Something “Different” for this Year’s Thanksgiving Turkey

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After 16 years of hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house, I’ve learned a few things about Roasting the Bird.

In prior years, long ago, my sister raised turkeys and I had a hand in the slaughtering for the holiday dinner. Then, in the earliest years of hosting at our house (or apartment), we traveled out to the Heartland on a pilgrimage to buy a fresh, free-range, organic, and exceedingly expensive turkey. Then we got tired of the drive but continued to buy fresh free-range from the grocer.

About 10 years ago I started to brine the Thanksgiving turkey, which I am convinced is the single most important element for roasting a bird that is flavorful and moist. If you haven’t tried brining your turkey — regardless of whether you intend to deep-fry, roast, or crock pot the thing (blech) — you’re doing it wrong. Heed the Quartermaster’s instructions for brining your bird and be amazed.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 12.31.50 PMThe beauty of brining is that it elevates a cheap frozen turkey, so much that spending more money on fresh almost seems a waste. Not only will the meat be flavorful throughout, it will be much more forgiving in roasting, so that dry turkey is still theoretically possible, but practically difficult to achieve.

Moreover, with brining you can entirely forgo the whole basting ridiculosity, which I’m convinced does nothing more than slow down even cooking and reduce efficiency with all the periodic opening of the oven and removing of the turkey. And you can forget about roasting bags (a mistake), covered roasting pans (no), or starting with the breast down and flipping mid-way through cooking (LOL).

This year, I’m intrigued by something new, which I intend to try: in place of butter or oil rubbed onto the skin of the bird, I’m trying it with….. mayonnaise.

On the one hand, mayonnaise for cooking seems slightly gross. Any time I’ve gotten a mouthful of hot mayonnaise I’ve been pretty disgusted. But it does have an interesting viscous texture and composition that leads me to believe it would cling to the bird longer during cooking rather than melting in the heat and running off quickly like butter, thereby retaining juiciness in the meat and crisping the skin nicely. So, we’ll try it, and I’ll report back.

Happy Thanksgiving!

G.K. Chesterton on the “Myth of the Mayflower”

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From “The ‘Myth’ of the Mayflower”, Fancies Versus Fads (1923):

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 12.32.57 PMhe “Mayflower” is a myth. It is an intensely interesting example of a real modern myth. I do not mean of course that the “Mayflower” never sailed, any more than I admit that King Arthur never lived or that Roland never died. I do not mean that the incident had no historic interest, or that the men who figured in it had no heroic qualities; any more than I deny that Charlemagne was a great man because the legend says he was two hundred years old; any more than I deny that the resistance of Roman Britain to the heathen invasion was valiant and valuable, because the legend says that Arthur at Mount Badon killed nine hundred men with his own hand. I mean that there exists in millions of modern minds a traditional image or vision called the “Mayflower,” which has far less relation to the real facts than Charlemagne’s two hundred years or Arthur’s nine hundred corpses. Multitudes of people in England and America, as intelligent and sympathetic as the young lady in Mr. Wells’s novel, think of the “Mayflower” as an origin, or archetype, like the Ark or at least the Argo. Perhaps it would be an exaggeration to say that they think the “Mayflower” discovered America. They do really talk as if the “Mayflower” populated America. Above all, they talk as if the establishment of New England had been the first and formative example of the expansion of England. They believe that English expansion was a Puritan experiment; and that an expansion of Puritan ideas was also the expansion of what have been claimed as English ideas, especially ideas of liberty. The Puritans of New England were champions of religious freedom, seeking to found a newer and freer state beyond the sea, and thus becoming the origin and model of modern democracy. All this betrays a lack of exactitude. It is certainly nearer to exact truth to say that Merlin built the castle at Camelot by magic, or that Roland broke the mountains in pieces with his unbroken sword.

