Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Recipe for Disaster

I realize I treat God in much the same way I do my mom.


Yes, darling?

I need a recipe. A really good recipe….

Recipe for what darling…?

What do you mean ‘for what?”… for LIFE, of course! My life stinks and I could really use help…

Sure, I’ll help you…

Well, that’s not exactly what I meant.  I don’t need your help…. Actually, I do need your help, but I just want you to give me a recipe… A simple recipe that I can follow…  Maybe four or five easy steps that guarantee awesome results.

I don’t want you to follow a recipe. I want you to follow Me.

I hesitate a bit because I know this is can be a sticky point. But I feel like I have nothing to lose, so I go out on a limb.

Well, no offence but you are kind of hard to follow. It would be much easier if you would just give me the recipe…. 


Recipe please… 


Pretty please?... With cherry on top?


I don’t know how it is for others, but for me, God’s silence speaks louder than Klipsch surround sound system. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Creativity on Auto-Play

I used to ask my Mom for recipes.            

What I meant by ‘recipe’ was really a precise, fail-proof, perfect-every-time science experiment that I can repeat in my kitchen at will. A simple outline to follow, that can be done with my eyes closed, or in my sleep, if need be.

I wanted all the right ingredients, in their right order and precise measurements ready to dump into the pot, walk away from it, come back in 45 minutes and have dependable ‘perfect’ result each time.

I didn’t really want to learn to cook.  To understand what each ingredient brings to the common pot.

I wanted an easy, disengaged, mechanical culinary creativity. Creativity on auto-play.
No brainwork. No guesswork.

Luckily for me, my Mom had different idea. 

She wanted me there in the kitchen with her.  Cry the onion tears. Smell the bacon fat.

Her recipes were more along the following lines:

Peel one or two onions, a bunch of carrots…

Is it one or two?

Depends on the size…

She would continue in the similar manner, peeling and chopping, wiping her onion tears with the corner of her apron. Adding sliced carrots, bay leaves… adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that…

How MUCH is ‘a little bit’?  My right brain was turning into a bobbing pot of exasperation. 

Well, it’s according to taste… depends on what you like…

She was introducing wildly subjective, left-brain categories of 'taste' and 'like' which felt like rocket science to my half-brain of choice.

But, I would watch her taste and tweak, and tweak and taste… Pause and think, as if scanning the invisible spice racks inside her mind, looking for just the right ingredient, then light up as she reached into the pantry to retrieve the missing piece of the culinary puzzle.

Frustrating as it was at the time, I learned to appreciate her approach. Eventually, without even trying I begun to emulate it... to the exasperation of all the terrorized right-brain children who want fail-proof recipe that would ensure the delivery of 'perfect' results every time. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Exquisite Art of Self-Sabotage

Making bean soup is not rocket science, or brain surgery. Truly, it isn't.

All you need is a nice hunk of smoked meat, onions, carrots and, of course, beans!

But, just like everything else in life, once you put away your mama's cookbook, close the Allrecipes tab on your computer, the moment you whip out the largest pot in the house and turn on the stove, you discover there is a bit more to it than you thought at first.

Because, the soup  - real soup - is made in the doing, not in reading the recipe, or talking about the recipe, or even writing a blog post, or an entire series - about the recipe. 

I am ashamed to even mention this, because it is so incredibly embarrassing.  I can spend an entire day (I am lying… it’s more like weeks and MONTHS!) reading recipe after recipe, salivating over other people’s tantalizing photos, binge watching YouTube culinary instructional videos to the point of utter exhaustion -  and have absolutely nothing, nothing – to show for my efforts.

I call it ‘research’.

I am a researcher.

As a researcher, I can turn the simplest, easiest thing in the world into rocket surgery and brain science, including making bean soup!

But, even for us, researchers, there is place for research, and then there is place to flip the research switch off and do some real life testing inside a real life kitchens.

For some of us, the very thought of this sends shivers down our spine.

What if I fail? 

What if it isn’t any good? 

I think I am not THAT hungry…

Canned soup is good enough…. 

Cooking is for professionals who have their own TV show…

I have outstanding ability to generate an impressive arsenal of excuses to effectively sabotage my own creative efforts.  I don't need anybody else's help or temptation - I do a mighty fine job myself!

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Curse of Canned Convenience

Soups can be super-simple. You walk into the pantry, grab a can, peel the lid open, pour it into a microwavable bowl and heat it on HIGH for 2:30. 

Voila! Your soup is ready!

For some of us, that's the only kind of soup we know, and we love it. A life-saver for busy moms and dads.

It's convenient. 

It's easy.

It tastes fine.  (My mom would disagree. She would rather be caught dead then eat canned soup!)
Canned soups are wonderful inventions, I tell myself.

But, some questions remain unanswered.

First of all, do you even know the person who made the soup? What did he or she put in it? How long ago was it made? The expiration date on the bottom of the can years out makes me even more nervous. Imagine a bowl of soup that sits on the pantry shelf for two years???  Would I even consider consuming something like that??!?

Still, canned soups are wonderful inventions for busy, distracted, rushed, on-the-go thoughtless lives we live.  I consume those on semi-regular basis, just like I do the pithy inspirational quotes that pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. They are just enough to take the edge of my soul hunger to keep me from working up a healthy appetite for truly nourishing food. 

They keep me sated, mildly sedated, vaguely unsatisfied and generally unmotivated to sink my teeth into anything of real substance.

Like the mass produced, mass consumed shareable content, a can of soup may fill up my stomach but it leaves me hungry everywhere else. It may silence my growling innards, but leave my body anemic, soul impoverished, and my heart and spirit severely, acutely malnourished. 

It is amazing to me that such conditions can exist on every level of society, regardless of the religious or political orientation, in what is deemed the riches country in the world...

Nobody, I mean, nobody is exempt. 

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. Matthew 5:6

Friday, October 06, 2017

The Perfect Bean Soup Day

We rarely get them in sunny Florida, but when we do, I try to take full advantage of them.  

The Bean Soup Days. 

Many times it’s just false, empty promises.  Foreboding clouds on the horizon spelling ‘rain in the forecast’ that burn off along with the morning mist by 10 AM. I’ve gotten wiser with age. I don’t trust those clouds anymore. Now, I check my Accuweather MinuteCast for our zip code to ensure that indeed I have a Bean Soup Day that lasts the ENTIRE day, not just through noon or early afternoon at best.  

Yesterday was a perfect Bean Soup Day. The Minutecast glowed in varied shades of green hour after hour, all the way into the dinner time. This is very important, because it’s no use having a bean soup day that turns into scorching steamy sunny day just as you are about to sit down and eat. I’ve done that a time or two, and it’s no fun. 

For an average control freak, it feels rather strange that I can't just decide, I can't simply choose a Tuesday or a Wednesday and make it a 'Bean Soup Day'. At least not where I live. I have to wait and watch, and watch and wait, plan and ensure that most of the ingredients are in stock and handy so when the weatherman says, It's a Go!, I am ready and I go!

If I mess up the timing, what is supposed to be warm and cozy comfort food becomes somewhat of a sweltering, suffocating torture. I've subjected my family to different forms of torture, this being one of them. Conversely, if I miss the window of opportunity, and I am not ready when the timing is right, it may be months before I get another chance. 

But, yesterday the weatherman was abundantly on my side, and I knew exactly what I had to do.

I am making bean soup today! I announced as I was pulling onions and carrots out of the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.