Five Catholic Cookbooks That Belong On your Shelf

Catholic cuisine and drinking have experienced a new media revival recently.

Back in 2008, Jeff Young became interested in this relatively new podcasting thing and decided to try his hand with a podcast about cooking and Catholicism. The Catholic Foodie was born. A radio show, kids and a trip to the Holy Land later, Jeff Young is now the author of Around the Table with the Catholic Foodie – Middle Eastern Cuisine. (Listen to our podcast about his pilgrimage.)

Around the Table with the Catholic Foodie - Middle Eastern Cuisine

Around the Table with the Catholic Foodie – Middle Eastern Cuisine

Jeff’s book is a mouth-watering journey through both his pilgrimage and some of the cultural food he loves. The photos are fantastic (we borrowed a few for this post) and the recipes are just begging you to try them. I’ve heard that there are plans to turn this into a series.

At one of the early Catholic New Media Celebrations, someone said that while having a Catholic Foodie was great, there could never be a Catholic Drinkie. Fortunately, Sarah Vabulas rose to the occasion and started the Catholic Drinkie blog. Just this month she released her first book, The Catholic Drinkie’s Guide to Home Brewed Evangelism. Be sure to listen to our podcast.

The Catholic Drinkie's Guide to Home Brewed Evangelism

The Catholic Drinkie’s Guide to Home Brewed Evangelism

Sarah’s book focuses more on spirits than cuisine. Reading her book is like sitting down in pub with a bunch friends with a quality beer while discussing life and faith. Be prepared for a history of alcohol use in the Bible and beyond, recommendations on the best beers, how to brew your own, even in an apartment and how to share Catholicism with others without them running for the door.

Another book that was recently released is Drinking with the Saints – The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour. When I first opened the book I didn’t have any idea what to expect. It is certainly a handsome tome – hard cover, heavy and printed in America.

Drinking with the Saints - The Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour

Drinking with the Saints – The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour

The majority of the book is a calendar of saints and feasts along with drink recipes that will carry you through the entire year, even Lent! While not as personable as the first two, this could easily be a book to regularly pull off the shelf “just to see what we can try with dinner”.

Father Leo Patalinghug, the priest who beat Bobby Flay in a cookoff, wrote a wonderful book called Grace Before Meals – Recipes and Inspirations for Family Meals and Family Life.

Grace Before Meals - Recipes and Inspirations for Family Meals and Family Life

Grace Before Meals – Recipes and Inspirations for Family Meals and Family Life

Father Leo wrote his book to bring families closer together at meal time. The book is divided into seasonal sections with prayers and questions (along with great recipes) for families to use at meal time. Yes, this is a cook book but it’s also a fun way to share family meals again if you have gotten out of the habit.

Before there was a revival in Catholic cooking books among younger Catholics and even before there was a wave of monastery cookbooks, there was A Continual Feast.

A Continual Feast - A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year

A Continual Feast – A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year

In a way, A Continual Feast could be seen as a Catholic Joy of Cooking. Almost 300 recipes for every season of the year grace it’s pages along with descriptions of Catholic customs and traditions. While A Continual Feast isn’t a slick “foodie” cookbook with Pinterest-quality pictures of food you will never get to look the same way, it is a fabulous cookbook to have on your counter and you will use it again and again throughout the years.

Until June 25th, 2015, all of our Catholic cookbooks are on sale!




Advent and Christmas Family Traditions

Tucson, Arizona. Land of saguaro cactus, red desert and the yearly gathering of the Gastellum clan for Christmas.

Night Before Christmas 1985

For as far back as I can remember, we would make the annual fourteen hour drive from Colorado to Arizona to spend one or two weeks with family in a continuous celebration that centered on the Faith, family and food.

But before we made the trip our family made its own Christmas cards. My Dad’s an artist and my Mom does beautiful calligraphy so we always had perfect cards to send out. Even farther back before Christmas my Mom would get each of us a Christmas ornament that had something to do with an event during the past year. One year I got a brass skier because I went skiing for the first time. Another year I got an ornament of Pikes Peak because I completed the half marathon ascent that summer. Ouch!

