From the Feedbag

Our movement continues to gather support from people around the world.  It’s always good to take a moment and keep everyone updated with what’s happening.  We use these “fifth weeks” of the month to provide this information about what you can expect from our “kitchen” in the next few months.  As always, stay tuned by visiting the website for updated blogs. Here are the topics we will hit today:

1)Twitter

2)Facebook

3)July R&R; Website

4)Recent Travels

5)The Napa Valley Retreat and Mediterranean Culinary Cruise

6)Summer days

7)Exciting neWs To aNnounce

8)Prayer Requests, Concluding Prayer

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(Fr. Leo with Joe Anderson, a.k.a. Joe Nation on YouTube. Fr. Leo recently visited his former parishioner in Los Angeles and cooked a big meal for this talented YouTube personality.)

(Fr. Leo with Joe Anderson, a.k.a. Joe Nation on YouTube.  Fr. Leo recently visited his former parishioner in Los Angeles and cooked a big meal for this talented YouTube personality.)

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1) Twitter

As you can see, Fr. Leo has joined the ranks of Twitter at @cooking_priest.  Sign up for free and enjoy the bite-sized moments of daily life that can help make for a more exciting day.  You can follow along by clicking the link below.

Click below to follow me @Cooking_Priest!

Follow Cooking_Priest on Twitter

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(One of the delicious desserts on the Culinary Cruise: phyllo dough wrapped berries and brie.)

(One of the delicious desserts on the Culinary Cruise:  phyllo dough wrapped berries and brie.)

2) Facebook

We are also in the process of changing our Facebook account status to a public page, so that even more friends can participate in the social networking to get news, stories, inspirations, food ideas, and so much more!  All of those connected to the Grace Before Meals page are encouraged to switch over to Fr. Leo’s Personal page and once the switch is made, just click “Like”! A simple click and you’re on your way to a growing worldwide community of faithful foodies!

(Pilgrims on a recent Grace Before Meals trip: Greg and Jennifer Willits, Hosts of “The Catholics Next Door” on SiriusXM 129. They were the first to introduce me to the social networking scene.)

(Pilgrims on a recent Grace Before Meals trip:  Greg and Jennifer Willits, Hosts of “The Catholics Next Door” on SiriusXM 129.  They were the first to introduce me to the social networking scene.)

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3) July R & R

In July, Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals team will take some time for smuch needed R&R. Every week in July, we will be sharing “Blasts from the Pasts” to relive some fond memories to update some of our newly subscribed members with some favorite moments from the past two years.  During this time Fr. Leo will still be working – editing his second book – as well as preparing for the next semester at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, which begins just next month.  The other members of the team will continue to hammer out glitches with our new website, to hopefully make it even easier for you to get the information and inspiration you need. Be sure to Create an Account with us and check out the Recipes section as we continue to add categories and recipes for your convenience.

(Dishing up some food during the Culinary Cruise. I needed a better system to keep up with the hungry taste testers!)

(Dishing up some food during the Culinary Cruise.  I needed a better system to keep up with the hungry taste testers!)

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4) Recent Travels

Fr. Leo’s on the road again. . .and again. . .and again!  This summer Fr. Leo will travel the globe sharing the message and spreading a table of God’s love with his pilgrimages, retreats, conferences, cooking demonstrations, book signings, and media appearances.  Just this summer alone, he will travel to Rome; Genoa, Italy; Tunisia; Barcelona, Spain; Monaco; Palermo, Sicily; Napa Valley, California; Orange County, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Brownsville, Texas, New Orleans; Charleston, South Carolina, Vancouver, British Columbia, Minneapolis; St. Paul, Minnesota; New York, and of course a few local presentations in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area as well!  As you can see, our grassroots movement thrives on the personal experience of Grace Before Meals.

So if your parish, diocese, or conference group wants to secure Fr. Leo for any future events, please, give us a call, e-mail or fill out the “Book Fr. Leo” form on our website.  But be sure to schedule with us about nine months to one year in advance.  We’ll be sure that your event is truly blessed with food for body, mind, and spirit!

