Welcome to the Monastery Kitchen!
A monastery’s kitchen is directly linked to the church’s liturgical cycle,
and what food is to be prepared when and how. In essence,
the family kitchen is little different, in that it will make use of meat, when it is allowed.
If anyone can see a Canadian National Film Board video entitled, “The Old Believers,” filmed in Northern Alberta a few years ago, a good example of food preparation can be observed when Mrs. Reutov opens her very old Ustav (a guide book for Orthodox Christians) and says: “Today we commemorate Basil, Presbyter of Ankira - pea soup.” In another scene, she and her husband cross themselves at the table and begin to eat (presumably the pea soup) with raw onions on the side dipped into a little salt.
Many of us would like to have some reference book when we try to think of what food to prepare, particularly during lenten periods and also on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is easy to consult vegetarian cookery books but unfortunately too often we find the use of somewhat exotic vegetables/spices that are usually not available or else we are unwilling to try them. As an example, have you ever tried durian? The foul aroma of this fruit, which resembles a porcupine, would discourage the bravest of us.
So, let’s try to have some useful ideas and recipes, as well as ones that are nutritious and simple, to provide food that sustains us rather than what the world tries to offer us an abundance of seductive foods meant to turn us into gluttons. Rather, let us have food that feeds both body and, indirectly, the soul.
We would like to share with you some ideas from our monastery kitchen. Visitors to the monastery are usually amazed to discover lenten pizzas that are occasionally prepared here. “But,” you might ask, “isn’t pizza all about cheese?” Few North Americans are aware that the original pizzas had no cheese at all, so there is absolutely no need to find a substitute such as soy cheese.
Lenten Pizza Recipe Example
Take pizza dough and form a crust. Spread some tomato paste (or ketchup, or barbecue sauce), a small amount of olive oil sprinkled on top, with dried basil and oregano added next. Pile on diced onion, sliced olives and anything else you might like. One of our favourites is canned green string beans. Bake in the oven until crust becomes golden. You might place it under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Cut and serve. Seldom are there any leftovers.
And here is a listing of some of our recipes: