It’s been 14 months since my last bit of real time-off.
I’ve been through a blizzard, a hurricane, a fire, an office move…
I have barely written anything creative, and haven’t finished any of the poems whose opening lines and draft stanzas I’ve managed to jot down.
My dirty laundry is piled sky high.
I haven’t had a meaningful conversation on the phone or in person with many of my best friends unless they have physically led me into their light, warmth and quiet, and sat me down across the diner booth to enjoy their company. (Thank you, my dear ones!)
Occasionally, I feel that God wants to grab me by the hand and do the same thing… when prayer becomes rote, rushed, dry… bah.
I’ve been asked to organize social things, church things, things in general, and I feel that I can’t even organize my way out of a paper bag.
It’s time to quiet down for a week.
Pray while washing dishes and sorting darks, whites and brights.
Pray while sitting with a hardback print Bible open to Scripture not explored for a while.
Write a little.
Rest a lot.
Tune out a lot of electronic distractions.
Have some fun.
Enjoy the smiles of my dear friends.
Organize the inner and outer KayKay.
Clear out some clutter.
Make room for more quiet, peace, life.
It’s now the fifth weekend in the Rosner Girls’ Bachelorette Pad without gas after the fire on the other side of the building. The heat and hot water only come on when the super remembers he has to do some manual button-pushing because the furnace has a gas and computerized ignition.
I had planned on going to my office for an all-day, month-end clean up and filing session, but the writing bug bit me and I spent the morning outlining and researching another project instead, and I figured I’d wash a stack of dishes this afternoon, get this chicken going, maybe get in a nap…
There wasn’t any hot water or heat in my apartment building this morning. I got very cold by noon, so I made this chicken, shut down the MacBook, curled up under the covers and took a long nap. The heat and hot water are back tonight and I have a zillion dishes to wash.. by hand… we don’t have a dishwasher in this pre-war flat (think, “Pre-Vietnam War)”. This recipe is an introduction to using the slow-cooker for anything you can think of, including roasting a small bird. The chicken turned out deliciously A-OK, even if the skin was not crispy. I prepared good ol’ reliable Stove Top Stuffing in the microwave, and nuked a plastic package of sprouts with sauce.
However… I am tired of cooking in Crock-Pot. i am grateful I have one, but the meals I’m eating at home are feeling and tasting a little stew-y monotonous. I almost called this one “Ghetto Crock-Pot Chicken” because it cost half of what the last two weekend slow-cooked feasts costs I got the cheapest chicken I could find at the local un-fancy, non-gourmet urban supermarket lurking under the crisscrossed shadows of the White Plains Road elevated train line. I’m using processed “stuffing”, frozen vegetables… and I had the onion. And now… dirty dishes await.
Follow my tip on how to store the leftovers, or shred some of the chicken and immediately make a chicken salad. Cooked birds dry out easily in the fridge.
Burnout Crock-Pot Roast Chicken (Serves 4-6)
1 small whole chicken, about 4 lbs, might be labeled a “Fryer”
1 stick of butter, sliced into bits
1 large yellow or Spanish onion
Poultry Seasoning of your choice
6 quart oval slow-cooker with removable insert
1 mesh strainer
Tongs or lifters to remove the chicken from the crock to cool.
1. Set up your slow-cooker but don’t plug it in yet.
2. Chop your onions in big chunks and create a layer on the bottom of the crock.
3. Dig inside your chicken, front and back, and remove the giblet pack, neck and whatever else the packer stuck inside. Be thorough!
4. Give your chicken a thorough rinse in cold water (I use a basin filled to the brim for a bath, then rinse it under the tap.). Pat dry, inside and out with paper towels.
5. Rub your chicken all over, inside out out with liberal amounts of whichever poultry seasoning or spice blend you like. (I have not tried this with Jerk seasoning… yet.)
6 . Lay your chicken on top of the onions in the crock.
