Dormition Fast: Paraklesis

Paraklesis to the Theotokos | Orthodox Quotes from Orthodox and Vegan

Make request, O Pure Mother to thy Son,
who hath willed to grant mercy to us,
to rescue from transgressions and from the soul’s defilement
those who cry out most faithfully.
O God of our Fathers, blessed art Thou.
-Paraklesis to the Mother of God, Ode VII, 3

I noticed today that the cover of my copy of the Paraklesis to the Mother of God reads, “To be chanted in every tribulation and in sorrow of soul and every night of the Dormition Lent.” Well, it’s the first day of the Dormition Fast (aka Dormition Lent) so I figured I’d share a few quotes during the next couple weeks.

If you haven’t already, check my Dormition Fast page for fasting guidelines and some meal ideas.

Blessed Fast!

Clean Monday, 2016: How to Destroy the Passions

Well, I was very bad during Cheesefare and didn’t have time (or on some days, a computer) to update like I have in the past. I’ll have to catch up at some point after Clean Week. For now, spiritual food for this strict fasting day, the first day of Great Lent:

St. John of Damascus

“These eight passions should be destroyed as follows: gluttony by self-control; unchastity by desire for God and longing for the blessings held in store; avarice by compassion for the poor; anger by goodwill and love for all men; worldly dejection by spiritual joy; listlessness by patience, perseverance and offering thanks to God; self-esteem by doing good in secret and by praying constantly with a contrite heart; and pride by not judging or despising anyone in the manner of the boastful Pharisee (cf. Luke 18 : 11–12), and by considering oneself the least of all men. When the intellect has been freed in this way from the passions we have described and been raised up to God, it will henceforth live the life of blessedness, receiving the pledge of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 1 : 22). And when it departs this life, dispassionate and full of true knowledge, it will stand before the light of the Holy Trinity and with the divine angels will shine in glory through all eternity.” – St. John of Damascus

Week of Greek: Tahini Soup (Tahinosoupa)

If you’ve been around here a while you know I adore tahini, so it’s no surprise I have worked it into the first course of our week-long Greek meal! Tahini Soup is a traditional Lenten recipe – fast, cheap, good for ya, no frills, and SO easy to whip up a huge batch for the whole family, or to share with neighbors and friends.

2015-7-13 Tahini Soup Tahinosoupa
There are many variations if you search online, but I chose to go with the great Tselementes on this one. In this very old cookbook, he writes that peanut butter may be used since it is so difficult to find tahini in stores. I’m glad that’s not the case anymore! In my local Middle Eastern market there must be at least half a dozen varieties of tahini to choose from.

Another fun thing about these old cookbooks I used, they measure things out in teacups!

2015-7-13 Tahini Soup Tahinosoupa2
Any small pasta will do for this recipe, you could even break up spaghetti or angel hair pasta, and some recipes use rice. Just keep it simple.

2015-7-13 Tahini Soup Tahinosoupa3
It looks very Lenten, doesn’t it? But don’t let the plain looks deceive you – this soup has a surprisingly wonderful flavor thanks to the nuttiness of the tahini. It was *almost* cheese-like.

2015-7-13 Tahini Soup Tahinosoupa4
Mumra and I did add a bit of this beautiful, chunky pink salt and a touch of black pepper, but only because we are food snobs and wanted to fancy it up. Tahinosoupa is filling, nutritious (thanks to iron-rich tahini, which also provides a little calcium), and budget-friendly.

This gave me an idea. What if we ate Tahini Soup for dinner every day for one week, how much money would we save? We could take those few dollars and donate them to the IOCC, and the Jaharis Family Foundation will match our donation to help the people of Greece! To read more about what the IOCC is doing in Greece, CLICK HERE.

Tahini Soup
4 1/2 C water + more for sauce
salt to taste
2 C small pasta (I used occhio di pernice)
2 tsp tahini per serving

Boil water salted to taste. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until done, according to instructions. DO NOT DRAIN.
In each serving bowl, mix 2 tsp tahini with just enough additional water to reach a mayo-type consistency. Spoon pasta and its broth into each bowl, and stir to combine with tahini sauce.

