Book and Drink Pairing: Simple Hot Cocoa for Soul-Warming Books


I had the privilege to discover that Mother Melania of the Holy Assumption Monastery has two biblical picture books in verse for free today on Kindle. Moses and the Burning Bush and The Three Holy Youths in the Furnace feature the Bible stories and their meaning in church tradition in straightforward, clear verse.

Don’t let the idea of verse put you off reading these. There’s nothing cloying in the rhymes. They’re more like reading Shakespeare than the kids’ books that we all dread with forced meters.

Along with the simple and readable poem stories, the bright watercolors bring the feeling of the bright joy of God’s surprising love to the eyes.

I read these to myself and couldn’t help but read aloud, which drew a flock of children near to listen. They pointed to the photos and asked questions and said, “Oh, wow!” a few times.

I highly recommend these books to anyone curious about the ancient Christian tradition surrounding these pivotal stories, and especially for Orthodox and Catholic Christians and inquirers. They’re perfect Lenten reading for families or for adults who love beauty and want a quick read. They’ll stand many re-reads, with new meaning emerging each time.


To go with these soul-warming books, make this simple Lenten cocoa. This is an older way to drink chocolate, similar in taste to some of the drinking chocolates in Europe but with the consistency of coffee rather than kefir. Add a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder to a cup along with a tablespoon (or two) of maple syrup. Stir in hot water from the kettle until you have a drink that looks like medium roast coffee. Enjoy hot. The flavor is bright and soothing.

Amazon shopping list (affiliate links): Moses and the Burning Bush, The Three Holy Youths in the FurnaceGuittard Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder, Organic Maple Syrup, double-wall stainless steel mugs.

 

Advent Preparations: Allergy- AND Fast-friendly Banana Bread

Gluten Free, Egg-free, Dairy-Free Banana Bread

4 medium very ripe bananas, mashed

1 ½ cups gluten free flour mix (any variety with xanthan/guar gum already added)

½ cup red palm & coconut shortening (Such as Nutiva brand), melted

¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

½ cup coconut milk (not low fat)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

Optional: up to 1 cup chopped dates, chocolate chips, or chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350•F. Grease a bread pan with coconut oil or shortening and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Add in dates and nuts if desired, and stir to incorporate. Pour batter into the bread pan evenly. With wetted fingers, smooth the top of the batter slightly. Place pan in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of gooey banana bread batter. (If you used chocolate chips, the toothpick might have chocolate on it. If so, get a clean toothpick and try another spot or two until you can tell if the batter has baked. If it’s still sticking, uncooked, to the toothpick, add 5 minutes to the cooking time and check again.) Remove bread and pan from oven. Let the bread stand in the pan to cool for 10 minutes before cutting it or turning it out on a plate. Serve warm or room temperature.

Read more about our Advent With Autism Guide on my main site!

Tea for Lent

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Mmm. Lenten high cuisine. Carrot slices with a rosemary sprig and plain tea.

Ah, Lent. Weeks when we avoid rich foods in order to feed our poor souls. If you usually take your tea with milk, Lent is also a time to switch to tea varieties that are at their best au naturel.

This Sunday is Cheesefare, the last day before Orthodox Lent. I’ve switched up the tea varieties at our house. Here are my two favorites (affiliate links):

Numi Cardamom Pu-ehr

Harney Chocolate Mint

These are perfect alone or with a drop of maple syrup or honey. If you favor Darjeeling, you already know it’s best without milk and steeped for only 3 minutes.

A holy Lent to those celebrating! For everyone else, enjoy these dairy-free tea and baking options:

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