7. Scatter the butter bits all over the chicken.
8. Put on the lid, plug it in, set for HIGH (Six hours)
9. Your chicken will be perfectly done, moist and falling off the bone, I promise you. Remove it to a platter. You will want to remove the backbone pieces because it is ugly and grayish-black, so just split the chicken apart, and then slice down both sides of the backbone and remove it. Clean out whatever gray matter you find – it’s just bones.
10. Pour the juices in the pot through your sieve, pick out pretty pieces of chicken in the sieve, discard the rest (there will be more black-gray bone in there). It’s a light gravy, and very good.
11. Arrange your chicken pieces on a platter You can split each breast side in to two servings. Pour a little of the gravy over the chicken if you want, because the skin is a little on the flabby side… but perfectly edible. Serve!
12. Store the chicken in the fridge with the gravy covering it to keep it moist.
This description is rated PG-13 for adult language, a bit of over the top blarney, and blatant abuse of a valuable immigrant culture.
This receit has been adapted from many another adaptation floatin’ around the Internet, laddies ‘n lassies. I’ve cooked a lamb stew on the stove in my Le Creuset French Oven for the big Irish American holiday for several years, mostly because I am the only person in my family that loves Corned Beef and Cabbage. As it turns out, I am the only person on my family that loves lamb, too. That means, I will be eatin’ this stew for several meals, so it better be tasty and not taste like shite.
I turned to me untrusty Rival Smart-Pot, which cooks a wee bit too hot and too quickly, to get this meal made on St. Paddy’s Day 2013, because of a bit of a problem: no feckin’ gas, no feckin’ stove, no feckin’oven. There was a gas explosion and fire down the hall a few weeks ago. Thought I was in a fil-m with majestic cinematic pyrotechnics an’ whatnot. Begorah. Anyway, this stew was tasy, to be sure, to be sure. And so, I share it with you.
Times given are typical of slow cookers. Slow Cooker size: 6 qt. Prep time: 30 minutes
A note on using dried herbs in slow-cookers – use more than you normally would on the stovetop. Longer cooking times tend to weaken the potency of the dried herbs and they fade dramatically, like a rainbow leadin’ to a pot of Leprechaun gold….
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 3 carrots, scraped and thinly sliced into coins
- 3 onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, about 5 medium potatoes
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds lamb neck pieces or shoulder chops, trimmed of most of the fat and sliced into stew-like pieces if at all possible. Reserve the bones.
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1.2 teaspoon dried thyme (whole leaves)
- finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Find your loudest Irish music and start blastin’ it to wake yer neighbors. I like The Pogues.
Slice up yer veg. Notice the threes of carrots, onions and celery? It’s fer the Holy Trinity. ‘Tis St. Paddy’s Day. He taught that. No, there are no shamrocks included in this recipe.
Open your package of meat from the butcher or refrigerator case. Look at your lamb. Give thanks to the Maker, the Lamb of God, to be sure, for its life. Try to remember that lambs are food, not friends… even if they were cute and cuddly before…. Don’t cry. Save your cryin’ for slicin’ the onions, ladies and gents. Try and trim up the lamb pieces into stew cubes, which is fairly easy using chops. For the neck pieces, perhaps it’s not so easy, so don’t. Try and trim away as much fat as you can. Do not throw away the bones. They are going into the slow cooker and add body to the sauce. Trust me.
Place the chicken broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. (I use “Better Than Bouillon” Chicken Base mixed with boiling water. Brilliant!)
Put all the vegetables in the crock; arrange the lamb on top. Take the bony pieces and add them in as well.
Sprinkle the salt, pepper and thyme on top of everything, then dump on the chicken stock. Cover your pot. Cook for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours on HIGH or 7 to 9 hours on LOW. (My’ stew was done in 3 1/2 hours on high. I didn’t even have time for a decent nap.)
