Thursday, December 15, 2011

The most wonderful time of the year

It's one week till Christmas, which means it's time to dust off my Grinch t-shirt, which I love because that's precisely how deep my grumpiness at Christmas goes, even on a day like today when I've got a persistent migraine and have had what you might call an unsatisfactory shopping experience. My wife tells me she wants me to put up the lights, and I grumble and groan about being able to see the house from space, and then as soon as the garage door closes behind me, I'm whistling Christmas carols while plotting on where to put the giant inflatable polar bear (in a Santa cap).

And when I come inside, I  set up the nativity scene on the mantle, and smile as I settle the little pewter baby Jesus in his mother's arms.

Did I mention I'm an atheist?

It's true that I was raised Lutheran, but my love for Christmas isn't backsliding. And I'm not celebrating Solstice or Winter-Een-Mas or Festivus or anything else. I am celebrating Christmas. No, I don't go to church, but I do recognize that I am part of a non-religious minority living in a majority Christian country, and I'm okay with it. I am no more harmed by their faith than they are by my lack of faith. And then, of course, there is my family, which is more devout than not. And because I love and respect them, I love and respect their faith.  I just don't happen to share it.

And besides, how cool is the Christmas story? No, I don't buy it all as fact. But the story of Jesus being born in a barn is so different from the origin myths of most religious leaders that I do wonder if there might be some truth to it. Regardless of its truth value, though, as a father, I love the idea of a foundational myth that says that every child, regardless of circumstances, has the potential to save the world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I have this theory that the Republicans actually know that their platform of tax cuts for the rich and massive cuts to gov't spending would totally destroy the middle class and/or plunge us into a depression. Which is why the sensible, responsible Republicans are not running for president right now, and are waiting for 2016.

But then I really can't come up with any names that would go on that list of sensible, responsible Republicans in gov't, so maybe it's just that they keep drumming out the reasonable ones for lack of fidelity to their currently insane suite of ideas.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

French Toast Casserole

If you're having guests for Sunday brunch, you'll need to start this Friday night.  This is what you'll need:

Remote temperature probe
1 good sized loaf of crusty bread, or two baguettes.
7 eggs
3 1/2 cups of milk
1 cup of brown sugar
2 tblsp. of cinnamon
1 tsp. fresh-grated nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Cut the bread into 3/4 inch slices on Friday night, and leave it out to dry. At some point on Saturday, lay the bread out on a baking sheet and bake it in a 150 degree oven for 5-6 hours to dry it out very thoroughly. Let the bread cool while you mix the eggs, milk, 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar, the cinnamon and nutmeg. Arrange the bread in a casserole dish, pour the mixture over the bread, cover and refrigerate over night. There should still be some liquid in the dish, waiting to be absorbed into the bread. If not, you can add more eggs and milk. Just be sure to mix them well and maintain a ratio of 1 egg to 1/2 cup milk.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a microwave-safe bowl and mix with the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Pour over the top of the casserole and scatter the pecans on top. Insert the temperature probe in the middle of the casserole (be sure it's not touching the bottom of the dish) and set the alarm for 170 degrees (should take about 40 minutes).  When the alarm goes off, turn the oven up to 400 degrees and set the alarm for 190.

Serve warm.