Cake and Herbs: Recipe and Retrospect

It’s the weekend, and oh my goodness am I ready for this week to end!

You know how some weeks are just a big challenge? This was one of those weeks. It started Sunday with family exhaustion after Yarrow’s Saturday evening dance recital and just continued on through the week with a bout of sickness, kids who can’t settle into their schoolwork or play well together, mopey goats, and craziness at my side-job.

But now it’s Saturday, and we’re working through the behaviour issues, feeling well again, and trying to get a Summer Rule of Life written out and implemented! And I’m tired..

So, of course, I’m baking seed cakes for afternoon tea. We love tea time, we love having simple, hearty little cakes in the house, and we’ve been trying to get back to our roots a bit as far as our family culture is concerned by resurrecting some old recipes we used to bake all the time when we were first out here. This seed cake is one of them:

  • 12 Tb soft butter
  • 1 cup fine sugar (I’ve used Turbinado with success as well)

cream those together ’til soft and fluffy then beat in..

  • 3 eggs

when all is evenly mixed. Add the dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 Tb caraway seeds

and if you have it, add a splash of cream or a big scoop (up to 1/4 cup) of plain yogurt.

This cake bakes well in a loaf pan at about 350 for almost an hour. And it pairs so well with the smokey, Russian teas.

We’ll be eating it at tea today, and possibly having another slice late at night, when the kids are in bed and I’ve got the lamps lit and my drafted Rule on the table. Because it’s unlikely I’ll finish it before dark today. Not with schoolwork to manage, herbs to transplant, and order to restore to the souls of my children.

I’ll be making lemon balm – lavender-yarrow tea for them this afternoon, to help with the restoration of order in their souls. Our yard used to be over-run with lemon balm, and it’s such a lovely, soothing herb. Gentle and kind and delicious too! You can make it into sun-tea with honey in the summer then freeze the tea into popcicles for an amazing summer treat, or steep it in honey to help with insomnia. Like lavender and yarrow it helps calm the imagination too and gives adults and kids a like a sense of contentment and peace.

I think the latter is what my kids need most right now. After a couple weeks of indulgence and excitement, they need to enjoy quiet and structure again. So I’ll being gathering herbs with them before tea to welcome contentment again.

And this weekend, we’ll be staying home as much as possible to reclaim the order of our daily life!

What do you do to reclaim your homelife when things get too busy, or after a holiday season?

Homeschooling for Sacramental Preparation

Earlier this month my oldest received her First Communion and Confirmation! Congratulations my beautiful Yarrow!

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Because we belong to a small, Traditional-Latin-Mass Chaplaincy, we had a few extra options:

  • We could use the local parish’s religious education program: Our chaplaincy worships at the local basilica, and a lot of us are co-registered with that parish and the chaplaincy, so our kids could go through one of the local parish’s religious ed programs.
  • We could homeschool with an approved curriculum, such as the Faith and Life series or the Baltimore Catechism.
  • We could homeschool with a conglomeration of orthodox resources.

Of course, we chose that last option, but only after trying the other two first!

Our local parish had a lovely Catechesis of the Good Shepard program for pre-k and kindergarten faith formation, Yarrow attended and loved it! But unfortunately there were issues implementing any of the other levels of CGS and so she lost the option to prepare for her Sacraments through that lovely program. We were so disappointed and completely unimpressed by the 90s-style, classroom-based religious education that was to follow.

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So we started doing more focused catechesis at home. I’ve never been a fan of the tone of the Baltimore Catechism, and most other children’s catechisms are so very saccharine that I couldn’t imagine them doing much good; but I’d heard good things about the Faith and Life series: beautiful imagery, unsentimental text, age-appropriate-but-not-immature explanations. It sounded ideal.

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It’s wasn’t quite ideal.. I would still use the first book again, though it wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped, but the second book – the one I thought was supposed to do more for Sacramental Prep, seemed rather like a half-hearted sequel. The illustrations were not at all up to the standards of the first book and the text seemed repetitive and uninteresting. We began supplementing again with selections from the adult Catechism, and edited readings from the Family Apostolate Catechism (so many references to abortion! Parents of small, still-innocent, young readers beware!).

In the end, we wrote up worksheets of our own for Yarrow, encouraged lots of questions and conversations, filled her up with straight Scripture, and only supplemented with the best of the texts we had available to us.

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Thanks be to God she went forward for her Confirmation, First Communion, and First Confession full of joy and eagerness to receive all the Grace God offers! But as I’m looking forward to Ilya’s preparation in a few years, I’ll be casting off some of the disappointing options and creating more of his curriculum at home!