(In honor of the upcoming 4th of July weekend, our country's freedom to travel is the direct fruit of the sacrifices of our military personnel. So it was an honor to present a Grace Before Meals demonstration at Fort Mead, Maryland Military Installation for our military families.)

(In honor of the upcoming 4th of July weekend, our country’s freedom to travel is the direct fruit of the sacrifices of our military personnel.  So it was an honor to present a Grace Before Meals demonstration at Fort Mead, Maryland Military Installation for our military families.)

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5) The Napa Valley Retreat and Mediterranean Culinary Cruise

The Culinary Cruise and Napa Valley Retreat:  These events were BIG hits!  As you have seen in previous Blasts, the Culinary Cruise was an incredible opportunity that combined, faith, food, fun, and friendship.  The Napa Valley Retreat also earned two big thumbs up.  This unique opportunity to explore the food and wine culture of Napa Valley through the eyes of faith gave participants a real cultural appreciation and theological understanding of why Jesus said, “Take this all of you and drink it!”  If you missed an opportunity to travel, learn, and share a table with Fr. Leo on these recent trips, but you’re seriously interested in future opportunities, please e-mail us or give us a call so that we can put you on our list to personally notify when the next trip is being planned.  You and your friends can even take advantage of a possible discount if you book a certain number by a certain date!

(Pilgrims on the culinary cruise: my nephew and niece at the Spanish Steps.)

(Pilgrims on the culinary cruise:  my nephew and niece at the Spanish Steps.)

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6) Summer Days

Outdoor fun!  With summer showing off its sunny days, families ought to take full advantage of the outdoor weather (and we continue to pray for those who have suffered from the effects of inclement and tragic weather).  If you haven’t had a big family barbecue yet, what are you waiting for?  Fr. Leo’s web series for tailgating and scout’s camping gives families great-tasting but simple recipes to make family celebrations a big hit!

(World Youth Day 2007 – Me grilling my own dinner at a restaurant after one of the events. At this fancy steakhouse the guests have a chance to cook their own food or to have it cooked for them. Guess what I'd rather be doing – serve instead of be served!)

(World Youth Day 2007 – Me grilling my own dinner at a restaurant after one of the events.  At this fancy steakhouse the guests have a chance to cook their own food or to have it cooked for them.  Guess what I’d rather be doing – serve instead of be served!)

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7) AND NOW FOR SOME VERY EXCITING NEWS!

Fr. Leo will be filming a 13 part series of Savoring our Faith on EWTN.  He’s slated to be in a home in Alabama, which will be transformed into a studio kitchen for Fr. Leo’s new and exciting series.  Although it may be several months before it will air on EWTN, we’ll be sure to keep you posted with some fun video segments on the Web, as well let you know the official airing of the show.  We may even have a “virtual” party where everyone can tweet about this new and exciting series!

(Open seafood market in Barcelona, Spain.)

(On set for Life on the Rock on EWTN – 2010.)

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8 ) Prayer Requests

Ongoing prayers!  As we close this update and E-mail Blast, our team is very aware that our movement is also a “ministry,” in that we truly try to transform the world from within through prayer and God’s spirit.  It’s not just our own efforts, but our work aided by God.  That’s what makes it a ministry in a loose sense of the word.  And because people experience God’s love through our movement, many people e-mail and call us to ask for prayers.  Thank you for trusting us with your prayer requests.  Please know that you are remembered in our prayers, devotions, and even in Fr. Leo’s mass intentions regularly.  We kindly ask that you also pray for us.

Pray that we can receive the proper financial support and sponsors for our movement to grow and develop into future shows on other major networks and TV channels.  Our grassroots efforts, combined with word of mouth help our movement to grow, but there’s still a whole world we’re trying to help.

(I was praying for leniency when the fire fighters came to one of my cooking demonstrations. I apparently set off a fire alarm cooking up a flambé right underneath a smoke detector. December 2009.)

(I was praying for leniency when the fire fighters came to one of my cooking demonstrations.  I apparently set off a fire alarm cooking up a flambé right underneath a smoke detector.  December 2009.)

