This is my 5th Lent as an Orthodox Christian. Lent for the Orthodox is, well, it’s different. It’s not about giving up something in order to experience the suffering of Christ. It’s about preparing ourselves for the greatest feast of the liturgical year: Pascha. Pascha is the foundation of the Christian faith. “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Cor 15: 14, Orthodox Study Bible).
During Great Lent we seek to deepen our spiritual life. We fast, not just from certain foods, but also from sin. We are to increase our alms giving and our prayers. I love the season of Lent because I am reminded of how great is the love of God and how vast my need for Him.
I am not a vegetarian by choice. I would rather not eat a vegan diet if I have any alternatives, but . . . but . . . Lent! So we fast. (The strictest of fasting rules are intended for monastics. Lay persons should fast following the advice of his/her priest.)
I have several cookbooks that are devoted to vegetarian recipes. I’ve been collecting vegetarian and vegan recipes, but my favorite cookbook, the one I turn to more often than any other is the When You Fast . . . Recipes for Lenten Seasons by Catherine Mandell.
I like this collection of recipes because it isn’t a vegetarian or vegan cookbook but rather it is an Orthodox collection of recipes that follow the traditional fasting rules. Lent is the time when shrimp becomes a vegetable so there are recipes that include shrimp and other invertebrate sea creatures. Since Orthodox Christians also fast from olive oil (some jurisdictions fast from all oils come from only olive oil) the recipes are noted as “with oil” or “no oil” and they are also noted if they contain wine. Wine and oil are permitted on the weekends.
Yes, there are recipes that use beans (I avoid those!), tofu or TVP but there are recipes for soups, sandwich fillings and appetizers too. There’s a fabulous carrot bread recipe that we make for breakfast.
Fish is only allowed on two feast days during Great Lent: The Annunciation and Palm Sunday. Fish is allowed more frequently during other fasting times though so there is a whole section devoted to fish recipes.
A good cookbook needs to include a section for desserts. This cookbook has the best Lenten frosting! Peanut butter! There is a Lenten chocolate cake that goes well with peanut butter frosting. The frosting is much better with real butter but I am thinking I might try it without coconut oil instead of that nasty fake margarine stuff.
I love this cookbook. It’s my favorite. Do you have a favorite cookbook? Why is it your favorite?
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I’ll be linking this post up to 52 Weeks Series Blog Hop.