The Catholic Table- Emily Stimpson Chapman

During Lent I’ve been offering a series of lectures called Eucharistic Eating. This is part of an ongoing project(sadly my attempts to record it have not gone well), and I’m always on the lookout for more material on the topic. So, I was quite pleased when I came across The Catholic Table blog. Written by Emily Stimpson Chapman, a freelance Catholic writer and blogger.

Cover shot of Emily Stimpson Chapman’s The Catholic Table.

The Catholic Table is part memoir, part theological reflection, with a few recipes thrown in along the way. The tone of the book is light and breezy with occasional light touches of satire and sarcasm. Always gentle and never malicious. As a Catholic writer she makes good use of both Scripture and Tradition. Continue reading


Homemade Life-Review

Often my book buying decisions are made by the bargains being offered for Amazon Kindle. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of cookbooks, but do like food books that contain the odd recipe. A Homemade Life falls into the latter category.

While A Homemade Life serves as a coming of age tale for the author, it also serves as a love letter to her father. It was his death that both Orangette, her blog, and this book found their genesis. Yet it’s even more than that. As Wizenberg says at the end of the introduction:

That’s why this book is called A Homemade LIfe. Because, in a sense, that’s what we’re building – you, me, all of us who like to stir and whisk – in the kitchen and at the table. In the simple acts of cooking and eating, we are creating and continuing the stories that are our lives.

Each chapter in the book chronicles a story or period from her life, and the recipes that follow at the end of each chapter relate back to that story.

I decided that I would try one of the recipes before I wrote about the book. I chose what is probably the simplest recipe in the book but it is also connected to one of the most moving parts of the book. The chapter and recipe is called Italian Grotto Eggs and deals with Ms. Wizenberg cooking for her father as he is approaching his death from cancer. The writing is straight forward and the emotional pull it generates is genuine.

While her father’s life and dying are at the centre of the book, it is no way a sad work. There is much love and joy in what Wizenberg recounts. A Homemade Life shows how cooking and eating together can transform both the small parts of our lives and the bigger, more difficult life events we face.

A Homemade Life Recipe:

Below, I’ve copied the recipe for Italian Grotto Eggs:

(Wizenberg states at the beginning that she uses exact measures for her recipes and expects her readers to do so as well. I followed that advice, but I had to use 35% Whipping Cream. I couldn’t find heavy cream.)

Italian Grotto Eggs:

1 Tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter

5 Large eggs

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream(I substituted Whipping Cream)

3 Tablespoons fresh goat cheese, such as Laura Chenel, coarsely crumbled

Freshy ground black pepper, for serving

Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Add the salt land cream and beat to blend.

When the pan is hot, pour in the eggs and swirl to coat. Reduce the heat to low, and using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the eggs gently, scraping the spatula along the bottom of the skillet, until they are loosely set in large, pillowy curds They should be slightly runnier than you want them. Remove the pan from the heat and scatter the goat cheese over the eggs. Give them one more gentle stir to melt and distribute the cheese.

Serve immediately, with additional salt and black pepper to taste and, if you like, slices of buttered toast.

Yield: Two Servings

Molly Wizenberg: A Homemade LIfe: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, Location 1741, Amazon Kindle version

Cranberry Raisin Butter Tarts

This post is from 2014. Although I originally wrote it in conjunction with that year’s Roast Beef Dinner at St. Philip’s, I’ve found that in the ensuing years it’s a more popular read around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tomorrow is the St. Philip’s Roast Beef Dinner. We decided that for dessert, we will be offering several bite size options. I decided to contribute something, and am going with my Cranberry Raisin Butter Tarts.

Cranberry Raisin Buttertart pre-syrup

Tart fillings waiting for the syrup to be added.

This was a recipe I decide to adapt several years ago. I took a standard butter tart recipe and made it Cranberry Raisin. Part of the reason was that when I was buying the shells(I don’t make my own pastry) they were only available as 12s or 30s. The 30s were a lot cheaper by unit, plus, I liked the idea of something that would cut some of the sweetness out of your typical butter tart. It was the height of the holiday season when I first made them so that Cranberries were also a good buy (Hey, I’m Scottish)

Cranberry Raisin Butter Tarts Recipe:

30 – 3 inch tart shells

1- cup corn syrup

2/3 – cup brown sugar (I almost always use demerera in recipes that call for brown sugar

2 – eggs slightly beaten

1/4 – cup butter Continue reading

Pork Stew for Vestry

Last week I wrote about how every Anglican Dioceses was divided into deaneries. Well, every Anglican parish has what they call vestry.  The vestry gets its name because that’s where they met, the vestry being the robing room for the clergy.  There are different types of vestries, but the one that meets most frequently is the equivalent to a church board. Members are elected at the annual general meeting.  Like the deanery, this is another group that gets together for fairly regular meetings.

We met last night for the first time since that meeting, and I decided I would make supper for the group beforehand.  I wanted to do something simple, so I decided to make a stew.  I was going to go for beef, but when I went to the store I found there were no good, cheap, beef cuts available.  So, I settled on a pork roast that I would turn into a stew.

Continue reading

A History of Food in 100 Recipes, Review

A History of Food in 100 Recipes

As I’ve stated before, when it comes to reading food books, recipe books are not at the top of my list.  However, I make an exception for recipe books that tell stories.  William Sitwell’s A History of Food in 100 Recipes, tells a story.  Or more correctly tells a story by telling a 100 stories.  Sitwell, editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine, and a descendant of one of Britain’s best known literary families. has produced a very readable, often amusing account of the history of food.

The indefinite article in the title must be noted.  This is not an attempt to write the definitive food history.  The history here is one the is skewed toward Britain, France and the U.S. Also, as the author states, these are not test kitchen approved recipes.  Some you won’t even want to attempt (Martha Stewart would surely disapprove). Don’t worry though, the stories around the recipes are tasty enough.

A Recipe for a Good Read:

A History of Foodbegins with a recipe for bread that was found on the walls of an Egyptian burial chamber and works it way up to very recent days in it’s closing recipe from the kitchen/laboratory of Heston Blumenthal and Ashley Palmer-Watts.  In between the book abounds with tales of plagiarism, social history, class struggle and many other interesting, though at times seemingly disconnected subjects. Continue reading

Martha Stewart I’m Not, and That’s a Good Thing

Warning: Rant About Martha Stewart Ahead

The video posted below features Martha Stewart discussing some of her likes and dislikes. In the middle of the video she goes off on bloggers. Apparently, we should have our voices silenced because we are not original.  In Ms. Stewart’s view this is an insult to all the great artists in the world.

More insidious is Ms. Stewart’s believe that only experts should have a public voice. We bloggers aren’t experts and so should be silenced. Continue reading