Monday, September 30, 2013

I tweak the pudding.

Mine is like the 4th from the top, only dirtier.
In the first decade of my married life my primary cooking teachers were Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, in the 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking. That was long before this age when one can find overwhelming amounts of information about any food or recipe at the click of a mouse, and before we watched "Julie and Julia" and found out that the cookbook my mother had given me for a wedding present was suspect.
The women who published the book in various forms beginning in the 30's were not the same sort of cooks as those we know today, we who have the likes of Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher to inspire us. Irma was grieving the loss of her husband in 1930 when she followed the advice of others and got busy making a book out of her collection of recipes that had been gathered to teach a class in the 20's.

Irma S. Rombauer
Marion wrote a biographical sketch of her mother, in which she admits that her mother was not known for her great cooking. To which I add, it really was not the era for that. Many of the households that had the resources to spend on a variety of ingredients had hired help to cook for them, which I noticed early on was the case with the Rombauers, because in my copy they mention conversationally, and give a recipe for, the matchless poultry dressing their cook made. The kitchen help, expert as they might be, would not be in a position to publish cookbooks, so as Marion reasoned, "cookbook writing is too important to be left to the cooks."

But for women who were increasingly responsible for preparing meals for their own families, and who had time and means to study and learn from books, the Rombauer women did a good service. I like what Christopher Kimball wrote for the listing of the book, about Irma's "amateur but highly evolved enthusiasm." After all this revisiting I plan to get a copy of the latest revision and see how it has changed, now that Irma's descendants are bringing to it their own flair and abilities. On the Joy website I found a likeable personal tone and appetizing recipes, but the cooks don't give away all of the book's recipes online.

The Rombauer/Becker Family marked their own favorite recipes in the edition I own with the name "Cockaigne" after the name of their summer home, and that label served me as online reader reviews do nowadays, helping me know that at least a few people really liked that particular casserole or cake or whatever.

While my little children played nearby or took their naps, in the days before I could be distracted by reading or writing blog posts, I sat at the kitchen table and pored over Joy, making a list of all the "Cockaigne" recipes that appealed to me. The only one I remember now without looking it up, perhaps the only thing I tried more than once, was Tomato Pudding Cockaigne.

Kate shows fruit from yesteryear's garden.
On a recent blog post somewhere I read mention of Scalloped Tomatoes, and I found online many recipes for that dish, which seemed to resemble the tomato pudding I hadn't made in 20 years. It was labeled as Southern Cooking on many websites. Do all of you southern ladies make scalloped tomatoes?

At first it sounded like the perfect way to use up some of my fresh tomatoes, and perhaps also in the winter, to use some of the bags full that I have been freezing. Except that there seemed to be more bread and sugar than I care to consume in the various versions....eventually I gave up looking at them and went back to my old recipe, which I discovered also calls for quite a bit of sugar -- six tablespoons to go with 14 tomatoes -- but why? These are garden-ripe, sweet tomatoes I'm bringing in by the bowlful.

Joy's recipe also didn't have enough basil for me, and included no garlic. It called for only a small quantity of bread crumbs, and I hoped that if I added a larger quantity of bread the juice would be soaked up faster and the dish might take only two hours instead of three to cook down. you have it,
Gretchen's California Tomato Pudding

14 fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, sliced

1/3 cup fresh chopped basil leaves

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 extra-large clove garlic. minced

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 cups fresh sourdough bread crumbs

6 tablespoons melted (salted) butter

Put the tomatoes in a pan on the stovetop, and heat to the boiling point. Stir in the herbs, garlic, and sugar. Cover the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish with the bread, and pour the melted butter over it. Ladle the tomato mixture on top of the crumbs, and bake uncovered at 350° for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until it is no longer watery. Serve warm.
While my pudding was in the oven I typed out the above, and waited to see if  the finished product would be worthy of sharing. Oh my, yes, it is delectable and so hard to stop eating. I guess my husband and I ate about five tomatoes worth each.

I could further tweak a few things, make it a couple more times to assure consistency and give you a more thorough report, but this is only a blog after all, so I will just say that I'm pretty sure it would be just as good with a little less butter and sugar. I imagine it tasting great made with olive oil, if you prefer vegan fare. But Mr. Glad said, "Whatever you did to make it like this, it was perfect."

