Sunday, April 29, 2012


Two hearts
at one load.”

— Charles H. Parkhurst

Friday, April 27, 2012

Always with us

“Angels are the 
arms of God, guiding, protecting, loving and 
serving us!”

— Found in the Cappella degli Scrovegni (also known as the Arena Chapel), Padua, Veneto, Italy

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Appreciate the mystery

“Life is a mystery 
to be lived, 
not a problem 
to be solved.”

— Unknown

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Choose the right “brush”

“Your attitude 
is the paintbrush 
that colors 
every situation.”

— Unknown

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homemade Sauerkraut

If you haven’t had a chance to read today’s earlier posting about Franciscan Sister Mary Joel Bieniek take a moment to peruse it. This energetic woman has done a lot to promote a sound nutritional path for generations of Minnesotans. She’s a pioneer in the food service industry in our state. (And, she’s a crackerjack when it comes to making sauerkraut.) CJK 

Homemade Sauerkraut
(Franciscan Sister Mary Joel Bieniek)

5 lb. shredded cabbage (about 2-3 heads)
3 (level) tbsp. pure granulated salt (not iodized)

• Sterilize all utensils and containers to be used: crock or another container, stomper, cloth, plastic or wooden cover, weight such as a large stone, etc.

• Remove outer leaves and blemishes from firm, mature heads of cabbage. Wash cabbage.

• Cut cabbage into quarters, remove the core and shred.

• Weigh the cabbage, sprinkle with salt and mix well.

• Pack the salted cabbage into a crock jar (or another container that is at least 5 to 6 inches deep) and press firmly on cabbage — using a stomper — until juice is formed. (The juice should cover the entire surface of the cabbage.)

• Repeat these procedures until all the cabbage is processed.

• Do not fill the crock entirely full — allow at least 4 inches of space (for fermentation foam to develop) at the top of crock jar.

• Cover the shredded cabbage with a sterile cloth followed by a wooden or plastic cover and place a weight on top of the cover to keep the cabbage submerged in the juices.

• Allow the cabbage to ferment for 4 to 5 weeks, sitting in the crock in an area that is approximately 65 to 70°F. If the juice gets low during this time, add salted hard (not softened) water.

• The sauerkraut may then be frozen or placed into sterile jars and processed (canned).

Yield: Approximately two quarts of sauerkraut

A note from Sister Mary Joel: We used to raise our own cabbage for the sauerkraut. For the last 10 to 12 years a brother-in-law of one of our sisters has been raising them for us. What a gift! They are special cabbages with solid heads that weigh about seven pounds each!

A note from Carol: Sister Mary Joel’s recipe for sauerkraut is also featured in the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls’ “Franciscan Heritage Recipes” cookbook, which sells for $3, plus shipping and handling. Copies of the cookbook can be purchased through their gift shop by calling 320-632-0601 or by emailing

Sauerkraut in the making

Celebrating Jubilarians 2012

 Franciscan Sister Mary Joel Bieniek
75 years as a Franciscan Sister 
St. Francis Convent, Little Falls

This is the first in an occasional series of recipes shared by jubilarians in the St. Cloud Diocese. A jubilee marks the special anniversary of one’s religious profession.

Imagine turning 700 pounds of cabbage into sauerkraut — cleaning hundreds of heads of this cruciferous vegetable, shredding them and “stomping” them by hand with a heavy wooden tool to extract the juice.

How long would it take? How much would it make? How many would it feed? A list of questions ran through my mind as I spoke with 94-year-old Franciscan Sister Mary Joel Bieniek who shared a cherished tradition from the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls’ convent kitchen.

Amazingly, with a handful of volunteers, this colossal amount of shredded, salted, stomped cabbage is ready to put into two or three 50-gallon crocks within about three hours. This tried-and-true recipe — made once a year in the fall — has been used at the convent for at least as long as Sister Joel (rhymes with Noel) has been there — that’s three-quarters of a century!

“After the fermentation process is complete, we freeze it,” Sister Mary Joel explained. “We use around three gallons a meal for about 70 sisters. We eat sauerkraut every week in some form — plain sauerkraut with sausage, ribs and sauerkraut, sauerkraut salad with pimento and a special dressing and in a chocolate cake that fools people into thinking they are eating coconut.”

Sauerkraut-making expert Sister Mary Joel, who celebrates her 75th jubilee this year, was the 11th of 14 children born to Joseph and Agnes Bieniek of Holdingford. Two of her siblings were Benedictines — Sisters (Anna) Mary Vianney (1905-1991) and (Magdalen) Giovanni (1910-2011) and one was a Franciscan — Sister (Helen) Mary Grace (1907-2002).

