A Word from the Cookbook Committee…
In 1998 several of the young women at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin, Tennessee had an idea. Could we compile a cookbook containing fasting recipes that our families would actually eat? All of us who worked on the original Taste & See cookbook were converts to the Orthodox faith. Our first Lents were spent poring over dozens of Lenten and vegan cookbooks. Most of the recipes were very foreign to us in name or in ingredients or both. Lent was supposed to be a time when we spent LESS time worrying about food preparation and more time praying. How is this possible when we can’t figure out what to fix for dinner each night?
We were overwhelmed by the success of our project. Taste & See: American Orthodox Cooking was published in 1999 by the Women of St. Ignatius. A couple thousand copies were sold, raising more than $8000 for the Antiochian Women’s Orphanage Fund. It was a blessing to our families and many others like us and has become a favorite cookbook of Orthodox cooks all over America.
In the years since that cookbook was published and became out of print, there was still a demand for the original Taste & See. Many people who have enjoyed the first cookbook repeatedly requested a sequel.
In 2011, many of the original participants in the first Taste & See project were attending a mission parish in Murfreesboro, Tennessee started by folks from St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church in Franklin and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Nashville. Founded in 2005, St. Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church is the only Orthodox Church in Rutherford County, one of the largest and fastest-growing counties in the southeastern United States. The mission had outgrown its rented space and needed its own building to continue to grow. The Women of St. Ignatius gave the Women of St. Elizabeth their permission and blessing to revive the Taste & See project with a sequel cookbook to raise money for the mission’s building fund.
We wanted the sequel to be another all-American book with recipes as diverse as our Great Melting Pot. With the help of more than 150 contributors from 63 parishes across America, this cookbook contains 500 all-new recipes, more than a 65% increase from the original Taste & See cookbook. We requested recipes that are as “stress-free” as possible. We want to spend more time praying during fasting periods and less time worrying about food. In addition to recipes for everyday, we also included some more elaborate recipes that are good for special occasions (birthdays, name days, etc.).
You may find some ingredients that are unusual or foreign to you; they were to us when we first started as well. We’ve included a brief glossary at the beginning to help you with these. We suggest that you don’t try to dive into a bunch of new things all at once. Try only one or two new unusual ingredients each fasting period to minimize stress while still adding to your repertoire.
The majority of the cookbook contains recipes that adhere to standard Orthodox fasting guidelines: no meat, dairy or seafood with a spine. Recipes with oil and/or wine are designated with an asterisk (*) after the name. In addition, we’ve included some of our favorite feasting recipes, traditional Orthodox favorites and recipes that are designed to serve a crowd.
Several members of our parish, especially our children, have food allergies and intolerances. Recipes containing the common allergens of shellfish and peanuts are easy to determine. Gluten, however, is much harder to detect by simply reading the recipe. We wanted our cookbook to be mindful of that need as well. Several of the adults in our parish who deal with gluten issues — either for themselves or for their children — have reviewed the recipes. Those that contain no gluten have a designation after the title – [GF].
The committee would especially like to thank St. Elizabeth the New Martyr for her intercessions to our Lord for us; our parish for their wonderful support; our priest, Fr. John Oliver, for his faithful shepherding; Fr. Stephen Rogers and the women of St. Ignatius for their gracious blessing to continue the Taste & See series; and our families for taking care of the rest of life while we were working on this project.
With God being our Helper, we have been able to produce another cookbook that we pray will relieve stress and be a blessing for thousands of American Orthodox cooks.
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