Advent is a very special time in our Community. To me, it symbolizes not only waiting, but also preparation– preparing our hearts and our homes to receive the Christ-Child. We welcome Advent with a festive weekend open to the public. One of the highlights is our candlelit service of Advent Lessons and Carols – a service steeped in English tradition. Throughout the weekend, we serve an elegant afternoon tea at Bethany Guest House situated in scenic Rock Harbor, Orleans. This tradition was started by one of our founders, Mother Cay. She took great pride in entertaining and hospitality, and her sharp and loving eye for beauty and detail has been passed down to all of us. Bethany becomes a magical place at Christmastime. Throughout the weekend, our gift shop, Priory Books and Gifts is bustling with activity. We stock our shop with home baked goods From a Monastery Kitchen – our famous Kentucky Bourbon Cakes, Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls, Cranberry Pear Chutney and English Toffee are just a few of the items sold throughout December in our shop.
For years now, it has been my responsibility to get the Monastic Bakeshop “ready” for Advent. We start preparing in the summer – sampling recipes, making lists of ingredients and then going to companies to see if they would be able to “gift” items to us. In turn, we offer our prayers on their behalf, as well as a tin of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. It has been such a blessing to see the response. Year after year, we have faithful donors that have given of themselves to support our outreach – sugar, flour, oats, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins and yes, even Jim Beam Bourbon, have been generously given to us – enabling a profit of the sales to help support our community.
A few years ago, I became friends with a woman who frequented our bakeshop. She told me of a wonderful almond cake that I really should try sometime – and perhaps even sell in our shop. She came back a couple days later with a gift for us – the special Scandinavian Almond Cake pan and recipe. What a touching gift that was! This has become one of our favorite cakes to make at Christmas time – or anytime. We now share it with you.
A blessed Advent to you and yours,
The Gourmet Nuns