The green table is moving! I'll begin posting again after we're all set up in our new home!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Celebrating Ascension Day!

I was really, really hoping our tomatoes would be ripe by Ascension Day.  Some time ago, I read about an old tradition of blessing the first fruits and beans on Ascension Day.  I'm guessing this tradition has something to do with the Rogation Days of blessing the fields throughout the week leading up to the Ascension. 
As I saw our little green fruits growing larger and larger each day I began to hope they'd be ready for us to enjoy by this festival. Sadly, they are still very green!  We started them from seed, so I'm just thrilled that we have so many little guys to expect in the next few weeks.  Instead, I'll use canned tomatoes for our Ascension meal!

Another reason I was rooting for ripe tomatoes by Ascension day is because a few weeks ago I tried a new recipe, featuring tomatoes and cannellini beans. We enjoyed it so much, and with white beans and our first ripe tomatoes, I knew it would be the perfect dish for Ascension Day.

I forgot to photograph our lovely White Bean Stew until it was almost gone! Here's a little peek at my half devoured plate!

White Bean Stew 
2 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion (preferably red), chopped
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 14oz cans white beans, rinsed and dried
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t Italian seasoning or fresh herbs
1/2 c almond meal
1/2 c grated Parm

Preheat oven to 475F

Heat the oil on medium-high heat.  Add garlic and onion.  Stir until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini.  Stir until until slightly soft.  Add tomatoes, beans, salt, pepper, and herbs.  Cook until heated through.  Transfer into a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Combine almond meal and cheese, and sprinkle over the beans.  Bake beans until the top is golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.  For even tastier results, make the base ahead of time and store it in the fridge.  When you're ready to eat, add the topping and heat it up in the oven, for about a half hour at 350F, then increase the temperature to 475F for the last few minutes. 

I adapted the recipe from Dr. Gott.  To me, it's really more of a casserole than a stew, but I think stew sounds a lot nicer than casserole, so I'll stick with his verbiage even though I made the recipe my own.
Adelae and I also had fun making Meringue Clouds as part of our Ascension Day celebration. I love to have a captive audience with my busy-handed children, and beating egg whites until they form stiff peaks allows for just enough time to review the Ascension of Christ with a four-year-old. This is how Adelae explains Ascension Day, "Jesus goes up, up, up, up, up to heaven.  He goes there to pray for us and get ready for us to come too.  Jesus is with us, but we can't see Him. We will see Him in heaven."  Pretty good summary, don't you think?
Meringue Clouds
3 egg whites
3/4 c sugar (or 12-15 drops stevia)
1/2 t cornstarch
1/2 t lemon juice

Separate the eggs.  Keep the whites and set the yolks aside to make something else.  Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks, that is until it stands in place and looks like fluffy clouds.  Add your sweetener a little bit at a time. Whisk in the cornstarch and lemon juice.  Don't over beat. 
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment. Measuring and cutting the paper is also a great job for little hands.
Squeeze the meringue into cookie sized swirls using a piping bag.  If you don't have a piping bag, fill a plastic bag and cut off the corner to pipe, or just plop free form clouds. Bake 250F for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and let them hang out for another 45 minutes. 
We served our Meringue Clouds with fresh berries. I wish I would have had time to make some lemon curd, another yummy addition, but that will have to wait until next year. It's a very light dessert, but don't forget about the Ascension Day cotton candy! (Click here to learn more!)

"...He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight" Acts 1:9

"Why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

Pete is pointing up to the balloon with Jesus!

Adelae spelled "UP" and drew a picture of Jesus in cloud scribbles next to an empty cross.
Besides cooking, Adelae also did a good job illustrating the Ascension.  We began memorizing the First Article of the Apostles Creed on Earth Day.(Earth Day is about celebrating the Creator, not worshiping His creation, right???) The Ascension of our Lord was the perfect day to begin memorizing the Second Article.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.  From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

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