Friday, October 28, 2011

An Indonesian Meal

In 1958 the Crosier American Province began a mission in Agats, Papua-Indonesia, which was known as Dutch New Guinea at that time. Thirty Crosier missionaries ministered to the Asmats, the tribal people of that region, for 52 years until the last missionary who served there returned to the U.S. in 2010. Over the years a number of Indonesian men joined the Crosier order and took their place serving in the Diocese of Agats.

Recently, Crosier Father Edward Greiwe and five other Crosiers of Holy Cross Priory in Onamia, Minnesota, who were also in mission there, shared an Indonesian meal and recollections of their time in that special place. Father Greiwe graciously gives FFF readers a glimpse into their evening. CJK  

As the smells of Indonesian food with its distinctive aroma of spices began to fill the air, there were enkindled fond memories of my 31 years as a missionary in Agats, Papua-Indonesia. Six of us former missionaries gathered to recall experiences and share stores of our beloved Asmat people in a far-off land, with different languages, cultures and customs. There was group consensus that our living and serving these wonderful people enriched our lives and our faith. We felt blessed because of the experience.

What did we eat?
Photos courtesy of Father Edward Greiwe
  • Curried rice cooked in coconut milk.
  • Spicy beef.
  • Fried Asian noodles with chicken sautéed with red and green peppers.
  • Chicken satay on skewers brushed with peanut sauce.
  • Fresh green salad garnished with peanut dressing.
  • Spicy peppered shrimp.
  • Fish crackers.

Following our meal together our conversation shifted to our immediate present and future, asking the question: How can our shared, collective and communal experience as missionaries now be of service to the local church? Here at our Crosier priory are eight former missionaries — six served in Agats, Indonesia and two served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

So we continue to ask, search and discuss with our Crosier community, how we eight with our multi-cultural living experience can be a face, a bridge and a place extending a welcome, hospitality and understanding among peoples of other cultures. We feel that eight former missionaries living together is a gift for the Crosier community and for the local church. Father Edward Greiwe

A note from Carol: Father Greiwe found a variety of packets imported from Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries in an Asian supermarket in Minneapolis. He used their contents to prepare the wonderful meal you see pictured here. During Lent this year two Indonesian recipes were featured on FFF as part of the Operation Rice Bowl campaign. These Indonesian Spiced Rice and Sayur Asem recipes are easy and authentic. Consider giving them a try!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Equal Exchange Brownies

Equal Exchange describes the brownies made from this recipe as “rich and chocolaty — maybe the best brownies you’ve ever made.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, they are so rich I cut them into 36 bars (instead of 12). CJK

Equal Exchange Brownies
(Moosewood Cookbook)

2 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup Equal Exchange baking cocoa
3 cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed
5 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached white flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.

Beat the cocoa into the melted butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add each of the remaining ingredients in turn, beating after each addition until smooth.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes,* until the middle is set and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan.

Yield: 12 generous brownies

A note from Carol: *Ovens vary and so do baking circumstances. (For instance, temperature and humidity levels — either in your kitchen or outside — can affect the way your brownies turn out.) I've made this recipe several times and found that different batches have required between 25 and 40 minutes of baking. If yours are not done after 25 minutes, I recommend checking on them after each additional five minutes. Remove them from the oven when the sides have shrunk slightly away from the edges of the pan. The center of these fudge-style brownies will still be slightly gooey, but will firm up during cooling.

Equal Exchange offers a number of recipes on their website, some of them from Moosewood cookbooks, others submitted by individuals who enjoy using and promoting Fair trade products. I can guarantee that at least one recipe — if not most of them — on their lengthy list will be sure to pique your interest and palate.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chocolate sweetens global community with each and every fairly-traded morsel

October is Fair Trade Month!

Good news arrives for chocolate lovers with each new study touting its health benefits. What could be sweeter than savoring the rich, satisfying taste of one of the world’s favorite flavors knowing that it may help to keep your blood pressure down, your blood flowing freely and your heart healthy?

Fair Trade cocoa and chocolate offer even more restorative advantages than providing antioxidants to attack free radicals in your body  — they affect you in a way no other chocolate can. A warm glow fills your heart when you help your global neighbors help themselves. No wonder Catholic Relief Services calls its Fair Trade product “Divine” chocolate.

(Photo courtesy of CRS)
Divine Chocolate bars are made with 100 percent Fair Trade cocoa grown by farmers of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana, West Africa, who pick the beans by hand. The added blessings from eating this chocolate come from knowing that the 47,000 farmers who grow the cocoa are not only given a fair price for their crop20 to 40 percent more than the conventional market price but they also own 45 percent of the company that turns their cocoa into Divine Chocolate bars.

Your heart continues to beat with joy as you learn that no exploitative child labor was allowed in the growing or harvesting of the cocoa, women’s rights were promoted and that the cooperative also invests proceeds from its sales in community projects like health clinics and sanitation systems. Divine Chocolate is made from all natural ingredients and uses no genetically modified organisms. (It comes as no surprise that the recipes on their website are also “heavenly.”)

Equal Exchange Fair Trade Program

Coffee grown in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. 
(Photo by Michael Sheridan for CRS)
Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative, is a member of the CRS Fair Trade Program, which offers organic fairly-traded chocolate, coffee and other products. Equal Exchange, which started its first Fair Trade program with coffee growers in Nicaragua in 1986, has continued to develop many trading partnerships around the world, all of which support small-scale farmers and their families. They are building a better food system through their trade model which values farmers, consumers and the earth instead of the profit-driven industrialized agribusinesses that rely on exploited labor and harmful chemicals.

Equal Exchange’s organic fairly-traded gourmet chocolate bars, hot cocoa and baking cocoa mixes are made with cocoa from farmer cooperatives in the Dominican Republic, Panama and Peru; fairly-traded organic evaporated cane sugar from cooperatives in Paraguay and Costa Rica; fairly-traded vanilla from Madagascar and organic milk powder from U.S. dairy cooperatives.

Fairly-traded fine quality organic teas from small-scale farmers in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa are another of Equal Exchange’s successful partnering projects. In addition, they work with growers in the U.S. to offer packaged snacks including organic dried sweetened cranberries, tamari roasted almonds from the small organic farmers of Big Tree Organic Farms Coop in central California and salted pecans from the members of Southern Alternatives Agricultural Cooperative in southwest Georgia.

Sustainable farming “greens the earth”

Cacao beans drying. (Photo by Michael Sheridan for CRS)
Equal exchange is committed to supporting sustainable farming methods that help “green the earth” through reforestation, natural resource conservation and organic practices. The agricultural practices of their small-scale farmer partners help cool the planet, protect the environment, and restore local eco-systems. After the crops leave the farmers you can be assured that integrity was maintained during the processing of the end products.

You won’t notice the difference in your wallet when purchasing Fair Trade products through Equal Exchange and CRS. Their prices are comparable to those you would pay in a grocery store.

There’s no price, however, that can be placed on the dignity and self-reliance created for thousands of small-scale farmers around the globe nurturing the earth and, in turn, our own hearts and souls when we choose to support Fair Trade in every way we can. CJK

Tomorrow’s special treat: Equal Exchange Brownies. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Letter from Kenya: ‘We slept like that’

This Catholic Relief Services column by Peter Kimeu originally appeared in the Sept. 2, 2011 edition of The Visitor.  

Droughts are cyclical in Kenya. Before, they came every 10 years, but now they seem to be hitting us more often and for longer periods of time.

My community remembers events and birthdays by times of hunger. We give the droughts names: “Longoza” was the drought when many animals died; there was the drought of the “planes” because food was dropped from the air by planes. One particularly bad drought was called “man who dies with money in his fist” because, even if there was money, there was simply no food to purchase.

I was born in 1951 in Machakos, and, from what my mother tells me, that year there was a serious drought. My sister was born in 1961, and I clearly remember the terrible weather and the prevailing hunger throughout the region. I can’t tell you how many times I went to bed without eating. “I slept like that” is how we described it, which means we went to bed with nothing to eat.

I can’t count the number of days when “I slept like that,” or describe the feeling of going to sleep hungry knowing I’d wake up and there would still be no food for breakfast.

Dehumanizing disease

Hunger is an unforgivable disease because it is one that is the easiest to cure. It is annoying to wake up in the morning and look east, west, south and north and see that there is nothing green that you can chew.

During a drought everything goes yellow and dry. I would walk the roads and search the ground to see if someone had spat out a bit of chewed up sugar cane. I am not ashamed to say that I would re-chew what I would find.

Hunger is dehumanizing. It gets to a level where you do not know how you will survive and you will do anything for a simple kernel of corn. The thing about drought is that it does not just affect farmers and their crops — it affects everyone. If you think about it, during harvest time farmers hire local farmhands to help with their crops. But, when there are no crops to harvest, not only does the farmer lose his or her income, so do the laborers the farmer would have hired. There is a ripple effect that impacts the whole community. Few have food and even fewer have money to buy food.

My parents did everything they could to feed us. My father would leave early in the morning carrying a little basket to beg for food or ask for food on credit. Each night he would arrive around 10 p.m. My mother, after a fruitless day attempting to find food, would try to encourage us by telling me to keep the water in our pot boiling so that when my father arrived we could quickly cook the food he brought in the already-prepared water.

I would keep the fire burning and the water boiling. As the hours passed, I would watch the water level slowly go down, all with the hope that we would eat that night. More often than not, however, my father would arrive frustrated and empty-handed. And I would sleep like that, knowing that I would have to go to school without eating and that there would be no food for lunch and, if we were lucky, we might come home and perhaps my father or mother would have found food.

Today’s drought

It is a traumatizing situation as a young child to be without food. Your stomach is so empty that even when you are thirsty and you take water it makes you dizzy. You get so nauseated you want to vomit, and you’re vomiting what you didn’t eat.

I think about this now as East Africa faces another drought. I think about all the children who are suffering as I did. We see terrible images of hunger, but I fear that we have not yet seen the worst of what is to come. 

What we are having is really serious stress. At the moment, the magnitude of the hunger facing Kenya is not well known.