As a registered dietician, Sister Mary Joel taught at St. Gabriel’s School of Nursing in Little Falls, St. Francis Hospital in Breckenridge and St. Michael’s Hospital in Sauk Centre. Later, for more than 20 years she worked for the Minnesota Department of Health implementing training for foodservice directors throughout the state.

She was one of the founders of The Hospital, Institution and Educational Food Service Society in the 1960s. Today, this not-for-profit organization with over 14,000 members is called the Association of Nutrition and Food Service Professionals.

Check out the FFF posting that follows to see this sauerkraut recipe that has stood the test of time — and then some. CJK

In the 1999 photo above, Sister Mary Joel Bieniek (left) mixes shredded cabbage with salt for a year’s batch of sauerkraut for the convent. Sister Celine Jonas uses the wooden stomper in a large pottery crock to bring the juices out of the cabbage. (Archive photo courtesy of Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hallelujah Bread

Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

The Farm Market Café opened last June in Onamia, Minnesota. It specializes in dishes made-from-scratch with ingredients from local farms and small businesses, which are as close as possible to the area, mostly Minnesota and other Midwestern states. Visitor staff writer Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully interviewed Pat Root, chef and part owner, about this special eatery and its commitment to support local farms and gardens while serving wholesome, nutrient-rich food to the customers.

Pat developed the recipe for this nourishing, full-bodied bread after much experimenting and tweaking. She’s been baking it for more than 20 years but it didn’t have a name until four years ago when she served it at a woman’s retreat lunch at her church.

As the retreat began, she heard the Spirit of the Lord say, “Watch what I do with the bread.” That day several people asked for the recipe and others asked if they could purchase it. Shortly after, the Crosier priests and brothers of Holy Cross Priory in Onamia asked if they could buy loaves from her.

Her answer was to begin to seriously pray. She felt led to join the new Farmer’s Market that had formed in Onamia that spring — and began selling her “heavenly” bread through that forum.

Fast forward to this past June and the opening of the Farm Market Café.

“Hallelujah Bread was the main catalyst that brought me to the café,” Pat related. “Its title reflects my heart every time I make it, for it is a true work of my hands — made for the praise and glory of God and the good health of all who partake of it. God has used a simple bread recipe to lead me into a ministry that I never dreamed of and yet am so satisfied in. Indeed, God knows us better than we know ourselves.” CJK

Hallelujah Bread
(Pat Root)

Pat Root sets a loaf of bread to cool at the Farm Market Café in Onamia.
Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully 
1 cup oats (rolled or quick)
1/2 cup quinoa grain
1/2 cup amaranth grain
1 cup millet
1 cup cracked wheat
1 cup wheat bran
1/3 cup flax seed
1/2 cup potato flakes (or 1 cup mashed potatoes)

2 cups milk
8 cups hot water

2 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup honey
2 scant tbsp. active dry yeast
6 tsp. salt
2/3 cup olive oil

4 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
10 to 12 cups whole-wheat flour

Soak the first 8 ingredients in the milk and hot water for at least an hour. Then blend in the molasses, honey and yeast. Mix in the salt, olive oil and all-purpose flour.

Add the whole-wheat flour gradually cup by cup until the dough is stiff, smooth and no longer sticky. (The last few cups of flour that the dough will accept will likely need to be kneaded in by hand. The amount of flour needed will depend upon humidity, temperature and the flour used — it will vary from batch to batch.)

Knead dough 6 to 10 minutes. Cover and let sit in a warm place, with no drafts, until the dough is double in size — about 2 hours. Punch dough down, divide it into 6 pieces and form into loaves. Place the loaves in greased bread pans, cover and let rise until double in size — about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Place in an oven preheated to 375°F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Yield: 6 loaves

A note from Pat: For the all-purpose flour in this recipe I use Gold ‘N White flour from Natural Way Mills in Middle River, Minnesota. They specialize in organically grown whole grains, flours and cereals. I also order the quinoa and amaranth, millet, cracked wheat and wheat bran, flax seed and whole wheat flour for this bread from there.

A note from Carol: Pat co-owns the Farm Market Café with Barb Eller, Deb Rasmussen, Mary Kunesh and Ben and Karen Korte.

