Faithful Food: Sweetness and Light

by Kim Long

What a whirlwind 2018 proved to be for our family, and I am sure each of us can recount our own special moments which have shaped and changed us throughout the past year.

For my family there were two “enlargements:” my eldest son married a wonderful woman who brought two children of her own into our family, and another son and daughter-in-law gave birth to a baby boy, Isaac.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, on the eve of Christ the King, we gathered as a family at Holy Trinity Parish to baptize Isaac into Christ. With equal measures of joy and solemnity, we moved through the ancient rites of initiation. The priest said that if we had been able to see what had just occurred, namely that Christ had come into this child, we would be blinded by the light of God.

Years ago I attended a Mass on Epiphany. I desperately wanted to hear a life-altering message. As I listened, I heard the dates of the “moveable” feasts of the liturgical year proclaimed: Ash Wednesday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi and Advent. Certainly, a map was unfolded for us as the coming year was brought to mind by the voice of the priest.

I entered the Church seeking only a clue, and experienced the gift, the grace of emergence. Originating from the Latin root emergere, it means to bring to light. Modern dictionaries define emergence as the process of becoming visible after being concealed. Only years later, on the eve of Christ the King at the baptism of a child, does that homily on that long ago Epiphany make perfect sense to me.

I settle into January, heavy with the memory of holiday food and experiences. As the days come and go, lengthening ever so slightly, I begin almost unconsciously to mark time; checking the dates for Ash Wednesday, looking to see if Easter will be early or late, filling in calendars, planning for future events, and let’s not forget the dreaded New Year’s resolutions which I usually manage to break, bit by bit, until the starkness of Lent enables me to look at the considerations which January encouraged me toward.

Thinking back on the priest’s words at Isaac’s baptism, I am reminded of lines of the preface of Eucharistic Prayer IV:

It is truly right to give you thanks, truly just to give you glory, Father most holy, for you are the one God living and true, existing before all ages and abiding for all eternity, dwelling in unapproachable light; yet you, who alone are good, the source of life, have made all that is, so that you might fill your creatures with blessings and bring joy to many of them by the glory of your light.” (from the Roman Missal)

So, I ask myself: do I seek to go beyond the images of camels, kings and cakes and welcome what is waiting to emerge? That is my prayer for January, for Epiphany, and beyond.

Isaac’s Baptism Gumbo

Ingredients:

•  ½ pound bacon

•  1 large package of chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)

•  2 packages of sausage, sliced

•  2 large red onions, diced small

•  6 stalks of celery, chopped thin

•  ½ green bell pepper, chopped

•  Garlic to taste

•  2 cans of diced tomatoes

•  1 large bag of sliced okra

•  1 package Oak Grove Smokehouse gumbo mix with rice

  2 jars turkey gravy

•  4 tablespoons jarred roux (I used Savoie’s)

•  ½ gallon chicken stock

•  1 quart very hot water

Directions:

1) Cook bacon to render grease. Put into large cast iron pot.

2) Add chopped veggies and meats.

3) Let cook over low flame until chicken is cooked through.

4) In a separate pot put chicken broth, hot water and jarred roux mix. Stir until roux mix is incorporated. Simmer for about 30 minutes on low to medium flame.

5) Add cooked vegetables, meat, tomatoes and okra. Let cook for about an hour, stirring all over a low flame.

6) Add gumbo mix, two jars of gravy, and continue cooking for a couple of hours until gumbo thickens to your preferred consistency.

I have given you the recipe but not the whole story! I waited for this gumbo to “emerge” thick and nourishing. I began to think it never would –  after all roux is not my first language… no matter how many cookbooks I read.  Finally – success!

This makes gumbo for a crowd. I made this for Isaac’s baptism party. It also freezes well. Serve with crackers over your choice of rice, grits or potato salad. We like gumbo over yellow rice.

 

 

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