Makes several large servings, or TONS of 1/2 C servings!

If you want the soup to be less ascetic, you may wish to add:
Pepper
Garlic
Nutritional yeast
Sliced green onion
A bit of turmeric to make it beautiful
Bulk it up with beans (another dirt cheap ingredient!)

Feel free to use gluten free pasta. Be sure to enjoy!!!

And check out our 2nd course: White Cabbage Salad (Lahanosalata)

All Saints Day, and the Beginning of the Apostles' Fast 2015

My apologies for not keeping up with the major feast days. Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost. One week after Pentecost we celebrate the Sunday of All Saints, and the following day the Apostles’ Fast begins – that’s today! I have once again added a page in the top menu with the fasting guidelines for this fast, for anyone that may be interested.

So, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the feast of All Saints, but it is a beautiful tradition. I’m stealing these few paragraphs about it straight from the GOARCH website, and below that some info on the fast:

The first Sunday after the Feast of Holy Pentecost is observed by the Orthodox Church as the Sunday of All Saints. This day has been designated as a commemoration of all of the Saints, all the Righteous, the Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Shepherds, Teachers, and Holy Monastics, both men and women alike, known and unknown, who have been added to the choirs of the Saints and shall be added, from the time of Adam until the end of the world, who have been perfected in piety and have glorified God by their holy lives.

Honoring the friends of God with much reverence, the Prophet-King David says, “But to me, exceedingly honorable are Thy friends, O Lord” (Ps. 138:16). And the Apostle Paul, recounting the achievements of the Saints, and setting forth their memorial as an example that we might turn away from earthly things and from sin, and emulate their patience and courage in the struggles for virtue, says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every burden, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

This commemoration began as the Sunday (Synaxis) of All Martyrs; to them were added all the ranks of Saints who bore witness (the meaning of “Martyr” in Greek) to Christ in manifold ways, even if occasion did not require the shedding of their blood.

All Saints
Therefore, guided by the teaching of the Divine Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition, we honor all the Saints, the friends of God, for they are keepers of God’s commandments, shining examples of virtue, and benefactors of mankind. Of course, we honor the known Saints especially on their own day of the year, as is evident in the Menologion. But since many Saints are unknown, and their number has increased with time, and will continue to increase until the end of time, the Church has appointed that once a year a common commemoration be made of all the Saints.”

About the Apostles’ Fast
Having rejoiced for fifty days following Pascha (Easter), the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostles began to prepare for their departure from Jerusalem to spread Christ’s message. According to Sacred Tradition, as part of their preparation, they began a fast with prayer to ask God to strengthen their resolve and to be with them in their missionary undertakings.

The scriptural foundation for the Fast is found in the Synoptic Gospels, when the Pharisees criticized the apostles for not fasting, Jesus said to them, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” In the immediate sense, Christ was referring to his being taken to be crucified; but in the wider sense it is understood in terms of his Ascension into heaven, and his commission to preach the Gospel, which can only be accomplished with prayer and fasting.

The tradition of the Fast has existed at least since Pope Leo I (461 AD), as is evidenced by his homilies, though it has subsequently been forgotten in the West. The Fast is thought to have been instituted out of thanksgiving to God for the witness of the apostles of Christ. With this Fast, believers express their thanks for the apostles’ endurance of persecution during their mission.

The Apostles’ Fast is what’s called an ascetic fast. Ascetic fasting is done by a set monastic rules. These rules exist not as a Pharisaic “burden too hard to bear” (Luke 11:46), but as an ideal to strive for. Ascetic fast rules are not an end in themselves, but are means to spiritual perfection crowned in love, and aided by prayer. The rules mainly consists of total abstinence from certain foods and a substantial dietary reduction.
(above info from Wikipedia)

Your fasting rule may vary according to your ability.

Blessed fast to all!