For at least the old fables are faults on the right side. They are symbols of the truth and not of the opposite of the truth. They described Roland as brandishing his unbroken sword against the Moslems, but not in favour of the Moslems. And the New England Puritans would have regarded the establishment of real religious liberty exactly as Roland would have regarded the establishment of the religion of Mahound. The fables described Merlin as building a palace for a king and not a public hall for the London School of Economics. And it would be quite as sensible to read the Fabian politics of Mr. Sidney Webb into the local kingships of the Dark Ages, as to read anything remotely resembling modern liberality into the most savage of all the savage theological frenzies of the seventeenth century. Thus the “Mayflower” is not merely a fable, but is much more false than fables generally are. The revolt of the Puritans against the Stuarts was really a revolt _against_ religious toleration. I do not say the Puritans were never persecuted by their opponents; but I do say, to their great honour and glory, that the Puritans never descended to the hypocrisy of pretending for a moment that they did not mean to persecute their opponents. And in the main their quarrel with the Stuarts was that the Stuarts would not persecute those opponents enough. Not only was it then the Catholics who were proposing toleration, but it was they who had already actually established toleration in the State of Maryland, before the Puritans began to establish the most intolerant sort of intolerance in the State of New England. And if the fable is fabulous touching the emancipation of religion, it is yet more fabulous touching the expansion of empire. That had been started long before either New England or Maryland, by Raleigh who started it in Virginia. Virginia is still perhaps the most English of the states, certainly more English than New England. And it was also the most typical and important of the states, almost up to Lee’s last battle in the Wilderness. But I have only taken the “Mayflower” as an example of the general truth; and in a way the truth has its consoling side. Modern men are not allowed to have any history; but at least nothing can prevent men from having legends.

We have thus before us, in a very true and typical modern picture, the two essential parts of modern culture. It consists first of false history and second of fancy history. What the American tourist believed about Plymouth Rock was untrue; what she believed about Stonehenge was only unfounded. The popular story of Primitive Man cannot be proved. The popular story of Puritanism can be disproved. I can fully sympathize with Mr. Wells and his heroine in feeling the imaginative stimulus of mysteries like Stonehenge; but the imagination springs from the mystery; that is, the imagination springs from the ignorance. It is the very greatness of Stonehenge that there is very little of it left. It is its chief feature to be featureless. We are very naturally and rightly moved to mystical emotions about signals from so far away along the path of the past; but part of the poetry lies in our inability really to read the signals. And this is what gives an interest, and even an irony, to the comparison half consciously invoked by the American lady herself when she asked “What’s Notre Dame to this?” And the answer that should be given to her is: “Notre Dame, compared to this, is _true._ It is history. It is humanity. It is what has really happened, what we know has really happened, what we know is really happening still. It is the central fact of your own civilization. And it is the thing that has really been kept from you.”

Notre Dame is not a myth. Notre Dame is not a theory. Its interest does not spring from ignorance but from knowledge; from a culture complicated with a hundred controversies and revolutions. It is not featureless, but carved into an incredible forest and labyrinth of fascinating features, any one of which we could talk about for days. It is not great because there is little of it, but great because there is a great deal of it. It is true that though there is a great deal of it, Puritans may not be allowed to see a great deal in it; whether they were those brought over in the “Mayflower” or only those brought up on the “Mayflower.” But that is not the fault of Notre Dame; but of the extraordinary evasion by which such people can dodge to right or left of it, taking refuge in things more recent or things more remote. Notre Dame, on its merely human side, is mediaeval civilization, and therefore not a fable or a guess but a great solid determining part of modern civilization. It is the whole modern debate about guilds; for such cathedrals were built by the guilds. It is the whole modern question of religion and irreligion; for we know what religion it stands for, while we really have not a notion what religion Stonehenge stands for. A Druid temple is a ruin, and a Puritan ship by this time may well be called a wreck. But a church is a challenge; and that is why it is not answered.

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As Promised: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Recipe

0BB15850-064A-43CB-8758-D22E9AFAC1D9Chicago is a beautiful town. I’m proud to have lived there for 10 years, attended law school there, and started my career. There are a million things that make Chicago great, and for many, a pilgrimage would not be complete without a visit to one of the culinary temples known for the style of pizza that put Chicago on the map: deep dish.

Leave it to the “Windy City” — with its own apocryphal fables about goats, and Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, and the haunted tavern once owned by Capone — to let the origins of Chicago deep dish bake in its own mythology.

