24 October 2010

24 October - Saint Raphael, Archangel; Mother-in-Law Day

In the traditional calendar, today is chosen to honor the archangel, Saint Raphael, patron of lovers, happy meetings, travelers, and those engaged in the healing arts; he is invoked against blindness and other eye problems.  In the General Calendar, he and Gabriel are honored on Saint Michael's Day, now known as the feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

His name means "Healing of God" or "God Heals".  Much of his story is found in the Book of Tobit, where Raphael, disguised, accompanies Tobias on his travels, helping the young man by delivering his wife, Sara, from a demon and curing his father, Tobit, of blindness.  Raphael is also thought to be the angel which 'troubled the waters' of the healing pool of Bethesda.

Saint Raphael is usually shown holding a fish, as it was the heart and liver of the fish that delivered Sara from the demon, and its gall which restored Tobit's sight.  So dinner tonight should be one of fish.

There is always Fish and Chips, although that would probably make you think of Fish Friday, and this is a Feast Day!  Let us have something elegant, and/or substantial.  Lobster isn't the only thing that can wear a Newburg Sauce.

One of my favorite fish dishes is the Portuguese BACALHAU A BRAS (Salt Cod with Potatoes and Scrambled Eggs):

Take 1 to 1-12 pounds of dried salt cod, rinse it and put it in a bowl with enough water to cover; let stand overnight.  Rinse and drain [recipes will tell you to change the water several times, at least every six hours.  I merely rinse the fish well, bathe it overnight, and rinse it again.  Of course, I don't add any salt to the recipe!]

Put drained fish in a large saucepan with enough water to cover.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.  Drain.  Cool.  Flake fish.  Discard bones [I've never found any, yet, but there's always a first time.]

While your fish is boiling/simmering, thinly chop 1 to 2 cloves of garlic [I like garlic; I use 2 cloves] and slice 1 large onion.  Cut 3 to 4 frying potatoes (like russets) into matchsticks.

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until garlic starts to brown.  Then add potatoes in batches, sauteing them until golden and crisp.  Remove each batch of potatoes to drain on paper towels and add the next batch.

When potatoes are done and draining, reduce heat to medium and add onion slices and 1 bay leaf, cooking until the onion is golden (you can add another tablespoon of oil if it looks like there is not enough in the pan.)  Discard bay leaf.  Stir flaked fish into skillet with onions.

In a bowl, whisk together 8 beaten eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper; add to skillet, stirring to mix.  Cook for about 1 minute, or until the eggs are starting to set.  Now add the potatoes to the skillet and cook for another couple of minutes or until eggs are fully set, stirring as needed.

Spoon the entire lovely mess onto a platter, sprinkle chopped parsley on top, and garnish with black olives (sprinkle with olive halves or pieces; line whole olives down the middle of the platter; or whatever suits your fancy.)

"Blessed Saint Raphael, Archangel, we beseech you to help us in all our needs and trials of this life, as you, through the power of God, didst restore sight to Tobit and gave guidance to young Tobias. We humbly seek your aid and intercession, that our souls may be healed, our bodies protected from all ills, and that through divine grace we may become fit to dwell in the eternal Glory of God in heaven. Amen."
Today is also Mother-in-Law Day.  Raise the Battle-Axe Flag!

(Yes, there actually is one!)