Friday, January 20, 2017

Simply Delicious Beef and Ale Pie

1 pound ground beef
1 diced carrot
1/2 cup diced potatoes
1 pint Brown ale (1/2 a cup for the pie and the rest for the waiting)
1 tspn Kitchen Pepper
1 tspn Worcestershire sauce
3 bullion cubes
1 tspn flour
top and bottom crusts

Blend all of the ingredients evenly and simmer in a frying pan until the meat is thoroughly browned and the grease/beer has blended into a thick gravy. Place the crust into a pie dish and place the filling into the crust. Cover with the 2nd crust and bake at 350°f for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with a generous slather of HP Brown Sauce. If there is any ale left after the wait in the oven, drink it as you enjoy.
It is lovely to serve alongside a plate of mash and peas.

10 Hobbies That People Actually Do For Fun

So here I am looking a new hobby. I've done lots of things for fun over the years but I am looking for something that I can do on the weekends that will be A) fun and B) not prohibitively expensive. In the process of searching for a new hobby (which thus far has been unsuccessful) I have come across some interesting things that some people apparently do for fun. I thought it might be interesting to go through and create a short list of 10 interesting hobbies that people actually do for fun. Now I am going to include a few things that I do but not quite so extensively (or in some cases casually) as to call them hobbies. So here goes.

1. Historical Reenacting

Have you ever been to a historic park and seen those strange people who wear old timey clothes and pretend to be from a different time? That is reenacting. Contrary to what a lot of people might think the vast majority of people who do that are not getting paid. It is a hobby, and rather an intense one at that. The people who reenact often (but not always) spend extensive time and effort to research their "impression" or what they are trying to portray. Reenacting is done for various time periods from the Neolithic well into the 20th century. 

2. Writing Letters to Royals 

Yes. There are people who spend considerable time writing letters to royals around the world. Personally I write an occasional letter to HM Queen Elizabeth II and her family but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a hobby. I did have the privilege of receiving a personally signed correspondence from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall last month. That was rather exciting. Some people go all out though, spending time and money taking letters to professional translators in order to send them to royals who don't speak your native language. Or you could...

3. Learn a New Language 

If you're ever bored you could just learn another language. With advancements in technology and economic and social globalization happening at the rate it is learning another language or 3 is a great way to spend your time. And these days programs like DuoLingo make it exceptionally simple.

4. Take up Cricket

I was quite surprised to find out that here in North Carolina there is not one, but there are 3 cricket LEAGUES. That's right. Not teams... Leagues, each consisting of at least 14 clubs. Once I eraser he'd a little bit more it made sense though. The Medical and Technology markets expanding here there have been numerous professionals moving to our state from India, where Cricket is considered a national pastime. 

5. Learn to Play an Instrument 

Go to a music store and buy a recorder, or if you fancy it buy a saxophone. Get a book or go onto YouTube and find a "learn to play" tutorial. A few minutes a day and you'll be Yoyo Ma in no time... Well... Maybe not but if you stick with it you can always impress your friends by serenading them with Jingle Bells at the office Christmas party.

6. Learn Needlepoint 

Samplers, monograms, doll faces, seat cushions... The things that you can do with needlepoint are endless. And you'll never have to buy useless Christmas gifts again. You can make them yourself!

7. Amateur Paleontology 

If you're looking for something to do outside and you want to get dirty then taking up amateur paleontology could be the thing for you. It isn't difficult. You don't have to join a special club, although you can if you want to. All you really need is a bucket and a spade but I would encourage sun cream. There are loads of Internet databases that you can look through to find local fossil deposits near you. If you live in East NC then driving to Aroura is always an easy way to guarantee your first find.

8. Go back to School 

It might not exactly sound like a hobby but with advancements in technology and accessibility of knowledge these days it is absolutely possible to go back to college and finish that degree that you always wanted. Online or one night a week programs make it easy and affordable to go back and start making your life better.

9. Become a Substitute Teacher 

Work when you feel like it. Make some extra money. Interact with kids and impact their lives. Believe it or not they might change your life too. In most counties it isn't hard. In North Carolina you have to have 48 transferable University credits or take a class called "Effective Teacher Training." It is usually a three day class at a city or community college. If you can do that and pass a background check then you're probably good to go. Most substitute teachers make around $70 or $80 dollars each day they work. Not bad for a hobby. 

Last but not least

10. Start a Blog

Be a food critic, an experimental chef, religion blogger, fashion blogger... The options are endless. Pick up one hobby and start a blog about it. You can do or be whatever you want online. Blog about food, politics, tabloids, whale ecology, Princess Kate and her shoes, whatever you want. 