Following World War II, American soldiers returning from Europe brought home a taste for a few of the delicacies they tried on the Continent, not the least of which was nearly ubiquitous in Italy: pizza. In Chicago, being the city with “big shoulders” meant that pizza could be more than just a “snack”, but rather something enjoyed as a meal, with a knife and fork, and thus DEEP.

IMG_0153I trust my own opinion, and so I’ll share with you the hierarchy of “top” Chicago deep dish establishments. My ranking system accounts not just for the quality of the pizza itself, but also includes merit for location, atmosphere and history:

  1. Pizzeria “Uno” and “Due” (the Uno chain isn’t bad either, for a chain, but don’t stand up to the original locations);
  2. Lou Malnati’s (multiple locations throughout Chicagoland; famous for their “butter crust”);
  3. Gino’s East (this was the first deep dish I ever tried, at the original dive which has since closed and relocated. They too now have multiple locations).

Each of these could be considered “schools” of Chicago deep dish, with their own variations on the style. But despite differences, they each in their own way typify what makes deep dish “good”: a thick substantial crust that is crispy on the edges, and yet flaky and slightly chewy inside; a tremendous amount of melted mozzarella cheese; a wide array of toppings, added in considerable volume; crushed tomatoes — no marinara sauce — on top of the pie.

IMG_0147Of course, there are other good places throughout the city. However, one place that a lot of tourists fall into — due to its having multiple locations in touristy places — is Giordano’s, which I do not recommend for anything other than an example of Chicago deep dish gone wrong.

There is one other disclaimer that I must make: I do not like pizza. While I respect it as a culinary art form with many unique variations, it simply is not one of my favorite foods in the way that it is for so many people. So, when I am called to eat pizza, I try to hunt for the very best pizza available, so that I might actually enjoy it.

For the recipe found below, I relied upon a number of different sources, including:

  • This recipe, which is purportedly furnished by Lou Malnati’s, and which irritated me so much that I was tempted to reduce Malnati’s ranking in my hierarchy. Working with this recipe made me feel like the time on Everybody Loves Raymond when Marie gave Debra one of her recipes, except she omitted oregano and replaced it with tarragon. The pie didn’t turn out, it seemed to omit steps and ingredients that I would have expected to have been included, and delivered the sort of product that might just lead one to conclude they should never try making deep dish again, and leave it to the “professionals”.
  • The recipe found here, especially in terms of the thoughtfulness with the technique. Much more workable than the Malnati’s recipe, I didn’t find it as authentic. I disliked the inclusion of sliced, cooked sausage, the short rise from too much yeast, and overuse of oil.

Quartermaster “Chicago-Style Plus”
Sausage and Mushroom Deep Dish Pizza

Yields: one 14″ deep dish pizza (8 servings)

Ingredients – for the Dough

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/3 cup polenta, or corn meal
2 tsp. salt
1/2 package dry Fleishman’s yeast
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. melted butter
1 1/4 cup luke warm water

Ingredients – Toppings

IMG_01381 lb. mild Italian sausage (pref. uncased, a chub is easiest)
2 lb. low moisture Mozzarella, sliced to 1/8″ (not grated)
8 oz. sliced button or crimini mushrooms, sautéed (if you don’t first sauté them, they will release excess moisture as they bake)
4 oz. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
1 28-oz. can crushed “San Marzano” style tomatoes (partially drained of at least half of the excess liquid in the can), to which you add:

  • IMG_0140dry herbs, such as basil or “Italian seasoning”, to taste
  • additional seasonings, including granulated onion and garlic, red pepper flake, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar (or less), as needed
  • 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preparation – Dough

  1. IMG_0137Sprinkle the yeast over the water and allow it to “bloom” while preparing the dry ingredients.
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and run for a few seconds with the dough hook in a stand mixer.
  3. Add the oil, butter, and water with yeast.
  4. Mix on low-medium with the dough hook until the dough is no longer shaggy, and takes the shape of a ball, about 5 minutes.
  5. Lightly coat the dough ball with olive oil, and allow the dough to rest, covered with plastic wrap in the mixing bowl, for approximately 3 to 4 hours, or until the dough has more than doubled in size.

