Cashew Cream Sauce

This post is a follow-up to the previous one about our Lenten celeb chef Athena Raptis Kamaris.  Athena made stuffed chard and also a variety of sauces to dip it in.  This sauce is great for Lent because it has protein and B vitamins.  

-1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

-1/2 tsp unrefined kosher salt or sea salt

-Black pepper, to taste

-1 box (10.5 oz) silken tofu or full fat coconut/cashew milk

-Dash of turmeric (optional) (note from Fr. Greg – not optional!)

-Cornstarch (to make a slurry for thickening)

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and mix until smooth.  Can be used cold as a spread in sandwiches, dip or topping for vegetables, baked potatoes, etc. 

For additional variety you can also add additional ingredients such as the following:

-Canned artichokes

-Roasted red peppers

-Roasted tomato


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March 8th, 2018 by Fr. Greg

Stuffed Chard

Our annual Celebrity Chef series kicked off during the first week of Lent with a great demonstration by Athena Raptis Kamaris.  Athena is the real deal when it comes to being a chef – creative, industrious, and fearless.  She made a bunch of stuff, but today I am featuring her stuffed chard.  In this recipe she uses bulgur but you can substitute quinoa to make it gluten- and grain-free.  I will post the sauces she made soon.

Stuffed Vegetables With Bulgur Wheat

-2 cups bulgur wheat

-4 cups boiling water

-Vegetables of choice for stuffing

-Onion, diced

-Garlic, minced

-Fresh mint, chopped

-Fresh parsley, chopped

-Low-sodium vegetable broth

-Black pepper

-Sea/kosher salt


-…and any other vegetables and/or herbs of choice

Place bulgur wheat in a large bowl (bulgur wheat will expand). Add boiling water and cover tightly with plastic film. Set aside for about 20 minutes, uncover and fluff with fork.

Prepare choice of vegetables. If using Swiss chard, wash and cut stem of chard and set aside. In boiling water, cook leaves until tender. Lay out on sheet pan and let cool. Dice the stems, diced onion, and minced garlic. In saute pan, heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and add vegetables. Saute until tender. Add currants, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and any other ingredients you like.

Combine with bulgur and mix well. Begin stuffing vegetables.

Time of cooking will vary depending on vegetable of choice.

Swiss chard will cook in oven for approximately 40 minutes at 350.

Drizzle with sauce of choice.



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March 8th, 2018 by Fr. Greg

Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve

Tomorrow is February 2 – Groundhog Day!  But more importantly it is the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple – basically, Jesus’s and Mary’s 40 day blessing.  Being the 40th day after Christmas it marks the true end of the Christmas season and, liturgically, we start looking ahead, ultimately, to Easter.  We will have service in the morning and, at the end of liturgy, bless the candles in the narthex.  This practice, which comes from the elder Simeon calling Jesus “a light to enlighten the Gentiles”, lends the alternate name “Candlemas” to the feast.  Some thoughts:

-You will notice in church tomorrow the Christmas colors and flowers are gone, which reflects the end of the Christmas season.

-With this turn toward looking to Easter, there are traditional practices of figuring out when the weather will start changing.  Groundhog Day comes from a German Candlemas tradition.

-In some Western Candlemas traditions there is a notion that bad luck will strike the house or church that leaves up Christmas decorations past February 2 (I personally believe it is prudent to leave up Christmas lights year round but that is me).  Since I am writing this on the eve of Candlemas, I thought I would share a favorite poem concerning the above tradition.  It is by Robert Herrick, a 17th century English Poet.

Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.

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February 1st, 2018 by Fr. Greg

The Many St. Gregorys

Last week I celebrated my name day/feast day – St. Gregory the Theologian – and yesterday was the feast of the Three Hierarchs, of which Gregory the Theologian is one of them. I received some wishes yesterday for what is sort of a secondary name day feast for me. In all cases I am very thankful for people remembering; it seems that we are slowly losing the name day tradition, and this is a sad thing. In addition to the greetings I also heard from a lot of people that they were confused about the many different St. Gregorys – there are indeed a lot of saints bearing this name! Here is a quick rundown on some of the more well known saints (all dates refer to the Orthodox feast – in some cases they have a different date in the Roman Catholic church):

-The vast majority of people with my name in the Greek Orthodox Church celebrate St. Gregory the Theologian (Jan. 25), who lived in the 4th century. He is sometimes known as Gregory of Nazianzus, but this more properly refers to his father, Gregory the Elder, who is also a saint.

-St. Gregory the Illuminator (Sep. 30), active in the 3rd and 4th century, is the patron saint of Armenia. He brought Christianity to that country, which was the first to adopt Christianity as its official religion. The Armenian version of Gregory is Krikor. Mike Connors, who passed away almost exactly a year ago, starred in Mannix and his real name was Krekor Ohanian. I always wondered why he didn’t just go by Gregory Ohanian, but apparently Hollywood changed his name because it was too close to George O’Hanlon, an old-time Hollywood actor who, most importantly to me, voiced George Jetson in The Jetsons.

-St. Gregory the Great (March 12) was active in the 6th century and is also knows as Gregory, Pope of Rome and Gregory the Dialogist. This latter term is how he is known in the Eastern church and refers to his authorship of The Dialogues. Some years back our Metropolitan distributed to us a translation of one of his works which argued that women should NOT refrain from receiving communion when they are menstruating. I blogged about this at the time and will try to repost.

-St. Gregory of Nyssa (Jan. 10) is hugely popular in Orthodox circles and really in many Christian jurisdictions for his theological writings. He was active in the 4th century. His brother was St. Basil, and the two of them, along with Gregory the Theologian, are known as the Cappadocian Fathers – a reference to where they were from and were active.

