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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday lunch’

We’ve not been feeding people all that much lately. I got a nasty virus after Christmas and seemed to lose steam all the way to Easter. Sunday lunches (our usual slot for planned hospitality) were confined to the Vicarage household plus Dreamer. And I almost began to think that it was too much hassle to have anyone else over on a Sunday at all.

But then, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a sunny weekend. And I was overcome with a desire to barbecue. And that seemed like an easier Sunday lunch to organise. So we invited a family we’d been meaning to invite over for ages. And then we thought about another family who we’d seen a lot over our Easter mission and the Vicar called them but they didn’t answer the phone. So then we invited someone else. And then the second family rang back. And we invited them too. And so it was that we ended up having 18 people for Sunday lunch.

And you know what? In the garden, with the old church hall trestle tables from the shed, lovely sunshine and lots of laughter, eighteen people seemed like a perfectly normal number. And after that, inviting a family of five for Sunday lunch this week didn’t seem like a big thing either. It was actually very lovely to talk to people and enjoy eating with them. Of course I knew that, but I’d forgotten. And then this week I read this lovely post about Scruffy Hospitality by Wesley Hill, and it helped me to remember that the purpose of hospitality is the cultivation of friendship, the sharing of lives. And cooking a bit of extra food is really not that much trouble. It really isn’t.

So I’m grateful this week for a renewed vision for hospitality: scruffy hospitality, messy hospitality, doable hospitality, just inviting people anyway hospitality, hospitality for the saints, hospitality for the stranger, hospitality without grumbling, hospitality that is a welcome and a blessing. And I’m praying that we’ll keep on getting together with the saints and with strangers, we’ll keep on inviting others into the Vicarage for laughing and talking and growing community, building the body. That’s my prayer this week.

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Good News of Great JoySo it’s actually Advent, and I only got my act together this morning to download this lovely free e-book from John Piper onto my cheap and cheerful table that I use for daily bible reading. Thankfully, the readings began today, so there’s even time for you to download it too and not be too far behind. This morning’s reflection called me to meditate on my need for a Saviour. And events during the day reminded me of that too – tired children and busy parents do not make for a godly Vicarage.

Thankfully, a large nap and answered prayer made our afternoon happier than our morning. A big Sunday lunch with parish friends was followed by a chilly walk with Dreamer and Freddie the dog. Then we decorated our Jesse Tree – only having to cover two days in one go, lit our Advent candle and thought about Jesus our Saviour, opened our chocolate Advent calendar (with extra sweeties for the non-opening children) and gave thanks for a new audio bible in Ethiopia, prompted by a lovely Bible Society calendar that came in the post.

So far so good. But it’s honestly fine if we miss a few days in the chaos. The Saviour came to forgive both messiness and missingness – our sins of commission and  those  of omission.

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As I munched on yummy leftovers for lunch today, I thought it was time to blog my roast gammon recipe. Although it’s not all roasted – mostly it’s boiled, which ensures that it’s moist, whilst the roasting (with a glaze) sets in  a little crisp sweetness. Gammon is an excellent Sunday lunch joint – no waste and wonderful leftovers. And last week, in our local Tescos 2.7kg joints were going for £6! So we had one yesterday and another is in the freezer. The great advantage with gammon is that because it’s great with mashed potatoes, rather than roasted, you can have it mainly cooked before church and eat Sunday lunch at lunchtime rather than midafternoon, as tends to happen with anything involving roasties.

So this recipe is specially adapted for Vicarage dwellers, or anyone wanting to go to church on a Sunday and come back and eat within an hour or so of returning.

Cherry coke and jam ham

A great and speedy Sunday lunch - cherry coke and jam ham

Ingredients

  • Gammon joint
  • Cherry coke/coke/cranberry juice/apple juice/cider/spiced cranapple to fill pan over the meat (if there’s not quite enough top up with water) but for a 2.2kg joint I normally find 2l is enough
  • Cloves
  • Cherry jam/treacle/mustard and brown sugar

I usually rinse the joint in cold water – there’s never enough time to soak it or boil it up from cold, I find. Although lately I’ve not even bothered with this rinse. Then I simmer it for 30mins per 500g  in something tasty – cherry coke, ordinary coke, cranberry or apple juice, cider or (an excellent discovery tried this Christmas) leftover Spiced cranapple from the carol service. I usually pop an onion in alongside the joint too. Usually on a joint they tell you to cook it for 35mins per 500g plus another 35mins, but since I’m leaving the joint in warm juice during the service, I ignore their instructions.

Then when I get back from church I whack the oven up to 200C (Gas 6) and whilst it’s heating up I put the tatties on and fish the joint out and put it straight onto a roasting dish which I’ve lined with foil. Then I remove the funny plastic holder thing and carve off the top layer from the fatty skin part. I use the knife to make a diamond pattern and stud the criss-cross of each diamond with a clove. Then I cover the clovey fat with a sweet sticky topping. This might be (easiest and peasiest) black cherry jam boiled up a bit to make it stickier, or maybe some black treacle, or some brown sugar and mustard. My top tip for this is to have everything you need to hand before you start – teaspoons, cloves, mustard, sugar or whatever. It’s sticky and it’s better to get it over with quickly.

Then I pop the ham in the oven for only 15-30 minutes. Any longer and the sugary topping begins to burn and weld to the bottom of your roasting dish. So set the pinger to 15mins and check it. I consider it done when the sweet topping is caramelised but before the bottom of the pan is completely scorched.

