Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Czech Easter Bread or It Tastes Like Spring


Travel creates opportunities for brief blogs, my friends.   So here are the pics/recipe for the Czech Easter bread, which was huge, crusty,  and tender with a bit of a lemon feel.  Studded with golden and black raisins, as well as apricots (my additions-no citron to be found), it was only a tish sweet.  Fine with Easter dinner.  Also lovely for any holiday at all.  Sorry it didn't get posted until AFTER Easter, but here it is in its glory.

Czech Easter Bread

Makes 1 large loaf Czech Easter Cake or Velikonoční Bochánek

Mixing in the fruit
Before the addition of the last 2 cups of flour

Get all the flour in

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easing on into Easter or It Snowed on my Lilac Buds

Pork Tenderloin, Couscous and Sauteed Vegetables with Balsamic Fig Sauce
 Wherever I've lived, with the exception of San Antonio, there has been freak weather like snow on Halloween and Easter.  (Is it really freak?)  My own memories of Easter just south of Chicago are not necessarily warm and beautiful, but neither are they freezing with snow.  Perhaps I misremember.  But my kids' Easter (and Halloween) photos show a yearly progression from clown to Easter lily all in a background of white.

This year may prove no different.

Here's this morning's view.

Doesn't look like it'll stay for long.  Below:  lilac trees ( no bushes in my yard) in frozen bud

 Below:   What they should (and will again) look like.

Coming up on Palm Sunday, this Sunday, I always know that while it's just a week until Easter, it's also forever.  This might come from my years as a director of church music.  For two reasons:  1.  The time spent preparing the music for 4-6 services within one week is a learning experience.  Sometimes it includes a Lenten cantata.  It always includes a humdinger of an Easter anthem.  If ever you're going to pull out all the stops (and that's literally here), this is the time.  2.  You're right there, living it all.  The lyrics to from Palm or Passion Sunday through Easter are not just powerful, they are both life-giving and life-changing.

I will send the Holy Spirit to you....  He'll remind you all the things that I've said and-----I will always be with you.

Each pastor I worked with had different favorite Holy Week texts, so every year I'd read them and every year I knew them better (that's not to say well). And while I knew the differences between the gospels (ok, this year the text has one angel; we can't do THAT song where there are TWO), I'm not sure I understood them any better for it.  I did, though, become more thoughtful about how and why it all happened.  I had more time than most to consider what the disciples did all day on Friday or what the weight of that stone might be.  Your mind runs around as a sacred musician.   You're the dreamer.  I knew that my faithful folks had one combined vision/story of the week.  Some couldn't handle it and opted out of Thursday or Friday night services.  They liked going from the palms to the lilies.  That broke my heart.  Because without the hopeful meal teaching a new commandment on Thursday, the frightful heart-breaking cold of Friday, and the long looking of Saturday, we have no flowery bonnets, alleluia music, egg hunt or brunch.  We have no life, no plan, no nothing, nada, zip, zero, zap.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Egg Salad" or Ah Gotta Code in mah Noz and TIME

Egg Salad #2
 Living in a new place can do a lot of things to you.  You might retreat into comfortable behaviors and forms of communication. You might call your old friends every day. (Or you might want to.) You might surround  yourself with things that you know.  You might cook meals that are soft and warm.  Or not.  You might just take this opportunity to start anew.  I've done it all a bit.  For one, I've made chicken and noodles or chicken noodle soup three times in the last week, attempting to get a perfect recipe for a one hour meal.  I posted the first attempt here, but I continue.  The most recent (with boneless, skinless chicken thighs) is on examiner, for which I just included a link.   I've also made new and perfectly crisp AND soft  salads, replete with poached eggs.  Textures, textures.

Egg Salad #1--in examiner article

Newest attempt....Truly done in under an hour.  Way under if you use the food processor.

Being in St. Paul is a joyous venture and adventure.   Every day is something new, but that might be because it's spring.  The icebergs have almost melted unless you live on the south side of the street!  The yard is waking up day by day.  Nothing's in bloom (crocus blooms at the neighbors), but the bulbs are peeking their little heads up.
I couldn't wait and bought these at the market.
 The birds, as I told our realtor, are nuts.   The previous owners fed them, and I'm continuing the insane practice.  Soon I know I'll have thousands of little Jack Sparrows, Woody Woodpeckers, and "My Little Chickadees" flying around my kitchen windows.  I know this because I see the little biddies chomping around with bits of twigs and grass in their mouths.  I know what's happening out there.  I have two jays who pop in, grab peanuts and depart making noises a little like Groucho Marx.  They are not sociable like the sparrows, who argue and kibitz at the trough all day long like old men in the coffee shop.  Not flighty like the chickadees who are easily scared off. (Boo!)  Not jealous like the male cardinal, who, until yesterday, wouldn't share the feeder with anyone--not even his wife.  Yesterday, I did see him sharing and wanted to give him a little "high five."