Friday, January 6, 2017

Melt-in-your-mouth Maple Candy to Celebrate Canadian Saints

The maple leaf is the characteristic leaf of the maple tree, and is the most widely recognized national symbol of Canada. Aaahhh, the taste of maple. Is there anything better or more Canadian? I always loved these melt-in-your-mouth candies made from maple syrup, but had never tried to make my own. Following this recipe from Epicurious as a guide for the candy making process, I gave it a try for the feast of Canada's St. Andre Bessette today.

St. Andre was a Brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and as the doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal,  St. Andre humbly devoted his life to prayer, serving the Lord and comforting the sick and afflicted.  His responsibilities were to answer the door, to welcome guests, find the people they were visiting, wake up those in the school, and deliver mail. Brother Andre joked later, "At the end of my novitiate, my superiors showed me the door, and I stayed there for forty years."

St. Andre is commemorated in most of the world by an optional memorial on January 6. His memorial is celebrated in Canada on January 7. I know it is too late for most to probably make these for today, but since tomorrow is his Canadian feast might be an option. But, next week St. Marguerite Bourgeoys optional memorial is January 12. St. Marguerite founded the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Montreal, and was also instrumental along with her teaching nuns, in helping to establish the Canadian city of Montreal.

Candy cold shape/symbol considerations:
  • A cross since St. Andre was a brother with the Congregation of Holy Cross. 
  • The cross is also good for St. Marguerite as depictions show her wearing a large cross as part of her habit.
  • He also had a great devotion to St. Joseph so any symbols associated with St. Joseph could work, too for St. Andre. 
  • Also a door since St. Andre was called "God's Doorkeeper." 
  • Maple leaf molds are the traditional one for these candies and since we are talking about Canadian saints that works well. 

Maple Syrup Candy 

2 cups pure light-grade maple syrup, (Grade A Golden Delicate)
A few drops of vegetable oil or butter

Set some candy molds into a jelly-roll pan. Set aside.  [I used this cross on oval candy mold from CK Products.]

Pour the syrup into a large pot. Add a few drops of oil. (Boiling maple syrup will foam up; the oil keeps the foam down. Buttering the rim of the pot also helps.)

Boil carefully over high heat, without stirring, until the temperature of the boiling syrup is 28°F/17°C above the boiling point of your water (212°F/100°C at sea level). [Since water boils at different temperatures in different elevations, if you don’t know your exact boiling point do this step before boiling syrup - To determine boiling point of water in your location fill a pot partially with water. Bring to a boil, and note the temperature of the boiling water with a candy thermometer. ]

Remove from the heat and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not stir or disturb the candy at this point; if the thermometer is attached to the pan, leave it there during the cooling period.

Stir evenly until the liquid loses its gloss, starts to become opaque, and begins to thicken. (This is the tricky part; if you stir too long the thickened syrup will “set up,” or harden, in the pan. If this happens, add a cup of water, and reheat slowly to dissolve the sugar, then start over. But if you don’t stir long enough, the sugar may not “set up” in the molds at all.) [I had to do mine a second time to get the timing right since it did start to set up in the pan for me the first time – practice…] 

Carefully spoon/pour the candy into the molds. It’s helpful to have an assistant spread the syrup in the molds while you continue to pour the mixture into the other molds. Allow the candies to cool, remove from the molds, place on a rack to dry for a few hours, and enjoy.

St. Andre Bessette and St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Pray for us. 

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany Cupcakes from last year's celebration!

The Solemnity of the Epiphany is celebrated either on January 6 or, according to the decision of the episcopal conference, on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. (source)

The word Epiphany means “manifestation.” As such, the object of the Church on this feast is not only to commemorate the historical arrival of the Magi with their gifts for the new-born King, but moreover to adore the same Christ Who continues to reveal Himself to us today.

It is an ancient custom to bless the home on Epiphany followed by a festive meal. The current year and the legendary initials of the three Magi (Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar) are marked above the outside doorway with blessed chalk; crosses are placed between the initials and year: 20+C+M+B+17. The initials C-M-B are also interpreted as the Latin phrase “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” which means “Christ bless this home!”

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Alphabet Soup for the Saint Educators

With the upcoming feast of St Elizabeth Ann Seton (January 4), it seems a good time to feature an idea for those saints associated with education.  A hearty vegetable meatball soup is a good one for a winter evening and adding in alphabet pasta is a way to recognize teaching saints. We have several saints this month associated with education, who are patrons of students or teachers or who were teachers themselves, like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who opened schools, trained teachers and prepared textbooks for use in the schools.

  • St. John Neumann (January 5) is credited with  establishing the first system of parochial in US and opened 100 schools in eight years in Philadelphia while bishop.
  • St. Marguerite Bourgeoys (January 12) established an order of teaching sisters in Canada and opened the first school in Montreal. 
  • St. Francis de Sales (January 24) is a patron of educators.  
  • St. Angela Merici (January 27) founded the Ursuline Order, the first religious order for women dedicated exclusively to the education of girls.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) is the patron of universities, Catholic schools and students.  
  • St. John Bosco (January 31) ran a school for boys and is the patron of youth. 

The saints associated with teaching are numerous and their feast days can be found throughout the year. To find out feast days for other education related saints such as, St. John Baptist de La Salle (April 7), St. Rose Venerini (May 7), St. Mary MacKillop (August 8), St. Madeline Sophie Barat (August 25), St. Gregory the Great (September 3), St. Teresa of Calcutta (September 5), St. Theodore Guerin (October 3), St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (November 18), and more...

You can check out these patronage lists:

Meatball Vegetable Alphabet Soup

1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp bread crumbs
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
3/4 cup alphabet pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef or chicken broth
1 can (14 oz) pureed tomatoes
1 cup chopped kale (optional)
2  Tbsp tomato paste2 tsp Italian spice
Preheat oven to 350 °F.

In bowl, combine mayonnaise, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and ground meat; mix well. Shape into bite-size balls and arrange on 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake meatballs in oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, rinse, drain and set aside.
In large saucepan, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic, celery and carrots for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add broth, tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian spice; bring to boil. [I added chopped kale as an option since it is considered a "brain food" and this is a soup for educators.] Reduce heat and simmer, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add pasta and meatballs. Reheat and serve.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and all patron saints of teachers, education, and students, Pray for us. 

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