Tag Archives: fasting

9 November: Life and death in deserted places.

A deserted lochside, but for the Church.
A deserted lochside, but for the Church.

Fr Tom Herbst OFM, late of the Franciscan Study Centre here in Canterbury, chaplain to Kent University, and the sisters at Minster Abbey, friend to many in Kent, friend and contributor to this blog, died this evening in Pilgrims’ Hospice, Margate. Please pray for him and all left behind to mourn and celebrate him. Here is a November blog of his from a few years ago.

It seems to me ironic that the Yuletide feast begins, these days, around the middle of November.  Seasons of penitential purple should, in some ways, be hungry affairs; an open reminder that we all stand as beggars at the Lord’s table.

When Jesus fed the five thousand they were, I believe, impressed for two reasons. Obviously the dissolution of the wall, which separates nature from supernature, was something to write home about. What is sometimes overlooked, though, is the very real hunger in that place.

When the Apostle remarked that the multitude had nothing to eat he was, perhaps, saying more than he intended. Certainly the crowd had fasted that day. Many had fasted for their entire lives. Food was a precious commodity in a desert land and no harvest, however bountiful, was proof against starvation. Roman soldiers returning to barracks or out on a foray often simply took everything the people had. And if, by some chance, the strong provider failed? Did anyone ever count the widows and orphans found dead in the roadside ditches of ancient Palestine?

Those listening to Jesus on that long ago day believed that God saw it all. They wanted to believe that God cared. How amazed they must have been when the power of God filled, not only their hearts, but also their bellies. TJH


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9 June: A newish feast.

Rood, Our Lady and English Martyrs, Cambridge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest

Pope Benedict XVI set this Feast on the Thursday after Pentecost ten years ago. It has only just crossed my radar, and I wondered whether this was a feast for clericalism, that non-synodal view of the Church that Pope Francis wants to leave behind. My suspicions were not placated when I saw the reading in the Divine Office was from Pope Pius XII, but I read on, and was reminded that he had made important changes to the celebration of the Eucharist, such as allowing people – including priests – to take a drink of water without breaking their fast. For anyone travelling a distance, or whose circumstances meant they attended a late Mass, he made it more possible to participate and receive Communion.

This extract from Mediator Dei insists that every Christian is called to be  a priest ‘as far as is humanly possible’; today we might remember that we are each anointed at Baptism to serve as priestprophet, and king. But Pope Pius was exploring these ideas before Vatican II. The language is perhaps unfamiliar, but the message is clear enough.

Christ is a Priest indeed; however, he is a Priest not for himself but for us, since, in the name of
the whole human race, he brings our prayers and religious dispositions to the eternal Father; he
is also a victim, but a victim for us, since he substitutes himself for sinners.
Now the exhortation of the Apostle, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,’
demands that all Christians should possess, as far as is humanly possible, the same dispositions
as those which the divine Redeemer had when he offered himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they
should with a humble attitude of mind, offer adoration, honour, praise and thanksgiving to the
supreme majesty of God.
Moreover, it demands that they must assume in some way the condition of a victim, that they
deny themselves as the Gospel commands, that freely and of their own accord they do penance
and that each detests and makes satisfaction for his sins.
It demands, in a word, that we must all undergo with Christ a mystical death on the Cross so
that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’ (Galatians

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Meat free Lent XXXII: Nut Roast

Nicky – All Saints’ Church

Very simple recipe that can be adjusted as required.

8oz/225g chopped nuts 
8oz/225g sliced mushrooms 
1 large onion 
1 large carrot 
3 skinned/chopped tomatoes (or tinned) 
1 free range egg 
2 tsp mixed herbs 
2 tsp yeast extract or Marmite 
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1.       Cook chopped onion and grated carrot in oil for a few minutes until soft. 

2.       Add mushrooms and cook for further 2-3 mins.

3.       Stir in yeast extract.  Mix together all ingredients and place in greased loaf tin.

4.       Press down firmly.

5.       Bake in medium oven for 45 mins.

 You can freeze what you don’t use and either use it later hot or mixed with tahini, tomato puree, chives etc.

Mash it up and call it pâté!

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Meat free Lent XXIX: Vegetarian Chilli

Lucy – All Saints’ : Vegetarian Chilli

Delicious either served in a wrap with yoghurt or spooned over corn tortilla chips, topped with grated cheese and melted in the oven and served with guacamole and salsa.

Olive or rapeseed oil, for frying 
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 
A thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped (or 1 teaspn ground ginger) 
1 tbsp chilli powder 1 
tsp cumin (ground or bashed seeds) 
1 tbsp smoked paprika 
3 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes 
300g green lentils, soaked 
200g bulgur wheat, pearl barley or brown rice 
1 tbsp cocoa powder 
400g tin small beans (haricot, black or black eyed) or 300g home-cooked 
1-2 litres veg stock 
Salt and pepper

1.       Put your biggest pot on a medium heat. 

2.       Add a splash of oil and cook onion, garlic and ginger for 10 mins or until soft and sweet.

3.       Add the chilli powder, cumin and smoked paprika.  Stir for 1-2 mins. 

4.       Add all the other ingredients, stirring as you go – but start with 1 litre of the stock and keep the rest to add if the chilli starts to look a bit dry. 

5.       Bring down to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30-35 mins until the lentils and grains are cooked and the chilli is deep and flavoursome.

6.       Season to taste, then serve.

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Meat free Lent, XXV, XXVI

Meat free Recipes for Friday & Saturday

Sweet Potato, Spinach and Chickpea Stew with Coconut

Margaret Shaw – St Dunstan’s Church

Somewhere between a soup and a stew.  Serve with basmati or jasmine rice.  If you like spicy, add two chillies and all of their seeds; if not, add one chilli / keep the seeds out etc.  It will be mild.

 Serves: 4 – 6

1tbs vegetable oil

1 onion, halved and sliced

30 g pie of fresh ginger peeled and grated

1 – 2 fresh red chillies, halved and sliced

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1.3kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

400 ml tin coconut milk

450 ml vegetable stock

1 tbs Thai fish sauce (optional but good)

410g tin chickpeas, drained

225 fresh baby spinach leaves, washed

Sea salt

Basmati/jasmine rice, to serve

1.       Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook over low heat for 3 – 5 minutes, until just soft. 

2.       Add the ginger, chillies, curry power, cumin and a pinch of salt.  Cook for 1 – 2 minutes, stirring until aromatic.

3.       Add the sweet potatoes and stir to coat in the spices. 

4.       Add the coconut milk and stock and a little water, if necessary, just to cover the sweet potatoes; the mixture should be soupy as it will cook down.

5.       Add the fish sauce (if using) or some salt, if preferred.  Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered, for 15 minutes.

6.       Add the chickpeas and continue to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes more, until the sweet potatoes are tender.

7.       Add the spinach in batches, stirring to blend and waiting for each batch to wilt before adding the next.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve immediately with the rice. 

Nut Roast

Caroline Blamey – St Dunstan’s Church

I am indebted to my colleague for telling me about this recipe.  This nut roast recipe is a winner; all my other ones had been a disaster!  This one’s a firm family favourite (and a massive relief) for Christmas and any get-together.  Everyone seems to love it and it’s so rich and nutritious.  Serve hot with the usual variety of Christmas vegetables, roast potatoes and lashings of gravy.  Alternatively, have it crumbled cold over salad with a little pickle/chutney.  (Obviously not a recipe for those with a nut sensitivity/allergy.)

Nut roasts are high in protein.  Protein is the building block of life: it helps to repair and renew cells, makes hormones and enzymes, maintains muscle mass and is important for body growth and development.  Recommended dietary allowance for an average sedentary adult is 0.8 g per kg of body weight i.e., a 75 kg person should have about 60 g of protein a day.

Serves 4-6

1 2/3 cups (400 ml) mixed nuts (any from your cupboard – almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, walnuts)

butter for greasing

3½ oz (100 g) shallots (about 4 small), finely chopped

14 oz (435 g) can drained chopped tomatoes (I prefer a drier version of skinning and chopping fresh tomatoes to the same weight)

3 eggs, beaten

5 oz (150 g) Gruyère or sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp (5 ml) fresh or ½ tsp (2.5 ml) dried thyme

2 tsp (10 ml) fresh sage, chopped or ½ tsp (2.5 ml) dried sage

½ tsp (2.5 ml) dried mint (I don’t add this usually)

1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tsp (5 ml) Marmite blended with 1 tsp (5 ml) boiling water or use 2 tsp/10 ml soy sauce

1 tsp (5 ml) fresh lemon juice

pinch of salt

freshly ground black pepper

herb sprigs, to garnish (optional)

gravy or rich tomato sauce, to serve

1.       Place the nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat.  Toast, stirring gently, until golden and fragrant, taking care not to burn. Remove to a bowl and leave to cool.  Whizz in a food processor until very finely chopped; the mixture should still be loose, not a purée.

2.       Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).  Grease a 1-pound (500-g) loaf pan (about 8 in / 20 cm in diameter) with butter.  Line with parchment paper then grease the paper.

3.       In a large bowl, combine the ground nuts with the shallots, tomatoes, eggs, cheese, herbs, yeast extract mixture, lemon juice and seasoning.  Mix thoroughly.

4.       Scoop the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until firm and golden. Cool slightly, then turn out on to a serving plate and peel off the parchment paper ready to slice carefully with a sharp knife.  Garnish with herb sprigs and serve with gravy or a rich tomato sauce.

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Meat free Lent XXIV: Potatoes and Beans and Sardines

Helen Rose and Gerardo Calia – St Dunstan’s Church

Here is a meat-free recipe which you might like to consider for the 40 days of Lent.  We like this one because it is full of flavour and cheap. 

Serves 4

500g small new or salad potatoes

200g French beans, trimmed

120g tin sardine fillets (or pilchard fillets) in olive oil

A good squeeze of lemon juice

A little extra virgin olive oil (if needed)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.       Cut the potatoes into 2 or 3 pieces each.  Put them into a saucepan, cover with water and add salt.  Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 6-10 mins until tender. 

2.       Meanwhile, cut the French beans into 3-4 cm lengths and add to the pan for the last 3-5 mins – they should still have a bit of crunch when cooked.

3.       Drain the potatoes and beans well and leave to cool until warm, or at room temperature.  Tip the sardines (or pilchards) with their oil, into a large bowl.  Add some salt and pepper and the lemon juice, then use a fork to mash the sardines to a rough puree.

4.       Tip the cooled potatoes and beans into the bowl with the sardines and toss thoroughly so that the vegetables are well coated in the fishy dressing.  Taste and add more salt, pepper, lemon juice and/or a little extra virgin olive oil as needed, then serve.

Plus one: Try stirring a handful of roughly chopped stoned black olives into the mix.

Plus two: A hard-boiled egg or two will add further to the salade niçoise effect.

Swap: If you can’t get French beans, this salad is also lovely with Little Gem lettuce hearts.  You could shred the lettuce or just halve or quarter the hearts.

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Meat free Lent XXII: Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church

1 Butternut Squash 
1 large Sweet Potato 
1 large Red Onion 
1½ pints vegetable stock 
½ cup plant-based yogurt/cream 
[Garlic may be added if wished.]

1.       Cut butternut squash and sweet potato in half and red onion into four and spray with Fry Light the cut sides. 

2.       Place the cut sides down on a tray and roast in a pre-heated oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for around 40 minutes until tender and light brown.

3.       Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Then scoop out the flesh from the butternut squash and sweet potato into a saucepan and add the red onion. 

4.       Add the stock and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. 

5.       Then allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft. 

6.       Allow to cool then liquidise and return to the saucepan. 

7.       Add the plant-based yogurt/cream and seasoning and gently heat for 5 – 10 minutes to heat through.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

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Meat free Lent, XIX, XX: a bumper edition

Good morning to you all on this lovely spring morning.

Here are yesterday’s and today’s meat free recipes; we should have caught up with ourselves again. As we prepare the taboule, we could remember to pray for the people of Lebanon, whose situation has dropped off the front page though their needs remain stark. Will T.


Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church

This salad is supposed to originate in current Lebanon but is consumed all around the Mediterranean.  This is a family variation from Provence. It can be a starter, a snack, part of a varied salad meal or a main course. Fresh flavoursome juicy tomatoes are essential. Use only medium size couscous or bulgur; large size will make it gritty; small size soggy. It can be prepared in the evening or early in the morning and served for lunch.

200g medium size couscous or bulgur 
300g tomatoes 
100g of cucumber 
A small red or white onion 
A handful of fresh mint 
A handful of pitted black olives 
A handful of chickpeas (optional) 
Olive oil, salt, lemon juice.

1.       Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into fairly small cubes in a large salad dish. Add salt and set aside for 20 minutes to extract the vegetable juices.

2.       Add the small, chopped onion or ½ onion (you don’t want that taste to dominate), olives, chickpeas, and 2/3rd olive oil for 1/3rd lemon juice. To judge the amount of oil and lemon juice, consider that the vegetables need at that point to swim in the liquid. Add the couscous and stir.

3.       Set aside in the fridge for at least one hour. Stir with a fork; at that point you might have to adjust slightly the amount of couscous if the dish appears too soggy. The dish now needs to rest for at least 2 hours before in can be served. Better leave it overnight in the fridge.

4.       Before serving, stir again with a fork to avoid having clumps of couscous as you want a light fluffy salad. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Depending on strength of the oil you use, you might have to add lemon juice. 

