Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Food for Thought

It's that time of year when the cooking and baking seem to be nonstop. I like it, and it seems the kids like it, too. Mostly they like the result of all that kitchen activity, but they enjoy being involved in the process as well. Olivia is my trusty sous-chef, but some of the boys are becoming more reliable. Some are still better at licking and tasting, or just observing, but Andrew is a powerhouse clean-up guy. It can be hard not to take advantage of this!

Yesterday the kids made our traditional cranberry sauce without my involvement while I made the dough for gingerbread cookies to freeze for next week. The turkey has been washed and dried, seasoned, and is now waiting for the next steps in my recipe tomorrow. After trying quite a few recipes and methods for roasting a turkey, I've landed on Ina Garten's "Make-Ahead Roast Turkey" after last year's success. The turkey and gravy base are prepared in advance; the turkey is roasted as usual on the day of Thanksgiving, but the method allows for plenty of time after it's done to use the oven for other dishes. This is especially helpful if you don't have a double oven, plus it takes away some of the crazy. I like to measure and prep, chop and blanch, and lay out platters and serving utensils with labels in advance.  Doing as much as possible is a sanity saver for me.

Last year was awesome, but I hope never to repeat it! Ha! I was so incredibly anemic (I'd just received my first infusion, but it was too early for the effects to kick in). With the exception of one delicious appetizer (and maybe one dessert?), I made everything: turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with strudel, green beans, fall salad and vinaigrette, dinner rolls, honey butter, pumpkin spice cake with orange cream cheese frosting, lemon tart (or was it raspberry?), and I assisted with Olivia's blueberry pie. All homemade. No cans or packages of frozen this or that. No, actually I did use a couple boxes of Trader Joe's cornbread stuffing mix, but I added lots of extras. I don't know why I insist on making it so complicated! We had prepared for a total of 16 people which we invited from church, but by the morning of Thanksgiving our list had grown by a few more. Then during our meal another 5 people came.

It was wonderful! I was so satisfied by the end of it~ a happy wreck indeed! Afterward, however, I determined that in the future I need to make sure to invite at least one other person who could contribute a few dishes!

This year I was planning on hosting again. I invited many families and singles who don't live close to relatives (or whose family situations are difficult), but I was so happy to discover that most had already made arrangements with others from church. I think this is such a lovely picture of Christian love. So while I am still roasting a turkey and making several other of our favorites, a last minute change means I am not even hosting as originally planned. Although I enjoy being the one who does the welcoming and serving, it will be nice to be on the receiving end this year.


Food. It's not always come easy for me, nor has hosting. I am still very much in the process of learning, but I am determined to become more skilled. It's important to me.

Health and nutrition have always been a topic of interest to me, and food is vital to health both now and in the future. So I consider it my duty to be well informed and skilled for the sake of our family.

But food is more than nourishment for the body. It brings people together, it communicates care and, at times, comfort. It provides an excuse for the building of relationships, and it helps me serve my husband as he seeks to minister to others. Also, good food helps me to create an environment where my kids enjoy having their friends over (but the benefits of having our home as a center for their friendships is a topic for another day!). I hope that tasty food and the resulting aroma that fills my home will be associated with happy memories.

In short, learning to prepare delicious food is important to me, and acquiring the skills needed to do so are definitely worth the continuous effort.

Last week I was introduced to this ugly thing: celery root. It made some nice celery root mashed potatoes.

The bottle of vanilla extract that we started a few years ago fell out of the pantry and crashed all over the tile floor. I was able save the beans (which can be scraped into a recipe), but we've started a new bottle. It smells wonderful already!


Thanksgiving is a good time to be especially aware of the Lord's goodness toward us, and to be particularly thankful for his abundant provisions. It struck me yesterday that I've severely exchanged an attitude of thankfulness with one of worry and angst. There are major changes in our horizon, financial issues, home repairs undone, a husband that has been working 7 days per week for months now... and the list goes on.

You know how it is. We all have our own set of issues, our own set of excuses for worry.

But when my heart is preoccupied with worry, it cannot also return thanks to the Lord. Neither can it be joyful. Quite simply, worry is sinful and thankfulness is commanded by God. Isn't that helpful to be reminded of? I was gratefully relieved when God helped me to see how I have strayed!

I have to learn and relearn the same old things all the time. I am slow of learning, but the Lord is infinitely patient and kind. Didn't I just recently write something about "fretting?" And didn't I just memorize Matthew 6:25-34 with Jacob and Andrew?

I tell the kids that our obedience to God will sometimes go against how we feel. For instance, we worship/sing/pray even if we don't feel like it. We serve even if there's something else we prefer to be doing. And we give thanks even when we don't feel thankful. This is not hypocritical, it is just the reality of being human. We must repent of our sour or selfish feelings, and ask God to work in us even as we take the first steps of obedience. Our feelings are not outside of God's sanctifying power; God can change every hidden part of us!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name!

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night." Ps. 92:1-2

"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving..." Ps. 50: 14

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!" Ps. 100:4

"I will sing to the lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord." Ps. 104:33-34

"Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" Ps. 106:1

"Give thanks in ALL circumstances." 1 Thes. 5:18


1 comment:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! Once again - you said just what I needed to hear. I've been anxious about a few things, and that is a real joy-robber! What a comfort it is to be reminded of God's loving long-suffering with us as we renew our minds. (And for some of us, renew, and renew, and renew. Ha.)
    Hoping you and your family had a lovely holiday weekend.


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