Posted in Christian, Musique, Personal Musings

Voice of Hope

“So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’” (John 12:13)

While listening to the Scriptures being read out during the morning lauds, the verses always give a fresh burst of hope, promise and strength. Derived from the Hebrew “hoshi’a na,” (translated in Greek as “(h)osanna”) implied “to save” was viewed as a plea for help. It was an act of surrender for His Help when the potential impact of something that is about to happen or has happened is realized. When things go out of hand, we turn to His Saving Grace and His Mercy for help. Using “hosanna” as a cry of help, means that one deeply realizes that we need His Help and His Mercy for we are stretched beyond our limit.

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Psalms 118:26)

Reading through the New Testament, the Scriptures say of the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem uses Hosanna as a proclamation of own faith. With faith comes hope of new beginning. When palm branches were placed in His Path, it marked the beginning of not just the tradition of Palm Sunday but the beginning of a new Salvation and the proclamation of the same. From deep fear, uncertainty and concern, we have shifted to complete hope, trust, confidence and acceptance of His Word and His Faith. Hosanna here means, adoration and praise as well as a cry of thanksgiving for the gift of His Salvation.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” (John 5:24)

As the past few weeks or even months have shown us, each of us have been pleading for His Help, His Grace and His Comfort during this widespread pandemic. Along with our plea, is the gratitude for how far we have got through these difficult weeks. From being bestowed with blessings in many different forms, hopes being raised intermittent or close saves to being free of illness; these gifts no matter how small or little may seem to be, are signs of His Grace.

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:10)

Singing Hosanna from our homes and hearts should not just be cry for His Help, but also our cry of thanksgiving for His Help received and His Saving Grace. Though some of us may be still going through the lock-down phase, others bearing the effects of the illness, or of losses sustained; let us all bear in mind that His Strength would help us through.

While things have been bad, we have and will survive, especially to sing His Praise. For our Faith and His Salvation will help us through these days of now, and that of the future as well.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” (John 5:24)

Hosanna

I see the King of Glory
Coming on the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes, the whole earth shakes, yeah
I see His love and mercy
Washing over all our sin
The people sing, the people sing

Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith
I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees, we’re on our knees

Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Hosanna, Hosanna….

Excerpt from the song Hosanna by Hillsong Worship
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Brooke Ligertwood
Hosanna lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

Posted in Family and Society, Musique, Personal Musings, Random Thoughts, Reflections

More than Paper Chains

Although winter is approaching, the autumn flowers still linger in the fields. As a part of the Sunday church community service, the youth group along with the children had visited the old-age centre in the nearest town. While spending time with the elderly age group; among the reading aloud to them, unraveling the knitting and helping in general, few children had taken with them crepe paper to start on the Christmas decorations. As paper chains of flowers and simple artwork were being done, the Lyrics of the “Chain of Love” came to mind, one of the popular songs during my school years.

“‘You don’t owe me a thing
I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really wanna pay me back
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you'”…
( “The Chain of Love” is the third single from American country music singer Clay Walker’s album Live, Laugh, Love (January 2000). Lyrics were written by Rory Feek and Jonnie Barnett.)

This mid-tempo song , “The Chain of Love” narrates the story of three characters who, by helping each other in some way, form a “chain of love” amongst them. While hanging up the paper chains, each design was a reminder of the chains of love that we build amongst ourselves. One can chose not to make any chain, repair the torn chains with glue or make new designs everyday. Yet as the chains grow, they connect each one of us in a special way. While it may true that “what goes around, comes around”; know that life is not lived as a lone island. The gift of life, involves finding beauty in the world around us, sharing the joy and laughter and lending a helping hand, when felt or as required. As the chains connect us along the years, it brings to mind what life, time, love and kindness are all about.

