Tag Archives: food

Saluting warriors of Christ who put Him first

I recently traveled TO Germany on an ongoing culinary, cultural, and ancestral quest. Though the itinerary was set months before, it happened that my trip coincided with the 75th-anniversary commemorations of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. It seemed only appropriate to honor my dad, Royley Folse – a World War II veteran, by visiting areas he spoke of often – the Ruhr Pocket, Düsseldorf, and particularly, Remagen. It was in the Battle of Remagen that the Allied Forces captured Ludendorff Bridge in March 1945, spelling the end of World War II a few months later.

Standing on this hallowed ground on the left bank of the Rhine River, I not only thought of my dad and his many comrades; I also remembered that I was in the state of the Rhineland-Palatinate, the area where so many of Louisiana’s German ancestors originated.

Scottish financier John Law attracted Germans to the French colony by propagandizing Louisiana as a semitropical paradise. A document entitled The Magnificent Country of Louisiana described the colony as a land of gold and silver; of herbs and plants for apothecaries; of healing remedies and infallible cures for the fruits of love. In some cases, entire villages migrated to this promised land of plenty.

Of the 4,000 recruits, only 700 actually arrived in Louisiana because of a host of travel difficulties. In 1722, approximately 300 Germans were located on the Mississippi River’s west bank, 25 miles above New Orleans, in an area still known as the “German Coast.” The Germans settling there came from the Rhenish Palatinate where they had cultivated gardens, orchards, and vineyards. Not surprisingly, the “German Coast” soon became the “Garden of the Capital,” saving New Orleans from famine twice. These Germans were cattlemen, butchers, dairymen, gardeners, and brew masters. They thrived on Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry of wild game, fish, and crawfish. They tilled fields and planted gardens, reaping splendid harvests. An industrious people, they filled their cupboards with jellies, preserves, vegetables, dried fruits and berries, and the spoils of the boucherie – or hog killing – for food during lean winter months.

My dad was a fabulous hunter, fisherman, and cook. With the June Rise every summer, he caught river shrimp from the Mississippi. But, when the dog days of summer rolled in, we headed to the Gulf. That’s where I learned to love his Black-eyed Pea Battered Shrimp. My dad was not only a soldier and great cook; he was a warrior for Christ. Ambrose, Father and Doctor of the Church, believed that anointing candidates with oil strengthened them for the demonic battles that lay ahead. Are you anointed? Are you a warrior for Christ?

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle-Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

MICHAELA D. YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company


Black-Eyed Pea Battered Shrimp • serves 6


¾ cup black-eyed peas, cooked
36 (16–20 count) shrimp, head-on
¼ cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1⅛tsp ground ginger
Creole seasoning to taste
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
2 large eggs
¼ cup olive oil
1¼ cups beer Louisiana hot sauce to taste
2 cups flour
1 quart vegetable oil


Peel shells from tail of shrimp, without removing head. Devein shrimp; set aside. In food processor bowl, combine black-eyed peas, onion, minced garlic, ginger, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Blend on high speed 2–3 minutes, until peas are coarsely chopped. Add eggs, olive oil, beer, and hot sauce. Blend 1–2 minutes or until puréed. Add flour and blend 1–2 additional minutes. Pour black-eyed pea batter into ceramic bowl; set aside. In homestyle deep-fryer or large cast iron pot, heat 3 inches oil to 350°F. Dip only shrimp tails into batter and allow all excess to drain. Gently place shrimp into deep-fryer and cook until golden brown and partially floating. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

Evangelize comrades like Christ did

Everyone can experience temporal real and true happiness! Our Catholic Faith offers it to all – all we need to do is immerse in it.

Smart phones, emails, texts, tweets, Facebook – none of these nor any other created good can lead to true happiness in this life.

How does one live a fully Catholic life every day? We need to turn to God. Weekly Sunday Mass attendance is the start of it all. We nurture and sustain our bodies daily with food to live, and we must do the same for our souls, feeding them spiritually and sacramentally, receiving Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. Just as athletes train constantly to compete and win, so too must we practice our faith constantly if we are going to have a chance in winning in the battle of good versus evil. St. Paul describes it beautifully: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Following every Sunday, there is a Monday, when we are met with the demands of life. Family and financial responsibilities can be become burdensome and stressful and steal away our happiness if we do not prioritize our Catholic Faith daily.

