Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First week of Lent...busy week

We had the pleasure of Father Nick Klodnicki coming to stay with us this past weekend while the weather threatened his drive from Lincoln. We had some great meals together, fantastic conversation and memorable company. He left on Monday after Annunciation services and we are sad to see him go. He will be back on Wednesday for Pre Sanctified Liturgy and probably Friday's Akathist hymns.

meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was able to complete another icon. This icon of St. Dorotheos was a challenge. I wanted it to look great for a special couple that commissioned it and I must have repainted the garments 3 times before being satisfied with the final result.

St. Dorotheos, June 5th.

I also made Prosphora this week for Pre Sanctified. I usually make a fresh loaf for every Wednesday service. This week some thing odd happened and I simply made too much dough. I knew it would rise over the pan so I placed a collar of parchment around the pan before the final rise. Well, rise it did to a full 4 inches over the top. I baked it as is and with the oven spring it made a loaf about 8 inches tall.

That is one whooping Prosphora!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Curried Shrimp and Corn Chowder...Lent begins.

As you know, Lent starts in earnest to day for the Orthodox. Five weeks behind the Western culture, we will just now start our journey. We actually started several weeks ago but we start the "fast" today in our house. I found a great recipe that sticks strictly to the rules of lent, no meat, no fish no dairy. Shrimp is OK as it is a "fish" without a backbone. Decades of discussion have followed that particular rule and I am not sure anyone still gets why. We have been stocking and taking advantage of sales on seafood for the last few weeks and have enough shrimp for the whole season as well as Cod, Salmon and Tuna. We don't usually pay that close attention to the backbone rule and occasionally have dairy especially for work related meals.
The hardest part of Lent is not the fast at any level of participation. For me, personally it's the struggle with my mouth (like a sewer) and thought process. To give up cursing and judgement on my unsuspecting fellow occupants of the planet is the most difficult part of lent and I will fail miserably time and time again throughout the season. St. John Chrysostom said it best when he wrote:
 "Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers? "
Well stated.
Curried Shrimp and Corn Chowder
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 cups corn kernels (about 5 ears)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth (or vegetable)
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • coconut
  • green onions
  • roasted peanuts or sliced almonds
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Peel and dice the potatoes.
  2. Add the garlic, potatoes, corn, broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and salt and pepper.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are tender. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pick, about 4 minutes.
  4. Garnish with coconut, sliced green onions, and peanuts.
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Biscuits...my second love.

my favorite buttermilk biscuits

Its truly amazing I don't weigh close to three hundred pounds. There are foods I just crave and since this my blog I like to "store" recipes I might not necessarily get a chance to make but I am comforted by knowing they are there for me in a moment of weakness. Now, I am not sure how you eat them there biscuits but for me it's not complete without butter and sour cream. Overkill? Perhaps.

My fondest memory is of my paternal grandmother making some sort of heavy flour biscuit on Saturday or Sunday. Apparently I am the only one who escaped with the recipe and technique since her demise. These biscuits are light and airy and not the heavy sinkers she made that I still think of and get a bit of mouth water. Some of the family gathered and slathered with butter and syrup but for me it was always sour cream.

So here is the recipe I am "archiving" for future use...in case the mood strikes me. I stole this shamelessly from Smitten Kitchen. I take no credit but for the drool.

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 tablespoons (10 to 20 grams) sugar (to taste, see note above)
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons (125 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 °F and cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry blender, work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, Add buttermilk and stir until large, craggy clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together.
To form biscuit rounds: Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick (err on the thin side if uncertain, as the tall ones will literally rise and then tip over, like mine did the day I photographed these). Using a round cutter (2 inches for regular sized biscuits, 3 inches for the monstrous ones shown above), press straight down — twisting produces less layered sides — and transfer rounds to prepared sheet, spacing two inches apart.
To drop biscuits: Drop 1/4-cup spoonfuls onto baking sheet, spacing two inches apart.
Both methods:Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then serve warm, with butter/jam/eggs/bacon/sausage and gravy or any combination thereof.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Icons and Skillet Lasgna

Finished the icon for little Clare (Evangelia) I believe.

Tonight I wanted something cheesy, meaty and saucy so Brenda reminded me that we have recipe for an easy Skillet Lasagna from Cook's Country a long time ago.  We were out and about so I gathered the ingredients on the last stop and started assembling. Fr. Nik might be stopping by to spend the night so I needed something on hand in case he is hungry.

Skillet Lasagna

medium onion diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 T olive olive
1 t Red pepper flakes
1 pound of "meatloaf" mix I used 1/2 hamburger 1/2 ground pork
8 ounces for lasagna noodles
24 oz can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 carton of Ricotta
1/2 Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil or Italian Seasoning ( I used a few teaspoons of Italian seasoning in the meat)

Make sure the tomatoes when combined equal about a quart. If not, added water.
Saute the onions with a bit of salt in the olive oil. When translucent, add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the meat, crumbling and cooking till no longer pink. Stir in the Italian seasoning. Break the lasagna noodles over the top and don't stir. Pour the tomatoes over all, cover an simmer 20 minutes till noodles are tender.
Stir in the Parmesan and fresh Basil if using, remove from heat and top with heaping spoonfuls of Ricotta. I actually spread some shredded Mozzarella over the top and covered a few minutes to melt.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Icons are us...

I have 8 commissions on the bench and for some reason I have been working furiously to finish the most pressing paintings. Several baptisms are looming on the horizon and I have to get the work done. Here are just 3, 2 are finished now. Just 6 more to go!

I am hating the wings on this guy so these photos give me a new perspective. Gonna have to repaint these spots that I don't care for,  The rest is OK. These are just 9 x 12 so they are still pretty small  for my aging eyes to deal with and the hotos reveal details from a new point of view. Justian is varnished so too late to change things for him. Pretty happy with Athanasios. So ready to varnish him in the next few days. I have a new commission for the Sts Michael and Gabriel so I see angelic hosts in my future.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Pork Roast

Not much going on here today in the Big O. Lunch with friends who surprised us at church. A bit of grocery shopping and then home to cook a rather large Pork Butt. I started by studding the roast with 3 cloves of garlic and coating it with olive oil and salt and pepper. I roasted it at 325 degrees for a few hours until the probe measured 160 or so.

Meanwhile I peeled 4 good sized turnips and diced them. Boiled in salted water till tender, they can be whipped into a mashed potato look alike with a but of butter and cream. Nearly zero calories but for the butter and cream. I used the drippings from the roast with a bit of chicken stock and pork fat and made a delicious gravy. We served a side of Italian green beans.


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