Friday, September 27, 2013

blackberry wine and a white fence

At various spots in our town and country I'm sure I smell the blackberries turning to wine on their bushes - even as I am driving down the street or road that particular scent of summer-into-fall invades my car. I've never noticed it's probably all kinds of fruits breaking down into soil and earth and giving out their last sweetness on the way.

The sweet olive is blooming at the same time, and I must say, this is almost too much deliciousness to absorb in one day. I roasted pimientos from the garden last night, to loosen their skins, and that filled the house with...what shall I call it...Old Mexico? If Autumn has its special atmosphere, it must include all these ingredients in the recipe. We haven't initiated the wood fires, and I'm wondering if I put off generating smoke, maybe I can prolong these other more subtle experiences. But pretty soon -- maybe tomorrow?! -- I will be shivering too much to care about that aspect of the season's loveliness.

And there is plenty of visual feasting to do, with various plants making their seeds now, or putting out the last blooms, the flowers seeming even brighter in the slanted light. They are brave to emerge into the cold mornings when any day now they might get cut down by Jack Frost.

Echinacea Sombrero Hot Coral
October is the best month to plant any kind of peas in our area, and I haven't had sweet peas in the garden in too long. The excitement of the fall garden is making me feel up to helping the little pea seedlings through the winter, so I went to the nursery to buy some seeds. Look what I found - an Echinacea Sombrero Hot Coral. When Kim at My Field of Dreams found something like this last month I ran to the store to get my own, but found nothing. Is this the name of yours, Kim?

Not all the fall colors are orange.

A few weeks ago we had automatic irrigation installed, in the form of a system of plastic tubes running just under the surface of the ground all over the yard. Little black plastic emitters stick up at various places and cover the soil with a spray of water at whatever time intervals we program into the control panel.

Little fence is in the background near the street.
Not a week had gone by before one emitter very close to the front sidewalk was broken off, so we had the guys return and move that line back a few inches, Mr. Glad installed pieces of wooden fence with stakes that poke into the ground. The paint was a little thin, so he put another coat over it first. I think it's cute, and when the plants nearby have grown up bigger the white picket look will complement the foliage and flowers nicely.

This afternoon I'm headed back out to plant that echinacea, and also some stock and snapdragons. I'll clear the pine needles off the cyclamen and trim the rosemary, and sniff and breathe in all these goodies of my garden. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We were made to be warmed and fed.

Romanós writes in his blog today about the Holy Trinity and the way the church fathers found instruction about God in the sun. Especially in the last week I appreciate this picture, because we haven't yet shut the windows of our house against the coming winter, and it doesn't warm up in here anymore. Until such time as we start building fires, I find myself going outdoors just to stand in the sunshine. Below are some snatches from the post.
The Orthodox fathers use the sun as an analogy to the Holy and Divine Triad. The sun itself is the Heavenly Father. The light of the sun is the Divine Word and Son of God. The heat of the sun is the Holy Spirit.
No one can see the sun, except by the light, which enters our eyes and shows it to us. We have no other way to be in contact with the sun or even know for sure that it is there, but for the light (and the heat). If you approached the sun to touch it, you would be incinerated long before you reached it. The Father, thus, is ever intangible and unreachable to us, in His essence.
This analogy also teaches about the relationship of the three Persons of the Trinity, which in its order lines up with the original Nicene Creed, not the altered western version. Romanos goes on to dwell on the primary aspect of this God on Whom we depend with our every fiber: Love. There is no coldness in Heaven; when we are truly with Him He is a radiant Fire that fills our entire being, and we sit as at a banquet.
There can be no love except ‘between’ and no pure love, impartial and selfless love, except between ‘three.’ Hence, the Divine Nature says, ‘Let us make man in Our image.’

....we take our places at the banquet of the Divine Nature, becoming by genuine adoption what Christ is by nature, sons and daughters of the Most-High.

See the Orthodox ikon of the Holy Trinity, the original written by Andrei Rublev, posted above. There you will see the three ‘angels’ seated around a table, with one place left open for another.

That one is you.

Read the whole post here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bees vs. horrid insects

We have helped our neighbor over the years by pruning her overgrown Asian pear tree, and by picking up the fruit that drops throughout the summer months. Recently she did some of this work herself, and put fifty or so pears into a plastic bag and left it under the tree for a week or two. After a while Mr. Glad couldn't stand it, and he tried to put the whole lot into the trash, but he found it also contained scads of bees, one of which stung him.

I saw one of those fruits on the sidewalk with 60% of the inside gone, in the process of being excavated by six honeybees. I was so surprised -- I didn't know they would eat fruit. Another day I took pictures of some of the pears lying on the grass, full of bees, and wasps too.

yellow-jacket wasp on left
The few wasps were spending as much time acting aggressively toward the bees as they were drinking pear juice, trying to be king of the mountain. I thought of what I'd read from The Bee Lady, who recently instructed us about the difference in species. She also let us in on the fact that yellow jackets are carnivores, and they will eat bees. I think that is horrid - as if bees didn't have enough problems already.

Wasps aren't bees. Pest removal companies perpetuate the confusion by saying they do "bee removal" when they are talking about both insects. Why can't they say "Bee and Wasp Removal"? This one has a good chart showing many wasps and bees, even though the company name is not entomologically precise.

To be fair, even wasps do serve a purpose on the earth, as this page points out. I read that one kind of wasp eats black widows, for which I'm sure I must thank the Lord.

wasp and bee getting along in Australia by C. Frank Starmer via Creative Commons
 I liked this page, too, that delineates some differences between bumblebees and honeybees. Ants, wasps and bees are related species, but they are different species. I am with The Bee Lady on this one -- bees should not have to bear the reproach of their cousins.

Ever since I reviewed all those pictures of the blessing of bees and honey, while telling about the Feast of Transfiguration, my love for bees has grown as has my wonderment at honey and the miracle of it all. I'm even eating more honey, such a beautiful food. Wasps haven't a clue how to make it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

While I was at the fair...

Last weekend was the giant and truly wonder-full food festival my parish puts on every year. I was on my feet for the better part of 12 hours both days, in church or selling books and T-shirts, or just walking around. I listened to the band and watched the Balkan and Eritrean dancers, but my legs and feet were too tired to dance. I talked to friends I hadn't seen in 15 or 20 years, trying to stretch out of my introverted self. It all wore me plumb out.

In the week previous I had baked some cakes to sell in the bakery, alongside some of the goodies I told you about last month as we were preparing some of them in advance.

At that time I posted a recipe for Pumpkin Banitsa, which had been stashed in the freezer until the morning of the event, to be baked and served freshly out of the oven and ready to sink teeth into. It's to the right of the baklava in the photo above.

This is one of the three liqueur cakes I contributed to the bakery. My favorite was the mocha cake that I didn't take a picture of, and which I have made many times. They were all variations on its recipe, starting with a devil's food cake mix, adding butter, eggs, cocoa and (in the case of the mocha cake) coffee, and coffee liqueur.

The glaze is made from powdered sugar and whichever liqueur is appropriate. I used coffee, chocolate, or orange liqueur in these recent cakes. In the one pictured, I glazed it before freezing, and again the morning it was to be served, with a little food coloring in the second glaze. Then some coarse "natural" sugar went on last.

Monday morning I felt as though I had been away from home on a long trip. I went to the back yard to visit the garden and pick vegetables. I trimmed some spent flowers on my amazing zinnia, and stretched a measuring tape next to it to see just how tall it is - just an inch short of five feet high. Our summery September is predicted to give more 80° days, so I will keep track of the flower that was certainly a good investment of the $4 I paid for a 4" pot. It's been one of the constant joys of this summer.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm picking Rainbows.

Persimmon tomato on placemat with Italian scene
This is the first year that I received a tomato plant for my birthday, and I was very happy about it. My friend grew it from her volunteers, from her favorite variety of the previous summer, and handed it to me in a 4" pot. I got it into the ground within a few weeks, and it grew like crazy. Some of our first fruits came from that bushy plant - and they were huge!

But we Glad farmers like our tomatoes to be more smoothly globe-shaped, not with the big shoulders and deep grooves of these Rainbows, or Big Rainbows as they are called on the nursery websites. I have mostly dipped them in boiling water so that I could easily peel them and cut them into chunks for the freezer, but when I took 15# of them to church last week they were scooped up fast.

