Category Archives: Recipes

Asparagus: I waited a day too long

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Generous green thumb parishioners planted two-year roots last year. This year, I’ve done nothing to help them really. No lime. Kind of weeding only once, and now the weeds are taller than them. They don’t seem to mind. Those above were left a few too many hours and really took off. They’re so fast. They are still good. You break them starting at the top, about every six inches or whatever is convenient. When they don’t pop apart, discard the rest. The taller one popped only to half way. The others went almost to the bottom.

Laid out on a plate, microwaved for until you hear the first explosions (about 10-15 seconds). A bit of salt or just as they are. Even not heated up. Mmm mmm.

If you’re quick, from garden to stomach in less than a minute. :-)

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The tip of the spear, best with bacon

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A most wonderful daily treat as these spears jump up from the ground each day, eager to be ever so slightly browned in bacon grease saved from past extravaganzas. A slight sprinkling of salt is savory. Just ever so slight.

I heartily thank my parishioners who dug the bed and and planted 2-year-old roots one year ago. I ignored those entirely for the year, letting them forest out to get a good hold. But now’s the time to start enjoying them. The same parishioners weeded everything some weeks ago. I’ll have to follow up on their great work and get out there myself.

While I was gone to Rome, my neighbor who was feeding Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog was able to enjoy the spears. He himself was the tip of the spear, as it is said, having been 82nd Airborne. Now he’s out in his yard digging a patch up to plant asparagus roots.

I was taught to cut them about 3/4″ below the ground, careful not to injure other spears working their way up. You can’t let them grow too tall as they get too woody.

Do you have an asparagus patch? How do you prepare them?

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Donuts after Mass? Yes. These too! Politically incorrect. Hah.

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Heavenly.

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“Trailer Trash.” Mmm Mmm good! Christmas happiness continues.

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Marshmallows, Fruit Loops, Pretzels… “Trailer Trash” is what it’s called locally. I like that. People poking fun at themselves because they know they themselves are not trash but can make the most of the trash food around them to come up with something really quite exquisite tasting, at least to me. Salty-sweet.

The happiness of Christmas continues. And we’ve just begun. Christmas season continues. We’re in the thick of it with three red-vestment feast days in a row.

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Recipes (Bacon Monster edition)

bacon

For the sake of a diet (I’ve been stuck at 252 since Eastertide began), I’ve given up on pasta, though bacon has re-entered my life. Not very consistent. It’s just that someone gave me ten pounds of the meatiest bacon. And it’s really good. Since I’m only just beginning to learn how to cook, it’s getting fried. I’m told bacon is best baked. When the asparagus grows it will be wrapped in bacon and baked. Really good. Anyway…

From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401) The Christian in the world

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They Continue reading

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This isn’t a sandwich. How do you…?

lobster

From last night… The last time I had lobster was on Prom night after the dance (in the school gym) at a fancy restaurant overlooking the Mississippi river in central Minnesota with a wonderful Canadian girl from the famous Ecumenical Institute at Saint John’s Abbey, my home parish at the time. This girl and I had put in lots of horse back riding together there in the southern most reaches of the northern woods. We talked about how many kids we would have. She said she had dreamed about twelve. I said that I thought that honestly a good number would be sixteen. We both agreed that God is the one to decide. She went back to Canada and I went to the seminary. The memories! Funny what you think of when you have a meal you’ve only had once before in your life.

This lobster was eaten in the company of a fellow priest and his parents. His father was ordained a permanent deacon in the same Mass that the son was ordained a priest, and this was the tenth anniversary. So, four lobsters, still very much alive before being put into pots to be steamed. Steamed, it seems, is the only way to make lobster. I didn’t hear any screams from the lobsters. I usually just eat toast and think that to be extravagant. So, what do I know about recipes?

I hope people aren’t scandalized by this. But there are things to celebrate. It’s good to celebrate. Catholics do know how to celebrate. Though others do as well. I’m sure you remember a favorite of many (the final scene of Babette’s Feast):

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PASTA AUTO-DA-FÉ, New Seminary, Eucharistic Congress, Cookbook (variant: Rotelle Puttanesca!)

