Saturday, November 27, 2010

Commemorating Perham’s St. Stanislaus Parish

The parishioners of St. Stanislaus Parish, Perham, Minn., celebrated the first service in their new church on Thanksgiving Day 1922, with their pastor Father Stanislaus Kuzniak presiding at the Mass. Long before that special day, the Polish Catholic population of that area, desiring their own place of worship, founded the St. Stanislaus Society. That was in 1876 under the leadership of John Karsnia. In 1881 the group decided to erect a frame church and saw their dream come true in 1883 — that building served their needs for nearly 40 years.

St. Stanislaus Parish closed its doors Oct. 4, 2009, after celebrating the final Mass with Bishop John Kinney and its current pastor, Father Joseph Herzing, concelebrating. A time capsule, placed in the church’s cornerstone in 1922, which included newspapers, medals and photographs, was opened in honor of the occasion. About 150 households belonged to St. Stan’s at the time; most of them have now joined St. Henry Parish in Perham or other neighboring churches.

St. Stan’s parishioners Fran Johnson and Jean Falk republished the parish’s 1985 Centennial Cookbook to commemorate the closing of the church. A limited number of the cookbooks are still available for $11 plus shipping and handling. To obtain a copy, call Fran Johnson at 218-346-4466.

I’m sharing two recipes from that cookbook today that might help readers use some of their Thanksgiving leftovers. Former St. Stan’s parishioners — now members of St. Henry’s — Verna Dulski and Donna Scheidecker — submitted their recipes for Butternut Squash Bread and Cranberry Bread for the original 1985 cookbook. Consider giving them a try! CJK

Butternut Squash Bread
(Verna Dulski)

2/3 shortening
2 1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups butternut squash, baked and mashed
2/3 cups water
3 1/3 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
2/3 cup nuts, chopped
2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9 x 5 x 3-inch or three 8 1/2  x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans.

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, stir in eggs, squash and water. Sift dry ingredients together. Blend into squash mixture. Add nuts and raisins.

Pour mixture into pans and bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Remove to a rack, cool completely.

Cranberry Bread
(Donna Scheidecker)

1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1 cup fresh cranberries, ground
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, stir in egg and orange juice. Sift dry ingredients together. Blend into creamed mixture. Add cranberries and nuts, if desired.

Pour mixture into pan and bake at 350°F for 1hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Remove to a rack, cool completely.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

BeadforLife: Ending poverty in Uganda

Yesterday I shared information about BeadforLife, a program near and dear to my heart. BeadforLife is part of an international grassroots movement working to end extreme poverty in Uganda. 

According to their website, since September of 2004, when BeadforLife was founded, the organization has trained 883 beaders to make beads and earn regular income; built a village on 18 acres of land with 132 homes, two wells and abundant gardens; launched a vocational education program for impoverished youth and developed a grant program to fund other organizations working in poverty eradication.

BeadforLife has graduated 621 members from its program into self-sufficiency and reached an estimated 10,000 people who were living in poverty. Women, who lived on less than $1 per day, are now earning almost $7 a day, or over $2,400 a year. BeadforLife paid nearly $1 million to the jewelry makers last year, resulting in a total community development expenditure of 1.4 million dollars.

Volunteers around the world who wanted to make a difference have held over 6,500 bead parties — an estimated 90,000 people attended those parties and are now proudly wearing paper beads. The beads that were rolled out of trash paper have now become income and hope for a better life.

Consider hosting a bead party yourself — the program could be as simple or elaborate as you choose. As I mentioned yesterday, Nikki and I served sugar peanuts, Ugandan kabobs with yogurt dipping sauce and Ugandan plantain cake at our event. As promised, here are the other two recipes. CJK

Ugandan Kabobs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce
(Bead for Life)

Dipping Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
4 tsp. salt
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

3 slices whole wheat bread
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs
1 cup French fried onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander seed, coarsely crushed
4 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced  
2 lbs. ground beef
3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Dipping Sauce
Mix ingredients together and set dipping sauce aside.

Moisten bread slices with water. Crumble bread into a large bowl and mix in eggs and Worcestershire sauce. Mix in dried breadcrumbs, fried onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander seed, parsley, and jalapeno. Add ground beef, and work in with hands until well mixed.

Roll mixture into meatballs the size of walnuts.

Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan until hot, about 375° F. Cook meatballs a few at a time in hot oil until brown and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon, and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Insert a toothpick into each meatball for serving. Serve hot or cold with dipping sauce.

Notes from Carol:
I used a small ice cream scoop to measure the amount for each meatball and then formed them by hand. I did not “deep fry” them in three cups of oil, but probably used about one-half inch of oil in a large frying pan.

