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Orthodox Lenten Meals

 

Wild Rice Salad

From “When You Fast: Recipes for Lenten Seasons” by Catherine Mandell (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2006)

no oil

1 (6-ounce) box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice mix, Original Recipe
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
ground pepper to taste
1 to 1½ tablespoons sugar
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2⁄3 cup raisins
1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges, drained
1⁄3 to ½ cup chopped red onion
1⁄3 to ½ cup diced red sweet pepper

Prepare the wild rice mix, omitting the margarine, as directed on the package. Cook until the rice is tender and there is still some liquid left in the bottom of the pan, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Set aside.

When the rice is done as described above, remove from the heat and mix with the mustard-vinegar mixture. Put the rice mixture in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Put in a serving dish. Cover and chill. Serve cold.

Serves from 4 to 6.

Variations

· On an oil day, add 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil.
· Use toasted pine nuts in place of sunflower seeds.
· Use ½ cup yellow onion or Vidalia onion in place of the red onion.


BOB ABERNETHY
, host: For Eastern Orthodox Christians this is Great Lent, the 40-day period of strict fasting leading up to Easter. The Orthodox are supposed to observe fasts of one kind or another nearly all year; no meat on some days, no dairy or oil on others. Their calendars serve as reminders. The discipline of fasting is supposed to help focus the mind on God and bring the person fasting closer to God. Catherine Mandell of Clearfield, Pennsylvania talked with us about her family’s fasts.

post02-orthodoxmealsCATHERINE MANDELL: The church generally gives us a calendar to help us track those days that we are to fast and which days we’re allowed not to fast. We have several others fasting periods during the year. If you take all those days together you are fasting for more than half the year.

The fasts vary in strictness. Great Lent is obviously the most strict of the fasts because it is the biggest feast that we’re preparing for—for Easter. We fast Wednesdays and Fridays during the regular parts of the year. We don’t eat meat. We don’t eat dairy products. We don’t eat eggs. We don’t eat fish, anything animal-related. We don’t cook with oil at all on the days that we fast from oil. We tend to abstain from alcoholic beverages and wine.

If you are an able-bodied person and you are healthy, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to fast. That being said, if you are aged or infirm, if you have some kind of illness, then you need to make adjustments in your diet.

Wild Rice Salad

Click here to enlarge.

no oil

1 (6-ounce) box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice mix, Original Recipe
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
ground pepper to taste
1 to 1½ tablespoons sugar
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2⁄3 cup raisins
1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges, drained
1⁄3 to ½ cup chopped red onion
1⁄3 to ½ cup diced red sweet pepper

Prepare the wild rice mix, omitting the margarine, as directed on the package. Cook until the rice is tender and there is still some liquid left in the bottom of the pan, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Set aside.

When the rice is done as described above, remove from the heat and mix with the mustard-vinegar mixture. Put the rice mixture in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Put in a serving dish. Cover and chill. Serve cold.

Serves from 4 to 6.

Variations

· On an oil day, add 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil.
· Use toasted pine nuts in place of sunflower seeds.
· Use ½ cup yellow onion or Vidalia onion in place of the red onion.

From “When You Fast: Recipes for Lenten Seasons” by Catherine Mandell (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2006)

I was born Orthodox. I don’t have any memories of not fasting from meat. We didn’t fast from dairy products or fish. When my husband and I were married, we decided that we wanted to be a little more strict, that we wanted to follow the church’s teaching that we would fast from meat and dairy and oil, so my children have no recollection of not fasting, ever.

It was very difficult at first. We ate a lot of spaghetti and tomato sauce, and we ate a lot of split pea soup, because basically those were the things I knew that I could make that tasted good, to make it more interesting. I pulled from different cultural and ethnic types of foods—Indian curries, Asian stir fries, or Middle-Eastern cuisines—to try to make food that was more tasty, more diverse, so that you’re not eating the same thing day after day and getting so frustrated and so bored with fasting foods.

ZACH MANDELL: It’s amazing when you have the resources. I mean you could make something different every day, and you wouldn’t get bored with anything. At school it’s a little trying, but I make do as best as I can.

CATHERINE MANDELL: You get so many questions about fasting when you’re an Orthodox Christian because we’re so strict with our fasting in comparison to the other churches. Fasting is not about deprivation. It’s not about suffering. It’s something that you make a choice to do that you’re supposed to do in freedom and joy so that you can get ready for the resurrection of Christ. You do it for yourself, you know, and the Bible even says fast in secret, and if for some reason you break the fast because you’ve gone somewhere and you’ve been served something, instead of proclaiming yourself as fasting you humbly eat what is served to you. Then you fast twice as hard in secret.

During Lent we don’t only want to fast from food. You fast with your mouth and your ears. You hold council with your tongue, so that you’re fasting from gossip and slander. You don’t have sex during Great Lent because you’re abstaining from the passions of the flesh. You do more acts of charity, and you spend more time in prayer. You spend more time in reading the Scripture. because that’s what makes the fast. It’s not just what you eat. It’s how much you’re eating. It’s a concept called “right eating,” eating the right foods at the right times in the right amounts for the right reason, how to correct yourself and what you need to do to get to the celebration of the resurrection, because ultimately you’re working toward getting into the kingdom of heaven.

  • John

    Very interesting! Beautifully presented! It is good to see the whole family!! the food looks like a “work of art.” John & Joanne

  • David Barrett

    Katya,

    Very good interview!!! Very balanced, sober, and complete in its presentation!!

    David Barrett.

  • John Lickwar

    Katia, I haven’t seen you since you were a child, so your interview is a joyful surprise. You are so defined by the love for what you do. Very informative and above all heartfelt interview. We’ve put your book to such use that it fell apart. Thats a good thing.

    John Lickwar

  • Christina Archer

    I am a newly chrismated Orthodox Christian and am following the church’s rule of fasting. Right now the Lenten fast is getting on my nerves a bit- because I want what I should not have. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Deborah Belonick

    Katya,

    I enjoyed watching you (and your family) on the PBS special. Thanks for being a witness to the benefits of fasting. Since I’m not a cook by nature, I’ve especially appreciated your hard work in putting together “When You Fast.” Cooking itself is a “mystery” to me; cooking for the Great Fast seems like a “miracle.” Kind regards, in Him, Mat’ Deborah Belonick

  • Mary

    Kudos to PBS for this.
    Note in the recipe footnote Catherine has a cookbook, “When You Fast: Recipes for Lenten Seasons” published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press including a Forward, and an “Afterword: On Fasting during Great Lent”, are written by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

  • finid

    I switched to the PBS channel when the presenter was talking about fasting in the Bahá’í Faith , and watched the rest of the program.

    I don’t know whether fasting in religious groups other than Bahá’í Faith and Eastern Orthodox church was covered in the beginning of the program, but I hope the host did.

    It would have been nice to see a mention of fasting in Eckankar, whose members (ECKists) are encourage to fast on Fridays for a 24-hour period.

    ECKists can do a water fast, juice fast, one meal per day fast, or the mental fast. As with all types of fasting, the objective is to help each person grow spiritually.

  • Jan Gunter

    Thanks for the interview and for the book – I purchased it last year while I was attempting my first Lenten fast. I was born and raised Protestant, and my husband and I are being chrismated on April 7, this year, just before Holy Week. I am both enjoying and being challenged by the fast. I’m so glad PBS covered this.