26 March 2010


The oddly named Chef from Hell offers Empress Zita's mashed potatoes recipe, and it sounds delish (with milk, cream, and gorgonzola cheese, it's no wonder):
I love family recipes and this one comes from my Grandma Dufek who was a chef to the Austrian Royal Family (the Hapsburgs) in Belgium before World War II broke out. These tasty spuds would show up on the family dinner table from time to time accompanied by a nice roast beef or some sizzling pork chops. In fact, I can recall it was a bitterly cold winter day up in Massachussetts when Grandma & I prepared these mashed potatoes together for the first time back in 1969.

Food is memory & memory is food for the senses. Looking out of the window today, I remember the snowfall which sparks a memory of Grandma whipping the mashed spuds in a big ceramic bowl as she shared her memories of cooking for the Hapsburg family. I can still see her now-- her eyes sparkling, then flashing a smile and saying, "Ach, these potatoes were the Empress Zita's favorite!"


2 1/2 lb red potatoes, peeled
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Whole Milk
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
5 TBS unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp Coleman's Dry English Mustard
6 oz Gorganzola Cheese, crumbled

Cooking Procedure:

Peel each potato & then place it in a bowl of water so it doesn't brown while you peel the others.
Drain the potatoes well.
Cut each red potato into 4 equal sized pieces & place them in a medium sized pot.
Cover the potatoes with cold water & add the Kosher salt.
Bring this to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a high simmer.
Cook this for about 20 minutes; until the potatoes are soft enough to be pierced with a fork.
Drain the potatoes in the sink through a colander.
In a small pot, bring the milk & heavy cream to a boil.
Stir well while this cooks to prevent scorching the pot.
When the milk/cream mixture is ready, remove the small pot from the heat.
Working in batches, whip all of the cooked potatoes in a food processor & transfer them to a large bowl.
Add the milk/cream mixture, coleman's mustard & gorganzola cheese.
Using a powered hand mixer, mix the potatoes until all of the ingredients are completely integrated.
Taste the potatoes & season with more salt if needed.

25 March 2010

I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

Opening rite of the 2010 Los Angeles Religious Education Conference. Notice Cardinal Mahoney conspicuously studying his program during the "liturgy".

24 March 2010

Speaking of house hunting, I'm looking forward to setting up our home library once we close and get settled. In fact, it's the one room I look forward to doing the most. Really, is there any room finer than the home library? A desk for writing, a leather armchair or two, light cast from a lamp or even a crackling fire, and heavy oak doors to shut in the privacy and silence while one reads and writes to the heart's contentment... I'd say the only other room in the home that rivals the wonder of a good library is the kitchen (for the woman who enjoys her cuisine).

For the past several years, we've had most of our books in storage--boxes and boxes of them, waiting to be taken out, dusted off, and placed delicately on the shelf for perusal any time. Having little children who like to climb (shelves provide the perfect opportunity) and potentially topple over a heavy bookcase has put a bit of a twist in things, and so we've had to lay aside the idea. That, and the fact that we never seem to stay in one place for any length of time, it makes little sense to unpack the hundreds of volumes only to repack them a few months later. As we'll soon be settling into a more permanent abode, out they'll come, and on every topic one can imagine (although, for my husband's part, they lean a bit heavily toward the chess, mathematics, and Russian). Can't wait. Enjoy these photos of various home libraries:

Happy Nuns

Over the past 30 years, the number of women in Catholic religious orders has decreased by around 50 percent. There remains 85,412 religious sisters in the United States, and the average age is 68. The religious orders actually seeing growth are the ones that wear a traditional habit including The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and Mother Teresa's religious order. The fact is that the habit is truly a spiritual treasure. The key to increasing the number of religious sisters and nuns in the world is to again bring back the mandatory habit. No longer should nuns be allowed to live in apartments and wear laypeoples' clothing; rather, they should be living in a monastery to praise and serve God.
One cloistered Dominican postulant gives her own thoughts:
While I was discerning my vocation, I attended several vocation weekends, seminars, and discussion groups designed to help young women find the religious community to which God called them. All of the women I met, both younger and older vocations, desired communities that wear the habit. Each shared the desire of giving oneself completely to Jesus and, thus, "putting on" Christ every day.

