Food, Faith, and Fasting

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!

Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple

Entry of the Theotokos icon

Have I mentioned we’re in the midst of the Nativity Fast??? We are. I put up the afore-linked page with the fasting guidelines and forgot to mention it! But a good way to tell the fast started is the celebration of the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple which happens on the seventh day of the fast – November 21.

“The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, also called The Presentation, is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on November 21.

According to Tradition, the Virgin Mary was taken —presented—by her parents Joachim and Anna into the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as a young girl, where she lived and served as a Temple virgin until her betrothal to St. Joseph. One of the earliest sources of this tradition is the non-canonical Protoevangelion of James, also called the Infancy Gospel of James.

Mary was solemnly received by the temple community which was headed by the priest Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. She was led to the holy place to become herself the “holy of holies” of God, the living sanctuary and temple of the Divine child who was to be born in her. The Church also sees this feast as a feast which marks the end of the physical temple in Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God.

On the eve of the feast, Vespers is served and contains Old Testament readings that are interpreted as symbols of the Mother of God, for she becomes the living temple of God. In each reading we hear, “for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord God Almighty.” (Exodus 40:1-5, 9-10, 16, 34-35; I Kings 7:51, 8:1, 3-4, 6-7, 9-11; and Ezekiel 43:27-44)

Sometimes Matins is served on the morning of the feast. The Gospel reading is from Luke 1:39-49, 56. It is read on all feasts of the Theotokos and includes the Theotokos’ saying: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

Divine Liturgy is served on the day on the feast. The epistle reading is from Hebrews 9:1-7, and speaks of the tabernacle of the old covenant. The gospel reading is taken from Luke 10:38-42 and 11:27-28 together; this reading is also read on all feasts of the Theotokos. In it, the Lord says, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
-Orthodox Wiki

Apolytikion of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, Fourth Mode:
Today is the prelude of God’s good will
and the heralding of the salvation of mankind
In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly
and she proclaimeth Christ unto all
To her, then, with a great voice let us cry aloud:
Rejoice, O thou fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!

quick note about Cheesefare Week

I know this is a little late, but I noticed a couple hits on the blog from people searching things like “shrimp during Cheesefare week” and “fasting on Wednesday during Cheesefare Week”. In case anyone is still looking: this is a vegan blog, so I am eating all vegan cheese this week for that reason; however, according to tradition you may eat dairy and eggs every day during Cheesefare Week, including Wednesday and Friday. And shellfish, like shrimp, is permitted throughout the entire fast.

Look above for the Fasting Guidelines tab if you’d like to see the general guidelines for Great Lent – or ask your priest!

vegan nut cheese, day 2

So, I took the nut spread out of the (cool) oven today to change plates and paper towel. The paper towel was starting to look a little sketchy, so I would def recommend changing it at least once every 24 hours. You lose a little of the spread when you change it because it will stick, but it’s better than moldy cheese. Although…I guess some people like that.

This is the “whey” that dripped out of it so far. If you decided to use a fermenting agent, it will be in this liquid and you can reuse it if you’re going to use it right away. It doesn’t have the most pleasant smell, but maybe it smells kind of cheesy, I guess I don’t remember. The spread already has a nice tangy flavor, but I’m leaving it until tomorrow because I want it a little stronger. Here’s what it looks like so far:

I’ll post more after dinner…

trouble with fat free

I had some leftover tofu from last week (frozen in water, then thawed and pressed). I tore it up and let it marinate in BBQ sauce for a couple hours, then cooked it in a frying pan until it got nice and brown and threw it in some pita bread with lettuce, onion and LOTS of mustard. I love BBQ sauce and mustard, but…it needed some fat. Maybe some tahini…. What’s your favorite non-oil fat?



For some interesting reading about fat & flavor, CLICK HERE

vegan nut cheese, day 1

I started my nut cheese today! I decided to go with the cashews first because that’s the one I’ve been the most hungry for. The process is simple, it’s the waiting that’s hard.

This is another loose recipe, where I just kind of dump things in until it seems about right. You will need:

raw cashews (I used, according to the bag, 0.66 lbs)
fresh lemon juice
some sort of fermenting liquid (optional, you don’t have to ferment)

The sauerkraut juice I’m using to ferment, as I mentioned before, is from my mom. You can also buy raw fermented sauerkraut at some health food stores, and use that liquid. Apparently there are pickles made the same way, but I haven’t tried them yet. Just so you know, most sauerkraut isn’t made by fermenting any more, it just has vinegar in it to give it a fermented flavor. That kind of sauerkraut juice won’t work for fermenting.  I’ve made this “cheese” a bunch of times without actually fermenting it, though, and it’s still good.

So, you can start by soaking your nuts over night. I didn’t do that because I didn’t think ahead! I’ll do it tomorrow with the almonds, though. Last time I soaked mine covered in water with 2 Tbsp of the sauerkraut juice, but plain water is fine, too.

This time, I just put the nuts in the blender right out of the bag, added a few teaspoons of kosher salt, covered them with water and added about 5 or 6 tablespoons of sauerkraut juice and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. I had to add more water a couple times so it could blend properly, I had it on Liquify to get it nice and super smooth.

I think I must’ve added a total of about 1 cup of liquid. Next, get your colander out and sit it on top of a plate. You can line it either with cheese cloth, or with damp paper towel. I used six connected sheets of paper towel folded over three times, so it was two sheets wide. As I am typing this I kind of wish I had only used four sheets, to make sure the excess liquid can get out easily, but we’ll see what happens.
Pour the mixture onto the paper towel. Mine looks extra wet because after I got most of the mix, I added more water to the canister and used the Easy Clean button to get the rest out.

It doesn’t look very pretty…. Then fold the paper towel over the mixture.

Now find something heavy to sit on the mixture, to press the excess liquid out. I think the easiest thing is to put a small plate on top, then sit some soup cans on it, or mason jars filled with water. The liquid will drip out onto the plate below the colander. Find a place for this to sit at least over night. I’m sticking mine in the oven.

I’ll probably leave mine until Wednesday evening when I get home from work. I just checked it and it looks like it’s draining well, but I’ll probably change the paper towels tomorrow at some point anyway, just to keep them fresh.