Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Feast for St. Bede the Venerable

This feast (a meal from the year 700) in honor of St. Bede the Venerable was submitted by Anne Egan. She also included an electronic version (click on image below to download/print) of her own St. Bede holy card, with artwork by her mother! Thank you, Anne!

One of my favorite saints is Bede the Venerable. He was a great promoter of devotion to the saints in his own time, as well as being a scholar, historian, and--most importantly--a man of great faith and a follower of Christ. To celebrate his feast day on May 25th our family has a meal that is similar to what St. Bede himself might have eaten in the year 700. According to my research, here are the sorts of foods that were available at that time.

Meat: beef, pork, poultry (a delicacy,) venison, fish (eel, pike, minnow, trout, lamprey,) eggs, mutton, bacon (salted meat)
Beverages: mead, wine, beer
Grains: oats, wheat, barley, rye, "bean flour," (no corn!)
Dairy: cheese, curds, presumably butter
Vegetables: onions, leeks, cabbage, pickles, beets, parsnips, carrots, celery, turnips, watercress (no potatoes or tomatoes!)
Fruits: apples, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, raisins, currants (nothing tropical or citrus!)
Herbs, spices, misc.: salt, parsley, sage, rosemary, garlic, honey, olive oil (no sugar!)

NO FORKS! Use a knife and bread to scoop up the food.

Main courses included stews, meat pies, soups, or simply meat or fish, broiled or fried. Vegetables could be fried or roasted with herbs. Dessert could be plain fresh fruit or fruit pastries. Here's my menu from last year:

  • White fish fried in butter with sage, parsley and salt (tilapia fish was an economical "cheat")
  • Roasted Root Vegetables (recipe below)
  • Red cabbage and onions fried in butter (could also fry the cabbage with a cut up apple for more sweetness)
  • Rustic whole grain bread (I made it easy and bought a loaf at a local bakery)
  • Beer (apple juice for non-drinkers!)
  • Rustic Apple Tarts (recipe below)

Roasted Root Vegetables
(adapted from Taste of Home, Dec/Jan 2003, p. 36)

  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into about one inch pieces
  • 3 small turnips, peeled and cut into about one inch pieces
  • one garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. olive or canola oil

Place roots in greased 11 X 8 X 2 inch casserole. Sprinkle with herbs and salt. (You may want to adjust seasonings for your family's taste.) Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Bake, uncovered at 350° for 35 minutes. Stir. Raise temperature to 450° and bake for 10 – 15 minutes longer, or until tender. Makes approximately 4 – 6 servings.

Rustic Apple Tarts

  • 1 ½ c. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. shortening (lard or butter)
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until well blended. Gradually add water until dough forms
  • together into a ball. Divide into six parts. Roll each piece of dough into a 5 or 6 inch circle.
  • 2 Tbsp. dried bread crumbs
  • 1 – 2 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. melted butter

Sprinkle 1 tsp. breadcrumbs on the center of each pastry circle. Top with apple slices and raisins. Fold up the edges of pastry leaving the center open. Stir together the honey and melted butter and spoon over the centers. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in a 375° oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and the apples are tender.

St. Bede the Venerable, pray for us! 

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