Coming soon: Gregorian chant retreat!

by Cantor

Last week, Sr. Evangeline and I had a marvelous talk with Deal Hudson about our upcoming Gregorian Chant Retreat at the Community of Jesus, April 5-8, 2017. The chants we will be covering during the retreat are taken from Lent and Holy Week — some of the most sublime of the entire Gregorian repertory. Take a listen!

Merit or Mercy

By Renaissance Girl

I am one of those people that struggles not to live on a merit system. Time and time again, I compare myself with those around me, and evaluate who gets what, and why I don’t have what I think I deserve.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to listen to a recording of the Community’s founders, Mother Cay and Mother Judy. I was too young to have taken in their teaching at the time, and it’s a gift to be able to hear their words — spoken to individuals who lived what they heard and became the founding generation of our Community.

There was a lot to take to heart, but one phrase stood out to me about my constant comparing.  In speaking about control, Mother Judy said “you negate Jesus Christ when you live according to a merit system.”

It seems so clear, but hearing it again had a fresh impact.  Why do I assume God’s role, and decide what I should and shouldn’t have?  And where does that leave space for the mercy and love of God?

The Community of Jesus

Dinner Rolls: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun

There is no meal so plain or so elaborate that cannot be enhanced by the addition of freshly baked homemade bread. Whether it’s a simple soup and salad lunch or a full oven rolls is guaranteed to bring exclamations of joy from the eaters. It seems to convey a sense of special care and attention that warms their hearts.

We served these beautiful, easy-to-make rolls to a retreat of ladies for lunch today and their response was absolutely overwhelming.

Very Best Dinner Rolls

1 cup warm water (between 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 teaspoons dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
7 cups flour
1/4-1/2 cups butter (reserved)
This recipe is best made in a standing mixer with a dough hook.

Dissolve the yeast in some water with a pinch of sugar and let sit for approximately 5 minutes to proof.

Add milk, sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, salt and eggs. Mix well. Add flour as needed and mix well. Blend at medium-low speed for about 5-10 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl once or twice. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let rise in bowl about 1 hour or till doubled.

Remove the plastic wrap and turn mixer on low to “punch down” the dough; if you wish, you can let the dough rise a second time as it makes for a more flavorful roll. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 36 rolls. The dough will be very sticky.

Place rolls, edges just touching, in a buttered 9″x13″ or 9″ round pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Brush with reserved butter before baking or an egg wash.

Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit convection oven or 350 degrees Fahrenheit conventional oven until golden.


Hot Chicken Salad Puffs: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun

It seems we barely get cleaned up from one reception, and it’s time to prepare for another. We have many events happening on a regular basis and they almost always are accompanied by the serving of food or refreshments of one kind or another. At a recent reception we revised an old favorite that met with a great response. We served this hot chicken salad in little cream puffs and they disappeared so quickly we couldn’t keep the trays filled. 

Hot Chicken Salad Puffs 

4 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1 cup chopped celery
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon curry (Optional if you like)
1 teaspoon sage or poultry seasoning
3 teaspoons grated onion
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups crushed potato chips

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

 In a large bowl mix the chicken, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, onion salt, spices, onion and almonds. Transfer to the baking dish, and top with Cheddar cheese and crushed potato chips.Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Fill cream puffs, arrange on platter and serve.

Cream Puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pats
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt; use 1/2 teaspoon if you are using unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper) two baking sheets.
Combine the water, butter and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted and bring to a rolling boil. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes. It will still feel hot. Transfer the dough to a mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time; the mixture will look curdled, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth. Beat for 1 minute after adding the last egg. You will have a stiff, smooth batter.
Drop the dough by Tablespoonful’s onto the prepared sheets. Leave about 2″ between them. Bake for about 20 minutes, till they have puffed, they are medium golden brown and they look dry. Remove baked puffs from the oven and use a sharp knife to cut a slit into the side of each puff, for steam to escape; this will help prevent them from becoming soggy. Return the puffs to the oven for 5 minutes, then remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool. Slit each puff in half around the circumference and fill with a heaping Tablespoonful of chicken salad. Replace the top.

