After an incredibly trying church service (in which the newly walking Marguerite Kiemde strutted her developmental stuff, doing laps to the front of the church to the choir, out the side door to the street, around the corner to the front steps, toddling up and back inside, and then repeating the entire procedure with me closely behind, celebrating her steps, trying to stay calm, and avoid any judgmental? stares.) If you can imagine: I came home a bit beleaguered.
(How to parent in church? What does an enriching mass experience look like for a young family without a cry room or child-care center? What fine line exists between cultivating a child's physical/ emotional/ developmental stages appropriately, alongside her spiritual sensibilities? If I am not "fed" spiritually, as my child's mom, how do I ever nurture my babe?... That's another blog in and of itself!)
I turn to how Mags and I made "church" at home, after our early departure from Ascension (post-homily/ pre-Eucharist.) In a phrase we found God in: Fried. Green. Tomatoes.
This past week on facebook there was a whole strand about this delicious summer fare that included several exchanges from my Aunts Marian and Peg and their Osmond/Colorado friend Audrey Wanke Dummer. I asked for recipe ideas, and I got them. And today, after the above described nearly God-less mass, I came home and adapted these cooking ideas, using fresh green tomatoes from my own garden, and tried to channel as much love and family and Jesus as I could into the experience.
I share these recipes with you now, smiling, with a sleeping baby; both she and I with full, happy bellies.
Fried Green Tomatoes
4-6 hard, green tomatoes
I began by frying a half a pound of applewood smoked bacon in a skillet. Once browned and crisped, I removed the bacon, placing it on a large paper-towel lined platter, that I would use for the fried tomatoes. I reserved the hot bacon drippings for frying my green tomatoes.
I cut the tomatoes pretty thin, between 1/8 and a 1/4 inches, salting them, and then soaking them in buttermilk, covering them in the cayenne pepper/ garlic salt flour mixture, and adding panko crumbs for extra crunch, before putting each in the hot bacon fat. I was working this assembly line as quickly as possible with messy fingers, and thanking God for a content Marguerite in her high chair (eating a banana and playing with a clean feta cheese container.)
I fried these till they were golden brown, and appreciated the way bits of bacon adhered to the panko crust. Delish!!
Note: I totally ripped this recipe off from Paula Deen, when I was doing research for the best item to accompany said green tomatoes. (Buttermilk dressing? Spicy mustard? In a sandwich? I didn't know how exactly I was going to EAT the tomatoes once fried.) This sauce rocked!
Sweet Onion Relish Sauce
Half of a sweet onion, chopped and cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Paula adds sugar to hers; I didn't. I prepared this onion mixture and served it next to the tomatoes. Maggie then climbed up on my lap and we gobbled up the dish. (Well, mostly, I gobbled up, and she alternated showing me her shoeless and shoed foot.)
Today, I experienced service in a literal way, at Church of the Ascension in north Minneapolis, (in all of its parenting complexity) alongside a more figurative celebration: in my kitchen and at my dining table with my daughter, and the company of women and men who have grown and prepared fried green tomatoes in our family. It was a most nurturing kind of meal that buoys who I am as parent.