Catholic Book Spotlight -- "The Bread Monk" Fr. Dominic Garramone, OSB

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As a mom, a Catholic, and a novice cook, I appreciate the work of amazing priests like Fr. Dominic Garramone, OSB. Fr. Dominic has the uncanny ability to blend faith, baking and storytelling in a way that brings food to life and celebrates it within our homes and families. A prolific author, a playwright, a television star and a Benedictine Monk all rolled into one, Fr. Dominic Garramone has been uplifting, inspiring and feeding families for years. I am pleased to share my recent interview conversation with him and strongly encourage you to check out his books for your family.

Ice Cream Muffins by Fr. Dominic Garramone, OSB

Yield: 6 muffins

1 cup self-rising flour (see note)

1 to 1 ½ cups melted ice cream, any flavor

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place flour into a medium bowl.  Stir in enough of the melted ice cream to make a thick batter.  If the ice cream has chocolate chips or nuts, make sure they get mixed in, too.  You can also add nuts, candy, or fruit to the mix.

Lightly grease a six cup muffin tin.  Divide batter among muffin cups.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  The tops of the muffins may not brown very much, but the tops should spring back when lightly pressed.

Let muffins cool to lukewarm, then eat immediately.  Feel free to dunk pieces of the muffin in the remaining melted ice cream.

Note: if you don’t have self-rising flour in hand, you can substitute 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1½ teaspoons of baking powder, and ½ teaspoon of salt.

Q. Welcome to CatholicMom.com Fr. Dominic. Would you kindly introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m a Benedictine monk of Saint Bede Abbey in Peru, Illinois.  I teach church history and Christian doctrine in our co-ed college prep high school.  I’m also the drama director.  For three years I was the host of the cooking show Breaking Bread with Father Dominic on public television.

Q. I love hearing vocations stories from our priests — at what point did you hear the calling to the priesthood, and how did you decide on the path you chose and the Abbey?

I started thinking about religious life in high school after being heavily involved in the Teens Encounter Christ program, and I visited St. Bede Abbey my junior year of high school.  By my third visit I knew that this is where I belonged, because being a part of community is so important to me.  But it was six more years before I actually joined the community, after getting my theatre degree. I wasn’t really intending to become a priest when I joined—I figured on being “Bro Dom” for the rest of my life.  But one of my drama students told me that he thought I’d make a good priest, so that made me listen to the Holy Spirit a little more carefully.

Q: How did your path lead you to begin baking and cooking, and how did this lead to work in television and writing?

I come from a family where cooking, especially baking, was part of everyday life.  My mom has won literally dozens of blue ribbons for her baking at the local county fair.  I had been doing bread demonstrations and a little bit of writing when a friend of mine gave my name to some producers at KETC in St. Louis.  They came to my religion classroom on the day I was teaching about the multiplication of the loaves!  After some other discussions, they offered me a show.

Q. Can you share your various projects with us?

Books

Breaking Bread with Father Dominic (1999)

Breaking Bread with Father Dominic 2 (2000)

More Breaking Bread with Father Dominic (2001)

Bake and Be Blessed: bread baking as a metaphor for spiritual growth (2002, 2nd edition 2008)

‘Tis the Season to be Baking (2007)

Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery (2010)

Thursday Night Pizza (2010)

TV/Videos

39 episodes of Breaking Bread with Father Dominic (Public Television series)

The Basics of Making Bread (Instructional video for Fleishmann’s Yeast, 1999)

3 pledge specials for KETC/Channel 9 St. Louis (2000, 2001, 2009)

2 pledge specials for WTVP/Channel 47 Peoria (2008, 2011)

The Spirit of Saint Bede (Music video for Saint Bede Academy—director/videographer, 2007)

Plays

The Monsters Under the Bed (Dramatic Publishing, 1995)

What I Wanted to Say (Dramatic Publishing, 2007)

Q: Why do you enjoy writing for children?

Mostly because I grew up in a reading household.  We all got books for Christmas every year, and on Christmas afternoon we were the quietest house on the block, because in every room there would be a kid with a book and cup of hot cocoa or tea!  I also have a summer theatre program for grade school children, so that keeps me connected to the younger set.

Q: On the topic of food and nutrition, why is food relevant to faith and why is a focus on family dining so important in today’s society?

Food is relevant to faith because every aspect of life is relevant to faith.  Spirituality isn’t just the icing on the cake, but it’s not the cake either, because cake is just dessert.  Spirituality is the whole of human experience oriented towards God, and that includes our meal sharing.  Eating a common meal is one of the ways that families can strengthen the bonds of fellowship.  After all, “companion” comes from the Latin for “with bread”—our companions on the journey of faith are those with whom we break bread together, both at the family meal and the Eucharistic table as well.

Q. What tips do you have for busy parents who are overwhelmed with the thought of family meals?

As a celibate monk who doesn’t have to cook every day, I’d be loathe to sail in such dangerous waters, but I will say this: try to promote a love of casseroles!  It worked for my mom!

Q: Can you share your thoughts on how moms might begin teaching their children to cook and to eat a healthy diet?

We five kids were in the kitchen with my mom constantly while growing up.  We all learned to count while measuring out cups of flour, to tell time by calculating when the cookies would come out of the oven, and even how to multiply fractions by doing double batches!  It was one of the places we learned to do our share of work, to cooperate and take turns.  When the kitchen is also the family school house, where kids can develop a sense of being a valued member of a productive peer group, then a love of cooking will not be far behind.

Q. Do you have plans for future writing projects?

I’m currently working on a book for beginner bakers called How to Become a Breadhead, to be published by Reedy Press later this year.

Q. Are there any additional thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

I would invite your readers to check out my website at www.breadmonk.com.

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children’s fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa’s articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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