2015 Pascha Basket: Part 1


Yesterday I had to make a stop at Harvest Health, so I figured I might as well start grabbing things for my Pascha basket. One cool thing about Orthodox Easter (besides everything) is the candy is usually half off by the time we celebrate. Unfortunately that does very little for vegans 🙁 But I did find some gummy candies on sale at HH. No chocolate bunnies or anything.

It’s okay, though, because I’ve found some great recipes for homemade peanut butter cups, and I’m going to make my infamous booze-soaked chocolate cake. I also have macadamia nuts and pine nuts for making fancy vegan cheese (hoping to get it fermenting Saturday). Since I don’t break the fast with the usual stuff, I just like to splurge on things like $5 bags of marshmallows or whatever.

What plans do you have for your basket this year?

Oat Mozzarella

2015-3-11 Vegan Oat Mozzarella
So Monday, along with a cheddar-ish coconut milk cheese, I made up a batch of this oatmeal cheese from Big Raw Blog. I have to admit I made some substitutions, and the flavor was a little too light for my tastes. I replaced the tahini with coconut milk because I happened to have it on hand, and I used less nutritional yeast because I happen to be running out. And then what happened? I ended up using it for the dish I’m bringing to the potluck tonight, and I had to add tahini and nutritional yeast back in!

You can slice and spread this cheese, but it doesn’t melt too well and certainly can’t be grated. The best thing about it is the simple ingredients, though, and it’s really just a basic recipe waiting for you to spice it up and turn into somethin’ special. I’m probably going to be messing with this recipe all week.

And tomorrow I’ll show you how I used it in my potluck dish. I actually managed to get everything prepped last night (or this morning, 3am, whatever) so all I have to do today is pop it in…in…in that dreadful commercial convection oven! But I’ll cover it this time, and turn the temp down. I think it’s going to be fine. I hope.

P.S. As is, this recipe is oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day!

Food, Faith, and Fasting

FoodFaithFasting
I have to share another podcast series from Ancient Faith Radio. This is an old one by Orthodox dietician Rita Madden. It’s archived because last summer she stopped recording and started traveling to parishes around the country to bring them this information on health management based on the wisdom of the Orthodox Church.

There are 48 podcasts in the series Food, Faith and Fasting, mostly between 15 and 25 minutes long. They include helpful quotes from the Church Fathers, from our “green patriarch,” Patriarch Bartholomew, and the likes of Fr. Alexander Schmemann. And remember the other podcast I mentioned that shows how science validates our ancient practices? There’s more of that referenced here.

If you start listening to two a day, you’ll be finished by Holy Week – I definitely recommend it!

2015 Lenten Potluck #2: Mock Tuna Salad with Avocado Mayo

I was very bad Tuesday night and neglected to make my potluck dish ahead. That meant all day Wednesday I was trying to plan what to make, and how I’d make it in the very tiny window of time from the time I leave work to the time I get back to the church. I have a mere two hours, and I also needed to stop at the store! Luckily I already had a plan to use up two more avocados, so I just had to figure out what I wanted to cover in Avocado Mayo, a recipe I found at Girl Makes Food.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Avocado Mayo
I decided to do yet another version of mock tuna using chickpeas, and I even had a little bag of dried seaweed flakes from my last haul at the Asian market.

2015-3-5 Avocado Mayo
For the mayo:
Use a fork to mash two avocados until creamy and smooth. Stir in 2 Tbsp white vinegar, juice of half a lemon, 1/8 tsp onion powder & 1/8 tsp garlic powder. Salt to taste.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan
For the mock tuna:
I lightly mashed four cans of chickpeas. Of course I bought the cheapest chickpeas I could find, and they turned out to be pretty firm and didn’t mash as well as I would’ve liked. Better to go with chickpeas that are a little more tender if you can. After mashing them, season with salt and pepper (and if you like egg taste in your tuna salad, add gray salt for the sulfur taste).

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan2
Now, depending on how fishy you want the salad, add 1/4 C to 1/2 C seaweed flakes.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan3
I did 1/4 C. It looked like a lot, but next time I’m upping it!

