The Sisters of St. Francis live humble lives of penance, prayer, poverty, and humility.
And they also make some mean baked goods.
On Friday (9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) and Saturday (9:30 a.m. to noon), the nuns will conduct their 16th Annual Sister Gretchen's Bake and Craft Sale to support the order's ministries.
Up for sale will be homemade Easter pies, cakes, bread, cookies, jams, jellies, and candy. If that is a little too much sugar for you, the sisters will also be selling Sister Gretchen's sugar-free sugar cookies, an oxymoron more delectable than spiritual.
Original artwork, prints, cards, jewelry, prayer pillows, soaps, and lotions from the Franciscan gift shop, All Good Things, will also be available. And you have to love the name of the soaps and lotions that will be sold: Holy Aromas.
The baked goods and the crafts are made by the sisters themselves, the order's associates, and their friends.
The sale will be held in the Evergreen Room of the Rosary Care Center on the campus of the Sisters of St. Francis, Lourdes College, in Sylvania.
Take Main Street to Convent Boulevard; turn into the easternmost entrance closest to the railroad tracks-- that's the first entrance if you're coming from Main Street. Follow the bake and craft signs to Rosary Care. For more information, call 419-885-3211.
Those busy bees at the Owens Community College Terrace View Cafe are at it again, with another event to practice their culinary skills and get their name out into the community. This time, we're talking dessert. Lots of dessert.
The school's culinary arts program's advanced baking and pastry class will lay out a dessert buffet from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, with milk and dark chocolate dipped hazelnut-infused fresh strawberries, cream puffs filled with pomegranate Bavarian cream, raspberry maccrons filled with chocolate ganache, strawberry pate de fruit, white and dark Swiss rocher, variety topped mini cheesecakes, mocha truffles, and French vanilla petit fours.
Do your teeth ache yet?
All of this can be yours (which is to say, you can have unlimited trips to the buffet) for just $6. If that is too much of a good thing, individually priced items and boxes will be available for takeout.
Reservations are required at 567-661-7359 or owens.edu/terrace.
The eternal question
Which is better for you -- sugar or honey?
The good folks at the Ohio State University Extension recently waded into this age-old question and came up with a definitive answer: honey. But the distance between the two turns out to be so small that it won't really make a difference.
Both are what are known as calorie-dense sweeteners; in other words, both have a lot of calories (so neither is going to be, technically speaking, healthy). And both are made up of a combination of fructose and glucose. In sugar, the fructose and glucose are bound together in a combination called sucrose (are you paying attention? We'll have a pop quiz on this later in the week). In honey, the fructose and glucose are generally separate although, just to make things even more complicated, there is a little bit of sucrose in honey, too.
Now then, fructose is sweeter than glucose. Honey has more fructose in it, so it is sweeter than sugar. Now we're getting somewhere! Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you would tend to use less of it. However (uh-oh), honey is more dense than sugar, so it has more calories -- 64 calories in a tablespoon, compared to 45 calories in a tablespoon of sugar. If you use less honey than you would sugar, say two-thirds the amount, the calorie count would be about the same.
That said, honey has a tiny amount of healthy nutrients that sugar lacks, such as antioxidants. But, as the extension so pithily points out, "if you're looking at honey as a source of nutrients in your diet, you're in trouble."
So we're back to our original question: Which is better for you -- sugar or honey? The slightest, marginal advantage goes to honey.
But, seriously. We're talking about sugar and honey here. Neither one is actually going to be good for you.
Sometimes, we in the food-writing world tend to overlook the solo diner. Our recipes are all too often written for two, if not four. And, understandably, solo diners do not want to make a big batch of something and then eat it every day for the next three weeks.
Chefs Mark and Lisa Erickson, in conjunction with the Culinary Institute of America, have decided to do something about it. They have written a cookbook specifically for one-person meals, Cooking for One.
The book is out this month (Lebhar-Friedman Books; $24.95) and it contains recipes for such dishes as Brazilian-Style Fish Stew, Steak Salad with Potatoes, Mushrooms, and Blue Cheese, and Ratatouille and Polenta.
Knowing that polenta can be daunting because of all the stirring it requires, we reproduce this much easier recipe, just the right size for one:
1/4 cup medium coarse or coarse stone-ground cornmeal
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon butter, optional
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Whisk together the cornmeal, water, and salt. Pour into a heavy 1-quart casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes; the polenta will be nearly done at this point.
Add the milk and the butter, if using, and stir well until the butter is blended in and the polenta is smooth. Continue to bake until the polenta is fully cooked and creamy, 10 minutes more. Stir in the Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: 1 serving
Source: Cooking for One, by Mark and Lisa Erickson, with the Culinary Institute of America
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