This is why a foil lining to the dish is a good idea. I just wish I remembered that every time. Otherwise you can get the burns off by adding a sprinkle of dishwasher powder to water and boiling the mixture in your roaster on the hob. Takes off many a cooking stain. Also works on cast iron casserole dishes.

Whilst the ham is cooking, pop your veggies on, yell at the Vicar to come and carve and at the children to stop bickering, check that your guests are comfortable and very soon you’ll be enjoying a warming Sunday lunch. The leftovers of course are delicious. Very popular with Vicarage children in a pasta bake with cheese sauce, spaghetti carbonara, or the new favourite, Spanish gammon hotpot. Or picked at for lunch by the grown-ups.

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After the guest list, next up for consideration for the Vicarage Sunday lunch is the menu. Our Sunday lunches have a few criteria to meet:

  • Cheap, otherwise the Vicar’s stipend would be sorely stretched. This means fancy organic meat and any red meat not on special offer is usually off the menu.
  • Acceptable for consumption by all the guests. This is why I tend to stick to pretty traditional roasts. We don’t live in an area where we can cook our beef raw or serve the lamb with a fancy salsa verde. And since I cooked roast pork for some dear friends in our last parish and only discovered on serving that one of them couldn’t abide it, I ALWAYS check whether there is anything that people won’t consume. I’ve been surprised by people’s dietary restrictions.
  • Possible to cook on the oven timer, or otherwise be worked around our absence at church between about 10.00am and 12.30pm. And we want to eat by 2.30pm at the latest, otherwise the Vicar has indigestion at the Evening Service and the children have consumed so many snacks that they don’t eat the lovely meal I’ve just slaved over.
  • I like if possible to make desserts the day before, or have a dessert that’s really speedy to make on a Sunday. There’s enough stress in the Vicarage on a Sunday morning without having to whip cream.
  • A few good leftovers always makes a good meal perfect.

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Today I’m beginning a little series about Sunday lunches in our Vicarage. I’m planning to post some recipes and photos and everything. But for today I want to just talk about who comes to lunch.

We have found that Sunday lunch is a great opportunity to offer hospitality and get to know people in the congregation. Although folk in the inner city don’t really do dinner parties, people are very happy to come over for a meal after church.

I can't promise beef every Sunday

I can't promise beef every week

Ever since I lived and worked in Cambridge in my twenties, my Vicarage Sunday lunch model has been the amazing meals served up by Fiona Ashton, (wife of Mark, vicar of StAG). Every week (it seemed) about 15 people joined the family for lunch, with a full roast and at least three puddings. I only went a couple of times – in a church of over 700 people I was just delighted to be asked. I’m not sure how Mark and Fiona organised their guest list either, but it was wonderful to be able to meet a real mix of people, as well as spend time with the Ashtons.

When we moved to our Vicarage, we decided we would try to be vaguely systematic and invite (over time) everyone on our church’s electoral roll (71 people). So far (six months in) I think we’re about a third of the way through. Of course, we’ve had a few Sundays off, a few with local friends, a few with visiting family and a couple of Sunday afternoon open houses (with tea and cake) when we first arrived. And yesterday the bishop came over with his family. We also try and invite newcomers if we can. One of the reasons that we settled in our church in Malaysia was the wonderful hospitality offered to us on our first Sunday there.

Sometimes it’s just one family who comes over, other times we manage a mix of people. Our table is not quite large enough for Ashton-sized gatherings but often there are ten or more people squeezed in. We can have more folk when the weather is good and we can sit in the garden.

I love our Sunday lunches and our kids enjoy meeting a wide range of people. The Queen is great at being hospitable and specialises in taking snacks round as I panic with the gravy at the last minute. The boys specialise in eating up quickly and wanting pudding. I hope they keep enjoying them as they get older, as I see these lunches as an important part of our ministry here – one that all the family can share in.

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Gone is still here every morning, not gone. He’s taken to arriving very early and singing under the Queen’s window. Polly is on the floor above and she heard him at 5am the other day. The Vicar has put a note on the doorbell to remind him not to ring until after we are up. He has now retrieved his NI number somehow (he wasn’t around to call the helpline with me). He still veers between sad and apologetic and agitated and abusive.

Not a single one in sight!

Not a single one in sight!

We went to dinner at the Bishop’s on Friday night. The Vicar lost his bet with me about being the only vicar there without a dog collar. There must have been about ten vicars, and the bishop and there wasn’t a collar or a clerical shirt in sight. I very much enjoyed meeting some other local vicar’s wives (including the Rector’s Wife) and hope to be able to share some of their stories here.

One chap there recommended Betel as a possible place for Gone to find more long term help. The Vicar has arranged for Gone to have a telephone interview with them this afternoon. To be honest, I’m not all that hopeful that Gone will want to go and give up the booze. But I’m praying he will.

Heartbreak has been here on and off this week. She’s a troubled teen who’s living in a hostel because relationships at home have broken down. She has a college interview this week, though, and seems to be getting her life back on track. She seemed to enjoy church on Sunday, but had never seen communion before.

This week we’ve heard tales of one chap’s stint in a young offender institution and had our woodpile chopped by a man who wants to retrieve his life after spending nearly half of it in jail and on heroin.

We’ve also had the Sunday lunch I’ve been imagining since we knew the Vicar was going to be a vicar. A dozen of us around the table out in the garden. A mix of ages and races. A massive roast chicken and three puddings. Much laughter and a few tears (from a rather over-emotional Engineer). Warm chat about Jesus and about our neighbourhood. And identification of more mysterious (to me) Vicarage garden plants. Perfect.

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