Thursday, 16 July 2015

Chocolate and what??

Chocolate avocado mousse.  It is a thing, apparently.  And not just a thing as in weird recipes you find on wacky websites - no, this was in a genuine published cookery book.  Entitled, since you ask, River Cottage Light & Easy by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  Although I'm sure you can find it on any number of wacky websites too.

So I had a couple of avocados that had been sitting in the fridge for ages, and I was convinced they were about to dissolve into slushy puddles if I didn't use them soon.  Of course, one of them turned out to be rock hard.  Another root in the fridge produced about 100ml of pureed tinned pears, left from an experiment in making pear and elderflower ice lollies.  So, into the food processor went the one ripe avocado, 3 tbsp of cocoa powder, the pear mush and a couple of teaspoons of honey.  One good whizz later, it had amalgamated into a pretty good mousse-like mixture that tasted much more like chocolate than avocado.  Success!


Come dessert time, each of us got a little cupful.  Each of us?  Uh-huh.  You can see where this is going, can't you?  Want to see what a baby can do with two spoonfuls of chocolate mousse?

This.

And this.

How about this?

Man, this is good.

Don't forget about me!

Um... success?

Sunday, 12 July 2015

On Communion

Come, enter in, approach the wine and bread.
This is no mere remembrance of one who lies long dead.
This is an invitation from one whose words all said:
Come, enter in.

Come, enter in, lay down your nagging fear.
Your burdens may be lifted, your sins forgiven here.
This table is a still point in all the changing year:
Come, enter in.

Come, enter in, though not with hate possessed -
You need to ask forgiveness from those you have distressed.
A blessing must be given if you would now be blessed:
Come, enter in.

Come, enter in, lift up your eyes again.
Remember him who lived and died, compassion masking pain,
And view him now in heaven, where he shall always reign:
Come, enter in.

Come, enter in, receive the bread and wine.
Drink deep, eat well, and understand the sign -
For in this holy sacrament God's grace will always shine:
Come, enter in.


This is an old poem.  I wrote it almost ten years ago, arising out of a prayer meeting at my church in Bristol, but it still runs through my head from time to time.  It came into my mind again today as we took communion at our current church - a rather free-for-all affair at the best of times, and more so when your toddler is trying to stick his fingers into the juice and your preschooler is whining that he's still hungry and wants more bread.  I was struggling to find any sense of holiness in all of that!

Communion is an oddity in our religion.  A "meal" that has been so ritualised as to be even less than a snack.  A spiritual - and in some strange way, even physical - link to the one we hail as Lord.  It can be as simple as crackers and juice shared with friends, and as ornate as a full bells-and-smells Catholic Mass.  Very few of the ways we celebrate it now probably bear any resemblance to the original meal Jesus ate with his disciples; and yet all of them look back to that day just before he died.  Some traditions observe communion daily; some weekly or monthly; some question the validity of observing it at all.  But as far as we can tell, it has been something that has united Christians since the earliest of times: breaking bread together to "proclaim the Lord's death until he comes".

Left to myself, I would be firmly Anglico-Baptist in my observance.  If having an ideal communion is not too sacrilegious, mine would consist of some well-chosen opening words - possibly, but not limited to, the Anglican communion rite, with its ringing call and response, "Lift up your hearts!  We lift them to the Lord."  There would then follow a reverent silence, broken only by the murmurs of, "The body of Christ, broken for you," and, "The blood of Christ, shed for you," as the bread and wine are passed from neighbour to neighbour.  There would be time to reflect and pray individually before we moved on with a corporate prayer or song, bringing all our private prayers back into one act of worship.

Life intervenes.  My reverent silences are more likely to be broken by cries of, "Mum, I need a wee!", and the blood of Christ in its representative form will probably be shed all over my shirt as I juggle a wiggling baby.  But the poem above still expresses my understanding of the ideas and intentions behind communion, and is still a valuable reminder of what we do, and what Jesus does, whenever we come to his table.  The ideal celebration of it may happen far too rarely, but the ideal consecration within it is still there.  Every time.

Come, enter in.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Monthly Munch: June 2015

This was the month that I went back to work!  It was a little unexpected, but a job came up at a local family-run business called Bluebells Dairy, so I am now spending three days a week helping them to make ice cream.  Which means that Graham is now officially a stay-at-home Dad; or as he calls it, enjoying his retirement.


It is also the month that Theo learned to walk.  That's him, see, disappearing into the distance.  Oh yes.  Don't take your eyes off him for a moment, or you're in trrrouble!



Toby

King Toby (of the holy knees)
 - won 1st prize in the children's section of the Findern bake-off!

"Toby's Chocolate Cake"


- wanted to picket the judges of said bake-off.  He made a sign which said "1st prize for Toby or 2nd prize for Toby or 3rd prize for Toby".  We didn't let him put it on a stick and wave it outside the venue.

- gets a little annoyed with Theo now he's more mobile: "Everything I try to do, Theo's there!" but really enjoys making him giggle, too.


- was really good when the car broke down at Tesco and we had to wait ages for the AA to rescue us.  He enjoyed riding in the van while our car was towed.

Quotes:
"I think I'd be good at being a fireman, because I like getting wet with a hose."

This coat was designed for a giant fireman!

One morning when I came down for breakfast: "Uh-oh, here comes trouble!"

Theo


- has gone from a wobbly start to practically running in just a few weeks.

- can bust out some great dance moves!

At the Findern Preschool Tea Dance

- gets super-static hair on the trampoline.

Bzzzzt!

- points and says, "ah-plah" every time he sees an aeroplane, and makes a pretty good attempt at "tractor" too.

- goes "zhzhzhzhzh" as he pushes toy cars around.  Guess who he picked that one up from?


Thankful for:

- 1st prize in the bake-off for me too!  To be honest I think almost every entry got some kind of prize, but we were pretty happy with our firsts.


- a £90 rebate on our electricity bill - obviously those solar panels are doing their job up there.


-lots of home-grown strawberries.

Recipe of the Month: Lacy Lemon Tart




Here it is - the prize-winning recipe!  You'll need one very large lemon or a couple of regular sized ones.


Base:
40g caster sugar
80g butter
120g plain flour
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Topping:
3 eggs
170g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
120ml lemon juice
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the base, rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the sugar and lemon zest.  Or whizz briefly in a food processor.  Tip into a 9-inch round springform tin, and pat down firmly and evenly.  Bake at 170°C for 15 minutes until just lightly coloured.  Turn the oven down to 160°C.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together.  Add the lemon zest and juice and whisk in, then stir in the flour and baking powder.  Or, again, stick it all in the food processor.  Pour over the baked base, and bake in the slightly cooler oven for about 25 minutes, until just set in the middle.

If you like, decorate with royal icing.  If not, just sprinkle some sifted icing sugar over.  Bonus points for using a doily to get a lacy pattern.  Store in the fridge.