Beer Bread, Cooking Club and Feasts with Father

“Food brings people together,” says Father Scott Janysek

Father Scott Janysek’s beer bread
Father Scott Janysek’s beer bread

Texas priest Father Scott Janysek, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Helotes, is a native of the state, having been born and raised in a unique town called Panna Maria. Noted as an historic district, the town is perhaps the oldest Polish settlement in America. And a Polish priest, Father Leopold Moczygemba, invited fellow countrymen to settle here.

As Father Janysek noted, he grew up there in a very Catholic — and Polish — family who attended church regularly and cooked home meals. “My parents did a lot of meals at home,” he said. “and as I got older, I realized that with certain dishes, I would need to learn how to make them. I am also good at baking because it was part of 4H programs, and I would often do well in baking contests.”

Perhaps when he was an altar server, but by the second grade, Father Janysek remembered looking at his pastor and thought that being a priest would be interesting. Later as a teen, he noted that most of his classmates knew he wanted to be a priest. “I did not even know how to go about it,” he said. “I did not even know how to find a vocation office. That was about the time when Pope John Paul II died.” 

Fortunately, because he had been an altar server there, he knew Bishop John Yanta of Amarillo, Texas. As fate had it, he had asked God what to do, and the next day when he was doing a volunteer project at the church to raise money for a homeless shelter, Bishop Yanta came driving up, and asked the young man about becoming a priest. “I told him I was out of options,” he said, “and that I was looking at the Texas Lutheran University. I had thought I would get some kind of theology degree while still looking in to how to become a priest.” Bishop Yanta disagreed with that plan. 

After the bishop’s phone call to his vocation director, Father Janysek found himself looking into colleges in the diocese of Amarillo and considering joining the seminary for that diocese. However, he ended up applying to join the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the seminary as a “collegian” or college-level seminarian. He was ordained in 2014. “My family has always been very supportive of my becoming a priest,” he said, noting that his passion for cooking has remained strong.

Even in seminary, he remembered, he learned to cook for others and used other seminarians as “guinea pigs.”

“I let them sample what I would make, whether it was barbecue or other recipes,” he said. “By the time I was ordained, I had become one of the main cooks for social nights at the seminary.”

Although he has served at various parishes, it was when he was at St. Jerome Catholic Church in San Antonio that he took his passion to the forefront by starting a cooking club called Father Scott’s Cooking Club. “Food brings people together,” he said, “so I started a cooking club for high school kids. The high school kids would soon be on their own and that many of them did not really know how to cook and would be left eating take-out or ramen noodles. … We made all sorts of different dishes, such as home-made jellies, sauces, pasta dishes, and grinding and stuffing sausage.”

Father even started to work on another program called “Feast with Father” for registered parishioners. “My secretary would invite 10 random couples to come to the rectory for dinner,” he said. “I would do all the cooking and set the table formally. I would not let them clean up, but just come and get to know one another.” 

It was one of the most popular events at the parish, as some of the families stayed in specific Masses and never really knew others who attended other Masses. Having heard the feedback of many of the adults of the parish, Father Janysek had just started an adult version of the cooking club, naming it the St. Lorenzo Cooking Club after St. Lawrence, but the pandemic turned the in-person event into a virtual cooking club. “My goal is always to keep to about an hour as a live stream,” he said. “It is in the rectory, and we move the camera into a spot where we could film whole-kitchen.”

In July, the Archdiocese asked Father Janysek to take on a new assignment at Our Lady of Guadalupe. He continued the virtual version of the cooking club and has made all sorts of things, such as Chicken Alfredo, Chicken and Dumplings, and even a wild-game menu. The cooking club occurs once a month on the second Thursday. Father Janysek is hoping that once COVID-19 fades away he will be able to return to an in-person version of the cooking club and start up Feast with Father at his new parish. 

 

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Recipe: Beer Bread 

Father said “the hoppier or with odd flavors the beers are the better.”

  • 3 cups sifted self-rising flour 
  • ¼ cup sugar 
  • 12 ounces (1 can or bottle) of your favorite beer) 
  • ¼ cup melted butter 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a bread pan.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and beer of choice. Mix very well; it may look a bit runny. Resist the urge to add more flour. If you don’t sift the flour, you very possibly will end up with a very stiff loaf of bread.

Pour the bread dough into the bread pans. If you let it sit a few minutes, you will actually see it beginning to rise. This is not necessary for the recipe but it can be done. Pour some or all of the melted butter over the top of the bread dough. This will give the bread that golden crust on the top. You do not need to use all the butter. Place the bread pan in the oven for 1 hour. Cook for the full hour to assure bread is done in the center. Pull out of the oven and flip it onto a cooling rack. This bread is best served hot or warm with a bit of butter. Enjoy!

Father Scott Janysek
Father Scott Janysek