The next time I make them I would try baking them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven until they are no longer pink in the center — probably about 30 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160°F.)

The wide range of ingredients in these meatballs provides a perky, unique flavor. I think they would also be great with spaghetti or in other dishes that utilize meatballs.

Ugandan Plantain Cake

(Bead for Life)

This recipe is traditionally used as an accompaniment to meat dishes.

2 ripe plantains, peeled, halved and cut into strips
2 tbsp. oil

1 cup cottage cheese
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 tbsp. dry breadcrumbs
 4 tbsp. olive oil

Fry the plantain strips in oil until they are well browned on both sides.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix cottage cheese, cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl.

Beat the egg yolks until fluffy. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold the egg whites into the egg yolks.

Grease a baking dish and sprinkle the base with the breadcrumbs. Add a quarter of the egg mixture into the dish, and then add a layer of plantains. Cover with a third of the cottage cheese mixture and a little olive oil. Repeat layers until all ingredients have been used. You will finish with the egg mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes.

Notes from Carol:
I baked this plantain cake in a 2-quart casserole and used a large spoon to serve it. It could also be baked in an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and cut into squares to serve. The finished product is more like a coffeecake than a cake that would be served for dessert.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eradicating poverty — one bead at a time

In October Nikki Rajala, a colleague of mine, and I hosted a BeadforLife party for an organization we belong to. Not only did we have a lot of fun planning and preparing for the evening but also it truly was a privilege for us to share the BeadforLife story with members of the group.

BeadforLife is a non-profit organization providing destitute Ugandan women an opportunity to lift their families out of poverty by making beautiful beaded jewelry — necklaces, bracelets and earrings — out of recycled paper from calendars, posters or print overruns. The women, who roll each bead with their own hands, are able to turn their beads into income, education, and even bricks to build a home.

In the program’s latest initiative, at least 500 women in Northern Uganda gather shea nuts and press them into shea butter for cosmetics and soaps. In addition to selling the fair trade beaded jewelry, BeadforLife now offers organic shea butter soap, created with lavender and lemongrass, and peppermint lip balm.

The program’s goal is that members are independent of BeadforLife within 18 months and able to support themselves within the Ugandan economy.  To assist members in launching their own small businesses BeadforLife provides entrepreneurial training, facilitates savings accounts, and makes business funds available. In rural areas their program focuses on agricultural development.

Additionally, BeadforLife sponsors community development projects in health, affordable housing, business development and vocational training for impoverished youth. These projects are financed with the net profits from the sale of the beads and shea butter products and support not only BeadforLife members, but also other poverty-stricken people living in Uganda.

Hosting a “party” is easy. Register online to host an event (you’ll need to give a credit card number for the package that you select), invite people to attend and plan what you want to do at your party.

Your bead party package will include approximately 275 jewelry items, an inspirational DVD about the BeadforLife program and the beaders themselves, a CD with original Ugandan songs and music, educational materials and biographies of some of the beaders, African recipes and a pre-paid return label (so you can return — free of charge — what you don’t sell).

Nikki and I served sugar peanuts, Ugandan kabobs with yogurt dipping sauce, Ugandan plantain cake and ginger iced tea at our party. Here’s the recipe for the sugar peanuts. (Please check in tomorrow for the recipes for Ugandan kabobs and plantain cake.)

And, more importantly, please visit the links I’ve provided to BeadforLife and consider hosting a party. I guarantee you’ll like the affordable jewelry and shea butter items. But, far beyond that, I can guarantee you’ll love the connection you’ve made with Ugandan women to help lift them out of poverty — literally one bead at a time! CJK

Sugar Peanuts
(Bead for Life)

Nuts are popular in many countries in Western and Central Africa. Any town large enough to have bars, cafes, and restaurants will also likely have vendors selling roasted nuts and sugared peanuts. Often the vendor is a girl or woman, balancing her wares in a tray on her head.

1 cup water
2 cups sugar
4 cups raw peanuts, shells removed (skins can be removed or left on as desired)

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved to make clear syrup. Add the peanuts. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until the peanuts are evenly coated and most of the syrup is absorbed. 

Pour contents of the saucepan onto a baking sheet. Bake at 300°F between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Gently stir the peanuts a few times while baking. Remove from the oven once the syrup is almost dried and place peanuts on paper towels. Let cool, and store in airtight containers.

Notes from Nikki:
Grease the baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Scrape as little of the sugar syrup as possible onto the baking sheet with the nuts. It only took 30 minutes for the peanuts to roast.