Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Sunday Afternoon Baking

October 13, 2008

75 degrees in October? Not really an ideal day for slaving away inside over a hot stove, but somehow it was just perfect for me. There was a beautiful breeze blowing through the open window and warming rays of sun shining in on me. Heaven!

David and I went to church (two weeks in a row!!) and then went grocery shopping (including Trader Joe’s!!) to pick up stuff for today. I got these great curry chicken tenders from Trader Joes for lunch. Yummy! After a relaxing lunch while watching Heroes (OMG!!), I retreated to the kitchen to bake before the Packer game started.

Saturday afternoon David and I went apple picking with some friends at Barthel Fruit Farm. It was a little warm for my usual apple picking “uniform” (hooded sweatshirt for protection from scratchy trees and pockets for carrying apples down from a ladder) but I’m really not going to complain about beautiful weather in October.

Golden Delicious apples had just ripened and the trees were full. I was also able to pick a couple Spartans and Jonathans and a handful of Cortlands. Of course I had to sample.

So, armed with freshly picked apples, I knew I had to bake something to use some of them up, because there’s no way we can eat 10 pounds of apples before they go bad! I chose a recipe from Annie’s Eats blog, of Apple Pie Cupcake fame. These were Apple Crumble Bars. Kind of like apple pie, but in bar form.

I took a little liberty with the recipe. It’s a little scary to play with base ingredients in baked goods, but I made some simple substitutions and additions, and it turned out great. Click on that link above for her recipe and instructions, but here’s what I did…

Apple Crumble Bars
For the base:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill. Regular whole wheat flour would work too, but sift it)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:
Approximately 5 cups of peeled, cored, and chopped apples
5 tbsp. sugar (can substitute 1 or 2 tbsp. with brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh squeezed!!)
1/4 cup fruit jam (I used a low-sugar strawberry preserves from Trader Joe’s)

For the topping:
1/2 cup flour (I used a half cup measuring cup, and filled it about 2/3 with all-purpose flour and 1/3 with whole wheat pastry flour)
3 tbsp. sugar (I substituted 1 tbsp. with Maple Sugar from The Spice House)
4 tbsp. butter, softened

I still used the same preparation method from Annie’s Eats recipe.

Her recipe called for 4 medium sized apples. I had to guess at this one, because most of my tarty apples (Spartan, Jonathan) were very small. So I used a whole bunch of apples, and it was about 5 cups when they were peeled and chopped, and that covered the 8X8 pan pretty well.

These get cooked down with the sugar and cinnamon. I sprinkled a little of that Maple Sugar in there too. Then the slurry of lemon juice and cornstarch is added. If you don’t have one of these adorable little wisks, a fork would work too. 😉

Next is the base. It’s super easy and doesn’t need a mixer (a bonus for me, since I don’t have one). I used a fork and my fingers because I don’t even have a pastry blender. Just keep blending the butter until the consistency looks like breadcrumbs.

This is then pressed into the foil-lined pan. I didn’t press too hard, but I didn’t let it stay crumbly either.

This is then baked, and the jam is spread on, topped by the apple mixture while it’s still warm.

The topping looks pretty similar to the base, and when it’s all combined, it’s poured on the top of this deliciousness and baked. I added a little more maple sugar and cinnamon to the top before putting it back into the oven.

It comes out golden brown and delicious. Be sure to let it cool for a while before cutting into it, because the crust and topping are very soft at first.

I put mine in the fridge for a little bit to really firm up the crust. I found it easiest to eat with a fork and plate, but the crust is sturdy enough to pick up by hand. Just cut the pieces small!

It would be great with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but David and I dug in with a tall glass of milk, and it was still delicious.

Try it! Yum!!



October 7, 2008

I went back to “my” church on Sunday. I almost can’t get over how friendly people are there. We had two random adorable old ladies come up and talk to us, because they didn’t recognize us. And the pastor came up and talked to us before the service. All the people I’ve talked to there seem genuine. The sermon (homily?? I don’t know what to call these things outside of Catholic church) is real. I can relate to it. I can use those ideas and teachings in my real life. These people are truly “Christ-like” to me, and are examples of how I want to lead my life. I still identify with Catholics and Catholic mass, but I can’t say I ever felt like this when I go to a Catholic church, even within the last year.

I wouldn’t classify myself as a particularly religious person. I do not blindly follow or believe. I question. I think about what it means to live a good life. My number one response to that is to “Love thy neighbor.” That pretty much sums up the most important way to live well, in my book. I get the feeling that this church agrees with me.

This past Sunday’s service involved Communion. For anyone who has ever been to a Catholic mass, Communion is a BIG DEAL. It’s strange to me to only celebrate Communion once a month, but whatever. Maybe it makes it that much more special and meaningful. It was certainly the most relatable Communion service I’d ever experienced. The (female) pastor talked all about how each of us is like a single grain of wheat, but with God, we become a whole loaf of bread. Okay, sounds cheesy, but it worked. We’re all connected, whether we like it or not, and we have to help each other out. I like it.