‘Twill be soupy. Remove the bony pieces. (You may nibble them – cook’s share!) Mix up the mess in the crock a bit. Ladle the stew into bowls. Chop up some of the parsley rather finely, and sprinkle a bit of St. Patrick’s Day green on top. It pretties it up.
Serve with your favorite Irish bread, like a soda bread or a brown bread.
And Guiness.. or Murphy’s or…
And no, I’m not even a bit Irish. I’m an American Mutt of mixed Mittel-European descent. The closest I get is living on the border of Woodlawn, the Bronx. (Look it up.)
I pulled on my favorite purple sweater this morning in solidarity with my Anglican brothers and sisters in England where the General Synod voted on a measure to admit women to the episcopate.
I was shocked when I glanced at my newsfeed while munching my lunch and learned that the measure failed, stalled effectively by lay votes. We mostly knew how the clergy and bishops would vote, but the lay people made the news this afternoon.
I snuck more glances to check the reaction from women clergy, female ordinands training in seminary, my American women friends who are Episcopal Priests, my British friends who are Church of England Priests…
Ugh. The pain. Wow.
I do know some of this gut-wrenching pain. Questioning my growed-up-in church’s teachings on women’s role in ministry and the church opened up my mind to eventually consider the questions offered by the Reformation, and it was conversations with an American Episcopal Bishop (who was key in pushing for ordination reform ) that eventually led me inside a denomination that baptized women and admitted them to all levels of Holy Orders. I eventually fell in with a bunch of rowdy Evangelical and/or Charismatic Low Church Episcopalians who affirm women’s ministries and the call to ordination. I am one of them now. Still, there are certain women serving in the Episcopate in my church who consistently drive me back to the Bible because I question the content of their teaching. Is there anything in what they are saying that rings true with my understanding of Scripture? This discernment happens with the male bishops’ preaching and teaching, too. I am an equal opportunity lay discerner.
So what next, C of E? I mentioned the pain I noted; I saw Tweets calling for dissent and leaving… as if the whole church was against women… that Britain would crumble because the members of the church voted with one sexist discriminatory voice.
Consider this: I think, that unlike other churches with a top-down structure, that God will work with all of the members of the Church to get this call-to-ministry done right, to hurt the least amount of people in the process of radical change, even if there is a “no” vote now. The evangelical charismatic in me sees God’s Holy Spirit at work in this surprising no, even though I live across the Atlantic divide. It’s not a final no, it’s a no, not yet, but eventually.
I think, for as many reasons why a yes vote could’ve worked with God’s grace active through the church, God’s grace will be equally active in this period of continued questioning and listening, not just to internal voices but from world Anglican voices as well.
I think too, that nearly five hundred years on from the Anglican Communion’s birth through the Protestant Reformation in England, it might be high time for another movement of reform in the churches conceived both in high-minded holy zeal and human sin. Will anyone pray with me, “Come Holy Spirit?”
New Yorkers believe that ketchup always goes on hamburgers, and never belongs anywhere near a frankfurter. (New Yorkers also usually do not call this same sausage a “Wiener” or Hot Dog” or any other variant than by its first name, “Frank”).
I’ve started avoiding ketchup (or catsup) altogether except on french fries, unless there’s a bottle of brown sauce available in an irish pub, or malt vinegar.
Traveling outside of New York City when I was a kid, I encountered a weird habit that I and my family thought was disgusting: putting mustard on fast-food hamburgers. When we drove on summer vacations, McDonald’s and Burger King topped their burgers either with mustard-only, or with a squirt of the both mustard and ketchup. New Yorker food neurotics, who don’t like different foods touching each other on the plate, would not do well here.
Mustard on anything except a hot dog or a ham sandwich was weird. New Yorkers do not like their normal foods to be made weird.
I made a huge dietary change this year. I tried mustard-only on a burger (which I got at the tiny Steak-n-Shake outpost in Times Square) on a whim. I just had a thought. The counter-actress gave me a choice, and I chose mustard.
Oh my goodness.
