Angel Food Came and Bran Muffins For Long Life & A Peaceful Heart
Practising prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with god, little g, as I know or do not know him or her or it, for me, is not a matter of ritual or route. My life depends upon my ability to remember two things: there is an intelligent force of the universe, which I choose to believe is positive and creative and connected to me on some sorter subatomic level, and that my awareness of this is directly contingent upon my acknowledgment of this force, this unknowable, unimaginable, indefinable thing. I call this thing god for lack of a better word but trial and error have taught me that it responds as readily to a casual "hey you..." And "Fuck you, god, and fuck Jesus and Mary, too, and fuck me here now, fucked if I don't and fucked if I do," was the most heartfelt prayer I ever made, the first time I ever assumed the position, as they say, falling hopelessly to my knees and yowling to the heavens.
Recipe for Angel food cake
Take all yr broken eggs out of the basket; they'll do you no good there, now. With care, separate the yolks from the white, putting each into cold bowls. Beat the yolks with a whisk, adding small handsful of sugar until they are pale and thick and sweet. Think about the mysteries of life as you add an equal amount of sweet milk and a dollop of vanilla if ya have it. Comes now the tricky part; make sure you are in no hurry at all. Have the whites of the eggs as cold as can be, slowly beat them with a whisk till they whip up and turn foamy. Add sugar in small amounts and continue whipping with the whisk. Take time to think of all the good there is in life; sugar alone is not enough to keep us sweet. Whip until the whites have formed soft peaks. Add one more dollop then of sugar and beat like hell till the meringue begins to stiffen. Set aside. If yr eggs numbered less then a dozen, you will have to add a small spoon of baking powder to one or more cups of flour in a separate bowl and stir in a pinch of salt.
When the dry ingredients have been mixed, slowly add the flour mixture to the yolken milk, beating well. The oven needs to be preheated to 375 F, and cake tins oiled and floured at this point. Add the meringue slowly to the flour mixture, folding it in gently as you would tuck an infant into her crib. Here is where a prayer won't hurt at all. Pour this batter in equal parts into the cake tins and place on the top rack of your oven. If you have beaten well and prayed hard, your cake will rise to unknown heights and will be light as the heart of the sleeping baby. It is done when golden brown, 45 minutes is usually long enough. Whether you have an angel food cake tin or not, the cakes must cool to the touch before you try to remove them. Wait slowly, for haste makes waste at this point.
When cool, invert the cake tins and let the angel food slip out onto a wire rack or a brown paper bag cut open and laid flat. This cake needs no icing but is good when served with mounds of plain whipped cream or fresh or rehydrated fruit. It is called angel food because it rises so tall and is so light, but also because it takes the patience of an angel to make it right. As with all good things, this takes time and practice.
I pray well when I am cooking. Something ancient and enormous, beyond my kin, guides my hands. My thoughts, absorbed in the process of manual labor, slow and still. I feel comfortably empty and receptive to knowledge and teaching that my otherwise busy head simply cannot hear. I make prayers of gratitude for each ingredient and my pots and pans and bowls and the heat that changes these disparate parts into a goodsome whole. (Or, is that wholesome goods?) My heart is light. I have learned the hard way, from many failures, not to cook when angry or confused; the end result is not worth the mess. But, also, I have learned again and again that upon the alter of counter and bread board and stove top, my negative feelings can, indeed, be prayed away. Prayer alone, nor work enough, cannot accomplish this small miracle. I worked cursing and prayed ill and indolent for too many years for naught. But, armed with prayer and humming praises to a power I know not, I am able to work through the passions of fear and regret, anger and despair, to come out at the end of the evening spent and replete. It is enough.
A wise old man once told me that as you get older you will find that there is nothing more over-rated than a piece of ass and nothing more under-rated than a good bowel movement. I used to listen to these old farts and never thought that what they said might someday apply to me. That same fellow said, "If I'd ever known I was gonna live this long, I woulda taken better care of the equipment." Today, I understand. I grew up assuming I would die young. The Bomb was gonna get us all, it was only a matter of time. And time was short, I was convinced. If I had any idea I was going to someday be 45, I maybe would have flossed my teeth, increased my fiber, reduced my intake of fats, put away money towards retirement. I made most of my major life decisions based on the assumption that I wasn't gonna be around long enough to have to clean up the mess. Wrong!
How curious to have come to a place in life where the answer to the conversational, "How are you today?" is contingent upon the state of my bowels. "Prunes and dry toast, please" always left me in stitches, the long years I was a waitress. How was I to know that someday I would be making menu choices around the condition of my colon?
A wise young man, in a drunken state of inspired stupidity once told me, "Why do we pray when we eat? The real miracle is that we can shit. The thing we should really give thanks to our creator for is not the food we put into our mouths but the fact that when our bodies are done with it, having extracted the life force from the meals we consume, we are able to get rid of the wastes so we don't explode." Having grown up marveling at the exquisite profundity of drunks, I listened and thought, "He's right." Today I eat bran muffins like sacramental wafers, praying thankfully, "As we eat, so shall we also defecate, all things in God's good time."
Bran Muffins for Good Bowel Movements
Sift two cups of flour, whole wheat is best if yr planning on being around for awhile, together with two teaspoons of baking soda and a half a teaspoon of salt. Add a good cup of bran. You can buy it by the jar over the counter these days and no longer have to lurk about in Health Food stores tucked away in corners in the bad side of town to get this stuff. In a smaller bowl, beat two eggs senseless and mix well with a cup of milk and a quarter to a half cup of honey. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed but no need to beat it. Muffins prefer a tender hand at this point. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake in a preheated oven at 400 for a little less than half an hour, till fully risen and browned.
This makes about a dozen and can be doubled or tripled if yr feeding a crew. Served hot with preserves, there's no nicer way to start the day. Eaten cold they make an equally wholesome lunch or snack. The older ya get the more yr body will teach you to care for it well.
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