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Let us pray:  Father in these summer months, we pray that You keep our families and friends safe from all travel dangers and accidents.  Keep our families firm in their faith by practicing their Sunday and Holy Day obligations during vacations, as well as spreading the Faith by praying grace before meals before every meal, no matter where they are!  Help us to enjoy the blessings of these summer days.  We remember those who have been adversely affected by storms and other weather problems.  Give them consolation and support, dear Lord.  And finally, keep our hearts and souls ever close to You by personal conversion, daily prayer, and works that help build up Your kingdom of love on Earth.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(Open seafood market in Barcelona, Spain.)

(Prayers at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II.  Please Blessed Holy Father, intercede for Jesus on behalf of Grace Before Meals, that we will be given the accurate direction on where He wants us to go with this movement, the prayerful and financial support we need from our friends and the Web community, and the encouragement to help families grow closer to Him and one another through the food we eat at our table and our Father’s Table!)

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.  Your responses help us know what we can do to help serve our growing community better.  It also helps us realize that our word is reaching your hearts and minds.  Post your comments below.


Posted in Grace Before Meals, Prayers, Simply Blogging, What's On the Table | No Comments »

Posted June 22nd, 2011 | From the Feedbag, Grace Before Meals, Recipes

From the Feedbag

“From the Feedbag” will be a weekly Grace Before Meals e-mail that answers questions or responds to comments subscribers send to us.  As our movement continues to grow, we want to make sure you have a voice.  We will sincerely try to answer every question or respond to every comment, even if it may take a little time.  Thank you for your past comments and e-mails.  We value your input and ideas.  So keep sending us your questions, sharing your comments, and being blessings to our movement. E-mail us at assistant@gracebeforemeals.com.

Click below to follow me @Cooking_Priest!

Follow Cooking_Priest on Twitter

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GOOD NEWS: As we continue to improve our website, we have added a number of Fr. Leo’s Recipes to the website, located on the “Recipes” tab on the home page.

To access them, be sure to “Create an account” for FREE and you will be able to access all of Fr. Leo’s recipes in one spot!

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Tasty Testimonies


THIS WEEK:  More pictures and stories about our recent Culinary Cruise and Pilgrimage!

(Our ship docked in Barcelona, Spain.)

(Our ship docked in Barcelona, Spain.)

Here are some thoughts, which I’m calling “Tasty Testimonies,” from some of our pilgrims.  I hope their words encourage all of you to get out into the world and experience the blessings God has in store for you when you too approach life as a pilgrim!

Dear Fr. Leo:

This spiritual journey you have planned with much care and thought surpasses any expectation we had…This has been a fabulous experience and a trip of a life time.”  –Jerry and Cheryl.

(Beautiful seaport town of Cefalu, Sicily.)

(Beautiful seaport town of Cefalu, Sicily.)

Dear Fr. Leo:

Our souls expanded when it was filled with friendship, laughter, and of course your gentle spiritual food!”   –Deborah.

(Visiting with some of the seminarians from the Archdiocese of Baltimore – a little pranzo (lunch). Okay, it was a BIG pranzo!)

(Visiting with some of the seminarians from the Archdiocese of Baltimore – a little pranzo (lunch).  Okay, it was a BIG pranzo!)

Dear Fr. Leo:

“There are no words to express the gratitude I have for the opportunity to take this trip and to journey with you.  I will never forget the time spent listening to you, learning from you, laughing with you and eating with you.  You truly fed me physically and spiritually and I will treasure the memories for a lifetime.”  –Donna

(On the last night of the cruise, the chefs came out to serenade the entire dining room. Our group was placed right in the middle of the action!)

(On the last night of the cruise, the chefs came out to serenade the entire dining room.  Our group was placed right in the middle of the action!)

(Open seafood market in Barcelona, Spain.)

(Open seafood market in Barcelona, Spain.)

Fr. Leo:

“Our trip was filled with many firsts:  our first cruise, our first trip to Europe together, our fist time traveling with a priest!  It is so magnificent that you are willing to share your faith, knowledge and sense of humor!”  –John and Mary

(My family and a Tunisian Camel!)

(My family and a Tunisian Camel!)

(This T-Shirt in Spain caught my attention and made me laugh out loud. I had to take a photo!)

(This T-Shirt in Spain caught my attention and made me laugh out loud.  I had to take a photo!)

Fr. Leo,

“You really did help us see Rome through the beauty of faith.”  –Tony and Lorraine

(The view of the Holland America's Noordam at the dock in Tunisia.)

(Feeling a little proud of myself after I offered a renewal of vows to all of the couples on the cruise. I blessed the couples on the very top deck of the ship. It gave me the opportunity to literally turn our cruise ship into the "Love Boat.")

(Feeling a little proud of myself after I offered a renewal of vows to all of the couples on the cruise.  I blessed the couples on the very top deck of the ship.  It gave me the opportunity to literally turn our cruise ship into the “Love Boat.”)

I’d like to thank Corporate Travel for taking care of all the logistics for this cruise and tour.  Words of gratitude also to all of the people on the Holland America Noordam Ship, as well as to Lori, and to our illustrious tour guide, Liz Lev, and the ground crew that made the Roman excursion such faithful fun.  Finally, I want to thank all of you – the pilgrims who ventured on with me and the Grace Before Meals movement in this first ever Catholic Culinary Cruise!  I sure hope you had as much fun as I did.  And, most importantly, I pray the graces from this trip will bear great fruit in all of you!

(Only SOME of the members of the trip. We just never had the opportunity to get us all together for a photo, but we'll definitely keep each other in prayers.)

(Only SOME of the members of the trip.  We just never had the opportunity to get us all together for a photo, but we’ll definitely keep each other in prayers.)

Let us pray:

Father, may You bless all of the people who participated in this first culinary cruise and pilgrimage.  Keep their intentions ever close to Your heart, and let Your graces flow in each of them, so that they can feed this world with the goodness with which they feasted!  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen!

(The late Pope, Blessed John Paul II, in a famous photograph on display at a Vatican Museum dedicated to the life of this new Blessed in Heaven.)

(The late Pope, Blessed John Paul II, in a famous photograph on display at a Vatican Museum dedicated to the life of this new Blessed in Heaven.)

Your comments and questions help encourage our movement.  Please let us know if you have any questions that you’d like Fr. Leo to try and answer.  Post your questions or comments BELOW.


Posted in From the Feedbag, Grace Before Meals, Recipes | 4 Comments »

Posted June 15th, 2011 | Faithful Foodie, Grace Before Meals

Faithful Foodie Adventure

“Faithful Foodie Adventures” is all about exciting opportunities that await us at various tables and food destinations across God’s beautiful world.  Some weeks I may offer a cooking class tip, a restaurant critique, or even some food ideas that hopefully expand our faith while satisfying our culinary sensibilities.  If you have any food adventure ideas, please be sure to let us know.  E-mail me your ideas at assistant@gracebeforemeals.com.

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Culinary Cruise Cuisine!

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  In this E-mail Blast get ready for some heavy duty reading, because I’ve uploaded some fun pictures from our culinary cruise for all of you.  So you’ll have the opportunity to follow us along as we sailed from Civitavecchia, Rome to Genoa to Tunisia to Spain to France, and then back to Rome for an extended Roman holiday!

(The view of the Holland America's Noordam at the dock in Tunisia.)

(The view of the Holland America’s Noordam at the dock in Tunisia.)

I know lots of people wanted to go on this past trip but just couldn’t swing the time.  Many have called or e-mailed wondering if I would do another trip, cruise, or pilgrimage again in the future.  If there’s a chance in my schedule to lead another Catholic Culinary Excursion, I’d be very happy to discuss that with you.  Simply e-mail us back, let us know what you’re interested in, and then we can discuss with our Grace Before Meals team to see if there is a way to plan the events, generate the pilgrim guest list, and then set sail for the ride of your life!

For now, these pictures will hopefully whet your appetite.  Here’s a brief summary with pictures of the places we visited and, of course, the food we ate along the way!

(Chef Marc Andre, who assisted all of our group’s cooking demonstrations, cooking up a special treat!)

Our group’s first event was Mass together, followed by some downtime before our first of many exquisite dinners.

(Foie gras puff pastry with a citrus glaze.)

(Foie gras puff pastry with a citrus glaze.)

En route to our first port of Santa Margarita our Captain decided the winds and the waves were a bit too dangerous for us to take the boat’s ferry to shore.  Instead, he took us to the port of Genoa, where they make great salami, as well as the famous basil “pesto Genovese!”

(Genoa's scenic port, with the second largest aquarium in the world!)

(Genoa’s scenic port, with the second largest aquarium in the world!)

After a day of touring our group was treated to a special cocktail hour in the Ship’s private lounge.  How fancy, especially since it was one of the more formal nights on the cruise ship!

(Genoa's scenic port, with the second largest aquarium in the world!)

(It was so fancy that the chefs even made my grilled veggie salad look so good!)

The following day we had a wonderful visit to France.  Many of our group members stayed around the posh beach resort of Cannes while the Film Festival was in full swing.  For me, however, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a 40 minute ride to another posh spot – one full of Catholic culture.  In fact, this spot has its own unique culture because it’s an independent country:  Monaco!

They were preparing for the Grand Prix, and yes, I felt a little like James Bond as we passed by the famous Casino Royal Hotel.

(The famed hotel.)

(The famed hotel.)

The views from the mountain highways gave our group a chance to see the beauty of these historical seaport towns.

The next port offered a fascinating twist of culture, faith, and cuisine.  Tunisia!  It was a ton of fun!  The markets were filled with earnest salesmen.  The aroma of grilled lamb and cous cous wafted through the air.  And armed police guarded the tourist areas with sensitive vigilance, while our group visited museums and shops, all the while receiving tidbits of facts evidenced in the mosaic art, history, and the people.

(My mother got roped up into the Tunisian Seaport Band before her camel ride back to the ship!)

(My mother got roped up into the Tunisian Seaport Band before her camel ride back to the ship!)

The following port took us back to the Catholic nation of Spain and the port of Barcelona.  Filled with faith, flamenco dancing and fantastic foods, this stop was surely a crowd pleaser!

(The Holy Family Temple by Gaudi, still under construction.)

(The Holy Family Temple by Gaudi, still under construction.)

(Traditional Paella Mariscos.)

(Traditional Paella Mariscos.)

After a busy few days of port hopping, our group was pleased to have some relaxing time on the ship, soaking up the sun, participating in some special cooking demonstrations, and even a private class on wine tasting with the ship’s cellar master!

(Featured wines paired with perfectly plated hors d'oeuvres.)

(Featured wines paired with perfectly plated hors d’oeuvres.)

Our last port was Palermo, Sicily, where some members of our group ventured off to another perfectly picturesque town of Cefalu, with a Cathedral Square that overlooked the Mediterranean Ocean.  That view was enough to make us all marvel at God’s wonderful plan.

(Cathedral Square in Cefalu, the beautiful city in Palermo, Sicily.)

(Cathedral Square in Cefalu, the beautiful city in Palermo, Sicily.)

Finally we returned to Rome for a three-day excursion to some of the holy and historical sites of Rome.

(Inside the Roman Coliseum – the crowning jewel of the Roman Forum – where our group was given a beautifully guided tour by Liz Lev)

(Inside the Roman Coliseum – the crowning jewel of the Roman Forum – where our group was given a beautifully guided tour by Liz Lev)

And, of course, we sampled all of the fine foods, including this unique dish called scrigno – a spinach, pancetta, and cream baked pasta – which our group ate in a restaurant with a natural vine canopy and the sweet sound of a nearby fountain.

Rome is one of those places that requires three weeks, not three days to really see and enjoy.  But our group made the best of it, seeing the fountains, sampling the food, and most importantly, witnessing the faith of the people!

(The Piazza San Pietro was absolutely packed during the Sunday Angelus prayer led by Pope Benedict XVI, who also imparted his Apostolic Blessing.)

(The Piazza San Pietro was absolutely packed during the Sunday Angelus prayer led by Pope Benedict XVI, who also imparted his Apostolic Blessing.)

Of course this gave my young niece all the more reason to throw the coins in the Trevi Fountain – a sign to ensure that one day you will return.

(My niece Alyssa with some new friends, young members of the Hungary Soccer Team, also visiting the Trevi Fountain.)

(My niece Alyssa with some new friends, young members of the Hungary Soccer Team, also visiting the Trevi Fountain.)

As said in the start of this E-mail Blast, a picture is worth a thousand words.  There were so many things worth remembering, which is why I snapped about 1,000 photos!  But above all, this trip/tour/cruise/vacation was also a unique pilgrimage opportunity to remind people that God created a big beautiful world.  Go out and see it!  And in seeing just how big the world is – but also how much we have in common with people from different cultures – we can travel throughout our life always remembering we are pilgrims who have a great responsibility to find God’s love and to share it with others.

The highlight was the unique opportunity to share some great cuisine with the pilgrims.

(Serving up samples of my prepared dishes to a line full of hungry spectators.)

(Serving up samples of my prepared dishes to a line full of hungry spectators.)

This simply gave me the opportunity to feed the group spiritually.  After all, Jesus teaches us by word and example through the Eucharist:  if you want to teach people’s heart and minds, go through their stomachs!

(Tomb of the late Pope John Paul II, who was recently declared a "Blessed" just a few weeks before we arrived. I had a chance to pray at this tomb before the hoards of visitors and pilgrims!)

(Tomb of the late Pope John Paul II, who was recently declared a “Blessed” just a few weeks before we arrived.  I had a chance to pray at this tomb before the hoards of visitors and pilgrims!)

Did you like this picture and summary of the trip?  Have you ever been on a pilgrimage?  What do you like best about that style of traveling?  Have you ever been on a culinary excursion?  If you ever want to join us for future trips, let us know.  Your comments and questions help encourage our movement.  Please post your comments or questions below.


Posted in Faithful Foodie, Grace Before Meals | 9 Comments »

Posted June 8th, 2011 | Grace Before Meals, Menu Inspiration

Menu Inspiration

“Menu Inspiration” gives subscribers exclusive access to original and inspired recipes from Fr. Leo Patalinghug, host of the movement, Grace Before Meals.  If you try this recipe, let us know what you think.  If you have a special recipe that inspires your family to come together more regularly, please share it with us and our faithful foodie community.  Pictures of your food surrounded by your family and friends are always welcome!  Post your comments below.

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Olive Antipasta

As you know, I recently returned from our Culinary Mediterranean Cruise.

(Me and Chef Marc Andres, the Chef for Special Events who assisted me in these Grace Before Meals Presentations.)

(Me and Chef Marc Andres, the Chef for Special Events who assisted me in these Grace Before Meals Presentations.)

It was a great opportunity to visit so many different countries, experience the cuisine and also experience the expanse of the Christian Faith.  A common Mediterranean food I’d like to highlight in this week’s Menu Inspiration is the olive!

(Italian Market, Providence Rhode Island.)

(Italian Market, Providence Rhode Island.)

The word “Christian” shares its root with the word “Chrism,” which means “to anoint.”  In the Scriptures, olive oil is generally used in this anointing, as evidenced in the prevalent use of olive oil in all Mediterranean cultures.

This week’s recipe is a tribute to the incredibly versatile use of the olive, as inspired by a traditional Italian (go figure?), antipasto.

Fried olives, also known as “Olive Ascolane,” take the olive to a whole new “anointed” level of delicious!

(My version of fried olives – unstuffed, Admittedly, I could have done a better job of frying more equally to give them a consistent golden brown on all sides.)
(My version of fried olives – unstuffed,  Admittedly, I could have done a better job of frying more equally to give them a consistent golden brown on all sides.)

This recipe for an olive ascolana has been modified to keep your preparation for the dish very simple.  In other words, when I prepared this dish for a few friends over the Holy Week celebration, I didn’t have time to stuff these olives.  But you can stuff these with just about anything that can hold up to the frying process – frozen blue cheese, a gelled puree of veal or pork, even a simple combination of breadcrumb and cheese.  Here’s how I did it!

Ingredients:

1 cup marinated, pitted green olives

1/8 cup AP flour

1 egg, beaten with 2 Tbs water

½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1 cup light olive oil

Shallow frying pan

Instructions:

Drain the olives from the oil, and coat them in AP flour until fully dredged.