The Chain Of Love
Clay Walker

He was driving home one evening
In his beat-up Pontiac
When an old lady flagged him down
Her Mercedes had a flat

He could see that she was frightened
Standing out there in the snow
‘Til he said ‘I’m here to help you, ma’m
By the way, my name’s Joe’

She said ‘I’m from St. Louis
And I’m only passing through
I must’ve seen a hundred cars go by
This is awful nice of you’

When he changed the tire
And closed her trunk
And was about to drive away
She said ‘How much do I owe you?’
Here’s what he had to say

‘You don’t owe me a thing
I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really wanna pay me back
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you’

Well, a few miles down the road
The lady saw a small cafe
She went in to grab a bite to eat
And then be on her way

But she couldn’t help but notice
How the waitress smiled so sweet
She must have been eight months
Along and dead on her feet

No, she didn’t know her story
And she probably never will
When the waitress went to get her
Change from a hundred dollar bill

The lady slipped right out the door
And on a nakpin left a note
There were tears in the waitress’ eyes
When she read what she’d wrote

‘You don’t owe me a thing
I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really wanna pay me back
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you’

That night when she got
Home from work
The waitress climbed into bed
She was thinking about the money
And what the lady’s note had said
As her husband lay there sleeping
She whispered soft and low
‘Everything’s gonna be alright
I love you, Joe’
(Source: Internet) 

Posted in Daily, Food, Musique, Stories Around the World

A Penny, A Bun…

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
– Roud Folk Song Index Number (13029)

Almost every parent, guardian or caregiver has heard of the predefined set of nursery rhymes (ranging from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to Ba Ba Black Sheep), especially when trying to make the young mind learn a bit of the English language, rhymes and songs. The above song “Hot Cross Bun” is no stranger to the set of these rhymes. However it was the smell of freshly baked buns (butter buns, fruit buns mainly) from the bakery near my workplace that would account for the sudden thoughts of “Hot Cross Bun” ( originally an English street cry) being dredged up from the grey cells. Like those memories that linger, thoughts of a pot of tea with fresh buns do enter the list of sudden urges for the taste buds occasionally.

This spiced sweet bun usually made with fruit and traditionally marked with a cross (as sugar toppings or partially sliced through) was associated with the end of Lent and is usually eaten on Good Friday. At times, spices are also added. These days hot cross buns are available all year round at most places, even in the supermarket chains with varieties like toffee, orange-cranberry, salted caramel and chocolate, apple-cinnamon, coffee flavoured, white chocolate and raspberry, banana and caramel, sticky date and the list goes on to being more creative and flavoured in certain bakeries and delis.

The exact origin of “hot cross buns” was historically believed to be associated with the rise of Christianity. During the Lent period, plain buns were made without any dairy products and eaten hot or toasted. Although archaeological evidence suggest that the Greeks (6th century) may have marked cakes with a cross. While one theory states that the Hot Cross Bun originated when where Brother Thomas Rodcliffe, a 14th Century monk at St Albans Abbey (1361), developed a recipe (similar to hot cross bun) called an ‘Alban Bun’ and distributed them to the local poor on Good Friday.  Though the London street cry,”Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns”, which had appeared in Poor Robin’s Almanac (1733) was the first ever definite record of hot cross buns. On trying to trace if these buns were made earlier than 18th century London, records of recipes come to a blank.

More of interest are the numerous traditions and beliefs surrounding these “hot cross” buns. While one says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow mouldy during the subsequent year, others encourage keeping these buns purely for medicinal purposes or are carried along for long sea voyages to protect against shipwreck. Few kitchens may have a “hanging hot cross bun” which gets replaced every year, done so as to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out to be perfect and exquisite.

Be it the Lent season or not, hot cross buns are one of the best spiced buns are to have, especially hot or toasted ( or cold as per preference). The more the variety, the better. Moreover, one doesn’t need to wait for the right time to indulge that heavenly taste and flavour. With creative flavourings on the rise, these buns are definitely worth a try.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Musique, Reflections, Uncategorized

Through Uncertain Times

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

As I was stacking up the old newspapers for recycling; amidst them was last year’s calendar. With the accompanying monthly pictures being beautiful, I hadn’t discarded it but kept it aside to cut them out. With the pending task being accomplished, I leafed through the months and the tiny notes along the dates. “School reopening”, doctors’ appointment, “sports’ dates”, local functions aref ew of the many red or green inked circles that were scattered through the year.

“For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:33

Looking back, I felt blessed by His Grace and the countless ways He had kept watch over us and the daily happenings. At times, the feeling of wonder strikes as one realizes long after the difficult situations were over, how God had stood over our lives, guiding us with His Hand and by His Word. The relocation to a new place of work, new school year, family weddings and many more; all the big events within the family were felt big and difficult in those days; but went smooth largely due to His Grace and Blessings.

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” Martin Luther

Many a time, some of the changes in life may be forced. An unforeseen work related transfer, opportunity to pursue higher studies, ill health and the like. Though decisions are made, they mayn’t work out. Yet once we place it in His Hands and be prepared to do things as they come; then things start falling into place and happening at the right time. Eventually when the obstacle had been crossed, one realizes the true magnificence of His Grace, His Power and His Love. Man being man mayn’t foresee many things. How much more better it would be ], when we put everything in His Hands, put in our efforts and await His Will to show us the way.

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

“….I am one of those who are determined to go to the end.
I will not slow down the pace, I will not look back, but I will praise Christ.
I will not give up, do not shut up,
Do not weaken and do not burn.
I will not finish praying, with Christ I stand.

I am one of those who firmly decided to go to the end.
I can not stop, do not buy, do not hold.
And when He comes to pick up his own, he will recognize me,
Because I am one of those who have come to the end.

And if the salt loses its power that will replace it?
And lit a candle, do not put it under a vessel.
Here I am before You, use me for Your glory
On earth, Jesus, let Thy will be done

Olga Yatsenko ( few lines of Poetry/lyrics of “Till the End”, translated to English)

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Musique, Stories Around the World

Of Summers and Picnics

Although “eating outdoors” may have been a part of civilization since the beginning, the concept of enjoying a picturesque relaxed lunch were in fad post French revolution (1789) when the royal parks were opened to the French public. This concept saw a gradual evolution with hunting parties, Renaissance era country feasts and Victorian garden parties, especially the latter as grand occasions complete with tables, chairs, linens, crystals, catering and gourmet food to top it. Known as “pique-nique” (France, 1794) then, this event turned out to be a social calendar earmarked occasion, catching the trend across Europe and became officially known as “picnic”.

The tales of Robin Hood are one of the first accounts of picnicking when Robin with his band of Merry Men would dine informally under the shelter of trees. The concept of “picnicking” once started had caught on with picnic societies, long picnics as well as “picnic fashion” and “themed social picnics” being created. With International Picnic Day today (June 18th) and to get the most reluctant picnic goers out there, here are a few picnic trivia around the world to get one started.

To have a superb picnics with cushions, rugs and furniture, one would have to go to Turkey, where the trend was initiated. Along with comfort, games and string lighting; a potluck-style selection of stuffed veggies, grilled meats and desserts are often brought. Towards nightfall, picnics still going on turn into bonfires complete with music, dancing and raki (Turkish licorice-flavored alcohol).

Enjoying the National Picnic Week held each June in Britain, it would be incomplete without the Scotch Egg. One of the most iconic picnic foods created towards the late 18th century, these fried sausage-wrapped boiled eggs were easy to be eaten on the road. Other choices like pasta salad, fish and chips, potato salad, deviled eggs, cheese, brownies, cookies, sandwiches, subs and many more form form the huge list of picnic foods which taste good when served cold.

Picnics in the French outdoors especially Bastille Day involves fine dining especially as far as wines are concerned. Plastic cups spoil the flavour and aroma of wine with fresh air. On a personal front, keeping plastic to a minimum and enjoying reusable Tupperware will make the outdoor dining more enjoyable and nature safe.

To enjoy Christmas picnics, the Argentinian beaches would be good place to start. Holidays outdoors are celebrated complete with roasted or barbecued turkey or goat. Going north, Americans enjoy picnics specially on the Fourth of July where along with competitive races, three legged races and other picnic games; speed eating contests of pies, watermelons, burgers and the like have become the major “game attraction”.

While cherry blossoms or “hanami” announce the Japanese picnicking season; the Italians prefer Easter Monday, known as Angel’s Monday or Pasquetta as picnic time. One of the most iconic picnics was the Pan-European Picnic (August 19, 1989) where picnics were held with hundreds of East Germans grabbed the opportunity to cross into Austria. Weeks later Hungary had opened the border, the Iron Curtain had been breached, and on 9th November the Berlin Wall came down. While croquet, soccer, and badminton are common picnic games; kubb is a regular game in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. This lawn game is a mix between bowling and chess, where players attempt to knock over wooden blocks called kubbs with wooden batons.

With the great outdoor weather, it would be remiss to lose out on the opportunity to go back to childhood, capture the bliss of the summer skies and comfort food, while finding peace in the midst of nature. The only catch is to enjoy, being nature safe and eco-friendly. As the best things of life are captured by moments and memories; the essence to living is to make more and enjoy them too.

“If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down in the woods today, you’d better go in disguise
For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain
Because today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic

Every teddy bear who’s been good is sure of a treat today
There’s lots of marvellous things to eat and wonderful games to play
Beneath the trees where nobody sees they’ll hide and seek as long as they please

That’s the way the teddy bears have their picnic “

….The Teddy Bear’s Picnic by Henry Hall

Posted in Daily, Food, Musique, Stories Around the World

Evolution of the “Accidental Fudge”

“Sandra turned to the page with the title “Toklas’ Hashich Fudge.” The original hashish brownies. ‘Peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, stone dates, dried figs, shelled almonds, peanuts,… A bunch of canibus sativa can be pulverized. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts… it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient…” – Allegra Goodman, The Cookbook Collector

Like most of the “delectable sweet pleasures of the palate “, this sugar candy made flavoured with choclate, fruits, nuts and other flavours; had hot or cold has made its’ own mark in the sweet world. These days, various flavours of “fudge” are made, giving them a vibrant as well as visual appeal to the eyes and the palate.

Technically, fudge is made by mixing sugar, butter and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage and then beating the mixture while it cools down to get a smooth, creamy consistency with fruits, nuts, chocolate, caramel, candies and other flavoring agents being added either inside or on top. Yet the true origins of “fudge” can’t be exactly traced, though it’s believed to have been originated and gained popularity in late 19th century America. However popular belief among food historians was that the first batch was an accidental “fudged” batch of caramels; hence the name “fudge”.

 

A letter in the archives of Vasser College (1921) written by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge reveals the first documentation of “fudge”. Emelyn wrote that her schoolmate’s cousin made fudge in Baltimore (1886) and sold it for 40 cents a pound. This was the first known sale of fudge. In 1888, Miss Hartridge asked for the fudge recipe, and made 30 pounds of fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction. The recipe was very popular at the school from that point forward. The diary of another student mentions making “fudges” in 1892.

What is it that we love the best,
Of all the candies east or west,
Although to make them is a pest?
Fudges. **

 

An 1893 letter from another Vassar College student describes “fudges” as containing sugar, chocolate, milk and butter. “Fudges at Vassar” was a recipe printed in The Sun (1895) describing the confections as “Vassar chocolates”, which comprises of sugar, milk, butter and vanilla extract. Fudge became a new confection after word spread to other women’s colleges of the tasty delight. Later, Smith and Wellesley schools each developed their own recipe for fudge. Later fudge-making evolved a variety of flavors and additives as it grew beyond its popularity at colleges.

What perches us upon a chair
To stir a sauce-pan held in air,
Which, tipping, pours upon our hair —
Fudges. **

While the first recipe specified butter, milk and sugar, today, American fudge often differs with whipped cream instead of butter and the addition of chocolate flavouring. There are different types of similar recipes to “fudge” across the globe with the Indian “Barfi”, Polish “Krówki” ( Polish fudge, semi-soft milk toffee candies), the Italian “Penuche” which is a fudge-like candy made from brown sugar, butter, milk and vanilla flavouring; as well as the Scottish “Tablet” (taiblet in Scots). Tablet is a medium-hard, sugary confection made from sugar, condensed milk and butter, brought boiled to a soft-ball stage and allowed to crystallise. It is often flavoured with vanilla or whisky, and sometimes has nut pieces in it.

