The green table is moving! I'll begin posting again after we're all set up in our new home!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Celebrating Stir-Up Sunday

Advent begins today - 11/27/11 - and I hope you took special note of the Collect this morning at church.  Yes, the Collect! You know, that little prayer near the beginning of the service, the one that "collects" all of the readings together into a single theme. I know. I'm crazy for being in a tizzy over the Collect, but if you listened carefully, I know you heard it.

"Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever."

"Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come"!  Do you know about Stir-Up Sunday?  It was quite a revelation to me when I first read about it a couple years ago.  Following the Collect, tradition dictates that the first Sunday in Advent, or Stir-Up Sunday, is the day to prepare the Christmas pudding.  Making it early allows all of Advent for this dense cake-like pudding to marinate in brandy while waiting for the big day! 
Our "Stir-Up" did in fact include 13 ingredients - if you don't include water or Pete's Cheerios!

Stir-Up Sunday isn't just making pudding then waiting!  I've uncovered all sorts meaning included in the process of creating this dessert.  First, the recipe calls for a lot of rich ingredients to recall the many good gifts of our Lord.  More specifically, families often used 13 ingredients, one for each apostle plus Christ. The batter is to be "stirred up" by every member of the family, and even the baby takes part because the more it's stirred the better. Strokes should be stirred from east to west, recalling the journey of the Magi.  My personal favorite, always use a wooden spoon for stirring - to remember baby Jesus' lowly manger.  Sometimes a little prize or coin is also baked into the pudding, sort of like the Marti Gras King's Cake.  After the pudding is baked, it is drenched, "I said drrrenched, and I meant drrrrenched!" (please let me know if you know THAT quote and you will have won my heart!) - yes, drenched in booze to ensure a very merry Christmas!  Still, most of the alcohol is only for preservation and flavor because the best part comes on Christmas day.  After dinner, the long awaited pudding is reheated, turned out on a metal tray and set aflame!  This represents come coming of Jesus - the light of the world! 
Adelae and her wooden spoon!
Wonderful!  I love it!  There is only one downfall. It tastes terrible. 

I made Christmas pudding last year using an old traditional recipe (sans the traditional suet!). My research included consulting a professional chef to understand the proper steaming method and making my own candied citrus peel. Let me tell you, I really, really, REALLY wanted this pudding to be the most delicious bite ever tasted!  No.  It was just terrible!  Just because our taste buds are a little different today than they were "of yore" doesn't mean we should throw away the lovely tradition of stirring-up on the first day of Advent. 

If you have a family Christmas Pudding recipe, and love it, then please understand I don't mean to offend.  Please use it!  If not, read on for my modern Stir-Up Sunday twist.

As much as I'd like a peaceful and penitent Advent, reality dictates that it's only going to get crazier and crazier as Christmas nears.  This year, instead of stirring our pudding, we be stirred up some cookie dough.  Why not take advantage of our new fangled preservation technology - the freezer! Stirring up the dough and rolling it into logs for freezer storage will allow me to bake off the cookies as I need them.  Work ahead, stir from east to west using your favorite wooden spoon.  Let everyone lend a hand!  Just consider waiting to bake - and to eat - them !

Photo: Scrumptious Company

Get out your favorite cookie recipe - all of the baking ingredients are on sale this week for Thanksgiving, so load up now!  We stirred up a batch of my favorite, Scrumptious Company's Gooy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies! (Click for the recipe!) Andy's favorite Coconut Bon Bons would also keep well in the freezer.  Cut-out dough may be another good choice for freezing.  Alternatively, some classic Christmas cookies, such as pfeffernusse, improve with age, so bake them right after you Stir-Up!
Adelae "Stirring the Pot"!
Make sure to prepare your children for the big "Stir-Up Sunday" event too!  We read the Collect before church and gave a nudge to listen carefully for it. Explain that the Holy Spirit is stirring up our hearts during this season of Advent, preparing us for the coming of our Savior, baby Jesus!  There is nothing sweeter than seeing your little one excitedly "stir the pot" during the Collect, I promise.  Just don't blame me if they get too crazy!

Hot Out of the Oven
Gooy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies! I can't wait to bake ours!
Photo: Scrumptious Company

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