My Mom’s parents had lived in the same house ever since I could remember Christmas and later my aunt and uncle moved into the house three doors down. Several other aunts, uncles and various greats also lived in Tucson. I was even blessed with knowing my Great Grandmother. You know, the lady who was quick enough to catch mice by the tail?

There was always an Advent wreath on the dining room table and Christmas stockings always made the trip with us. For some reason, the felt Advent calendar that my mom made with the snap-on ornaments for each day almost never made the trip so we only got about two weeks completed and then had to add everything else after Christmas.

My mom collects Nativity sets and I think she got that from her mom. There were always a variety of Nativity sets around the house, missing baby Jesus, of course until Christmas day. Unfortunately, most sets are now made in China so our store isn’t able to offer a large selection of them.

Night Before Christmas 1984On Christmas Eve we always had a traditional Mexican dinner with homemade tamales, re-fried beans, calabasitas and the best tortillas anywhere. We would then all gather in the spare room and with a roaring fire in the fireplace and the blinds strategically cracked open, my grandfather would read The Night Before Christmas from a huge coloring book that all of us cousins had taken a hand at coloring. Just like clockwork every year Santa would be on the roof, shout down the chimney and  flash by the window before vanishing across the golf course behind their house. We would then all go back in to the living room and find our stockings full. My poor Uncle Steve, and some years Uncle John, frequently missed this momentous event. It’s amazing how things always came up right at that time.

Tumacacori Mission

Tumacacori Mission

Some years we would go down to the Tumacacori Mission to sing carols and see the luminarias lining the church and walls at night. My family has a long association with the Mission. My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary there and they met at the Catholic church just up the road in Tubac. One of my great-(great?)-aunts was scalped by Indians while her siblings hid in the mission bell tower. She survived.

When we were all younger and had the energy we would then go to Midnight Mass and then come home and open presents. I don’t know how my grandparents did it.

Christmas day was the time to go visit Uncle Mannie and Aunt Armida. It was also the first place that I got bragging rights for eating exotic food. Every Christmas Aunt Armida made Menudo and I loved it. Christmas dinner was a traditional turkey affair.

Saguaro cactus at sunsetDuring our time in Tucson we had three typical site seeing visits to make. The first, and most regular, was a trip to the Sonoran Desert  Museum. My Grandfather had been a park ranger most of his life and was a supporter of the museum. My favorite exhibits were always the prairie dog town and the geological exhibit with the earthquake detectors and the path through the “cave”.

The second visit was a guy trip to some dive for authentic Mexican food. I don’t remember the names of any of the places we went but you probably won’t find them in tourist books.

Some years we would make a trip to the Pima Air Museum or have a picnic at the Saguoro National Park. Yes, a picnic in December. Except for the one year it snowed and we had a snowball fight instead.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What fond memories do you have of Christmas?

31 Years Ago

On March 17, 1979 my first sister, Erin Patricia was born. Due to a combination of complications and medical incompetence she died on March 30, thirteen days later. I got to hold her once.

Erin's Grave

When Paula and I were married it took us over two years to conceive the first time. We miscarried Blue Bonnet a couple of weeks into that pregnancy. Shortly after, we conceived Lucy. Lucy Elizabeth was born on March 30, 1999. At the time we didn’t realize the significance of the date. A few days later we figured out that Lucy’s aunt Erin had died twenty years before on Lucy’s birthday so we changed Lucy’s name to Lucy Erin Elizabeth in honor of the aunt she would never meet.

My kids often wish that Blue Bonnet hadn’t died so we have to remind them that they have a saint in heaven praying for all of them and that while we may have had a passel of kids, none of the rest of them would have been born if Blue Bonnet had lived. I’m not sure how many of them really understand that.