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan4
Add avocado mayo and stir to coat.

2015-3-5 Mock Tuna Vegan5
Add two cans of peas, drained – you can reserve a little liquid in case you want to thin down the mayo in the salad. Turn the salad very gently to incorporate the peas, you want to avoid crushing them.

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I found an antique bowl that matched the salad beautifully, it belonged to my grandmother 🙂

If I were making a smaller batch of the salad just for myself, I’d use two cans of chickpeas, one can of peas, but the same amount of mayo. I’d get it good and salty, probably use 1/4 C of seaweed flakes again (since I’d have a smaller portion of chickpeas to season), and let the salad sit over night. It should keep from browning if you cover it in plastic wrap with the plastic touching the salad. Although if it’s just for me, I don’t care if it browns a little. Just stir it up and it’s fine. On its own, the salad is both oil free & perfect for a strict fasting day, and also gluten free. Serve with pita bread for those who are gluten full.

Anyway.

2015-3-5 Lenten Potluck
We had way more people than usual at Presanctified Liturgy, and way more food than usual at the potluck.

2015-3-5 Lenten Potluck2
This is just the main table with the savory food, we had another counter filled with sweet stuff.

2015-3-5 Lenten Potluck3
Mjuddara with hummus and salad is a classic Lenten meal, is it not? We also had Sloppy Joe’s made with TVP and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, and guess what? The little buns were made using my Tasty Buns recipe! They turned out beautifully, I think they were better than mine! I also tried the pumpkin bread, and a lovely bowl of magenta-colored soup (is there any vegetable more beautiful than the beet?).

I know some of you are also enjoying Lenten potlucks in your own parishes. What are you cooking?

Science Validates Orthodox Practice (not that we need it to)

I’ve decided to try to listen to at least a couple Ancient Faith Radio podcasts on Mondays, when I have some extra time to myself. Last night I listened to three, and during each one I thought, “I should share this on my blog!” I decided to go with the last one because it covers chanting, music in general, LOVE, thanksgiving, fasting, community, etc etc…pretty much all the good stuff.

This is What Current Clinical Research is Discovering About the Age-old Spiritual Practices of Our Tradition by Fr. Andrew Jarmus, from the second annual Health and Wellness retreat hosted by St. Iakovos Greek Orthodox Church in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Enjoy – I will post another avocado recipe tonight!

Clean Wednesday: Spiritual Fast

My dish for the first Lenten potluck of 2015 is marinating in the fridge, but as much as I’m looking forward to the potluck, the thing that’s making me really happy is thinking about hearing Let My Prayer Arise for the first time. And the noise of everyone shuffling around in the chapel trying to find a spot to make prostrations during the Prayer of St. Ephraim. We also have some great stichera that teach us about the true meaning of the fast – that’s the great thing about Orthodox liturgical music, it has real meaning and you can learn so much from it. If you attend all the services for one year and pay attention to the music, you will learn everything the Church believes.

Here are a few stichera to get us through these last few hours before Presanctified Liturgy. I hope you all get to enjoy breaking the fast afterwards (to some degree) with your church family like I will! *Not the fast, the Clean Week/Eucharistic fast 🙂

While fasting physically, brethren, let us also fast spiritually. Let us loose every knot of iniquity. Let us tear up every unrighteous bond. Let us distribute bread to the hungry, and welcome into our homes those who have no roof over their heads, so that we may receive the Great Mercy from Christ our God.

Elias was enlightened through fasting. He mounted the chariot of good works and was taken up to the heights of heaven. Emulate him, O humble soul. Abstain from every evil and jealousy, from every fleeting pleasure, so that ye might be cleansed of corrupting disease, the fires of Gehenna, crying to Christ: O Lord, glory to Thee.

O divine apostles, fervent intercessors for the world, defenders of the Orthodox. Ye possess the authority to entreat Christ our God with boldness. We entreat ye to pray for us, O honorable ones, that we might spend the good time of fasting in joyousness and receive the grace of the consubstantial Trinity. Pray for our souls, O great and glorious preachers.