Hot Cross Buns

It’s that time again…

Hot Cross Buns…One a Penny…Two a Penny

Hot Cross Buns

I just finished mixing up my dough.  In the almost six years that I’ve been here at St. Anne’s, it’s become tradition that I make hot cross buns to serve for our residents’ snack on Holy Thursday afternoon.  Actually, they have traditionally been a food for Lent and Good Friday especially.  However, serving a special homemade treat seems more appropriate, to us here, for Holy Thursday rather than during the solemn fasting of Good Friday.  Also, Holy Thursday is the day we gratefully remember the first Eucharist, when Christ gave the “Bread from Heaven” for the first time.  To me, it seems fitting that residents enjoy these little breads on that day.

This time of the liturgical year is busy and a bit stressful since I serve as sacristan here, but I still like to take the time to make Hot Cross Buns.  It’s a kind of neat way of keeping our Catholic cultural traditions alive.  I must confess, I’ve usually cheated in the past, using frozen sweet bread dough, but this year I’m doing them from scratch!  I blame it, in part, on last month’s pretzel-making.  I have a few yeast packets left over that I might as well use up. My other reason for not “cheating” this year is the hope that the raisins will stay in place better if I can knead them right in as I mix the dough.  In the past, I’ve had some of them pop out and there would be raisins left on the pans. 🙂

I’d like to share some history about Hot Cross Buns which I found some years back.  I regret that I no longer have the source(s) to document.  

Hot cross buns have quite a history, within Christianity and even mixed with pagan traditions (Incan, Egyptians, Saxons and possibly even Roman roots).  As with many things, the church adopted Hot Cross Buns during their early missionary efforts to pagan cultures. They re-interpreted the “cross” of icing which adorns the bun to signify the cross of Jesus.” The practice of eating special small cakes at the time of the Spring festival seems to date back at least to the ancient Greeks.”

One source noted the Christian roots in the 1100s when a monk placed the sign of the cross on buns to honor Good Friday, known at that time as the “Day of the Cross.”  Another source dates this event to the 1300s.  “Hot cross buns” became popular in England and Ireland, and later in the United States.

These buns have an interesting connection with the persecution of Catholics in 16th century England.  When Catholicism was banned, people could be tried for “Popery” because they marked the cross on their Good Friday buns.  They came up with an excuse for continuing the practice, saying that it was necessary so for the buns to properly rise.

One thing connected with this history which I found especially interesting follows: It was a universal custom (and still is in Catholic countries) to mark a new loaf of bread with the sign of the cross before cutting it, in order to bless it and thank God for it.  What a neat custom!

A Special Guest @ St. Anne’s Guest Home

20171204_152150.jpgSeveral months back, a family from the northwestern Minnesota brought a statue to St. Anne’s.

It had come into their possession after it was removed from an area church a few decades back.  However, due its large size, they could no longer store it.  The family thought we might be able to have it restored.  They even gave donations toward the project.

A visitor for Adoration who saw it in its poor condition gave us the name of someone who does statue restoration work.  They had recently done work at St. Mary’s Church here in Grand Forks.  The gentleman, from DeNardo Statuary & Restoration Company, came and took a look at the statue.  After a little discussion, he took it and began to work on it.

* * *

This past week, we saw a familiar face at the front desk.  The man was back and had the statue ready.

Now, with its beauty restored, the statue of the Sacred Heart stands in the hallway leading to our chapel, welcoming those who pass by.  We are not certain how long it will stay there, or if it will find a more permanent home elsewhere, but for the time being, at least, we are enjoying the presence of a special guest here at St. Anne’s Guest Home.

Meet Sir Alfred Hitchcock

One of our apartment residents, Betty Canavan, has graciously supplied us with an article about this famous producer.

Yes, Alfred Hitchcock was just as spooky IRL as you thinkMarch 12th is set aside to honor the life, times and work of master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. Director of 53 films and a career of 60 years, his television shows and films are every bit as popular today. Among his many accolades were two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth ll in 1980.

His films include: The Birds, Psycho, North by Northwest (filmed at Mt Rushmore), Vertigo, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief. Somewhat of a ham, he made walk on appearances in 39 of his films. During World War ll, he made several fiction spy and non-fiction propaganda films. He put together a Holocaust film with actual footage of camps that was too shocking for the public and remained in vaults until 1985. What made Alfred Hitchcock “the most universally recognized person in the world”? It was his style of using the camera as if it were you, the viewer, trapped in the scene, increasing your anxiety, suspense and fear.

Alfred was born above his parent’s grocery in London. He was the youngest of three children. His parents were Roman Catholic, his father a grocer. Alfred enjoyed playing on his own, making up stories. His family moved when he was six and started a fresh seafood sales and fried fish and chips stall, living in the flat above. Alfred started school at Howrah House Convent, then went on to Wode Street School, run by the Faithful Companions of Jesus. At nine, boarding school at Salesian College. The family moved again and, at eleven, it was boarding at St Ignatius College. The Jesuit priests used a hard rubber cane on the boys. It is where Sir Alfred developed a sense of fear and various reactions to it.

