Thursday, December 25, 2008

Oh, and...I nearly forgot!!!!

Merry Christmas!

Flambee or Flambe?


Over the past couple months, Sr. Caprice has been trying to teach me how to cook. I thought I mastered the art of microwaving, however I quickly discovered that God did not present me with the passion for the preparation of processing provisions. As Sr. Caprice explained, I was the cause of the catastrophe.

It all started a couple months ago after everyone came back from their day out (and my free-day in the Monastery - are we EVER going to give this place a name?). Sr. Caprice freaked out because of a bug that was found in the hallway. She grabbed a can of Raid in one of the closets and nearly asphyxiated us by spraying nearly the entire can on one small harmless ant. She thought it was empty and mindlessly left it on the kitchen counter during one of our cooking sessions. The next day I was going through one of her cookbooks and saw a really cool recipe for Carmelized Bananas (also called flambe - I pronounced it like flum-bee, like a bumble bee). I wasn't sure what a 'flambe' was, but caramelized bananas sounded like a great treat on ice cream for a hot summer day.

So when she and Mother Frangelico went out to do the gardening, I was in charge of making lunch. Normally for lunch we have sandwiches or leftovers, which I heat up in the microwave - no problem, right? Wrong!

The Recipe:

4 bananas
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. cognac
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. Tia Maria
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 oranges
Rind of 1 lemon, sliced
Whipped cream
Place bananas, brown sugar, cognac and lemon juice. Marinate 15 minutes. Heat butter and sugar, cook until caramelized. When golden brown pour in orange juice; mix well. Cook 2 or 3 minutes. Stir constantly. Add banana mix to orange mix; add lemon rind and cook 1 minute. Pour in Tia Maria and flambe. Cook 1 minute on high. Add whipped cream and cinnamon.

Doesn't that sound just scrumptious? I found all the ingredients except for the Tia Maria. I had never heard of 'cognac' so I wasn't quite sure what it was, but I found a nearly full bottle hidden in one of the cupboards, way behind the good bowls on the very top shelf in the kitchen. I combined the bananas, brown sugar, cognac, and lemon juice. Since I am not able to use the stove or oven yet, I heated everything in the microwave. When I took them out, it looked a bit runny, so I added more of the cognac stuff and put it back in the microwave. It turned a light shade of brown, which I figured was carmelized. I added the brown sugar & orange juice and put it back into the microwave for 2 minutes.

As the flambe was cooking, I started setting the table. I found a drawer full of candles & holders and thought it would be a nice touch for a quiet lunch. However, I went to check on the flambee and looked - it was still cooking. I thought that was odd, but quickly dismissed the thought and continued to set the table and get the rest of lunch ready.

After I had the plates & silver set, I lit the candles. I heard some sputtering in the kitchen so I went back to see how the bananas were doing. I placed the candles on the counter, pulled the mixture out of the microwave and put it on the counter. When all of a sudden the entire thing exploded! It looked like a fireworks show. The kitchen quickly went up into flames!

I quickly grabbed the fire extinguisher on the counter & started spraying the mixture and anything else that was flaming. The fire billowed from the can - it looked like a fire-breathing dragon! It set the drapes and towels on fire. I looked at the canister I was holding - it was the can of Raid!

I couldn't reach the water from the sink because of the fire so I pulled one of the fire extinguishers off of the far wall, pulled the fire lever on the wall next to it, and hoisted the extinguisher on my hip. But by this time, the entire kitchen was engulfed in flames and the little fire extinguisher did nothing, not to mention I couldn't see & could barely breathe! I ran out of the kitchen into the hallway to get a breath of air - smoke & fire billowed from the kitchen.

I conceded trying to fight the flames and ran out of the Monastery. Mother Frangelico and Father ran over to see if I was okay. The fire trucks and ambulance came in about 2 minutes, but by that time, the entire first floor of the Monastery was in flames and it was heading up to the 2nd story. We all looked in horror at the sight.

After explaining all of this to Mother Frangelico & Father, my days of 'preparing' any meals is over. I have been completely banned from the kitchen, with the exception of peeling potatoes, which I will be doing for the rest of my LIFE!

(And, please pray for Sr. Perpetua! I can not imagine the horror she must be feeling to be in a strange country, not understand the language, and not understand why you are being detained. AND I am seriously praying that a firing squad is NOT issued! We need angelic protection and we need it fast!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

About. Sr. Perpetua

Um...I left this out of the other post, but Mother Frangelico and Father both said I should deliver the news.

Sr. Perpetua is not with us.

We still don't have all the facts,'s in prison in Mexico. It had something to do with the Federales on the bus that they robbed, and we're not sure what she did or said, or if she did or said anything. We're really not at all certain of what has happened to her.