Truth To Tell

by Sr Nunother  

I have a friend who sometimes declares, “I need to own my beans.”  What she means is, “I need to look at this squarely and take responsibility for who I am and what I do.”  It’s so easy for me to side-step the truth and for a variety of reasons: protect my pride, not risk a relationship, avoid pain, avoid reality, remain superior and not appear needy. 

Two weeks ago, I served a dinner in Bethany Guest House. As I removed the pie from the warm oven, I carelessly left the oven door open. After cutting two pie slices and adding scoops of vanilla ice cream, I turned and charged toward the dining room. Oops. I slammed my shin against the stainless steel edge of the open oven door. The wound looked strange but I decided to minimize. I calmly called to one of the guests (I knew her well) and asked if she would mind pouring tea and serving pie. She came into the kitchen, noticed the blood trail and said, “Honey, you need a doctor.” The cut required thirteen stitches, but I maintained throughout that I was fine, it didn’t hurt and I’d be back to work that same evening. But what was I really feeling? More along the lines of “Aaaugh!! My leg is killing me and I want the best medical help available!”

There are moments each day when I adjust the truth, most of them silly and pointless.  Why not simply own my beans and live in that liberating place called reality.



Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen

by Gourmet Nun           

The kitchen was really busy last night. Eight of us were buzzing around cooking for an upcoming party. Really great energy. As much as I think I am a person who prefers to be alone, I love the energy of being in the kitchen with a crowd of people. Don’t get me wrong — there is something  to cooking alone — being there in the quiet, creating something delicious for someone else to enjoy. It ministers to my spirit, and I sometimes get great ideas and thoughts about other projects. But a group that is working well together, chaotic as it might be, also ministers to the whole group in a way that can’t be duplicated. In the middle of this I was putting together my favorite Beef Mushroom Barley soup for guests and a retreat group the next day. What could be better on a cold rainy day! My brother in law just came through and tasted the soup. He said it needed some red wine, so I added a splash. He was so right!

Mushroom Beef Barley Soup
Serves 6

1 ounce dried mushrooms, mixed varieties
Boiling water to cover above
2 pounds beef shoulder tender or stew beef, cut into small pieces, about 3/4 ” square
2 Tablespoons canola oil (you may find you need more)
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 leeks, washed and sliced (or 6 leeks and skip the onion)
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
7 cups beef stock, or a bit more depending on how thick or thin you like your soup
8 ounces pearl barley
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and quartered
1 teaspoons thyme, dried
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup red wine, or more if you like
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms to cover, set aside. In a large soup pot, saute beef in 1 Tablespoon oil until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, remove from pan. In the same pot, with the other Tablespoon of oil, cook your carrots, onions, leeks, celery and baby bella mushrooms until just browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in barley and thyme and cook for another minute. Add the beef broth. Drain dried mushrooms in a sieve, and add that liquid also to the pot. Chop the mushrooms until fine, and add those. Toss in the bay leaves. Simmer until meat is tender and barley cooked (about an hour for the beef tenders, and longer for the stew meat). A little while before serving pour in the wine, and heat again. Add kosher salt and ground pepper to taste. This can be made 2 or 3 days in advance — it will taste even better if made ahead.


Retreat Reflection

We just completed our yearly Community of Jesus members’ retreat.  I’m pondering the word retreat, defined as: withdrawal to a more favorable position, a place of privacy, a place affording peace, a sheltered and secluded place. It is, in my experience, exactly that, and yet not exactly. For hidden within the quiet times of prayer and reflection, teachings that inspire, and meals excellently prepared and served with precision, is a trumpet call to go forward. The trumpet is silent but strong and there’s no way to ignore it.

Plain and Simple

Working in Bethany guest house is a creative opportunity. Not creative in the usual sense – it isn’t musical, oils on canvas, or a sonnet written or spoken. It is, however, a compilation of mundane beauty that can touch a heart or bring a smile. We recently housed a small retreat where a summer lunch was served. The chef and I chose a clear cut glass plate with matching bowl for the veggie stacked sandwich and cold asparagus soup she was serving. I liked it, but wasn’t totally satisfied. Ah ha! Tucked away in a drawer were some whimsical glass fish napkin rings. I cleaned them up and found nicely ironed white linen napkins. My shift ended before lunch was served, but I’m told those on retreat noticed the cheerful setting as they enjoyed the delicious food. Simple things can make a difference.