At thirteen, Alfred told his parents he wanted to be an engineer. He started night classes at the London County School of Engineering but, when his father died unexpectedly, he took a job at Henley Telegraph and Cable Company. Alfred kept up his night classes, including mechanics, electricity, acoustics and navigation, then art history , painting, economics and political science.

Hitchcock joined the Royal Engineers during 1917. After World War l, he became manager of The Henley Telegraph. This expanded his creative writing and he said this was his first step toward cinema.

Sir Alfred married Alma Reville, a Protestant, who was baptized Catholic within six months and confirmed a month later in Westminster Abbey by Cardinal Francis Bourne. They had one child, Patricia. Alma collaborated with her husband on many projects. His health finally failed him, as did worry for his wife who had a stroke. He died in April 1980, after calling two Jesuit priests to hear his confession and celebrate Mass in his Bel Air home. His funeral was held in Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills.



kfc_coleslawHave you ever been struck by how odd sounding the name is that we use to refer to shredded cabbage covered in vinegar or mayonnaise?

During this month when many will enjoy corned beef and cabbage, our residents and staff will continue having coleslaw as part of the regular menu (about once or twice a week).

Believe it or not, the term coleslaw actually comes from the Dutch, koolsla, which simply means “cabbage salad.”

You may ask: how did a term from Holland make its way into common American usage?  The answer comes from the Dutch immigrants to New York who brought their cabbage salad recipe with them.  Actually, though, something akin to today’s coleslaw dates back as far as the ancient Romans. In fact, the ‘cole’ in cole slaw is similar to the latin, colis, which means cabbage.

You will notice the similarity between to kool (cabbage) and the term Kale, which is actually from Scotland.

There are variations around the world; many countries have cabbage salads of their own.  For example, Germans enjoy Krautsalat, or finely shredded cabbage with an oil/vinegar marinade.  It may even have apples or onions in it.

In Italy, insalata capricciosa includes cooked ham and sliced pepper.

Poles enjoy a number of coleslaw-like dishes, which are often served as a side dish to their second course.  These salads include some form of cabbage (often white), as well as minced onions, dill or parsley, shredded carrots, and who knows what else (additional miscellaneous ingredients are often used).  In Russia and the Ukraine, sunflower oil is used as dressing, and carrots, apples, cranberries or the like are often added as well.

In Sweden, they serve a cabbage salad with vinegar, oil and seasonings and accompanies, of all things, pizza!

The British, on the other hand, eat their cabbage salad with mayonnaise or salad cream and sometimes include cheese, nuts, or dried fruits.

Healthy Humor

free-laughing-clipart-laughter-clipart-490_508We did have an article about laughter here a couple of years ago, but as winter drags on, we all could stand a little more sunshine in our lives.

At St. Anne’s, humor has a very important place in our lives.  From ‘Joke of the Day’ to playful teasing, humor works its way in to many facets of our comings and goings.

We even have a way of finding humor in the challenges we face.  Mistakes can be brought up later in a humorous manner as we tease each other about mishaps, perhaps using a song that correlates to an event.

Humor is healthy!  It can be good for you, both mentally and physically.

Laughter has been found to help release endorphins which can help alleviate pain, improve your emotions, and reduce stress. It even increases levels of cortisol and adrenaline.  Laughter can even be good for your heart, lessening stress hormone levels and artery inflammation as well as reducing blood presure.  It can also increase your ‘good cholesterol (HDL) levels and boost your immune system.

Laughter and humor can help dissolve negative emotions and help you relax.  Humor can also give you a new perspective on things and make you more hopeful.

Taking time for humor gives your brain a bit of a break, even during waking hours. It can give you energy and foster positive relationships with others.

So, during these bleak February days, do yourself a favor; take a moment or two to enjoy a joke, a funny story, or another opportunity for humor that may arise.  Opportunities for humor surround us every day.


Cabbage Rolls Around

The weeks sure seem to roll around, don’t they?!

Here at St. Anne’s, every fifth Thursday brings a dinner menu cherished by some but not appreciated by others: cabbage rolls.

There are many variations to this multinational entrée, but here at St. Anne’s, our cooks serve the cream style (using cream of chicken soup) rather than the tomato option.  Here, the hamburger is mixed with rice, and then formed and wrapped in cabbage.  The cream sauce goes delicious, too, with the mash potatoes that always accompany cabbage rolls here at St. Anne’s.

Eastern European traditions (Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Lithuanian, etc.) seem to be the forerunners in bringing us what we know as cabbage rolls today.  However, perhaps the earliest instance of these taste treats may come from Jewish cuisine about 2,000 years ago.

Perhaps the variations we know today, even within our own region and country, stem from the rich diversity in how cabbage rolls were prepared around the world.  For example, in Bulgaria, they were made with veal and pork, accompanied by minced mint, yogardt, and sweet paprika.  In Romania, they were a treat for special celebrations and were made of ground pork with caramelized onions and rice.  Sometimes, pickled sauerkraut leaves were even used.

