The other night, I made the mistake of leaving the kitchen and checking my email in the middle of preparing dinner. That’s when it happened…the chicken thief stole one of Garrett’s breaded chicken patties! I could not believe it. After looking at both of them, I have a hunch as to who did it.
While my mom and I were busy smashing potatoes and cutting mushrooms, a tiny visitor showed up at the door. Her name is Fatso. While this my not be the prettiest name, it does give an accurate description of the overfed, yet very friendly squirrel. My mom told me that she never sees Fatso at night and that this must be a special encounter.
Seeing Fatso reminded me of when my mom and I would eat breakfast every morning together before I got married. It was our special time together and I was worried about who she would eat with when I left the house because my dad is not a sit-down breakfast person.
One day I saw a squirrel make its way on to our porch. I immediately tried to feed it a peanut. She accepted the peanut and came back the next day. Each successive day, she would enter the house a bit more. On one occasion, while eating breakfast with my mom, Fatso hopped up on the table. My mom and I were both shocked and thrilled that our special visitor considered herself at home and we named her Fatso.
After Garrett and I married, Fatso became very accustomed to hopping up on the kitchen table and eating breakfast with my mom. Seeing her tonight made me think of when I first met the little critter. I smiled and thought, lessons learned while cooking do not always have to do with food. God used the squirrel as a simple, yet powerful reminder that He will never leave us.
1. What daily reminders do you have of God?
2. What is the Fatso in your life?
3. Have you had any special encounters in your kitchen?
Last night, God presented me with a very unique and truly special cooking lesson. He taught me to look at all that He has blessed me with: a loving and healthy family, an incredible husband, and a wonderful meal.
I arrived late to my parents’ house and my mom surprised me by preparing the majority of the meal. She made quite a feast. We had stir fry with fresh vegetables, brown rice, tofu bathed in Teriyaki sauce, thinly sliced beef (for the boys), and gyozas.
Words will not suffice in terms of describing how truly blessed I feel. Last year, around this time, my father had to undergo an invasive surgery to remove a 10-pound cancerous tumor from his thigh. I remember talking to him on the phone the night before his surgery. The fear and sadness in his voice made my stomach sour. I cried and prayed for what felt like all night long. The surgery was a success and after 6 hours the tumor was removed in its entirety. We were told after the fact that if the slightest puncture occurred, hundreds of cancerous cells would have leaked from the tumor causing the doctors to have to immediately amputate my dad’s leg.
A year later and we are blessed beyond belief! My dad is doing better then ever and is already looking into doing another half-iron man in the near future. As I sat at the dinner table, I realized all the dinners I took for granted. I learned an important lesson from God last night: the people who you prepare the meal for are far more important than the actual meal.
1. What is your favorite childhood dinner story?
2. Is God showing you something that you may have taken for granted?
3. When you pray as family and thank God for the meal, do you also thank God for the people around you?
Unfortunately, my mother was not able to meet me for our second cooking lesson, so, Stastny and I took it upon ourselves to make something creative for Garrett. On a side note, I much rather prefer having my mom as opposed to Stastny as an overseer. I can’t help but think that Stastny may have ulterior motives.
Can you guess what we made? Let me give you a hint: Prego mushroom sauce, Texas High Bread, gnocchi, and…remember the term creative. Presto! The Misa concoction was born and Garrett and I scarfed down an entire plate filled with potato gnocchi with mushroom sauce, Texas High Bread, edamame beans, and crispy vegetarian chicken!
Believe it or not, dinner was very good. Even though the only vegetable I could find was the edamame beans, they served two important purposes. First, they were a great way to help me from snacking on the frozen Sour Patch Kids I hid from myself; second, they are fun to eat.
On a practical note, there is a huge difference between cooking on my mom’s stove versus cooking on ours. My mom’s stove turns on automatically and doesn’t involve the rather complicated three-step procedure of our stove: (1) hit the stove, (2) reposition the caps, and (3) use a lighter to start it.
God taught me that patience is one of the primary ingredients in cooking. For example, I had to resist the temptation of wanting to microwave the veggie chicken. Instead, I took the time to make it crispy and add a special seasoning. God taught me to slow down and enjoy the process of making something wonderful with Him.
2. What is the primary spiritual ingredient you use in your cooking?
Yes! My first cooking lesson was a success. Both Garrett and my dad were pleased with the lemon chicken (veggie and real) with mushrooms, basmati rice pilaf, green beans, and an incredible avocado salad.
There are; however, some things I need to work on. For example, my mom smashes the garlic with a knife. It sounds easy–even Garrett can do it–but for some reason I am terrified of slicing the side of my hand. I had to wrap a paper towel around the knife in order to feel secure about slamming my palm down on it.
I realized that my fear of smashing garlic with a dangerously sharp knife is similar to my fear of letting go and giving God control. I tend to worry about things that may seem utterly ridiculous, but they are very real in my mind.
My mom has been cooking for over 30 years and, without thought, she is able to confidently smash the garlic with a slam of her palm. Not once has she sliced her hand. My mom’s confidence reminds me of God’s faithfulness. He has never let me down in my walk with Him. My prayer is to remember this.
2. What fears hold you back from walking with God?
3. Who is in control of your life?
Why should I learn how to cook? There are plenty of fast food restaurants and places to go to satiate your appetite.
My mom cooks like a gourmet chef. As a young girl, I wanted to be just like her, i.e. please everyone with the delightful aromas coming from my kitchen and be asked for the recipe for my glorious meals. My quest to become a great cook was very successful in my earlier years. I was able to prepare pastas, fried chicken, vegetables galore, and special deserts. Everyone who came to my Fisher-Price kitchen smiled as they pretended to chomp down on a plastic chicken bone.
I truly thought I was a great cook until I lived on my own in college. There I learned that my plastic chicken bone would not cut it. Fortunately, the combination of driving home every other weekend and passable dorm food got me through those four years.
I did not lose confidence in cooking until Garrett and I returned from our honeymoon. It was then that I realized my gourmet Mac and Cheese (from the box) accompanied with barbeque baked beans (from the can) would not suffice. I tried cooking an array of meals, but when my fleece robe caught on fire and I accidentally burned Garrett with scolding water, I asked my mom, “Why should I learn how to cook?”
Long story short, I licked my wounds and picked up my pride. My mom told me that cooking is not just something you do, but rather appreciate. We are blessed to be in a position to cook and not wait in long soup kitchen lines or sleep in pain from starvation. She told me that she would be willing to cook a new meal with me every Wednesday night.
My plan is to learn how to cook each meal successfully (hopefully) and post my experience about cooking and the lesson God taught us in the kitchen.
I would be grateful if you wanted to share any special recipes with us as well. I am a vegetarian, but I know my husband will enjoy whatever recommendations you may have.
Thanks and blessed cooking,