We live our faith well by making it part of our everyday lives, at home and at work. Claim your home for Christ with a blessed crucifix. Add a statue or an image of Our Blessed Mother: she leads us all to Jesus! At work, place a holy image such as a Holy Card of your favorite saint near your computer screen, or as a screen saver. These are visual reminders that keep us focused on virtues.

Daily prayer is vital. Prayer is simply talking to God. Make meals special by beginning with a blessing and thanksgiving prayer. Bring your family together daily for prayer – a decade of the rosary, daily Mass, or a simple prayer together.

Through these spiritual exercises and the presence of religious images, our senses can truly feel the presence of God in our lives and in turn we live and breathe our faith in an almost subconscious manner, leaving very little room for vices. It becomes part of who we are, making us one with Christ, and leading us naturally to become evangelizers of the Gospel. That oneness gives us the joy and peace that makes our happiness real in this life.

Most importantly, unity with Christ allows for a virtue-driven life, which affords us the ultimate opportunity of an eternal union with God and thereby achieving perfect eternal happiness!

Let us heed St. Thomas Aquinas’ words: “It is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness …….Therefore, God alone constitutes man’s happiness.” (Summa Theologica Part 2 Q.1.)

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp, a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient At Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family and recipes from his Old World childhood.

Escarole Salad with Walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano • serves 6-8


1 large head escarole
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved, plus ¼ cup grated
¼ cup raisins
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


  1. When using escarole for salads, try using the inner part of the escarole head with light green or white-ish leaves. Save the darker leaves for soup or sautéing.
  2. Chop escarole into large, bite sized pieces (you can also tear the escarole). Bathe and rinse thoroughly and spin dry.
  3. In a large bowl, toss escarole, walnuts, sliced onion rings, shaved Reggiano and raisins.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, tossing well.
  5. Plate and top with grated Reggiano

Greatest ‘meal’ comes from Our Blessed Mother

For many of us, memories of our mother are mixed with the aroma and tastes of favorite foods. Thinking of mom recalls the nurturing moments of childhood as she cooked for and fed us when we were hungry or ill. The smell of her sauce, the way she roasted a lamb or even baked our favorite dessert, if experienced as adults, can transport us back in time to that comforting place. Of course, no one can make our favorites like mom — she is by far the best.

I wonder if this was true also for Jesus? Did Mary make Him a favorite meal? Did He think of her when He smelled the dishes of His childhood years later? Did He look for the comfort of His mother’s cooking when traveling from town to town preaching, or delight in it on holy days and celebrations?

Much of what we know about the relationship between Jesus and His mother comes from the Gospel accounts, in addition to our rich tradition. In John’s Gospel (2:1-12) there is an instance where we get the impression that for Mary, all elements of a proper meal were important. At the wedding feast in Cana, she implores her Son to save the wedding celebration by providing more wine which had run out. My own mother was always concerned that guests to my childhood apartment in Long Island City would have enough to eat and were well hosted.

Yes, Jesus’ first public miracle was done at Mary’s request, so a wedding feast would be complete for all guests. This shows her concern for all, wanting her son to help everyone. Hers is the heart of a mother concerned for the well being of her children. In my parish in Brooklyn, the Blessed Mother is truly mother to us all. Here, there are numerous ethnic communities with many differences. Each week we celebrate Mass in four different languages, our people eat different foods, appreciate different music styles, and even dress differently.

But no matter the differences, what unites them is love of Christ and devotion to our Blessed Mother. The passion they have for Mary as their mother transcends language and culture, and unites them in faith to her Son whether they call her Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Vilnius, or Mary. How blessed are we who are nourished by the greatest meal, the Eucharist, which Mary made possible when she said, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). 

MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO is the vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and host of NET TV cooking show Breaking Bread Netny.tv/shows/breaking-bread/ and Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – Annunciation Parish, Brooklyn

Yiasou Halibut Speciotiko

10 oz. Halibut fillet
Fresh Dill (Chopped)
Fresh Parsley (Chopped)
Fresh Thyme (Chopped)
6-7 Cherry Tomatoes (Cut)
¼ Cup Grilled Red Bell Pepper
¼ Cup Sliced Green Olives
1 Cup Scampi Sauce
1/8 Cup Capers
¼ Cup Chicken Stock
¼ Cup White Wine
2 Cloves of Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Fresh Lemon
Salt & Pepper


Take the halibut, cut it in half, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it.

