens and cook until they are soft but still bright. Sauté onions in olive oil while the soup is cooking. Cook the onions until they are browned and caramelized. Add them over the top of the soup when serving. Serve with Greek or Lebanese style pita bread on the side.

Sopa de Calabacitas, Elote y Chile Verde (Soup of Squash, Corn & Green Chile)

A flavorful soup for a fast day supper, perfect with warm tortillas served on the side.

6-8 C. Vegetable Stock or Broth
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Lg. Onion, Chopped
4-8 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Sliced
8 Small Squash, Chopped
2 C. Frozen, Fresh or Canned Corn
1 Lb. Roasted Mild Green Chile Peppers, Diced
1 Tsp. Mexican or Reg. Oregano
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin (Cominos)
3-4 Leaves Fresh Epazote
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Lime Wedges
Fresh Cilantro, Minced

Sauté onion and garlic in oil. Add squash and cook until tender. Add corn, chiles, spices and salt. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Serve with wedges of lime, to squeeze over the soup, and a bowl of fresh cilantro, to sprinkle over the top.

Mexican Potato Soup with Green Chiles
(Caldo de Papa con Chile Verde)

An old Spanish soup, inspired by the Moors, and adapted to Mexico and Southwestern USA. It can be eaten as a main dish on a fasting day, or can be adapted to be eaten as a meaty main dish. Either way, when served with a salad and some Bolillos or Tortillas, you have a hearty and wholesome meal.

2-3 Med. Onions, Diced
4-6 Lg. Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced or Pressed
3 Carrots, Diced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Vegetable Stock (or Meat Stock, if not fasting) Or, Vegetarian Broth Powder
2-3 Lbs. Potatoes, Cut in to Chunks
1 Can Diced Tomatoes or Several Diced Fresh Tomatoes
6 Lg. Green Chiles, Roasted & Peeled (or Canned), Diced
¼ C. Fresh Parsley, Minced
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Lime Juice, to taste
1/3 C. Fresh Cilantro, Minced
2 Tbsp. Fresh Epazote, Optional
If not fasting: Italian Sausage, Cut into Pieces, Optional
If fasting: Soy “Italian Sausage” Cut into Pieces, Optional

Sauté the onions, garlic and carrots in olive oil. Add stock and potatoes. Add tomatoes, green chiles and parsley. If you are adding meat, add it and cook until potatoes are tender and meat is done. About 10 minutes prior to serving, add salt and pepper, lime juice, fresh cilantro and optional epazote.

Coconut Lemon-Grass Soup

The first time I had this soup was at a Matushki Retreat held at the Sts. Mary and Martha Orthodox Monastery in Wagener, SC. The Mothers feed and treat the Clergy Wives like royalty while visiting there, and this soup was absolutely exquisite! What a joy, these many years later, to actually be able to grow cold-tender lemon grass in our own garden!

Make the following ingredients into an infused soup stock. Bring the stock to a boil, cover, then remove from heat and allow it to steep, cool and infuse, overnight (or, at least for several hours) before it is required for the meal:
2 C. Water (or mild Vegetable Stock, or, if non-fasting, Chicken Stock)
4 – 14 Oz. Cans Coconut Milk
12 – 16 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Peeled & Bruised
6 – 7 Stalks Fresh Lemon Grass, Bruised & Cut into 2” length pieces
14 - ¼” Thick Slices of Fresh Ginger, Unpeeled
3 Large Jalapeño Peppers, Cut in Half Lengthwise & Seeded, (Optional but Good!)

Soup Ingredients:

4 – 5 Tbsp. Olive or Canola Oil
1 ½ C. Finely Minced Onion (Not blended in a food processor!)
1 ½ Tbsp. Finely Minced Garlic (This can be processed).
1 ½ Tbsp. Finely Minced Fresh Ginger (This can be processed).
2 Tsp. Salt, or to taste
2 – 2 ½ C. Cauliflower, Broken into Tiny Florets
¾ C. Carrots, Diced
2 – 2 ½ C. Cabbage, Chopped
1 - 16 Oz. Can Baby Corn, Cut into 1” Sections
1 Small Zucchini or Yellow Summer Squash, Cut into 1” Sections
1 Red Sweet Bell Pepper, Chopped Small
8 Oz. Fresh Mushrooms, Sliced
1 Lb. Extra Firm Tofu, Cut into ½” Cubes
1 ½ C. Fresh Cilantro, Basil and/or Curry Leaves, or, 3 – 4 Tbsp Dried Basil or Cilantro
2 – 3 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
Cayenne Pepper or Red Powdered NM Chile, to taste, Optional

Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot. Add onion, garlic, ginger and salt. Sauté over medium heat until the onions begin to brown. Then add the cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, corn, squash and red bell pepper. Continue cooking for approximately 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Strain the infused soup stock into the sautéed vegetables. Add the tofu, herbs and lemon juice. Heat for an additional 15 – 20 minutes. Serve hot, topped with a sprinkle of cayenne or NM red chile powder. This soup is good kept refrigerated for several days, if there are any leftovers. It can easily be doubled or tripled for large groups.

Shchi (Russian Cabbage Soup)

Another Russian recipe shared with us by Tatyana (Polataeva) Adams, one of our St. George’s parishioners. Tatyana adds that this cabbage soup is especially popular in the Moscow region of Russia.

2 Tbsp. Butter or Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
2 Onions, Thinly Sliced
2 Carrots (about 2 C.), Thinly Sliced
4 – 6 C. Beef or other Meat Broth (Stock) – Or, if in Fasting times, Vegetable Broth
3 Potatoes, Cut into Small Cubes
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tsp. Caraway Seed, Optional
3 C. Cabbage, Finely Chopped or Shredded
½ C. Fresh Parsley, Chopped (Or, 1 Parsley or Celery Root)
2 – 3 Ripe Tomatoes, Chopped
8 Oz. Beef or Tofu, Cooked & Cubed, Optional

Sauté the onion in the butter or oil. Then add the carrots. Cook until the onion is transparent. Place the broth in a large soup pot. Add the bay leaf, potatoes and caraway seed. Add the onion and carrot mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the cabbage, tomatoes, parsley and cooked meat (if using). Simmer the soup, covered, for about 10 more minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve with sour cream on top of each served bowl, if desired (not during a fast).

Scotch Barley Broth (With or Without Meat)

In honor of both the Feast of Ascension and the June 9th Feast of St. Colomba of Iona, Enlightener of Scotland, which happened to fall out on the same day on the year that our daughters had just had their wisdom teeth extracted and we therefore, required something quite soft to sup upon, we adapted this fine recipe found in the From Scotland to You Cookbook published by the Scottish Cultural Festival of South Texas. We made up this soup and had it with some wonderful Scottish Scones on the side. Yum! As ole Scottish poet Bobby Burns doth say, “Some hae meat and canna’ eat, And some wad eat that want it: But we hae meat and we can eat, And sae tha Lord be thank it.” ~ Robert Burns. Another year, we made a vegan version of this same soup in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which always falls within the Great Lenten Fast. A hearty vegetable stock, minus the meat, makes a great St. Patrick’s Day stew!

1 – 2 Med. Onions, Chopped
1 Leek, Thinly Sliced, Optional
1 C. Chopped Carrots
1 C. Chopped Turnips & Greens
1 C. Chopped Celery
5 Lg. Potatoes, Cut into Bite-sized Pieces
1 Chopped Parsnip and/or Rutabaga, Optional
2 C. Fresh Cabbage, Chopped
1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2+ Lbs. Mutton, Lamb, Beef, Venison or a Combination, Optional
1 Qts. Meat or Vegetable Stock, Broth or Water
½ C. Pearl Barley
1 Tsp. Fresh or Dried Thyme, Optional
1 C. Fresh, Frozen or Canned English Peas
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, Minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Sauté the onion, leek, carrots, turnips, celery, potatoes, parsnips and/or rutabaga and cabbage in a bit of olive oil. If using meat, add it and quickly brown. Add stock or water, barley and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least 1 ½ hours. Skim, if needed. Add peas and parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the peas are just done. Serves 6.

Sans Coche – Vegan Split Pea Stew from Trinidad

During Great Lent, we sometimes need a change of pace recipe. The following is one using protein-rich split peas. We adapted the dish from Madhur Jeffrey’s fine cookbook entitled, World Vegetarian. In describing Trinidadian cuisine, Jeffrey stated, “Trinidad is the one place on earth where African, the Mediterranean, India and the New World met in a state of shock and, speaking in culinary terms, reconciled fast in a spirit of mutual survival. This Creole soup speaks of this creative reconciliation.” Below is our own version of this fine, slightly spicy stew. Serve it in a pasta bowl, over rice.

¼ C. Olive or Peanut Oil
1 Lg. Onion, Chopped
½ Head Fresh Garlic Cloves, Sliced
2-3 Stalks Celery, Chopped
2-3 Carrots, Chopped
1-2 Zucchini Squash, Chopped
1-2 Fresh Green Chile Peppers or 1 Small Can Green Chiles
1 Tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves, Chopped, or ½ Tsp. Dried Thyme
2-3 C. Green or Yellow Split Peas
8-10 Cups Vegetable Stock or Vegetable Broth
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Green Plantain, Cut into 1/2” Pieces, Optional
Hot Pepper Sauce, to sprinkle on top of the soup
Limes, Cut into Quarters or Wedges
Fresh Cilantro, Diced, Optional

Sauté onion and garlic in the oil, until they brown. Add celery, carrots, squash and chile peppers and continue to sauté. Add thyme and split peas. Stir and cook briefly. Add vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours, or until done. If using the plantains, add these about a half an hour before the soup is done. Serve on rice. Set out hot pepper or Tabasco sauce and lime wedges to use as a condiments. Shake some hot sauce, squeeze lime juice and sprinkle a pinch of fresh cilantro over bowls of soup, to one’s taste.

Lenten Corn ChowderOne 14.5 oz can vegetarian vegetable broth (homemade or vegetarian vegetable bouillon)3 Potatoes, peeled and diced1 Carrot, peeled and diced1 Celery rib, diced1 Onion, chopped1/2 red pepper, diced2 cloves garlic, crushedOne 10 oz. package frozen corn niblets (or canned cornniblets, drained)One 14.75 oz. can creamed corn1 tbsp Dijon mustard (whatever kind is "Lenten")1 c. soy milk, plain or vanilla (the sweetness ofvanilla soy milk can help bring out the naturalsweetness of the corn)1 tbsp margarinesalt and pepper, to taste2 chopped scallions, for garnishImitation (soy/veggie) bac’un bits, for garnish, OptionalIn large saucepan, combine broth, potatoes, vegetables and garlic. Add a little water, ifnecessary, to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender.Add corn niblets, creamed corn, mustard, soy milk and margarine. Cook for another five minutes, uncovered on low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, garnish with chopped scallions (both green and white parts) and imitation bac-un bits. Makes 3 quarts.

Purée of Carrot Soup

One winter, my mother’s sister, Edith, was quite ill and could only eat soft foods. Several times, my mother made this for her and the entire family. Aunt Edith and everyone else really enjoyed this hearty and nourishing soup. She died in January 2006. May her memory be eternal!

2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
1 Lg. Onion, Coarsely Chopped
1 C. Celery Coarsely Chopped
1 ½ C. Diced Potatoes
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Chopped
3 C. Carrots, Diced
½ Tsp. Sugar

Heat oil in a heavy pan. Add onions, celery, potatoes, garlic and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are limp. Add:

4 C. Vegetable Stock or Chicken Broth, if not fasting
4 Whole Cloves (NO more than 4!)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Bring all to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely soft. Remove from heat. DISCARD the whole cloves. Puree soup ingredients in small batches in a food processor. Can, freeze or serve at once. Nice served with a side salad and hot French bread or Whole Wheat Rolls.

Easy Mexican-style Vegetarian Soup

Shared with me by Christian homeschooling mom-of-many and my dear friend, Nanette Klinect from Dacula, Georgia. This recipe is a quick and easy solution for dinner on a hot dinner on a fast day, when one has little cook-time.

