Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of toothaches and eye trouble
Saint Alena's Story
The traditional account of Saint Alena's life, dating to the twelfth century, states that she was born in Dilbeek, just outside Brussels, Belgium, to pagan parents, the nobleman Levold and his wife, Hildegaart. Alena chose to be baptized without the knowledge of her parents. As a Christian, she had to attend Mass secretly.
When her father discovered that she was worshipping as a Christian, he came to the conclusion that Christians had bewitched her into conversion. He sent guards to bring her home; she resisted, and during the fighting she lost one arm. She subsequently died in prison due to her injuries.
Various (unspecified) miracles were claimed at the burial site of Alena's body, and one of Levold's subjects, Duke Omundus, had his sight restored by invoking Alena's prayers.
An angel appeared and took the severed arm to the chapel where she worshipped. Alena's parents were shocked, but the miracles, and the witness given by her determined faith, led them to examine Christianity, and they themselves were converted.
The Alena Chapel
Sint-Alena, Kapelstraat 112, 1700 Dilbeek, Belgium
The Alena Chapel: the place where Alena died, located at the end of a Lindedreef (Alenaborre) in the extension of the Weerstanderslaan. Water is drawn from a well at the rear. It is a place of worship against eye and dental diseases. Pilgrims go there to dab their eyes with the water from the well. The mothers with their babies, who are teething and cried a lot, go there to pray for their baby.
Speculoos Cookies (Belgium Spiced Cookies)
Speculoos originated a bakery in Brussels. These cookies are flavored with cinnamon, coriander, allspice, cloves, and brown sugar. They are light and crispy, beautiful little spiced cookies which dreams are made of. If you are feeling creative use a fun cookie cutter, I used a fish shape! Enjoy!
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup almond flour
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
2 large egg yolks
1. Whisk flour, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in bowl.
2. Process sugar in food processor with the butter and process until a uniform mass forms and no large pieces of butter are visible, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg yolks and process until smooth and paste-like, about 10 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture and process until no dry flour remains but mixture remains crumbly, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
3. Transfer dough to bowl and knead gently with spatula until uniform and smooth. Shape dough into 10 by 12-inch rectangle of even 3/8-inch thickness Transfer dough with parchment to rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1½ hours (or freeze for 30 minutes). (dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
4. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower‑middle positions and heat oven to 300ºF. Cook slow and low, high and fast will crack the cookies. Transfer chilled dough to counter. Cut dough lengthwise into 8 equal strips about 1¼ inches wide or use a cookie cutter of your choice. A thin shape is best.
5. Transfer cookies to prepared sheets, spacing them at least ½ inch apart, the cookies will spread a little. Bake until cookies are lightly and evenly browned, 30 to 32 minutes, making sure to rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool completely on sheets, about 20 minutes. (Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.)