Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Michael and I are quite bad at eating up bread. Personally once it gets a bit stale I don't like it anymore. I love FRESH bread. So we often end up with the end of a loaf sitting waiting for someone to eat it. I sometimes make breadcrumbs or bread and butter pudding but once we've have b&b pudding once we seem reluctant to have it again the next night. So... what to do?

Well I have a husband who is fairly well guaranteed to eat anything chocolatey and I know bread pudding (rather than bread and butter pudding) keeps well but have never made it. Is there such as thing as chocolate bread pudding? Well despite a few recipes claiming to be just that they seem to be b&b pudding with rich cream and chocolate (whereas I was hoping to use milk and cocoa!)

In the end I found a Cranks recipe for bread pudding and adapted it as follows:

8oz (225g) Stale bread hacked into small pieces
1/2 pint (284ml) plus an extra 4tbsp (60ml) milk
3/4 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup boiling water
5oz (125g) Dried fruit - whatever you like but adding something like apricots to the usual raisins is cool
2oz (50g) grated butter
4oz (100g) Brown sugar
1 heaped tbsp (20ml) mixed spice
1 egg
nutmeg to grate

Put the cocoa in a small bowl (or large mug!!) and add the boiling water, stirring to a smooth paste. When it is smooth, gradually add in the 1/2 pint (284ml) milk.

Put the broken bread in a large bowl and add the chocolate milk mixture. Stir thoroughly. Leave to soak for 30mins at least, and give it the occasional stir. The longer you leave this the better really!

Put the oven on at Gas Mark 4 (180C/350F)

Add the fruit, grated butter, spice and sugar to the large bowl. In a small bowl (the same one again if you like!) whisk the egg with the 4tbsp (60ml) milk. Add this to the laqrge bowl and mix.

Press it all into a shallow oven proof dish (we use one of those funky teflon flexible ones so no need for lining paper) Put this in the oven for 45 mins until set. Then remove from the oven, slice and have at least one piece for yourself then put the rest on a plate or in a tin to eat later!!

Inter-seed for us

This is my sermon which I preach (well mostly!) at St Mary's Kempsey this morning. It was a wonderful service of the word led by Vision 33 the youth group and their youth leaders and thoroughly enjoyed and supported by the larger family of the church.

The Gospel for the Sunday was:

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
John 12:20-36

It’s Spring time and I don’t know about you but I am planting seeds in my garden. It’s also Lent, a season for planting spiritual seeds of faith as we approach Easter. Today we hear Jesus also talking about seeds in our Gospel. I think what Jesus said about seeds was a very important thing and I want to plant that seed in your memory too.
What I want to focus on – demo through seeds
Now I’m going to need some help with this.

I’ve brought some rather special seed packets with me. I need 7 volunteers to help me.

Now these seed packets are a little different to ordinary seed packets. For one – they’re a bit bigger. They also have a very strange thing. Normal seed packets have the seeds on the outside and a picture of what they grow into on the inside. These seeds packets are a bit different. They have a picture of the SEED on the outside, so you can’t tell what they’re going to grow into. It makes you think that if you bought these seeds – all you would get would be exactly what it shows on the seed packet. Lets have a look inside.(we open them each in turn to reveal poppies, pumpkins, sunflowers, wheat, a butterfly, an iris and a passion flower)

So we see all these beautiful things that they might turn into. But they will never be these things if they stay as they are (turn over the cards to reveal the bible quotation)

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
In the passage today, Jesus talks about his forthcoming death and resurrection as being a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying in order that new life can come. Jesus also goes on to link it to what a life of discipleship means

Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
The Bible can sometimes feel like rather a distant story. One about then – about the people of Israel, about the disciples. But in the passage we heard today we have a link. The passage begins with some Greeks wanting to see Jesus. Now, I don’t know if we have any Greeks here today but those Greeks stand for each one of us here. Jesus has been preaching to the people of Israel but this is a point when he declares it is not JUST for them. No Jesus says:

32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

This Good news is not just for the descendents of Abraham, Isaac Jacob and Moses but for everyone.

That’s still a challenge to us today. The Gospel is not just for people who already believe. For people who already come to church. It’s for everyone and God calls each of us to do something about that. For me, helping people work with young people, I seek to engage churches in looking not just at what they are doing within their churches but also at how they are relating to their community. To their schools; to the young people who hang out in their churchyard because there is nowhere to go. Not just to the young though, to parents, to those who are living alone, to the retired.

32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

In the Gospel of John, when he talks about fruit, he means community and in this passage Jesus calls into formation a new community that thinks and lives differently than society.

When we look to serve others, it can often mean we need to give up things for ourselves. This doesn’t mean that we become nothing. It means we become more than we could have been if we had looked only to our own ends. He talks of those who walk with the light.

Those who walk by the Light, meaning Jesus, those who embrace the Light, who allow the Light to penetrate their being and shine through them, they become united as a family of Light, the children of Light, the children of God. Together they shine in the midst of darkness and show the world another way, just as Jesus has. In the face of the cruel violence that puts Jesus on the cross, the children of Light respond by creating a community that bears witness to the Light of Christ, a community that keeps the Light burning even though the world tries to extinguish it. The ember of light kindled by Jesus is multiplied through his followers as they become lanterns aflame with Light for the world. And we can only do that if we, the seed, allow ourselves to be planted.

