Saturday, March 24, 2012

Don Bosco's Advice To Teenagers

"Look, you will soon face a dangerous crisis; the devil will try to ensnare you. To start with, he will tell you that frequent Communion is good for children, not for adults, and that once in a great while is quite enough for you. Then he will do his best to keep you from sermons by making you feel bored by God’s words. He will convince you that certain things are not sinful. Then you’ll have to tussle with friends and what they might say, with [dangerous] readings, with your own passions, and so on. Be on your guard. Do not let the devil rob you of that piece of mind and purity of soul which makes you God’s friends!"

—St. John Bosco

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: Thursday Night Pizza—Father Dominic's Favorite Pizza Recipes

Well, now, you just knew this Italian girl would find a book like this! From the moment I received Thursday Night Pizza—Father Dominic's Favorite Pizza Recipes, I was putting on my Italian flag apron and getting out my pizza stones.  Written by Father Dominic Garramone, O.S.B., of public television's "Breaking Bread" show, this monk certainly knows his way around the kitchen. After all, he's been in charge of making pizzas for his fellow monks for twenty years. Ask them, and they'll tell you that nobody makes pizza like Father Dom.

Why Thursday, you ask? After all, isn't Friday night usually pizza night?  Not at the Saint Bede Abbey in Peru, IL, because Friday is a fasting day year 'round. This makes Thursday nights at the abbey haustus night. Haustus is derived from the Latin hausere, meanig  "to be filled. "  And fill up these monks do on Thursdays, with relaxing community time and recreation, music, rousing games of Uno and Scrabble, lots of yummy snacks and drinks, and, of course, Father Dom's incredible pizzas.  With this 115-page book of Father Dom's from Reedy Press (2010), we can be there on haustus night with the priests...well, sort of!

I was a little skeptical at first. I mean, I already had my own versions of homemade pizza dough and sauce, and my family and I liked them just fine, thank you very much. But I was intrigued. And I love cookbooks. And to top it off, Father Dom seemed funny with a good sense of humor.  And a paisan, to be sure! But deep down, I just knew my dough and sauce would win out over Father Dom's! Off to the confessional to confess the sin of pride...but first: time to make the dough!

After studying Father Dom's instructions and techniques, I shooed everyone out of the kitchen. It was time to get to work and I didn't want any distractions. It was my own version of Bobby Flay's smackdown...except Father Dom wasn't in my kitchen.  It would have to be an imaginary culinary smackdown!

I opted for the Basic American-Style Pizza Crust from page 30, since it was closest to the one I usually make.

Doing an inventory of the recipes included in the book, I found that Father Dom offers 19 pizza options and two dessert-style pizzas. He also includes five tasty appetizers. But I wanted dinner.  I did a quick check of what I already had on hand, and decided on the Broccoli Chicken Pizza. It called for preparing his white veloute sauce, not your basic tomato sauce, but it sounded delicious, so I forged ahead.

I made the dough, and liked what I saw as it rose:

It was rising beautifully.  I was impressed by the texture.  Okay, chalk one up for Father Dom.

Next, I started the veloute sauce, which is a white sauce made with chicken stock, butter, flour and milk. I seasoned with salt and pepper and sneaked a taste.  Yum! Velvety and creamy. Father Dom's 2 for 0.

I chopped broccoli and some leftover cooked chicken. I opened a can of black olives and sliced those.

It was finally time to assemble the pizza...and bake it at a whopping 500 degrees on my pizza stone. The temperature seemed a little high, but I wanted to follow Father Dom's recipe exactly.

As it baked and I smelled the delicious aroma, I knew I'd be a goner. And when it came out?  Well, see for yourself:

As I bit into it, I heard angels singing. The sun burst through the clouds. Yes, it was that incredible.  The crust was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, just like Father Dom had promised. I promise to always, always use bread flour in my pizza crust, Father Dom. The white sauce was creamy and the perfect complement to the chicken, mozzarella, broccoli, and olives. We were hooked.

But what about the red sauce? I had to test that as well. The book offers ten different pizza sauces, but on another night I chose the quick and easy 8-Minute Pizza Sauce. This winner calls for a 1/4 cup of red wine. Oh my. As it was simmering on the stove, I knew I had been beaten.  It beats my old pizza sauce by a country mile. It had the perfect consistency and amount of zing. How long had I been searching for the perfect pizza sauce?  Too long!

I give up, Father Dom.  You win!

Now can my family and I please get an invitation to haustus one of these Thursdays? We play a mean game of Scrabble...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wise Words From St. John Bosco

"The usual snare with which the devil catches the young is to fill them with shame when they are about to confess their sins. When he pushes them to commit sins, he removes all shame, as if there were nothing wrong with it, but when they are going to confession, he returns that shame magnified and tries to convince them that the priest will be shocked by their sins and will no longer think well of them. Thus the devil tries to drive souls to the brink of eternal damnation. Oh, how many lads does Satan steal from God —sometimes forever—by this trick."

—St. John Bosco

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Catholic Easter Basket

Looking for something truly Catholic to tuck into an Easter basket this year?  Candy and toys are fun, but books also make a great gift, especially holy, Catholic books that teach our faith and are fun to read! Help your child discover how great it is to be Catholic with Olivia and the Little Way and its pro-life, pro-modesty sequel, Olivia's Gift. Both are award winners from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada,  and both are used in Catholic classrooms, book clubs, and groups to teach about the life of a young girl discovering her faith, her family, and St. Therese, the Little Flower.  You can purchase personalized, autographed copies at

Monday, March 12, 2012

Discussion Guide For Olivia's Gift

Attention all teachers, parents, librarians, Little Flowers leaders, book club leaders, and catechists: You may already have the discussion guide for Olivia and the Little Way, but did you know that there is now one available for Olivia's Gift as well? These guides are filled with thought-provoking questions for your groups, and will spark new discussion ideas you may not have considered!  One will be e-mailed to you free of charge by contacting!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Artwork of St. Therese

St. Therese painted this fresco around the tabernacle at the Lisieux Carmel.

"Receive Communion often, very often...there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing..."
—The Little Flower

St. Therese was quite an artist, although if you asked her, she'd probably say that her work wasn't worth an extra glance. That's how humble she was! But she enjoyed painting, and I see such beauty in her artwork.  Her older sister Celine, known as Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face, described her sister's  fresco (above) in this way:

"The fresco around our Oratory Tabernacle, a task which the Saint accomplished with much love and devotion, is a monument to her spirit of obedience; she was unfamiliar with the rudiments of artistic decorating and designing, and furthermore, there was no way of providing sufficient light for the work in that part of the Oratory. She was obliged, besides, to make use of a ladder while painting; even an experienced artist should have been hindered in his work by such handicaps. Therese, however, triumphed over the difficulties and produced a very credible piece of work. The little angels which encircle the design are particularly attractive with their expressions of heavenly beauty and childlike innocence."

—Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine Martin), My Sister Saint Therese. pp. 117-118.  1997 TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, IL.  

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