Sunday, February 03, 2008

Celebrating Shrove Tuesday

I have a guest blogger today, Amy from Kenosha, who's visited our church plant a few times. She shared with me that her family has developed some traditions for celebrating Shrove Tuesday--also known as Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day, Paczki Day, and Fasnacht Day, because it's a day to get rid of the all the rich foods, like eggs and sugar, which you wouldn't be eating during the fast of Lent (back in the days when everyone observed it more strictly). ("Shrove" is the past tense of "shrive," which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by confessing and doing penance--part of the preparation for the season of Lent).

We've never really celebrated Shrove Tuesday, so I was eager to hear from Amy! She says they often invite another family over to celebrate with them.

Well, it wouldn't be Shrove Tuesday for us without pancakes. We especially love the Banana Sour Cream Pancakes! We round out the meal with a Sausage and Egg Casserole, fruit, and OJ Smoothies. (Recipes below.)

Before dinner is served, we roll pretzels as a fun treat with ancient origins as a Lenten fasting bread. I try to make up the dough ahead of time, so that we can just spend time rolling and shaping; even the littlest ones can join in with a small piece of dough to play with. I was fascinated that the religious origins date back to the fourth century when the faithful kept a very strict fast all through Lent: no milk, no butter, no cheese, no eggs, no cream and no meat. They, instead, made small breads of water, flour and salt, and to remind themselves that Lent was a time of prayer, they shaped these breads in the form of arms crossed in prayer. The breads were called "little arms" (bracellae) which later became our pretzel. (See recipe below; of course, butter and cinnamon sugar are not for those on a strict fast!)

Last year we also planted seeds in a pot we kept by the window sill in the kitchen to help our little ones visualize life springing from death. Watching and tending the plant day by day as it sprouted and grew was much like an advent calendar.

During the meal I print Easter coloring pages for the little ones who may get antsy during Scripture readings and prayer. We also play the "40 Game Quiz: Can you name all the references to 40 in Scripture?" The one who names the most gets a fitting prize of chocolate that should be eaten immediately!!

During the meal we also review the history and purpose of Lent. We share the ways Lent has been meaningful to us in the past and share how we hope to spend the next 40 days in repentance and renewal.

We end with readings from Scripture and close in prayer. Many times we read the Ash Wednesday lectionary so that we are prepared to fully enter the service the next day. (Psalm 103; Joel 2:1-2,12-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21). For the prayer time, we begin with a litany of penitence and then close in silent prayer:

Prayer for a Season of Prayer, Fasting, and Penitence

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, the all-holy one, who gives us life and all things. As we go about our lives, the press of our duties and activities often leads us to forget your presence and your love. We fall into sin and fail to live out the responsibilities that you have entrusted to those who were baptized into your Son.

In this holy season, help us to turn our minds and hearts back to you. Lead us into sincere repentance and renew our lives with your grace. Help us to remember that we are sinners, but even more, help us to remember your loving mercy. May our worship and prayer and penitence this day be sustained throughout these 40 days of Lent. Bring us refreshed and renewed to the celebration of Christ's resurrection at Easter. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

For more on the history and practices of Shrove Tuesday:

Maria Augusta Trapp explains the origin of the time of feasting and revelry between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, as well as the traditions associated with this time.

Dennis Bratcher gives an overview of the entire Season of Lent, beginning with Shrove Tuesday or Carnival.


Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Copyright 2003, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All rights reserved

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.

Sausage and Egg Casserole

1 lb of Jimmy Deans Hot Sausage
6 slices white bread
6 eggs
2 cups of milk
Optional: tsp of dry mustard
16 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Brown and chop 1lb of the spicy sausage. Spray Pam on a 13X9 pan (metal or glass). Put 6 slices of white bread on the bottom of the pan (they can slightly overlap). Spoon the cooked sausage over the bread.

In a separate bowl, mix 6-7 eggs, 2 cups of milk, and a teaspoon of dry mustard. Pour over the sausage. Sprinkle 16 oz of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Then put the pan in the refrigerator to chill. You can chill overnight. Then once you are ready to cook, bake for 40-45 minutes on 350 degrees.

Orange Smoothie

1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup white sugar
10 cubes ice

In a blender, combine orange juice concentrate, milk, water, vanilla, sugar and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

Soft Pretzels

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt

1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.

2. Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan.

3. After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.

Note: When forming the ropes, roll each one to about half the length you want, then set it aside while you roll the rest. By the time you get back to the first rope, it will have rested enough to roll further.

Thanks so much, Amy!! I look forward to trying that pancake recipe!

Kerry at A Ten O'Clock Scholar has some great Shrove Tuesday suggestions too, so stop by!


Kerry - A Ten O'Clock Scholar said...

Amy - excellent post! Thanks, Jeanne, for sharing your friend with us. My only question is - why isn't Amy blogging? :)

Such a treasure trove of good ideas, Amy. Thank you!

(And thanks for the link, Jeanne)

jennifer said...

A few other etymology thoughts regarding Shrove Tuesday. As you say, "shrove" is from the Old English, "to shrive," or to hear confessions. It is also related to the Latin "scribere" or "to write." From the Latin, we get the English "enscribe" and "scribble."

At our little Anglican Church on Shrove Tuesday this year, we had a traditional pancake supper and also offered the opportunity for "enscribing" or "scribbling" (depending upon your age : ) ) a confession or a commitment to a lenten discipline. It was a very moving part of preparation for a Holy Lent.