What better expression is there of who we are as the Spouses of Christ than the holy habit? The professed sisters in my cloistered contemplative community each wear their habit with great love and reverence for Jesus; it is as much a part of them as their rosary, their veil, and their wedding band.

In the active orders, the habit acts as a very powerful and necessary witness of God's presence in today's world. Speaking from my own experience, it is very reassuring to see religious out and about in our communities proudly wearing the habit. And what an encouragement for young people thinking about a vocation to religious life!

That is why, to me, as to many of my contemporaries entering religious life, the habit signifies something much more than a garment of choice--it is a testimonial to a life consecrated to God.
More happy, habited nuns:

23 March 2010

Your humble hostess has been busy house-hunting of late--an exciting but wearying endeavour that involves numerous property viewings (with the children in tow), trying discussions of financial matters, and frequent travel back and forth between the city in which we live to the city to which we'll be moving. Apologies for the lack of posting; will get back on it at a time more convenient. Until then, my best Lenten wishes to you.

07 March 2010

Le Manuscrit Du Puy - Les Premieres Polyphonies Francaises

For another sublime listening experience, hear these 11th century organa and tropes from France, taken from various Masses and Vespers. If you love sacred polyphony, these are rather wondrous, and beautifully executed.

Auxilium Christianorum

I feel that the ritual is about to begin and sit expectantly on a pew. The exorcist extends his right hand and places it just over the girl’s face without touching her. Then, he closes his eyes, bows his head and whispers a prayer several times. It is then that the first unsettling shriek breaks the silence of the chapel, penetrating my soul and making my flesh crawl. It is not human. A profound and overwhelming howl comes out of Marta’s throat. But it cannot be her and is not her voice. It is hoarse and masculine. Father Fortea continues to pray while the howling goes on. Little by little the girl’s body begins to tremble violently. She begins moving slowly from side to side at first, and shakes violently thereafter.
Worn out after an hour and a half of combat, the exorcist rises and leaves the chapel. This cannot be fakery or a put-on. It takes guts to do this. It is a good thing that cases of possession are quite rare, says Father Fortea. He has done them for five years and has had only four in Spain. However, while he was studying for his thesis, he attended thirteen others. It is obvious that he has had practice; he commands and insists, and mercilessly tortures the demon in a soft but firm voice. He does it in the name of God and always where it hurts the most. And this is even though he knows what it is like to be assailed by Satan. Once, during an exorcism, the devil made him feel the pain of having a knife thrust into his arm.
Interview with an Exorcist

Auxilium Christianorum is an ecclesiastically approved body begun by exorcists who desired a core support group of lay faithful who would support their ministry through prayer, without any of the excesses of the charismatic movement. Membership consists in pledging to say certain daily prayers, along with the daily Rosary and frequent reception of the sacraments. It is not a ministry to be entered into lightly, as members will experience an intensification in the spiritual life and are known to undergo a period of purification. Entering into spiritual warfare is serious business, and one should not be surprised to experience some retaliation, as the prayers are known to be particularly efficacious. Those who feel a special calling to this ministry can find out more here.

Sensus Traditionis

I can't recommend highly enough Fr. Chad Ripperger's homilies and lectures, found at this website. His talks on demonology, for those interested in the topic, are particularly good (scroll down to "Demons", the four-part series).

06 March 2010

Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey

It's a foundation of the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault, France, celebrating the liturgy in Latin, located in Oklahoma. The monastery has recently been canonically erected as an Abbey sui juris. Their first abbot will be blessed on 10 April 2010.

If you need a novena of Masses said in the extraordinary form, the monks can say them on any dates you request (enclose the usual stipend, of course).

A look inside.