5.       Add the fresh chopped mint (use only fresh mint and like the onion, don’t over-do-it). Some people prefer to use flat leaf parsley. Stir again and it’s ready to serve.

It keeps well for about 24 hours. After preparing it once, experiment! Different types or no olives. Spring onions, parsley, pre-cooked cubes of sweet peppers.

Pasta dishes

Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church

Pasta is originally Italian peasant food, and often they could not afford meat, so there are many recipes for pasta sauces without meat or fish. Here are a few examples:

a) mushroom sauce – whilst the pasta cooks, gently fry mushrooms, onions (and garlic if you like it) in olive oil with a little salt.  (Add a little brandy or wine if you like.)  When the pasta is cooked drain it, and then mix in the cooked vegetables with a little soya cream, grate some nutmeg over it and mix well.

b)  sweet pepper sauce   – finely chop red or yellow peppers and cook them slowly with a little salt in olive oil with onions, garlic, both or neither.  When they are completely softened (which can take 20-30 minutes), add a tin of chopped tomatoes and start cooking the pasta.  Cook the sauce slowly, uncovered, to reduce the tomatoes until it the thick but not dry.

c) pesto sauce – for when you are feeling lazy!   Ready-made traditional green pesto and also red pesto sauces can be bought from most supermarkets and unlike many ready-made pasta sauces it takes good. Just cook the pasta, open the jar and spoon it over.

d) Quorn Bolognese – as with shepherd’s pie you can use Quorn mince in this well-known sauce

e) walnut sauce – unusual but very tasty with pasta.  Basically, you grind walnuts very finely with garlic and a little salt so you end up with a paste.  If you soak the walnuts beforehand it is easier to grind them.  You might add a little walnut oil, soya cream to make the sauce the right consistency.

f) leek sauce – 1-2 leeks per person, according to size. You need to chop the leeks very finely for this sauce – 3-4 mm at most in each dimension.  Sweat them very slowly in butter or oil, with a teaspoon of salt.  After 5 minutes or so, add a glass of white wine – continue to cook slowly, covered, for about 30 minutes, adding a little water if they are getting dry to avoid browning.  When they are soft, add a generous amount of cream – I use soya cream but crème fraiche would be good too. Mix with pasta and sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.

 You can grate some parmesan over the top of these dishes if you like, but they taste fine without.

Have a good day, God Bless


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Meat Free Lent XVIII: Vegetable Tagine.

Dr Peter Hoon, St Stephen’s Church

  Serves 4

2 red onions sliced 
2 celery sticks sliced 
Half butternut squash cubed 
Half celeriac cubed 
2 sweet potatoes sliced 
2 carrots sliced 
1 green pepper sliced 
Good handful chopped dried nectarines 
Good handful of coriander 
Good handful of flaked almonds 
2/3 good teaspoonfuls of Harissa paste 
Natural yoghurt (could omit this if not considered vegan!) 
Garlic or plain olive oil 
1 and a half pints of vegetable stock

 1.       Soften onions and celeriac in oil in casserole or wok.

2.       Stir in Harissa paste and cook for 5 minutes.

3.       Add veg and cook till they brown a little (for extra flavour and crunch.  If you have time, roast veg in oven for an hour beforehand, drizzled with oil).

4.       Add stock, nectarines, almonds and simmer till veg tender (25 minutes).

 Serve on couscous or rice.  Garnish with coriander, almonds and optional yoghurt.

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Meat free Lent XVII: Chickpea and spinach curry 

Today’s recipe comes from

Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church

This is an easy and tasty curry, and mostly uses ingredients from the freezer or cupboard so is a good stand-by.

 One jar or tin of chickpeas 
half a pack of frozen spinach 
one tin chopped tomatoes 
one onion 
one vegetable stock cube 
garlic, ginger, cumin, chili flakes and garam masala (or a mild or medium curry powder)

1.       Drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid.

2.       Finely chop and fry an onion in oil (I use sunflower).

3.       Add a couple of chopped cloves of garlic or a squeeze of garlic paste and some fresh ginger and fry a little more.

4.       Add some ground cumin and a few chili flakes (not too much) and stir well. (You can vary the spices at this stage – mustard seeds, coriander, cardamon, or turmeric are all possible, or you could use curry powder though this tends to makes a less interesting flavour).

5.       Add the tomatoes and chickpeas and the powdered stock cube.

6.       Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or so until the sauce is reduced to a thick paste.

7.       Add the frozen spinach (you can defrost it first and drain off the water if you have time) and a little salt and again cook until the sauce is thickened.

8.       Add the garam masala if you have not used curry powder and stir in well.  Serve with rice or an Indian bread.

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