Tuesday was Donut Day at the Steiner-Roses, and I challenge anyone to point me to a more rollicking good time than was had here in our little, very crowded rowhouse. On the menu was chicken noodle soup (we participate in a local winter farm share in which we place an on-line order each month -- kale, spinach, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, yogurt, milk, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, chicken, sweet and spicy beef sticks -- yum, yum, yum! -- which we pick up each week at one of numerous locations around the city. The problem is that we cannot alter our order until the end of the month. The other problem is that my oven has been broken for a REALLY LONG TIME ((which is its own blog post soon, I think, when I'm not so frustrated and despondent that every other word would be blasphemous)). So each week I get a frozen chicken, but I haven't been able to roast them, and on the Monday before Fat Tuesday, there were four or five of them in my freezer ... so I stewed up a couple to make soup for the masses. Another is going in the pot today, because I foolishly thought I would have left-overs from Tuesday ... not so much.)
Where was I? Right -- the menu. Chicken noodle soup, clean-out-the-vegetable-drawer vegetarian soup, Julie's homebrew (the Belgian tripel was especially popular), some fruit from Suzanne, leftover from Meg's 7th birthday, and a salad courtesy my dear ones, Woody and Joey, who came all the way from New Jersey and used up a lot of Weight Watcher points to wup it up with us.
But of course, soup, salad and fruit were all side dishes to the main attraction: home made donuts! Usually we use Edna Ruth Byler's potato dough recipe for 100 donuts out of the Mennonite cookbook More With Less, but we had an overstock of buttermilk in the back of the fridge (we apparently overestimated how many blueberry pancakes we could eat each week when we put in last month's winter farm share order), so Jane, who came all the way from Lancaster to help (and "help" is really a euphemism, because truth be told she did most of the work on the donuts; thanks Jane!), modified the recipe, to everyone's benefit it seems safe to say, because those were The Best Donuts Yet (and we've been doing this a lot of years). Then Jane just whipped up some lemon zest glaze and, well, let's just say that the kids weren't the only ones leaving with a sugar high.
But now it's Lent. Last night we sat in silence and candle-lit darkness, sang Taize chants (accompanied by oboe, piano, flute and trombone -- gorgeous), listened to Bob's thoughtful reflections on Isaiah, and had our foreheads smudged with ashes. I actually love Lent. Adore it. It may be my favorite season of the liturgical year. And here we are. Big sigh of contentment.
I usually try to take things on in Lent, rather than give them up. This year I'm taking on food -- eating better, feeding my family better, extending hospitality to my community more. I'm almost done with Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I may explore some of this year's Lenten discipline in my upcoming book review. But I'm also taking on the Psalms this year, in a more systematic way than my usual scattershot reading of them. I wish I could have you ALL over for chicken noodle soup tonight, but until we can make that work, here's some food for the soul:
Psalm 1 (from the NRSV)
Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked;
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.