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Thursday, April 9, 2020

From the Same Source | Margaret Somerville

This spring, Interfaith Philadelphia is sharing stories and recipes from across the region. Today's post about sourdough bread comes from Rev. Margaret Somerville. Do you have a recipe or a story you'd like to share? Email Liz Royer at

I started to get anxious when there was no yeast left on the grocery store shelves. I had been to three stores. Sharing my panic that I would not be able to bake fresh bread in isolation, I received a message from a friend who had a sourdough starter. I could pick up a jar from her mailbox when she divided her starter the next day.

Kneading the bread dough is one of my spiritual practices, learned from a Jewish friend, who kneads her prayers into her challah. Into my first sourdough loaf, I kneaded gratitude for my friend who shared her starter, for the connection, for my children quarantined with me who would share this loaf, for my children quarantined in their own home, for those with whom I could not share this loaf today but with whom I would connect in the new world of virtual classrooms and worship services. The loaf rose with my concern for those without bread that day, for those without connection.

One of the youth in my congregation has become a baker as well. I offered to share my starter with her, and her mom drove her over to pick up the jar from my mailbox. And then the idea - what if we passed this starter around our congregation, leaving it on doorsteps, leaving baked loaves for those who don’t feel comfortable baking it themselves? Could we strengthen our connection by sharing of the same bread?

As Holy Week approaches, I am facing the loss of the familiar setting of my favorite service of the church year, Maundy Thursday. This is a service that is literally about communion with others, the celebration of the last supper of Jesus, when he broke bread at table with his disciples, in preparation for passing his ministry onto them, that they would find ways to connect with people the way he had.

What will it be like to celebrate by breaking bread at the table when the table is not there, when we can’t pass the loaf to one another? But perhaps with our shared sourdough starter, what we can do is eat of the same bread. Our loaves in our individual homes will have come from the same source. And perhaps as we daily divide our starters in our own homes and leave them in jars, in mailboxes, and on doorsteps, this bread will be shared from congregation to congregation as well, from one faith tradition to another. Perhaps this sourdough starter will be a reminder that we are all fed from the same source.

We do this is remembrance of one who came in the name of love and light to honor all those who have been created from the same source of love and light.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Shakey-Shakes and Popcorn | A Recipe from Milan Kunz

This spring, Interfaith Philadelphia is sharing stories and recipes from around our region. Today's recipe for Shaky-Shakes and Popcorn comes from one of our 2020 Dare To Understand Awardees, Milan Kunz. If you want to try making this recipe yourself, take a photo and share it with us on Facebook

Shaky-shakes and Popcorn for Family Night

Since 1915, our Church has encouraged members to hold a weekly Family Home Evening (FHE) on Monday evening, or whenever possible. There are no scheduled Church meetings on Monday evening because it is reserved for Family Home Evening. The purpose of FHE is to help families strengthen bonds of love with each other, as well as provide an atmosphere where parents can teach their children principles of the gospel. 

For most families, FHE includes music, prayer, a short lesson, a game or fun activity, and treats. Our family’s favorite treat was “shaky-shakes” and popcorn. Now, you might ask, what is a “shaky-shake?” A “shaky-shake” is a chocolate milkshake with a twist. Instead of mixing the ingredients (ice cream, chocolate powder and milk) in a blender for all to enjoy, the ingredients are put into a separate plastic 16 oz cup with a lid and each person shakes their cup rigorously until it is blended together – thus the name - “shaky-shake!” It was quite a sight to see the five children jumping up and down while running around the kitchen shaking their “shaky-shakes” with great excitement and laughter. 

Each child’s “shaky-shake” was done to their specific informal, unwritten, and secret recipe; some liked more ice cream with little milk, while others added extra chocolate powder. Each acquired their own special blend of ingredients. There are two critical steps in making a “shaky-shake”: first, ensure the lid is on completely, and second, make sure the straw hole is covered by either a thumb or finger - otherwise disastrous things can happen … and have happened in the Kunz home. 

My wife or I usually made the popcorn, but over the years as the children grew older, we delegated that to them. When the children made the popcorn, you could be sure that a lot more butter was added than when Mom or Dad made it. Why popcorn? Well, it’s cheap, fun to make, and goes perfectly with “shaky-shakes.”

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Darn Good Lemon Cake | A Recipe from Rev. Steven Lawrence

This spring, Interfaith Philadelphia is sharing stories and recipes from around our region. Today's recipe for Darn Good Lemon Cake comes from one of our 2020 Dare To Understand Awardees, Rev. Steven Lawrence. If you want to try baking this recipe yourself, take a photo and share it with us on Facebook

"My mother gave me a bread making machine and later a book called The Cake Doctor. It provides simple instructions for great cakes. As I used the book, I discovered that I am a baker, not a cook, at heart. 

Cooking is an art. Cooking is a world of a "pinch" and "salt to taste" and other instructions that change from person to person. Baking is a science. A cup of this and teaspoon of that; it's about precise measurements, not approximations.

I bake cakes for classes I teach, and for church members on request. Cake helps the student have a pleasant memory of a tough class. I make a lemon cake and a chocolate cake. Ironically, I have a food allergy to caffeine, so I have never tasted the chocolate cake."

Rev. L's Darn Good Lemon Cake 

Cake Ingredients

One box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
One box Jell-O lemon Pudding Mix
One box Jell-O lemon Gelatin Mix
Four large eggs
One stick unsalted butter (or one-half cup vegetable oil)
One cup (8oz) sour cream
One half cup water (room temperature)
The zest of one large lemon

Lime Butter Cream Frosting Ingredients

One stick unsalted butter
One lime
3 & ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar

One bundt cake pan
One baking sheet

Cake Directions
Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Most ovens have “hot spots”;  the baking sheet allows for even baking.

For best results, all ingredients (especially softened butter, eggs, and sour cream) should be at room temperature.

If you make the cake with butter, place the softened butter in mixing bowl. Sift the cake mix over the softened butter.

If you are using vegetable oil instead of butter, place the eggs in the mixing bowl and beat thoroughly. Add the oil, water, and sour cream and mix until blended.

Sift the cake mix and gelatin into a mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix until blended (about one minute). Add the lemon pudding and lemon zest. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix thoroughly (about a minute and a half?)

Grease and flour your bundt pan. (I use Pam with flour. It gets into the detailed spaces of a fancy bundt pan and doesn’t affect the taste of the cake.) Pour the cake batter into the pan and even it out by shaking or rotating the pan (your preference). Let the cake set for 10 minutes, then place the pan in a 350-degree oven on the baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, then invert the rack and turn the cake out on to a plate.

Directions for Butter Cream Frosting
Place the softened stick of butter in mixing bowl and mix until creamed. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually until incorporated, but hold back 1/2 cup. The mix will become too dry to continue mixing, so now add the zest and the juice of one lime. Add the last ½ cup of confectioners’ sugar until frosting is creamy. You can frost your cake in any way you wish. I like to refrigerate the frosting for a few hours, then put it in the microwave for one minute and pour over the cake