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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Chiarello’

  • Had a GREAT morning with the faculty of Montgomery Catholic schools yesterday. Thanks to Tom Riello for inviting me.
  • My topic was inspired partly by the occasion (teacher in-service), partly by some of my usual hobbyhorses and partly by Sunday’s Scripture readings. Basically: How to keep going and stay focused? Let Christ fill you and lead you. Well, how do we do that? By first starting with the prayer of the Church – the prayers and devotional life that have evolved over the Church’s history and the Eucharist. (Translation: Words We Pray). 
  • The Scripture passages I highlighted were:

Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.  (2 Tim 1:8)

This was from the 2nd reading on Sunday, and was the over all theme of the talk. Life is hard. Teaching is hard. We are here with what we’ve been created with (nature) and know that God promises us strength to fulfill his will (grace). How do we do that? How do we bear our share of the hardship for the gospel and where do we find God’s grace?

Abram went as the LORD directed him. (Gn. 12:4)

From the first reading from Sunday. Called by God, Abram did as the Lord directed him. This is our paradigm, as well. But how do we know in what way the Lord is directing us? We first trust that he has not left us alone to figure that out – he has left us the Church, which we believe is the Body of Christ, and the prayers, practices, spirituality and theology of which is what Jesus promised, guided by the Holy Spirit.

So we begin with prayer. The prayer of the Church – both popular traditional prayers and, of course, the Liturgy of the Hours. Paul writes that we do not know how to pray as we ought. That means, in part, that we are like Job standing in the whirlwind, understanding at last how little we understand. When our prayer begins with the prayer of the Church, we are allowing ourselves to be led by the Spirit, and humbly entering into the space where we can be taught how to pray and what to pray for. We also find that we are not alone, as we join our prayers to millions who have joined their hearts to these words over the centuries.

Lord, it is good for us to be here. 

Of course, from Sunday’s Gospel, the narrative of the Transfiguration.

This part of the talk focused on the Eucharist as the source of our strength and I really emphasized the nature of humility here, as well in the other talk. I spoke of St. Francis – on the anniversary of the election of Pope Francis – and the role of humility in his spirituality. Many associate St. Francis with poverty, and rightly, so, but the fundamental type of poverty he spoke of was the poverty of Christ, expressed in Philippians 2. Francis nowhere encouraged all people everywhere to embrace voluntary material poverty. Instead, he said, and more importantly, lived, the truth that the poverty of Christ is centered on the emptying of the will, and allowing one to be totally led by the Father’s will. Bringing that attitude to Mass makes a difference, and impacts how much grace can build on our nature, to help us bear the hardship of the Gospel.

I ended with my dependable 7th grade text, and with Flannery:

Thousands and thousands of people upon the stage of life are adjusting themselves to their roles in this drama — this drama which is real life.  Old men are there and old women, youths and maidens, and even little children.  From all parts of the world they come and from all walks of life — kings and queens, merchants and laborers, teachers and students, bankers and beggars, religious of all orders, cardinals, bishops and parish priests, and leading them all the Vicar of Christ on earth.  All are quietly taking their places, for all re actors in the sublime mystery drama of our redemption.

We, too, have our own parts to play in this living drama.  And there is no rehearsal.  We begin now, on Septuagesima, following as faithfully as we can the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which comes to us particularly in the Mass and the sacraments.

Oh. I am sending you a rather garish looking book called A Short Breviary which I meant to get to you when you came into the Church but which has just come. I have a 1949 edition of it but this is a later one, supposed to be improved but I don’t think it is. Anyway, don’t think I am suggesting that you read the office every day. It’s just a good thing to know about, I say Prime in the morning and sometimes I say Compline at night but usually I don’t, But anyway I like parts of my prayers to stay the same and part to change. So many prayer books are so awful, but if you stick with the liturgy, you are safe.

And…this morning, I was all efficient and made some Chicken Cacciatore (Michael Chiarello’s recipe, doubled). More to come….

Oh, I didn’t sell all the books I had taken, so if you want some..go to the bookstore. Start thinking Easter, First Communion, Confirmation and Mother’s Day!

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I hesitate to post this photo because, honestly…it’s not appetizing.  And I couldn’t get the colors right. Because I still can’t do indoor photography with indoor lighting…inside. It’s beyond me.  And Picnik is disappearing into the Google Borg, and then what shall I do?

So. As we all know, the Food Network has devolved into an insane cycle of cupcake competitions, men driving around the country eating food, and men driving around the country fixing restaurants.  The only shows left worth watching are Chopped, Iron Chef when a Birmingham chef kicks Flay Tail, and yes, I watched and enjoyed The Next Iron Chef.  

If you want actual cooking shows, you’ve got to be fortunate to have the Cooking Channel, which is where reruns of Good Eats were sent and where I followed up on Michael Chiarello after the last season of Next Iron Chef.  He was pretty much hated all over the Interwebs, but I liked him, and wondered what his show was like.

I like it: Easy Entertaining.  His mannerisms in the show’s open do get on my nerves – he holds a plate of food in his left hand and flaps his right around while being forced to read lame lines about how his pals are all coming over for a Old West themed  polenta party on the beach during a lunar eclipse  in honor of Valentine’s Day or something.

But once we make it through that and he starts cooking, I’m there.  The food he crafts appeals to my tastes and always seems so doable. Which they should, of course, considering the title of the program.

Which is why I made his Northern Italian Caponata tonight. 

I know. It looks like hash.  But it’s delicious.  I will be eating on this for the next couple of days – that and another batch of my roasted tomatoes that I cooked for almost four hours this time and are like rich little oily, crusty gems.

Caponata, not surprisingly, has ..varieties.   Eggplant is the point, and it’s got a southern Italian/Sicilian provenance.   Chiarello calls this recipe “Northern Italian” and is probably considered a heretic because he throws in potatoes and there’s no tomato. Plus, the dressing is an agrodolce – a sweet and sour concoction (like a French gastrique) that has vinegar as a base, cooked down with a bit of sugar and some golden raisins.  Orange zest and red pepper flakes add to the contrasting flavors.

Please don’t think anyone else in this house is going to eat this.  That’s fine. I didn’t make it for them.

Now back to tonight’s other recipe, which they will eat  – birthday cake – a chocolate pound cake, requested by someone who will be eleven years old tomorrow.  That should be a prettier picture.  But weird Mom?  Prefers the caponata.

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