Sunday, April 23, 2006

Kitten with a Whisk: The Wimberley Pie Social

Wimberley is a small Texas town famous for one thing, pie. Every year the entire town rolls up their sleeves, rolls out their crusts and gets ready for the Wimberley Pie Social.

I've never been to a pie social, but I make a fair pie. Actually, that's false modesty. I make incredible pies. I make pies that would make a strong man cry and a momma's boy slap his mother.

I entered three pies. a chocolate boca negra pie that had a "wardrobe malfunction" on the 50 mile drive, my grandmother's Brownie Pecan Pie and a spur-of-the-moment Chocolate Covered Strawberry pie. Out of the four blue ribbons awarded to adults I won two of them! Rock!

Before the long haul to Wimberley (note the ill-fated boca negra cake with the flames)

My Gammie's Brownie Pecan Pie. My favorite.

First place Nuts. You make the joke.

That lovely border? Quick'n'dirty patch for messed-up crust.

real women have burn blisters

First place fruit. Again, make your own jokes

and now for some cheescake.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Let me explain...

I just couldn't do it. I could not face another "rilly big shoe" Holy Week service. I couldn't deal with the 2000 infant baptisms, I couldn't deal with the 326 hymns with 6 verses each (sung molto lento, of course) and most of all I couldn't deal with trying to find my Volvo in an Episcopal Church parking lot, which as you know is like trying to find Waldo on the last page where everyone's a Waldo. I just didn't have an Easter Vigil in me this year.

So I walked into the beautiful lobby of my church, took one look at my service bulletin --all 6 pages of it-- and got the hell out of dodge.


First the bad. I know. I know. It does not bode well for someone in the market for ordination (or at least permission to work towards it) to physically not be able to face possibly the most important liturgy of the year. I know I should get over my intense distaste for church choirs (justified thought it may be) but I haven't.

That being said--

Why Rhiannon attends Church

Simply put, I don't feel like I've worshipped at the Rilly Big Shoe services and my prayers tends towards the "Dear Lord, please let the girl in the next pew cut down on the Aromatic Elixir next week" instead of less worldly things. Also, I'm rarely involved in RBS services. If I did have a part, I'd be glad to do it --that would count as part of helping others-- but as it is, I'm mostly a butt in a pew doing calesthenics for Christ.

That seems insincere. I refuse to phone it in to God.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Kitten with a Whisk: Hot Cross Buns

Kitten with a Whisk: Hot Cross Buns

Loathe as I am to admit it, Texans cannot make hot cross buns. They just can't. I suppose it keeps them humble, which is a difficult enough task when you have the good fortune to live in Texas. Thankfully --and may the Lord strike me down if I ever say this again-- I was not born in Texas, and as such can make a hot cross bun that makes the desert bloom and the angels weep. Actually, I suspect the only reason my grandfather even pretends to celebrate Easter is he knows I won't bake hot cross buns any other time of the year. I started making this years buns at midnight. It's now 4:30 a.m. and, Lord willin' an' the creek don't rise, I'll be done by dawn.

Step One: Ingredients
1 cup warm milk
2 packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 cups flour
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 sticks butter
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup mixed dried tropical fruit
1/2 cup orange flavored dried cranberries
1 Tb orange/grapefruit zest
1 good glug bourbon
1 good glug orange juice
powdered sugar


Mix the fruit, hooch and juice in a pyrex bowl and microwave it until the bowl gets steamy. Stir and set aside. Have glass of bourbon. Why not?

Soak fruit 10 minutes; pour off liquid into a bowl.

In a small bowl mix the milk and sugar and sprinkle in the yeast. Cover and let sit until the room smells like beer and the bowl's all seething with yeasty goodness. About 5 minutes.

Next, mix the dry ingredients together, except for the powdered sugar. Resist the urge to have a Scarface moment. By the way, check out that groovy bowl. It's my grandmothers. She's had that darn thing for about 30 years and it's the single finest bread-making bowl I've ever used. I've got a swell Kitchenaid mixer, but for yeast breads, the Thailand bowl (don't know why I call it that, I think it's actually Swedish) is the only one I use.

Mix in the butter with your fingers until it feels like coarse meal. y'all know how to do this.

Do I need to tell you not to use a food processor?

So make a little well sort of thing out of the flour and butter, then add ONE beaten egg and the egg yolk. Dump in the long-legged yeasties, the fruit (which is drained remember) and commence to stir with a wooden spoon.