3 Med. Onions, Chopped
3 Green Peppers, Chopped
3 Zucchini or other Summer Squash, Chopped
1 Bunch Parsley, and/or a mixture of Parsley and Cilantro
3+ Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
Optional: 1 Can or Several Fresh Green Chile Peppers
1/4 C. Olive or Vegetable Oil
1 Lg. Can V-8 or Tomato Juice
Water w/Vegetable Bouillon, or Vegetable Stock, as needed
1 Can Fat-Free Refried Beans
1 C. Flour
1 C. Nutritional Yeast
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Chop up all vegetables, rather finely. Sauté vegetables in oil. Mix together flour and nutritional yeast. Put this in a large pot. Slowly add the juice, stirring well to prevent lumping. Add 1 juice-can full of vegetable stock or water and bouillon. Add to this the sautéed vegetables and the can of refried beans. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, until flavors have blended. Excellent and quick! Good served with Carrot Sticks and Avocado Dip or Guacamole and with Fresh Rolls or Warmed Tortillas on the side

Posole Verde ~ Vegan Green Posole from Mexico

For this recipe, either use frozen, dried or canned hominy (posole). See recipe above for tips on using frozen or dried posole. If you want a quicker version, use canned hominy, as per recipe below. This posole was a big hit at our St. George’s Lazarus Saturday meal and work day, which we hold every year after the Divine Liturgy for the day.

1 #10 Can White Hominy (Posole) + Liquid
3 Cans Canelli or other White Beans + Liquid
2 Lg. Onions, Chopped
1 Head Fresh Garlic, Sliced
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Lb. Mild Green Chiles, Chopped
1 Lb. Fresh or Frozen Tomatillos, Coarsely Chopped
1-2 Jalapeño or other Hot Green Peppers, Minced, Optional
1 Bu. Fresh Cilantro, Minced
¼ C. Fresh Parsley, Minced
2 Tbsps. Fresh Oregano, Minced
1 Tbsp. Ground Cumin
Salt & Black Pepper, To Taste
Vegetable Broth Powder or Bouillon, To Taste
1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes with Juices, Optional
¼ C. Lime or Lemon Juice

Sauté onion and garlic in oil. Add green chiles, tomatillos, hot peppers, cilantro and parsley. Add posole and beans, then all remaining spices, including salt. If you wish to add the flavor and coloring to this otherwise green and white dish, add the can of diced tomatoes. To make a richer broth, add vegetable broth powder, to taste. Just before serving, add lime or lemon juice. Serve with tortillas on the side. Small bowls of chopped cilantro, scallions, lime quarters and salsa verde can also be served as accompaniments.

Houmous & Tahini Soup (Garbanzo & Sesame Soup from Cyprus)

Foods from the Island of Cyprus are very similar both to Greek and to Lebanese dishes. This is a soup which can be made vegan (for fasting) or can be made with chicken broth.

2 Cans Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
6 -8 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Peeled
1 Med. Onion, Peeled & Quartered
4 Tbsp. Tahini (Sesame Seed Butter)
1/3 C. Fresh Lemon Juice
6 – 8 Cups Broth – Chicken or Vegetable
8 Slices Bread, Cubes & Toasted as Croutons
½ Bunch of Fresh Parsley, Minced
Olive Oil, at table
Coarse Salt, to taste
Greek-style (Calamata) Olives, 6 – 8 Per Each Bowl Served

If using dried garbanzos, soak and cook them until tender. In the bowl of a food processor of a blender, mix together until smooth the Tahini, Lemon Juice, Onion and Garlic. Add the (drained) garbanzo beans. Reserve the liquid. After blending, warm the broth in a large pan. When it is quite hot, add the blended chick peas. Stir well and heat, but do not boil. Serve into individual bowls. Add minced parsley, croutons, a sprinkling of coarse salt and the Greek Olives to each bowl. Put olive oil on the table, and let each one drizzle the top with as much or little as they desire. Serves 6 – 8.

Jillian’s Vegan Potato Soup

From our Valley homeschooling friend, Jillian DeMoya. She brought this wonderful soup to us one winter, when we are all sick with the flu. Jillian’s husband is from the Dominican Republic, and is actually a distant relative of Fr. Antonio’s. She relates, “We call this our “lifesaver” soup" and our family would agree. So easy! There's really no recipe, half of what I cook I just make up! I also made a version of this soup for Glenn (Chrysostom) Geil's memorial service, and folks really enjoyed it. Here's what I did this time”:Potatoes, Diced - I made most of a 15 pound bagDice Several large onions
1 Entire Head of Garlic, Chopped
A bit of oil4-5 Tbsp of veggie powdered stock (like boullion cube, but powdered and veg based with no msg!)
Or (I usually use) Vegetable Broth or Homemade Vegetable Stock2 bunches bok choy (could substitute chard, kale or collard greens)
(Any greens will work - collards, kale, chard, mustard, turnip, spinach - sometimes one
can find these in already washed/chopped & ready to throw in the pot bags now)
Optional: Carrots, Celery, Mushrooms, Squash - Use any, all or none
Juice of 1 or More Lemons or Limes, Optional & To TasteSautee onion and garlic in a little oil. .Add potatoes and fill with water or stock to just over the top of potatoes. Add any other vegetables you want to use. Add bouillon and salt and pepper to taste. When potatoes are soft add cleaned and sliced up bok choy or other greens. Add lemon just before serving, if you choose to use it. That's it!
Peas Porridge Perdomo Style

Split pea soup is one of our favorite busy fasting day suppers. Often, we’ll get this started this early in the day and let it cook until after Wednesday night Daily Vespers. It’s great to have a hearty, satisfying meal to come home to when it’s late and we’re quite hungry!

1-2 lbs. Dry Split Peas, rinsed
1 Lg. Can Diced Tomatoes
2 Cans or 1 Lg. Box Vegetable Broth (or homemade veggie stock)
2 Onions, Chopped
4 Small Potatoes, Chopped
3 Lg. Carrots, Chopped
3 Stalks Celery, Chopped
3+ Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced or Pressed
¼ C. Fresh Parsley, Minced
1 Tsp. Oregano
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
A bit of olive or vegetable oil.

Put the peas, tomatoes, vegetable broth and as much water as needed into a pot or a slow cooker (crock pot). Sauté the vegetables in a bit of oil, until they are just beginning to soften up. Add herbs, salt and pepper, and allow to cook until peas are soft and you’re ready to eat. A loaf of whole wheat French bread on the side makes a filling meal of it!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Few Cheesy Cheesefare Recipes!

Huevos Rancheros de Colorado (Colorado Ranch-style Eggs)

A very hearty breakfast or special supper meal. We often will make the sauce without the meat or meat stock, and have it for one dinner meal during Cheese Fare Week. This particular recipe was inspired by those super “huevos” we’ve eaten as an annual treat with “Grandpa,” which are served at a locally owned restaurant in my parent’s hometown of Montrose, Colorado.

