STAR OF WONDER: AN EPIPHANY STORY - Extending the Christmas Season


Because Epiphany celebrates Jesus' manifestation to the whole world as represented by the Three Kings who came from different continents and cultures, the Festal Meal should include a variety of foods from around the world. Select a few easy recipes for ethnic dishes that the children could help prepare.

Snack: curried peanuts

One easy—and happily noisy—snack you might try is curried peanuts: just pour a jar of dry roasted peanuts into a paper bag, add a teaspoon or so of curry, and have them take turns shaking the bag. (If the children find the taste too strange, suggest that they each put a small amount in a plastic baggie, tie it with a pretty ribbon, and give it as an Epiphany present to a favorite adult.) For older children you might try a more sophisticated recipe that involves some frying.

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Soup: peanut butter soup

Make an easy version of peanut butter soup from West Africa (simply blend of one cup peanut butter, one cup milk or cream, and four cups of chicken or vegetable broth, flavored, if you like, with sautéed onions and cayenne pepper). Or try a traditional but more complex African chicken and peanut stew.

Main course: stir fry

Help the children prepare a Chinese stir fry. If they're too young to help cut up vegetables, you can use already cut-up frozen vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, and whole green beans: have the children put them in a strainer and run hot water over them for a minute, drain well, and pat dry with paper towels. Stir fry the vegetables quickly in a frying pan or wok, adding cut up meat, poultry, or fish if desired; season the dish with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and a little honey. Top the stir fry with sprouts if you like, and serve with rice. Another easy stir fry recipe can be found here. Or, for vegetarians, try a simple recipe for tofu and vegetable stir-fry with ginger.

Bread: crescent rolls with hidden messages

Adapt the Chinese fortune cookie idea by rolling up lines from Scripture or from Epiphany carols or other simple messages inside crescent shaped dough. Some sample fortunes are:
* "You are the light of the world"
* "Follow your star"
* "God's angels are with you"
* "Take delight in the Lord, and you shall have your heart's desire"
* "Arise, shine, for your light has come."
Type the messages and cut them into strips. For the dough, you can use your favorite bread recipe, frozen dough, or refrigerated crescent dough in a tube.

If you start with the tubes of crescent roll dough, follow the directions for separating the rolls, brush them with butter, then place the folded messages at the wide end of the triangles, then roll them up, starting at the wide end; bake as directed on the package.

Working with homemade or frozen (defrosted) dough, roll it out into circles about one quarter inch thick, brush it with melted butter, cut the circle into 8 or 12 triangles, fold the typed messages in half or thirds and place them at the wide end of the triangles, then roll them up, starting from the wide end. Curve each roll into a crescent moon shape. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet, let rise for 20 minutes, then bake until nicely browned, about 15-20 minutes.

Dessert: Epiphany cake, sometimes called a King Cake

For a basic version, use any spice cake recipe baked round, either in a tube pan or two round layer cake pans, topped with a dairy-based frosting: whipped cream, cream cheese, or sour cream. Or you can try a French version, or a Spanish "King Cake."

It's traditional to bake a dried bean—or an almond—into the cake, and the one who gets the bean is then hailed as King or Queen. Besides being given a paper crown to wear, the King or Queen can be the first to name the best blessings of the past year—a nice way to close the meal, with everyone naming blessings.

This meal includes foods from the three continents of the Kings: Africa, Asia, and Europe—but feel free to experiment with plenty of other ethnic dishes as well.

For plans and liturgy for the Epiphany meal, click here.
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