This morning I’m sitting in the Toyota showroom, waiting for Rebekah’s little SUV to be serviced. It’s not the best creative writing environment, so I’m going to punt, and offer a new foodie post instead.
Yesterday, about to head to the grocery store for routine supplies, I asked Rebekah if she had a recipe in mind she wanted me to try. So she pulled out a couple of cookbooks and selected what turned out to be an amazing braised chicken selection from Cooking New American.
The philosophy from this cookbook is very similar to classic Italian. It emphasizes fresh, organic ingredients, simple preparation, and a commitment to time-honored techniques. Consequently, the farm-to-table continuum remains nutritious, delicious, and sustainable.
Spiritually, I can’t help but note a parallel to faith that is both rooted in the foundation laid out in the Bible and thoroughly applicable to the twenty-first century world – a world where real people face challenges not even imagined by the folk who wrote down the story of humankind’s struggle to know God, and our eventual introduction to new life in Jesus.
More and more, I am learning about the value of preparation. Seasoning the meat ahead of time and setting aside before cooking; chopping the onion; smashing the garlic; selecting my herbs – all a good half-hour or so before bringing it all to the often frenetic dance on and around the stove-top.
When I was finally ready, I heated olive oil to the point of almost smoking, then browned the chicken on both sides before setting it aside so I could add wine to the pan, deglaze, reduce, introduce the garlic and the onion, simmer, add the tomatoes, return the chicken, and simmer for a good long time.
Meanwhile I prepared wild rice, fresh green beans (I’m moving away from frozen), and biscuits. I’m learning that there should only be one star of the show in a great meal, so the supporting cast was designed to serve as a simple complement to the chicken.
Eventually, it was time to removed the chicken, add the capers, reduce the sauce, and then serve with a teaspoon of fresh chopped parsley on each serving. Usually I’m a red wine guy, but this time a well-balanced Moscato made for the perfect accompaniment. Finally, I offered a small serving of gelato for dessert.
There is something tremendously satisfying about working hard to prepare an ambitious (for me, at least) meal. We invited my parents to come over from next door, and I served at the kitchen counter.
And that, my friends, is the balance of the spiritual tie in. Some of the most profound meaning in this life is found in service. We can fine tune our cooking – and our spiritual experiences – but it’s not until we experience the blessing in the context of community that the full potential becomes realized. We were created for community, both with God and with one-another.
As Jesus said – my paraphrase, “If you have any interest in being a great spiritual person, then you are going to have to find that truth in the context of serving other people. It’s more than just a great idea, it’s a deep truth at the heart of the way the Father created us.”
prep photos – in order: