Advent Potluck & Church Dinners


Church meals are of great interest to me. I think they are one of the most important activities a church community can engage in. I’m fortunate that I’m part of two groups that regularly feature a meal as part of their gathering time. As well, St. Philip’s. where I’m incumbent has weekly coffee time along with BBQs and occasional other dinners.

One of those dinners is our annual Advent Potluck which we hold each year on the Third Sunday of Advent. This year the potluck occurred the Sunday after I was scheduled to make supper for the Saint Magaret’s Saturday evening service. Then, the four o’clock “Kid’s Church” that meets at St. Philip’s was having a service followed by the usual soup and bread supper.

Advent weekend breakfast

French Toast with grilled pears, blackberries, caramel sauce, and creme fraiche, from Little Goat Food & Drink

Needless to say, such a weekend requires a great deal of fortitude, both to cook and to eat. So, I figured that I needed to start my Saturday off with a bit of stretching. Stomach stretching that is. I figured a good, solid breakfast would ensure that I would be prepared to consume large amounts of food throughout the weekend.

Fortunately, Little Goat Food & Drink has recently opened. Little Goat is the new restaurant from Alex Svenne and Danielle Carrignan-Svenne. It’s located on Portage Avenue down towards Grace Hospital. They are in a soft opening stage right now, and I’ll be giving a full review once they’ve opened for dinner service. Nonetheless, I had a bowl of Savoury Oatmeal, and The French Toast pictured above. They were both terrific, and l left feeling full and very satisfied.

Having enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast and spent some time later on my computer, I headed home in the early afternoon to pick up my supplies and head over to Saint Margaret’s to cook the meal for after the service. I was presiding during the service, so I had to make sure everything was ready by the time the service starts, because it’s rather challenging to preside and sneak out to check on the food at the same time.

My dish was a sausage and vegetable stew. I had picked up some Jamie Oliver Herb & Garlic sausages, reasonably cheap. I also had a large bag of carrots in my fridge that I had picked up and not used, so I decided I would make them the base of my dish. I cooked the sausages the night before, and drained off the fat. I stored the sausages in the fridge overnight, and in the morning separate the fat from the jelly. I put the jelly in a plastic container to help me flavour the stew.

Saint Margaret's Stew

The sausage stew I made for Saturday’s dinner at St. Margaret’s.

The recipe went like this:

2kg of sausages (reserving the jelly from the fat you drain off)

2 tbs of olive oil in the bottom of a large roster.

5 smallish yellow onions, sliced and laid on bottom of roaster.

4lbs carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2-2lb bags of multi-coloured mini potatoes

6 celery sticks chopped into chunks

796ml tin of diced tomatoes.

1tbs kosher salt

1tbs ground black pepper

1tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1tsp dried tarragon

I covered the bottom of the pan in olive oil. I sauteed the onions until they were almost translucent, adding the salt and pepper.  Sliced the sausages into several pieces each. I added the sausage jelly, and a bit of water. I added in the Peeled and chopped the carrots. Cleaned and chopped the celery. I rinsed the mini potatoes, making sure to chop the bigger ones in half so they could cook evenly. Then I added the can of tomatoes, and the remaining spices and put into a 325F oven for about 1hour and 45 minutes. You could make it two hours and the vegetables would still not be overly soft.

The meal was served with just bread and butter on the side.

Advent Potluck

Having the potluck the next day, I decided I needed to make something fairly simple. I wouldn’t be able to start on it until after the Saturday service was over. My roommate had been given some cabbage, and had more than he wanted, and so he said I should feel free to make use of  it. That gave me an idea. Lazy Man’s Cabbage Rolls. Or as I’m gonna call them Busy Person’s Cabbage Rolls. More inclusive, and reflects better the fullness of my schedule.

I took my recipe from the Genius Kitchen site: The bold print shows where I adapted.

Busy Person’s Cabbage Rolls:

READY IN:

1hr 10mins

SERVES:

4-6 8-12

UNITS:

US and Metric

Ingredients Nutrition as per the recipe

My Ingredients

  • 2.5lbs hamburger
  • 1 Cup Jamsine rice, uncooked
  • cabbage
  • onion
  • 1 stick celery finely chopped
  • 796ml crushed tomatoes
  • 500ml water
  • kosher salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground tarragon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Chop cabbage into large pieces.
  3. Put one layer into greased baking dish.
  4. You can use just hamburger if you prefer. Brown meat and onion and celery.
  5. Add salt and pepper, coriander, and tarragon, if desired.
  6. Mix rice into meat.
  7. Put meat mixture on top of cabbage layer.
  8. Mix the soup and water together and then pour on the top.
  9. Bake at 350F for at least 1 hour.
Advent cabbage rolls.

What you make when you prepare two meals in the middle of taking part in three services.

The Busy Person Cabbage rolls turned out well, and I ended up with none to take home.

Advent coffee

What better choice for a parish potluck than Community Blend Coffee, from Other Brother roaster.

Whenever we hold a big potluck, or dinner, I like to make sure that there is good coffee available for all our guests. This time around we went with the Community Blend coffee from Other Brother Roasters, out in Winkler, Manitoba.

Lisbon Bakery bread

A loaf of bread from Lisbon Bakery.

In addition to the cabbage rolls and coffee, (Mrs. Vilve Yachke would be proud, I also brought along a loaf of bread that hadn’t been eaten the night before. I had picked this bread up at Lisbon Bakery, a Portuguese Bakery about a block and a half from where I live.

Below are a couple of the dishes that were brought. There were many more, including wonderful pulled pork, meatballs, mashed potatoes, ham, salads, a gluten free dish with meat vegetables, (I tried and enjoyed it, but didn’t get it’s name). I’m probably missing some, but I did my best to try and get a bit of everything.

Advent pot luck vegetables.

Tomato Cucumber bites.

Advent fruit salad

Fruit salad under wraps, waiting for the Advent potluck to begin.

As you can see in the following gallery there were also a lot of home made desserts. In addition to them there were also a couple of store bought desserts. They didn’t all get eaten, but there’s no need to worry, because we’ll get to enjoy them on Advent 4, when we have our usual post service coffee time.

We had a good crowd, and we also had a few people who showed up after the service and participated in the potluck. It appears our Facebook Event did bring a few people in. We want to thank everyone who came, everyone who brought food, and everyone who helped with set-up and take-down, that’s what makes a potluck great, and today we had a great potluck.

Soup Supper

Every second Sunday, St. Philip’s hosts what is being called “Kid’s Church.” We didn’t call it that, it was the kids themselves who decided that these Sunday afternoon gatherings were going to be known as Kid’s Church. We generally alternate between Eucharist or a prayer service, but this week we turned it into a children’s story, followed by carol singing. Then of course, we had soup.

Advent Italian SOup.

An Italian Wedding style soup, A pleasant end to 24 hours of eating. Not quite as challenging as 24 hours of LeMans, but it required a certain amount of gustatory sticktoiveness.

The soup was delightfully light and warming. There were also some chocolate covered pretzels and some chocolate bark. The Chocolate bark was gluten-free. The pretzels were decorated by some of the kids. Their contribution to the meal prep this week.

Advent sweets

Some delightful sweets that brought a tasty conclusion to my 24hrs of feasting.

All in all the last 24hrs were quite enjoyable. I’m quite happy that, as much as I enjoyed the two dishes I created, I don’t have a lot of leftovers from them. We are headed into the homestretch of Holiday eating, and I’m quite happy not have lots of excess food pile up. That way, when the holidays are over, I can embark on a few weeks of simpler fare to keep my body well regulated.

Happy Advent Everyone. May you have plenty of feasting, both now and in the season of Christmas.

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17 thoughts on “Advent Potluck & Church Dinners

  1. I laughed at the idea of your sneaking out of the service you were leading to check on the food. I can easily imagine that, because I was the organist/choir director for our church for 25 years. All the foods I contributed to family holiday dinners were made ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You write very, very elegantly, and this was a really enjoyable read, thank you! It’s lovely to see you all making such an effort to come together and share food; there isn’t much of a community where I live, so it’s nice to read about people coming together to break bread.

    Steph 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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