Thursday, July 12, 2018

Just Follow the Basic Recipe

Lately, because my wife Star is now working, and our kids are in a myriad of daily activities, our family has been eating a lot of pre-prepared meals from Trader Joes.  These pre-prepared meals are a far cry from the pre-made TV dinners that were around when I was a kid.  Some of these meals require a few basic steps before the meal is made.  Most of them are quite simple to put together, and relatively healthy to eat.

Now, at this point, I should probably say that my back-up career plans have always been to be a chef. While I have never had formal cooking training (though I would love to some day), I have worked as a sous-chef in a restaurant when I was in college and worked for various catering companies to prepare meals for some pretty high end entertaining (preparing a meal for former Vice President Walter Mondale comes to mind, for example).  And, as a side note, I always give people advice to have a backup career plan (but that's another blog post).

So, whenever I put a pre-prepared meal into the frying pan, on a frenetic weekday night, to be honest I always feel a little "guilty" or "dumb".  Because of my own false sense of ability in cooking, and my pride, I feel like "this simple meal is beneath me".  So, a couple of nights ago, when making a Chinese stir fry, the recipe called for simply heating up the meat, then putting in the frozen vegetables, then putting in the sauce.  Simple.  But because I was trying to impose my own culinary prowess at this moment, I thought to myself, "What if I just add a little garlic, and then some fish sauce, and perhaps some shallots, and then a bit of Cayenne pepper, and perhaps some ginger and bamboo shoots to spruce it up."  30 minutes later, and a kitchen full of cutting boards, knives, discarded remnants of garlic shells and ginger coverings, I had an....ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING dinner!?!?!

Star, my wife, took a bite of it, and said, "this is awful, what did you do to it?"  I said, defensively, "I just tried to spruce up the recipe a little, and add a little flavor, to give it a little extra color, and texture."  Star said, while spitting out a mouthful, "well, you certainly accomplished your goal.  Let's get takeout." And she was right. It was pretty bad...

This tendency to want to throw in my own take on whatever is required of me in life, could actually be a description of my life.  When asked to preach a basic sermon, I sometimes say, "What if we spruced it up, and tried to make it better?" (sometimes to the detriment of the text or the Gospel).  When I have been asked to lead a meeting, sometimes I have said, "What if we don't just have a regular meeting, what if we have a super meeting?" (sometimes to the detriment of just the normal routine of getting a task accomplished).  What I am saying is that often I have erred in life when I didn't....

Just Follow the Basic Recipe

And what I have been wondering is if I am not alone.  What if all of us, to some extent or another tries to spruce up our lives with all kinds of things (extra stuff, nice cars, super big houses), when all that we really need to be happy is to...

Just Follow the Basic Recipe

What if a lot of the sin-behavior that we engage in (drinking too much, sex outside of the boundaries, business deals that put those around us in risk, gossiping about others, slandering or hating our neighbors) really boils down to the same problem.  What if it is a part of human nature to not...

Just Follow the Basic Recipe

That was really Adam and Eve's problem.  God gave them a good life.  He gave them supremacy and responsibility over everything in the Garden of Eden.  But the first humans weren't good with that.  They wanted to spruce up their lives.  Add a little flavor.  Add a little color.  And so, they ate from a tree that they shouldn't have.

Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt.11:30).  Maybe what Jesus was really saying in this text is that all we have to do to find rest and peace in this life is to...

Just Follow the Basic Recipe

And now, I'm going to the freezer to get out a frozen burrito for lunch.  Maybe I'll refrain from making a Zabbayon Sauce to accompany it...

All For Now,


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