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September 2: Sharing a Cup of Milk and Some Cheese with St. Mamas

St. Mamas was born in the third century of Christian parents, Theodotus and Rufina, who died shortly after his premature birth. He was adopted and raised as a Christian by a pious woman named Ammia. She sent him to study grammar, as he was a very intelligent boy, and at the age of fifteen already succeeded in converting many of his schoolmates to Christ. Because this was illegal under the emperor Democritus, the saint was brought to trial. St. Mamas bravely underwent the interrogation and confessed not only his belief in Christ, but declared the pagan idol worship of the empire to be sheer foolishness. Enraged, the emperor tried to have him drowned, but Mamas fled into the wilderness where he set up a hermitage for himself in seclusion, prayer and fasting. Soon, the wild beasts began to present themselves and gather during his prayers. Having no one else for company, Mamas read the Gospel to the wild goats and deer and they began to nourish him with their milk. He gathered enough milk from the animals to make cheese for any poor visitors who came his way, and it didn’t take long for news of this unusual man to spread. Soon, recognizing him to be the fugitive Christian, the emperor sent a group of soldiers to arrest him. Mamas appeared so simple that the soldiers almost mistook him for a shepherd, but the saint invited them into his home, gave them some milk, and told them that he was indeed the man they were looking for, knowing full well the fate that surely awaited him. He made such an impression on the soldiers that they hated to arrest him, and trusted him when he told them that they could go on ahead, and that he would follow them into the city. They waited at the city gate for Mamas, and soon saw him approaching, accompanied by a lion. Bravely, he submitted to the authorities and underwent martyrdom. They threw him into a cage with wild beasts who soon befriended him. This enraged the pagan priest, who mortally wounded Mamas with this trident. In a cave outside the city wall, Mamas gave his soul to God and was buried. Many Christians who prayed for his intercession began to receive miraculous results. St. Basil the Great mentions him in one of his great sermons: "Remember the holy martyr, you who live here and have him as a helper. You who call on his name have been helped by him. Those in error he has guided into life. Those whom he has healed of infirmity, those whose children were dead he has restored to life, those whose life he has prolonged: let us all come together as one, and praise the martyr!"

As the September weather begins to become a bit brisk, it can get quite chilly when you spend time outside. At snack time today, let’s make a mug of St. Mamas' Warm Vanilla Milk to help us remember the generosity he had toward his neighbors. A word of advice, though: be sure to serve it just before nap time! Here’s how we make it: For each serving, add the following to a pot on the stove 1c milk, whatever your family prefers, whole, skim, soy, almond, etc. 1Tbsp honey or maple syrup 1/2 tsp vanilla extract If you are lucky enough to be able to use a real vanilla pod, put ¼ - ½ of the pod, split, into the pot instead of the extract. You can also add a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick, and some ground nutmeg, as you prefer. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a scalding temperature, without boiling, stirring briskly with a wire whisk. This makes it frothy! Pour into your favorite mugs and top with the foam. Add some nutmeg or some colored sugar sprinkles and enjoy!


Our saintly friend, Mamas understood that everyone, even those who do not have much, must share whatever they have in order to please God. Although he lived alone in the wilderness, St Mamas had a lot of milk on hand, so he used what he had and made cheese to give to those who came to visit him! Lets make some cheese today, some to enjoy and some to share with our friends!

What You Need: 1 gallon whole milk (raw milk works best, but never use high-temp pasteurized milk!) 1/2 cup lemon juice or vinegar 1 teaspoon salt Pour the milk into a saucepan and, over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer, around 200°F, stirring it and occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the milk doesn't stick. When it comes to temperature it will be steamy and frothy. Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and salt. You should notice the milk begin to curdle; this is good. Cover the milk and let it stand for 10 minutes to give the acid time to completely separate the curds and whey. At the end of 10 minutes, if the curds don't separate well, add a drop or two more of your lemon juice and wait another few minutes. (Ultra pasteurized milk is processed specifically so that it will not curdle, so this is why we never use it to make cheese.) When the curds have formed, set a strainer or colander over a bowl and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth. Carefully scoop the curds into the strainer, collecting the whey in the bowl beneath. (This can be used later in soups, smoothies or to make oatmeal!) Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze the curds into a ball, to remove the excess whey. Divide your curds into two portions, one to eat, and one to give away. Take each ball of curds and place it, in its own clean piece of cheesecloth, onto a platter. Form each mass into a rectangle ( or a circle, if you prefer), wrapping each one tightly in the cheesecloth to hold its shape. Put a dinner plate on top of your cheeses to weigh them down for at least half an hour in the refrigerator. When the cheeses are finished pressing, wrap one up and tie it with a pretty ribbon for your neighbor, and keep one for yourself.

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