Big Rainbows
Our Persimmons have also been like that this year; previously they were like other gardeners' photos on the Web. Maybe it is a feature of heirloom tomatoes that there is variation in the shape? Does any of my readers know what causes this? The Rainbows are smoothing out, now that they are past the peak of production and smaller. (I should slice up a few for dinner tonight.) But not the Persimmons.

Well, we haven't been able to keep up with eating them fresh anyway. I have been freezing quarts and quarts. Even on the morning of my departure for the mountains I quickly scalded some Early Girls, and when I ran out of time I stashed them in the freezer whole with skins on. I figure the skins will come off just as easily when I defrost them again. I hope I'm right.

flesh of Rainbow tomato

So as not to let tomatoes take over my blog the way they have taken over the kitchen, I'll consolidate tomato stories here, and show you my latest pot of Cherry Tomato Soup. This batch I cooked down a bit more than usual - so that I will have a better chance of fitting it into the freezer that is getting maxed-out.

After stewing the tomatoes and basil for a couple of hours, I added a little cream and chicken broth and puréed some of it before serving it with a meatloaf dinner. So yummy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mountain Air - Berries

Wikipedia Commons - sambucus mexicana
Last July when we were descending from the lake to the valley, along the road between about 7,000 to 4,000 feet elevation I glimpsed many tall plants with big flower heads resembling the umbrella-shaped blooms of cow-parsnip.

Our driver was of the usual sort who is totally uninterested in suddenly pulling over just because I cry, "Look! Another one of those plants - what do you suppose they are?"

So I just kept straining my eyes and craning my neck as we sped past one after another. And I really wasn't too disturbed, because I was confident that since I had recently studied various similar plants in the parsley family after our trip to Oregon, I would be able to look in a book or online and find out which species had yellowish blooms of that sort. At home I researched for an hour or more but there was no such plant.

blue elderberry
When I drove up this month I guess I was in too big of a hurry to find what I was looking for, but once again, on the way down the hill some tall bushes got my attention, with their big clusters of berries. I realized after a while that those were the same plants I had seen in July, and I stopped twice at turnouts and walked back to take some pictures.

Once I saw the leaves up close, it was obvious they weren't in the parsley family. Mr. Glad suggested they might be elderberries, and when I plugged that name into Google I found that indeed they are. In the Sierras three species of elderberries grow. The black elderberry is at higher elevations, and the red elderberry is red, so that leaves this one, the blue elderberry, which grows up to 25' tall and wide.

It's always satisfying to come back from a trip with at least one new plant in my mental directory. True, sometimes I only keep them in my blog postings, because they disappear from my recallable memory. In any case, knowing some names makes me feel more friendly with the natural world.

That's the last I'll see of that part of the country for a good while. Very soon the cabin will be shut up against the snows of winter in the Sierra Nevada. We pray that this year they will be very heavy!

sambucus mexicana

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mountain Air - Stars and Storms

top of a little fir tree
I've mentioned the smoke from the Rim Fire, and the stinging of eyes and throat. It all was a bit distracting. The discomfort made any mental focusing difficult, and one thought kept coming back to me: Will I have to cut my time short and go home? By the second morning, I knew I would be able to stay.

Naturally the stars were still there where I'd left them in July, and I did spend some time with my friends, but not the first night - I was a little altitude sick, and spent. Just give me a good bed, and I'll leave the window open so the cool mountain air will brush my cheek in the night, gently. The second night I also did not feel great, because of the smoke and the headache it gave me. I could only imagine that the stars were somewhat blocked out anyway.

But - surprise! - I woke at 2:30 in the morning, quite wide awake. It's not very cold, and I feel good. So I dragged a sleeping pad out onto the deck, shook my sleeping bag (brought just for this purpose) out of its stuff bag, and crawled inside. Hmmm....I am not in the best location; the eaves of the roof are blocking part of the show... so I hauled myself out, moved my bed and scooted back down inside.

I lay there looking up at the Milky Way and noticing again how the tall Lodgepole pines make a kind of ruffled edge to the pool of stars. They also hide some constellations I'd like to have seen, like the Little Dipper. Next I found that the umbrella was cutting into my view, so I rearranged myself and my pallet once more, and then stayed put for an hour and a half. During that time I stared a lot, and saw many shooting stars. Stars appear to be so alive, making the sky coldly electric and exciting with their sparkling. And I felt alive, too.

I tried to go back to sleep out on the deck, which is why I stayed so long. But that didn't work, so I went back to the bed by the window, from which I could actually see the stars a little.

