Daily Archives: December 28, 2011

Feeling Better about My Obsessive Search to Find Out Mrs. Gingrich’s Vocal Part

On another site, I sorta… um… spent way too much time in the comment box reporting my search for… what part Callista Gingrich sings in the choir at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Not because it’s a political thing, but because Wikipedia didn’t include this obviously-important piece of info.

Well, today my choir geekiness has apparently been vindicated, because back on the 15th, the Washington Post had a big story about the tensions of singing in a choir for God while doing all this candidate wife stuff, and about the relationship of Mr. Gingrich’s conversion to Mrs. Gingrich’s singing. There’s angst about what happens if you lose one of your experienced altos. There’s choir culture. And then, it’s a big old sacred music ponder-fest, spending lots of time with the choir director.

Whether or not you like the Gingriches (and hey, lots of choirmembers are not super-likeable or super-virtuous people in some aspect of life, though choir often makes us try to be), this is an important story for understanding things like the new liturgical movement. Or, you know, sacred music. There’s a world of difference between concert Mass performance and singing Mass music as part of actual Mass.

Via Get Religion, with a post by another choir geek.


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Marzipan Christmas Experiment

It was a pretty pleasant Christmas, albeit without snow. Midnight Mass (or 11 PM Mass) went well, and my voice worked out pretty well. My presents were also fairly well appreciated.

Made marzipan from almond flour and sugar, as a treat for my little brother. (He got addicted to it in Germany, where it’s pretty easy to get.) So I consulted the Internet, compared various versions, paid careful attention to people’s advice, and wrote down a recipe that seemed pretty easy. Two parts almond flour, 1 part sugar, a teaspoon of water or flavoring per 150g (which was about a third of my bag of almond flour). I was so ready.

I made it in a saucepan, as directed. Within five minutes, I was sure it wasn’t working. Then I started to have heat-control problems (ie, the sugar was caramelizing into little brown morsels instead of getting soft and melty). Finally I got fed up with it, turned down my pan a lot, put a little little sugar and water in the microwave for a minute or so with extreme speed (trying to move fast enough to avoid more caramelizing), and dumped the resulting “sugar syrup” (not really, because the hot water and hot sugar separated, of course) into the almond flour/sugar mix.

This method (a very bastardized version of the sugar syrup method of making marzipan) apparently did the trick, because when I stirred it some more, the marzipan started looking more like marzipan. Victory! So I put it aside in a cool place as recommended. (No room in the fridge, so the covered pan went out to the garage, to sit it out on top of the washing machine. Such are the glories of cooking in a real house.)

The major problems with my marzipan were two.

1) The sugar was still not as uniform as it should have been, though it wasn’t bad.

2) My little brother turned out to like marzipan that was more 1:1 almond to sugar, as opposed to the German opinion that 2:1 almond to sugar was better. 1:1 is less froufrou because it’s EASIER TO MAKE, and also easier to mold into shapes, etc. However, I only made a small batch, so I can always try again, and make it more to his taste.

The good news is that, even though it was my first try and I didn’t know much, the marzipan was very tasty all the same. It was also fun to mold, as it’s one of those things that gets more pliable as it warms up in your hands. (Since my marzipan wasn’t quite right, it wasn’t as pliable as a really good batch of marzipan.) I’m not much at sculpting and painting, so I mostly just made little marzipan balls until I’d filled up a plate. The rest went to my little brother as a plain slab of marzipan. It was a pretty good snack, since it had all that almond protein in it.

Waxed paper is pretty helpful.

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