Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Cooking Report Card

I made a keen observation last week.

It's impossible to hide motivation, when it comes to cooking.

Somehow, the food knows.....

The food knows when you are happily cooking a meal, baking something.

The food knows when you are grumpily/half-heartedly cooking/baking.

The results are totally different.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present Exhibit A:

Two weeks ago, we had a dessert auction at our church to fundraise for Teen Challenge.  I had been asked to bake something for the auction several weeks prior to that and I had spent quite a bit of time considering what I would bring.  There was this wee niggle of competition brewing inside me.  I wanted to present a dessert that would have a "wow, I want to buy that" factor.  I wanted people to be intrigued, to be highly motivated to buy MY dessert.  I had my eye on this idea that I had seen on-line many months before.  I studied the idea, rehearsed the idea in my mind, dreamed about the idea....until I had a pretty good idea that I could actually accomplish it.

....and I did accomplish it.  Have a look!

This dessert fetched a whopping $170.00!!!  The highest bid of the night.  Proud as a peacock, I was.  I still smile!  The couple that bought the cake said they sat down and had a slice each later that week, and figured they consumed about $20 worth each with the first go-round. 

Yup.  Successful.

Exhibit B: 

Well, it's hard to be as supposedly successful as Exhibit A.  But, well, Exhibit B, that really knocked me from my little self-confident-cook stool.

Our church has this program for new moms.  As soon as they get home from the hospital, we take turns delivering a hot supper for 2 weeks.  So, for two weeks, each new little family gets a parade of cooks bringing food to their home, all carefully and thoughtfully prepared.  Proudly delivered. 

So, sometime in Sept., this new baby shows up at church and, spontaneously, the Pastor decides that we might as well get volunteers to cook right then and there.  He asks for people to put up their hands and commit.  I had a tremendously busy 2 week schedule and was already feeling overwhelmed with just surviving with my own family to take care of.  Somehow, however, my hand flew up into the air and I volunteered to make them supper that very week.  Tuesday, even.  This was Sunday.

Monday, I hemmed and hawed.  I.  Did.  Not.  Want.  To.  Do.  This.

What should I make?  No clue.

They have 2 boys, twin sons in elementary school.

What do you feed someone else's 7 year old boys?


Boy, I don't want to do this.

Finally, I decided that I would make my no-fail-EVERYONE-loves-it soup.  Seriously.  People love this soup.  It's hardy.  It's healthy.  It's DELICIOUS!!!

Problem solved, Tuesday dawned and, though I have my menu planned, I still don't want to make this meal.  I'm tired.  I'm stressed.  This is adding stress.  I dug out some frozen dessert.  "Handy", I thought to myself with a snort.

I grudgingly cooked the soup and called the mom to arrange delivery time.  No answer.

"Great.  Just what I need.  Can't get ahold of her.  This is just great."

Well, of course she called back and we arranged a time that I could drop the food off and I did that task, and she seemed ever so grateful and I left, glad that it was done, confident that all was well.

The next Sunday, I ran into one of the twins at church.

"How was the soup?" I asked him, with a self-assured smile.

"It was AWFUL", he replied.

"I just about threw up", he said.





How does one politely reply to that review?  <inserts wobbly grin here>

I had a pretty good idea that my whole "compassionate action" was laced with resentment and an "oh bother"-type chip on my shoulder.  It was a good lesson to me.  If you're going to do something nice for someone, do it nicely, happily.  I think that blessing of a home-cooked meal was not mine to give that week.  I couldn't give it out of a good heart.  I just gave it.  And it showed.

Last week, I was fighting an "I-don't-feel-good and I'm-grumpy-too" bug all week.  But ya gotta feed the family, right?  For this gal who normally wakes up and decides what to cook that day within the first hour, I left all of our meals until the last minute, I don't know, hoping that some food would magically show up on the doorstep.  Once no food arrived by, oh about 5 p.m., I would try to think up some great meal idea that would be easy and that would make the family full and happy. 

Well, at least full.

And my meals were horrible.

Pitiful excuses for homemade hamburgers.  And I usually make a great hamburger!

Some wild "I'll make up an Asian sauce in my head" pork and noodle thingy.

"Let's clean out the cupboard and eat this horrible soup from a powder"  lunch.  Yeah.  That was good.
 >(eyes crossed)<  .....not.....

And I was reminded again that somehow effort and motivation and attitude seem to contribute to earning A+'s on the cooking report card.  It's nice to succeed, but it's good to fail sometimes too.  Failure makes us re-examine ourselves and reminds us to try hard, work hard, dream big, accomplish.

No recipe to share today (although I have one I'm dying to share with you!).  For me, today's thoughts are really more of a life lesson; one that I am in desperate need of learning.

For today...

HAPPY cooking

HAPPY serving. 

May those things that you do, those things that you choose to do, even those things that you HAVE to do be laced with pleasure and goodwill.

....this week, we've been eating much better.....   ;)