One reason to make one's mountain vacation at least four nights long (or should we make that ten?) is so that you can have more possible nights for star-gazing. In the mountains you never know when a thunderstorm will come through for a couple of days, and that's what happened next. My remaining nights at the cabin were rainy, so I was really thankful God woke me up in the wee hours to have my Star Time.

I was sitting on the deck that afternoon, reading or sewing, when I noticed the sky clouding up. I could see that rain was falling in the northeast, and I heard the thunder very loud. Then lightning...but I resisted being driven indoors until an hour or two later when the sky was completely clouded over, and the temperature was dropping.

The kind of fire I'll build next time.
I had moved inside to the dining table by the picture window when I heard the patter of rain, and looked up to see dark spots appearing on the deck boards...what a blessing to have this Mountain Storm experience! It made me very contented. I thought of building a fire in the massive rock fireplace, but the weather didn't really call for it; I still had the doors and windows open as the temperature hadn't dropped that much.

Me sitting by that window in yesteryear

When the rain had stopped, and it was still not dark yet, I went out and stood looking out beyond the deck to the lake. I smelled the earth and the trees -- for the first time! I hadn't even noticed as I was entering the forest on my drive up, or anytime in the first two days, that the mountain air hadn't pressed its heady aromas on my senses. All I could think was that the smoke had been filling those olfactory spaces until the rain washed things up.

As I looked out and soaked up the quiet, and the moist and piney smell, a small doe picked her way through the rocks and little trees right below the cabin, not aware of me. It's the first time I've seen a deer that close to the house, and I counted it one more gift of the mountains.

sunny on blue

Sun Golds and Sun Sugars

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mountain Air - I notice some things.

After reading of John Ruskin last summer, how he recommended that everyone learn to draw as a way of learning to attend to God's creation, I felt it almost my Christian duty to at least make an effort. Normally I don't want to take the time for a new challenge like that, so I had put it off until I knew I would have these uninterrupted hours at the cabin.

An ant visited my sketch pad.
Betty Edwards, in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, was my instructor. I enjoyed some of the exercises one day on the cabin deck, and the next I walked over to Gumdrop Dome and attempted to draw a very complicated scene.

It was a surprising pleasure, concentrating on all the lines and angles in front of me as I perched on a boulder, soaking up one of my favorite venues in a brand new way, noticing with my hand tranferring what my eyes processed through my mind -- for about an hour. Then suddenly I was done for, too brain weary/bored to finish my impossible drawing.

I picked up my tools and hiked a little farther around the dome where there was a simpler picture in view. This will be easier, I thought. So I sat on another rock and started in on this slope of the dome with a tree growing out of it, photo at right.

But no, granite domes and trees are just way too intricate for this beginner, and I gave that sketch up within a few minutes. It was soothing after my exertions to take out my camera and do instead some more familiar kind of focusing on these natural wonders.

tree bark

My primary goal in taking this little walk was unrelated to my drawing exercises anyway. When we'd hiked here with our friends earlier in the summer, while the other three were on top of the dome with the camera, I'd walked around the side and noticed the dearest little tree growing out of the rock and seeming to lay its "head" down on the stone, in a manner reminiscent of the way we children in First Grade used to lay our head on our desks every day after lunch for Rest Time.


This is how it had looked to me then:
I had tried very hard to concentrate my mental forces and memorize the way that tree looked, so that when I arrived back at the cabin I'd be able to sketch it. The results weren't satisfying, though, and I'd contented myself with the thought that Next Time I would go locate it again, camera in hand. Here was my next time, a mere two months later.

As I walked around a tree I saw that it's not resting on the rock at all. But the poor thing must have had its bones permanently bent by snow as a child. It will always be a hunchback, but with the honorable position of pointing to a beautiful granite dome, showing the climbers, "This way to the top!"
Here is another complex arrangement of nature that I didn't even consider taking pencil and paper to, rock, trees, sky and clouds. This one seems to demand colored pencils:

At last, the picture I know you all have been dying to see, the result of my feeble exploration of the mountainside with the Right Side of My Brain:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mountain Air - smoke and writing

GJ in the Tuolumne River
I returned this week from a solitary trip to the mountains, where I stayed in a cabin off the grid for four nights. I could easily write a book about my five days of journeying and lodging, probably a philosophical novel. Or would it be a how-to treatise with packing lists and suggested activities and prayers?