See the bowl half hidden to the left of the big bowl? That's the hooch/juice bowl. Don't drink it.


Dump the contents of the bowl onto a well- floured counter. Knead.

and knead.

and knead some more. 5 Ramones songs or 10 minutes, whichever comes first.

Eventually it's going to get all sexy and smooth and elastic. That's what you want. Think Marvin Gaye, except for alive and well...doughy. -->

put dough in well-oiled bowl, turn to coat and cover loosely in plastic wrap. Top with damp cloth (not the one your great grandmother embroidered though because you'll accidentally scorch it and be really screwed...whoops) and place in an oven that had been set to 200 and turned off. The little bowl you see in the bottom is full of water. It's all about the humidity.

Since it IS all about the humidity, be sure to put your hair back with a snazzy silk scarf which matches nothing and makes your skin look green. Like this.

Alluring, no?

So you've got about an hour and a half to wait while your bun also rises. So why not make yourself a tasty and nutritous snack?

Unfortunately, your grandparents don't have tasty or nutritous food, so you improvise and come up with something like this "Sparking Citrus Surprise" also known as "Grapefruit in a Bowl with Diet 7Up"


in a bowl.

with diet 7Up.


So now an hour and a half has passed and your lovely dough has risen and looks all plump and round and sexy. So take it out of the oven and punch the dough down. This is by far my favorite part because you get to beat things up and people thank you for it. Between the kneading and the punching a gal could work out a lot of unresolved aggression baking bread.



Just look at that and tell me that doesn't look satisfying. Anyway, give the dough another quick knead and divide it into 24 equal-sized buns. Place 'em about an inch apart on a greased baking sheet, cover said baking sheet with plastic wrap and pop the whole mess back into the still warm but definitely turned-off oven. Let it rise about 45 minutes until doubled in size.

While you're waiting for the coming in glory of your almost-finished HCB, whisk the remaining egg (aha, thought I forgot about it, didn't you) and add a pinch of sugar. This is your egg glaze. You can use whatever glaze you want, egg, cream, milk...I don't care but I like to use the egg with a pinch of sugar because it gets all shiny and golden brown.

oooh, shiny.

Once you're done with the egg glaze, pour about two tablespoons of that fruit soaking hooch liquid into a zipper bag. Then add enough powdered sugar to make a thick paste. This is your cross icing.

Once the buns have doubled in bulk, take them out of the oven and preheat that bad boy to 400 degrees. Glaze the buns and pop 'em right back in for 12 minutes or until they're golden brown. Put onto rack to cool completely. Unless, of course, you just can't control yourself:

Not that I know anyone who would do that:

cool completely, top with a frosting cross and a dried cranberry.

TA DA!!!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Holy Week Ruminations: Eat the Damn Steak

"Lord Jesus, please do not let me fall asleep in this, thy holy wooden church pew. Or --if in Your infinite wisdom-- You do see fit for me to just pass out right here during the longest reading of Prayers of the People ever witnessed in our generation or indeed any others; please do not let me take out the little old lady sitting next to me on my way down. Kyrie etcetera. Amen."

I can't say I enjoyed the morning service for Passion Sunday. I was a palm girl, which was fun but I didn't feel like I'd worshiped. I guess I'm just not the big service type.

In fact, the two days I am most apt to miss are Christmas and Easter. To me, the traditional services on those days are more about the show. Now, there's something to be said for the show --as that great theologian Penny from Dirty Dancing said "if you want 'em to know there's steak for dinner, you gotta let 'em hear it sizzle!"

I'm all for the sizzling but sometimes you just wanna sit down, shut up and eat the damn steak.

Holy Week Ruminations: Passion Sunday

Being a priest means disappointing my grandfather, something I never wanted to do. He says I should make my fortune as a writer. He's got strange concepts of how easy it is to make a fortune since his came so easily. My grandfather is my favorite living person, he looks like Sean Connery and made his living as a double-aught character himself. He plans on getting into Heaven when he dies because he was an altar boy and makes generous donations to Harvard Divinty School. He's my favorite person and the one person it hurts me most to disappoint.

And yet, as I stood behind the altar for just a moment during my sacristan duties- it just felt right. But that's not all that felt right, washing the communion dishes felt right, pouring the wine down the piscina felt right (well, as much as throwing away wine ever feels right) all the little nuts and bolts felt right. Not fun, especially, but right.

