Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Iced Pumpkin Cookies!

I made these cookies for my weekly Bible study snack last night, and they were a hit with most of the Newman Center crowd! Many asked for me to share the recipe, so I thought I would post it here so everyone can enjoy these tasty, but easy to make, treats! I found the original recipe online, but altered it a bit because some of the spices are pretty expensive. Hope you enjoy!

Iced Pumpkin Cookies
Deliciousness larger than pictured.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (you can fudge this number to your taste preference)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze Icing:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to this mixture, and beat until creamy. 
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture while mixing. The dough will be thick, but smooth.
  5. Drop rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. I just used two spoons to form little cookie lumps.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. (*For the inexperienced baker, try 15 minutes to start - you don't want to over-bake your cookies!)
  7. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet or a cooling rack.
  8. While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze icing.
    1. Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add additional milk if needed to maintain drizzling consistency, but you shouldn't need this unless you make the icing in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
  9. Once the cookies are cool to the touch, use a form to drizzle the glaze on top of the cookies. 
  10. Voila! You have a delicious treat with which wow your friends! This recipe makes 36 large cookies, or about 50-60 regular size cookies.
Liesl's Special Trick:

To keep the cookies soft and moist - even after a couple of days - place them in a covered container soon after they have cooled.

For some of my cookies, I let them cool about an hour before drizzling with icing, while I drizzled the icing on straight out of the oven so it had a melted glaze look for other cookies.

After I glazed them, I stored them in a covered container in layers separated by wax paper, refrigerating each layer for a few minutes to cool the glaze so they didn't stick to the paper. Covering the cookies soon while they are still fresh helps them maintain their soft, moist consistency for a couple of days.

Friday, November 11, 2011

So Others May Live

Getting ready to play at an Honor Flight
I have been playing with a community band since I moved to the DC area. Part of our service to the community is to play concerts at Honor Flight arrivals, summer parks, retirement communities, and military remembrance days in the city. As part of this, we almost always salute the military by playing an Armed Forces Salute. Whenever we play this piece, we invite members of the audience who have served to stand and be recognized when their branch's tune starts to play. We honor the United States Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard, and there are always at least a few men and women who stand for each salute.

More than water police.
It's seeing the veterans stand so proudly, yet humbly, that always gets me choked up. Despite our country's many shortfalls, we are so blessed to live in a society where people are willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of each of us and others throughout the world.

I'd like to say that I've always recognized the great importance of all of our branches of the military, but this is not the case. I've always had a basic understanding of the missions of each of the combat-oriented branches (Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy) and respected their service and sacrifice during times of war, but I have to admit that whenever the Coast Guard song began to play, I'd wonder in my head, What does the Coast Guard even do? Aren't they like the water police?

I like to think that my innocent naivete is adorable, but I think that only passes when you're six years old.

Then I came across a great movie called The Guardian, which really helped me to learn more about the sacrifices that our men and women in the Coast Guard make each day.
Click here to purchase on Amazon.
Definitely not one of the reasons I
enjoyed this movie...
This movie, starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, is about the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers, who live by the motto "So others may live." Ben Randall (Costner) is a legendary rescue swimmer that is asked to train new recruits after suffering a tragedy in the field. There, he encounters the young (and only slightly attractive) Jake Fischer (Kutcher), who first appears to be more interested in breaking records than in saving lives, but he actually has deeper reasons for joining the USCG. Not only does this story follow how these characters deal with suffering loss and guilt, but it provides a perspective of the intense training required to become a rescue swimmer. Many of the extras are actual rescue swimmers, as the film worked closely with the USCG to try to accurately portray the lives of these men and women (Kutcher actually went through the training himself so he could be physically fit enough for filming). The bonus features include interviews with many rescue swimmers and their families, who detail the challenges they face but also the rewards they find in their calling.

I enjoyed this movie for many reasons. Not only was it an entertaining film, but it really helped me to learn more about the Coast Guard. Most importantly, I think it also brought up some great themes.

We often forget the importance and loving quality of sacrifice, except for the occasional "say thanks to our military" days and the times we really reflect on the Cross. One of the commanding officers tells the new recruits in the movie, "You get the chance to save lives - and there is no greater calling in the world than that."

No greater calling.

I know it's just a movie, but many of the men and women in our military just seem to get it. There is no greater calling in the world than to love one another, and that sometimes means laying down one's life to save the life of another (John 15:13). The movie begins and ends with a similar quote that also ties into this theme:
There is a legend of a man who lives beneath the sea. He is a fisher of men, a last hope for all those who've been left behind. He is know as the Guardian.
The real Fisher of Men is not a legend, but a real, true, actual, living last hope for all those that have been left behind. He is the Guardian of our souls, helping to carry us up from the deep, dark, turbulent waters to the enlightened surface. This Guardian - Jesus Christ - died so that others may live.

On this memorial for our Veterans, let's pause to thank those in the military who have served, especially those who have had to make great sacrifices so that others can live. Pray for those who need protection, as well as for those who protect us. Yet, let us also take a moment to remember the ultimate sacrifice that has been made so that all of us may have the chance to live in the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven forever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Submit to Being Submissive

This past week at Bible study, we got a bit off topic - as usual - and the discussion led to that "infamous" passage in St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
Wives should be submissive* to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is submissive to Christ, so wives should be submissive to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
*This word is translated differently depending on what translation you use, sometimes as "subordinate" or "subject". While these words are all synonyms, I am using "submissive" in this case because it is easier to see the point!

These words have a tendency to make feminists cry out in protest, and the average woman in the pew uneasily shift in her seat. People who hear this passage read at weddings start to squirm, thinking, What is this woman signing herself up to do?! Many priests just avoid preaching about this passage altogether, and some that I've heard mention it in passing just to reassure women that Paul doesn't actually mean that you have to submit to your husband, and they leave it at that.

I used to be one of those squirming pew-sitters. Love my husband? Sure. Make sacrifices for him? I can do that. But be submissive? That seems a bit extreme.

It was when I became more interested in learning more about my Catholic faith, encountering Theology of the Body and the role of the Church, that I realized that when Paul writes that "wives should be submissive to their husbands," he actually means it. Scripturally, this is not a unique concept:
  • Wives should be submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited. (Titus 2:5)
  • Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands. (1 Peter 3:1)
  • So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.(1 Peter 3:5)
  • But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor 11:3)
  • Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Col 1:18)

However, Paul takes it to the next level and explains in Ephesians exactly what it means for a wife to be submissive to her husband.

The word "submissive" translates to "under the mission of", and so for a wife to be submissive to her husband means that she puts herself under the mission of her husband.

So what is this mission of the husband?

Paul explains that the mission of the husband is to love his wife, as Christ loves the Church. Loving her to the point of making a complete, total, and free gift of self for her good. Loving her by making whatever sacrifices are necessary so that she is made holier, to help her to get to Heaven. Loving her as he loves his own self, by nourishing her and cherishing her. Self-sacrificial love for his wife is the mission of the husband, and the wife is to be submissive to his love.

This kind of submissive? I can totally submit to that idea.

It is only when we take this passage of Scripture in context and "speak in reference to Christ and the church" that the idea of a wife being submissive to her husband doesn't sound so repulsive to the modern female. On the contrary, it sounds kind of perfect. Sign me up!

Since I learned Paul's meaning in this letter, I have had a few opportunities to share my excitement over this knowledge with others. This isn't a new interpretation, but one that seems to get passed over in Christian circles today. You could see the lights click on for others in the room when our priest explained this passage to our Bible study group. We even had a Protestant joining us this past week, and he remarked that he had never thought about the passage in that way, but found this interpretation enlightening and refreshing.

This is when it clicked for me - why I, and many others, never really encounter the true meaning of Paul's words. I was raised Catholic, but I hardly ever encountered the idea of the Church as the living Bride of Christ. While most Protestant denominations recognize "a church", they don't recognize the Church as Christ's beloved.

The Catholic Church: She's not just a building.
When we are not taught, forget, or completely lose the meaning of the role of the Church as Christ's wife, we are missing out. Protestant denominations are especially lacking, as it is difficult to fathom this passage in such a positive, loving light because they don't witness the Church as the mystical body of Christ. In order to not read this passage as a slight slap in the female face, you have to understand that Christ didn't just give a complete gift of himself to each of us as individuals, but instead to his Bride, the Church. This beloved Bride continues to live as the body of Christ today, continuing to openly receive Christ's total gift of love. The Church continues to submit herself to the mission of Christ, just as a wife should be submissive to her husband. In this light, this is the only way that Paul's words make sense. As members of the body of Christ, it should be our mission to submit our hearts to the mission of Christ, which is carried out each day in his Bride, the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sisters, Sisters!

Here's a little humor for your Tuesday morning to help you get through the week, as well as a little preview to some of the fun things that happened this past weekend.

Enjoy a little comedy from Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye from White Christmas... and if you haven't ever seen this movie - what are you waiting for?! Get on it! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

What happens when...

... you put three #cathsorority ladies in the same city?

I'm not sure, but I bet we'll have the answer after this weekend!

Elizabeth, Trista, and I are meeting up for the first time, attending an NFP seminar together, and enjoying some well-mannered frivolity. People will speak of this epic meeting of the minds for years to come.
Not drawn to scale. We are not really that large compared to the DC/VA area.
I am also sure that some slight craziness will ensue. (If you hear reports of earthquake-like tremors in the DC/VA area, it's probably not due to the shifting of tectonic plates, but from the epic mash-up of the three of us.)

I even had the opportunity to meet and spend the evening with Elizabeth last night, where I introduced her to Cincinnati chili:
Fine cuisine, imported from exotic Ohio.
Word on the street is that she loved it! It was fun to spend the evening talking and hanging out - we get along in real life, and not just in blog world! Huzzah!

I am sure we will have many interesting and/or exciting stories, as well as new things we learn at our seminar, to share with you all after this weekend. Hopefully we will have some great pictures of the three of us together to post as well, to prove that this epic meet up really did happen.

I hope you have a great weekend, as I am sure we will have a blast hanging out together!
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