In Croatia, cabbage rolls are a Christmas treat.  Lithuanian cabbage rolls, on the other hand, were a harvest-time menu item, made with brown sugar, lemon, tomato, and even raisins.

In Poland, cabbage leaves are stuffed with meat (beef or pork) mixed with rice or barley and usually accompanied by a tomato sauce.  Polish immigrants brought this meal with them from the old country.

Finland and even Egypt are also home to cabbage rolls.

IMG_0555.JPGHere at St. Anne’s, our staff usually prepare the cabbage rolls the day before.  By fairly early Thursday morning, they are already in the oven.

Can you smell them already?  Come on over! 🙂


There’s More than One Way to…Get Ice Melt!

P2150002.JPGAs North Dakotans, dealing with ice and snow is part of our lives between November and March (if not beyond).  Using ice melt is one way we have come to make traveling less treacherous and our parking lots and sidewalks safer.

At St. Anne’s we fully realize this, having many visitors, staff, and even residents whom we want to keep safe.

Last week, as promised, one of our board members brought in some ice melt for us to try out.  One of our maintenance men gave it a try and was pleased with the results, so much so that he is looking at buying more.

There are many different kinds of ice melt, but this particular recipe includes sugar beet juice and is supposed to be effective in temperatures well below zero.

There are even recipes for home-made ice melt.  A Google search will provide you with countless options.

One of the simplest of these is a three-ingredient potion which uses 1/2 gallon of warm water, six drops of dish soap, and two ounces of rubbing alcohol.

One online source suggests any of the following: salt, soy sauce, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, bleach, windshield washer fluid, fertilizer and even Vodka.

Other suggestions include: lukewarm water, Kool-Aid and soft drinks, vinegar, pickle brine cheese brine, sugar, table salt, and even a warm object.

While the safest option is just to stay inside when it’s icy, that’s not always a realistic or preferable option.

You may wish to try some of the above to make your walkways safer in the winter.

Are you looking for a safe, caring living environment for yourself or an aging loved one? ST. ANNE’S GUEST HOME currently has openings. Meals, nursing care, housekeeping and other services are available. Our home also offers many engaging activities for our residents to enjoy. For more information, call Sr. Rebecca at 746-9401 or visit


Oh Fudge!

P2030010This Christmas, a friend of ours brought us two containers full of delicious fudge.  It was cut already, and not in tiny pieces, either.

We have been enjoying it.  She mentioned we could freeze some, but that it will even make it to the freezer is doubtful.

The most notable days that commemorate fudge (May 12th– Nutty Fudge Day,  June 16th-Fudge Day) are not until late spring, but Christmastime is really an appropriate backdrop for this discussion.

Although it won’t last long around our place, fudge, itself, has been in existence for quite some time.

We know this delicious substance has been around since 1886, but its exact origins are unknown.  At that time, fudge sold for 40 cents a pound out on the east coast.  Some say it started with a batch of caramel gone awry.

Before this, to fudge meant to clumsily adjust or fit together.  Later it evolved into meaning to cheat or trick, or even “nonsense.”  By the time of the caramel adventure, the expression: “Oh fudge” had come into use as a mild explicative for something having gone wrong.  Thus, when the caramel did not come out as planned, “Oh, fudge” was a logical reaction.  Somehow, the name stuck and we still have fudge today.

American fudge seems to be akin to its Scottish predecessor, called tablet.  The Canadians, however, boast the largest fudge slab, weighing close to three tons (2010).


O Antiphons @ St. Anne’s

Adapted from an article on Our Franciscan Fiat

P1250024Since 1980, the Sisters at St. Anne’s have been enhancing their commemoration of the final days of Advent by displaying “The O Antiphons,” beautifully calligraphed by Sr. Elaine.

At that time, before the advent of modern copy machines, Mary Bohlman Mannes, a friend and supporter of St. Anne’s, had them professionally re-produced/printed.

Sunday was the first day of this beautiful liturgical tradition during which we display her beautiful portrayals outside of our chapel.

In case you are not familiar with the “O Antiphons,” they are verses which we recite or sing for the gospel canticle during evening prayer as well as with the alleluia at Mass from December 17th through the 23rd.  On each of these days, we plead for Christ’s coming, invoking Him with a different title.  These are so beautiful and include: Wisdom, Leader of the House of Israel, Root of Jesse’s stem, Key of David, Radiant Dawn, King of all nations and keystone of the Church, and Emmanuel.

This tradition of using these antiphons on these final days before Christmas is very old.  We aren’t certain as to their exact origin, but references date back about 1,500 years!

The traditional hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” actually is based upon these beautiful, rich, and ancient texts.

Thank you, Sr. Elaine, for giving us such a beautiful visual presentation of them!

May these last days of Advent, in which we cry out “O come…” be a time when our hearts can be more prepared for the Advent that we seek.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann

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