Friday, April 26, 2013

Plaki by a Xeno

Every year the church has a Palm Sunday feast of a Greek classic Psari Plaki. I have told the story before of how I was coerced into making the sauce and dinner one year but the following years I have only agreed to make the sauce. The dinner feeds about 100 people and is a free will donation.Sadly this year I won't even be in town as I leave for a Florida work education meeting for the rest of the week.

So a few months ago I bragged about my love for a new pot I found at TJMaxx. It holds a cool 5 gallons and this is the first time I was able to use it. I was able to saute 15 pounds of onions and 6 pounds of celery without a hitch. Stirring was a Herculean task but I also found a large paddle and some reserve muscle.

One very big pot

18 quarts of sauce
Once I added all the canned tomatoes and sauces and wine, it took off rather nicely and came to a lovely boil without scorching. I stirred it a lot which helped and also the pot sported a very heavy bottom which probably helped more. The sauce is heavenly and now packaged for delivery Saturday morning when we have the Lazarus Saturday service at church.  It made 18 + quarts.  The recipe is on the blog.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not Much Food Blogging...Lubiyeh

As you know we are deep into Lent and nearing the end by now. Our cooking is minimal and occasional and has few ingredients. It is nearly vegetarian in nature and I don't find it particularly interesting. Most of our proteins are shrimps and fish and there is only so much I can discuss about those items. By the 5th of May we will be back to our normal fare. In the mean time I am busy trying to complete icons on the table, attending services and trying to figure out what the new priest has in mind (every Sunday I see that he has rearranged the altar area, again).

This week our Pre Sanctified fare is going to be a Lebanese dish (Lubiyeh) that is simply Green Beans and Tomatoes over rice. Does not sound like much but something happens between Green Beans and Tomatoes that I cannot explain. I just generally saute the beans with a little garlic and sliced onion, add a can of diced tomatoes and a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of allspice. A bit of salt and pepper to taste and there it is.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Off Topic discussion...Upholstery

So in the last few months, we sold our kitchen set and painted our old Farm table black. In the meantime we have been sitting in close to a hundred chairs searching for the perfect sit in case we would linger at the table, post feast.  We needed two upholstered chairs and 4 wooden ones. The search has been long and hard but finally we found the upholstered chairs at Marshall's by chance. They were not the right color but the price was right and they were comfortable.
Note the carpet limits fabric choices.

I convinced my lovely bride that recovering would not be an issue but was prepared to eat those words as I took the first chair apart. (I took the chance that if I only wasted one by my ineptness we would only be out $100.

Finding the perfect fabric was a bit of a challenge as we had differing ideas on color and style. I wanted a bolder colorful fabric, forgetting that we had a patterned rug under the chair that clashed with all my ideas. My wife was more conservative and we finally agreed on the fabric shown below. The problem, when we left the store to ruminate, someone bought the bolt. I found it in Kansas and had it shipped to our JoAnn's fabric store. when it arrived last week, the game was afoot. It took pretty much all evening to remove the current covering without damage to use a pattern and then paint the legs black to match the table.

I finally brought the painted frame in and started the laborious process of recovering. I learned a lot about construction and tricks used to shape the fabric to the frame from taking the old chair apart. While not exactly 100%, it does not look half bad. Slipcovers would have been so nice but the shape of the chairs prohibited a tight fit. This resulted in a nice tight fit and shaping by sewing tabs to seam between the seat and back portion and pulling them tight through the frame. Next is the application of the backing with tacks.

Added the furniture nail trim
Fresh and clean

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pre Sanctified services and The Word Of God....

Last night there were more people than usual at Pre Sanctified but still a relatively small crowd. I am assuming the new pastor has a lot to do with attendance.

Fr. Alex spoke to us about several things last night but one of the things I had not thought about in context was the printing of the Epistle and Gospel in the Sunday bulletin.  He expressed some concern that people refer to the written text rather than devote their attention to him as he proclaims The Word.

It makes perfect sense and will probably be a hard habit to break and of course 50% of the people coming to church don't show till after the Gospel has been read. Another local priest attempted to stop people from communing if they had not heard the Gospel ( a tough decision that was met with sturdy resistance so he merely mentioned that fact that if you had not heard The Word Of God, that perhaps you should abstain. Today's society does not allow for such incrimination of self so therefore it mostly falls on deaf ears, sadly.)

Father then went on to explain that we are using the common tongue so why not listen since that is what he is here to do. I have to agree. Father also follows the Gospel with his sermon which I personally LOVE because all the kids are still in church to hear the teaching which we have deprived them of by sending them to Sunday School after communion and the homily delivered to a mostly empty house after services since most of the parents follow the children out of the church never to return for the final prayers. Sad indeed.

The other major change was the processions. They now take place around the church (YAY!) as opposed to a simple walk to the front of the altar. I have always missed this tradition since leaving the Antiochian church. It is touching to someone reach from the aisle to touch the hem of his garment as he passes with the Holy Gifts.

There was a discussion about the church's name which apparently is a sticking point for several people in the church but I cannot understand why. Folks have an issue with the word "All" in All Holy Spirit. Even tough there has been substantial evidence that this is proper as it is portrayed in hymnography and even in the Liturgy, people are still unhappy. I don't get it, at all. 

I am going to enjoy these changes back to a more traditional way of performing the service and worshiping. It feels like home again to go to church in a traditional Orthodox way. I am, for the record, not happy with the Archdiocese decision to modernize the language and insist we all use it. They have destroyed some beautiful prose with silly modern interpretations that are just annoying.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pre Sanctified Wednesday and Seafood Gumbo

So tonight is always a rush of getting home, juggling dinner and getting to church on time. I made Seafood Gumbo two nights ago so it took off some of the heat and had a chance for the flavor to develope. Last night I made the usual Prosphora for the service too. So lets get started by making the roux. I guess this might be the toughest part since it has to watched every inute and stirred frequently. I made it Sunday night cause I was already in the kitchen cooking.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of oil

I used a fry pan and cooked it about 20-25 minutes til it was the color of peanut butter, maybe a bit darker. I kept in the fridge till I was ready to use it. I also made the seafood broth Sunday Night since I was peeling shrimps and used the reserved raw shells to make the broth along with a whole unpeeled onion, 2 carrots, 2 bay leaves and 3 stalks of celery. I strained the finished broth after seasoning it with salt and pepper to taste.
Making the gumbo:

Quart of Seafood Broth
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery diced
1 red pepper diced
2 T olive oil
6 cloves of garlic minced
1 pkg frozen okra, microwaved cooked
2 bay leaves
1 t Thyme
Squirt of Siriacha chili sauce
1/2 t cayenne
1 pound of cooked shrimp cleaned.
1 8 ounce package of flaked imitation crab (I felt cheap)

Saute the veggies in the oil till the onions are clear and add the garlic the last minute. Add the okra. Add a few heaping spoonfuls of the roux and when its all hot and bubbly, add the quart seafood broth. Throw in the bay leaves and thyme and allow a low simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Check the seasoning and add more roux if thickening is needed (I needed it thicker). I added the shrimps and imitation crab the last few minutes before serving.

I used the Tyler Florence recipe as a base. Not much for oysters around here so I used what we had. I did use 1 package of seafood flavoring from Swanson. I think it added a little depth. The whole dish was very tasty served over rice and had just a tiny bit of heat.
Photo from online.


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