Ranchero Sauce:
1 Can Vegetable Broth Stock (or homemade)
1 Can Diced Tomatoes, Plus Liquid
1 Can Green Chiles (Or, Frozen) & Liquid, Chopped
2 Tbsp. NM Red Powdered Chile
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced or Pressed
1 Med. Onion, Chopped Small
2 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano, Minced (Or, 1 Tsp. Dried Oregano)
1 Tsp. Ground Cominos (Cumin) Powder
1 Tsp. Fresh Epazote Leaves, Minced, Optional
Salt, to taste

Cook the meat in the stock, along with the vegetables, until the meat is tender. Remove the pork from stock. De-bone, if necessary, and cut the meat into small, bite-sized pieces. Add the meat back into the sauce. Set back on stove and simmer until the meal is ready to serve. (Extra of this sauce can be made for a future meal.)

1 Pkg. Corn Tortillas, Warmed
1 Can (or Homemade) Refried Beans (vegetarian are fine)
1 Can (or Homemade) Whole Pinto Beans, Cooked
Eggs, Salt & Pepper
Sharp Cheddar, Mexican Queso or Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated

Warm and soften the corn tortillas in a heavy skillet in a small amount of corn oil. Set aside in a tortilla warmer. Mix together the refried beans and the whole pinto beans. Warm these up in a saucepan or in the microwave. Fry eggs to your liking, 1 or 2 per person. Salt and pepper them to taste. Serve on a plate in this order: Place several warm tortillas (2 – 3) on the plate. Spread the tortillas with warm beans. Top the beans with 1 or 2 fried eggs. Cover the eggs with a generous ladle of warm Ranchero Sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Eat and enjoy!

Breakfast Egg Casserole

When we lived in Georgia, there was a time when Father served a small Mission which was just beginning up in the North Georgia Mountains. The Mission was housed in a home located just outside the small town of Dahlonega. After services, we would always share a pot luck brunch together and enjoy the lovely scenery as well as one another’s company. Sausage and Egg Casserole was a favorite dish that was often made by the wife of our host family, Marina Oberbillig. This recipe is slightly Southwestern-ized from the version which Marina used. One of the best things about this filling dish is that it can be made up the night before, and just stuck in the oven when it’s time to bake.

8+ Slices of White or Whole Wheat Bread, Cubed or Torn
½ C. Onion, Minced
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
Green Chiles, Minced (Optional)
Several Sprigs or Leaves Fresh Cilantro, Minced, Optional
1 Tsp. Salt, or to taste
1+ Doz. Eggs
3 C. Milk
1 ½ C. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, or Mexican or Feta
NM Red Chile Powder, for garnish

Place bread pieces on the bottom of a greased 3 Qt. Baking Dish. Set aside. Brown the onion, garlic, cilantro and green chiles, sautéing until soft. Combine eggs and milk, stirring until blended. Add to this 1 C. of the cheese. Mix with vegetables, and pour over the bread. Cover and allow to sit, refrigerated, overnight. Just before baking, sprinkle the remaining ½ C. of cheese over the casserole’s top, and cover this with a sprinkling of red chile powder. Bake at 350 F. for 50 minutes, until golden brown and set in the middle. We will often bake this at a lower temperature and longer, while Church is going on, and serve it as a Coffee Hour brunch dish.

Joe’s Firehouse Quiche

Joe Huyett is a faithful St. George’s Parishioner who, along with his lovely wife, Hazel, lives in the Brownsville area. A former high school teacher, for the sake of sanity, Joe changed professions and is now un bombero – a firefighter! The following is one of Joe’s specialties which he sometimes prepares for the hungry gang at the fire station.1 - 11 oz package pie crust mix1 - 10 oz. package frozen spinach5-6 whole green onions minced (optional)1 clove garlic minced (maybe a lot more)5 Tbsp. butter (olive oil works OK too)1 Tsb. dried dill (or just salt and pepper)3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour1 1/2 cup warm milk1/2 tsp salt1/4 tsp peppera dash of nutmeg6 eggs1 cup feta cheese (or equivalent package of french fromage de chevre)Prepare pie crust, or buy a prepared pie crust. Cook spinach in a little water, drain. Saute onions, garlic in 2 TB butter (or oil). Add spinach and dill, set aside. Melt 3 TB butter (or oil). Blend in flour until smooth. Add milk. Cook over low heat (really low). Stir until it just bubbles and starts to thicken (will thicken quickly). Remove. Stir in salt, pepper,nutmeg and spinach mixture. Get a new bowl (yes, another), beat eggs until smooth and a little bubbly. Stir in cheese until well mixed. Blend in spinach mixture and sauce. Pour into pie shells. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes.Baked Cheese Grits

This dish is a truly Southern specialty. It makes a wonderful side dish to eggs, or can be almost a meal by itself. It is great for a special breakfast or brunch, but can also serve as a supper dish. We first ate this when it was prepared by our old friend, Kevin Reily, a native of Louisiana. It has been a family favorite ever since.

5 Cups Water or Vegetable Stock
1 Tsp. Salt
1 ½ C. Quick Grits, uncooked
6 Oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Yellow or White
2 -3 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Finely Minced or Pressed
½ C. Butter
4 Eggs, Beaten
½ C. Milk
Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco Sauce, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste

Bring salted water to a boil in a large, heavy pan. Gradually stir in the instant grits. Reduce heat and cook, stirring often, for approximately 3 minutes. Add cheese, garlic and butter. Stir these in until butter has melted. Stir together the eggs, milk, pepper and Tabasco. Add this mixture to the grits. Pour into an oiled or sprayed 3 Qt. casserole serving container. Bake the grit casserole at 350 F. for 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Variation: For a simple, every-day-type variation, simply put plain instant grits in a bowl. Add milk and sharp cheddar cheese (cut into small pieces), to taste. Microwave for 1 ½ minutes. Serve and eat! This is one of the girls favorite non-fast day breakfasts.

Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

If you happen to be so blessed, this soup is perfectly suited for warming up a chilly autumn night. This is what we do with our annual Thanksgiving Pumpkin’s leftovers, all cooked up, frozen and waiting for that just right winter evening!
2 Med. Onions, Chopped
3-4 Green New Mexico Chile Peppers, Roasted, Peeled, Seeded, Chopped
3 – 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
3 Tbsp. Butter, Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
5 C. Pumpkin Purée (from canned or fresh pumpkin)
1 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. White Pepper
1/2 Tsp. Winter Savory or Mexican Oregano, Crumbled
2 C. Yogurt or Buttermilk
1/4 Lb. Sharp Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese
1/4 C. Fresh Cilantro or Parsley, Chopped (Optional for Garnish)
Pepita (Pumpkin) Seeds, (Optional for Garnish)
Heat oil in a heavy pan. Sauté onion, garlic and chile peppers until the vegetables have wilted. Add pumpkin purée, salt, white pepper and savory. Whisk to blend together. Simmer until warm. Add yogurt or buttermilk. Whisk again and gently bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. When thoroughly heated, add cheese, whisk in and serve immediately. If desired, garnish each bowl of soup with a sprinkle or cilantro or parsley and top with a few pepita seeds.

Southwestern Corn Chowder
Several years ago, we returned home to Texas from an August trip to visit family and friends in Colorado. We came home with a cooler full of Colorado’s famous Olatha Sweet Corn. After a few rounds of corn on the cob, our friend and former chef, Michael Price, put the remaining ears to excellent use by making a large batch of his savory corn chowder. Of course, the fresh batch of NM roasted green chiles didn’t hurt the end result one bit! Even without access to Olatha Sweet Corn, this is an excellent, special occasion treat. It is definitely not a carb or cholesterol reducing meal, but it is delicious! Vary the quantity of vegetables according to their availability and your personal taste.
12+ ears Sweet Corn, Cut from Cob (Frozen Corn can be used as a substitute)
1 – 2 Onions, Chopped
1 C.+ Celery, Chopped
1 C.+ Carrots, Chopped
1 Tbsp.+ Fresh Garlic, Minced
4+ Potatoes, Cubed (Optional)
10 + Fresh or Frozen Mild NM-style Green Chile Peppers (or Canned)
2 Qts. Half & Half Cream
Milk, to desired quantity
1/3 C. Flour (Approximately)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Pinch Ground Cumin, Optional
1 Bunch Scallions, Chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Cilantro or Parsley, Minced (Optional)
½ C. White Wine, Optional

Place cut corn in a heavy, large soup pot. Sauté onion, corn, celery, carrots and garlic in olive oil, until vegetables are soft. If you are using potatoes, add them as well. [Although unnecessary for the flavor, adding potatoes or cooked rice (stirred in at the end) can help stretch a batch of chowder if you are serving many people.] When vegetables are soft, blend approximately 1/3 C. of flour in to the vegetables and bacon grease. This makes a sort of “rue.” After the flour has warmed and blended well, stir the cooked vegetables into the pot with the corn and bacon. Thoroughly mix all ingredients. Turn burner to medium heat and add the Half & Half Cream. Add milk until the chowder is the quantity and consistency you want. Stir well and often, making sure the bottom does not scorch. Add the green chiles. Stir and cook until the soup thickens and all vegetables are tender. If too thick, add a bit more milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add just a small pinch of ground cumin. Just before serving, add the scallions and the optional fresh cilantro or parsley and white wine. Stir well and serve. Add a side salad and some crusty French bread to make this a memorable meal! This makes a large pot of chowder, but the recipe can easily be increased or decreased, depending on your requirements.


Kathy Moran, long-time Director of the St. Peter the Aleut Orthodox Summer Camp and active member of the St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church (OCA) in San Antonio, sent us this wonderful recipe. It’s very easy to make these in either a fasting or a non-fasting version. Kathy shares, “Chalupas are a great summer food. The broiler gets used for half a minute, (minimizing kitchen heat build up), and there are many options for picky eaters. It's an easy Lenten meal and also a great party food. Young children often prefer the beans and cheese only version, but the sophisticated palettes will appreciate the condiments.”

Chalupa shells (also called tostada shells- they look like flat crunchy taco shells)
Refried beans (reg. canned or vegetarian, or make your own, or use dehydrated)
Cheese: (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, cheddar/jack, imitation cheese for fast days, or my favorite, Mexican Queso)

Condiments: Salsa (Picante Sauce), Pica de Gallo (diced tomatoes, mango, jalapenos, and onions, and chopped cilantro), shredded lettuce or cabbage, Guacamole or sliced avocados, chopped shrimp or crabmeat.

Directions: Spread a layer of refried beans on each chalupa shell. Top with cheese. If using shrimp or crabmeat, layer in between the beans and cheese. Place the chalupas on a cookie sheet and pop under the broiler until the cheese begins to bubble, half a minute or so. Top with condiments. She recommends the guacamole and pica de gallo. The mango makes the pica de gallo unique.

Kathy continues, “I often serve chalupas when entertaining. Bowls of condiments are provided for guests, buffet style. Mexican rice, Pozole (hominy), a green salad, and a tropical fruit salad compliment the Chalupas nicely. This meal is both healthy and easy! For several years when my children were young, we had Chalupas at least three times per week!”


Haystacks are by far one of my daughter’s favorite lunch or supper meals. The recipe definitely goes for easy rather than any particularly grand cuisine. Haystacks can easily be made in a non-fasting version by adding ground meat.* However, at our house, we usually prepare Haystacks in a fasting version. It is a protein-rich meal so quickly put together that we often prepare it in just a few minutes on a Wednesday night after attending Daily Vespers, or on some other Lenten evening.

1 Lg. Can Pasta Sauce (No Meat)
Or, 1 Can Tomato Sauce + Seasonings (Or, some homemade or store bought salsa)
1 Tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning or Dried Oregano
1 Pkt. Ground Meatless (Soy Ground Burger Substitute), Optional
1 Lg. Can Refried Beans (Vegetarian)
1 Can Pinto Beans
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced or Pressed
1 Small Pkg. Taco or Mexican-type Seasoning
1 Mild Onion, Minced
3 – 4 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
Leaf Lettuce, Washed, Dried, Torn or Shredded
Black Olives, Drained & Cut into Halves, Optional
Salsa of Choice, Optional
Frito-type Corn Chips – Regular or “Scoops”
Grated Cheese
Sour Cream

At our house, making haystacks is always a group effort. This is what we do: Add the dried herbs to the pasta or tomato sauce. Then, one person heats up the sauce in the microwave. Another mixes together the refried and pinto beans, and stirs in the taco seasoning and garlic. This is warmed it in the microwave or on the stove top. Whoever is available warms up the ground meatless. Someone minces the onion, chops the tomato, washes and tears the lettuce, cuts the olives and place each of these in individual bowls on the table. Another opens the Fritos and puts them on the table as well. Someone sets the table, and it’s time to eat! Haystacks are assembled at the table by each person on their own plate. Start with a bed of Fritos. Follow with beans. Top with ground meatless. Pour on some sauce. Then add whatever other vegetables you wish. Top with your salsa of choice. Yum!
During Cheesefare week, to the basics above, add grated cheese (cheddar or Monterey jack) and/or sour cream.