Pat and her husband, Brad, and four their children have been members of Holy Cross Parish in Onamia for about 18 years.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Brownie Mounds

Studded with walnuts, these rich chocolate cookies are slightly crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside. They are petite individual brownies — sweet goodness in every bite. A snap to make, they would perfectly complement yesterday’s lemon bars on your Easter dessert platter. CJK

Brownie Mounds
(Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully)

Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 egg
3 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray baking sheet/s with no-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add corn syrup and egg; beat well. Stir in chocolate and vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture; beat well. Stir in walnuts. Drop by tablespoonfuls two inches apart onto prepared baking sheet/s.

Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

A note from Sue: It’s important to soften the butter by letting it naturally come to room temperature sitting on the counter. Don’t put it in the microwave or it will partially melt and become too soft.

I removed the cookies from my oven immediately after 10 minutes or they would have become hard as they cooled. Ovens do vary — keep an eye on them.

A note from Carol: The Visitor’s staff writer Sue Schulzetenberg became “Mrs. Mike Gully” January 14th at St. Michael Parish in Spring Hill. She’s had a lot of fun using the cookware and kitchen gadgets she and her new hubby received as wedding presents. The Taste of Home cookbook (2006 edition) where she found this recipe, submitted by Mary Turner, was a gift she received at one of her bridal showers. (I hope she finds several other recipes in it that she would like to bake to share at work with her colleagues.)

Sue and Mike attend Seven Dolors Parish in Albany.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Classic Lemon Bars

Sweet and tangy intertwine in these light, luscious lemon bars. They melt in your mouth but linger in your memory. If you love lemon pie, the combination of their buttery shortbread crust and bright citrusy filling will delightfully tickle your palate. CJK

Classic Lemon Bars

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 9 x 13-inch pan with no-stick cooking spray.

Combine softened butter, powdered sugar and 2 cups of flour together; pat into prepared pan. Bake crust for 20 minutes at 325°F.

Mix sugar and eggs until lemon colored. Add lemon juice, 1/3 cup flour and baking powder and mix only until blended in. Pour mixture over crust and bake about 25 to 30 minutes.

Dust with powdered sugar immediately after removing from oven.

Yield: 16 to 20 bars

A note from Alice: To check for doneness, I shake the pan from side to side a little when I remove it from the oven. The bars shouldn’t jiggle too much in the middle. If they do, they need a little more baking time in order to set. They might look like they are done but giving them a slight shake is the real test. 

You need to sift the powdered sugar over the bars immediately when they come out of the oven. They need to be hot for it to stick.

A note from Carol: Sheila Ballweg-Pulju shared another variation of lemon bars on FFF last May — a recipe her mother made when she was a child.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Paying It Forward with Operation Rice Bowl

For the fourth year in a row, The Visitor has sponsored a “Pay It Forward for Lent” contest — challenging groups within the St. Cloud Diocese to submit plans for how they would creatively “grow” $100 during the 40 days of Lent. The proceeds from their multiplied seed money are then given to a charity of their choice. With generous help from three donors who wanted to “pay it forward” before Lent even began, The Visitor funded five projects this year. (Nikki Rajala will feature the outcome of those endeavors in the April 13 issue of The Visitor newspaper.)

Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
The Visitor staff has also initiated its own PIF project annually. This year, five diocesan directors agreed to prepare the Operation Rice Bowl recipes featured throughout Lent in the paper and on FFF for a luncheon last Friday at the Pastoral Center. Chris Codden (left), director of the Office of Marriage and Family brought Indian tehriRebecca Kurowski, director of Communications, prepared Vietnamese spring rolls; George Sjogren, director of Stewardship and Development cooked El Salvadoran casamiento; Janet Brinkman, director of Human Resources, made Zambian ifisashi and Linda Kaiser, Catholic Education Ministries director, served Malagasy vary amin’anana. Fairly traded coffee and tea and brownies and coconut cookies made from Equal Exchange baking cocoa rounded out the menu. A free-will offering was collected for ORB.

Besides sampling the authentic recipes from various countries, our guests from The Chancery, Pastoral Center and Mission Office had the opportunity to learn about the impact of ORB and other Catholic Relief Services programs as well as see and purchase unique fairly traded items.

CRS Fair Trade Ambassador Shelby Vaske spoke about ORB, Equal Exchange, Work of Human Hands and SERRV. Her wonderful table of handmade items and the Mission Office staffs’ equally delightful display presented fairly traded food products and handmade goods from all over the globe.

It was fun — entertaining and educational. Even the special reflections offered by Father Bill Vos, Catholic Relief Services Director for the diocese, set the tone for the day. And, though our event was fairly small and simple, it felt good to know we were making a difference through our support of CRS, who works 24/7 to alleviate suffering and provide assistance to our brothers and sisters in need in over 100 countries around the world. CJK