Cover both pieces of halibut in flour, removing extra flour so it does not burn.

Place the halibut skin side up in the pan.

In another pan, add garlic and cherry tomatoes and cook on medium heat until the garlic becomes slightly transparent.

When the garlic is ready, add the olives, capers, white wine, red bell pepper, chicken stock, dill parsley, thyme, and scampi sauce

Set it to simmer and reduce.

Turn fish over to cook on all sides.

Place the halibut on a dish; squeeze the lemon juice on top.

Add the contents of the other pan next to it and enjoy!

Set season ablaze with missionary spirit – and flavor of faith

Ancient man’s introduction to fire was likely a brush fire set by lightning. After watching animals eat flesh of other animals trapped and burned in the fire, man sampled the roasted meat and found it tasty. Once he harnessed fire, man duplicated the roasting method by throwing small animals into flames for dinner. Hunters around a campfire might easily have pierced a chunk of meat with their spear, thrust it into the flames, and spit-roasting was born.

Fire and cooking catapulted the concept of taste along with nutrition. The late anthropologist Carleton Coon stated that cooking was, “the decisive factor in leading man from a [rudimentary] existence into one that was more fully human.” Heat when applied to food broke down fiber, released proteins and carbohydrates, and transformed inedible foods, such as tough or toxic roots and tubers, into edible, nutritious forms. Cooking meat killed bacteria, reducing food-borne illnesses. Cooking allowed man to consume higher-quality nutrients, resulting in healthier, stronger, smarter people.

Fire revolutionized humanity, forever distinguishing men from animals and was a giant step toward civilization. Communal fires brought people together to socialize. Language, communication, planning and organization evolved around the evening fire. Eventually storytelling, the harbinger of recorded history, was ablaze as well.

Reflective of the Easter season are the “tongues as of fire” which rested on each Apostle at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descended upon these believers directing their missionary efforts throughout the world. St. Catherine of Siena believed, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze.” May the Holy Spirit ignite our souls that we, too, may be ablaze to spread the truth of God to men of every tongue and nation. 

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations, including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

MICHAELA D. YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company.


Roasted Rack of Lamb • prep time: 1 hour • Serves 6-8

Most lamb is sold frenched (with part of rib bones exposed). In this dish, lamb is seasoned with herbs and garlic to enhance the flavor. This recipe can be prepared in the oven, fireplace, or outdoor rotisserie.

2 racks of lamb, frenched
2 tsps chopped rosemary
2 tsps thyme leaves
2 tsps chopped tarragon
2 tsps chopped basil
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs, divided
¾ cup pinot noir
1 cup prepared demi-glace

NOTE: Prepared demi-glace may be purchased in the meat section of most upscale grocery stores. Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine rosemary, thyme, tarragon, basil, and minced garlic in small bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Rub lamb well with herb-garlic mixture; set aside. In 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté lamb racks, bone-side down, 3–5 minutes, taking care not to move lamb racks while cooking to keep herb and garlic seasoning in place. Turn lamb racks over and sauté additional 3–5 minutes. Place skillet with lamb racks, bone-side up, in oven and roast 15 minutes. Remove lamb racks from oven. Using a pastry brush, brush each rack with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and top with an equal portion of bread crumbs. Return lamb racks to oven, bone-side down, and bake 7–10 minutes or until lightly browned and thermometer inserted into the meat registers 128°F for medium-rare. Remove lamb racks from skillet, place on a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil 10–15 minutes for juices to redistribute. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil from skillet. Deglaze skillet with pinot noir; reduce volume to half. Add prepared demi-glace and bring mixture to simmer, stirring constantly to incorporate well into the wine reduction. Season well using salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. To serve, slice into individual lamb chops, place onto platter, and top with sauce. NOTE: If cooking the lamb racks in a fireplace or outdoor rotisserie, eliminate placing the racks in the oven. Once the lamb is roasted to your liking, brush with Dijon mustard and bread crumbs. Cook an additional 5–7 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly toasted.

Harnessing the will atunes appetite to Godly delights

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “Lent is a time of conversion and penance and a favorable time to rediscover faith in God as the criterion of our life, and the life of the church.” Rediscovering, as in growing in our faith, is a life-long journey. Each year, our dear Catholic Church gives us this opportunity during the Lenten season.

