I know, I’m about to digress and I haven’t even started. I’ll get to the lamb in a minute.
It is Palm Sunday and for the first time in about 17 years, I did not go to Palm Sunday services. Many of my blog followers go St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and they may be tempted to smite me. Or smack me. But I just needed one Palm Sunday off.
Palm Sunday is all about proceeding. We proceed because Christ proceeded. He proceeded into Jerusalem on a donkey, welcomed by people waving palm fronds. So we proceed with great vigor. But not on donkeys, of course. We just hoof it.
The first procession takes place during the Palm Sunday service and involves the children carrying palm fronds and marching up and down the aisles of St. Paul’s. Back and forth, to and fro. Usually this involves very young children whose parents may have nudged them out of the pews and into the aisle. I know this because I practically shoved Noah into the marching line. “I don’t want to,” he would say. “Just do it,” I’d hiss. “It’s Palm Sunday. Now proceed, dammit.” I wouldn’t actually say dammit, of course. I have never seen a child cry while proceeding, but I have seen some fairly confusing looks on their faces. Why, oh why, am I proceeding? Where’s my mommy?
But we’re not done. After the service, children and adults join one or two other congregations nearby and we proceed en masse through historic downtown Franklin. We proceed past the Starbucks, where bikers in their tiny shorts and funny shoes regard us with some confusion. We proceed along at a fairly good clip, the children carrying banners in front of us. The children are still not quite sure why they are proceeding but they get to carry banners and they’re outside so they’re usually compliant. Once we get down to the Square, we turn around and proceed back.
In general, I like proceeding. It’s one of the gentle, if odd, ways we proclaim our faith. And it’s good exercise. It’s worth a cup of frozen yogurt topped with caramel sauce and nuts if you have proceeded vigorously.
But this year, I did not proceed except to make my way to the grill to make lamb kabobs and grilled vegetables, a religious experience of a sort. A few notes about kabobs. First of all, you might be able to find a nice butcher to do the work for you rather than cutting up your own lamb. I can get pre-cut lamb kabobs at The Fresh Market. Secondly, I never alternate the vegetables with the meat on kabobs. I just throw the vegetables in a grilling basket. That way everything gets cooked as it should.
Lamb kabobs with grilled vegetables
½ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound leg of lamb, cut into one-inch pieces
1 8-ounce package fresh whole mushrooms
2 red peppers, cut into large chunks
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper. Marinate lamb for about one hour in the refrigerator. Thread the lamb on skewers. Set aside.
Cut the mushrooms into halves and combine with the peppers in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a grill to medium high. Add the lamb kabobs to one side of the grill and the vegetables to the other, using a grilling basket. Grill the lamb about five minutes and turn over. Continue grilling until the lamb springs back slightly to the touch. Continue grilling the vegetables until they have a nice char and are cooked through.
Let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before serving.