Not Another Long-Winded Recipe Blog!

November 15, 2021

Welcome to another edition of the weekend recap. This very special (it's not really) post contains a recipe at the end, so I guess it counts as one of those annoying recipe blogs where the author rambles on forever about their life story, and you just want to know how many eggs go in the tuna casserole, darn it! Get to the point! Hopefully my escapades this weekend will be briefer and more interesting than someone's tuna casserole TED talk, and you're free to scroll to the end for the recipe if you want. I won't judge.

Saturday, November 13

My roommate and I stayed up on Friday night to watch Saturday morning arrive at midnight. Actually, we stayed up to watch a livestream from my home institution in Pennsylvania, where Cornel West was giving a talk about Classical Education and the Black Intellectual Tradition. West is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary and one of the United States' most influential and provocative public philosophers. Among his many books, the best known are Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and he is a frequent contributor to the opinion columns of nation's leading newspapers. After his talk, West was joined by Dr. Angel Adams Parham from the University of Virginia, Dr. Eric Ashley Hairston from Wake Forest University, and Dr. Brian Williams from the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University for a panel discussion.

As a graduate of a classical Christian school and a current student of classics in a classical great-books honors college (that's a mouthful!), I have been following recent debates about the role of classics and the Western Tradition in promoting white supremacy (and written about it as well). I love what I study, and I want my field to be used as a means of mental liberation, not to exclude or oppress. West's talk emphasized that the Western Tradition ought to be enlarged to include voices and ideas from the black community, as well as indigenous peoples, other people of color, and other minority groups. To say that the classical education inherently promotes white supremacy because it has been a historically white institution is to "limit whiteness to white supremacy" and to hinder ourselves from pursuing the true, the good, and the beautiful. All truth is God's truth, whether it comes from the mouth of an old dead white man or from, as West called himself, "a redeemed sinner with gangster proclivities."

The time difference between Pennsylvania and St. Andrews had me up until 2am enjoying the discussion, but it was worth every minute of lost sleep! When Saturday morning arrived properly, I got ready for the rest of the day and set out to bake some cookies. I needed a recipe that would be easy to make with limited kitchen supplies and that could be tweaked to use whatever ingredients I could find in a Scottish grocery store. I ended up making Gran's recipe for 7-layer cookies (she calls them Hello Dollies), which is a family favorite that's easy to make and difficult to mess up.

After the cookies were finished and I had eaten dinner, I went to East Sands for a bonfire with the Celtic Society. We had a lovely evening chatting and snacking around the fire, something we don't have much chance to do while moving around in Scottish Country Dance class!

Sunday, November 16

This Sunday was Remembrance Sunday in the UK, which is more like the American Memorial Day than Veterans' Day. During my church service, we observed the act of remembrance--prayers and a two-minute silence--and laid a wreath of poppies on the church's war memorial. Our sermon also touched on the solemnity of the day, even wading into the murky theological territory of theodicy.

Theodicy, the question of why suffering exists under God's sovereignty and goodness, is a major stumbling block to Christians and non-Christians alike, and I admit that I don't have a conclusive answer to it. However, our preacher for the day brought up one Christian doctrine that gives me particular hope in the face of suffering: that God suffers with us in the incarnation. Many of those who use theodicy to discredit the Christian faith cast God as the cruel or indifferent author of human suffering, hurling down lightning bolts, killing children in third-world countries, authorizing the mistreatment of women, and the like. Because God has the power to stop human suffering but does not, He must be complicit in causing the suffering, and is therefore evil. This view is a misinterpretation of Christian doctrine, which states that sin is the cause of suffering and death in the world. God's allowance of sin to preserve free will does not make Him responsible for suffering. Furthermore, in Christ's incarnation, crucifixion, and death, God experiences the suffering of His children, deliberately choosing not to spare Himself from our pain. In the gospels, Jesus suffers in many of the same ways we suffer or see others suffer: he was a refugee from Herod, experienced homelessness, lost friends and loved ones, was hated and oppressed by those in power, and was finally killed as an innocent man in a subversion of justice. When we suffer and cry out to God, God knows and understands how we are hurting, and promises strength and comfort in our time of need. On a day like Remembrance Sunday, it can be especially challenging to reconcile the goodness of God with the suffering of war, but we can still look to Jesus for comfort and the hope of peace.

After my church service, I walked through town for a while, then joined a large public gathering in the town center for Remembrance Day. There were more wreath-layings, some bagpipes, prayers, and another two-minutes' silence. Afterwards, I ate lunch in my hall, then started working on a sewing project. In a couple weeks, the Celtic Society is putting on an end-of-semester Ceilidh. Normally, this event is somewhere north of casual, and the end-of-semester dance in the spring is more formal. This semester, however, the dance will be more formal, giving everyone a practice run for the spring dance after a two-year COVID hiatus. This is lucky for me, since now I get to wear the formal dress I packed! It is a little too long for Scottish Country dancing, so I am taking up the bottom to make it a midi dress. It would be nice to have access to my sewing machine for the hems, but hand-sewing gives me an excuse to put something on Netflix and ignore my homework for a while.

On Sunday evening, as usual, I went to the Scottish Country Dance lesson, where we learned a couple of intimidating dances that went surprisingly well! I'm looking forward to dancing them at 2 upcoming events, which you shall hear about in due course. Finally, have a recipe for all your hard work reading this post!

Gran's 7-Layer Cookies, or Hello Dollies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (113 grams) of butter

  • graham cracker crumbs (can be substituted with any biscuit crumbs)

  • chocolate chips

  • butterscotch chips

  • shredded coconut

  • pecan halves

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/175° C (Or don't. It doesn't really matter.)

  2. Place the stick of butter in a large-ish rectangular pan, about the size you use to make brownies, and melt the butter in the hot (or getting hot) oven.

  3. After the butter melts, sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top, enough to cover the bottom of the pan and mix with the butter to form a crust.

  4. Sprinkle the butterscotch chips on top of the crust, enough to form a nice, even layer.

  5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the butterscotch chips. Keep adding chocolate chips until the Holy Spirit tells you to stop.

  6. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on top of that, as much as you like.

  7. Drizzle the can of sweetened condensed milk all over the pan, on top of all the layers. Then, use a spatula to scrape the sides of the can and eat whatever was left. This is an important step.

  8. Sprinkle some pecan halves on top of everything. Debate whether it should be pronounced pecan or pecan.

  9. Bake the tray for about 20 minutes, until the coconut is toasted, the chocolate is melted, and the sides are starting to pull away from the pan. Maybe check on it at 10 minutes, just to be safe.

  10. If you can withstand the temptation, let the tray cool before you cut the cookies into slices and serve.

Notes:

  • You really can't mess these up, so feel free to make substitutions or leave out layers. In the batch I made this weekend, I used gluten-free oat biscuits instead of graham crackers, white chocolate chips instead of butterscotch chips, and left off the pecans for friends with nut allergies. They were still very good.

  • Measure with your heart.

  • Liking these cookies is a necessary condition for joining my family via marriage, adoption, or any similar legal/covenantal agreement.