The morning after Easter, I entered our kitchen and saw an unusually shaped loaf of bread on the counter. It was a cylinder, as many bread machine loaves are, but it clearly was not from a bread machine. This loaf was soft and delicate, and I’ve never met a bread machine that could accomplish that. Plus, it didn’t have the telltale hole in its bottom, where the dough hooks would have been.
Later in the day, I learned from Son that it was a gift from friends of ours. It was Blessed Bread. A priest had blessed it.
Son proceeded to tell me the guidelines, as they were told to him.
Basically, under no circumstance can we throw it out. We can give it away, offer it to a friend, a neighbor, a passerby on the street, but we cannot toss it. Not any portion of it. We can’t use half the loaf and toss the rest. In other words, under no circumstance should any portion of the bread be wasted.
My first reaction was deep, deep concern. Followed closely by panic.
What happens if we throw it out? What’s the penalty?
Son didn’t know.
What about the crumbs? What if crumbs fall on the floor?
What if we accidentally drop crumbs and they wind up thrown away? What happens then?
Son wasn’t sure. He reminded me we could give it away, but I was uncomfortable with the thought of re-gifting Blessed Bread. And besides, I didn’t want to put anyone else through this stress.
Son suggested we feed it to Dog. Our friends told him it would be okay. Animals can eat Blessed Bread, if the humans don’t.
I appreciated the humanitarian aspect of the law, however Dog might get sick eating so much bread. Then what?
Son told me I was lucky we weren’t given Blessed Eggs. According to our friends, the issue with Blessed Eggs is you can’t throw away the shells. You can burn them, though.
All kidding aside, the laws governing blessed food are not as silly as one might think. And while my initial reaction was a rising sense of fear, I now realize my worry was unfounded.
From what I can see, there’s no real “penalty” for wasting food that has been blessed, only a directive not to. You won’t find your family cursed or your home struck by lightning if you throw it away.
Instead, it’s a matter of staying mindful of what it is, being thankful of the grace that was given, and being respectful of the blessing itself.
But I think there’s even more to it than that.
If you knew your small family had to consume a large meal and not waste any portion of it, what would you do?
You’d probably invite family and friends over for dinner, right? Invite the widow down the street, or the young couple who have no family nearby. Or maybe you’d give some to the neighbors, donate the extra to a shelter … in other words, it’s all about sharing.
Isn’t that beautiful? Blessings often are.
The recipe I decided to share today is based on one I found in The Cotton Country Collection, which I think was the first cookbook I bought when I was on my own. If I remember right, it was in a ‘bargain bin’ and I probably paid $2 for it. But it has served me well, as you can tell by it’s condition. Not sure if it’s still in print, but you can find it at abebooks.com. The recipe in Cotton Country is called “Poor Knights.” I call mine something else.
Blessed French Toast
- 6 thick slices Blessed Bread (or French bread, if you ran out of Blessed Bread)
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- A few dashes each of nutmeg and cinnamon
Prepare the night before: Put slices of bread in a 9×13 baking dish. Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla and spices; mix well. Pour over bread and turn the slices several times until they are completely saturated with the egg mixture. Cover dish and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, heat butter in cast-iron skillet. Grill the toast until golden on both sides. Serve with syrup or preserves.