(Dredging in AP Flour.)
(Dredging in AP Flour.)

Discard any excess flour.  Then add the egg wash to the olives until they are fully coated in egg wash.

(Olives in egg wash to help bind the flour and upcoming breadcrumbs.)

(Olives in egg wash to help bind the flour and upcoming breadcrumbs.)

Drain and discard the excess egg wash.  Then dredge the olives in Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.

Next, heat the olive oil in a shallow frying pan.  When heated, carefully add the olives and cook until golden brown on all sides, approximately 1-2 minutes on all sides.  Remove olives using a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

When paired with some salt-cured hams, a light drizzle of honey, an assortment of hard cheeses, and crusty bread, these olives can make for a complete meal!

(New York City’s Eataly Market, being served charcuterie, artinsal cheeses, crusty bread, and a drizzle of jams and honey.)

As members of my own family attest, olives are an acquired taste.  However, the oil that comes from these olives has become a part of my family through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Anointing of the Sick, and for me the anointing of the Priesthood.  This summer, try some of these unique flavors and see the blessings they bring to the table.

(Baptism Candle and decorated Altar of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Easter Vigil marks the day when new members of the church are anointed with the blessed olive oil.)

(Baptism Candle and decorated Altar of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Easter Vigil marks the day when new members of the church are anointed with the blessed olive oil.)

Father, You anoint Your sons and daughters through the gift of Chrism we receive in Baptism.  Help us to recall this great gift and to share that gift with those who hunger and thirst for the blessings that come from Your Table.

Have you ever had these deep fried olives?  If so, where did you eat these?  Do you have a good stuffing for olives you’d like to share?  Do you have any special olive dishes you can suggest to our community?  Your comments, questions, and responses are important sources of encouragement for our Grace Before Meals team.  Let us know what you’re thinking by posting your comments below.


Posted in Grace Before Meals, Menu Inspiration | 5 Comments »

Posted June 1st, 2011 | Dinner Discussion, Grace Before Meals

Dinner Discussion

Dinner Discussions from the Grace Before Meals movement gives “food for thought” for your family meals, by combining some aspects of faith, food, and family fun.  Hopefully this little article will give you something to talk about with your family at the kitchen table – a blessed place that enhances family communion.  If you have a comment, a question, or a topic that you would like to discuss, be sure to contact us at www.gracebeforemeals.com.

Click below to follow me @Cooking_Priest!

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Food for Eternal Life


Prior to the date, people asked me about the May 21st prophecy of the “end of the world.” According to the preacher who originally predicted the failed date, the doomsday has now ”moved” to October 21st.  A waitress, a gas station attendant, and people sitting next to me waiting for planes, along with a few e-mails I received reflected people wondering just how true the prediction could be.  My standard answer was always the same.  I quoted Matthew 25:  “You know neither the day nor hour when the Son of Man will return.”

St. Paul's Basilica "Outside the Walls." with a mosaic of Christ as Judge who calls the Sheep to “Drink the wellspring of Eternal Life."

(St. Paul’s Basilica “Outside the Walls.” with a mosaic of Christ as Judge who calls the Sheep to “Drink the wellspring of Eternal Life.”)

In other words, I can’t tell you when the end of the world will be.  Anyone who believes they do know this exact date and time are usually either mentally disturbed, scheming to make a couple of bucks, or just theologically untrained.  In many cases, it’s the combination of all three.

When people ask me about these so-called prophecies, I try to treat them with great respect, but also a fatherly firmness.  I treat them as people who are seriously trying to determine God’s will, but at the same time recognize they are simple sheep being fed a spoonful of confusion about Jesus Christ’s message regarding the end of the world.

Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg, Maryland – statues of the Three Shepherd Children of Fatima who received private revelations regarding the end times.

(Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg, Maryland – statues of the Three Shepherd Children of Fatima who received private revelations regarding the end times.)

In this Dinner Discussion E-mail Blast, I want to encourage families to talk about this – not to scare anyone, but to prepare people for the reality.  God comes to us every day.  Do we recognize Him?  Do we fear meeting God again?  And if so, why?

