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January 21 

Saint of the day:

Our Lady of Altagracia

Basilica Our Lady of Altagracia in the Dominican Republic

The Story of Our Lady of Altagracia

A portrait of the Virgin Mary in a Nativity scene. It is 13 inches (33 centimeters) wide by 18 inches (45 centimeters) high, and is painted on cloth. It is a primitive work of the Spanish school, painted c.1500. The Spanish brothers Alfonso and Antonio Trejo, two of the first European settlers on Santo Domingo, brought the portrait to the island some time prior to 1502, and eventually donated it to the parishchurch at Higuey. It’s first shrine was finished in 1572, and in 1971 it was moved to its present Basilica. The image was crowned on 15 August 1922 during the pontificate of Pius XI. Due to its age, centuries of handling by the faithful, and exposure to candle smoke, it was in sad shape, and was restored in 1978. On 25 January 1979 by Pope John Paul II crowned the image with a gold and silver tiara, his gift to the Virgin. It’s frame is made of gold, enamel and precious stones, and was constructed by an unknown 18th century artisan.

The Dominicans see the image as exemplifying Our Lady watching over the island and the growth of Christianity there. The feast day is marked by services, all-night vigils, singing, dancing, and festivals in many of the towns.

Legend says that the pious daughter of a rich merchant asked her father to bring her a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia from Santo Domingo, but no one had heard of that title. The merchant, staying overnight at a friend’s house in Higuey, described his problem as they sat outdoors after dinner. An old man with a long beard, who just happened to be passing by, pulled a rolled up painting from his bindle, gave it to the merchant, and said, “This is what you are looking for.” It was the Virgin of Altagracia. They gave the old man a place to stay for the night, but by dawn he was gone, not to be seen again. The merchant placed the image on their mantle, but it repeatedly disappeared only to be found outside, and the family finally returned it to the church.







Basilica Our Lady of Altagracia, Dominican Republic



Pernil (Roasted Pork Butt)


  • 6 pound boneless pork shoulder roast (skin-on optional)

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

  • 1½ tablespoons dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1½ teaspoons sugar

  • 1½ tablespoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 large onions, sliced

  • Water


  1. Rinse your roast and pat dry with a paper towel.
    Make the marinade by mixing together the minced garlic, olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, and all of the dry herbs and spices in a bowl.

  2. Rub the entire roast with the marinade, ensuring that all areas of the roast are completely covered. If you’re using a boneless roast, already tied by the butcher, try to work some of the marinade in the empty cavity where the bone used to be. If you know how to tie your own roast, marinating the meat before tying the roast will ensure the best results. If you’re using a roast with skin, be sure to score the skin with a sharp knife to form a cross-hatch pattern, and rub the marinade into the entire roast. Taking your time marinating a roast properly is the most important step!

  3. Next, cover the roast with plastic wrap and let it marinate overnight for at least 18 hours for the best results.

  4. Take the roast out of the refrigerator, and let it come up to room temperature--about 2 hours.

  5. Preheat the oven to 425F. Cover the bottom of the roasting pan with sliced onions, and add one cup of water. Place the roast on top of the onions and water.

  6. Cook the roast at 425F for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the roasting pan 180 degrees, and roast for another 30 minutes. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the roast with the sides exposed if the roast starts to burn.

  7. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue cooking for 3 hours, adding about ½ a cup of water every half hour, or as needed. You don’t want to let the bottom of the pan dry out and burn.

  8. For the last half hour, turn the temperature up to 425F if the roast needs more browning.

  9. When the last half hour has elapsed, turn off the oven and leave the roast for another half hour with the oven closed.

  10. Let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Cut the roast into large chunks for a more rustic taste and feel. Pour the onions and juice from the pan over the meat to serve, alongside rice, salad and beans!


Yucca with Garlic Sauce

  • 1 yucca root, peeled and cut and middle thread
    removed or a few pieces of frozen yucca

  • ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ onion, sliced thinly

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated

  • The juice of 1 lime or limón criollo

  • Salt to taste, for the boiling water and for the mojo



  1. In a medium pot with water, add the yucca root pieces and salt and bring to a boil. 

  2. Salt the water as if you were boiling pasta. 

  3. Water should only barely cover the yucca, cook until tender and drain.

  4. While the yucca boils, in a small saucepan over low heat add the olive oil, the onion and the garlic. 

  5. Let the onions and garlic soften and simmer slowly in the oil.  Add salt to taste.


Morir Soñando Recipe

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

  • 2 T condensed milk

  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 ½ cup whole milk

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 cup ice, plus more for serving


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

  2. Pour over remaining ice cubes and serve immediately. 



Book of the Day:

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