It is the customary work of sacrificing, that of giving something up during the Lenten season, that strengthens and disciplines our will so that we are not slaves to pleasure, whether it be material or otherwise. Sacrifice and prayer are key to building good habits, better known as virtues. Good habits are built and developed by disciplining the will. Denying yourself unsinful pleasures (such as not having your favorite pasta dish), will help discipline your will so when the time comes to combat temptations of sinful pleasures you will have the courage and spiritual strength to potentially make the right choice.

Lent is the perfect time for disciplining our will. Most would agree that at times, though we know right from wrong, we use our God-given free will to choose the wrong or evil that we did not intend. St. Paul the Apostle provides an excellent example illustrating this point in Romans 7:19 when he says: “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Read the rest of Romans 7 for more. St. Paul, one of the most brilliant Scripture writers, humbly acknowledges the power of the human will.

Blessed John Duns Scotus (14th c.) writes that of the two faculties, he places primacy on a person’s free will over his intellect. This scholarly Franciscan friar, teacher at both Oxford and Cambridge, known as the “Subtle Doctor,” explains that just because one has knowledge of right and wrong, it does not guarantee one’s choosing rightly. Accepting that at times our will reigns over our intellect, it is essential to train and discipline our will in good habits, thus turning them into virtues, which strengthen us to opt for the good.

Our goal for Lent should be to strengthen our prayer life, and engage sacrifice (mortification of our will). Self-denial helps build good habits in making sound choices in this life, clearing the path for our worthiness in the next.

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp, a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient at Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe • Serves 4-6


2 bunches of broccoli rabe
1 lb. orecchiette
5 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
Large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
Pecorino Romano, grated


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chopped broccoli rabe, cover to return to boil. Once boiling, uncover and let boil for 5 more minutes. Drain broccoli rabe into a colander over a bowl, reserving all water.

In a large sauté pan, combine oil, garlic, and red pepper over medium heat. When browned, add blanched broccoli rabe with ¼ cup of reserved water. Stir to coat.

Cover the pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally until broccoli rabe becomes creamy. In a separate pot, boil orecchiette in remaining broccoli water. When al dente, drain pasta and add to the broccoli rabe.

Toss and serve with Pecorino Romano cheese.

Genuine, receptive listening opens people’s hearts

The month of February is dedicated to love, no matter how dreary the weather may be in some places. Annually honoring Saint Valentine’s Day reminds couples to take their relationships seriously. A romantic dinner, kind gestures, love letters, and gifts express one’s love for another. But what couples really crave, in my opinion, is someone who will listen. Not just sit there and say, “yes dear,” but truly listen — with all one’s heart, mind, and soul.

Listening is loving. It’s a lost art today. Even with the most advanced communications technology, we don’t know how to listen as people made in God’s image and likeness.

This month we might take note and give loved ones what they want most: a sense of being heard and loved.

People know me as the “cooking priest,” and may ask, what does listening have to do with food and cooking? Quite a lot, actually. It relates to the ability to discern what another is hungering for and trying to communicate. It’s like the unconditional love parents instinctively have in listening, hearing, and understanding what a crying child is trying to indicate. It’s the love that God has for His children when the scriptures say, “What father, if his son asks for a fish, will instead give him a serpent?” (Luke 11:11).

Let’s consider some simple lessons about listening with the heart:

We sometimes hunger for things that aren’t good for us. Our Good God, a loving listener, will sometimes respond to our requests with a revolting taste, bitter herbs of truth, or a “time out” in order to heal disordered appetites. Do we know how to communicate what we really desire?

Listening to a person isn’t just understanding words, but grasping the totality of the person’s experience. Are we courageous enough to listen without judgment?

When it comes to loving disagreeable spouses or challenging family members, it might require us to ask ourselves, “What is God trying to say to me when I speak to this person who is tough to tolerate?” Do we know the “lesson” God is teaching in such difficult encounters?

Listening isn’t easy. Yet, God listens to us – and truly hears how our hearts, bodies, and souls grumble. Our job is to listen as God does, which requires discernment, faith, and every Christian virtue. This month, give the great gift that God gives – learn to listen to each other, and in so doing, love one another.

