Saturday, September 29, 2012

In the Ghetto: Saturday Soundtrack

I know exactly where I was on August 16, 1977.  I was in a car on my way from Visalia to Mountain View. I was on Highway 152 leading up the east side of the the Diablo Mountains, at the San Luis Reservoir when the announcer came on the air and said that Elvis Presley was dead.  My mother and my aunt Carolyn were in the car.  I was sitting on the front seat between them.  This is the first song that was played after the announcemnt.  I don't remember if they cried, but I did.

Elvis holds the record for most songs charting on the Billboard top 40 (104 sogns) and the Bilboard Top 100 (151 songs). To this day, The King of Rock and Roll makes hits.  Several of his pothumously released recording went to the top of the charts, and rereleases and remixes have have continued to reach the top ten all over the world as recently 2004.  In 2010 Cirque du Soleil released the music from their show, Viva Elvis, as an album.

Even though Elvis was a Rock and Roll and Country music star, arguably the brightest of them all, his three Grammy Awards were won in the Gospel category.  I hope I meet him someday.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Dairy Farm

I thought I would start a new feature for this blog.  I have, pretty much, grown tired of the Saturday Soundtrack but I still like the structure of a regular topics.  So, without further ado, the first Cocktail of the Week.

The Dairy Farm (an original recipe)
The other night it was kind of chilly, I was feeling sad and wanting to feel the happiness of Christmas, which means eggnog.  But I didn't have all the needed ingredients.  What did I have?

Strauss Family heavy cream
Christian Brothers V.S. brandy (It is produced by the Heaven Hill company of Kentucky)
Granulated sugar

Note on spices: If you only have pre-ground nutmeg and allspice that's okay.  But if you are going to make this for guests, you really should use a little grater and a dedicated pepper mill, for the sake of presentation.  Besides, fresh is always better.

Note on brandy:  If you use Paul Mason brandy (not recommended) you will want to leave the sugar out of this recipe.  Paul Mason is already very sweet.

Note on cream:  This is the main part of the drink so it needs to be of the highest quality.  Ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurization and homoginization ruins the God-given taste of milk and cream.  If you can't get Strauss Family cream in your area look for any non-homoginized cream pastueurized using HTST pasteurization or even un-pasteurized (trust in the alcohol and stomach acid to kill any bacteria) that is from grass-fed (NO CORN!) dairy cows.

Directions:  Put 1 tsp granulated sugar and 2 oz brndy into a large mug. Heat 6 oz of heavy cream on stovetop or in microwave.  DO NOT BOIL!  Pour hot cream into mug.  Stir gently. Grate a little nutmeg and grind a little allspice onto the cream, no more than 1/8 tsp of each.  Drink.   If you only have pre-ground nutmeg and allspice that's okay.  But if you are going to make this for guests, you really should use a little grater and a dedicated pepper mill, for the sake of presentation.  Besides, fresh is always better.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When I was a child I drank as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish drinks.

Last night, after the boys and Athanasia were in bed I felt like drinking.  So I went to the Duke of Edinburough in Cupertino.  It took me a long time to decide what to order.  I settled on my old favorite: The Martini.  This particular martini was a 4-1 made, Tanqueray, two olives.  I only had one but it was beautiful.

Sitting there, drinking that drink, I felt like my old self again.

Today, I got a job offer.  I start to work on Monday.

Now, if I can just get my wife to love me again, everything will be all right.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Letter to the Romans

Many years ago, when I was a Protestant and attending Peninsula Bible Church in Cupertino, I think it was 1997 or 1998, I taught a 51 week long course on the Letter to the Romans.  In addition to the Letter I relied, primarily, on Martin Luther's lectures on Romans, but also the writings of John Calvin, Lorainne Boettner, J. Vernon McGee, and Matthew Henry.  I very much enjoyed all the reading and writing.  I felt very proud of myself, and by the time I finished the course I felt like I was an expert on the Letter.  But, in fact, after my year teaching Romans I had become cemented in antinomianism and hypocrisy.  Only now I feel like I am beginnging to understand the Letter, but only beginning.  I am not deep, but this is what I think I know:  The Letter isn't about theologogical systems.  It isn't about election or justification or supercession or predestination.  It is about love and how I am to live in love, which means living in thanksgiving and repentence, always experienceing God's mercy and working with God to make myself into a conduit for that mercy.

When I was a boy, I asked my Dad how to understand some passage in the Bible.  He didn't answer my question.  Instead, he asked me me a question: "What is the nature of God?"  Of course, I knew the answer to that question: Love.  So, here I am, a maiddle-aged Orthodox Christian, only learning now what my Dad tried to teach me when I was a boy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pie Crust

It is the beginning of autumn pie season; when pumpkin, cranberry-walnut, apple, onion, and chicken pies are lovingly put on tables.  But the foundation of every pie is the crust.

Here is my pie crust recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour.  I like King Arthur brand.
2 cups fresh unsalted butter.  
1 cup COLD water.
1/2 tsp non-iodized salt. (I like Diamond Crystal.  Yes, I know most bakers like fine salt but I like this.)
(2 tsp granulated sugar is only for sweet pies.  I like C&H Baker's Sugar.  The quaity is consistent.)

Combine flour, salt (and sugar) into large mixing bowl. Stir it up with your fingers so the salt (and sugar) is evenly distributed throughout the flour.  Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers (I've never tried a pastry blender, so I don't know if that is a better method.)  When the butter and flour form pea sized balls (in about 5 minutes) start slowy adding the cold water; just a little at a time.  You do not want to add too much water.  Only add enough water so all those peas sized bits come together into one big ball.   Divide the dough in 1/2 and form it into disks.  Set in on parchment paper and put it the fridge for 1 hour.  Take out of the fridge and roll it out to fit your pie pan.