I never thought I’d be excited to join a church, but I am! I was told the next new member classes start in November. I hope we’re able to take them. Yes, “WE.” David wants to join to. Or, at least he’s okay with joining. He even took Communion. I almost cried, for real.

I used to deny and ignore this spiritual side of me, but I’m learning to accept it. I’ll never be someone who Praises His Name!!!!!! all the time (ala crazy fake seeming Televangelists), nor will I blindly believe religion and ignore science, nor will I allow a church to control my life. And it looks like I won’t have to, now that I’ve found a church that doesn’t want to!

Me Me Me

June 13, 2008

I’m feeling very wedding plan-y today and I don’t really know why.

I read a post on a wedding blog, and suddenly realized something. Weddings are SO self-centered. How do you plan a wedding without being all ME ME ME!!!!?? I can be vain, and certainly enjoy being the center of attention, but it’s weirding me out to think about planning a giant party to honor ME. Well, me and my groom of course, but US.

I think that’s why, when I think about what I want, it focuses on the guests. I mean, of course I want to look outrageously beautiful, but I really want my guests to eat great food and to have a blast. I know, that’s what everyone wants, right?

That seems to be the “problem,” because if I cared less about my guests, I could put them in some cheap place and serve them crappy food, and spend more money on ME. I don’t want to do that. That is most definitely not ME.

Would I give my pinky finger for an amazing designer gown? Yes, probably. But I’d rather take that $4,000 (or more…) and be able to invite an extra 50 of my friends and family.

Unfortunately, a $4,000 dress sounds just as unreasonable as our 200 person guest list right now. We’re doing well in paying off our debt, but we won’t be debt free for almost a year. And then we’ll only have a very small savings. If any. We were planning on Disney World for David’s golden 27th birthday next year. But his sister wants us to come to Europe with their mom in a couple years. I’d love to do these things, but then how will I afford the kind of wedding that I want?

I do not want a location that looks like a gymnasium or an 80’s prom hall. But I don’t need the Calatrava/Art Museum (though I’ll tell you, I WANT IT). To me, a wedding has always been about all your friends and family and loved ones being in the same room to celebrate and wish you love and luck in the start of a new chapter of your life. For me to take a chainsaw to the guestlist would be so painful. So how do I throw a nice reception for THAT many people? I guess that is the question I will be trying to answer.

My parents aren’t exactly throwing money at me. And not that they should! I am thinking of approaching them with a plan… maybe they could match everything I save? Even half of each dollar would be such a huge help.

My parents divorce could, and should, be it’s own entry. It’s final now. And they seem so much happier and alive. But let me tell you, having your father take you to lunch to tell you that he’s moving out, just a few weeks after your engagement is HARD. It hurt. It completely shook everything I’ve ever believed. I’m still dealing with it. My parents were married for almost 25 years! And the vast majority of those years were happy. They were happy.

So not only did my dad often tell me how much he thought marriage was pointless and weddings were stupid, but I had constant doubt. Am I doing the right thing?! Will we still feel this in love after 25 years?  I guess nobody REALLY knows those answers, but I finally figured out that my answers are YES! I am madly in love, and I can’t imagine that ever going away. And to me, that’s as close to a sure thing as I can get.

My mom bought my sister and I each a set of Waterford Crystal Toasting Flutes. She saw them at work (Boston Store) and bought them. While the pair she got for me are just a tad over the top, the fact that she thought about me, and David, and our MARRIAGE was amazing to me. I almost cried.

So now I finally feel like I can talk to my mom about the wedding. I always felt like I had to avoid the subject. But she gets along with David really well now, and with that gift, I feel like she’s opened the lines of communication back up.

What I’m really excited about is that I think I’ve found a church. I don’t have many ideas about the ceremony. I want it personal and romantic. I’ve always pictured outside. But I never tossed out the idea of a church. Though we did toss out my mom’s Catholic church hopes. I was raised Catholic, but haven’t felt like I fit there lately. Religion has become too politicized, and that’s unfortunate. Religion is not connected to politics in my mind, but I just feel uncomfortable when I walk into my Catholic church and see tables full of anti-choice and anti-homosexuality books in the back. I believe God loves all of us. I really do like Catholic Mass, but I can’t do it every week. And so often it’s just depressing! And makes me feel guilty.

But I think I’ve found a church that practices what it preaches. And it’s preaching is not preachy, it’s practical. I still feel a strong sense of God and Jesus in the building and their service filled me with hope and strength and motivation to go out and be a GOOD person. David and I are now seriously thinking of joining Plymouth Church, part of the United Church of Christ. Their slogan alone is enough for David: “Our Faith is 2000 Years Old. Our Thinking is Not.” I love it!

Sitting in church a couple weeks ago was fantastic. I felt at home. And I could see us getting married there. Being raised religious, having a little God talk in the marriage ceremony is important to me. But I had to make sure David could handle it, as he was basically raised as an atheist! He likes this church and that makes me so happy! The people there sure do help. An older couple talked to us for 5 minutes after the service because they figured we were new. They talked about how much they love the church and went and got us a “welcome” package and made sure we knew about the coffee and tea gathering going on in another room.

I don’t think we’re doing anything this Sunday morning. I really want to go again.