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Modern St. Joseph's Altars

Discussion in 'Foods of the Civil War' started by 18thVirginia, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    When Sicilian immigrants came to New Orleans in the late 1800s, they brought with them a tradition of celebrating St. Joseph's Day, March 19th. St. Joseph had provided relief during a famine in Sicily. It's common for many people in New Orleans to set up St. Joseph's Altars in their homes.

    These are usually decorated with a variety of cakes and cookies, and there are several cookies usually associated with St. Joseph's Day, fig cookies and sesame seed cookies. If you're lucky, someone at work or in your neighborhood will share their Sicilian mama's cookies with you.

    Some examples of St. Joseph Altars:

    635615985893453526-Saint-Joseph-Altar-6fe457de.jpeg

    http://www.myneworleans.com/Blogs/The-Editors-Room/March-2015/The-Town-That-Saved-St-Josephs-Altars/

    e3407064b2ca5fd238b8cb0f71314b5c.jpg


    St. Mary's Church, Old Ursuline Convent, New Orleans https://www.pinterest.com/pin/362821313703364741/


    5547597178_a3d39532ca_o.jpg

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/offbeatmagazine/5547597178/


    feast2.jpg

    St. Joseph's Altar at St. Joseph's Church in New Orleans

    http://www.stjosephchurch-no.org/feast-of-st-joseph/
     

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  3. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Thanks for posting. He is my late Grandma's favorite saint. She always celebrated his day.
     
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  4. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    So, we need a recipe for fig cookies and one for sesame seed cookies. Here's one from Emeril:

    Ingredients
    1 pound all-purpose flour (3 1/2 cups)
    1 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 pound vegetable shortening
    1 large egg
    3/4 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup water
    1/2 pound sesame seeds

    Directions
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl or pan, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder. Add the shortening and work it in with your hands until well mixed. Add the eggs and vanilla, and 3/4 cup of water, and work in well. The dough should hold together but not be sticky. If needed, work in a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Place the seeds in a shallow baking pan. Pinch off a small amount of dough, about the size of a small fist, and cover the remaining dough with a damp dish towel. Roll the dough out into a long rope, about 1-inch in diameter. Cut the dough into 2-inch pieces. Drip a small amount of water through a fine mesh sieve, and sprinkle over a small portion of the sesame seeds to wet them (but do not wet the seeds until they will be used). Roll the dough in the seeds, pressing slightly to make them adhere. Place the seeded dough onto a large ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven until the bottoms are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes over and place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on cooling racks. Serve at room temperature, or keep in tins for up to 2 weeks.

    Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001

    Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/sesame-seed-cookies-recipe.html?oc=linkback
     
  5. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    The cookies look like this:

    5a0c88.jpg
     
  6. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    And for Fig Cookies:

    1 lb. dried figs
    1 lb. seedless raisins
    1 lb. pecans
    3/4 c. sugar
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. allspice
    1/2 tsp. nutmeg
    1/2 c. water or more to make the mixture soft
    4 or 5 pieces orange peel

    Grind this together.

    Dough:

    3 c. plain flour
    3 eggs
    3 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. vanilla
    3 heaping tsp. shortening
    1/4 c. milk (if too stiff, add more milk)

    Mix eggs, vanilla, and milk together. Blend in shortening. Mix flour and baking powder. Slowly add to first mixture. Knead all together until it is plain as cookie dough. Cut a piece and roll out flat. Add fig filling. Roll again and flatten a little. Cut them in slices the size you like. Bake at 350 F about 20 to 30 minutes.

    Some fig cookies have icing and sprinkles.
     
  7. MRB1863

    MRB1863 Captain Forum Host

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    Great photos of a lavish display! Recipes sound like they would be tasty. They are surely appropriate for St. Joseph's Day! Thank you.
     
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  8. Blessmag

    Blessmag Captain

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    Never heard of this one. Pull up a chair and eat sweets!
     
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  9. Georgia Coast

    Georgia Coast Sergeant

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    I was wondering if they tasted anything like Charleston benne seed wafers but they look very different.
     
  10. Allie

    Allie Captain

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    Sometimes these cookies look pretty amazing, too! If you're not aware, you might not realize that what looks like a decoration sitting next to a cookie is often a cookie sitting next to a cookie!
     
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  11. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    These are very beautiful, and bountiful! I've never heard of this - wonderful. :thumbsup:

    I'm ignorant, however - is it ok to eat that food? Is that what it's meant for? In our tradition, foodstuffs on an altar or at a prayer place are never eaten - it's for the spirit people to feast!
     
  12. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    diane see http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=2835

    The members of churches prepare the altars for St. Joseph. They open doors of church on March 19, St. Joseph Day, for all to view the altars. The priest blesses the food and then they distribute it to the needy.
     
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  13. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    The spirits of New Orleanians would expect that there would be enough for both the living and spirits, diane.:giggle: Not having way more than enough food just isn't acceptable in NOLA.
     
  14. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    :thumbsup: They got that right! I dearly love an Indian potluck. May not beat the Baptist ladies for super good, but brother there's a LOT of it! :roflmao:
     
  15. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Another great thread for St. Joseph's Day, March 19th.
     
  16. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    I remember reading about these altars last year. It was good to see them again.
     
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  17. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    St. Joseph Zeppoles are baked around Long Island for this great day. My name is Patrick Joseph in part because of the proximity of the two feasts.
     
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  18. Anna Elizabeth Henry

    Anna Elizabeth Henry Sergeant Major Silver Patron

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    Love the St. Joseph's Day pastries the local Italian bakeries put out. I live a block away from an Italian social club and they hold a mini parade of sorts up my street to their club with a small marching band and a decorated St. Joseph statue on a float. I look forward to it every year. If you bring a food offering they'll give you a specially blessed prayer card.
     
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  19. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    A thread for St. Joseph Day, March 19th.
     
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  20. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    St. Joseph's Zeppole

    st joe zep.JPG
     
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