Cheese Day Staked Enchiladas (Flat, not Rolled)

A reasonably quick to prepare and delicious stacked enchilada, good to serve for a fast day supper.

1 Small Can Vegetarian Re-fried Beans
1 Can Pinto Beans
1 Onion, Minced
1 Ear Fresh Corn, Cooked, Grilled or Raw, Cut off the Cob
1 Small Can Green Chiles, Chopped (Or, we use fresh, frozen)
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced or Pressed
3 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, Finely Chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, Minced
1 Tsp. Dried Mexican Oregano (or regular)
Monterrey Jack, Cheddar, Mexican or other cheese, grated
Salt, to taste
Mix these ingredients together and warm in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Quick Enchilada Sauce:
¼ C. Mike’s NM Red Chile Mix
2 Tbsp. Masa Harina
1 Can Vegetable Broth (Or, equivalent, homemade.)
1 Can Enchilada Sauce (Such as El Paso)
Stir together the Red Chile Mix and the Masa. Mix these into the vegetable broth. Add the enchilada sauce, and heat these up together, either in the microwave or on the stovetop.

1 Lg. Pkg.* of Corn Tortillas, Warmed & Softened in a Microwave (Wrapped, or in a Tortilla Warmer)

In a large, lightly oiled or sprayed pyrex-type 2 or 3 Qt. Baking Pan, put a layer of corn tortillas (6 or 8*) on the bottom. Cover this with a layer of the warm bean mixture, then a layer of cheese. Top with another layer of corn tortillas. Add an additional layer of beans, then more cheese. Top with another layer of tortillas. On top of this, pour the warmed enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with a small amount of cheese and bake in an oven preheated to 350 F. for 20 – 30 minutes, until bubbly and thoroughly warmed. *Note: For a 2 Qt. Pan, it will take 18 tortillas; for a 3 Qt. size, 24 tortillas.

The Very Best Chile Rellenos (Stuffed Green Chile Peppers)

Although we don’t do it very frequently since its making is rather time consuming, our daughters love to make this delicious Chile Relleno dish. It is exquisitely good!

12 Green NM Chile Peppers (Poblano?), Roasted, Peeled & Seeded (see pg_)
1 Lb. Monterrey Jack Cheese or Queso Fresca (Mexican Cheese), Cut into 12 Strips

Chile Sauce:
1 Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced or Pressed
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, if required
2 Cans Vegetable Broth (or homemade)
¼ C. Mike’s NM Powdered Chile Mix, pg_
2 + Tbsps. Masa Harina
1 Tsp. Ground Cominos (Cumin)

Brown the onion, garlic and salt. Add olive oil, if necessary. Drain and set aside. Heat the vegetable broth. Mix together the Powdered Chile Mix and the Masa Harina. Stir this into the warm broth. Let this boil, then reduce heat and cook until slightly thickened. Adjust seasonings as needed and allow this to continue to simmer until it is required.

6 Eggs, at room temperature
6 Tbsps. Flour

Prepare this just prior to using it as it won’t keep long. Separate the eggs. Beat the whites until they are very stiff. Beat the yolks until they are creamy and stiff. Gently fold them into the beaten egg whites. Slowly and carefully add the flour. Use this batter to coat the chile peppers.

Carefully fill each pepper with long slices of cheese. Heat up a heavy skillet (such as cast iron) and place oil in the bottom. One at a time, drop stuffed chile peppers into the batter. Carefully remove from the batter, using 2 forks. When the oil is hot, add one pepper at a time. Cook one side until the batter is slightly browned; turn; cook and remove to a pyrex pan or serving dish. Continue cooking peppers, one at a time. After all of the chiles have been cooked, place 2 chiles on each individual serving plate. Smother with the warm chile sauce. Eat with warm tortillas or Indian Fry Bread (pg._) on the side.

Basil Pesto

This is wonderful either spread on bread or crackers, or served on top of hot Pasta, such as fettuchine. We are beginning to enjoy it from the garden we're growing with our friend, Peggy Kathryn in Pojoaque. This is Ana's recipe given to her from her Godmother, Mary Kathryn Hagge, who is part of the St. Elias Antiochian Parish back in Atlanta, GA.

3 Cups, Fresh Basil Leaves, tightly packed (dry basil will Not work!)
2+ Large Cloves Fresh Garlic (to taste)
1/2 C. Piñon Nuts, and/or Pecans, Walnuts or Almonds - a combination will do
3/4 C. Parmesan (or, if fasting, the rice-parmesan substitute)
1/2 C. Olive Oil (or, if fasting, some other sort of oil)
1/4 C. Softened Butter (or, if fasting, margarine)
Salt to taste

Put fresh basil into food processor. Add oil and blend well. Add all other ingredients and blend. Taste and adjust to your liking. Excellent served immediately, or it can be chilled or even frozen, if it is to be served later.

Chile Relleno Casserole (Cheese & Green Chiles)

This wonderfully flavored casserole was served at St. Dimitri’s Mission in New Mexico when our Bishop came for his Annual visitation of the area. It was served again on the next day, at the Pilgrimage to St. Michael the Archangel’s Monastic Skete in Cañones, and was really enjoyed by folks at both events. Archbishop DMITRI has asked us for the recipe. So, since it was invented for the occasion, I came up with this one!

NM Green Chile Strips or Pieces, Roasted, Peeled, Seeded (Mild or Hot, your choice)
1 Lg. Onion and/or Scallions, Finely Chopped
4 C. Monterey Jack or similar Cheese, Grated
1 Can or 2 C. Vegetable Stock
6 Eggs, whisked or beaten
1/2 C. Flour, adjusted
Salt & Pepper, to taste1/2 Tsp. +/- Powdered Red Chile, or to taste
Flour or Corn Tortillas, Optional

(The above amounts are “rough estimates.” Please adjust all ingredient quantities depending on the size of your pan and the number of people you wish to serve.)

Lightly oil both the bottom and the sides of a large Pyrex-type, rectangular baking pan. If desired, tear up and place a layer of corn or flour tortillas on the bottom of the pan. Then place a well-filled layer of Green Chile Strips on the bottom of the pan. Cover this layer with a moderate sprinkling of finely chopped Onion and/or Scallions. Over this, sprinkle a good layer of grated Jack Cheese. Top this layer with a mixture of batter, made by mixing together the Flour, Salt, Pepper and Powdered Red Chile. Gradually stir into the dry ingredients the whisked Eggs, and then gradually add to this the Vegetable Stock. Adjust ingredients until the batter is neither overly thick nor overly thin.

After pouring half of the batter on top of the casserole’s layers, begin again with Chile Peppers, Onions and Cheese, then end with the second half of the Batter. Bake at 350 Degrees for 30 minutes, until all is thoroughly hot, with the casserole being set up in the middle and its top slightly browned. This dish can easily be made up in advance of an occasion, to be covered and refrigerated until it is time to bake and serve.

DO YOU APPRECIATE THESE RECIPES? If so, please consider donating to St. George’s Outreach Ministries (Food Pantry, etc.) or St. George’s Building Fund (for a new hall). One can easily do so via PayPal at: www.stgeorgepantry.org

Please state where you would most like your donation to be designated for use. Thanks!
Cheesefare Fare?

For those accustomed to the Orthodox Great Fast, Cheesefare week is easy! After some years of it, we know the routine and pull out our family favorites for using up and enjoying the last fling with milk, eggs and butter – until after the fast.

For those new to Orthodox fasting traditions, even Cheesefare week might be a bit of a challenge. What does one do after the family says no more blini and quesadillas? Even though the week is quickly waning, we’ll share a few ideas and some of our family favorites to help you get through!

Some of the following will simply be menu suggestions. For some ideas, we will also share some recipes.

Enjoy the rest of this most blessed week of preparation!

Easy Breakfasts:

Cheese Grits
Fruit & Yogurt Smoothies
Quesadillas, with an egg on the side
Breakfast Burritos (without meat)
Bagels with Cream Cheese
Blini, Pancakes or Waffles
Breakfast Casserole (without sausage!)

Easy Lunches or Quick Suppers:

Cheese or Cheese & Veggie Pizzas (can do homemade or start w/frozen)
Haystacks – Recipe Below
Bean & Cheese Burritos
Veggie Cheese Burgers
Baked Potatoes w/Sour Cream, Grated Cheese & Diced Onions & other Veggies
Macaroni & Cheese – boxed type, w/soy hot dogs cut up in it
REAL Macaroni & Cheese – Recipe Below
Potatoes Au Gratin - w/Onions, Garlic, etc.
Chalupas – w/Cheese, Beans & Guacamole
Creamy Pumpkin or Winter Squash Soup
Cheese Fondue
Blini, Pancakes or Waffles, w/sour cream and/or soft cheeses
Taco Salad – with beans, cheese & ground (soy) crumbles
Chef Salad – with cheese cubes, boiled eggs, etc.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches w/Tomato Soup on Side
Cheese Submarine Sandwiches
Potato & Cheese Pirogies
Cheese & Spinach Ravioli (Italian pirogies!)
Pasta with Pesto or Alfredo Sauce
Cheese Enchiladas
Chili Rellenos
Pasta Salad w/veggies, cubed cheese, boiled eggs

St. George's Orthodox ChurchRio Grande Valley of Tropical South Texaswww.stgeorgepantry.orghttp://matushkascorner.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Orthodox Church in Mexico

I just came across this wonderful YouTube Video with photos of the Orthodox Church in Mexico & liturgical music in Spanish. Hopefully, you will enjoy it as well! Since we live in the Tex/Mex Borderlands, my husband, Padre Antonio, was present at some of these events!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Divine Liturgy:
Feast of the Entry Into the Temple

Together we pray
with the nations, sing
in many tongues
one praise, one thread of dreams,
chant prayers of heart joined
together as smoke of incense which
rises from wounded time
into Eternity.
Our Baptismal candles lit;
the gift sealed, lighting
our dark places,
small flames set alight in the world
from many mystically joined
& made fit to serve
as one unity,
to eat one bread;
drink one cup
recognize one holy church,
one whole body in
& of Christ our

2 February 2003 ~ Sunday ~ Feast of Entry into the Temple
Candlemas in the Western Church

From the Opposite End of the Continent...

St. Herman of Alaska:

"The true Christian is a warrior making his way through the regiments of the invisible enemy to his heavenly homeland."

I love this quote; it seems so perfectly inspired & inspiring for this Pre-Lenten Season... as do these talks, shared recently by Fr. Michael Oleksa in Jacksonville, FL. at a Diocese of the South Clergy meeting. If you love history, art, anthropology, legends & lives of Saints, especially those who lived in America, these are some talks you’ll really enjoy! We listened to them as we drove from the Rio Grande Valley up to San Antonio last weekend, and we hardly wanted to get out of the car before the talks were completed!

Listen or Download Talks & see photos from the event at:


Or for the audio presentations only:

Crema del Mango

A cool, creamy, tropical “mousse” – just right for desert in this warm Sub-Tropical clime here in South Texas! A nice touch to a "Cheese Fare" meal, especially when company is coming.

1 Can Condensed Milk
1 Can Evaporated Milk
3 - 4 Ripe Mangos (or Peaches for you Northern folk!)
1 Ripe Banana, Optional
1 Fresh Lime, Juiced

Put into a food processor and blend well. Pour into desert dishes. Chill for 2 hours. Garnish with any single or combination of Sliced, Blanched Almonds, Fresh Strawberry, Toasted Coconut or Fresh Mint Leaves.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Easy Cheese Fare & Fasting Breakfasts

Adapted from a Moroccan Recipe, this is a quick, easy breakfast for those of us on the go - one which is nutritionally balanced & really sticks with you during both fasting & non-fasting seasons. It also makes a nice, healty after school or mid-afternoon pick-me-up snack.

Moroccan Smoothie

For each person/serving:

1 Apple, Cored & Quartered
6 Almond, Raw or Toasted
1 Tbsp. Toasted Wheat Germ
1/4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 C. + Milk or Milk & Plain Yogurt, or Soy Milk, Almond Milk, etc.
Honey, Optional, To Taste

Put apple and almonds into a food processor or blender. Add remaining ingredients. Slightly sweeten with honey, if desired. There is is! Grab a piece of good, whole grain toast & out the door to school or work you go!
Why Do We Fast?

