Come Marching In. Today is All Saints Day. I can’t help it, when I think All Saints then I hear music and suddenly I’m transported to a place I’ve only seen in my dreams – New Orleans. More on that later.
Although nearly everyone in America celebrates the secular holiday of Halloween, the religious solemnity of the days that follow are not widely practiced or acknowledge by most Americans unless they are Catholic. Today is All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day (thus explaining why October 31 is Halloween – or All Hallows’ Eve). It is the first of two consecutive days that deal with those who have gone before us.
All Saints is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls’ Day, which is tomorrow. All Souls Day focuses on those who have died but not yet reached heaven. While some combine the two holy days, others either ignore or redefine All Souls. Many Protestants retained All Souls, although they dismissed the need to pray for the dead. Instead, the day has been used to commemorate those who have recently died, usually in the past year, and to remember the examples of those who lived holy lives. The Catholic practice however, celebrates all those who have entered heaven, including saints who are recognized by the Church and those who are not on All Saints Day, while praying for the dead on All Souls Day. All Saints is also a Holy Day of Obligation, and we are to attend Mass.
There are no fasts associated with All Saints. It is a day to celebrate those who attained heaven by their good works, by their good deeds and by honoring the will of God. Saints aren’t always saintly. After all, saints are human, with weaknesses and faltering ways. Yet they attain heaven, as a reminder to all that we can do the same. All that is required is unselfish surrender to the will of God. Some think Catholics believe all you need do to get into heaven is good works, when everyone knows that it is the will of God that gets us there. Only by God’s grace are we blessed with heaven. However; Catholics believe that we obtain that grace through good works that are sincere and pleasing to the Lord. It’s not a bribe, it’s showing God how much we love Him. Surrendering to His will is the purest form of love there is. It’s that simple.
Since All Saints makes me think of New Orleans, it only seems fitting to serve up a delicious Louisiana Bayou dish on this special, holy day. Enjoy!
Louisiana Sausage, Red Beans and Rice
2 (15 oz) cans Kidney Beans
1 large Yellow Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Celery Ribs
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 tablespoons minced Garlic
2 cups Beef Stock
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried Sage
1 tablespoon dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
1 lb Andouille Sausage
4 cups Water
2 cups White Rice
Green Onions for garnish
Rinse and drain kidney beans. Set aside. Chop onion, bell pepper and celery. Set aside.
In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer beans to a large pot, stir in beef stock. Add cooked vegetables into beans. Season with bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, parsley, and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 90 minutes.
Slice sausage. Stir sausage into beans, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. In a saucepan, bring water and rice to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
To serve, ladle Red Beans into a bowl. Scoop some rice into a 1-cup measuring cup, drop mounded rice into the center of the bean mixture. Snip green onions, garnish dish and serve.
Great with warm bread for a satisfying supper.