Mustard on a burger was… amazing. The tiny grains of mustard brought out all of the flavor of the crusty meat.
I tried it again at a diner the other night known for their perfect burgers. The counter guy handed me a an unlabeled squirt bottle of deli style mustard he used for sandwiches.
I also believe that a genuine Chicago-style hot dog made with a genuine Vienna Beef wiener has one or two advantages over a New York frank with sauerkraut and mustard, unless that sausage is from Grey’s Papaya or Papaya King and is covered in onion sauce, accompanied by a Papaya drink. Papaya always wins, just like you know the Samoan wrestler will always pin the other guy, wherever he hails from, to the mat.
I also really like deep-dish pizza when it’s executed correctly (not available in New York City). I like New Haven-style pizza, too.
So shoot me. Line me up against the wall and shoot me for the traitor to my City that I am. I have embraced the common sense of Other Places.
What did you do last night? Over amazingly perfect cheeseburgers, we talked about: St. Francis, Franciscans, social justice in and through Christ: ending homelessness and hunger, why we voted for Obama in the first place, cancer survivor health insurance issues, why universal healthcare is important even if we like the Government not getting involved in our lives, what a truly Christian universal healthcare plan might look like, abortion, relegating “marriage” to the churches but “civil partnerships” to the state, respect at work, jobs that kill us, jobs that save our sanity, good bosses, the old boys’ club everywhere… and then I went home, watched the end of the presidential debate, took an antacid and went to bed.
Taste and see that the LORD is good.Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8 New Living Translation)
Today Christians remember and celebrate Mary, Mother of Jesus in many different ways. Some are celebrating her entry into Heaven (many believe that she fell asleep in death and that her body was mysteriously taken up to be with her Lord), others are remembering her in more Protestant ways, focusing on her ultimate “Yes” in reply to the Angel Gabriel’s message to her.
The Feast begins on the eve. I am on vacation in the Pocono Mountains with my friend Andrea. We met and became fast friends on my first Alpha Course Weekend Away. I really needed this break from work and my crazy life, and I came west to the mountains on Andrea’s generous and timely invitation, determined to spend more time reading my Bible (on my Kindle) and pray. This holiday isn’t a retreat as such, but I’m deeply praying (as I look out from a back porch into the woods and relax into the prayerful music of birdsong and cicada chirps) for God’s Spirit and for renewal of my spirit, and my body, and my poor frazzled mind. (I think I am walking around on a fractured toe that I sustained climbing out of the pool, but that’s another story for another time.)
I believe that God speaks to us in many different ways, some of them quite ordinary. I really, really need to hear God speaking into my life right now.
Last night I was cooking dinner in her dacha’s little kitchen, putting together a meat sauce to spoon over pasta. I split open a green bell pepper, and it bore a little baby pepper inside. I braced myself for dicing the onion, and once I peeled away the skin, there was a second onion, Siamese or split, growing inside. I had the strangest feeling that I should pay attention to what the vegetables were trying to tell me. The tomatoes came from a can, and there was nothing unusual about them. The garlic was also normal.
This morning, I grabbed my Kindle-Bible, and my devotional with today’s liturgical readings and set them on the porch. I made Marmite Toast, grabbed an orange from the fridge, set my tea to brew… and began to read. Psalm 34, Isaiah 61, Galatians 4:4-7 and of course The Song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55. When I peeled and sectioned my orange, there was an embryonic orange growing inside that one, too.
Father, you have the greatest sense of humor, ever. Of course, you invented funny. I love you. I believe in your promises and give you thanks and praise, not just to your Chosen People of the Old Testament and New, but to me, frazzled yearning for your Hope, me. Thank you for choosing Miriam of the House of David to be the mother of your Son, Jesus, my Lord, my Savior. Thank you for speaking to me through your Word, and through …er… vegetables and fruit. Thank you for Hope in the waiting, and for filling life with pregnant promise! Amen.