Celebrating like a Catholic

Photo: Angela Kim Photo: Angela Kim

Our Catholic life is full of celebration. Solemnities, feasts, first sacraments and birthdays are all cause for celebrations, and we plan our lives around them. Celebrations are important, even integral to our happiness. To celebrate means, in part, to solemnly observe and commemorate with festivities. A priest celebrates the Mass. And for Catholics, our personal celebrations are enhanced by a deep connection to the holy Eucharist.

Recently, a desire formed in my heart to be part of the catechetical formation of the godchildren in my life, specifically through volunteering for our parish Sunday school. Despite feeling overcommitted already, I mentioned it to my sister, who was surprisingly open to the prospect.

With some trepidation that our desire to volunteer for Sunday school could turn into a yearlong stressful time crunch, we threw our hats into the ring and were accepted. Huzzah! Desire fulfilled. Still, there were nagging questions. When would we have time to prepare for Sunday school during the week? What downtime would we have, if any? How would we get to Sunday Mass? We decided to meet our class of children before planning any further, after which our focus and conversation became solely about getting to Mass.

That first Sunday came and went, and it was blessed. Turns out, we had the order of our concerns wrong. Once our sole priority became about getting to Mass that Sunday, everything fell into its proper place. We soon learned what was needed of us for Sunday school, and were reassured that Mass would continue to anchor our Sundays as always. As for downtime and respite, we are still learning.

This time of year can feel stressful as we plan and organize our commitments and celebrations. Working backward and onward from celebration days like Christmas and other feasts and solemnities of the season can help us prepare the most appropriately generous events. A festive brunch or dinner need not be either 21 courses or microwaved frozen waffles and a juice box.

With a few curated ingredients, you can ease any entertaining stress. At home, we like to have on hand a good cheese or two, cured olives and tree nuts, and biscuit cookies that beg for strong dark coffee. It is easy to assemble a little something for last-minute guests, or if we are just feeling nibbly. Handmade and purchased spreads can also be easily suited to an hors d’oeuvre menu or a course in the main meal. Allow me to share a preparation of hummus for your celebrations. Handmade or purchased, it transforms beautifully into a highlight. Happy cooking!

Dressed hummus

3 to 4 cups hummus, handmade or purchased

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice from ½ a large lemon

3 to 5 ounces feta in water, rinsed with cold water and dried

¼ cup fresh pomegranate arils

3 tablespoons pistachios, chopped or gently crushed

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped or torn

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn

1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped or torn

Heap prepared hummus onto large serving plate or platter. With a large spoon, spread hummus toward outer edge of plate using artful swooshes and swooping arcs, creating a sea of curved ridges and valleys where olive oil can pool. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over hummus. Break and crumble feta in hands and shower atop hummus. Top with pomegranate arils. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Gently toss herbs on a separate plate, and scatter atop dressed hummus. Accompany with sliced vegetables, gluten-free chips and Middle Eastern–style flatbread.

Kitchen notes

Experiment and have fun with flavors, adding bits of roast pork, roast chicken, tomato, cucumber, onion and more!

Northwest Catholic - December 2019

Angela Kim

Angela Kim is a chef and a member of Seattle’s Blessed Sacrament Parish.