Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Events" or "Why do I never learn to count the cost before I start a project?"

President Baughman has asked the missionaries to try using "events" as a finding tool for new investigators. We already had our closing social planned for English Class (we will take a two week break for the Christmas Season). We made plans for a shorter class and then showing "Joy to the World" and then a special "süti" (sweet treat) from me.
We all wanted it to be a special occasion and so plans were made. But the best laid plans. . . .as we all know! English class the week before the ending social was a fun week as they were refinishing the floors in the chapel and priesthood room so the Profi class (mine) and the Hallado (Elder Feuz) met together in the hall. They were about 18 of us and with both the Elders and myself teaching it made for a fun class. Our vocab for the week was Christmas and cold weather words, like "slippery". And then we sang some Christmas songs. It was fun. And we talked-up our closing social, hoping they would all stay for the film. It is in English with Hungarian subtitles so we told them it would be good practice.
But what to make for this very special "süti" that had been promised? Finally I decided on a dessert that I make at home. A crepe that is filled with that Cool Whip cheese cake (cool whip, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice), and drizzled with chocolate and fruit sauce. I could even see it in my mind.
Do you remember the parable in the Bible about the man who began to build the house but did not count the cost before he began? When we get to heaven I am going to get the award for the person who personally made this same mistake the most times in a lifetime!
I made my crepe batter on Monday. Here a crepe is known as a palacsinta and is a very common treat. They even have very special and very nice palacsinta pans. Tuesday morning I went into production. Problem 1: the Hungarian palacsinta pan is about 12" diameter, much too big. So I rumble around in the little pantry in our apartment. Agi's parents lived here and it is still stocked with a lot! of their things. I found a small cast iron pan, the perfect size, but I am sure it was used for many years to cook kolbasz. So the first task is to scrub it, rub it with a fresh potato while it was really hot (heard that helped with taking out tastes) and then re-seasoned the pan. After 45 minutes or so problem 1 is mostly resolved. Just have to keep putting butter on if for quite a while because one spot keeps sticking.
Problem 2: Now I just have to turn my pot of batter into palacsinta. Alton Brown I am not! I still have to swirl the pan and you can see ripples running all around it, but who cares. People are just going to eat the thing.
So after a couple of hours I have my stack of palacsintas.
Problem 3: I now have to create the filling. This is the biggest problem of all. Cool Whip: no such thing here. I consider real whipped cream but I am afraid that it will not hold up and just turn back into cream. Cream Cheese: they have it here. I buy the local brand instead of Philadelphia brand because it is so expensive. I forget that it tastes a lot like processed American cheese. Sweetened condensed milk: this is definitely not available here. But I read on line that you can make it. You just need powdered milk, oh dear, that too is not available here. But powdered Coffee creamer is. I know I have seen it on the shelf. Well, I couldn't find it anywhere and so I ended up getting two bottles of a sweetened coffee creamer liquid and 2 tubes of something that you squirted into your coffee. It had milk and sugar in it. I combined the two with some butter and more sugar and cooked it up to the right consistency. It actually tasted just like sweetened condensed milk, just brown like caramel. And for the cool whip I actually find powdered topping mix. Which I have to buy in a package of 5, which was fortunate because I can't get it to whip in my impatience and keep adding more powder. Now finally I have all the pieces. But as i put the cream cheese into the bowl, I remember it's got a different flavor. Too late now, its getting to be afternoon, I've run out of time and patience and I still have to make a fruit sauce for on top. Fortunately I have a lot of chocolate sauce i made for something last week. Anyway. . . I just start mixing everything together and hoping! I taste and make more whipped topping and add it. It just doesnn't taste right. Bruce helps at this point. He tells me it doesn't matter what it was supposed to taste like, that what I've whipped up tastes good. So I finally get all the crepes rolled, and on the balcony (it has become our second freezer), get the fruit sauce made, get everything I need for serving packed up and ready to go. And I have about 1 hour to spare. From 7 am to 4 pm.
But now the good part, everything went beautifully. I didn't have much time to prepare the English lesson but even that seemed to go okay. Then we gathered in the chapel area for the film.
I had a very strong sense of the spirit when I was in the film. I love that film because it has a little of everything in it and the choir sings and you always feel good when the choir sings. After the film 3 of the missionaries bore their testimonies and we had süti.

Problem 4: people began asking for the recipe. How am I ever going to be able to tell them how I made it. And Zoli (who helped eat up the remaining 6, cut the numbers a little too close) kept saying they were good but strange because they always put turo (a dairy thing they make and use with everything) inside their palacsinta.
And Elder Haslem and I did dishes while the missionaries spent nearly an hour visiting.
All in all, even though I once again forgot to count the costs before beginning a project, (I could have bought strudel and it would have been just as good) the evening turned into an event that will be remembered and was just what President Baughman would have hoped for.

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