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August 27th is National Pots de Creme Day and Feast of St. Monica the patron of homemakers and housewives

August 26, 2008

Now here is one heck of a twist. I never knew there was a patron saint for homemakers, – or home engineers is how I like to name it. You see I work at home, I am not a wife but a domestic partner in a wonderful relationship with a fellow by the name of Isaac. I do most of the housework, cooking and cleaning, but we bring in almost equal amounts of money to the household – Go figure that out… anyhooooo, here’s a little about St. Monica courtesy of CatholicCulture.org’s website:

St. Monica
St. Monica is an example of those holy matrons of the ancient Church who proved very influential in their own quiet way. Through prayer and tears she gave the great Augustine to the Church of God, and thereby earned for herself a place of honor in the history of God’s kingdom on earth.

The Confessions of St. Augustine provide certain biographical details. Born of Christian parents about the year 331 at Tagaste in Africa, Monica was reared under the strict supervision of an elderly nurse who had likewise reared her father. In the course of time she was given in marriage to a pagan named Patricius. Besides other faults, he possessed a very irascible nature; it was in this school of suffering that Monica learned patience. It was her custom to wait until his anger had cooled; only then did she give a kindly remonstrance. Evil-minded servants had prejudiced her mother-in-law against her, but Monica mastered the situation by kindness and sympathy.

Her marriage was blessed with three children: Navigius, Perpetua, who later became a nun, and Augustine, her problem child. According to the custom of the day, baptism was not administered to infants soon after birth. It was as an adolescent that Augustine became a catechumen, but possibly through a premonition of his future sinful life, Monica postponed his baptism even when her son desired it during a severe illness.

When Augustine was nineteen years old, his father Patricius died; by patience and prayer Monica had obtained the conversion of her husband.

The youthful Augustine caused his mother untold worry by indulging in every type of sin and dissipation. As a last resort after all her tears and entreaties had proved fruitless, she forbade him entrance to her home; but after a vision she received him back again. In her sorrow a certain bishop consoled her: “Don’t worry, it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost.”

When Augustine was planning his journey to Rome, Monica wished to accompany him. He outwitted her, however, and had already embarked when she arrived at the docks. Later she followed him to Milan, ever growing in her attachment to God. St. Ambrose held her in high esteem, and congratulated Augustine on having such a mother. At Milan she prepared the way for her son’s conversion. Finally the moment came when her tears of sorrow changed to tears of joy. Augustine was baptized. And her lifework was completed. She died in her fifty-sixth year, as she was returning to Africa. The description of her death is one of the most beautiful passages in her son’s famous “Confessions.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Patron: Abuse victims; alcoholics; alcoholism; difficult marriages; disappointing children; homemakers; housewives; married women; mothers; victims of adultery; victims of unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse; widows; wives.

Symbols: Monstrance; IHC on a tablet; veil or handkerchief; open book; girdle; staff; tears.

***Wow, I should have just stayed on the Pots de Creme day….so what the heck is Pots de Creme, I too had to find out. This is from potsdecreme.com – yes there really is a site just about French custard.

All About Pots de Creme by Barbara Bowman

Pots de Creme refers to both the custard dessert as well as the small lidded pots this dessert is served in. Pots de creme, or pot-au-creme translates from French to English as “pot of cream”. The French do not have a word for “custard” the dish is simply referred to as “creme”. The pots may also be referred to as “petits pots“. Technically the pots de creme is a lightly set, baked custard. The “traditional” proportions for this dessert is one whole egg to every five egg yolks for 2 1/2 to 3 cups of liquid. A dessert made with these basic proportions will yield a barely firm custard. This is why the custard is best served in small pots (or ramekins).

How it is Made

The earliest version of this dessert was baked and chilled prior to serving in the little cups. The method most common today is as follows. Milk, heavy cream or half and half is heated and the flavoring (commonly chocolate) is melted after the liquid is removed from the burner. The eggs are whisked until smooth. Then, the hot flavoring mixture is gently whisked into the eggs. The custard should then be strained through a fine sieve to remove any bits of egg or chocolate not properly incorporated. This will produce a very smooth custard. The empty cups are place in a baking dish. The mixture is poured into the cups until each is about 3/4 full.

Baking
The custard is baked in a bath of hot water. This process allows the eggs to cook slowly and evenly. Hot water is added to the baking dish until the level reaches about half way up the sides of the pots. The covers are put on the pots (or the baking dish covered with foil) to prevent a “skin” from forming on the top of the custard. The custard is baked in a low to moderate oven for about 20 minutes. It’s important not to overcook the eggs because they will get “rubbery”.

Custard Flavors and Recipes
The traditional pots de creme flavor was vanilla but recipes can be found in many flavors including the very prominent chocolate as well as caramel, pumpkin or coffee.
Some of the recipes found for Pots de Creme are really more of a “moose” which contains either whipped cream or beaten egg whites. For those seeking out a lower fat version we came up with a recipe for a “soy” version we call “Soy Dreams” (extra rich chocolate) which is excellent. You may also want to try our unique and very easy to make Key Lime Pots de Creme which is just like a Key Lime pie without the crust.

Custard History
Custards as we know them today date back to the Middle Ages
(Allen Davidson, Oxford Food Companion) when it was used as a filling for a Flan or a Tart. The word custard is derived from “crustade” which is a tart with a crust. After the 16th century fruit creams became popular and it was about this time that custards were made in individual dishes rather than a filling in a crust.

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