>There Is A God… and Good Friends, Good Food, Good Music

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It was our turn to host Dinner Club last Friday night… the second day of the Nativity Fast. It’s hard to be festive without meat, dairy, fish, wine or oil. Sigh.

Okay, so we took a bit of liberty… I found out the Orthodox Church in America (another jurisdiction within the U.S.) celebrates the Feast of St. Matthew (November 16) with fish, wine, and oil… and since one of our dinner club members was celebrating his Feast Day (Matthew) we decided to be ecumenical and enjoy some wine with our meal. Otherwise, we stuck with the Antiochian Orthodox tradition. And it wasn’t so bad, actually. All the recipes came out of our parish’s second cookbook, Saint John Cooks Again. This was the menu:

Appetizers: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms (without the egg) – page 238
Main course: Shrimp & Rice Casserole –page 247 and Fresh Green Beans
Dessert: Dump Cake – page 295 with (non-dairy) Cool Whip, and
Decaf coffee served with liquid non-dairy creamer

Voila! Feast! If anyone wants one of these recipes, and doesn’t have a copy of Saint John Cooks, just leave me a comment or email me at susanmaryecushman@yahoo.com and I’ll send you the recipe.

Saturday night I discovered another yummy recipe from the same cookbook: Charles Ingram’s “Greek Potatoes” on page 133, only instead of cubing regular size potatoes, I tried something new from the produce section at Schnuck’s: they’re called Frieda’s “Fingerling” Potatoes, and they come in several colors and shapes. My favorite were the Yellow Russian Banana potatoes, which tasted like butter. Yum. (Even without the feta cheese or grated boiled egg garnish, which I might try after the Fast is over!) Served them with ahi tuna steaks and leftover green beans from the night before. Simple. Healthy “fast foods.”

All this with another nod to my friend Erin, who does a great job of keeping the fast with her family of four in Kansas… and keeps a great blog about it here.

Okay… one of our dinner club members is a young man in his 20s, a new friend, and he and I talked about books and music and then we shared our favorite music via email later, and Oh. My. Goodness. All of you out there under age 30 (40?) probably think I’ve been living under a rock because I’ve never heard of Regina Spektor (above) or Joseph Arthur, (right) but I’m hooked on these “new” (to me) sounds now. Watch this. (that’s Regina Spektor’s story) and listen to this (Joseph Arthur on Uganda.) Good stuff.

Our new dinner club friends had actually driven to Nashville (from Memphis) for a Regina Spektor show that was cancelled on the spot earlier in the week, as she passed out from an ear infection. Hopefully she’s on the mend. What an amazing young woman, songwriter and performer.

And while cruising through the You Tube videos (no, I’m not on You Tube) I found Trent Willmon, (at left) who brought me to tears singing “There Is A God,” here. Trent also designed a wooden paper doll for Project Paper Doll (PPD), a celebrity driven auction of original artwork. PPD will generate national awareness and support for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, a leading provider in pediatric health care. A national online auction facilitated by eBay’s Giving Works division launches November 26 allowing fans to bid on over 50 of these unique creations. Here’s Trent, with some other country music stars, visiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital here in Memphis in 2006.

So, on this Monday of Thanksgiving Week, I’m thankful for good food, good friends, good music, and good people supporting good causes, as far away as Uganda and as close as Nashville. And most of all, I’m thankful that, as Trent Willmon sings, There Is A God.

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