I'm always saying, "I could write a book about ____." And it just occurred to me that I am always writing, as I endlessly analyze events as to their significance, and organize my thoughts, composing and reworking the lines in my mind. If I have a pencil or keyboard handy and hands free I might scribble down some of it, often in a notebook or in the margin of the book I'm reading. But the process has begun long before that.

It wouldn't be a lie exactly, when people ask me what I do, to say, "I write." Because I'm a process-oriented type, I can't see a book ever resulting from my work, but no pressure -- no one is clamoring for a discussion of the things in my pocket or the interrelatedness of the last ten books I read.

I thought I might do some sort of scribbling during my getaway, but I didn't make much visible progress on my "books." Many things that are fascinating to my self-centered self consumed my hours and my thoughts, and I do want to reflect on some of that here, hopefully without rambling on and on.
Evening with brown haze in north
Today I just want to mention one sad thing about my experience: Smoke. The brown cinders from that horrid Rim Fire, the largest wildfire on record in the Sierra Nevada, had drifted south and made the air murky around Our Lake. One day was so bad that my eyes and throat and head hurt from the pollution. But I didn't have to come home early, because it cleared up a little by the next morning.

Another bad air day
I can't imagine what the landscape will look like, the next time we visit our beloved Yosemite and drive through the scorched forests. One thing I know: On August 25th the fire destroyed the Berkeley City Camp Tuolumne where my sisters and I as children vacationed with our grandparents.

It has been many decades since I did water ballet in that swimming hole in the Tuolumne River, or even visited the camp, and it won't change my life that it is wiped out. But what a heartache for the people who spent dozens of formative summers in the context of that special place, and those for whom the rustic cabin life in an idyllic setting was a very recent tradition and expectation. I'm very thankful it was only smoke that invaded our family's lake and village.

Camp Tuolumne in the old days

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Know this and let your heart dance for joy.

September 1st marks the beginning of the church calendar, and St. Nikolai in his Prologue of Ohrid explains:
The First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325] decreed that the Church year should begin on September 1. The month of September was, for the Hebrews, the beginning of the civil year (Exodus 23:16), the month of gathering the harvest and of the offering of thanks to God. It was on this feast that the Lord Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), opened the book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2).
In the Prologue the first entries for September contain themes of beginnings, including this homily that I find very heartening as I myself start over, as we are exhorted to do, as many million times as necessary. I want to put behind me my past failures, even those of the last few minutes, as distracting weights, and enjoy the liberty our Lord proclaims. It is just one of the rich gifts that Christ brought with his visiting of the earth.
on the Word of God revealed in the flesh

And the Word was made flesh (John 1:14).
Here, brethren, is a new, blessed and salvific beginning for us -- the beginning of our salvation. Adam was in the flesh when he fell under the authority of sin and death. Now the Creator of Adam has appeared in the flesh, to deliver Adam and Adam's posterity from the power of sin and death.  
The Son of God -- the Word, Wisdom, Light and Life -- descended among men in human flesh and with a human soul. He was incarnate but not divided from His Divinity. He descended without being separated from His Father. He retained all that He had been and would be for all eternity, and yet He received something new: human nature. 
His eternal attributes were not diminished by the Incarnation, neither was His relationship to the Father and the Spirit changed. Lo, the Father testified to this, both on the Jordan and on Mount Tabor: This is my beloved Son! He did not say: “This was my Son,'' but “This is my Son.'' The Holy Spirit was with Him at His bodily conception and throughout His mission on earth. The divine and human nature were united in Him, but not intermingled. 
How? Do not ask, you who do not even know how to explain yourself to yourself, and cannot say how your soul and body are united in you. Only know this: God came to visit the earth, bringing unspeakably rich treasures for mankind -- royal gifts, incorruptible, eternal, priceless and irreplaceable gifts. 
Know this and let your heart dance for joy. Strive to cleanse your hands, purify your senses, wash your soul, whiten your heart, and set your mind straight, that you may receive the royal gifts. For they are not given to the unclean. 
O Lord Jesus Christ, help us to cleanse and wash ourselves by Thy blood and Thy Spirit, that we may be made worthy of Thy royal gifts. 
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.