The hype prior to the May 21st date was sad and odd at best.  The news after the date was just discouraging.  Atheists and people who enjoy mocking people of faith had a field day, and it seemed to take away the reality of the Scripture’s message about the end of the world:  be ready, not just on May 21st, but every day!

(Mount St. Mary's Campus Mass on Wednesday Evening. These young college students don't just go to church on Sunday; some go every day (not just on falsely prophesied doomsdays) as a way to "find God.")

(Mount St. Mary’s Campus Mass on Wednesday Evening.  These young college students don’t just go to church on Sunday; some go every day (not just on falsely prophesied doomsdays) as a way to “find God.”)

There is a food reference in all of this.  It’s called “viaticum.”  It’s the Sacrament of the Catholic Church that ensure people who are preparing to make the journey from this life to the next will be accompanied by Jesus Himself, through the Food of the Eucharist.  The word viaticum – although seemingly daunting – is a pastoral phrase that means, “via” – “on the way”;  “ti”- “you”; and “cum” – with.  In other words, the Eucharist is the Food that goes “on the way with you” to the other side.

(Lourdes, France: Statue representing Viaticum and the Sacrament of the Sick.)

(Lourdes, France:  Statue representing Viaticum and the Sacrament of the Sick.)

Many people who believe in these prophecies of doom have been fed a heavy dose of confusion.  They are digesting errant approaches to theology as well as some maliciousness on the part of the people who spread these teachings.  I’ve known a few families who struggle because some members have left the True Faith and have joined unhealthy cultic communities that thrive on apocalyptic teachings.  The fact that such groups have come and gone, and continue to sprout up, shows that families need to address this topic at a dinner discussion.

I recommend that families talk about this in a way that respects the faith of those who are trying to be attentive and prepared for Christ’s Second Coming.  At the same time, families must also teach critical thinking skills to encourage one another to really learn about this topic, either through a trusted Scripture Study or a closer look at the Catechism.

(Image from the Blessed Pope John Paul II Museum in Rome. Image of a young priest studying and praying on while on a kayak trip. Prayer and study are essential to protecting oneself from false teachings, especially the teaching that denies the Second Coming.)

(Image from the Blessed Pope John Paul II Museum in Rome.  Image of a young priest studying and praying on while on a kayak trip.  Prayer and study are essential to protecting oneself from false teachings, especially the teaching that denies the Second Coming.)

While specific dates and times can never be part of the “conclusion” of this discussion, families can definitely be assured that Christ does come to earth – again and again – through the Eucharistic Food we receive at Mass.  The fear, confusion, and anxiety that come whenever anyone brings up the topic of the end of the world can be greatly mitigated when we realize that the end of the world is represented as an invitation to a Banquet.  We can certainly be ready to accept Jesus’ invitation to this Eternal Feast, if we are willing to invite Him to our family’s dinner banquet by saying Grace before every meal every day of our life!

(Transitional Deacon Class on their last day of school before their ordination to the priesthood for their home (Arch) Dioceses. Ad Multos Annos!)

(Transitional Deacon Class on their last day of school before their ordination to the priesthood for their home (Arch) Dioceses.  Ad Multos Annos!)

God our Father, help us never to fear Your Second Coming, but to welcome You with great joy – not just on one particular date but every day of our lives!  Keep our families strong and secure in the food that we receive in the true teachings of Your Church.  Help us always to be ready for that great day when our “foretaste of Heaven” through the Eucharist is fulfilled when we hear that invitation, “Come you who are blessed by My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt 25:34).”  Amen.

(Dome of St. Peter's, Vatican City State.)

(Dome of St. Peter’s, Vatican City State.)

What did you tell your children or loved ones who wondered about the May 21st prophecy?  Do you know anyone who really believed this date would be the end of the world, and how could you help them see otherwise?  What were you doing on May 21st that helped you to recognize that God did in fact come to visit with us, just not in the doom and gloom as expected?  Has your family ever talked about the end of the world at the dinner table, and what were some of the conclusions you reached?  Your feedback is vital encouragement to our movement.  Please post your comments and questions below.


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