Advent Fasting

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The pre-Nativity fast is often called “Phillip’s Fast” because it begins on the day after the feast of St. Phillip.  The fast was introduced to prepare the Church for a worthy celebration of the great and holy day of the Birth of Christ. The regulations for the fast were far more lenient than the Great Fast before Pascha.  Only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were days of strict fasting without meat, dairy products or oil (in Slavic countries).  On Sundays fish was permitted.  Laymen were at first permitted to eat fish on other days, too, until the monastic rigoristic influence prevailed.  It is interesting to observe that the famous 12th century Byzantine canonist Balsamon expressed the opinion that it would be enough if laymen fasted only one week before Christmas.  In 1958 a modern Greek author, Christos M. Enislides, welcomes Balsamon’s suggestion and believes that the best solution would be for the Church at large to abstain from meat and dairy products for 33 days.  During the last seven days of the fast everybody should observe the strict fast.

To worthily meet our Lord and Savior, we should sanctify this pre-Nativity season of the Phillipian Fast.  Sanctifying means spending our time in faith and in the service of God and in kindness towards our neighbor, especially those who are in need of our assistance.  And we should think of what we would have been had Christ not come to our lowliness and poverty.  Together with the whole of the Byzantine Church we should try to meet Christ as he deserves to be met and as it will, in His mercy, best serve our spiritual benefit! From http://www.byzcath.org/index.php/faith-mainmenu-38/40-fasts-a-feasts/2019-philips-fast-advent

Let us renew the ancient times of fasting. One reason why the Church is in such a mess is that people have left off praying and doing penance. If we all did penance, reparation for sins, and mortification to cleanse our own souls from sins and imperfections, then the Church WOULD NOT be in the mess it is today. All the sexual sins are sins of excess, as lust is excess.

If we and those clerics who have fallen into sin would have kept the fasts as in the old days, all of us would be holy.

Simple…subdue the flesh and the spirit thrives.

A few recipe suggestions for those who want to try the Catholic Byzantine Fast from various websites.

Stuffed peppers

The tomato juices and 2 cups of water will help the rice to cook as it absorbs all these delicious flavors.  Use a tight lid to cover the filling as it cooks on the stovetop.  You can also cover the pan with foil if you don’t have the right cover. Just be very carful when removing the foil paper that the steam doesn’t burn you.

Keep the heat on low.  Any more than 10 minutes and your rice filling will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.  If this happens, all is not lost.  Simply take a wooden spoon and push up any stuck bits up from the bottom and incorporate them into the rest of the filling.  If the rice is noticeably burnt though, a dark brown or heaven forbid black, then leave it behind and just use the rice filling on top.  Hopefully you’ll still have enough for your peppers even if you have to eliminate one, you won’t lose the whole thing.  Just keep an eye on your time and this won’t be an issue.

Let the filling cool for at least 10 minutes before filling your peppers.

You can make your filling up to 3 days ahead of time and keep covered in the refrigerator.  Take out and bring to room temperature about 30 minutes before you’re ready to fill peppers.

When filling, remember to leave a little room at the top of each pepper – don’t fill right to the tip top.  The rice is going to expand some while in the oven so you want to avoid your peppers exploding or overflowing while in the oven!

Ingredients

• 6-8 medium bell peppers (8 medium or 6 large) in any combination of green/yellow/red

• 1 cup onion finely chopped

• 1/3 cup garlic finely minced

• 1/2 cup olive oil

• 1 cup white rice (uncooked)

• 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint

• 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill

• 1 cup chopped, peeled tomatoes (4-5 canned, peeled plum tomatoes, drained)

• 2 cups water

• 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

• 1/2 cup warm water for pan

Cooking Instructions

Sauté finely chopped onions, then garlic in olive oil on low heat until soft and translucent.  Add rice, herbs, spices and tomatoes. Stir to combine completely.  Cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add water, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.  Make sure heat is low or rice mixture will stick to pan. Remove from heat, uncover, stir and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before filling. Rice should be almost completely cooked.

At this stage, you can keep filling covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days until you’re ready to stuff your peppers. When ready to use, allow filling to sit out for about 30 minutes and come to room temperature.

Cut off the tops of peppers and set aside. Remove seeds and veins and arrange in a pan which fits them tightly.  For 5 or six medium sized peppers I usually use a 9 inch round cake pan. For anywhere from 9-12 peppers, I use my 9×13″ cake pan.

Fill each pepper with rice mixture, almost to the top.  Add 2 tsp of warm water over the top of each filled pepper. Replace pepper lids and carefully brush tops and sides of filled peppers with olive oil.  Add 1 cup of warm water to bottom of the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs.  Yellow and orange bell peppers can be a bit thicker skinned and may need another 15 minutes or so. Rice will be soft and tops of peppers just slightly charred.

Pierogies

Ingredients

For the Dough

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

245g sour cream

250ml water

750g flour

Salt

For the Potato and Cheese Filling

2.7kg potaotes

2 large onions

7 egg yolks

225g mature Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

Method

For the Dough:

Mix the eggs, egg yolk, sour cream and 125ml water together in a bowl.

In another bowl, combine the flour and 2 teaspoons salt.

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, adding the remaining water slowly and in increments until the mixture is adequately hydrated. Mix until soft and smooth texture.

Cover dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

For the Filling:

Preheat the oven to 80°C. Peel and cut potato into thirds and place into a large saucepan. Bring the water to a boil and cook until fork tender.

Place the potatoes on sheet trays and place in oven until all moisture has been released and no more steam rises.

Small dice and caramelise the onions in a large skillet. Add the potatoes, cheese and egg yolks and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a pasta sheeter attachment on a stand mixer or using a rolling pin, sheet the pierogi dough to setting number 3 or to your desired thickness.

Using a rim of a glass, cut out circles into the sheets of dough.

Place the maximum amount of filling into the cut-out circle that will allow you to fold over the dough, pinch the edges, and shape into half moons.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and put the pierogi inside and poach on a rapid simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. I serve with parsley.

Borscht

Ingredients

1 pound beets (beetroot), peeled and cut into matchsticks

2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks

3/4 pound white cabbage, cut thinly into shreds

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 cups vegetable stock

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt to taste

Coarsely ground black pepper

Sour cream (optional, omit for vegan soup)

Finely chopped parsley or chives (optional, for garnish)

Directions

1. Peel and cut the onions, carrots, and beets (alternatively, shred the carrots and beets using the shredding blade of a food processor) and sauté over medium heat in the olive oil with a pinch of salt in a large soup pot. Reserve a small amount of beet to grate and add near the end to enliven the color.

2. In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. When the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes), add the shredded cabbage and the hot stock. Bring to a boil and simmer 15-25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. With a few minutes left, add the reserved grated beet.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice, aiming for a pleasing but subtle sour taste. Serve with freshly grated black pepper, a dollop of sour cream, and chopped parsley, if desired.

Happy Advent!!

By Supertradmum

JMJ, pray for us!

God is good,

Jay