Tuesday, December 7, 2010

St Nicholas Day

It is common knowledge, by just about everyone under the age of 8 or 10, that Santa Claus creeps down your chimney sometime between December 24-25th. It is the day of days , if you will. But in many places in the world  December 6th  is when he comes around to check out the surroundings , so to speak. It is the feast of one of the many figures who came to make up Santa, St Nicholas. Bishop of Myrna  and patron saint of Children, sailors and a few other things. Wooden shoes are placed out the night before in some countries , and are filled with small gifts for the good and coal for the naughty. In the Roman Catholic church ( as well as a few other denominations) , he is celebrated with a feast on the anniversary of the day of his death . Normally in our home we celebrate the day in some fashion- my son is named after the Saint in a thank you gesture for bringing him ans I safely through a high risk pregnancy. This year, while inspired by a few other bloggers ( and a desire to help my husband keep his focus through this season- he is Catholic and I am not) I have decided to celebrate the Saints through Advent at the dinner table.

A lot of the traditional foods that come with Saint Nick's day involve sweets. Could be done in a healthy fashion using soaked or sprouted flour, natural sweeteners and so forth, but if you rely to much on the sweet expressions , you can get into trouble. I chose instead to do something simple, nutritious and kind of sort of cute- Open Faced Bishop Sandwiches


Okay, I need help in the food styling department ! They are supposed to look like Bishop Miters. On a slice of whole wheat soaked bread place a slice of cheddar cheese and then cut a slice of Swiss into a sort of elogated wedge. Top with a strip of red pepper and place in a 350 oven for 10 minutes. Serve with a salad and a bowl of soup.

Soup is one thing that is no longer being used from a can. In the days long ago, grilled cheese would be accompanied by either a can of tomato or mushroom soup for a quick, go to meal that left you feeling peckish about 2 hours later. Reason being, canned soup is NOT food. It is a lab experiment in a can.  If it was lunchtime I would opt for minestrone or spit pea soup, but my husband really prefers cream of mushroom soup or clam chowder. What better reason  to try out  a recipe for universal real food cream of whatever soup  ?? This recipe was designed for once a month freezer cooking, so the leftovers freeze very well on their own , or in casseroles

Katie’s Real Food Cream of {X} Soup
 makes the equivalent of 4 cans of soup It freezes well inside a casserole but can separate if you freeze it alone

    3/4 cup butter ( yes, butter- margarine is a posion)
    3/4 c. whole wheat flour (can add more if you like a really thick base)
    4 cups whole milk ( or 3 cups of heavy cream and one cup whole milk for a richer soup
    2 cups homemade chicken bone broth
    Optional:  Chopped onions

Method:

Melt butter over low heat.  If using onions for extra flavor, saute in butter until limp.  Add flour and whisk together until smooth.  Cook 1 minute.  Do not let it brown!  Gradually add milk and chicken stock, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat when sauce has thickened.  This may take up to 15-20 minutes.

Options:

    * Cream of celery: Saute a stalk or two of chopped celery with the butter before adding flour.
    * Cream of mushroom: Saute chopped fresh mushrooms in butter.
    * Cream of broccoli: Add chopped steamed broccoli to the soup after it thickens.
    * Cheesy sauce: Add shredded cheese (sharp cheddar gives the most flavor) after removing from heat.  Stir to melt.
    * If you want to make a big batch of soup and have different flavors, you can always saute mushrooms or celery separately and simply add to the finished soup, one can-equivalent at a time.

Th result ? Move over Campbells. It's been fun, but I prefer real food ! The resulting simple supper of grilled cheese, soup and salad was incredibly satisfying, nourishing. Not only did I wind up with dinner, but extra to freeze and use in things like Tuna Noodle Casserole or simply soup for lunch or dinner. A little gift to rely on in the future- real food, fast and convenient. A red and white can replaced by something healthily made on the day that honors the man in the red and white suit !

That's me and my next in line sister, visiting the figure the good Bishop was morphed into , back in 1961. I was 3 1/2 and my sister was 2. Such visits were of great importance ! Santa delivered ! And years later , the ma behind the iconic figure would help to bring about the greatest gift I have ever received- my son. It's good to say Thank You.

1 comment:

Marisa (Loser for Life) said...

That picture of you is too cute, Diane!

I always wanted to make cream of X soup instead of using the canned stuff. Thanks for sharing the recipe!