Category Archives: Our Domestic Church

Our Midwest Mary Table


In our old house, our Mary Table/Family Altar was in the living room just as you came in from the front door. When we moved to the midwest, this house was set up very differently from our old four-square. The first question was where, in this house, would it be? What better place than the first place your eyes fall when you walk in the house? By the kitchen door, in the living room. After all, everyone who comes in the house ends up in the kitchen! This is the place we decided to create our Family Altar.

Midwest Mary Table

Midwest Mary Table

After setting everything up as we had it before, we realized that with a new house and a new life maybe we needed some new things. While searching the net, I found tons of ideas.

We have since learnes that the focal point of a Catholic home should be the family altar. For us, it is a place where our family gathers to offer up our prayers and to ask Mary, and the Saints to pray for us. Morning Offerings, family Rosaries, prayers for special intentions, family novenas and Lectio Divina are all made here.

Family altars, ideally, should be on the Eastern wall of a home, in the same orientation as church buildings.As “luck” would have it, ours is on an east facing wall/ The altar can be as simple or as elaborate as your familiy desires, but should be beautiful and conducive to contemplation. We also like to have enough room for flowers for Our Lady.

A few key items to be placed on or around the altar table have been:
The Crucifix
our Family Bible
Several icons (statues and two-dimensional)
a Holy Water font or a cellar of blessed salt
charcoal incense burner
Rosaries, Rosaries, Rosaries
vigil candles and candles blessed at Candlemas. We burn them on All Saints Day, Patron Saint’s Days and in times of trouble, (for me it’s the storms)
Baptismal candles

Other things that have made their way to our Family Alter are the Breviary or the Little Office of Our Lady, Holy Cards, flowers, the names of dead family members (printed in a little book) so we may be reminded to pray for them, pictures of the Stations of the Cross or the Mysteries of the Rosary (ours are hand drawn), something with which to play sacred music and Gregorian chant (under the table in the basket and palm branches from Palm Sunday.


Gâteau de Bayou


Have you ever tried this cake? Gâteau de Bayou is a version of a traditional spice cake from the Acadian region of Louisiana. Every year we try a new Cajun recipe for Mardi Gras. this is 2011’s addition. Do you know the history of Louisiana’s Cajuns?

Accordianing to the website Cajun Country, “CAJUN (‘ka:-j@n), n. A person of French Canadian descent born or living along the bayous, marshes, and prairies of  southern Louisiana.  The word Cajun began in 19th century Acadie (now Nova Scotia, Canada) when the Acadians began to arrive. The French of noble ancestry would say, “les Acadiens”, while some referred to the Acadians as “le ‘Cadiens”, dropping the “A”.  Later came the Americans who could not pronounce “Acadien” or “‘Cadien”, so the word “Cajun” was born.”

The Cake:

2 pieces of fresh ginger (each 4 inches long), peeled and grated
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter , softened
3 3/4 cups and 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 2/3 cups cane syrup
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil or peanut oil
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. hot sauce

4 large egg whites , at room temperature
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
Note: Browning the meringue requires a blowtorch; alternatively, leave off the meringue and serve with butter pecan ice cream or extra cane syrup.

To make cake: Combine ginger and 1 1/3 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and strain ginger through sieve, pressing with a spoon; discard pulp and let ginger water cool.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan (without nonstick lining) with butter. Dust pan with 3 tablespoons flour, tapping out excess.

Whisk together 3 3/4 cups flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pepper in bowl.

Combine 1 1/3 cups cane syrup, oil, brown sugar, and ginger water in the bowl of a standing mixer; whisk with a handheld whisk until blended. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Add hot sauce and flour mixture; attach bowl to a mixer with paddle attachment; beat on low speed until batter is smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes, scraping bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool on wire rack 10 minutes; then unmold cake onto rack. With a thin wooden skewer, poke holes in top of cake about 1 inch apart. Brush cake with 1/3 cup cane syrup. Let cool.

To make meringue: In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally to dissolve sugar. Cook until syrup is dark amber, about 10 minutes. Stir in corn syrup; mixture will bubble vigorously. Cook, without stirring, until syrup is 240° on a digital thermometer.

With mixer on low speed, pour syrup into egg white mixture; don’t let syrup touch whisk. Increase speed to high and beat until meringue is thick enough to spread, about 2 minutes. While meringue is still warm, spread over cake with a large spatula, making peaks and swirls. With a crème brûlée torch, brown meringue. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 16–20

If you google “Gateau de Bayou” you will find many variations, some of which sound delicious.