Anyway, these are just a few of the thousands of hobbies out there. Look around. Find a hobby that fits you. Kill some time and have some fun.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Vicar's Life

Through the portal and down the Nave,
he march’d with Holy Writ in hand,
to kneel and pray
at break of day
and lean upon the reading stand.

Of first order is morning prayer
so on is thrown a surplice.
Then follow he
with the Litany
and say the Lord’s Prayer twice.

Then the rite all love the best
to say, Holy Communion.
The words of Christ
they’ve now prayed thrice
with Christendom in union.

Into the vestry and off is put
And hung upon the door;
the surplice there.
Now gown to wear
to go into the church once more.

Now to expound the words of Christ
for all who stay’d to hear it
that all who hear
should come draw near
to take up the cross and bear it.

A sermon preached like none other wrote
or ever read before.
Take off the gown
and throw it down
to don the surplice from the door.

“Draw near with faith,” he tells them all
to make contrite confession
and hope and pray
what he had to say
was not lost in the lesson.

Then to the Table of the Lord,
by the north most side to stand,
to pray the line,
of words divine
while taking loaf and cup in hand.

They pray again, this comes to four,
“Our Father which art in heav’n”
All did meet
His meal to eat
and all before eleven!

The Curate’s work is never done.
He’s earned a drink of liquor!
So on Sunday
please take time to say,

“Dear Lord God, bless the Vicar!”

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Refreshing Orange Barley Water Squash

1/2 pound pearled barley
2 quarts of water
3 whole oranges
Sugar

Boil the barley and water until the barley is tender. While it is boiling juice and mash the 3 oranges. Strain the barley from the water. The water should be milky white. Pour the water over the oranges and juice and return to boil for about 5 minutes. This allows the barley water to absorb as much of the Orange essence as possible. Strain well and return to medium heat once more. Add sugar and sweeten to your own taste. Cool the squash and keep it in the refrigerator. It should keep for 6-7 days. To make it last longer you can put it in a sealed container and freeze it.

I serve it over ice mixed about half and half with Ginger Ale.

You can use the same recipe using lemons (or any citrus fruit really) instead of oranges if you like.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Covenant of Baptism

Back in 2014 I wrote a blog post about Baptism and it's nature as a sacrament and some of the theological background thereof. That post can be seen HERE.

Today I will look at some of the scriptures and their impact on my personal view of baptism.

As most of you can probably guess (since I am an Anglican) I am a paedobaptist. What that means is that I support and strongly encourage the baptism of infants as soon as is practical after their birth. There are many reasons for my holding this view but today I will explore the strictly Biblical perspective.

First and foremost baptism is important. It is so important in fact that Jesus Himself participated in it. Not only did He give it to us, as He did with the Lord's Supper, but he also did it. Luke 3:21 says that, "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too."

John the Forerunner (also John the Baptist) preached of baptism "for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 1:4). In Matthew (28:19-20) the command is given to make disciples of, "all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey..."

The Gospels speak of baptism as an initiation. They speak of a baptism that forgives sins but also a baptism that begins a journey. The scriptures order that the people of the nations be baptized and then that they be taught the laws of God and to obey them. Baptism is a seal, a sign of our journey and our covenant with God. It is our participation, our entry into the Grave with Christ. Being baptized into Christ we are also baptized into His death and "buried with Him through baptism" (Romans 6:4).

We are baptized with water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is our initiation. This is our seal into the death of Christ and into the covenant of God and His people. We are, "circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands." (Colossians 2:11) We were ruled by sin and flesh which is put off when we were, "circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism..." (Colossians 2:11-12)

Circumcision is the mark of the covenant between God and His people. As people of Christ we are people of God. Now here is where paedobaptists and creedobaptists run into conflict.

Circumcision is the mark of the covenant between God and His people, which is ordered of the sons of every Jew. Baptism is the circumcision of those who belongs to God by the death of Christ. It is appropriate that those who convert into the family of God's people should be baptized at the time of their conversion just as one who becomes a Jew should be circumcised at the time of his conversion but like circumcision it is right that one who is born into the family and faith should be baptized and sealed into that covenant at birth.

Lydia was baptized (Acts 16:15) because she believed and her family was all baptized with her. In Acts (16:30-34) the jailer sent to arrest Paul and Silas came to believe and then he was baptized along with his whole family. As I pointed out earlier we are commanded in Matthew (28:19-20) to make disciples of, "all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey."

We baptize our children because they are born into our family and our faith. They are baptized, then they are taught to obey the Lord and to grow in that baptism. They need not convert to that which they are already.