The request: Dear Father Byers, […] We are so thankful to be a part of the Diocese of Charlotte under the courageous leadership of Bishop Jugis. We truly believe the new college seminary is an answer to prayer, and we are eager to to offer our support. So a few other ladies and I are collecting recipes from our Diocesan priests. We will edit, compile and publish them in a cookbook to be sold at the Eucharistic Congress. All proceeds will go directly to St. Joseph College Seminary.

george david byers.jpgWhen you have a moment, would you email me your favorite recipe to be included in the cookbook? Also, would you mind attaching a current photo to be published along with the recipe? This will help those outside of your parish to recognize you. And finally, would you please complete just one of the following sentences:

  • “My favorite food in the world is _____.”
  • “A mealtime tradition my family shared is _____.”
  • “I never did enjoy cooking; instead I prefer to go to the store and buy ____.”
  • “The strangest dish I’ve ever eaten was ____.”

My response: The strangest dish I’ve ever eaten was Saint Peter Fish roasted on an open fire along the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, strange because it was so different from any other fish I’ve ever eaten: sweet, substantial and, while retaining its own unique flavor, is available to be spiced up in ways other fish cannot be.

My recipe:

PASTA AUTO-DA-FÉ

I love eating good food, but I have a mental block about cooking so severe I can’t even look at a menu in a restaurant as that would be too much like cooking. I just listen to what others are getting and say: “I’ll have that as well.” Having said that, returning to America after having spent twenty years in Rome forced me to come up with a pasta recipe that wasn’t even remotely reminiscent of the sauces we so wrongly call “Italian.” Behold, my one and only recipe that I call “Pasta Auto-da-Fé,” which has nothing to do with trusty autos but everything to do with burning heretics at the stake. Heretics do not believe the entirety of the truth, but pick and choose a few things out of context, which they further twist in favor of political correctness to other reactionary individuals. Real cooks will immediately see that my ingredients do not make for a harmonious whole, and so are simply burned together. It’s delightful. And good for you.

At the ready:

  • a few fresh tomatoes (a can of diced tomatoes will do in a pinch)
  • a pinch of salt
  • olive oil (first-cold-press extra-virgin)
  • Watkins Black Pepper (just because)
  • Lemon Pepper (with its own salt and spices)
  • crushed red pepper
  • ground (cayenne) red pepper
  • Italian seasoning: the usual mix of herbs and spices
  • fresh basil from your garden if you have it
  • Pasta proportioned to your appetite, made of semolina from pure durum wheat. I like to use rotelle (ruote) or “wagon wheels” since Saint George, my patron, was martyred on a “breaking wheel.”

To be prepared before beginning:

  • lots of garlic cloves chopped finely
  • large green olives chopped in eighths (with pimentos of course)
  • a large onion chopped roughly
  • chunks of cheese of your choice (besides parmigiana)

Having set a kettle to boil, throw the onion chunks along with the garlic into a non-stick skillet on good heat with a bit of olive oil. You’ll want to get the onion heated right through, browned only just a bit. Meanwhile, dice up the tomatoes and dump them into a Pyrex bowl (you’ll be eating out of this if you’re as barbaric as I am). Add the olives and the cheese. Over this, shake on layers of the four types of peppers and Italian seasoning. Be especially abundant with the ground and crushed red pepper. Toss this into the microwave for 2 ½ minutes. Leave it sit in the microwave. When the water comes to a rolling boil, throw in a dash of salt, a few drops of olive oil and the pasta. Keep stirring the onion and garlic so that it doesn’t burn. As the pasta is arriving to a perfect “al dente,” dump the onions onto your “sauce” and microwave for another ½ minute. Finally, strain the pasta and mix it in with the tomatoes. Over this put on some parmigiana. A few basil leaves make it look surreal. You’ll want something to drink when the fire gets hot.

Variant: Add 2 tablespoons capers and about 8 anchovy fillets to make Rotelle Puttanesca!

UPDATE: A response from the nice lady making the request:

Father, I absolutely love it! I read this aloud to my family and my 15 year-old howled and said, “I like him. I like him a lot!” If it’s alright with you, I’d like to publish every word. Thank you!

And then, I think in reaction to the variant at the end, she added:

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us.

I think I have too much fun…

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