Tag Archives: kitchen

Mary, Help of Kitchens

Mary Statue

I have a Mary in my kitchen.

Mary Statue

Isn’t she lovely?

I didn’t mean to make my first “God in the Mess” post about Mary.  I can’t imagine many of the people out there who read this are Catholic (well, Mum is) and I figure I’m pushing the boundaries enough, writing a ‘God’ post without coming out of the closet as a full-blown Catholic.  But here we are.  I have a Mary in my kitchen.

I know we’re talking about a piece of ceramic, here.   I don’t get all superstitious about it and bring her cups of tea or rub her head for good luck or anything.  But she’s there as a reminder.

Contrary to popular belief, we Catholics don’t worship Mary as a god.  We just really, really admire her.  She’s a good role model, I guess.  I had some vague idea that when I was in the kitchen at five o’clock, about to whack some one or other of my offspring with a saucepan (possibly because they burnt the roast, destroyed the laundry or were considering vegetarianism), I would stop, look at Mary, take a deep breath and put the saucepan down.

I was so excited when I first bought my Kitchen Mary.  It was exactly what I was looking for: simple yet special, traditional yet different.  Even so, when I first got home, I didn’t rush to the kitchen straight away.  Mary spent a lot of time in the plastic bag from the piety stall, wrapped in old parish bulletins.  You see, I wanted to wait until the kitchen was sparkling clean before I put Mary in it.  But setting to and cleaning the kitchen isn’t a straightforward task when you have little ones.  There are nappies and spills and bandaids and bath time and the kitchen mess remains.  Then it hit me (the profound thought, I mean, not the kitchen mess – though it WAS piled precariously high…): the thing I was doing with the Mary statue in my kitchen was exactly what I was doing with God in my life.

You see, I do want God in my life.  I’m sold on that point.  I’m a much better person, much more myself and I make much better decisions when I feel close to God.  But I’ve been keeping God out, just the same.  I guess, in the back of my mind I figured I’d become all spiritual when I “had it all together” or when I “had time to pray”.  It was like it was on my to-do list right next to “clear out the linen cupboard” or “tidy the random drawer”: we both know these things are never going to happen.

But God doesn’t want the perfect versions of ourselves.  God embraces our broken-ness and meets us in the mess.  So, with this in mind, I put Mary in the kitchen, mess and all.  The woman gave birth in a cattle shed, I’m sure she can cope.  You might be asking “Why Mary?  Why not a picture of God?”, well that brings me back to that thing I was saying about Mary being a role model.  I need to let God meet me in the mess and Mary was really good at doing that.  She changed baby Jesus’ nappies as a refugee in Egypt, and had to watch him die, naked and nailed to a tree, when he was an adult.   These situations weren’t tidy.  And she didn’t always have it all together (losing child in temple, anyone?) but she always let God in.

Plus, I don’t really like pictures of God.  They make him look all strange and beard-y.  Like Santa Claus on steroids.

So here’s my Kitchen-Mary in a candid shot (taken before I cleaned up the kitchen for the glamour shots above).

Mary in the Mess

Our Lady of the Sausages, pray for us in our hour of need.

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Roast Fail.

Once a fortnight, I’ve started this thing where we try to have a Sunday Roast.  Every time I open the freezer, I see the meat ready for roasting and I wink at it and whisper “soon!”.  Today was Roast Day.  I’ve been known in the past to let the day get away from me before getting the roast on and thus have a late dinner with psycho children too tired to eat, but not so today!  At 1:30pm I lovingly salted and oiled the meat, placed it on a bed of onions and surrounded it with garlic.  I chopped and parboiled the veggies and put them in the oven too.  I then turned the oven right down low, put on the exhaust fan and got the kids ready to go see my grandma. When we got home we would have roast!

On the way home from the hospital it was bitter cold and pouring down rain.  As we drove along with headlights on, we all shared one smug thought:  Roast.  Put children in warm pyjamas, fill their bellies with roast beef and they’ll be in bed asleep faster than you can say “Downton Abbey”!

As we pulled into the driveway, I said in my most important voice, “Mr Knightley, you unload the kids.  I must go in and check on The Roast!”

My first sign that something might have gone wrong was the smell of smoke.  It would seem the roast had ‘caught’.  Then I got to the kitchen.

My delightful two-year-old son, who loves to help Mummy in the kitchen, had turned the oven up to maximum before we left the house.  The kitchen was rather smoky (would have been much more so, had the fan not been on).  And the Roast was a blackened crisp.

Many things happened then:  I stormed about the house yelling to no one in particular about how hard my life is;  Matlida burst into very loud, impassioned sobs to which Mr Knightley and I (I’m very ashamed to say) growled in unison “Don’t YOU start!”;  Harry, confused as to why everyone seemed so cross at him, set to destroying the house with a kitchen whisk; Christopher Robin asked “what’s for dinner?” and Annie gurgled and kicked in amusement.

Mr Knightley, with an air of grim determination, retrieved the smoking, shrunken black mass from the oven and tried to carve it.  Beneath the thick black crust there was a little bit of good meat to pick at (Mr Knightley gave me the nicest piece).  It felt like Tiny Tim’s family from A Christmas Carol.

We had tinned soup and toasted muffins for dinner.

Afterwards, as we were cleaning up, Mr Knightley did a bit of wistful poking around the charred remains of what were once vegetables and presented me with a small morsel of onion.  “Taste this” he said in a kind voice “It’s perfectly caramelised”