Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Feast: Stir-Up Sunday .... er, make that Monday ...

... and you'll have our house yesterday!

This past weekend was a tad hectic -- an ordination to the Priesthood on Saturday of one of our wonderful deacons, over to the high school to help honor students put up a tree (and the answer to the age-old riddle, "just how many NHS members DOES it take to erect a 13-foot tree?"), quick home to get chile-relleno casserole (recipe below) ready for Fr. Mark's first Mass on Sunday; on Sunday, we had CCD, Fr. Mark's first Mass, reception afterward (with me serving the hundreds of parishioners who wanted to welcome Fr. Mark!) and then back to the high school to set up dh's classroom for Advent! By the time we got home on Sunday afternoon, I didn't feel like stirring-up anything, let alone mincemeat and fruitcake!

So, we decided to move Stir-up Sunday to Monday and now all are happy! Stir-up Sunday is traditionally the first Sunday of Advent -- in the prayers (the "Collect") for the day (and each night of the week), we pray:

stir up thy power, O Lord, and come, that by thy protection we may be
rescued from the dangers that beset us through our sins; and be a Redeemer to
deliver us; Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy
Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

So, stir-up we did! We boiled, chopped, measured and stirred ingredients to make REAL mincemeat and port-cake ... and in case you'd like to try our recipes, here you go:

Old-Fashioned Mincemeat – makes about 4 quarts (enough for 2 pies)
(from A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year by Evelyn Birge Vitz).
1-1/2 lbs lean beef brisket or rump
1 tsp salt
1/2 lbs beef suet, very finely chopped or ground
1 cup dark raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup currants
4 cups peeled, chopped apples
1/3 cup diced citron
1/3 cup diced orange peel
1/3 cup diced lemon peel
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups apple cider/juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup brandy, whiskey, or other spirits (or fruit juice) -- we use Irish Whiskey

  1. Place meat in a saucepan and cover with water. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the meat can be easily shredded. Drain and shred.
  2. In another saucepan, combine the shredded beef and the suet. Stir in the raisins, currants, apples, citron, diced orange and lemon, lemon juice and grated rind, sugar, molasses and cider.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently – this is a good time to get everyone in the family to stir for “Stir-Up Sunday”. Add the spices and continue simmering until the mixture is nicely thickened. Stir in the nuts.
  4. Turn the mixture into a large bowl and pour the spirits/juice over. This mixture should sit – covered in the ‘frig – for a few weeks. Stir occasionally and add more liquor as needed.

PORT CAKE (Source: Better Homes and Gardens 2002)

· 3 cups currants
· 3 cups raisins
· 3 cups pitted prunes
· 1 cup port
· 1 cup butter, chopped
· 1 tbsp vanilla
· 1 cup dark brown sugar
· 4 eggs
· Finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
· 1/3 cup molasses
· 2 cups plain flour
· 1 tbsp allspice
· 1 tbsp nutmeg
· 1 tbsp cinnamon
· 2 cups walnut halves
· Extra 1/4 cup port, for pouring over hot cake

This cake is chock-full of sweet, plump dried fruit that's been soaked in port, and it only improves with age. Make this cake on Stir-Up Sunday (first Sunday of Advent) each year so that it has time to develop its wonderful full flavor. Pour a little port over the cake once a week to give it extra depth and to help it stay moist. It will keep well in a container in a cool dry place or for longer storage, cover the cake well in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge.

NOTE: Yes, the tablespoon measurements given for the spices are correct. Extra spices give a wonderful flavour to the cake.

  • Put currants and raisins in a large bowl. Cut up prunes with scissors and add to bowl. Add port and mix well. Leave to stand for two hours, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 325F. Line the base and sides cooking pans with two layers of baking paper, bringing it 1/2" above the rim of the pans. (I used three foil loaf pans and sprayed them with Pam).
  • Roughly chop butter and put in the small bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until butter is pale yellow. Add vanilla and beat for a minute longer. Pour in sugar and beat until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the creamed mixture to the fruit. Add the rind, juice and molasses and stir to combine. Sift the flours and spices onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Add the sifted dry ingredients and walnuts to the mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Don’t overstir as you’ll get a very dry cake.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared pans. Tap pan gently on the table to settle the mixture. Smooth the surface of the cake mixture with a wet hand. Wrap a double thickness of brown paper around the tin and secure with string or a paperclip.
  • Bake for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake – check the cakes after 2 hours – when I used the smaller foil loafs, it took just over 2 hours to bake. Remove cake, pour over extra port and cover with foil. Keep wrapped until cake is completely cold - this will take about 24 hours.
  • Store covered in a cool, dry place (or wrapped in plastic wrap in the 'frig).

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Chile Relleno Casserole (this is GREAT! for breakfast or luncheon)

  • 27 oz can of mild chiles (or 4 7oz. cans)
  • 1 lb Monterey Jack cheese (in block)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 lb grated Cheddar Cheese (about 4 cups)

Slit chiles lengthwise on one side. Remove seeds and drain.
Slice Monterey Jack cheese into 1/4 inch slices and place inside chiles. Place stuffed chiles in a 13x9 pyrex pan (sprayed with Pam).
Mix eggs, milk, flour, salt, and pepper and pour over chiles. Sprinkle top with grated Cheddar Cheese.
Bake uncovered in 350 degree over for 45 minutes or until set.
(makes 8 servings)

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