Monday, March 29, 2010


We made the paskha tonight and put it in the molds. It will stay in the fridge until Saturday. Here is the recipe we use.

1/3 cup brandy (Christian Brothers is what I use.)
1 cup raisins
2 pounds farmers cheese
2 hard boiled egg yolks
1 stick softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream (Don't even think about low fat)
2 tsp vanilla extract(Use real vanilla not imitation. Imitaion should only be used in baking.)
1/4 teaspoon salt.

I don't use a Paskha mold. I've tried in the past but I can't get it to come out right. I use terra cotta pots. I've seen people use a chinoise but I've never tried that.

Heat brandy and raisins in a small pan over low heat until warm, then remove from heat and let steep about 15 minutes.

Force cheese and yolks through a potato ricer into a bowl.

Whip the cream in a different bowl with clean beaters until it holds soft peaks.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add cheese/yolks, sour cream, vanilla, and salt and beat until just combined.

Fold whipped cream and raisins with any remaining brandy into cheese mixture gently but thoroughly.

Line the flowerpot with a single layer of cheesecloth, leaving a 2- to 3-inch overhang on all sides. Spoon cheese mixture into mold, then fold ends of cheesecloth over top. Put small plate on cheesecloth, then put heavy cans or bottles on plate. Set the pot on a large plate to catch liquid. Let sit at least 2 days, longer if possible.

When it is time to be blessed by the priest removpaskha. Turn a serving plate upside down and set in on the cheese. With one hand on top of the serving plate and another hand under the terra cotta pot, swiftly turn the whole thing over so the paskha is resting on the serving plate. Carefully remove the pot and cheese cloth from the paskha. Arrange raisins in the shape of the Cross on the side of the paskha.

After the priest blesses, eat it.

From Bridegroom Matins

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grass blowing

Tomorrow it will be 8 years since Anselm Samuel was born. Where did it go? The "little boy", that's what I used to call him, is hidden under the rough and tumble little man. He's already asking me what he what new things he will be allowed to do as a teenager. I barely remember the day he was born. I have a few mental snapshots. The things I said I would never forget have been forgotten. And I'm 41! With as much gray and white in my beard as red and brown. It's strange. Like Anselm, I'm still me but I am not, in many ways, who I was yesterday. Life goes by so fast. I mean, my body is wearing out. Though I am by no means weak, I am not as strong as I was when I was 20.

Something I've never thought about until now is that this might be why, in general, older people tend to be more religious. We see life zooming past and realize that if there is no after life all this stuff we experience between conception and death is meaningless, pointless.

We know it isn't pointless. Not, I think, the way philosophers know things. We don't have to reason out extremely precise arguments. We merely have to feel the difference between right and wrong. If we are aware of moral rules we know there is more to life than matter.

Christians know more than that, of course. We know this life, though fleeting, will be renewed. Though I die, yet shall I live. That is what we know. The grass that withers and is blown away will be gathered. Not blade will be lost. Memory will not fade but shall be eternal.

Friday, March 19, 2010

So busy so busy so busy

A couple of days ago I installed a dishwasher, something I had never done nor hoped to do. As it turns out the dishwasher was 1/8" wider than the space it had to fit into. Also, and I didn't know this, dishwashers do not come with wires or hoses. So I had to cut the cable off the old one, splice the wires together. Then, to make the machine fit into the counter, I had to remove the sound insulation. It fits. It works. No leaks. No electrocution. But, man, is it loud!

Devon, my 20 year old son has been looking for work and getting discouraged by lack of success. I suggested this school for him and he got very happy and applied. He has an appointment with them on Monday to talk about becoming the world's greatest baker. Lord, have mercy on him.

Anselm Samuel, my 7 year old, is zooming through math and handwriting. In the second grade he is easily doing stuff I didn't master until the 4th. He is reading more books for fun, which thrills me. He earned a more advanced chess award from the cub scouts, having earned the first award last year. Sadly, and this is puzzling to me, he has no sense of pitch or rythm. I've never seen anything like it. He can't clap on beat, can't sing in key, can't follow a melody. So, of course, he can't sing in a choir. We let him drop out of the local youth choir this week. I feel sad for him. It is his first failure in life.

My wife is super busy with work, school (2nd Masters degree), Red Cross work and as a mediator for the city of Palo Alto.

Basil Wenceslas, my 4 year old, learned how to operate my cordless drill/driver today. He had much fun changing bits, drilling holes and driving screws in some scrap lumber I gave him to play with.

I was allowed to help sing Matins and the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete Wednesday night. Also, and I was totally shocked by this, the priest asked me to read the Life of St. Mary of Egypt during the service. I'm being trained to be a reader but I didn't expect to read the Life. I don't know if Bishop Benjamin will actually make me a reader or not, but I'm really getting a lot out of the training. I have fallen in love with The Unabreviated Horologion.

With spring here I kind of dread the annual wave of move outs. 1/5 of the residents here have told me they plan on buying houses and moving out in the next two months. Vacancies always weigh heavily on me. Besides that, my boss told me to raise rents. I don't think this market will bear it, but I'll try.

We are looking forward to Holy Week. I am thinking about the memory verse Anselm Samuel worked on this week: We shall reap if faint not. (Gal. 6:9) If you need a good source for caviar for Lazarus Saturday I heartily recommend Markey's.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tonight's Project

Station 1: Lumber. Each Cub Scout gets 2 poles.

Station 2: Sanding. While waiting to measure for drilling each Cub Scout will sand his poles.

Station 3: Measuring. Each Cub Scout will make two marks on each pole. 6.5 inches from the bottom, and 4.5 inches from the bottom.

Station 4: Pilot holes. Each Cub Scout will drill 4 pilot holes, one in each measured mark on each pole. The pilot holes should be .75 inches from each edge of the pole.

Station 5: Big holes. Each Cub Scout will drill four 3/8 inch holes, following the pilot holes.

Station 6: Hardware and foot blocks. Each Cub Scout will receive 4 carriage bolts, 4 washers, 4 nuts, and 2 foot blocks.

Station 7: Attaching. Using crescent wrenches, socket wrenches, and a rubber mallet, each Cub Scout will attach the foot blocks to the poles.

Station 8: Trimming. Adult leader will trim the poles so they are no taller than tops of Cub Scouts' heads when they are standing on the stilts.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


One of my favorite things about Lent is that the humble lentil is named for the season. Here is a recipe you might like if you have a crock pot. (My oldest brother gave me one for my birthday last month.)

* 2 cups lentils
* 4 cups water
* 8 cups vegetable broth
* 1 onion, diced
* 3 stalks celery, sliced
* 3 carrots, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp black pepper
* 1/2 tsp oregano
* 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
* 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Stir together all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Serves 6.