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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

It’s lambing time in the Cooking for Jesus kitchens.  Legs of lamb are being ritually prepared, Mollie is getting to grips with some lamb meatballs, and I am all about the butter.

It’s traditional in Poland and likely other Eastern European countries as well to have a butter lamb on Easter. (Also sugar lambs, and I daresay if you could make it, a jelly lamb that would be acceptable too.) When chatting with an ethnically Polish friend on Wednesday, she lamented her inability to get to the Polish homeland of North Jersey to purchase a butter lamb for Easter.

“You can make them yourself,” I said.

“Yes, but you need a mold.”

“Gracious, no,” I replied. .All you need is a stick of butter and cold water.”

And this is how you do it.

Get a bowl of cold water and a stick of butter that is slightly softened:

Drop butter in water:

butter and water

Now make a lamb:  start kneading the butter under the surface of the cold water and make it lamb-shaped.  It is important the water stay cold as that is what keeps the butter from melting too much.  You may have to change it a few times to keep it cold enough especially if you have artistic standards or are working with children.

Decorate the lamb to force upon others who will tell you that your lamb looks like a dog (the arts are not within my skill set alas) the fact THIS IS A LAMB.  I advise using flowers, as very few people, even the French, associate dogs with flowers.

Here the butter lamb is styling clove eyes a coriander nose, and a chive and lilac collar.  Obviously he will be eaten with savory foods (like the lambropsomo I may yet make to go with roast lamb or actually likely won’t but will pretend in my mind that I have) because he will taste like chives.  (And given all the butter but into Easter bread you probably shouldn’t put more on top, and yet it is Easter…)

I'm a lamb! Can't you see all my flowers?

Now go practice your lambing skills and have a blessed Holy Saturday .

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Years ago, in the now sadly defunct Re:generation Quarterly, the ever delightful L. Penseur had a Christmas article wherein he had something rather compelling to say about that OTHER great feast, namely Easter.

Well, it’s the season to be jolly, of Bing Crosby crooning, “Chestnuts roasting o’er an open fire,” neighborhood competitions to develop the most garish and kilowatt-intensive house lighting display, the very refreshing beverage of hot Tom and Jerry, and breakfast with Santa. And, to round things off, the Christmas issue of some evangelical publication is out—I name no names—which deplores all of the above, decries the commercialization of Christmas, proclaims the substitution of Claus for Christ, et cetera, and calls for Christians to fall back from the beleaguered outpost of Christmas and retreat under heavy marketing fire to our trenches and foxholes around Fort Easter.

I haven’t been too thrilled with the whole strategic-withdrawal-to-Easter idea since I saw my first human-sized pink inflatable bunny tied down on a lawn beneath an Easter egg tree. Zut alors, I thought. Earthquakes and brilliant flashes of light, hard-bitten veteran legionnaires fleeing for their lives, shining beings rolling around economy-sized pieces of granite, hell shaking to its foundations, and a battered, desecrated, tortured, and absolutely dead body getting up and walking out of its tomb … from this we get a pink inflatable bunny? If you can make that kind of mental, emotional, and intellectual transition, are there any kinds of transitions you can’t make? Easter is not as safe as the opponents of Christmas commercialism make it out to be.

And that, my friends, about sums up the situation here at Fort Easter. We are A.) besieged from outside by the pink plastic bunny barrage and B.) facing an equally severe peril from within by members of the team who just don’t see why Easter is such a big deal.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s take point A first. Run a Google image search on Easter and tell me how many of the first twenty images have a religious component. . . I can’t stand the suspense. I’ve done it for you. There are no religious depictions in the first twenty images, 0 % if your brain rolls that way. The first religious image doesn’t show up until #24.  Out of first one hundred images only 5 have any religious component. An image of the resurrected Jesus doesn’t even make the top 100 though Robert Pattinson leering over some eggs clocks in at #71.

Run the same search for Passover. Compare and contrast averages.  Now tell me who’s winning the Fight of Fort Easter in the popular mind.

But the popular culture is as the popular culture does. I understand completely understand why a secular culture finds “a battered, desecrated, tortured, and absolutely dead body getting up and walking out of its tomb” inconceivable, disturbing, or even downright offensive and so hides the vision with inflatable lawn ornaments. The Cross is a scandal to be sure, but the Resurrection is even more offensive.  It’s bad enough that the Son of Man let himself be tortured and killed like a common criminal, but the man didn’t even have the decency to STAY DEAD.  Unnatural!