LEO PATALINGHUG IV DEI, priest, author, speaker, TV and radio host, founder of Plating Grace and The Table Foundation. Learn more at FatherLeoFeeds.com


Coconut Curry Mussels • Serves 2-3

Fresh, edible mussels will ‘open up’ when properly cooked. Providing the right ingredients and atmosphere can likewise help people open up in healthy conversation.

1 1/2 pound of mussels, cleaned
1 Tbsp butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup white wine
2-3 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 -2 tsp of “fish sauce” (found in the international section of market)
1-2 tsp of soy sauce
2 limes (1 juiced, other cut into wedges)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili pepper (or favorite hot sauce)
2 tsp honey
1-2 Tbsp of Cilantro leaves (or parsley)

Serve with 4-6 pieces of crusty bread, or 1/4 lb. cooked angel hair pasta.

In a large pot, melt butter and sauté onions and garlic. Add wine; cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add yellow curry powder and mix together before adding the coconut milk, fish sauce, the juice of one lime, salt, pepper, and honey. Stir together. Carefully add mussels to pot; mix together, then cover for 2-3 minutes, or until mussels have opened. Stir all together so mussels are coated with the sauce. Plate with extra lime wedges, top with cilantro leaves, and serve with crusty bread or pasta.

First course can renew entire meal

Throughout the history of the church, many spiritual exercises have been introduced in order to help us stop what we are doing and reflect. In the course of a year, most of us find ourselves jumping from one project to another, one responsibility to another, and even from place to place without enjoying the fruits of our labors, the blessings we have been graced with, or the wisdom gained from reflection.

The new year gives us an opportunity to review our behaviors and reset ourselves for the year ahead, oftentimes following the hustle of a busy Christmas season and close of the calendar year. January presents us with a fresh beginning which, like a good starter dish at a dinner party, sets the course for what is to follow.

Before I answered God’s call to serve His people in the ministry of the priesthood, I attended the Culinary Institute of America. During my time in culinary school and my years of working in restaurants and hotels in Manhattan, I always placed special emphasis on the first course or appetizer. My theory has always been that while a fabulous entrée can make a meal memorable, the way you begin a meal can make the same old spectacular, and the everyday an experience. Too often in life we want to rush to the main course; some of us even want to rush directly to the dessert. However, if we start off with the right first course, it slows us down and allows us to enjoy all that follows with a renewed sense of appreciation.

As a chef I always must also keep focused on what is the purpose of the meal I am preparing. Am I cooking a meal to be healthy, to meet the taste of a particular individual, to feed someone who is hungry, or to mark a special occasion?

The first course is essential to helping me accomplish the reason for my meal. It should not be in opposition to the purpose, but assist in connecting where the diner is when he or she first sits at the table and where I would like them to be when they are finished. Once again, it is the way I start the meal which will allow the courses to lead the diner.

Whether you are hosting a party or preparing a simple chicken breast on a Tuesday night, beginning with something new, refreshed, or just unexpected may afford you the opportunity to enjoy the fullness of a meal which won’t leave you hungry. Similarly, if we begin this new year with a renewed sense of purpose, we can discover countless blessings we may have overlooked in our busyness the year before.

MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO is the vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and host of the NET TV cooking show “Breaking Bread.” https://netny.tv/shows/breaking-bread/


Baked Artichoke Dip

3 Cans (14 oz each) artichoke hearts in water
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ Cup all-purpose flour
2 Cups whole milk, warmed
2 Tsp coarse salt Black pepper
1/8 Tsp cayenne pepper
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 large onion (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (finely chopped)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 ½ Tsp lemon zest (finely grated)
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs

Chop the 3 cans of artichoke hearts well.

In a bowl, mix together well the chopped artichokes, butter, flour, whole milk, salt,

pepper (to taste), cayenne pepper, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, onion, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, and bread crumbs.

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place the contents of the bowl in the dish and place in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 min.

Serve with bread, chips, or vegetables for dipping and enjoy!

Opt for root sustenance of body and soul

Chef John D. Folse

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are,” penned the world-renowned chef, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, in his 1826 volume The Physiology of Taste. German philosopher and moralist, Ludwig Feuerbach, also believed that “man is what he eats.” If we truly believe that the foods that we eat comprise our bodily constitution, then it follows that what we feed our minds is also what constitutes our moral beliefs and daily spirituality. In other words, we are what we watch, read, listen to, and think. If you watch sexually explicit television or read vulgarity, you feed your soul a diet of pornography.