By Fr. Thomas Hopko - From: www.oca.org

The Church Year Chapter: Lenten Fasting
A special word must be said about fasting during lent. Generally speaking, fasting is an essential element of the Christian Life. Christ fasted and taught men to fast. Blessed fasting is done in secret, without ostentation or accusation of others (Mt 6:16; Rom 14). It has as its goal the purification of our lives, the liberation of our souls and bodies from sin, the strengthening of our human powers of love for God and man, the enlightening of our entire being for communion with the Blessed Trinity. The Orthodox rules for lenten fasting are the monastic rules. No meat is allowed after Meatfare Sunday, and no eggs or dairy products after Cheesefare Sunday. These rules exist not as a Pharisaic "burden too hard to bear" (Lk 11:46), but as an ideal to be striven for; not as an end in themselves, but as a means to spiritual perfection crowned in love. The lenten services themselves continually remind us of this.
Let us fast with a fast pleasing to the Lord. This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessation of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing. The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable. (Monday Vespers of the First Week)The lenten services also make the undeniable point that we should not pride ourselves with external fasting since the devil also never eats! The ascetic fast of Great Lent continues from Meatfare Sunday to Easter Sunday, and is broken only after the Paschal Divine Liturgy. Knowing the great effort to which they are called, Christians should make every effort to fast as well as they can, in secret, so that God would see and bless their openly with a holy life. Each person most do his best in the light of the given ideal. In addition to the ascetic fasting of the lenten season, the Orthodox alone among Christians also practice what is known as eucharistic or liturgical fasting. This fasting does not refer to the normal abstinence in preparation for receiving the holy eucharist; it means fasting from the holy eucharist itself. During the week days of Great Lent the regular eucharistic Divine Liturgy is not celebrated in Orthodox churches since the Divine Liturgy is always a paschal celebration of communion with the Risen Lord. Because the lenten season is one of preparation for the Lord's Resurrection through the remembrance of sin and separation from God, the liturgical order of the Church eliminates the eucharistic service on the weekdays of lent. Instead the non-eucharistic services are extended with additional scripture readings and hymnology of a lenten character. In order that the faithful would not be entirely deprived of Holy Communion on the lenten days, however, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated on Wednesday and Friday evenings. Even during Great Lent, Saturday (the Sabbath Day) and Sunday (the Lord's Day) remain eucharistic days, and the Divine Liturgy is celebrated. On Saturdays it is the normal Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, usually with prayers for the dead. On Sundays it is the longer Liturgy of St Basil the Great. The well-known teaching that Saturdays and Sundays are never days of fasting in the Orthodox Church, an issue emphasized centuries ago when controversy arose with the Latin Church, refers only to this eucharistic-liturgical fast. During Great Lent, even though the eucharistic fast is broken on Saturdays and Sundays, the ascetical fast continues through the weekends since this fasting is an extended effort made from Meatfare Sunday right to Easter itself.
Super Quesadillas

1 Can Corn, Drained
1 Can Black Beans, Drained
Pico de Gallo - Homemade or Store-Bought
Grated Cheese - Monterey Jack or Mixed
Flour Tortillas

Mix together corn, black beans and pico de gallo. Place a flour tortilla in a hot cast iron skillet. Spoon desired amount of corn, bean, salsa mixture on the tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Brown; flip; brown; serve! A yummy, quick "Cheese Fare" lunch meal. Enjoy!
Tis the season for preparing for Great Lent once again. Thought it might be good to share some of our Orthodox traditions and "Orthodox on the Border" type recipes.

The Church Year Chapter: Pre-Lent
The paschal season of the Church is preceded by the season of Great Lent, which is itself preceded by its own liturgical preparation. The first sign of the approach of Great Lent comes five Sundays before its beginning. On this Sunday the Gospel reading is about Zacchaeus the tax-collector. It tells how Christ brought salvation to the sinful man and how his life was greatly changed simply because he "sought to see who Jesus was" (Lk 19:3). The desire and effort to see Jesus begins the entire movement through lent towards Easter. It is the first movement of salvation.
The following Sunday is that of the Publican and the Pharisee. The focus here is on the two men who went to the Temple to pray -- one a pharisee who was a very decent and righteous man of religion, the other a publican who was a truly sinful tax-collector who was cheating the people. The first, although genuinely righteous, boasted before God and was condemned, according to Christ. The second, although genuinely sinful, begged for mercy, received it, and was justified by God (Lk 18:9). The meditation here is that we have neither the religious piety of the pharisee nor the repentance of the publican by which alone we can be saved. We are called to see ourselves as we really are in the light of Christ's teaching, and to beg for mercy.
The next Sunday in the preparation for Great Lent is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Hearing the parable of Christ about God's loving forgiveness, we are called to come to ourselves" as did the prodigal son, to see ourselves as being "in a far country" far from the Father's house, and to make the movement of return to God. We are given every assurance by the Master that the Father will receive us with joy and gladness. We must only "arise and go," confessing our selfinflicted and sinful separation from that "home" where we truly belong (Lk 15:11-24).
The next Sunday is called Meatfare Sunday since it is officially the last day before Easter for eating meat. It commemorates Christ's parable of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46). We are reminded this day that it is not enough for us to see Jesus, to see ourselves as we are, and to come home to God as his prodigal sons. We must also be his sons by following Christ, his only-begotten divine Son, and by seeing Christ in every man and by serving Christ through them. Our salvation and final judgment will depend upon our deeds, not merely on our intentions or even on the mercies of God devoid of our own personal cooperation and obedience.
… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and in prison and you visited me. For truly I say to you, if you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Mt 25).We are saved not merely by prayer and fasting, not by "religious exercises" alone. We are saved by serving Christ through his people, the goal toward which all piety and prayer is ultimately directed. Finally, on the eve of Great Lent, the day called Cheesefare Sunday and Forgiveness Sunday, we sing of Adam's exile from paradise. We identify ourselves with Adam, lamenting our loss of the beauty, dignity and delight of our original creation, mourning our corruption in sin. We also hear on this day the Lord's teaching about fasting and forgiveness, and we enter the season of the fast forgiving one another so that God will forgive us. If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses (Mt 6:14-18).
From: http://www.oca.org/OrthFaithPrintable.asp?ID=65

St. George's Orthodox ChurchRio Grande Valley of Tropical South Texaswww.stgeorgepantry.org