2008年12月24日 星期三

Bread of Life

Bread of Life, Baked in Rhode Island

Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

The Cavanagh Company of Greenville, R.I., says it bakes nearly one billion communion wafers each year.

Published: December 24, 2008

GREENVILLE, R.I. — To the Cavanagh family, the product they make at a nondescript plant here is just bread and water. But to millions at churches around the world, it is a sacred offering.

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Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

Some customers say the Cavanaghs have such a big market share because their product is about as close to perfect as earthly possible.

Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

Kim Jaeger, who married into the Cavanagh family, packed boxes. The company has been family-owned for four generations.

From a purely economic point of view, it is something that is almost just as rare: a seemingly recession-proof business.

With the exception of a decline during recent Catholic Church priest scandals, the Cavanagh Company’s business of making communion bread has been growing steadily for the last 65 years.

The bread is used as a sacramental offering that, for Catholics and some other Christians, represents the breaking of the bread at the Last Supper and the body of Christ.

The family-owned company makes about 80 percent of the communion bread used by the Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and Southern Baptist churches in the United States. It has a similar market share in Australia, Canada and Britain, and is now looking to expand to West Africa.

“We feel as though we’re a bakery, and all we’re making is bread,” said Andy Cavanagh, the company’s general manager, and part of the fourth generation of Cavanaghs to work here. “It’s not that we don’t have respect for what happens to it, but that transformation is out of our hands and takes place in a church. The best thing we can do is make sure the bread is perfect in every way possible.”

Some customers say the Cavanaghs have such a big market share because their product is about as close to perfect as earthly possible.

“It doesn’t crumb, and I don’t like fragments of our Lord scattering all over the floor,” said the Rev. Bob Dietel, an Episcopal priest.

Mr. Dietel uses Cavanagh altar bread at his parish, St. Aidan’s, in Camano Island, Wash. He likes that the large wafer, which he holds up and breaks during Mass, cracks cleanly.

A few years ago, the congregation switched to the wheat wafer the Cavanaghs make from the white.

“There’s a nice clean bread flavor, as opposed to the paste flavor you have with some other breads,” Mr. Dietel said.

His congregation buys about 6,000 wafers a year from a Seattle religious goods store. Traditionally, nuns, priests or members of a congregation baked altar bread. (In the Catholic tradition it is unleavened and contains only flour and water; other denominations, including Southern Baptists, allow the use of additional ingredients.)

In 1943, Andy’s great-grandfather, John Cavanagh Sr., an inventor, and grandfather, John Jr., were asked to help local Catholic nuns renovate their antiquated baking equipment. The men created new ovens and mixers for the nuns; then three years later, John Jr. and his brother Paul started making bread themselves.

They distributed all of it to Catholic churches and monasteries.

The Cavanaghs are Catholic and John Sr. let his sons run the business so he could concentrate on his first love, liturgical art. Crosses and paintings are showcased in a room in the Rhode Island offices.

For about 20 years, the Cavanagh bread was small, white and nearly transparent, intended to melt on the tongue. After the changes initiated in the church at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, Catholic churches wanted the wafers to be thicker and chewable, like real bread.

The Cavanaghs started producing the wafers of today — usually whole wheat and sealed on the outside to prevent crumbs.

In 1970, Paul’s sons Brian and Peter joined the business and started expanding the company’s reach beyond New England and the Catholic Church, where fewer and fewer nuns were making bread.

The company will not disclose sales numbers, but says it makes about 850 million wafers each year, and that each wafer sells for less than a penny. Most of the company’s bread is sold wholesale to religious supply stores and Southern Baptist bookstores. In the Catholic Church the company sells to monasteries; the nuns then sell the bread to churches.

“It’s a source of income for us, but at the same time it’s a service to the parishes in the diocese,” said Sister Marilyn McGillan of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Watertown, N.Y. Her monastery sells to about 100 churches in the Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, N.Y. “We’re like a clearinghouse for altar breads for our dioceses.”

There are plenty of varieties. The company sells both white and wheat flour wafers, in sizes ranging from one and one-eighth inches wide to nine inches wide. Some are double-thick, and all except the large ones can be embossed with designs including a cross or a lamb.

‘They’re the classic symbols of Christianity,” Andy Cavanagh said.

Brian and Peter Cavanagh still run the company, and expect Andy, 30, Peter’s son; and his two brothers, Dan, 31 and Luke, 28, to buy them out one day.

The family members pride themselves on having never had an argument over business. They eat lunch together daily, and business talk almost always turns into discussions about New England sports teams.

“When you emphasize family, the business falls into place,” Brian said.

Each brother has his own niche. Andy deals with the finances, Luke the Web site and Dan the machines.

Dan Cavanagh feels most at home in the large baking area.

In huge tubs, about 90 pounds of cake flour is mixed with about 13 gallons of water. The batter is then sent through a tube, where it is piped onto a large metal plate. Another plate clamps on top, and it goes through the oven. Each plate is like a “very large, 500-pound waffle iron,” Dan Cavanagh said.

After coming out of the oven, the wafers spend about 15 minutes in what amounts to a humidifier, so they do not become brittle. When sufficiently moist they roll down a tube and into a spinning cylinder that resembles the ones in bingo halls.

The wafers are then shot to a machine that either puts them in sleeves of 100 or counts them for bags of 250. Then they are boxed.

The bread for Southern Baptist churches is baked on the other side of the room. The mixing process is similar, except the dough contains oil. Since the bread rises, it is baked in a large rotating oven and comes out as small squares.

The wafers and bread are made in both white and whole wheat, but most congregations prefer the whole wheat variety because it has more flavor, the Cavanaghs said.

Business dropped about 10 percent after the clergy sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in 2002, according to the Cavanaghs. But it has picked up recently — perhaps because of the growing worldly concerns that come with a bad economy.

The company now sells church supplies including altars and pews in England and Australia, and is keeping an eye on the growing Catholic communities in Africa and South America.

But no matter where they do business, they say, the company will remain in Rhode Island, and in the family.

“It’s so gratifying to have it be a successful family business,” Brian Cavanagh said.

2008年12月14日 星期日

Sweet and Sour Cabbage With Tofu and Grains

Sweet and Sour Cabbage With Tofu and Grains

Published: December 12, 2008

You can use regular green cabbage for this slightly spicy, sweet-and-sour stir-fry, or you can use Napa Cabbage. I like to serve the dish with bulgur, but you could also serve it with rice, noodles or any other grain.

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Recipes for Health

This series offers recipes with an eye towards empowering you to cook healthy meals every day. Produce, seasonal and locally grown when possible, and a well-stocked pantry are the linchpins of a good diet, and accordingly, each week’s recipes will revolve around a particular type of produce or a pantry item. This is food that is vibrant and light, full of nutrients but by no means ascetic, fun to cook and a pleasure to eat.

See previous recipes »

3/4 pound firm tofu, cut in 1/4- x 1/2 – x 1 1/2 inch slabs

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce (more to taste)

1 small onion, sliced

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and dark green parts separated

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Pinch of cayenne

1 medium cabbage, quartered, cored, and sliced crosswise

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (or 1 tablespoon if the vinegar is already seasoned)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Cooked bulgur, rice, noodles or other grains for serving

1. Blot the tofu dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or a wok over medium-high heat and when it is rippling, add the tofu. Cook, tossing in the pan or turning over with tongs, for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly colored. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, toss together for about 30 seconds, and remove from the heat. Set aside in a bowl.

2. Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender, and add the white part of the scallions, the garlic, and ginger. Stir together for about 30 seconds, until fragrant but not colored. Add the cayenne, stir in the cabbage and stir-fry until the cabbage begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, and sugar and continue to cook, stirring, until the cabbage is crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Return the tofu to the pan and stir together. Add more soy sauce to taste and stir together. Sprinkle on the scallion greens and sesame seeds and remove from the heat. Serve over grains or noodles.