When I realized yesterday that my sister would have been thirty one, I started thinking of all the things that would be different had she lived: my brother James’s wedding next month wouldn’t be happening because James wouldn’t be here, my daughter Lucy would never have taken piano lessons from my sister Rebekah and my kids wouldn’t have the same wonderful cousins they have now, and we wouldn’t marvel at Michael’s amazing ability to have everything fall into place in spite of the improbability of it all.

What would Erin have been like? Would she be married? Would she have entered the religious life? Would we even have ended up in Colorado Springs or would her life have affected where my dad got stationed?

And so, as we celebrated Lucy Erin Elizabeth’s eleventh birthday yesterday and the thirty first anniversary of my sister’s death, I wonder about the blessings we are given that would never occur without the tragedies that came before.

My uncle lives in the town where Erin is buried and every year he places flowers on her grave. He sent us this picture yesterday. Uncle Richard, thank you for watching over her grave for us since we aren’t able to.

Help The Brady Bunch With College

H/T to Shrine of the Holy Wapping by way of St. Mary’s Aggies.

Some friends who have a wonderful Catholic family of 9 kids, all home-schooled, are in the final 10 of a $25,000 college scholarship contest (and the parents are Aggie Catholics if you needed more incentive). They created a great video, but now need your votes to help them win. Go here to vote for them (yes, you have to fill out a short registration).

Large Families – Not Just for the Poor Anymore!

There’s an odd phenomenon being reported in tony enclaves across the country: highly educated, highly compensated couples popping out four or more children–happily and by choice. In Loudoun County, a suburb of Washington, four-packs of siblings rule the playgrounds. In New York City, real estate agents tell of families buying two or three adjacent apartments to create giant spaces for their giant broods. Oradell, N.J., is home to so many sprawling clans that residents call it Fouradell. In a suburb of Chicago, the sibling boomlet is called the Wheaton Four.

There are two ways to look at this – 1) These families actually have found the true value of children. 2) These families have run out of other accessories to buy and figure that having a bunch of kids squeezed in with the four SUV’s and the 6,000 square foot house is a good idea.

I’ll go with number one as I have never met any of these families. What does strike me as odd about the story is that the families don’t actually seem to function in reality. When you can afford a six bedroom house I guess you don’t have to.

For Laura Bennett, 44, and Peter Shelton, 62, raising five young boys in Manhattan requires a daily battle plan. (Bennett also has a daughter, 19, from a previous marriage, who does not live with them.) A babysitter arrives early at the family’s loft-style apartment to help manage the morning scrum. Then Shelton, an architect, and Bennett, a clothing designer whose career was launched on the Bravo reality show Project Runway, hit their offices, although she usually leaves hers around 3 p.m. After school, it takes one or both parents plus two sitters to get all the kids–Peik, 12; Truman, 9; Pierson, 6; Larson, 4; and Finn, 1–to and from their various activities. And it’s all hands on deck until the boys are tucked into beds lined side by side in a room Bennett likens to military barracks.

Now, we’ve got seven kids and have never had a single babysitter there to help everyone get ready in the morning or to help in the evening. Then again, we don’t both work outside the home.

The next thing that gets brought up is the scary $500,000 price tag for raising a kid.

Raising a passel of kids is an enormous financial undertaking even for the affluent. An oft quoted 2004 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that families earning at least $70,200 a year spent $269,520 raising one child–and that’s just until the age of 17. Tack on four years of college, and you’re looking at a nearly half-million-dollar tab for each, or almost $3 million for six. “If you sit down and write out the numbers, nobody would have children,” scoffs Jen Reid, 37, a stay-at-home mom in Berwyn, Pa. “You would scare yourself out of it every single time.” She and her husband Charlie, 43, apparently don’t scare easily; they’ve produced Charlie, 10; Lizzie, 8; Michael, 7; twins Mary Grace and Marta, 5–and Baby No. 6, due in February. Charlie’s work as a real estate lawyer covers expenses, but “we spend what we make,” says Jen.

