Friday, February 8, 2013

The Simplicity Project: Lent

I love lent. I look forward to it every year from Christmas until it begins. Each year we commit to a traditional Byzantine fast - a rhythm of eating that flows with the week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we are allowed no meat, eggs, dairy, oil, wine, or fish; Tuesday and Thursday we are allowed oil and wine, but no fish, meat, dairy or eggs; Saturday and Sunday we are allowed oil, wine and fish, but not meat, eggs, or dairy. And throughout the fast we avoid sugar and sweetness, except honey and molasses. I love the Lenten rhythm, it always gives me something to strive for and something to look forward to as we await Easter.

This year we are adding to our discipline a spending fast. While we will have to continue paying bills, buying gas and groceries, and paying for essentials, we are avoiding all other spending. My intention is to use this time to focus on Christ and on nurturing our domestic monastery in simplicity and beauty. I’m looking forward to a Lent full of beans and rice, black coffee, tea, long dark evenings at home, playing cards in the lamplight and preparing to greet Easter with fresh eyes. I’m going to use blogging to hold myself accountable, because, without it, I’m likely to sneak off to the store occasionally - so many weaknesses to overcome in life!


  1. *scribles*

    I want to join you in your rhythmic fast this year. I need something more challenging than just no meat on Fridays (since we do that all year anyways).

  2. P.S. Do you think agave nectar is an acceptable alternative to honey and molasses? (Because I have a whole lot of it!)

  3. Join me!!! We do the no meat Fridays all year too! It's so worth it - except when ALL your pork is ready for pick up on Friday and you can't eat ANY of it! ;p

    It's very challenging, but the variations make it do-able for me, and Yes, I think Agave would work fine, it's like cactus honey..and that counts ;)

  4. We do no meat on Fridays all year, too. :) But for all of Lent... Okay, WHAT do you cook? I wind up alternating between veggie pizza and potato soup and mac and cheese and occasionally fish on Fridays. I have no idea what else to make. :P

    I might not be able to go this far all at once, but it would be great to at least take a step or two that direction. Easter is my favorite time of year, and it's so much better if Lent has been a proper fast.

  5. After a gets really boring: beans & rice, rice & beans, bean soup, rice & veggies..but we try. We do falafel, and hummus with flat bread, and veggie burgers and potato soup..I used to be a vegetarian, and I was semi-vegan for a while in high-school, so I have all these recipes collected..but Lent is very penitential, food-wise..And this year I have to cope mentally with a freezer full of really good pork..which is hard, I've been eating a lot of bacon recently and I'm really going to miss it!

    But these types of fasts are pretty easy to adjust to fit you, last year we did eat eggs, because we were getting about 8 a day and didn't know what else to do with them, and the year before that, I just went vegetarian for Lent (with weekend fish) because I didn't want my midwife to worry..

    Easter is the best, isn't it!! I can't wait! :)

  6. I've managed a virtually Vegan diet before, mostly just to see if I could. I went for three weeks and noticed that I wasn't making up the protein, so I added meat, and that opened the floodgates to have butter and mayo. Ugh, I'm a sauce kind of girl!

    But oil was my staple. It's going to be an appropriately challenging task to make meals and eat food without oil to season it.

    Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays . . . what do you suggest on those days? Dry bread, raw fruits and veggies, and salted rice and beans are all I can think of. Maybe oil-free tomato sauce with pasta? And soup that doesn't need oil . . . I could eat cereal with almond milk.

    This will be good, we can hold each other accountable. c;

    Jenna, why don't you try first by just cutting out animal products and then seeing if you can take out the oil on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays?

  7. Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays we do a lot of beans & rice (oil free, but with lots of salsa & vegetable broth for soaking..or salads with just an infused vinegar or honey&mustard as the dressing..or a soup - I like to just dump a can of tomatoes into vegetable broth (I'm all over the broth in Lent) and adding a scoop of a dried bean soup mix and some garlic, maybe a bay leaf or four, and then eating it with rye bread..

    But Seth can live happily on bread that makes everything easier. Umm..Yeah, we keep everything kind of simple and repetitive. Especially on the harsh days.

  8. Ooh, sweet. These are good ideas. Christie, I don't know if I can cut quite that far back, even; I made a list yesterday of all the meatless meals I could think of that I would actually cook (i.e., stuff that doesn't take four hours to prepare or contain expensive ingredients), and all but two had animal products in them.

    But I am at least going to simplify. I'm going to work on a one- or two-week meal rotation plan today and see if I can't incorporate some of these ideas.

    Looks like I'm going to get lots of use out of my bread machine. :D

  9. @Jenna:

    Once you get into the rhythm of it, it gets easier to compile recipes from ingredients you know have no animal products. For example, a bean burrito.

    Also, a bread machine? :D

    Just went to the store yesterday in preparation. Gosh! Everything has sugar in it. Even peanut butter! :c

  10. Jenna~

    Oh bread machines!! I need to start baking more often again too..I'm planning to post Lenten recipes semi-regularly so that might help with the incorporation, and since we're not spending much, they'll all be variations of "cheap & cheaper" :)

    You have to get the all-natural peanut's a little more expensive, but since we don't get it too often, I don't really notice..actually, I never eat it, at all, so I really don't notice ;) Health food stores tend to have it as well.. :)

  11. Aw, thanks, you two! This is so helpful! I just made a two-week meal rotation plan that includes a mix of some of the vegetarian-but-not-dairy-free recipes I know and the things you've suggested. Lou is on board with it, which is helpful, and I figure I can develop and modify it as I find out what works for us. It's definitely going to be more properly penitential than any other Lent I've done so far. :)

    Also, that bread machine is a wonderful thing... it's just a cheap model off Amazon, but I haven't bought bread since I opened the box. I expect to do a LOT of soups and broths with whole wheat or corn bread on the side.

  12. Jenna, that's so wonderful that Lou is on board, what a blessing! And now you've peaked my interest. I didn't know about bread machines before!!

    Masha, recipes would be AWESOME.

    Now to eat my bowl of steaming navy beans flavored with vegetable stock, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Yum! After the not-quite-meals of Ash Wednesday, I feel starving!