My family is not Orthodox, but we follow many of the Orthodox fasting rules as Eastern Catholics. We are currently in the season of the Great Fast, which has not yet begun for our Orthodox counterparts. I have tried to up our fasting over the years, aiming for that day that we can keep a traditional fast. For those of you unfamiliar with Orthodox fasting, let me break it down. There are four fasting seasons each year: 1. Phillip’s Fast (40 days prior to Christmas starting on November 15), 2. The Great Fast (Lent, but it begins on Monday instead of Ash Wednesday and ends on Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday. However, the fasting continues until Great and Holy Saturday Night), 3. The Apostles’ Fast (most of the month of June, but it changes depending on Pascha [Easter]), and 4. The Dormition Fast (the two weeks prior to the Dormition [Assumption]). During fasting seasons, it is traditional to not eat any animal products, olive oil, or alcohol. Shell fish is traditionally allowed on weekends and fish (or any animal with a backbone) is not allowed except on feast days. Okay, them’s the rough outline of the rules and seasons.
What I love about the East is that the rules really aren’t the rules, per se. They are guidelines and we are called to aspire to compliance as our souls and will to be united to the Holy Trinity grow. My family has been in the East for about 7 years and this is the first time we are going all-out vegetarian for the Great Fast. I am attempting the vegan guidelines; the kids and the hubby are avoiding meat. This post is to simply compile the recipes that have been hits.
Sunday Scallop Spaghetti – I made a marinara sauce with about two pounds of sautéed scallops and served them over edamame noodles. It was high in protein and very delicious. We had bread, salad, and pie on the side.
Saturday Night Shrimp Po’Boys – I sautéed shrimp with garlic and creole seasoning and served in buns with lettuce and French dip. We had sweet potato fries on the side.
Sunday No-Bakes – 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1/4 cup of nut butter, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 honey, and 1/4 cup of coconut milk are boiled over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Then 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a bag of shredded, unsweetened coconut are stirred in. The mixture is spooned onto a greased cookie sheet and popped in the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden.
Sunday Vegan Coconut Cream Pie – I made a custard of corn starch, coconut milk, vanilla, and sweetened shredded coconut. (http://www.tastebook.com/blog/happens-to-be-vegan-coconut-pudding-recipe/) I didn’t follow any of the fancy directions. I just warmed the coconut milk, sugar, and cornstarch until it became thick and stirred in the coconut. Why do they ever suggest straining? I don’t get it. I also made a gluten free crust with Krusteaz all purpose mix and followed this recipe: https://simplygluten-free.com/blog/2013/11/perfect-gluten-free-pie-crust-recipe.html. It was so good! I served it with fruit and non-dairy whipped cream.
Chia Coconut Oatmeal – oatmeal and chia seeds are boiled in coconut milk and sweetened with maple syrup.
Veggie Red Beans and Rice – Sautée mirepoix and fresh garlic along with chopped sweet peppers. When these are soft, add drained and rinsed canned red beans. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of corn starch over the top and begin to mix in shrimp or vegetable stock. Add several cups of cooked brown rice and continue to mix in stock until the entire mixture is heated and covered in a light gravy. We served it with a side salad.
Vegan Corn Muffins – Mix 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds with 4 tablespoons of water. Place in the refrigerator to congeal. In a bowl, mix 1 cup of corn meal, 1 cup of flour (we use Krusteaz gluten free mix), 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of baking powder. Add the gelatinous flax seed mixture, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and enough coconut milk to make a smooth batter. Spoon into muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. We serve them with margarine.
Greek Sweet Potatoes and Chick Peas – http://minimalistbaker.com/mediterranean-baked-sweet-potatoes/ Basically, roast the sweet potatoes in the oven. Rinse and drain chick peas and coat with olive oil, cinnamon, salt, and cummin (what I had on hand at the time) and roast on a lined sheet. Mix dill weed and lemon juice into hummus (I had spicy roasted red pepper at the time). Serve the sweet potato with chick peas on top and drizzle with the sauce. We served with roasted brussels’ sprouts and corn muffins.
Black Bean and Soyrizo Soup – Soak black beans overnight. Sautée chopped onions, garlic, and soyriso (http://www.friedas.com/soyrizo/) until the onions are soft. Rinse black beans and add water, soyrizo, canned diced tomatoes, and black beans to crock pot. Salt and add cumin to taste. Cook all day on low. We served this with bread in the bread machine or corn muffins and a salad.
Spicy Ginger Shrimp – I sauteed a whole head of napa cabbage along with shredded carrots until they were cooked down. Then I added soy sauce, chile paste, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch until I had a thick gravy. We served it over brown jasmine rice with a side of dragonfruit. We had coconut tapioca pudding and blueberries for desert. Delish!
To be continued…