Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen With Julie Davis

Plus, a recipe for Julie’s special “knock-your-socks-off flavorful” tortellini salad.

Julie Davis and the cover of her book, ‘Happy Catholic’
Julie Davis and the cover of her book, ‘Happy Catholic’ (photo: Servant Books/Julie Davis)

A devout Catholic living in Dallas and the mother of two grown daughters, Julie Davis blogs at Happy Catholic and her cooking blog, Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen, and is the author of three books: Happy Catholic: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life, Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life and Thus Saith the Lord. That speaks volumes about someone who grew up in a nonreligious family and traveled a lengthy conversion pathway.

“We were raised with no religion,” she said, “and it was like, ‘Christians are just weak and need something to lean on.’ I always had questions. … How do people know that God exists? I always wondered what is true.”

When she married years later, her husband was Catholic, but he was nonobservant just through the inertia of being a young man on his own. But they started going to Mass every week, and registered her first daughter at a Catholic school.

Still, Julie felt no draw to God until one day, when she was kneeling in prayer, she asked God to prove his existence in her life. “God, get me a new house and I will know you are there.” she said. “I won’t bug you, and if we have a new house, I know you are there.”

One day, a year later at Mass, Julie realized her heart had changed. She told God, “I don’t have a good reason not to believe in you. You don’t have to pay off the bet. I will believe.” The next day, tax accounting errors were discovered that were enough for a new house and for other expenses. A realtor friend drove her to see what was on the market, and Julie spotted the house she loved.

Their own house sold a week later and the new house was bought with so little trouble that “the title agent said he had never seen a house sale move so quickly,” she said. “And I thought, a lightbulb goes off, and I get it. I hadn’t told my husband about the ‘bet’ until that moment and he was astounded and refers to it whenever someone asks about miracles in our lives.

“I had to wait until next fall to enter RCIA,” she said. “God was working on me to become Catholic, so it was the next Easter in 2000.” Her godmother gave her Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn, and that was a deeper step into her faith.

“I had no idea people wrote books about religion and I got really inspired by digging deeper into Catholic books.”

Although her parents led a Bohemian lifestyle with no religious foundation, Julie said her parents were terrific cooks. “In the ‘60s,” she said, “cooking in the United States took off and they began cooking all sorts of foreign foods.” The family tried cooking new recipes regularly.

“I always liked cooking and whenever I was alone, I took cookbooks from the library and taught myself on my own. Then I would make foods and freeze them. And when I met my husband, I cooked for him. Finding decent bread was a problem, so I baked bread every week, or went to good bakeries. That is really the progression for a home cook who cares. I am interested by canned soups, so I ask myself, ‘How do I do this for real?’”

Today she and her younger daughter share home cooking. “My younger daughter loves to cook,” she said, “and we share recipe ideas, and we end up splitting the cooking. I cook for people because I love them,” Julie said. “It makes me think of how Jesus said that Heaven would be like a huge banquet. What is better than sharing a joyful meal with those we love?”


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Recipe: Tortellini Salad

“This is knock-your-socks-off flavorful. My mother came across it long ago in a restaurant magazine. Naturally, it was provided with quantities for buffet brunch servings, so she had to tinker with it to get it just right for family portions. I often make it for Easter when we are grilling lamb. But it goes well any time of year — especially good with grilled food. (And in Texas you might be grilling any time of year!)” said Julie Davis.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup yogurt (I use Greek, full-fat yogurt but use your favorite unflavored type)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 bunch parsley

Process all ingredients in food processor until well mixed.

  • 1 pound frozen cheese tortellini

Cook tortellini until tender. Cool quickly and toss with dressing. It will seem as if there is too much dressing, but don’t worry — it thickens up. Cool overnight.