Journey Mercies . . . Every Recipe Tells a Story
We all know what recipes are . . . they’re guides that help us be creative and try something new. They teach us to follow directions, make us feel like we’ve done our best, and when all is said and done, we end up with an incredible meal! Right? Well, maybe just sometimes ; )
What I do know is that creating a great meal is a lot like creating a great life. No matter what ingredients you have in your cupboard, all it takes is envisioning what the end result will be. We all have gifts and we all can make our recipes matter. There are many of us that will need help, but who doesn’t most of the time?
It’s all in reading the recipe, taking our time and being patient. It’s in giving and receiving help. And then, we wait. And waiting gives us the joy to savor the results of our labor!
I first learned of my family’s recipes through my grandparents on both sides. In one of my last blog’s I talked about my father’s parents. Because they entertained a lot, I grew up eating many things that most people now a day might never think to serve, let alone cook.
Roast leg of lamb, mint jelly, pearled onions, creamed beets, carrots and parsnips cooked and mashed together (yuk!), riced potatoes, gravy, lime Jell-o with cottage cheese and pineapple chunks or orange Jell-o with grated carrots and raisins. Then there was rhubarb for dessert. Who makes rhubarb anymore? When my grandmother cooked, every pan, every dish, every glass and every utensil in her house was used! Etiquette was always on her mind. She would have made Emily Post proud! My grandmother was also Irish, so when she wasn’t cooking for others, she remembered her roots and there were lots of soda bread, cabbage and corned beef and potatoes Not often, but she managed to offer it.
And then, there was my mom’s family. They were a world apart in stature and in life.
My maternal grandparents were very poor dirt famers in Arkansas. They raised chickens for eggs as well as food, had a cow for milk and butter, raised pigs, and had two mules that plowed their potato field and took them to town in a buckboard. Life was so very different there. The outhouse was about 75 feet from the back door. There was no running water, but a deep well outside the house and a bucket that hung from a hook with a dipper so you could get a drink. The smells from the wood-burning stove reminded everyone that Grandma was cooking.
And the food . . . oh, the food! Fried chicken, baked ham, black-eyed peas, fresh string beans, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, corn bread, biscuits and gravy, bacon with just about every meal, and sweet tea in a mason jar.
My kids & grandkids love family dinners. And I find that our best times together revolve around really good food. When my kids were little there were lots of favorites: Chicken and Rice casserole, momma’s homemade mac and cheese, fried chicken or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, potato cheese soup, corned beef and cabbage, and momma’s Sweeties for Thanksgiving with my special Turkey gravy. Then there was snicker doodles, and decorated sugar cookies, Norwegian Leftsa and Rullepulse (commonly know as Rulle, which translates to “rolled meat”) for Christmas. I don’t cook like that anymore. But my kids do and they’ve carried on the traditions.
There are literally thousands of recipe books available. But the one I loved way back when was Chicken Soup for the Soul, which came out in 1993. It was filled with stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It wasn’t meant to heal the body . . . it was meant to heal the soul. That’s where I first realized that recipes for life are all around us. I learned that not everyone’s recipe is the same. I also learned that if you embellish something, you might get a whole new flavor. I learned to be open to try new things, even when you don’t think you’ll like it. I also learned that you can add so much to some one elses life if you just add a pinch of love and kindness.
Life’s recipe calls for joy, happiness and success, but we all know if we aren’t careful we can ruin the dish. Too salty, too watery, undercooked, forgot an ingredient, or simply didn’t pay attention and burned it up. It happens all the time. Life is like that too. We need to be purposeful in how we create our life’s recipe. Take your time, read the directions carefully, keep tasting, and wait until you have just what you think might be the best one yet before you start experimenting. In the end, your favorite dish just may end up being Joy, Happiness, Success, . . . and Love!
My Recipes for Life:
• Respond – to your needs and to those of your family and friends. Be the “salt” that can turn anyone’s feelings from hopeless to hopeful.
• Experiment – Don’t be afraid to try “different”. Don’t keep yourself on one page of the book. As Forrest once said, Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what your gonna get”
• Create – Step outside your Betty Crocker and savor the joy of creating something fresh & exciting! If at first you don’t succeed, you’re one step closer to to perfect!
• Initiative – Take the first step toward “new.” Use all the “cook books” you can find. Look at it as a journey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
• Persistent – Never give up on your life’s recipe. If you know that you are a valuable component in the overall recipe – keep on trying. The proof is in the pudding!
• Enjoy – Savor every morsel. Bite off a big chunk of life and be all that you can be!
• Surprise – What you thought you wouldn’t try – becomes your ultimate favorite!
What’s your favorite recipe?
What recipe in life do you hold fast?