Of course, I prayed what I always pray for; discernment, discipline, clarity.

Maybe someday I'll even get some.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Parking lot passion: part 1

Last night I was still in the throes of Lent anxiety, plus I was broke. I'm always more anxious when I'm running low on financial fuel. I'd been lounging on the couch, petting my dog with one hand and reading a Pink Book (pink book: n. any non-fiction literary work directed at and usually written by women in their 20's - 30's, most commonly recognized by a glossy pink cover. See also: chick-lit). It wasn't a Pink Book I particularly enjoyed, since I don't particularly enjoy any of them, but a friend had loaned it to me and I wanted to be able to give it back to her when she arrived in town on Monday. The book talked about Krispy Kremes. A lot.

I don't really care for doughnuts in general and Krispy Kremes in specific. I'll eat one if it's lying about --separated from the herd, so to speak-- but I never would travel to the other side of town in the middle of night to our local purveyor of deep-fried sugar-dough for a fix, so it was more than bizarre to find myself in the Volvo, with Dozer in the back, hurtling up the highway to the all-night Krispy Kreme station --fully intent on spending money I didn't really have to spend on doughnuts I didn't want to eat.

Parking lot passion: part 2

As luck would have it, I actually overshot the doughnut place and had to turn around in the parking lot of a grocery store I used to frequent when I lived in the neighborhood. I did a bit of shopping, a gallon of milk, some juice, nothing exciting, and headed to the check out where a woman --the only other customer in the store-- was loading a huge amount of spaghetti sauce onto the belt and telling the clerk she'd come back and buy the spaghetti noodles tomorrow, since she was short.

She was buying them for a spaghetti dinner for a women's prayer group she runs through a Baptist church on the East side of town. We chatted a bit in line, I offered to buy the noodles for her and she accepted. She asked me "where do you church" and I told her. She said "you know, some people say 'pay it forward'…I say 'God is good.'"

The story would be great, if a little self-serving, if it ended here. Thankfully, it doesn't.

I wheeled my grocery cart towards the car and began loading my groceries into the front seat. Marilyn --that was the woman's name-- came up to me and asked "Can we pray?" Contrary to my straight-laced Anglican leanings it was the most natural thing in the world as we held hands in the Albertson's parking lot and prayed. She spoke beautifully, a lyrical river of prayer and praise that seems to flow naturally from the Black Baptist church. Several minutes later we were both crying, our hearts transformed in the spirit, brought together by a God who died for us both and lives through us all.


So here's a question

What was the first film I watched during my annual week-before holy week film festival? Was it:

a. A Man for All Seasons

b. The Agony and the Ecstasy

c. The Name of the Rose

Haha tricked you! The actual answer is, of course, secret letter D. Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lenten reflections (y'all, I'm serious!)

It's about to be holy week and I'm not feeling it. To begin with, I sort of screwed up on the whole Lenten discipline thing.

I have a problem with Lenten disciplines anyway; not because they're difficult to keep, they just don't do anything for me.

First year I gave up chocolate...nothin'. Next year I gave up chocolate and meat...still nothin'. Then chocolate and meat and sex --which, let's face it, was just pretty much giving up chocolate and meat all over again-- and…nothin'. I also tried adding things, doing a service every day and what have you. Nada. Where was the mystery?

My beloved rector made it clear I wasn't the only one who felt like that. Sometimes bread and wine are just bread and wine to him, too. I wonder if that's part of the priest's sacrifice. To lose some of the mystery of The Mystery. If so, I accept that. I don't want to be a priest because I want to feel the mystery all the time, I want to be a priest so I can help everyone feel the mystery once. Sometimes once is all it takes.

My first true realization of Christ's sacrifice came 3 years after I decided I believed in God. It was in the days leading up to holy week in 1998, I was in college, and active in our campus ministry. Four of us from Canterbury went into the sanctuary of our small Episcopal church. I'd never been in a church at night before. The sanctuary was dark except for the cross, illuminated from behind and hanging in front of a red velvet curtain and I got it. All at once. I crumbled and until the labyrinth experience last year, I'd never in my life felt so utterly destroyed. It was wonderful. That was when I felt the calling to ordained ministry.