The versatility of fudge is that it can be had alone cold, or served on top of sundaes,  ice cream and even cakes as hot fudge. With various assortment, variety and fun in the process of fudge making; little wonder then that “a set of ditties”  (**) were made by the college girls during and for the “fudge making process”. On the occasion of National Fudge Day (June 16th), it would be time for some fun, rhymes and sweet cooking for all the “home kitchen chefs” or tasting for the food connoisseurs.

What needs more stirring than oat-mush,
And more still when we’re in a rush,
But what’s e’en sweeter than a “crush”?
Fudges.

What subtle odor doth recall,
To artless minds that “long-owed call,”
On the sweet maiden up the hall?
Fudges. **

 

Posted in Daily, Food, Musique, Stories Around the World

“Rocky Road” When On the Go

“I am not plain, or average or – God forbid – vanilla. I am peanut butter rocky road with multicolored sprinkles, hot fudge and a cherry on top.” Wendy Mass

Imagine a sewing scissors, ice cream and the whole house to oneself. As per one source, when William Dreyer of Oakland, California ( March 1929) had eyed these items on a spring day; he had cut up some walnuts and marshmallows and added them to his chocolate ice cream; similar to his friend Joseph Edy’s chocolate candy creation with walnuts and marshmallows. Later walnuts were replaced by pieces of toasted almonds. Variations of this combination with add on of nuts, whole or diced and even flavoured marshmallows with chocolate ice cream ( no choclate chips in the original one) had led to the creation of “rocky road ice cream”.

Post the era of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Dreyer and Edy gave the flavor its current name “to give folks something to smile about in the midst of the Great Depression.” Another claim to this creation was by Fentons Creamery, Oakland who stated that Dreyer based his recipe on a Rocky Road-style ice cream flavor invented there by George Farren. The latter had blended his own Rocky Road-style candy bar into ice cream which Dreyer had modified.

“I hope your only rocky road is chocolate.” Amanda Mosher

While in Australia (1853), the “rocky road” was created. Rocky road was a type of cake made up of milk chocolate and marshmallow which is usually served in individual portions such as a cupcake or brownie. With exact origins debatable, the rocky road was created as a way to sell confectionery which had lost it’s flavour during the long trip from Europe and was mixed with locally-grown nuts and cheap chocolate to enhance the taste. As per this account, the name “rocky road” comes from the rocky road that travelers had to take to reach the gold fields. Although, many companies based in the Americas have laid claim to this creation as well.

Rocky road has it’s own variations as per the local flavour. With the traditional Australian rocky road being made of glace cherries, milk chocolate (sometimes dark or white chocolate), desiccated coconut, nuts (mostly peanuts) and marshmallow; Bahrain’s rocky road has milk chocolate, Nutella and pistachios. Moving west ward bound, the traditional British Rocky Road (1971) contains dried fruit, biscuit, milk chocolate ( rarely substituted by dark or white chocolate) with a light dusting of icing sugar over it.

Regardless of the type of Rocky road, whether as store bought or homemade cake, brownies, ice cream or served as topping over coffee, hot chocolate, sundaes or other sweet combinations; missing out on this delight before the summer comes to an end would be sinful. With foodimentarians celebrating tomorrow as National Rocky Road Day ( June 2nd); it would be fun, creative as well as a palatal delight to indulge in this delectable dessert for a change.

“I hear those ice cream bells and I start to drool,
Keep a couple quarts in my locker at school
Yeah, but chocolate’s gettin’ old,
And vanilla just leaves me cold,
There’s just one flavor good enough for me, yeah me,
Don’t gimme no crummy taste spoon, I know what I need, baby
I love rocky road,
So won’t you go and buy a half gallon baby
I love rocky road,
So have another triple scoop with me, OW!”

Lyrics of “I Love Rocky Road” by “Weird Al” Yankovic (1983)