SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — During the COVID-19 lockdown, the Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church in Southfield looked for ways to stay connected while staying apart. Normally, the Women’s Guild’s calendar is filled with activities and events through the year. Maintaining connections to each other while remaining homebound meant thinking in creative new ways. The group divided up their church phone directory and took turns calling each member to check in regularly.
A suggestion by Fr. Aren Jebejian led to the creation of Guild Gatherings, a series of instructional videos recorded by volunteers in their homes and posted on YouTube. The Guild has posted 33 homemade videos that have been viewed over 8,000 times, covering a variety of subjects and topics. “Millions of people go to YouTube to be educated, informed, motivated, or just plain delighted. Our members demonstrated how to make souboreg, katah, dolma, and comfort foods like soup, breads, yogurt, manti, and choreg.
Other topics include designing holiday planters and tablescapes, cake decorating, watercolor painting, knitting, exercise, and more,” says Denise Karakashian, Guild Gatherings co-chair. “These imaginative and creative videos have inspired many viewers to learn new skills and activities during the quarantine.”
One special recipe featured at the Guild Gatherings YouTube page is the late Pam Dayinian’s Red Lentil Vegetable Soup. Though Pam passed away in 2015, she was instrumental in the creation of the Armenian Cuisine: Preserving Our Heritage Cookbook by the Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church (she served as co-chair with Dolly Matoian). Pam was recognized for being an outstanding home cook, baker, planner, and church organizer who worked tirelessly in support of the Women’s Guild for many years. (The cookbook’s fourth printing was in 2019.)
Pam’s recipe (it makes about 11 cups) is listed on page 37 of the cookbook. In the YouTube video, Guild member Susan Reizian demonstrates an updated version of Pam’s recipe that can be made in an Instant Pot, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vzfyhIX5JI&list=PLgaajJ5B0l5V_fCalkqdiHwLZU3qTyV7l&index=4
Note: Instant Pots are a brand of electric pressure cookers or multicookers. Pressure cookers work by creating heat under a tight seal, so the temperature is much higher than the boiling point of water and the steam can’t escape. The steam cooks food much more quickly than traditional stovetop or oven cooking.