While many suppose that the “duties of religion” are the responsibilities of priests, nuns, and brother monks, it is actually the responsibility of the lay apostolate to be salt of the earth – to infiltrate the nooks and crannies of daily life where the religious rarely trod. As laity, our daily spiritual diet must consist of wholesome reading including Sacred Scripture, maintaining holy friendships, and meditating on the lives of the saints, Jesus Christ, and His Holy Mother, Mary. We must emblemize the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. We all enjoy the guilty pleasures of “junk food” for the body and the brain; however, it is up to each of us to evangelize the culture by being proponents of Christian values and morality.

“If they don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything,” wrote Dr. Gordon A. Eadie in the January 1945 issue of the journal Mental Hygiene. If we refuse to stand for truth and moral values, then moral relativism will continue to reign in movies, television, song lyrics, books, the Internet, rallies, medical facilities, politics, laws, and political correctness. We must understand that many evils are veiled in tolerance. As John LaBriola wrote in Onward Catholic Soldier, “Satan loves to spread the lie that tolerance is a virtue and intolerance is a sin. He wants to replace truth with tolerance. Tolerance is an affront to justice for justice permits only that which is God; tolerance permits everything except intolerance. Tolerance is one of Satan’s most effective lies.” At times, our missionary task of salvaging truth may seem overwhelming. We may feel “too small” to affect change in any measurable way. However, we must remember that like the Apostles who evangelized the world long before the digital revolution, we are fishermen for Christ.

While the nutritionist Victor Lindlahr strongly touted in the 1920s and ‘30s that food controls health, that same notion might well be first attributed to the Roman Catholic Church. Do we not nourish our bodies and souls on the body and blood of Christ at every Eucharistic Supper? Yes, we are what we eat; and, we are what we feed our soul.

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle Catholic, Chef Folse supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

Honey-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves: 12
Prep Time: 1.5 hours

1 1/4 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/4 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (1 1/4-pound) celery root, peeled, quartered and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/4 pounds golden beets, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Steen’s cane syrup
6 thyme sprigs
salt and ground black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
2 tbsps sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss root vegetables with oil, honey, cane syrup, and thyme then season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to taste. Divide between 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Cover with aluminum foil and roast 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender, shifting pans once. Remove foil and roast 10 additional minutes. Return vegetables to bowl, stir in vinegar then adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Feeding your family’s body and soul

Come hell or high water, when I was growing up as the seventh of eight children, my mother unfailingly made sure we gathered at the same time every evening at our modest kitchen table to break bread and share hearts. She also made certain that we prayed before we dived into the meal.

food-cooperSound idyllic? Possibly so, but it certainly doesn’t mean that all eight of us were behaving with sparkling halos over our heads every night. Still, we were there at the dinner table creating memories and establishing traditions that became etched on my heart.

Being convinced that regular dinner times needed to prevail over the chaotic nighttime pulls of a mulititude of activities outside the home, I carried my mother’s tradition into my own domestic church with my five children. In addition to the “grace before meals” prayer, I added a Hail Mary, as well as spontaneous, heartfelt prayers in accordance with the seasons and various family needs.

One day a young teenager and her family visited our home and asked why I was setting the table with silverware and had placed fresh flowers on the table. She and her parents ate meals separately. Many times she had dinner in front of the computer. It was sad to hear. I prayed silently that our simple luncheon might somehow set an example.

Unfortunately, many families today have allowed the culture and its allurements to dictate how their family dinners should be. They’re often running around in the evening, rather than experiencing communion as a family. They’ve lost the art of coming together at the end of the day to reconnect, share, and nourish their bodies and souls. We need to change that. It’s essential to be a shining example — rich in time together at a family dinner, enveloped in God’s abiding love! The crazy evening schedules can’t always be avoided, but let’s not be robbed of precious family time. We can take countercultural steps to cut down on activities that take us away from hearth and home.

We can focus on our time together by getting the family involved in cooking the meal. We can take it further by teaching a short faith lesson right at the dinner table. How can you be a light of faith to your family and beyond?

DONNA-MARIE COOPER O’BOYLE is a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN host. She is an award-winning author of more than 20 books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. More at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com


Salmon filet with pesto sauce

Fresh salmon fillet
2-3 tbs unsalted butter
Basil pesto Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt unsalted butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place (skin side down) in hot butter. Cook about 3 minutes without turning, spooning butter over top. Transfer the entire pan to oven. Roast 8-9 minutes or desired doneness. Remove from oven. Spoon fresh basil pesto liberally down the center of salmon. Put pan back in oven for 1-2 minutes to heat pesto. Remove from oven, garnish with basil leaves. Serve with sautéed vegetables, angel hair pasta with pesto on top. Light a candle at the dinner table.

Basil Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (or raw
sunflower seeds, walnuts or a
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino,
asiago or parmesan cheese

Combine the fresh basil, garlic and pine nuts in food processor or blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and process until smooth. Season with kosher salt and pepper and a big squeeze of fresh lemon to brighten and for taste. Transfer to a serving bowl. Mix in fresh cheese. Refrigerate until use.

Finding God around the table

Do you see the common thread in these scenarios?

Jeff Young

1) A cocktail hour before a business dinner. 2) The home-cooked meal that Mom whipped up in between the after-school pick-up line and soccer practice, waiting to be served to a tired, rowdy and sweaty family. 3) The romantic anniversary dinner at that fancy restaurant downtown which has garnered so many accolades. 4) The Sunday feast at Grandma’s house where all the aunts, uncles and cousins come to spend the afternoon enjoying each other’s company and Grandma’s cooking. 5) The simple Lenten lunch that some church ladies like to share before their rosary group.

Each example has something to do with food, with meals, right? Yes, but each example is really about communion. At first glance that might not seem to be the case. But if you’re a Catholic foodie, the deeper meaning might become clear.

When it comes to making sense of the complexities of human life, I like to remind myself that God made us and he knows us. Because he knows us, he knows what we need. He created man and woman in his own image and likeness. He created them out of love and for love — and love means a communion of persons. Not even sin can change that fundamental fact. We are made for love and we long for communion.

In Genesis, as God began to make good on his promise to repair the damage caused by sin, he began to form for himself a people, a family. He did so by binding the people to himself through a series of covenants, each of which culminated in a shared, communal meal. The most striking example of this covenant meal is the Passover, when God set his people free from slavery in Egypt. That meal — with its unblemished lamb and unleavened bread — foreshadows the new and everlasting covenant established by Jesus on the cross, the covenant made present in the world today in the Eucharist.

God knows what we need. He made us for communion with himself and with each other. This is why shared meals are so important. Around both the table of the Eucharist and the family dinner table, we can experience communion. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass, we call it Holy Communion. That, of course, is communion par excellence with God himself. But we also experience communion around the table — for breakfast, lunch or dinner — when we share a meal with family and friends, and even strangers.

We might not always be mindful of it, but we’re wired for communion. This month, let’s pray to be mindful that we were created for love, for communion, which so often we find around the table. To whet your appetite, I’m sharing my special seasonal recipe. Bon appétit!

JEFF YOUNG, best known as The Catholic Foodie, is an author, blogger, radio host and podcaster.

LEARN MORE: CatholicFoodie.com


Pumpkin Soup with Kale and Kafta

food-22 medium yellow onions, diced
4 ribs of celery, diced
1 med pumpkin, cleaned, peeled, cut into 2-3” pieces
2 tbs garlic, chopped
1 gallon chicken stock
1 batch of kafta, browned
1-2 heads of kale, cleaned, chopped into 2” pieces
Cayenne to taste
1 tsp each ground allspice, nutmeg, cumin
2 tbs of olive oil

Sauté onions and celery until translucent. Add garlic and pumpkin. Continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, cumin and cayenne. Cook until pumpkin is soft (25-30 min.). Purée pumpkin with an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor (make sure your blender or food processor can be used with hot liquids). Return soup to pot and add lamb meatballs and kale. Simmer on medium to medium/low until meatballs are fully cooked and kale is softened (about 25 minutes).


Kafta (Lamb Meatballs)food-1

2 lbs ground lamb (or substitute  ground round beef)
1 large sweet yellow onion, finely    chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or  minced
6 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbs fresh mint, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
1 tsp each fresh cracked pepper,  allspice, cinnamon, cumin

Mix all ingredients together and roll into balls of desired size. Preheat skillet to medium-high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to skillet (or other oil with high smoke point). Add meatballs in batches. Brown on all sides. Remove and let drain on paper towels.