The Ministry of Mince Pies
Realised to my horror at the end of the week that there was a talk and a Bible study yet to be prep-ed for next week. So settled down for an overnighter in the kitchen, just as the temperature dipped below freezing point.
Various people came through the kitchen at various points and we had very good chats (over mince pies) about the wonderfully faithful lyrics of old hymns and students being amazed by the real story of Jonah (vs the Sunday school faff about him being the hero), and hilarious speculations about what we might say to people when we meet them in the New Creation (me to mousy little man:”Oh, you’re Moses? I thought you were supposed to be big and tall with a white beard and curtains for clothes.”; someone:”Oh so when did you become Christian? Oh you’re Paul? Oh this is sooo embarrassing. I would be sooo embarrassed with what little I’ve done with my life…” The Tutor:”I will ask the author of 1 Samuel – what were you trying to do there? Why did you keep repeating yourself?”; someone else (probably in a long queue of complainants):”Hey Paul, why couldn’t you have been slightly more clear in your letters? I mean, did you really have to add “because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:10)?” )
When everyone had left and gone to bed, I managed to put in the requisite 8 hours of prep and knock up a decent first draft for John 21. Great stuff! John could have ended his Gospel in John 20, but John 21 is a marvellous re-commissioning of the unfaithful disciples. This is not just of historical importance but vital to our acknowledgement that the Gospel of John is exactly what Jesus wanted us to have and that the Spirit he promised to leave the disciples did help them remember and understand what he said (John 14:26, 16:13-15) and convey this truth to us accurately. Also vital is to realise that the obsession with God’s word isn’t just the quirk of a few “evangelical churches” but, hey, everyone has their own traditions; rather, Jesus’ own priority for his disciples – to feed his people with his word – communicating the truth about who Jesus is and his works and calling them to him/to keep on in him (cf. John 14).
Or at least this is the preliminary bleary-eyed conclusion.
And as is the case with these overnighters, other brainwaves at 5.30a.m. included trying all decently-priced mince pies in England (or at least, those that are available in London). And with all the traffic through the kitchen, any excess could/would be eagerly dispatched (in)to passing tummies (especially of the bottomless pit student variety):
(NB: all samples were heated in the oven for 6 minutes at 180°C.)
Mr. Kipling – Exceedingly Good Mince Pies (£2 for 2 boxes, Tesco)
Summary of listed ingredients: Mincemeat filling (sugar, bramley apple, sultanas, glucose syrup, raisins, apricot filling, citric acid, preservative, acidity regulator), currants, candied mixed peel, vegetable oil, treacle, maize starch, acetic acid, ground mixed spice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, glucose syrup, butter oil, sugar, dextrose, salt, whole milk powder, flavouring, raising agents, preservative.
Pastry case: embellished with simple pine tree design. negligible sprinkling of sugar, not too keen on the faint taste of flour.
Filling: very moist – see syrup in the photo above. distinct taste of citrus peels.
Tesco Finest 6 Deep Filled Mince Pies with Courvoisier VS Cognac
Summary of listed ingredients: mincemeat (49%), wheat flour, butter (14%), sugar, dextrose, salt, raising agents. mincemeat contains: sugar, mediterranean sultanas, bramley apple puree, glucose syrup, mediterranean raisins, greek vostizza currants, sunflower oil, Courvoisier VS Cognac, italian orange peel, almonds, italian lemon peel, french brandy, glace cherries, port, corn starch, glucose-fructose syrup, acidity regulators, mixed spice, walnuts, malted barley extract, vegetable oil, orange oil, preservatives. (Am amused how they’ve justified the “Finest” label by describing the vague provenance of some ingredients.)
Pastry case: crimp design with steam holes. not too keen on the lingering taste of flour. appreciated the light crunch of the unevenly sugared top.
Filling: less sweet than most so was able to taste slightly more of dried fruit and the hint of cognac and port.
Waitrose Christmas 6 All Butter Mince Pies
Summary of listed ingredients: mincemeat (50%), wheat flour, butter (15%), sugar, salt, raising agent. mincemeat contains: sugar, mixed vine fruits, apple, glace cherries, vegetable suet, candied mixed peel, almonds, apricot puree, wheat glucose-fructose syrup, brandy, cornflour, mixed spices, acetic acid, palm oil, ascorbic acid, barley malt extract, orange oil.
Pastry: a good looking pie with the crimp design right at the edge. slightly buttery as advertised. and thinner, for a better filling:crust ratio. evenly sprinkled was very fine so contributed only a minute crunch to the texture.
Filling: less sweet, pleasant mix of flavours – mincemeat, citrus peels, almond bits worked well together.
Heston from Waitrose: 4 Spiced Shortcrust Mince Pies
Summary of listed ingredients: mincemeat (36%), wheat flour, sugar, concentrated butter, mixed spices, almonds, dried maize glucose syrup, dextrose monohydrate, pasturised free range egg yolk, soya flour, flavouring, raising agents, emulsifier, salt, preservatives, colour carotenes. mincemeat contains: mixed vine fruits, sugar, apple puree, lemon curd, butter, water, chopped orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice from concentrate, orange juice from concentrate, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, gelling agent pectin, ground cloves, orange oil, rose water
Pastry: open top with some lattice work. sprinkled with slivered almonds and there was a little packet of tangerine scented to sprinkle on post-oven. gingerbread-ish but a little dry and rather overwhelmed the filling at the edges where the pastry was very thick.
Filling: rather liked the strong spices with the nutmeg and orange standing out a mile. probably not to everyone’s taste, though.
ASDA Extra Special 6 All-Butter Mince Pies (created with Leiths School of Food and Wine)
Summary of listed ingredients: Mincemeat (48%) [Sugar, Bramley Apple Puree, Sultanas, Currants, Glace Cherries, Glucose Syrup, Brandy, Mixed Peel, Sunflower Oil, Port, Tapioca Starch, Mixed Spice, Acidity Regulator, Colour, Wheat Flour, Unsalted Butter, Sugar, Dextrose, Salt, Raising Agents.
Pastry: embossed stars. slightly buttery with good crunch from the sprinkled sugar
Filling: not too sweet, well-balanced
Heston from Waitrose 6 Puff Pastry Mince Pies with Pine Sugar Dusting
Summary of listed ingredients: mincemeat (39%), wheat flour, butter (25%), sugar, free range whole egg, salt, pine oil. mincemeat contains: mixed vine fruits, sugar, apple puree, lemon curd, butter, chopped orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice from concentrate, orange juice from concentrate, salt, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, acetic acid, gelling agent pectin, ground cloves, orange oil, rose water
Pastry: puff pastry squares with two slashes
Filling: enjoyed the very very faint whiff of pine from the pine sugar
Konditor & Cook Mince Pies
Pastry: buttery with good crumble, a little too small to even tuck in one cheek like a chipmunk
Filling: not too sweet, enjoyable though with no outstanding flavours
to be continued…