I sat on the floor, back against the first pew, staring at the cross through my tears. I know for a fact I was sitting next to someone, mere inches away actually, but I felt completely alone with Christ. I felt called just as surely as if I had been in that hidden attic in Jerusalem. Strangely, I feel the sorriest for Judas.

There is something I don't talk about much, and I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about it here. I have a connection, a frightening connection, with the Passion. The psychic pain is almost indescribable and yet, I feel like I am there with Jesus, so it's also beautiful. I don't know how to talk about it, actually. It's as if there are some times when I'm meditating on the Passion that it just feels like someone sucked all the oxygen out of the room. For at least two weeks, I am constantly on the verge of tears, which culminates on Maundy Thursday with a giant sob-fest.

see, I can write a serious post.

This post can't wait 'til Easter

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Babies and bubbly

I don't know if there's a mold for aspirants, but if there is I'm pretty sure I don't fit it. I'm way too animated, too loud, too everything. I am too much of a muchness and not nearly serious enough. Even though I joke about it (I joke about everything) it actually does concern me. For example, my rector David was making a point about the semantics in the BCP.

David: "My liturgy professor at seminary said 'We smash champagne against a ship, we christen a ship. We don't christen children, we baptize them.'"

Me: "Yeah, otherwise you could really hurt that baby."

This post prefers boats to babies, but only because of the booze

Monday, April 03, 2006

Kiss and tell

So why did I kiss him? Simple.

A few years back Leonard Cohen released a version of "Hallelujah" with the lyric "I did my best; it wasn't much. I couldn't feel so I learned to touch." I needed to know that wasn't me.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I never really felt that God loved me until a few months ago. It was enough that I loved him. It never occured to me that he might actually love me back. Living with the knowledge that God doesn't love you is pretty wild. Try it sometime, just not for long.

Anyway, I was looking for a man to show me the love I felt that God was withholding. Anyone want to guess how well that turned out?

Exactly. Actually, it could have been a lot worse and for that I am forever thankful.

But now, not only do I think I've shaken myself of that particularly nasty habit, I know it for a fact.

Progress y'all. Three cheers for it.

This post, despite its better efforts, has made a healthy, emotionally sound decision

The incredible shrinking self-destructive streak.

So I have a movie friend. We dated yonks ago, and have remained friends. He jokes about leaving hollywood and marrying me. I joke about leaving the church and marrying him. Neither of us take the other seriously. Every few years or so when he's in town filming and has some spare time he comes over and occasionally we'll get to neckin'. Usually it's more along the lines of social experiment than romance, because our lifestyles are very, very different. For example, to me coke is something you drink. After chatting about mutual friends and how awful people in LA are the conversation usually goes like this. He starts.

"Hey, Frogface."


"I like you."

"I like you too."

"Why did we break up?"

"I don't remember. Something about you getting engaged."

"No, that can't be it. Did you sleep with someone else?"

"I didn't sleep with you, remember? I'm abstinent."

"Oh yeah. Want to make out?"

"No, that would be weird. Quiz me on my flashcards. They're theological terms."

"You know that turns me on."

"Give me my cards back, sicko."

"I know. I'm so bad. Hit me with a ruler."

"Those are the Catholics."

"Okay, kiss me instead."


"But it was fun before, and you know you're the only woman I'll ever really love"

"I've personally heard you say that to four other women."

"Yeah, but I mean it with you."

"I've heard you say that to four other women too."

"You've got better taste in film than they do."

"That doesn't entitle you to access my orthodontia"

"Well I've got to get you before you become a Bride of Christ"

"I'm pretty sure you don't."

"Come on, be a pal, nothing below the neck"

"Okay, but I'm going to pretend you're Leonard Cohen and no smudging my glasses."


So that's it. And when we're done I wash the nose prints off my glasses. He talks non-stop about all the disgusting things he's making in his next film and I sit next to him eating grapes and going over my flashcards in my mind. Finally it happens.

"I've got to get a dummy from LA flown in tomorrow. I'd better get back. Do you want me to send you flowers tomorrow? To work or something? 'Thanks for last night Frogface- Love, Famous Person'? It'll give your editor a fit."

"You do and I'll deck you."

So he goes and that's that. I was glad to see him and even gladder to see him leave.

What's going on? All of the sudden meaningless make-out sessions aren't fulfilling anymore. I just wanted him to go.

This post was brought to you by someone who has seen the light, and only about half this guy's films, don't tell him.

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