by Kim Long
I recently stumbled upon a young 12-year-old contestant on a talent show singing “Defying Gravity.” Initially she was shy, grasping her hands together as one of the panelists asked if she was nervous. Then she opened her mouth and it was absolutely otherworldly, a transformation.
Let’s face it, Lent is easy: do this, don’t do this, think about not doing this. We have a three-fold guide of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Easter, on the other hand, is harder for me: joy, bliss, rejoicing, trust, transformation. With 50 days of less directed joy, sometimes I find myself counting down the days until we get back to Ordinary Time.
Back to the song. A bit of the lyric is, “Something has changed within me, something is not the same, I’m through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game. Too late for second guessing, too late to go back to sleep… time to close my eyes and leap.”
I realized this is what we do at Easter, we defy spiritual gravity and suddenly, we are free. Peter, Thomas and Judas are no longer directing our steps; we trust, we lean forward and gravity is no longer our province.
Life is a gradation – that’s what this young girl showed me when I heard her sing, when I heard her give me a message from the God who created our voices and music and celebrates when we use them!
Now to the kitchen. Tradition reigns supreme with holiday menus, but lately I have felt restless. The old recipes no longer call my name, I wanted to walk down a new road. So, I have foregone my chocolate cake made only for Easter Sunday. This year I tried a Pavlova.
Meringue has never been my first choice, but I wanted to try this dish which illustrates transformation beautifully: egg whites, sugar and trust. While this is baking, you cannot open the oven door. When cook time is over and you turn off oven, you still cannot open it. Let it cool overnight; close your eyes and walk away, trusting that the recipe will work. It did. When I brought this dish, resplendent on a gold platter and basking in trust and Easter dinner glory, the skepticism plastered on the faces gathered round the table melted when they sank their teeth into the first bite. They were transformed.
Trust has never come easily to me, but now I am beginning to believe. I have leaned forward and am flying this Easter season. I know I will land. I know I cannot stay “up on the mountain of transfiguration,” but for now I am defying spiritual gravity. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.”
• parchment paper
• 4 extra large egg whites (not a single amount of yolk can filter through)
• pinch of salt
• 1 cup sugar, sifted
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
• Your choice of fillings: fresh fruit, whipped cream, pudding
1) On a parchment sheet, trace a nine inch circle, turn over and place on a baking sheet (circle is visible but pencil marks not in contact with food).
2) Place egg white and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until firm. SLOWLY add the sugar and beat until peaks are firm and shiny.
3) Remove bowl from mixer and sift cornstarch onto the whites. Add vinegar and extracts and fold in with a rubber spatula.
4) Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper, making a basic disc shape and mound the sides up to form a bowl shape.
5) Bake at 250 degrees for 1 and 1/2 hours. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU ARE TEMPTED. Turn oven off after time has elapsed. KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED to allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven an hour minimum or even overnight!
6) The outside will be crisp and even cracked in some spots, but that is the desired consistency. Carefully invert on a platter and gently peel off parchment paper.
7) Turn over and fill with any of the following: fresh fruit, whipped cream, pudding or your favorite combination! Slice as if you are slicing a pie!