I will close with this short passage from Ephesians (4:4-6a) "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all..."

Amen





Port and Crackers? Why not Grape Juice and Wonder Bread?

A handful of people have asked about the name of my blog. Why do I call it Port and Crackers? Why not something else? Of course the obvious answer is because it is my blog and  I can call it whatever I bloody well please. The more rational answer, and slightly less inflammatory, would be that I am an Anglican. Port and Crackers is, as you might guess, a reference to the elements of Holy Communion. I am a priest and I celebrate the Holy Communion at least twice each month and generally more than that.

Most Christians (all Christians for the vast majority of Christian History) use wine for Holy Communion. The rationale for this is simply that Jesus used Wine at the Last Supper/First Communion. There are of course some modernist American Protestants that argue that Jesus didn't use wine but rather the term "wine" in scripture actually just means "fruit of the vine" or grape juice. I simply invite those people to keep grape juice from autumn until Passover using 1st century technology without letting it become wine.

Anyway, as an Anglican it is our tradition to use Portwine. For many centuries the English pretty well stayed in a perpetual state of war with Spain and France. The English have always been good at making beer but Wine making was left to the continent, and rightly so. If you're at war with France and Spain where would you expect to get your wine from? Portugal of course! What sort of wine is made in Portugal, you ask? Portwine! The only sort of wine that could be readily obtained in England for many years was Port so naturally it was Port which came to be used in English churches.

Port has a litany of other benefits for use as a Communion wine though. (It is certainly a better idea than Sherry!) Port wine is almost exclusively red, and as you might imaging red wine has always been favored for Holy Communion. Who knows why? Perhaps it is something to do with the fact that blood is red. (Yes. That is sarcasm, thanks.) Port is also a fortified wine, which has distilled grape spirits added to it for flavor, preservation, and to increase the alcohol content (usually to between 18-21% Abv). Now I do not believe that there is a single documented case of anyone ever getting sick from the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, in fact I personally consider it heterodox at best for someone to believe that you can but... The simple fact remains that we live in a world full of paranoid people who are terrified of germs and disease. As Anglicans we practice communion by letting everyone drink from the chalice. Using a wine of 18%+ ABV makes it pretty certain that no germs an be passed around. Some Anglicans even allow people to dip their host or bread in the wine rather than drinking it (though this is a far less sanitary practice than drinking from the chalice). I promise that most people have dirtier fingers than mouths.

Either way, Anglicans generally use Port. I am an Anglican. This is my blog. I decided to call it Port and Crackers.

I'll explain the "crackers" bit later. :-)

Monday, December 12, 2016

A 19th Century Christmas Pudding in 2014

My wife (whose blog can be seen HERE) and I are avid living historians. What that means is we dress up in old timey clothes, go various places, and recreate historical events or situations with great emphasis on historical accuracy in every detail.

As you will see when you visit my wife's blog the focus of her (and by extension my own) research is food. She is a bit of a celebrity in LH and Reenacting circles for her historical cooking. Occasionally she gets invited to sites and museums to cook this or that in a historical context or setting. Even more occasionally I get to tag along. In December of 2014 she was invited to cook at the 1897 Poe House in Fayetteville, NC for their Christmas program. The original plan was for me to drop her off and go on my merry way but that didn't happen. I stayed and helped her in the kitchen. As we cooked we both realized that we had forgotten some of the ingredients for our Christmas pudding and home was over an hour away. Needless to say running home was out of the question so... In true 19th century fashion we improvised!

Using our combined working knowledge of historical cookery we began mixing. Butter, sugar, flour, eggs, this, that, a pinch of something else. Now there is always that one person who lives by a recipe but neither the wife or I are that person. We know our ratios, we know what tastes right with what, and we know what doesn't. So using that basic culinary know-how we made a batter that "looked right" and tasted nice. Into the baking tin, and into the oven it went. As it baked we worked ourselves up a bit. The waiting is ALWAYS the most stressful part of cooking with us so to pass the time I made a sauce for the pudding. After all, no pudding is really complete without a sticky, sweet, delicious sauce!

The time had come... The pudding was ready so out of the oven and onto the plate. We tapped the tin a few times and PLOP! There stood the most beautiful 19th century creation of culinary joy that we had ever created, and we knew from the moment we saw it that it would never be replicated. I covered it with that sticky saucepan of golden syrupy goodness and it was ready to eat. Everyone who tasted it approved. All that was left at the end of the day was a sticky plate with a small puddle of sauce in the middle.

It was a Christmas Miracle!

If you would like to see the original post on the wife's page you can HERE!