-St. Gregory the Wonderworker (Nov. 17) was yet another saint active in the 3rd century and in Asia Minor. He is probably the coolest guy in this list because there is an air of mystery about him; few of his writings survive but his life is well attested and he was known for making miracles, hence his title.

-St. Gregory of Palamas (second Sunday of Lent). Gregory is the most recent saint on this list – he reposed in the mid-14th century. He was a key figure in the Hesycast controversy – a dispute in the Church about contemplative prayer (Hesycast comes from the Greek word for silence). We celebrate him on the second Sunday of Lent, which follows the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The idea is that his work was a continuation of the work of those who won the day in the Iconoclastic controversy.

There are many more saints who bear the name of Gregory. Like most if not all Greeks, I celebrate St. Gregory the Theologian, but I am thankful for name day wishes whenever any of these great saints are celebrated 🙂

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January 31st, 2018 by Fr. Greg

Haters Gonna Hate

I am in the stretch run of my doctorate, and in the process I have been going through old emails from the classroom portion of the program.  During the eight classes we were usually responsible for posting reflections on a weekly basis.  In the next few weeks I will post some of them; here is one, from a class called Ministry In A Secular World…

While the focus of this class is on ministering in a secular age or environment, this week’s readings from Mark – chapters 2 and 3 – deal with fanatical believers rather than secularists. This is good, because we have to deal with the problem of hateful fanatics as well as the secular culture. In fact, very often the fanatics keep people who have marinated in the secular culture away from the Church. A good example of this is on Facebook, where there are a bunch of Orthodox groups. Most of them are great. One very popular one is called, ominously, Traditional Orthodox (Canonical).

First of all, if you need to label yourself canonical you likely aren’t. In addition to this, the profile picture for the group is an icon of Jesus wielding a sword. I imagine this is in reference to the passage in Matthew about coming to bring the sword, but it is scary. The stuff that is posted is also scary. I was recently involved in a lengthy thread on the term “Papist”, which the people in the group were using. I explained that this is an offensive term, and their response was like “So? It is technically correct”. The discussion ended with people debating if I was a real priest because I don’t have a beard and I wear a “Roman dog collar”. The scariest part of this group is that non-clergy are part of it and many are new to Orthodoxy. Can you imagine investigating the faith and seeing these discussions? There is zero love in the group. I remain a part of it so I can keep an eye on what is going on and also to be a troublemaker with the haters.

Christianity’s destiny was set when Paul set his sights on the west (although we need to remember that for close to a thousand years the eastern church – the Church of the East – thrived and had missions all the way to Mongolia). But as the account in Mark reminds us, Christ had to deal with insiders who hated the truth. These people remain with us to this day, and they are an obstacle to ministering to our own people as well as to reaching out to the unchurched who live in a secular environment.

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January 29th, 2018 by Fr. Greg

God And Clothes

I have a new post in the “Our Faith” section of the church website going up soon.  Here is an excerpt – you can read the rest there:

We are all familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and their disobedience to God. The story forms the basis of our Orthodox understanding of humanity – we are imperfect beings striving to continuously improve and live holy lives. One of the many facets of the story is the introduction of the idea of shame – Adam and Eve, after sinning, become aware that they are naked and, in the brief verse 21 in Genesis 3, we learn that God made “garments of skin” for them to wear. This is an interesting detail (and in the Bible the details have meaning – they are never just added for color). Why did God choose to make clothes from animal skins rather than from a plant-based material?

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January 4th, 2018 by Fr. Greg

2017 Music/The Rasputins

For years I have thought about doing my own year-end music awards and calling them The Rasputins , since Rasputin and I share the same first name.  This has never happened largely because by the end of the year I have lost track of great new stuff that I have listened to throughout the year.  However, at this point I basically buy almost all of my new music on iTunes through my phone, so the “recently added” section of iTunes keeps track of this stuff for me.  So, below is a list of great new music I listened to this past year.  If you know my musical tastes, you know what to expect – mostly classic rock/alternative oriented tunes.

-The Sunniest Day EP by The Greek Theatre.  This is a great Swedish band that put out an album years ago and then, to my knowledge, disappeared.  Good to have them back with a few new tunes.

-In Mind by Real Estate.  Another of my favorite bands.  Between the band and various offshoots there is new music every year.

-Show You The Way by Thundercat.  This is a single featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.  No further commentary needed.

-Sunny Side Down by Mark Crozer & The Rels.  Technically this came out in 2016.  I love Teenage Fanclub and these guys share a similar sound and…I hate when critics use sensibility in this context but that is the perfect word.

-Tomorrow Forever by Matthew Sweet.  A typical mix of high-energy songs and ballads.

-Ogilala by Billy Corgan.  Stripped down and contemplative and the best tunes he has produced in while.

-Baby, It’s Love by Flights and Arrows.  If you have listen to as much Boston sports radio as I do you will have heard this song on Subaru commercials endlessly.  I had to get it.

-The Shelters – debut album produced by Tom Petty, RIP.

-Adios Senor Pussycat by Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band.  Head is the singer for Shack, a great Liverpool group that I really like. 

-Sweater Weather by Parks.  Parks is a Boston-area band headed by Brian King.  His music is brilliant but the name of the band, as with The Greek Theatre mentioned above, makes it hard to search for his music – searches tend to turn up various “live at so-and-so park” albums.

Above are just a few of the great new songs and albums that I listened to this past year.  I am looking forward to more great stuff in 2018!

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December 31st, 2017 by Fr. Greg