Garden Diary

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lenten recipes on

Several years ago, the post of moderator for the Catholicism area on came open, and people were invited to apply for the position. I threw my hat in the ring, and the application process was one of the most stringent and thorough I've ever gone through, certainly more difficult than for any job I've had. At the end, disappointingly at the time, I did not get the job.

The job was awarded to Scott Richert and I have to say, with every visit I've made to the site in the years since, I think the leadership at made a good choice. Scott has been a very good moderator and has brought a lot of solid information to the site, which has improved in many ways since he took over.

Yesterday, I found his post on meatless meals for Lent. He starts off:
Lent is not known as a time for haute cuisine. Tuna-noodle casserole; macaroni and cheese; fish sticks: These are the standard Lent recipes of many a Catholic household on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.

But our Lenten abstinence does not have to mean bland food. The recipes we often associate with Lent are primarily popular American dishes from the 1950's. Catholic culture in Europe and Asia, however, has been coping with Friday abstinence (and not just during Lent) a lot longer...

Scott then goes on to list many sites with recipes that will work well for a Lenten program of abstinence. He even managed to find a set of Gluten-free Lenten recipes by a fellow moderator. Go check it out.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Healthy, Happy, and 100 Years Old

The Lenten regimen I follow (basically, the old Catholic one of no meat during Lent; although I do eat meat on Sundays) and fasting each Lenten weekday (meaning only one meal per day, usually in the evening) tends to make me think about food. Not obsessing about it; it's not that I'm checking my watch all day, hoping to somehow make time speed up and get me to dinner earlier. But thinking about what I eat and how food fits into life.

Yesterday, I went to a communion breakfast for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. A communion breakfast, for those who don't know, is when a group attends Mass together (the communion part) then has a meeting (including breakfast), which typically, as ours did yesterday, includes a speaker or other opportunity to reflect on the bonds that make for solidarity in the group. As one of our primary efforts in the Society is to provide food for people in need, that also is a constant prompt to reflect on food and its place in our lives.

A new prompt was my daughter's visit last week. Molly ended up visiting an extra day because a big snowstorm made travel back to NYC inadvisable. Molly was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, and so we had to rethink how we prepared meals at home, and how our kitchen is set up. (For the record, we didn't fail completely, but we didn't do as well as we could have; we'll have to work on that for the future!) Cooking for someone with Celiac is a bit more demanding than cooking for some other special diets, vegetarians, for example (which we routinely do).

The food we buy and the food we grow are ingredients for a social activity: dining. I know that many people eat alone, but we have always tried to make dining, that is, eating in the company of others, part of our family life. And except for our four years in Delaware, where we lived in a row house, we've always tried to raise a decent portion of our summer food via gardening.

So, I was pleased and intrigued about the article below, which I found thanks to a link on the blog Acculturated, about a Greek island where a much larger than usual pecentage of the residents live into a healthy old age. The reasons for this are discussed briefly, but it is noted that diet alone isn't enough; the way eating is done, the way life is conducted, has as much to do with the way life turns out as anything.

Healthy, Happy, and 100 Years Old
by Ann Lokuta on March 8, 2013

Picture yourself hiking to your neighbor’s house, where you’ll meet to have lunch: a spread of homegrown olives, freshly made hummus, and a thick loaf of warm bread – all slathered in just pressed olive oil. You arrive at who knows what time (because nobody watches the clock here), bearing homemade wine and honey from your own bees out back. After hours of conversation over delicious food and warming wine, you’ll hike back home for a midday nap before you tend to the garden to pick wild greens for tonight’s main dinner dish. Oh and one more thing, this otherwise normal, sun-soaked day happens to be the start of your 100th year...

Read the rest at Mind the Science Gap.