Each person here is the fruit of seed sown by our Christian predecessors. As the diocesan youth officer, I suppose I’m a bit like a Garden consultant. What seeds are being sown here in Kempsey for the future fruit? I know there are certainly some very gifted young people who work with our youth council and I’m sure there are others. How is Kempsey looking after its garden and its saplings?

God sees each of us as we see normal seed packets. He sees our full potential and the full potential of those around us. Just think what a difference it would make to our world if we, like God, saw everyone not as they are but as the amazing person they could be. Sometimes we focus far too much on what we are now. We look at the world from the inside of a seed packet. We see our safe seed-like experience and shape and want to stay with that.

God sees what we can grow into, what we can transform into. That transformation can bring us to something new and wonderful. A caterpillar to a butterfly and acorn to an oak tree to be built into the beams of a great building, a boat that sails the oceans, or a table where people share a meal.

We have a choice to make: will we simply sit in the seed packet - they're usually made of foil so rather shiny and appealling. Or do we dare to be planted and wait to see what God transforms us into?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Youth and age

I was looking for a video of the Philosopher's Song on the Monty Python feed on youtube yesterday (like you do) and couldn't find it but did see this fantastic piece from John Cleese about youth. I think it also says a bit about age too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Son et L-ewe-miers

Never let it be said that the countryside is behind the cities in its use of technology. Check out this AWESOME video. Thanks to L for linking to it on her facebook :O)

On a related note - Wallace and Grommit A Matter of Loaf and Death is out on 23rd March - hurrah!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fully Booked

Apologies for blog being quiet (perhaps I should count how man times I've posted that phrase over the years!). I have been occupied with trying to finish the book Phil and I are putting together. We had two solid days of reviewing over the weekend only to decide what we really needed was an extra session. It's a good session even if it has meant we're not finished as we had hoped to be by the end of the weekend. We are so very nearly there though.

We came up against the issue of how we select the film clips we suggest people use as we found ourselves needing to find a scene which helps people explore the character and person of Jesus. Our clips are often focussed on a concept and then it's a lot easier to find a clip that helps people explore an idea. This time we were looking for a clip that would say something/everything about Jesus himself and everything we looked at wasn't good enough. I suppose that's the lesson in a way.

Ian seems to have been focussing on films a bit too lately. Firstly recommending a re-watching of About a Boy (timely in fact as it was then on TV!). I've always loved a particular scene in this film when the boy has a mini rant about his life and how tough it is and Hugh Grant's character just doesn't know how to respond and resorts to a word that would be against most Conduct policies! I really like what follows which is the angst of the adult about their failure to help and the young man who feels so much better because, even though the adult he'd spoken to hadn't SOLVED the issue, the adult had listened, had shown that he understood how the boy felt and expressed his empathy with him. It shows that sometimes what we say to young people when they confide in us may sound like the lamest most pathetically useless response but to them it could mean all the world.

This is also the film/book from which a fantastic short-hand phrase for a VERY BAD DAY comes. "Dead-duck-day". If that makes no sense... well you might just have to watch the film!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

About Face

I'm just back from a fantastically inspiring and thought-provoking evening with the YMCAs from the region in company with Malcolm Duncan of Church and Community (formerly of Faithworks). there are many wise things buzzing around my head including the contrast between Empire building and kingdom building, a new ten commandments for the YMCA, clarity at the centre so that edges can be fuzzy and so much more.

This however is what stood out most. It was an image and a story so there's no surprise that it was the most powerful and memorable bit of the evening.
This picture, entitled Bear glare was taken by Sergey Gorshkov and won the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2007 prize for the category of animal portrait.

Now it is a very striking image. that alone has a great impact. However the story of how the picture was taken is even more powerful. I'm told that Sergey went out with his young son to get some picture of salmon jumping up the river and was standing in the water waiting with his son stood behind him. He's concentrating REALLY hard on getting this image of the salmon (you can imagine him really wanting to capture that triumph of will over adversity that is embodied in the leaping of salmon upstream towards their spawning sites in that moment of sheer faith that launches a fish out of water). Sergey hears a splash behind him and thinks his son is messing around. this is confirmed by the son tugging at his waders, "Dad... dad", "Not now, I'm trying to get a picture of the salmon" "dad, you really need to turn round" "I'm busy", "Dad you REALLY HAVE TO TURN ROUND NOW!" He turns round and is faced with this sight which he manages to capture on film (and live to tell the tale).

This story says... sometimes we can be so focussed on the task we think is very important that we miss a great opportunity. If we're lucky there might be a young prophetic voice near us who tells us we need to make a radical turn around and face in the opposite direction. What we see when we make that dramatic change might fill us with fear but will in the end lead to what we need/want to achieve.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Doodles from Noodle brains?

Some great news for me this week. Firstly, it seems that doodling, as I often do at conferences, is now acknowledged as being useful in the retention of information as I have argued it is for me!

Unfortunately, there's not much excuse for my lack of blogging lately, aside from my busy times at work.

I'm currently reading Mark Yaconelli's new book Helping Teenagers to Pray. I've nto read a great deal of it yet but is certainly been worthwhile read so far.