One of my favorite Christmas memories was in a New Orleans church service in 2007. The pastor proclaimed himself to be a “reformed musician” –having left the wild partying life, he still brought his saxophone into the pulpit to accompany the choir. That night it was an advent service and to kick off the hymn sing, a blind black woman was guided onto the stage. The pastor handed her a microphone and then picked up his sax. He began to play some intro notes and I smiled because it was a song I knew, didn’t even need to get out the hymnal. But what was it? “Hang all the mistletoe,” she began in a sultry gospel voice, “I’m gonna get to know you better…. This Christmas.” Wait a second, I smiled, is this a hymn? “Fireside is blazing briiiight. And we’re caroling through the niiiiiight.”
And then she belted out the chorus, and we all sang along, “And this Christmas, will be, a very special Christmas, for meeeee!” Amazing moment. Some churches hold candles and sing 19th century carols like Silent Night in the original German, others groove to Donny Hathaway 1970’s Greatest Hits. I know where I fit in the scheme of things. I hope you do too. May you be with some loved ones, critters, all.
Adapted from Penzeys Spice
2 Cups frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
2 TB. sugar
2 TB. blueberry vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 Cup sour cream, crème fraîche or plain yogurt
1 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 Cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 TB. molasses
1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), melted
In a small bowl, toss the berries with the sugar and vinegar. Let stand for 1 hour so they get juicy.
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 1 1/2-quart baking dish and set aside. Drain the berries well, reserving the juice. Set the berries aside. In a large bowl, combine the reserved juice and the sour cream. In a second bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, ginger, salt, mace, and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside. Stir the eggs, molasses and melted butter into the sour cream mixture. Add 1/2 cup of the flour mix to the batter and beat well. Gradually add the rest of the dry ingredients to the batter and beat on high until smooth and a bit fluffy. Spread 2/3 of the batter into the pan. Arrange the berries evenly over the batter.
Spoon the remaining batter in mounds over the top of the berries. It’s okay if some of the berries are peeking through. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Cool on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar and top with whipped cream if desired.
And this Christmas, will be, a very special CHRISTMAAAAAS for meeeeeee!