Mother Frangelico has spoken with our Bishop here, and the Bishop there, and they are working together to get her out. They think she might have been mistaken for a Marxist femmie leader, or maybe a drug dealer. If that's the case, it'll be tricky getting her out.

And keeping her away from the firing squad.

Oh...actually, Sr. Maxine reminded me that Sr. Perpetua is actually in San Salvador. Her "arrest" happened when we passed through, but we were on seperate buses.

Anyway, it's all the same, the language and jungle are the same, as far as this is concerned.

So please keep Sr. Perpetua in your prayers. The Firing Squad is a real possiblity and she didn't do anything!

We'll let you know what happens.

I think even the Benedictines are praying for her, because we told them, too. They're going to take action and send a squad of Protesters to the prison in San Salvador and to the School of the Americas in North Carolina (or wherever that is).

We're Baaaaaaaaaak!

Greetings, everyone!

Even though we just got in the door, Mother Frangelico said I should jump on the computer and give an explanation for our absence for so long. It was a surprise to all of us.

First, it happened that we had a fire in the kitchen when Sr. Maxine was trying to cook up a surprise. She did her best, but things got out of control, and instead of grabbing the fire extinguisher, she grabbed a can of RAID I'd left nearby. Well, she sprayed the stove, and, well...let's just say it didn't end well.

She can tell the rest of that story, for she did quickly realize her mistake, even in her panic, and did take immediate action.

We all evacuated the monastery, and once the flames were put out, we went in to salvage what we could. There are restoration companies that can do a lot, and as far as personal belongings, we didn't have a lot, so no huge personal loss.

It DOES make our heart go out to those who have suffered house fires, though.

We were all taken in; Father just went to a nearby rectory (priests have it so easy..what's up with that?). We were taken into a local Benedictine monastery, and the guys...Brother Brit and Brother Gus...there was room for the at the rectory, too. So as it was, it worked out.

They had a good place, but, well, can I be honest? When we got the invite to stay with the Benedictines, we hesitated. Because, well, they have a "labyrinth", they practice "centering prayer" and "reiki" and have all sorts of New Age "devotions". Sr. Perpetua was especially freaked out by that, and didn't want to go at all.

But Mother Frangelico was stalwart, and as aways, practical. She chastized us and said that the offer of hospitality was both sincere and a part of the original Benedictine charism, and that we couldn't even consider not accepting. She also pointed out that even if those Sisters had left behind orthodoxy, they weren't without hope of conversion, and in fact, they were our Sisters, too. We needed to embrace them as they were embracing us, and they well knew what we were about, too and extended the invitation anyway.

So we realized she was right, and we were happy to meet the Benedictines.

They were kind and gracious. This particular community doesn't wear habits...stopped wearing them sometime in the 60's, so it really was like living with a bunch of spinster Aunts in a big mansion. But they were really nice and aunt-like, and we all got along really well as long as we didn't discuss theology.

That was kinda weird. But they showed us a lot of Benedictine customes, and they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, too, but in the Benedictine tradition, which they showed us (they have a Benedctine Di-urinal. I thought only guys had those, but I guess the word had to come from somewhere. How derogatory, though!)

And the Sisters didn't expect us to walk the labyrinth or anything. In fact, although they invited us to different things they were doing, they didn't expect us to really follow, they just wanted to make sure we knew what they were doing.

Mother Frangelico went around a lot with pursed lips, but she was very gracious to them and very thankful, and as it was, our own community was able to live quite peacefully with the Sisters we had otherwise thought were insane.

As it turns out, they were normal women with really stupid ideas about God and who He is. (They keep calling Him "Mother"). I don't think they represent all Benedictines, though.

Anyway, these women were really into "social justice", and suddenly, Mother Frangelico got an idea; while we waited for our moastery to be rebuilt and remodeled, we could do our own social justice work!

She and Father looked into several options, and we ended up finding a group that needed a long-term committment. So we went down to Mexico to work in the barrios, and helped to give shots, offer food, sew clothing, raise funds...all sorts of stuff.

It was sad leaving the Benedictines, but they seemed more relieved than anything, but at least our parting was very friendly. I think we have a new understanding with them, which is nice.

But, if I can be honest...although they're like a bunch of Aunts, I guess I can see why no one is choosing to give up sex in order to be a New Age old maid. Personally, I think I could manage celibacy and be a spinster better without a bunch of other spinsters harping on me to do this or that all the time.

Oh...I have to go help Mother Frangelico bring in the groceries. The monastery looks great and has a new paint smell, and I love it.

More on what we did and where we were sent later. Sister Maxine might have a few things to offer, maybe even her side of the story.

See you later!