cream and Lent

The gospel reading today is from John’s gospel and it is the accounting of John The Baptist’s baptizing work and his call to be a voice in the wilderness on this the eve of Lent into which we plunge tomorrow.

These are the salts on my dining room table in dishes from my pottery studio.  They are used by my guests to bring out the flavor of foods.  Scriptures ask what good salt is if it looses its saltiness and the question is a fair one.  Lent is a good time to set some goals for the accounting of our saltiness – the flavor we plan to provide to the planet and to the people we encounter on it – the voice we cry in our wildernesses – the gospel we preach with our lives.

Tonight I have friends coming to dinner.  I will serve a rich peanut soup which will use up half the cream in the house and I will serve a chocolate cinnamon and orange mousse to use up the rest of the heavy cream for a time of abstinence these next forty days.  I will give up cream and I will take on forgiveness.  Both giving up and taking on are the work of Lent.

I have cream to give up and I have people I need to forgive.  Harboring un-forgiveness is like taking poison and hoping an enemy will die from it.  They are more likely to die from the mousse.  Not so bad a way to die perhaps.

When I was a child, we spent family time in Williamsburg , Virginia long before it became the colonial-history-Epcot it is today.  One of my favorite soups was the peanut soup at Chowning’s Tavern.  This is my recipe of it – less delicate and more robust and, well, better but honoring its inspiration:

Peanut Soup

Simmer one 1/2 stick of butter with one medium onion and 2 celery ribs, both finely chopped, stirring for 4 minutes on medium heat.  Add 3 tablespoons of flour string quickly and cook two more minutes and add 8 cups of chicken stock, increasing heat to high and boiling hard for a few minutes until slightly thickened, then using a blender or a soup blender stick, blend the mixture to s smooth consistency and return it to a simmer in the soup pot.   Add 2 cups of peanut butter and whisk into the soup so that it resolves and melts into the broth (I like chunky peanut butter)  and add 1.5 cups of cream or light cream and keep warm to serve (do not boil the cream).  A pinch of cayenne pepper when adding the peanut butter is nice if you like some spice. Serve very warm in warm bowls with crushed peanuts on top.

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