20 October 2010

20 October - Saint John Cantius

In the traditional calendar, this is the memorial of Saint John Cantius (died 1473), patron of Poland and Lithuania (December 23 in the General Calendar).

Also known as Saint John of Kanty, from the town in which he was born in 1390.  A very learned man and humble; hard-working, even when afraid of the responsibilities he held; generous to the poor, taking only what he needed to live (which was much less that most people would think necessary) and giving away all else. 

He could easily be the patron of those pastors who are constantly beset with the complaints and attacks of their parishioners, for whom nothing is right: "Why doesn't Father...?  When will Father...? I can't believe Father is....!  How dare Father not listen to me and do what I say!... Well, I don't care what Father says, I'm doing things MY way...!"

His motto was: "Conturbare cave; non est placare suave. Infamare cave; nam revocare grave."
("Beware offending; to ask forgiveness is not pleasant. Beware insulting; for it is difficult to take back.")

"Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause." -Saint John of Kanty

Good words to live by.  Good words to write blogs and comments by.

Saint John did not eat any meat after he received his doctorate, so today's dinner should be one of fish or vegetables, like LOSOS DO SOSOW GORACYCH I ZIMNYCH (far more descriptive, but 'Poached Salmon' is close enough):

First, make your Court Bouillon in which the fish will be poached.  Cut up 1 large onion, a couple of carrots, two celery stalks and half of a celery root, half of a parsnip, and one leek.   Tie a small bunch of dill and parsley together with string (2-3 sprigs of each should do it). Put everything in the pot with 5 cups of water, a bay leaf, 10-12 peppercorns, and a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil.  Simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender. Strain and return to pot; bring liquid again to a boil.

Place a 3-4 pound piece of salmon (skin on) in a pot large enough to hold it [you can also cut it into individual pieces] and add the boiling Bouillon.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until done.  [Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and warm your serving platter] Drain the fish and remove the skin.  Arrange fish on your warmed serving platter, spoon the melted butter over it, and garnish as you wish - parsley and lemon wedges are usual.  Serve with a nice sauce such as hollandaise.  You can also cool and chill the fish, and serve cold with mayonnaise or a nice SOS Z JAJ DO RYBY (Egg Sauce) of two hard-cooked eggs, chopped up and added to 4 tablespoons of melted butter, with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the sauce for a couple of minutes or until the eggs begin to brown.  Pour over the fish and serve immediately.

While searching out these recipes I found one for a drink called KRUPNIK.  The description is rather daunting: "...it is said to go to the feet rather than to the head.  It is also said to fell the mighty and conquer the conquerors." (Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 9, p. 1431)  The Wikipedia article says that it was also used as a medicinal disinfectant for Polish soldiers during World War II.  You have been warned!

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of dark honey with 1 cup of water, then add 8 cinnamon sticks; 1 - 2 vanilla beans, crushed; 1/4 whole nutmeg, freshly grated (1/2 to 1 teaspoon); 6 cloves, crushed; 10 peppercorns, freshly ground (optional); and a piece of lemon or orange peel.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Strain mixture through cheesecloth, pour strained liquid back into the saucepan, and again bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, stir in 1 pint of vodka, and serve, very hot, in small cups or warmed liqueur glasses.

Go here for more recipes of Poland, including a Hunter's Stew (BIGOS) which would make a grand dinner tomorrow in honor of Orion the Hunter. 

That is, if you are still standing after sampling the Krupnik...