A Recipe For Church

Normally, on Fridays, I post recipes for, you know, food. This Friday wasn’t meant to be an exception. I worked on a homemade apple cider recipe yesterday and this morning, but the thing is, I just didn’t love it. I wasn’t wowed by it as I had hoped to be, and there was something off in the flavor profile that I wasn’t able to fix (not yet, at least). And I don’t want to share a recipe with you unless I really think it is worth sharing. But luckily, I’ve been working on some other writing, and it just so happens that it ends up being a sort of recipe itself. I’ll probably never be done editing this, and there will be dozens of versions. But for now, I’m just going to share it. Because vulnerability is important, or something.

For some background, I am not a person who grew up in a church. However, I have always been a spiritual person, starting at a very young age when I bewildered and amused my parents by “making up hymns.” I always enjoyed learning about our friends’ religious traditions and beliefs. I took several years of Jewish studies classes in college, and in my senior year I began correspondences with two other young women I had met online years earlier (incidentally, I have now met both of these wonderful people in person, as they attended my wedding). Both Christian, these two women are both kind, intelligent, and compassionate. One of them, Courtney, grew up in a Catholic family and is now a Catholic youth minister. The other one, Katherine, grew up UCC and is now a (very talented) painter. Katherine and Courtney both shared deeply about themselves, their churches, and their beliefs with me. Courtney, having had theological training, also patiently, honestly, and thoroughly answered any and all questions I had (and there were many, as I am a liberal, feminist, queer person who never imagined feeling safe or comfortable at a church of all places). I credit both of them with supporting me without judgement during a very important time in my faith journey. The fall after I graduated college, I discovered a wonderful church in my hometown. I poured out my life story into an email to the pastor of that church, and he met with me and, like Courtney and Katherine, was nothing but compassionate, welcoming, and kind. During that year, I attended church regularly and read books recommended by my pastor. With the encouragement of both pastors at that church, I decided to be baptized on Easter Sunday, 2013. It is a very happy memory for me, and I felt deep peace and joy with my decision.

my baptism, Easter 2013

When I moved to Indiana, I was very nervous about no longer having the support of my hometown church, so I did research in advance (typical me). I actually found the church I now attend six months before moving, but made myself wait a few months before contacting one of the pastors. (Still a bit early. Oh well.) And I am so glad I found this congregation. Since I moved here a bit over two years ago, David and I have attended our church and we love it to bits. Recently, I have been engaging in deep conversations with my pastor here in Indiana as well as other members of the church. I have been overwhelmed by love and support. So this is a bit of a love poem for my church.

A Recipe For Church

a generous helping of space.
space that allows for the unfolding of wings
space that opens itself to words too large to contain.
pinches of patience as you listen. patience as you hear. patience as you wait.
one strong net : for when we encourage you to leap, we also will catch you, over and over, as you fall.
regular meals. dinners. post-worship Oreos and punch.
a sprinkle of eye contact. during the sermon. when you know things have been tough. the “are you okay?”
we drive each other home, right through silence.
a weekly-or-more hug at the door, maybe with no time for words, but communicating all the same.
when turning the dial, making the choice for community, even when that is the harder choice.
the laughter, the laughter, the laughter.
interaction, despite awkwardness, despite discomfort.
the knowledge that we need this : that I need this.
oh. so this is church.


Simple Crockpot Applesauce

This is your bonus recipe! Check out the main recipe on the blog today : Applesauce Mini Muffins

Last week I made homemade applesauce in the crockpot. I did my usual cooking thing of reading a bunch of recipes online and then kind of cobbling them together/cooking from memory. I chose Jonamacs after a conversation with a police officer and a grocer in the produce section of our co-op, because they were described as tart-but-sweet.  I did not peel them, because I thought, oh, apple peel is good for you! It has fiber! I will blend the applesauce, and then it won’t matter!  Wrong. I did not end up blending the applesauce, I mashed it with a potato masher because I am lazy. And subsequently I have picked out chunks of apple peel while eating applesauce, because it’s just sort of weird and flavorless and floppy. In conclusion: peel your apples.

Innocent-seeming apples with their healthy little peels.
Innocent-seeming apples with their healthy little peels.

Here’s the recipe :

3.5 pounds apples, whatever variety you prefer
1 cinnamon stick
Half a lemon
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup water

Core, peel, and chop apples (chopping into quarters is fine) & place in crockpot
Juice the lemon and pour into crockpot (pick out lemon seeds first). Cut off chunks of lemon peel and toss those in, too
Add the vanilla, cinnamon stick, and water and give everything a quick stir
Set crockpot to low and walk away to do whatever you have to do that day! (Note: you can give it a stir if you’re around in order to shift the top apples to the bottom, but it isn’t necessary.)
After 4 – 6 hours (depending on your crockpot), remove lemon peel and cinnamon stick and mash apples with a potato masher or large fork
Serve & enjoy!
Keeps in a sealed container in the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks.


Okay, now that you’ve got your homemade applesauce, head on over to my post about applesauce mini muffins! Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of homemade applesauce left to eat — the recipe only uses one cup. 🙂

Before I cobbled this recipe together, I read these posts for inspiration : Simply Recipes Applesauce, Detoxinista’s Slow Cooker Applesauce, and The Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Applesauce.