Once again, Jen hosts the Quick Takes!
I'd like to kick things off by showing you this:
It's called sticky toffee pudding, in the English dessert sense of pudding. It's also called spice cake, caramel cake, sugar plum cake, Grandma's English Toffee Cake, and many other such names. I made it tonight. It's a spice cake with a sort of caramel sauce poured all over it. You can see where I cut out a corner to taste and the glaze collected in that corner... mercy me...
---2---It's totally a Catholic dessert because today is Ascension Thursday, forty days after Easter, when our Lord gave his disciples the Great Commission and returned to Heaven. I find the Liturgy of the Hours is perfect for celebrating days like this. You can read about a feast day, and think about it the mystery it commemorates, but praying psalms that were chosen to fit the day feels like you're doing it, celebrating the feast day, praising God for it.
Here's the piece I cut out of the cake.
Before Jesus ascended, he told his disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come. So they all gathered together in the upper room-- the disciples, Jesus' mother Mary, the other women, about 120 people in all-- and prayed for nine days, and the Spirit fell on them at the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which is now celebrated by Christians as a sort of birthday of the Church.
Check out the other side of the piece. The toffee glaze ran all over!
It's from those nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost that Catholics get the idea of a novena. Usually it's a set prayer asking for a particular grace or addressed to a particular saint, and it's called a novena because you pray it for nine days straight (novena = nine) . The first novena was the nine days the disciples prayed while waiting for the Holy Spirit, so the most popular novena today is to imitate them, praying on those same nine days for the gifts of the Spirit. It begins tomorrow, the day after Ascension Thursday, and ends on the vigil of Pentecost Sunday.
Did you want to see a close-up?
Here's a popular novena for the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, that he may perfect in my soul the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the spirit of wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the spirit of counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the spirit of fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the spirit of knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the spirit of piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the spirit of fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples, and animate me in all things with your Spirit. Amen.
There's a longer form of the novena to the Holy Spirit here.
Keep in mind, the cake was fresh from the oven and the caramel was fresh from being boiled when I poured it all over and spread it out. So you'll have to imagine this cake as very warm and moist and fragrant and DELICIOUS!
I can't neglect to mention that today is also the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. I can offer no opinion on whether the entire third secret has been released, or whether Russia has been consecrated or converted or both or neither. But it seems the main point of it all was the message that we need to pray and do penance for the salvation of souls, so that much I can understand.
I also know that after the sticky toffee cake served for hors d' oeuvres, my parents and I had a nice dinner of Swiss chard picked from the garden and chicken with rosemary polenta (the rosemary also came from the garden).
The Spurs just got swept by the Suns, so that's the end of their season. Thanks to my brilliant approach to sports fandom, detailed here, I avoided spending twelve hours of my life watching their defeat and I'll soon forget the humiliation.
Personally I'd like to see Doc Rivers coach against Alvin Gentry in the Finals. A Lakers/Celtics Finals would of course be interesting, but I'd rather not see either of them win it all, because then the Spurs wouldn't be the only team to have won multiple championships since 2003 (to pick a completely arbitrary year). :)
The cake disappeared fast.
If you want to make this cake yourself, be prepared to learn its real name. I don't understand all the fuss, but apparently there's a real prejudice out there against one of the ingredients.