I love Summer. It is a season of ease and reflection; closure and anticipation. Remember the wonderful feeling summer vacations offered as a buffer from life... no schedules, no home work, no school? Remember the gratifying feeling of finishing one grade and spending the summer in anticipation of the one to come?
As we age, summer songs on the radio bring flashes of memories to the forefront and we smile as we drive with the windows down remembering the past. We remember days of waiting, bored out of our minds, for something to do and when we finally had something to do our days were blissful. If we were lucky (blessed) we were able to attend camps year after year. Counselors and friends reconnected with us and reminded us of experiences we all shared; the things no one else could possibly understand, and they stood as a mark to reveal how we have grown. As we revisited these places we were reminded of who we once were and show how we've changed. Cyclical experiences like summer vacations and annual events excite me because they become a Post It (a red flag; a notch on the door frame) on our memory and reveal who we are becoming.
The Orthodox Church knows about cyclical experiences. As we celebrate the Liturgical Calendar's feasts and fasts year after year, we grow in our understanding and experiences. Look at the blessings Great Lent had for us to refocus our lives to God's will and now, having recently celebrated Pentecost, we are about to close the season of movable feasts of the Triodion. After we celebrate All Saints with a fast-free week (this year on June 30th) and when we reach the Synaxis of the Apostles (every year on June 30th) we continue with our regularly scheduled fixed calendar.
Summer feasts and celebrations unfortunately are often forgotten by our schedule shift of summer ease. During the summer we remember many strong and faithful women of the church: Sts. Paraskevi, Makrina, Markella, Mary Magdalene, Christina, Euphemia and Olga. More importantly, we celebrate minor fasts and feasts: Apostles Fast (following All Saints till the Synaxis of the Apostles) which is non-existent this year because it was squeezed out by a late Pascha; Panagia's Fast (August 1-14th) encompasses Transfiguration, (August 6th) a Great Feast of Our Lord and Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15th) closes the Liturgical Year.
This summer celebrate the Feasts of the Church with a delicious summer treat of chilled rice pudding with a side of fresh peaches and whipped cream or celebrate the Fasts by following this recipe using Almond Milk (and skip the topping.) Either way, you will be pleased.
- In a small sauce pan simmer, after boil, 1 c long-grain rice in 2 c water for 10 minutes or till liquid is absorbed.
- In a larger pot warm 6 c milk (2%, skim or almond) with 1 c sugar and 1 t vanilla extract. Be careful not to scorch milk. When rice is cooked and milk is warm, combine the two.
- Continue cooking milk and rice over medium heat until rice is fully cooked and mixture has thickened, which should take another 40 minutes. STIR OFTEN!!
- After 40 minutes whisk 1 T softened butter and 3 beaten egg yolks in a separate bowl. Do not add the egg mixture to the pudding until you temper it by slowly whisking it with 1/2 c of warm pudding.
- Add the tempered egg mixture to the pot of rice pudding.
- Simmer another 2 minutes over medium heat.
- Pour into individual serving bowls or a serving platter. Be sure to let the pudding cool to room temperature before you chill in the fridge or a film will form. You don't want that.
When you are ready to serve, sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
- Scoop out a portion and garnish with peach slices and home made whipped cream. Yumm!!