Sunday, December 27, 2009



from etail), 18th century; Neapolitan
Th From the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eighteenth century Neapolitan creche donated in 1964 by Loretta Hines Howard. froMuseof Art, New York
eee Neapolitan
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
of Loretta Hines Howard, 1964

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe by Fr.Jose Luis Guerrero

There are many good books available on Our Lady of Guadalupe for both children and adults. Fr. Lovasik, Tomie de Paolo, Ernestine Nobisso are a few of the many children's authors who have written books that retell the story of the Blessed Virgin's appearance to a Mexican Indian, Juan Diego, in 1531. Dr. Warren Carroll, Carl Anderson, and Francis Mary are among authors who have given in depth accounts for adults on the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego.

Our Lady Of Guadalupe by Fr. Jose Luis Guerrero is a booklet based on the "El Nican Mopohua" written in Nahuatl in 1556 by Antonio Valeriano, a native writer. The "El Nican Mopohua" was the first written account to give information on Juan Diego and the apparitions. Fr. Guerrero who is a priest at the Basilica of Guadalupe has degrees in both Theology and Canon Law. He draws on this Nahuatlan account with its descriptions of signs and symbols important to the Indian culture to show how God communicated to the Indians by infusing the Blessed Mother's appearances with symbols of great meaning to them. The author explains in this small booklet the significance of various symbols and associations and what they meant to the Indians. He shows how God by using their symbols in speaking to them enabled countless Indians to embrace the Catholic faith through the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The booklet is put out by Liguori and may be found at Catholic shops or on line at  To celebrate this great appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the conversion of so many of the Indians in Mexico, a recipe for Sopaipillas is given.


(Fried Bread Puffs) Level: Moderate – Adult Supervision
These dough puffs popular in Mexico are often found in a variety of geometric shapes. You can cut them out in the shape of stars to represent the stars on Our Lady of Guadalupe’s mantle, or use your imagination to form other shapes.
PREP: 15 minutes CHILL: 30 minutes FRY: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons lard or shortening /pastry cutter
2 cups all-purpose flour /medium-sized bowl
2 teaspoons baking powder/measuring spoons
1 teaspoon salt /fork
2/3 cup lukewarm water /candy/frying thermometer
Vegetable oil for frying/ large frying pan
Cinnamon and sugar, confectionary sugar, /rolling pin
Or honey /floured surface
Caramel Syrup Recipe /roll of paper towels
3 cups of water /paper bag/serving plate
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar /saucepan
¼ teaspoon anise seeds
1. Add flour, baking powder and salt into one medium-size bowl.
2. Cut shortening into flour mixture completely
with a pastry cutter.
3. Sprinkle in water, 1 tbsp. at a time, tossing with fork
until all flour is moist and dough almost
cleans sides of bowl. Gather dough into a ball.
Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
4. Place frying pan on burner. Set heat on medium high.
Fill oil to about 1 ½ inches.
Heat to 400 degrees. Check with thermometer frequently.
5. While oil is heating, roll dough on
lightly floured surface into rectangles, 12 X 10 inches.
Cut into rectangles, 3 X 2 inches.
Fry 3 or 4 rectangles at a time until puffed and golden.
Turning once, about 2 minutes on each side.
Or roll dough into circles and
cut stars out by hand with cookie cutters. Repeat. Fry.
6. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar,
toss in a paper bag with confections’ sugar,
or drizzle with caramel syrup.
Carmel Syrup – Put all ingredients in saucepan.
Turn heat to medium.
stir until sugar has melted. Bring to boil quickly.
Let boil for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool. Drizzle over puffs.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mexican Treat - St. Juan Diego, Dec. 9

