Uli Yeomans shares a recipe for a festive delight…

[New City Magazine – December 2020, page 22]

Since March 2020 I have participated in many Focolare Zoom meetings. Never before has there been such an awareness of how much we benefit from each other’s company, and indeed how much we miss it when social distancing restrictions prohibit it.

But there is more to the zooming experience of many a recent Focolare get-together. A new way of working together, with participants ‘taking steps of the heart and soul to make the presence of Jesus in our midst a reality… and these steps are the hallmark of our authenticity.’ That was one reflection, whilst another person remarked that when we share the things which are closest to our heart, we become ‘more family’. And at a workshop for interreligious dialogue people marvelled at how they re-discovered aspects of their own faith by sincerely listening to contributions from a different religious orientation.

What is the secret to such joyful online gatherings? Perhaps it is the genuine attempt to seek what unites us rather than focus on disagreements. This requires a certain emptying of ourselves and letting go of favourite personal ideas in order to assimilate the perspective of others.

The upcoming holiday season will bring many opportunities to practice this spirit of mutuality. We are predicted a digital or a virtual Christmas – let’s use our mobiles, smartphones, chat groups, Zoom meetings and ‘online giving’ to reach out to family and far beyond. The peace and joy heralded by heavenly hosts in the Christmas story is built in the present, with all the means at our disposal.

If you would like to get creative in the kitchen, here is the recipe for continental gingerbread, which is easy to make and versatile. It is a honey biscuit pastry with only a little ginger, but lots of warming winter spices. Cut out biscuit shapes or make two larger ones and decorate them as you wish for a festive treat. But it is equally good and nourishing throughout these colder months of the year.


300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp each of ground cloves, ginger and nutmeg
grated peel of a lemon
150g honey, 80g butter
1 egg and one for basting


Warm the honey, sugar and butter till melted, stir well and set aside whilst sifting the flour and spices together. Add the fluid mixture, then the lightly beaten egg and combine well. Leave to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. When ready to bake, give it a good quick knead and roll out as required: ¼ inch thick for biscuits or half an inch for a larger cake. Baste with whisked egg and bake at 190°C for 7 or 8 minutes, a little longer if the item is thicker. Be careful, it burns easily. This honey cake hardens slightly when cooled but softens again as it improves with keeping. A very small apple stored in the tin speeds up this process.

 [See the article in full PDF edition on page 22]

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