Yield: Serves 4 generously

Advance preparation: This is a last minute dish, but you can cook the grains several hours ahead and reheat, and you can have everything prepped and ready to go.

Nutritional Information per Serving (not including grains): calories: 188; calories from fat: 56; total fat: 6.2g; saturated fat: 1.2g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 276mg; total carbohydrates: 24.4g; dietary fiber: 7.3g; sugars: 13.3g; protein: 11.9g; vitamin A 11 percent recommended daily allowance (RDA) based on a 2,000 calorie diet; vitamin C 125 percent RDA; calcium 29 percent RDA; iron 18 percent RDA. (Nutritional information provided by calorie-count.com)

2008年12月12日 星期五


林國卿  (20081211)









 這本書並無複雜哲理,所以原本是容易讀的書,但因為名詞專有,卻成了一本難以捉摸的書。民國以來,註解這書的人不多,也許是挑戰太大。有名的開先鋒是一 九五○年代出版的「鄧之誠注本」。後來日本人入矢義高接走了這工程,成立研究班,花了三十五年,於一九八三年出版譯注本。但是兩種譯本都不夠周延,對專有 名詞也避而不論。


 我在書店第一次翻它時,驚羨作者怎有如此耐力?他為了弄清楚每一街道每一美食,從宋代的書找到明清兩代的書,逐一比對,用去了一千兩百多種書,他真的想 把整個汴京城一寸一寸的掀開來看。孟元老寫「飲食果子」一節,是一項一項列舉,伊永文則是一樣一樣的解釋,居然解釋了119條。前一位註解者鄧之誠坦承 「斷句以伎藝、飲食為最難。」伊永文顯然是從難處下手。



2008年12月4日 星期四

one-pot meals

Whetting desires for winter one-pot meals


On my recent business trip to Fukuoka, the lady manager of a local restaurant told me, "When you prepare hakusai napa cabbage for nabe stew, you should cut the leaves lengthwise." Indeed, if the leaves are cut vertically into long strips, the white fleshy part remains crisp and flavorful. I readily agreed this was the way to savor this vegetable at its seasonal best.

At home, I am feared by my family as the bossy nabe chef. But to confess, I never knew I was chopping the cabbage the wrong way--that is, horizontally. In my own defense, however, it's not such a terrible thing to let the cabbage cook through and flavor the broth, which will be used to make zosui (rice porridge) at the end of the meal. Actually, some people prefer their cabbage thoroughly cooked and soggy, while others are horrified by the very thought. To each his own, and ultimately it's the chef's call.

Around this season, the morning frost adds sweetness to napa cabbages. The other day, I visited Yachiyo, Ibaraki Prefecture, one of the foremost hakusai farming regions in the country. Trainee farmers from China, the home of this leafy delicacy, were busy harvesting the vegetable. Wielding special blades, they sheared the heads off, each big enough to be an armful, and lined them up in two layers.

After the outer leaves are peeled off, the snowy white heads were exposed, looking like they had just been washed clean. Maybe it was their pure whiteness or perhaps their "buxom" roundness, that made me think they looked almost erotic. Though these were being boxed in the fields, I recalled a haiku by Kenkichi Kusumoto: "Washed clean/ The hakusai bask in the sun/ Like a row of white buttocks."

A nabe dinner, consisting of common ingredients and stewed on a portable tabletop stove, is just right for these economically lean times.

According to Dentsu Communication Institute, which published a list of popular consumer items last week, uchi-gomori (staying at home) is the buzzword that defines people's interest in saving money and enjoying quality time at home.

It's already December. In this day and age, the future is uncertain, no matter how you look at it. Perhaps this is the time to focus on today and enjoy it to the max. And I always welcome a nabe dinner at home, with its delicious aromas of seafood, vegetables and other items tickling the nose, and everyone smiling happily as steam rises from bubbling broth.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 1(IHT/Asahi: December 2,2008)