“Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel”

On this Friday morning before Palm Sunday, the rituals of preparing our house for Holy Week began.

Though it’s customary in so many countries to deep clean the house (from top to bottom) the Monday of Holy Week, in our little cottage, it’s the weekend or bust. So first thing this morning, the faux fireplace mantle felt the sourging of the scrub brush and so, quite frankly, did the did the rest of what basically amounts to a stage set for candles – real or battery operated – and crackling electric logs.

CNS photo/Crosiers

Since the mantle is a real focal point of the house, there’s  a feeling of satisfaction in decorating it with our treasured icons of Holy Week: three rusty, wrought iron crosses. They were a house warming gift from good friend Mary Tierney. They take pride of place in the center of the mantle.

To the right of the crosses, a bowl of small stones will nestle near a favorite, clear vase filled with small, bare branches from the backyard trees. Votive candles and a candle snuffer from among our family treasures will complete the tableaux.

The palms received at Mass on Sunday will be placed, as always, in front of the crosses. I’m hoping to bring home a couple of woven palm fronds which are such treasures and which will migrate to the bedrooms after Easter where they’ll decks the walls.

It was wonderful recently to have some time to research the customs, traditions and foods of Holy Week around the world. I was searching in particular for recipe ideas that could be shared with Keeping the Feast readers and was handsomely rewarded with a multitude of inspiring ideas.

A really good site on Palm Sunday is  www.churchyear.net/palmsunday.html

That site yielded information on traditional foods for Holy Week and provided links to sites on each of the days to come. Now that I have the ingredients and customs in mind, I’ll be working out some recipes for Keeping the Feast during Holy Week.

Where Palm Sunday is concerned, it turns out that figs (long a favorite in our house eaten whole, stuffed with almonds and rolled in powdered sugar) are the ingredient of choice on this very special day because they figured prominently in Jesus’ final journey into Jerusalem. Check out the site above for information on the fig connection.

The recipe here for Basmati rice with figs, mustard seeds, tumeric, hot pepper and ginger was adapted from several sites on the Internet.

The ingredients just seemed to resonate with culinary echoes of Jesus’ life on earth.

Spicy Figs & Rice

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons butter or butter substitute; 1 tablespoon mustard seeds; 1 tablespoon grated ginger; 1 tablespoon tumeric; 1/2 cup minced sweet onion; 1 small hot pepper (optional) seeded and minced; 2 cups basmati rice; 6 small figs, diced; 3 – 1/2 cups water;  salt to taste

Directions: melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, onion , ginger, tumeric and hot pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and stir. Add salt, figs and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 10 minutes. turn heat off and allow to steam another 10 minutes.


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