St. Juan Diego is a recent addition to the universal calendar of Advent saints. He was beatified on May 6, 1990 and canonized in July of 2002. Born in 1474 in what is now part of Mexico City, he came from the Chichimeca people. Poor in material goods, he was a gentle and virtuous man.
When Juan Diego was fifty years old he became a Catholic. He was instructed in the faith by Spanish missionaries. In 1531 seven years later, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him several times requesting a chapel be built in Mexico City to introduce her Son to the Indians of Mexico. Juan Diego's mission was to take this request to Bishop Zumarraga and persuade him to build the chapel. Twice Juan Diego approached the bishop with the request and was put off. The third time the mother of Our Lord gave Juan Diego a sign that the bishop had required to indicate the request was authentic and not a figment of Juan Diego's imagination. Beautiful roses from the hills of Tepeyac were to be given to the Bishop. Placed in his tilma (poncho) with great care Juan Diego brought them to Bishop Zumarraga. When he opened his tilma the roses spilled out. The bishop was amazed at roses in the month of December, but he was even more amazed at the picture of the Blessed Mother appearing on Juan Diego's tilma. These two signs along with a third one, the healing of Juan Diego's dying uncle, convinced the bishop that the Mother of God had indeed appeared to Juan Diego.
In the weeks following the miracles, the chapel was built and completed. The Indians of Mexico came to view the miraculous image of Mary hanging on the tilma in the chapel. A great number were converted to the Catholic faith. Juan Diego was granted permission by the bishop to become the caretaker of the chapel and the tilma with the miraculous image. He continued in this capacity until his death in 1548. Today the miraculous image hangs in the cathedral in Mexico City for all to see. Juan Diego through his responsiveness and perseverance to the Blessed Mother's request helped bring Jesus and the Catholic faith to the Mexican people.
If you are looking for a book, St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe by Josephine Nobisso or The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola retell the story for young readers.

Here is a treat from Mexico to celebrate Juan Diego's feast day. To busy to bake? Buy some
churros or bunuelos to celebrate the feast! A cup of Mexican hot chocolate would be tasty, too!

4 cups of milk
1 Abuelita Tablet (can be found in Hispanic Food section of store)
sugar to taste

Warm milk and add Abuelita tablet. Let tablet dissolve.Transfer to blender and blend thoroughly. Pour into cups.



Friday, December 4, 2009

Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8

Cookies for Mary! Aren't they just beautiful? Wouldn't you say they are fit for a Queen?

The feast of the Immaculate Conception occurs in the first half of Advent. On this day we honor Mary, Jesus' mother, for being conceived without Original Sin. We say Mary was immaculately conceived. What does that mean? It means from the beginning of her life, Mary had not the slightest trace of sin in her soul. Her soul was full of grace. She didn't have to wait to be baptized like the rest of us in order to receive God's life within her. The Immaculate Conception was a special gift to Mary because God had chosen her to be the mother of his Son. From the beginning Mary had a heart full of love - love for God and love for each one of us. What better way to honor Mary and celebrate her special day than by making heart shape cookies and decorating them? Sharing a few with others will capture the true spirit of this great Mother!

Here is an excellent sugar cookie recipe taken from Tasha Tudor's wonderful Christmas book, Take Joy! This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies. You can make a dozen or two and freeze the remaining dough for later. If you are pressed for time you can buy sugar cookie dough or any one of your favorite varieties. The dough is rolled out and then cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters. After baking you can decorate to your heart's content.


PREP: 20 minutes CHILL: 1 hour or more BAKE: 8 - 10 min.
4 sticks of real unsalted butter 1 large mixing bowl
2 eggs measuring spoons
5 cups all-purpose flour measuring cups
2 cups of sugar 1 small bowl
A pinch of salt rolling pin
1 tablespoon vanilla heart-shaped cookie cutters
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in clean rolling surface
3 tablespoons of milk
Frosting or icing
Decorations: colored sprinkles, colored sugars, candies, candy flowers, candy ribbons, etc.
*May use ready-made dough instead.

DIRECTIONS YIELD: 5 – 6 dozen cookies
1 Soften butter to room temperature. (Microwave on 5 seconds. Check to see if butter is softened. Repeat until just softened.)
2 Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in 3 tablespoons milk.
3 Mix butter, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, dissolved soda and milk in a large bowl with hands until the dough is smooth. The dough does not seem to be adversely effected by handling. Form dough into a ball, dust with flour and chill thoroughly before using.
4 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5 Break c hilled dough into convenient sized pieces. Take only the amount you want to bake for today. Add a bit more flour for ease in rolling out.
6  dust the surface with flour. Place dough the size of an adult fist on surface. Roll out as thin as possible. Cut out with heart-shaped cookie cutters. Dust with colored sugar if desired. Blue would be pretty. You may way to make one or two very large cookies, also. Heart-shaped cookie cutters come in all sizes!
7  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees until light brown about 12 minutes.
8 Cool on a rack.
9 Decorate with frosting, pipe icing around the edges or drizzle chocolate, add sprinkles, and any tasty decorations that you like. Candied roses would be a nice touch.