It is incumbent on all of us to band together and fight this very curable disease. No child on earth should ever have to “sleep like that.”

Peter Kimeu is a small-scale farmer in Machakos, Kenya, and Catholic Relief Services’ regional technical adviser for partnerships, global solidarity and justice. 

To contribute to Catholic Relief Services’ efforts to aid people affected by the current drought and food shortages in East Africa, visit crs.orgPeter Kimeu

Saturday, October 15, 2011

World Food Day is October 16

One billion people on this earth live in chronic hunger.

That’s over one-sixth of the people that live on this planet — a number greater than the combined populations of the United States, Canada and European Union.

The purpose of World Food Day is to raise awareness of and address the urgent and ever-present issue of world hunger. Established by member countries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1979, this year’s theme is “Food Prices — From Crisis to Stability.”

According to the FAO website, rising food costs from 2010 to 2011 pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf cites in his 2011 message that much more effort has to be put into addressing the problem of food price fluctuations, particularly for those who spend most of their incomes on food.

Catholic Relief Services supports the message of World Food Day and stands together with organizations across the globe that work to combat the tragedy of hunger that is assuming ever-greater proportions.

Catholic Relief Services Policy Advisor for Food Security and Hunger, Bruce White, backs that up by explaining that proposed cuts to the federal budget in Washington could do severe damage to the agricultural assistance programs that CRS supports and how they may affect the organization’s fight against hunger.

It’s time for each of us to get involved and take a stand against world hunger.

Contact your representatives and tell them to oppose the cuts to agricultural programs. And, consider making a donation to CRS online to aid the struggle of this gigantic problem.

You decide. Do your own research. Choose an avenue that works for you.

Let’s all join together and work towards ending food insecurity and extensive hunger in developing countries around the world. Find a way you can encourage sustainable investments in agriculture that provide security for our global family.

Give some thought to the fact that hunger is not a consequence of food scarcity, but rather economics and politics that can be improved through fair and sustainable policies. CJK 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Orange Rosemary Chicken — a Renaissance luxury

Photo by John Solberg
Hear ye! Hear ye, good people of the realm! 

Come gather ‘round my lords and ladies. Take pleasure in Alice the Cook teasing thy taste buds with her tempting fare. Hearken to her illumed words as enticing aromas waft through the aire…

Alice the Cook shares her passion for food lore and historical preparation methods at Renaissance Festivals throughout the Midwest. She and her assistants, Brandon Thielen (a.k.a. Nicholas Childs) and Robin Watterworth (a.k.a. Rissa) entertained and enlightened audiences during the seven weekends of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival near Shakopee this year.

The trio caught our attention when my friend, Pam, and I “stepped back into history” during a recent weekend. We enjoyed watching them create and use spice mixtures from the past and returned later to see them prepare their evening’s dinner, Lemon Basil Beef with Carrots and Stuffed Trout, in cast iron pots over a smoky outdoor fire.

The food writer for “Renaissance” magazine since 2009, Alice mentioned rosemary and its legendary history connecting it to the Virgin Mary. Mary once rested her blue cloak on a rosemary bush. When she removed it, the white flowers had turned blue.

Today, Alice shares her Orange Rosemary Chicken recipe with FFF readers. Savour the flavour, dear ladies and lords! CJK

Orange Rosemary Chicken
(Alice the Cook)

Photo by Alice the Cook
3 chickens, cut into pieces
4 cups orange juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 oranges
2 turnips, peeled and cubed*
1 parsnip, cleaned, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large leeks, diced
7 large carrots, cleaned and cubed
4 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp. garam masala
Black pepper, to taste

*4 large white potatoes, peeled and cubed, may be substituted for the turnips

Marinate the chicken in 4 cups of orange juice for at least 4 hours.

Remove the zest of 4 of the oranges and juice all 6 of them. (Reserve 2 tbsp. of the zest.) Combine remaining zest and juice.

In a large pot, or Dutch oven, heat the oil and remove the chicken from the marinade and brown the chicken. (Discard the marinade.)

Once browned and without removing the chicken, add (all but the reserved) orange zest and the fresh orange juice. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Add the turnips (*or potatoes), parsnips, leeks and carrots. Tear the rosemary in half and add to the mixture. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is done — approximately 25 minutes.

Place chicken on serving platter when done and let sit five minutes. Arrange vegetables around chicken. Sprinkle the reserved orange zest and garam masala over the dish before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

A note from Alice the Cook: Orange Rosemary Chicken was popular among nobles throughout the southern European and Mediterranean regions during the later Renaissance period. Oranges were considered a delicacy and were much sought after. It’s important to use fresh zest for the recipe — dried orange peel will not offer the same intense flavor.

Root vegetables were commonplace in most of the cuisines throughout Europe during the Renaissance and turnips were frequently used then. Potatoes were brought to Europe with the discovery of the New World and were not regularly consumed at that time. However, I suggest them as a possible substitution for the turnips as most modern palates are not accustomed to their particular taste and texture.

Serve this chicken dish family style with rustic bread and, perhaps, a glass of red wine.

A note from Carol: Huzzah to Alice the Cook!