A Note Regarding Pizza Pans

Prevailing wisdom is that a “shiny” pan will not produce good pizza. Having not known this at first, and having tried to make pizza using a “shiny” pan, I’d agree. Get a good, anodized, non-stick pizza pan, such as this one. Or, season your own. But don’t expect that the cheap metal ones will work from the start.

Can we talk Sausage?

Italian sausage is perhaps the most prevalent of toppings in deep dish, after cheese. The most traditional recipes deal with sausage in a peculiar way relative to other types of pizza: raw.

That’s right, traditional deep dish with sausage is crust, cheese, and then a layer of raw sausage covering the entire pie, then any other toppings, and finally the tomatoes. The sausage is supposed to fully cook while the pizza bakes.

It’s delicious that way, and since it’s a complete layer rather than little balls or hunks of sausage, the pizza definitely seems more substantial and hearty. Very Chicago.

But the one thing that does not occur when you make your pizza this way, since the sausage is under the other toppings and tomatoes, is any browning of the meat. And browning is flavor too.

The question of where and how to cook sausage in deep dish is deeply divided. And, since I like the under layer and crumbled cooked sausage that browns on top, my sausage deep dish has the special distinction of appealing to both Cubs and White Sox fans. That’s right, for this pie, it’s sausage two ways.

Divide the sausage in half, crumble and cook on the stove (but do not brown) 8 ounces, and reserve.

Par-baking the Crust

This is not a vital step, and I also understand that it is not especially traditional, but having tried it both ways, I prefer par-baking. If you omit this step, I’d recommend adding at least 5-10 minutes to the total bake time, maybe even 15 minutes depending on toppings (see discussion of sausage below).

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Place 3 tbsp. olive oil in the pan, and move around so that it evenly coats the entire bottom and sides.
  3. IMG_0142 2Turn out the dough into the oiled pan, and begin evenly spreading it with your fingers into a large disk, but not trying to reach the sides of the pan.
  4. Allow the dough to rest, covered, for 10-15 minutes. During this time, the dough will “relax”, and puff up just a bit.
  5. After the dough rests, it will be easier to bring it up to the edges of the pan, and press up the sides. Go ahead and form the crust all the way up to the top edges of the pan.
  6. Allow the crust to proof in the pan for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

Assembling the Pie for Baking

  1. IMG_0145Arrange the sliced mozzarella in a concentric pattern (or whatever) atop the crust. Do not skimp on the cheese. Do not skimp on the cheese. Do not skimp on the cheese. Whatever you do, use plenty of cheese.
  2. Take the 8 ounces of raw Italian sausage, and press out little disks between your thumb and forefinger, and arrange over the cheese in a complete and uniform layer.
  3. Arrange the 8 ounces of sautéed mushrooms (discard any excess liquid first) over the sausage layer.
  4. IMG_0149Evenly place the seasoned tomatoes and remaining liquid. Be judicious about how much tomatoes you use, especially the liquid part. If you don’t use the entire can, that’s okay.
  5. Take the cooked crumbled sausage and arrange over the tomatoes in an even layer.
  6. Finally, top with the grated Pecorino or Parmesan.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes.


Your pizza is done, it should have pulled away from the edges a little bit. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool down slightly, maybe 5 minutes or so. Then, turn out the pizza onto a cutting board. If you leave it in the pan to cool, the crust will get soggy. This step should be fairly easy if you used a non-stick pan and the correct amount of oil, but be careful. Slice, serve, and enjoy.



Plain cheese is always a winner. I’d shorten the baking time by 5-10 minutes if omitting the sausage which has to cook. There’s no heresy at all in using the following toppings for deep dish: pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives.

A Catholic Primer on Jubilees for the Upcoming Year of Mercy

Pope Francis has announced an “extraordinary” Jubilee which begins on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and which will be more commonly known as the “Year of Mercy”. During this special year, the Church will open its treasury to dispense Mercy, in the form of special devotions, pilgrimages, the opening of “holy doors”, and indulgences intended to bring us all closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.

But, what exactly is a “Jubilee” and what are its origins?

I. The Church’s practice of celebrating the Jubilee is inherited from the Ancient Hebrews

Announcement of the Jubilee at the Temple in Jerusalem (note the horns used)

Announcement of the Jubilee at the Temple in Jerusalem (note the horns used)

The Third Commandment of God is to remember the Sabbath Day (i.e., the seventh day of the week) and keep it holy. The Hebrews followed a seven-day week according to the account in Genesis, in which God rested on the seventh day of creation.

Springing from the practice of observing the Sabbath — seventh — day of the week, there were also “Sabbath Years” in Jewish custom, which took place every seventh year, when the fields were left fallow, and allowed to rest for the entire year.

Interior Panel of the First Century "Arch of Titus" in the Roman Forum (Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: Dnalor 01). This panel depicts the spoils taken by the Romans following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, including the massive gold candelabra and the horns used to announce jubilees.

Interior Panel of the First Century “Arch of Titus” in the Roman Forum (Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: Dnalor 01). This panel depicts the spoils taken by the Romans following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, including the massive gold candelabra and the horns used to announce jubilees.

Building upon that, according to Leviticus, the year that followed every seventh of Sabbath Years (i.e., the 50th year, after 7 times 7 years [49 years]) was the Jubilee Year. The etymology of Jubilee, of Hebrew origin, is “the year of the blowing of the ram’s horn”, announced to the people by the blowing of a ram’s horn from the Temple. In Ezekiel, the Jubilee is called the “Year of Release”, and it provided three main enactments for the people of God:

  • rest of the soil;
  • reversion of landed property to its original owner, who had been driven by poverty to sell it; and,
  • and the freeing of Israelites who had become slaves of their brethren.
Reproduction of a Seventeenth Century drawing of the Arch of Titus, showing the crossed horns in detail

Reproduction of a Seventeenth Century drawing of the Arch of Titus, showing the crossed horns in detail

Thus for the Israelites, to some extent commerce and temporal matters were also tied to the jubilee, because the amount of time to a “Year of Release” was the extent of what a new owner of land could expect when he purchased from the man with an ancient familial claim. Likewise, the slave who sold himself would be freed at the next jubilee.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The aim of the jubilee, therefore, is to preserve unimpaired the essential character of the theocracy, to the end that there be no poor among the people of God (Deut. xv, 4). Hence God, who redeemed Israel from the bondage of Egypt to be his peculiar people, and allotted to them the promised land, will not suffer any one to usurp his title as Lord over those whom he owns as his own. It is the idea of grace for all the suffering children of man, bringing freedom to the captive and rest to the weary as well as to the earth, which made the year of jubilee the symbol of the Messianic year of grace (Isaiah 61:2), when all the conflicts in the universe shall be restored to their original harmony, and when not only we, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, but the whole creation, which groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, shall be restored into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (comp. Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:21; Romans 8:18-23; Hebrews 4:9).

II. The First Christian Jubilee Most Likely Occurred in 1300

In A.D. 1300, Pope Boniface VIII declared a Jubilee Year, and it is commonly thought that it was a response to the pilgrims to Rome who came seeking great indulgences. Boniface published the Bull “Antiquorum fida relatio“, in which he declared “great remissions and indulgences for sins” obtained “by visiting the city of Rome and the venerable basilica of the Prince of the Apostles”. Boniface declared in the Bull “not only full and copious, but the most full, pardon of all their sins”, to those fulfilling certain conditions: true penitence and confession of sins, and visits to the basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome.

III. There are “Ordinary” and “Extraordinary” Jubilee Years

In discussing the last “ordinary” Jubilee of A.D. 2000, the Vatican website has a document found here, which notes that a Jubilee is “ordinary” if it falls after a set period of years, and “extraordinary” when it is proclaimed from some outstanding event. The upcoming Year of Mercy would be considered an extraordinary jubilee.

Pope Pius IX oversaw several jubilees, including the 300th anniversary of the Council of Trent, the 1800th anniversary of the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Holy Year of A.D. 1875.

Pope Pius IX oversaw several jubilees, including the 300th anniversary of the Council of Trent, the 1800th anniversary of the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Holy Year of A.D. 1875.

Including A.D. 2000, there have been 26 “ordinary” Jubilees since the first in A.D. 1300.

“The custom of calling ‘extraordinary’ Jubilees began in the 16th century and they can vary in length from a few days to a year.” In the last (20th) century, there were two extraordinary jubilees:

  • A.D. 1933, proclaimed by Pope Pius XI to mark the 1900th anniversary of Redemption;
  • A.D. 1983, proclaimed by Pope St. John Paul II to mark the 1950th anniversary of Redemption.

Given the fact that both of the preceding extraordinary jubilees are tied to Redemption, it could be anticipated that the next extraordinary jubilee after this upcoming one might occur on A.D. 2033, for the 2000th anniversary.

IV. Jubilee Years are Characterized by Opening the Holy Doors

Each of the four major papal basilicas in Rome (St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Maria Maggiore) have a “holy door” that is sealed shut from the inside and only opened for jubilee years.

Opening the Holy Door

Opening the Holy Door

When Pope Boniface IX declared a extraordinary jubilee, he unsealed the Holy Door at St. John Lateran on Christmas Eve A.D. 1390. At that time, St. Peter’s Basilica was still the “old” basilica originally built by Emperor Constantine, and not the current one which was completed in A.D. 1626, and which features for its Holy Door the northernmost entrance to the basilica.

Since then, each jubilee has been characterized by the opening of the holy doors, a practice which has been modified in modern times so that each diocese’s cathedral may designate a “holy door” (as well as at other suitable pilgrimage sites within the diocese)  to be symbolically and ceremonially opened at the start of the jubilee year. This expansion of opening “holy doors” all over the world provides to pilgrims who cannot travel all the way to Rome the opportunity to take part more fully in the jubilee, and obtain the indulgences promised to them.

V. Conclusion

Since the original intent of jubilees for the ancient Hebrews involved making impossible “absolute poverty” by restoring individuals to their ancestral lands and doing away with slavery, it was a special time when the riches of mercy were poured out for the good of God’s people.

While it has less to do with the temporal concerns of those first jubilees, the upcoming “Year of Mercy” is nevertheless very much about doing away with spiritual poverty and slavery to sin, by restoring us to the full and rich life in Christ that is promised to us in Baptism. As the saying goes, “To Fast when the Church Feasts, is to Fast alone”, so we would do well to join in this important celebration however we are able.



  1. Catholic Encyclopedia (maintained at, “Year of Jubilee (Hebrew)”,
  2. Catholic Encyclopedia (maintained at, “Holy Year of Jubilee”,
  3. Vatican Website, Documents on the A.D. 2000 Jubilee,
  4. Wikipedia, “Holy door”,

Christ in the House of Mary and Martha

One of my favorite gospel passages concerns Jesus and the hospitality of Martha and Mary, which follows the parable of the Good Samaritan, in the tenth chapter of Luke:

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

I must confess that I find myself a kindred spirit of Martha. She hopes to show Our Lord a fitting welcome, to extend the hospitality of her household and to take care that it not be seen as lacking.

But she also misses the “better part”, i.e., the opportunity that is present in the moment, to draw near to the Word. She is distracted, and has allowed her desire to be hospitable to prevent her from receiving anything that the Lord’s imminence offers us.

Consider the following painting, “Christ in the House of Mary and Martha” by Vincenzo Campi (late 16th Century):


love this painting, because it uses a glorious bounty — the type of hospitality Martha wishes to show Jesus — as an illustration of how much better is Mary’s chosen part.

It is admirable — and a most sympathetic depiction of Martha — that Campi does not trivialize Martha’s efforts (did you ever see Babette’s Feast (one of Pope Francis’ favorite films?). She isn’t being overly scrupulous about bustling around over a little bread and meat; rather, she is trying to serve Our Lord in a fitting way, in the way that a King should be attended.

We see every possible lovely thing for a feast in vast array — fresh fish (Martha holds a thick, marbled, pink salmon steak in her right hand), a beautiful ham, breads, crustaceans and seafood, poultry and fowl newly slaughtered and ready for dressing, carrots and cabbages and tomatoes and citrus and artichokes!

In other words, when Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part, we are given a visual cue to enlighten us. Yes, better, even than all of this. Better than the most resplendent of king’s feasts. “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27).

The Devil is Real

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 2.39.08 PMAnd Satan laughs at the idea that we have gotten so foolish as to think that we can turn demonic activity into a spectacle for entertainment. Souls are endangered by such folly.

Demons do not heed the commands of any person, no matter how “spiritual” or “in touch” the person believes himself or herself to be.

A demon might, for its own purposes, pretend to be subject to human control. It might, for its own purposes, pretend to respond to one of an individual’s commands. It might, for a time and for its own purposes, even allow the appearance that it has been exorcised.

Psychics, ghost hunters, clairvoyants, mediums, Protestant ministers and schismatic heretics are not capable of exorcising demons. One who believes otherwise is tragically deceived.

Jesus exorcised demons. He gave authority to bind and loose to the Apostles, viz. the bishops of the Catholic Church. Only His authority — His name — His command — can cause a demon to depart.

Finally, since we’re on the subject, if you ever wondered about some of the themes in Blatty’s The Exorcist, take a look at this, and heed the warning regarding who is the demon’s target.

“Huzzah!” for Homebrewing Catholic Deacons!

…I am a deacon in the Diocese of _____. I have recently found your blog and thoroughly enjoy it. I truly appreciate your zeal for the Catholic faith and your blog comments and topics. I also like beer….

My son and I would like to try our hand at making beer but we are intimidated by the process. I can drink it without fear or trepidation yet the thought of making beer is daunting.

I would appreciate your insight on how to proceed in becoming a home brewer.

Your brother in Christ,

Dear Deacon:

It’s great to hear from you and know that you like the blog! You and your son should not feel daunted at all by the prospect of starting out in homebrewing. If you are capable of being ordained in the Holy Catholic Church, you are more than capable of making a drinkable 5 gallon batch of beer.

Part of the fun of the hobby is that there are “levels” of complexity. It’s possible to start out and make very good (i.e., better than a lot of bottled) beer as a beginner, without a huge investment. The one chief rule is to keep everything as clean and sanitary as possible, ESPECIALLY after “the boil”; once you’ve boiled the liquid that later becomes beer, the thing most likely to ruin it or make it taste yucky are bacterias that don’t belong. Keep all of your equipment clean, and use a sanitizer like Star-San or OneStep.

A lot of people get into home brewing by getting one of those “Mr. Beer” kits. That’s how I started; my wife bought me one as a gift. But after the very first batch I realized that it was already holding me back (and, I suspect, you’d realize the same thing). Skip.

My suggestion is that you check out (if you were on the west coast I would recommend because you’d save a couple days on shipping time; I’ve dealt with both companies, they are legit). Also, there’s nothing wrong with locating the nearest friendly homebrew shop in your area, if that’s convenient for you. Most will carry the rough equivalent of the items shown below. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • x7610-essential-brewing-starter-kit-1000.jpg.pagespeed.ic.SqkY4d-9PUThe “Essential Brewing Starter Kit” which delivers exactly what it says: the essentials. You get fermentation vessels for both primary and secondary fermentation, brushes for cleaning, an auto-siphon for racking your beer, a bottle-capper and caps, a good cleaner, and some other stuff. $89. They have other, more expanded kits, also. But I wouldn’t buy anything that’s intended for making less than a 5-gallon batch of beer.
  • A 5-gallon (minimum) Brewing Kettle. Here is an example of a stainless steel one for $39. You can also pick up an aluminum one from any local restaurant supply store. 450x450ximage_1879.jpg.pagespeed.ic.OiXFtj5unVAluminum is fine, as long as you boil a pot of water in it first before brewing your first batch of beer. It also doesn’t hurt to get a 6 or 7 gallon kettle to make a 5-gallon batch of beer (in fact, it’s preferable).
  • A “beginner” extract recipe kit. There are three primary ways homebrewers make beer: extract, “partial mash” or “all grain”. Extract is the easiest and quickest, and despite that (avoid a kit that includes canned extract; you’re safe with any kit from Northern Brewer or MoreBeer) makes very good beer. Pick one that sounds good to you. Note that the cheaper the kit, the more “simple” or “easy” it is likely to be, since the price difference usually corresponds to more ingredients. And when it comes to beer, there’s nothing wrong with simple. xkama_citra_session_ipa_beer_kit_1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Bzizm1rV3eYou will receive detailed instructions with the recipe kit, which will deliver you a successful result if you follow them.
  • A note of explanation: Partial mash is a combination of mostly extract with some added “specialty grains” that you steep in a “grain bag” like a giant teabag. “All grain” is when you use only grain to make the beer; you either get the grain crushed from the retailer or you crush it yourself, and then you “mash” it with water at the correct temperature, and use the runnings from the mash to make your beer. The most popular recipe kits are available in either extract, partial mash, and all grain. All grain kits tend to be a few dollars less, because there is added cost involved in producing malt extracts. But there are additional steps and equipment involved when you brew an “all grain” beer, so it takes a while to realize any savings. All grain is generally thought to be capable of producing the best beer, and most closely resembles the way that craft brewers make beer. After a few batches or extract, followed by a few batches of partial mash, you’ll be ready to leap into all grain.
  • A few notes on YEAST: yeast is one of the *the* most important ingredients, and both Northern Brewer and MoreBeer make it easy by presenting you with a couple of options for each kit they offer. A lot of people love to experiment with the wide array of liquid yeasts, offered by either Wyeast or White Labs. They are good, but especially when you are just starting out and having an on-line order shipped to you, a kit that contains liquid yeast has the added concern of possible spoilage. You will not go wrong making an American Ale, Pale Ale, IPA, Brown Ale, Stout or Porter, and using a dry yeast like “US-05” by Safale. And you’ll save a few dollars versus the liquid yeast too.
  • Get busy collecting at least 55 12-ounce beer bottles. You will need them when it is time to bottle your first batch of homebrew, four to eight weeks after brew day. Of course, you can also buy empty bottles, but what’s the fun in that? Instead, get to work! A good trick for removing old labels is to soak the empties in a water solution with a couple tablespoons of ammonia. After 12 hours, the labels should slight right off.

Please, write us back with a report on your success, and fire away with any other questions. And may God bless you and your important ministry in the Church!

Dear Chicago, I have Mastered your Pizza

It took me three attempts, but since the Quartermaster does not like pizza very much, when he declares a pizza good and worthy of eating, he really, truly means it. Behold, the “Chicago Deep Dish Pizza”:


I wish I had taken a picture of a slice, so you could see the stratified layers of crusty, crunchy exterior, flaky and chewy inner crust, a thick blanket of mozzarella, and then all the topping goodness on top. True Chicago deep dish is always upside down (cheese first, tomatoes on top). A recipe is forthcoming.

And Now (due to “Synod Fatigue”) Something Completely Different

To quote C-3PO, “I can’t bear to watch.” So, instead, a roundup of fun “technology” links:

  • According to this article from Reuters, Apple has argued to a New York federal court in a written brief that it is “impossible” to unlock iPhones without a user’s passcode, due to improvements to encryption for iOS version 8 and later.
  • The new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens”, continues to trend, with the release of the latest theatrical trailer during halftime on last night’s “Monday Night Football” program (and millions of geeks are forced to watch football on TV). Of course, you could just wait a couple more minutes and see it nearly anywhere on-line. Hopefully geeks were smart enough to realize that.
  • Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 4.29.54 PMWe won’t know until we are much nearer to December 18 whether the latest Star Wars movie incarnation is any good or not, but one thing we can agree upon is that Disney’s purchase of LucasFilm has raised merchandising to completely new and stratospheric levels. You want Christmas gift ideas for the Quartermaster and his family of wookies? Look no further than this, or this, or:
  • Speaking of the Power of the Force (of advertising), (this is truly one of the slickest ad pieces EVURRRR), along with the movie media blitz, a new Star Wars Battlefront game drops on November 17 for Xbox One, PS4, or PC.
  • Shifting franchises slightly, astronomers theorize that they may have discovered a real life example of a Dyson Sphere (no, not one of those vacuum thingies).

Astronomer 1: That star (billions of light years away)….. Has a strange flashing thing going on….. 
Astronomer 2: Magnify.
Astronomer 1: Inconclusive. 

Astronomer 2: I bet it’s a Dyson sphere, just like in Episode 130 of ST:TNG!
Astronomer 1: I’ll notify the press!