25 July 2011

25 July - Saint James; Coquillos Santiago

Weather:  As the weather is today, so it will be on Christmas Day.
on the other hand
If St. James' day is clear, then Christmas will be cold and frosty [that's a pretty good bet, either way]

On St. James' day, the weather before noon foretells the winter before Christmas, and after noon foretells the time after Christmas.  If the sun shines, there will be cold weather; if it rains, there will be warm and moist weather; if it is between the two, it will be neither too warm nor too cold.

Gardening:  Apples are blessed today.

"An old rule of the Husbandman:  When it is fair three Sundays after St. James his day, it betokeneth that corn shall be very good; but if it rain then the corn withereth."

This is the feast of Saint James the Greater, Apostle and Martyr, who was executed by Herod Agrippa in AD 44.  He and his brother John (the Evangelist) were sons of Zebedee and Salome, a fishing family on the shores of the Lake of Galilee.  Our Lord nicknamed the brothers Boanerges, 'the sons of thunder'.

He, John, and Peter formed the inner circle of the followers of Jesus.  They alone witnessed the Transfiguration, and accompanied Him to the Garden of Gethsemane (they fell asleep).

Spanish tradition says that James preached in Spain, where he is known as El Senor Santiago,  before returning to Jerusalem where he was martyred; his body was miraculously returned to Spain, eventually resting at Compostela, which became the site of the third largest shrine in all Christendom.

He is the patron of Spain, of horsemen, and of a whole lot of other places and occupations, which you can find at Saints.SQPN.  

Read more here about the pilgrimage to St. James, historically and present day, and check out this interactive website of the Catedral de Santiago.
An old tradition says that whoever eats oysters on St. James' day will never want money.  By an act of parliament, the sale of oysters was prohibited in England until the 25th of July, and one theory suggests that the tradition had its origin in the expense of these bivalves, for the first ones available for sale would be the most expensive, and only affordable by those who had money enough to afford them.

But it is scallop shells, not oyster shells, which are connected with Saint James.  The scallop shell was the badge of a pilgrim who had traveled to Compostela.

In honor of Saint James, have COQUILLOS SANTIAGO, better known as COQUILLES ST. JACQUES.

If you cannot find scallop shells in the cookery aisle, you can find them online.  For six servings, you will need 1 pound of fresh or frozen (and thawed) scallops.

Preheat oven to 400° F. and butter 6 scallop shells.

Wash and slice 1 pound of mushrooms and sprinkle them with the juice of 1 lemon.  In a saucepan, cook the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter until golden brown.  Cut the scallops into quarters and add them to the mushrooms with 1 cup of dry white wine, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon of ground thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.  Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes and drain, reserving 1 cup of the broth.

Make a white sauce by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and stirring in 3 tablespoons of flour.  Add the reserved broth and 1 cup of light cream, and stir over medium heat until it boils; boil and stir for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Add the scallops and mushrooms; spoon into the scallop shells.  In a small skillet over medium-low heat, melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter and stir in 1 cup of soft breadcrumbs.  Stir until crumbs are evenly crisp and golden brown.  Top the scallop mixture with buttered breadcrumbs, and bake for 10 minutes or until browned.
Saint James, protect us!