As soon as I purchase film for my camera, I will p…

As soon as I purchase film for my camera, I will post a picture of my daughter’s hermit crabs. They really are amazing and fun little creatures (more proof – along with the duck-billed platypus – that God DOES have a sense of humor). God is also really practical, as well; hermit crabs put to use all those empty snail-type seashells that otherwise would just lie around on the beach and get crushed by the waves. Instead He makes hermit crabs, and also makes them able to survive and be happy (I think) in captivity, so families like ours, where we are all allergic to cats and haven’t convinced the allergist that we AREN’T allergic to dogs, can have pets.

Before I tell you the hermie news I should say that we have three crabs: one large, one medium and one small. They really like trashing their crabitat at night while we humans are sleeping – sometimes I go in and look at them with the flashlight before I go to sleep and watch them crawling around in the dimness. Anyway, hermie news – small crab has molted! We lost track of him/her a few days ago, and I found it buried under the sand at one end of the crabitat. We were giving them their weekly bath (that’s really a hoot – they love it!). This afternoon dear daughter came downstairs and told me she had found small crab, and wanted me to come see. There it was, unburied once more. I gently picked it up and inside the shell is a newly molted crab (they are sort of rose-colored instead of purple). Amazing!

Funny, but it seems the more I have to do, the more I am able to get done (most of the time).

I actually started my Christmas baking today (yes, I know it’s not even the first Sunday of Advent yet, but I have set myself a BIG project and in order for it all to come off without a hitch, I have to start on it now. I plan to bake enough Moravian Sugar Cake to give some to every family in my parish. Here’s the recipe:

1 or 2 russet burbank baking potatoes
1 package yeast
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

Topping: brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, evaporated milk

Peel, wash and dice the potatoes; cook them in enough water to cover until very tender. Drain and mash with a ricer or fork. Measure out 1 cup of the hot mashed potatoes and add to the butter, sugar and salt.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water, proof for a few minutes to make sure it is alive, then add to the butter-potato mixture. Set aside for about 1/2 hour until foamy.
Add the eggs, beaten, and the flour to form a soft dough. Cover the bowl with a kichen towel and let rise for about 5 hours or until double.
Punch down and pat into a jelly-roll pan. Let rise again until light. Poke dents in the dough with your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon; place a tiny dot of butter in each dent. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over top.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. After about 15 minutes, sprinkle some evaporated milk over the top to make soft, not crusty.

This is a recipe I grew up eating every Christmas morning and most Easters. The Moravians came from what is now the Czech Republic – they settled in America during the 1800s to escape religious persecution (they are a Protestant denomination founded by Jan Hus in 1457). Although I guess this is technically a Protestant recipe, it is part of my Christmas heritage – and it’s double a part of it now that I’ve begun the journey to the Byzantine Rite: the Church Slavonic language was originally the language spoken by the people of Great Moravia in the Slav lands.

I should also add that this can be doubled, but you need to use 3 pkg of yeast if you double everything else. Also it will not turn out properly if you substitute anything (like spread for butter, or instant mashed potatoes instead of making the effort to cook and mash fresh ones). Apologies to anyone whose diet prevents them from enjoying this.

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