What I have never been able to understand about this is that rich families usually have fewer kids and the less well off have more. Somehow the less well off manage to raise their children without getting anywhere close to this price tag. I went and read through the document where the scary price tag is found and realized that this figure makes several assumptions:

  1. Each child needs all new clothes. There are no hand-me-downs.
  2. All babies are bottle-fed.
  3. Instead of calculating how much more it costs for housing and transportation when adding a child, the survey seems to just divide up an average rent and car payment among the family members. The survey actually admits that this is true because there isn’t data available to do an actual calculation based on the increased cost for children.
  4. All babies are in daycare.
  5. Children between the ages of 0 and 5 require over $1700 a year for “Miscellaneous expenses includ(ing) personal care items, entertainment, and reading materials.”

The most disturbing thing about this flawed report is that “Results of this study should be of use in developing State child support guidelines and foster care payments as well as in family educational programs.” Did you catch that? States are basing child care payments and foster care allotments on data that is seriously flawed.

For example, if you rent a two-bedroom apartment for $1000 a month before you have any children and then have two children, your rent doesn’t change because of the kids but this survey assumes that the children are alloted $250 each a month in rent expenses.

The same is true of a car. If you don’t have any children you probably still have a vehicle that will hold at least two car seats. When the two kids are born the government assumes that those kids now cost you half of that car payment even though the payment HASN’T CHANGED.

To put this survey to the test, I will provide an example with our family. We fall into the lower end of the middle category of income earners in the survey. Based on the survey formula, we should be spending $58,027.20 – an amount greater than we actually make per year – on our kids.

This breaks down to:

  • $8262 on food (we actually spend under $6000 a year on groceries for all of us and that includes diapers for two kids)
  • $7561 on transportation for the kids (Gas costs us about $250 a month and we don’t have any car payments so that puts us at about $3000 a year for all of us.)
  • $2263 on clothing which is supposed to include diapers (If we spend over $200 on clothes for the kids a year I would be surprised. Hand-me-downs are great.)
  • $9224 on child care and education (We homeschool so there is no daycare and our total curriculum costs are about $400 per year including school supplies)
  • $5936 on “Miscellaneous expenses include personal care items, entertainment, and reading materials.” I have no idea what people are actually spending money on here but $5936 will buy a heck of a lot of books and movie tickets.
  • $20,620 on housing. The numbers they use only take into account rent, mortgage interest and mortgage insurance. The actual mortgage principal payments aren’t used in this calculation. Since we have had the same house since the time we had one child, the actual cost per child is going down but this survey says that our cost is actually increasing even though our mortgage payments are actually lower than when we moved in because of better interest rates.

In fact, the only place where the numbers come close is in health insurance. I realize that different parts of the country have different costs of living but if our expenses are less for SEVEN kids than the average for TWO kids computed by the government, doesn’t it seem like the government has some serious problems with its numbers?

Back to the article. Here is a quote to get all you not-so-rich folk angry.

“For most people, two is enough because there are so many other competing ways to spend your time and money. People prefer to have fewer kids and invest more in them. My guess is the wealthy are having more because they enjoy children, and they have the time and resources to raise them well. They don’t have to make those trade-offs.”

Isn’t it nice to know that because you don’t have lots of money you can’t raise your kids well? The funny thing is that this brilliant observation is countered in the next paragraph by one of the moms.

Bennett doesn’t sweat the small stuff, like missing a kindergarten stage debut. “A lot of mothers are frantic because they don’t want to miss a thing,” she says. “I get to do everything six times. And you know, those musical revues can get a little old.”

Wait, I thought that because the wealthy had the resources, such as three babysitters a day, they had the time to go to all their kids’ stuff. Maybe I didn’t catch the subtleties in the article.

The best quote, and one I hope is true for most of these families, comes at the very end.

So why do it? Why, in this day and age, would any American adult–rich or not–have so many kids? Because they love them. Because professional achievement and money are something, but, asks Kellie Weiss, 37, a mother of five in Oradell, “What does it mean without family?”

Read the whole article.

H/T New Advent