Unfortunately many who claim the name “Christian” feel essentially the same way, and I don’t know quite what to do with that.   Easter is the sine qua non of Christianity.  Sweet little Baby Jesus is marvelous; battered Jesus on the cross is awe-inspiring; but the resurrected Jesus….He is beyond adjectives. He is who He is.

What does this mean for we Marthas of the world who are fighting gamely in the inner redoubt with a soup ladle and Kitchen Aid mixer?

My friends, we can’t take the heat; we need to get out of the kitchen.  Let’s put down that Kitchen Aid and get ours Marys on.  That is the purpose of Lent: so we can get as Maryed up as a Martha can be. (Or rather as Marthaed as Martha can be, because it was not Mary nor Lazarus who made this great confession.) Make time during these days of the Triduum to follow the sacrifice.

If you’re really disciplined, you can ponder the great mystery in the quietness of your heart.  Being weak fleshed and willed, I need the external discipline of attending a service.  Fortunately the Church provides for the weak among us.  Any liturgical church should be offering at least a service on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and may even have Easter Vigil. Any Christian church worthy of the name should be doing something special on Sunday. Be there.  Behold the man reveal himself as God. Feast upon the Sacrament.

Restored; get back to the kitchen and feast!  Feast boldly!  Feast because we no longer matter; Christ has folded us into himself.  Feast because we are nothing and yet we are invincible. Acknowledge with your whole being the joyous and surpassing mystery: we are dust and to dust we shall return, but beautiful will be the recreation of dust.

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Easter wings

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
   Though foolishly he lost the same,
      Decaying more and more,
        Till he became
           Most poore:
           With  thee
        Oh let me rise
   As larks, harmoniously,
  And sing this day  thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My  tender  age  in  sorrow   did   beginne:
   And still with sicknesses and shame
      Thou  didst  so  punish  sinne,
         That  I  became
           Most thinne.
           With  thee
        Let me combine
      And feel this day thy victorie:
   For,  if  I  imp  my  wing  on  thine
Affliction shall  advance the  flight in  me

–George Herbert

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Behold the Naked Lemon! Zested for our bread.

Every Easter my mother would be rummaging around in the vegetable drawer, as mothers are wont to do, and invariably a small wail of despair would emanate from her lips.

“There are NAKED lemons in my refrigerator!” Pause for calculation. “ALL my lemons are naked!”

This bothered her to no end. I myself was and remain unperturbed, even when I achieved my all-time maximum naked lemon count of 9. The sacrifice was worthy. Just as you cannot make an omelet with breaking some eggs, you cannot make many Easter breads with out stripping some lemons.

Indeed the the lemon with its fresh, sharp, bright taste appears to be associated in the European mind with Easter, from Milan to Moscow, from Vienna to Voerendaal, the lemon reigns supreme, challenged only by the equally delightful almond and the omnipotent anise.This makes sense. Though it is not the case for inhabitants of sun-kissed climes and though it may not seem like it too many us us dwelling in the fatness of unseasonable fruit and vegetables in our supermarkets, Easter is early spring in most the Northern Hemisphere (In the Southern of course it’s Autumn, but that’s a topic for another time.). There not a lot of fruiting vegetation about yet…so the lemon it is i it.

This suits me just find because lemon and almond are two of my favorite flavors, and I’m not hostile to the anise either. Mind you, it’s a bit of a chicken and the egg thing as Easter has always been, even since I was a wee tot, my favorite holiday. (What can I say? Liturgical fundamentalists are born as well as made.) But who cares? Both chicken and eggs are tasty, and so are almonds and lemons, Less chat, more eating please.

Now if you  are like my mother and fear the presence of naked lemons in refrigerator or are engaged in high speed baking, there is an alternative. Lemon oil, like that put out by the good people of Boyajian, works very well. Indeed, just yesterday at Sur La Table, my hand hovered over it…but I withdrew it. I have after all 6 more lemons in the refrigerator. Let them caper naked before the empty tomb of our Risen Lord!

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