When faced with life's challenges,
it is Important to Remember
that although Daniel was saved from the lions,
he was not saved from the Lion's Den.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What does FOOD have to do with anything?

I love to read food blogs.  I love to see what other people create and I like to try out new things.  I thought about it today and decided that the reason I love cooking so much is because it is something I did not experience growing up.  I grew up with a single mom, a brother and a sister.  My mother really could not cook. If it did not come in a box, a can, or the freezer section of the grocery store, we didn't eat it. The one exception might have been fruit. Occasionally I remember getting to put banana's on my cheerios in the morning.  
The main staple of our house was boxed macaroni and cheese served with canned peaches on the side. There is just something about orange and orange served on a round plate that is so not appealing! We ate it several days a week.  Although sometimes it was changed up with canned pork and beans, canned green beans, or canned spinach. 
I actually liked the spinach.  I am not sure what was wrong with me than!  I must have liked the familiar taste of tin.  We also ate Cambells soups and used minute rice and I honestly did not know that it wasn't "real rice" until long after I left home, bought white rice and found out it did not cook in five minutes! (I think I actually ruined one of the first dinners I ever cooked this way).   As for soup, I thought it was supposed to come out of a can and did not even know it was possible to make it home-made until long after I left home.  I think I might not have been as aware of cooking as I should have been!
As children, we never complained about what mom served, (unless it was canned sweet potatoes or frozen brussel sprouts), everyone of us drew the line there!  Mostly, we just ate whatever was put on the table in front of us. It was fast, it was filling, it was food. 
One of the dinners that I liked the most, was when mom took canned biscuit dough, put it in a muffin tin, added ground beef and bottled barbecue sauce and a little cheese. And we had honest to gosh barbecue muffins!
She also made a dinner that I did not like.  It was made with minute rice, cream of mushroom soup, ground beef, and dried onion.  I thought it looked awful and never did manage to like it, although the rest of the family didn't seem to mind. 
However, I could live with mom's cooking if I had to, but the one thing she had that I really hated was her kitchen stove. My mother had a gas stove and you had to light it by putting a match in the bottom of the oven. It would always make a loud whooshing sound when it caught the flame. It used to scare me so bad, I would have nightmares about the house blowing up and the only thing left standing in my dream was that old stove.
When I had to do the cooking or baking, If my mom wasn't home to light the stove, it was mac and cheese with peaches and pork and beans. That way, I never had to touch a match or worry about where I would be sleeping the next night.

When I married, I discovered that not everyone cooked the way my mother had. Most people actually prepared things like vegetables, potatoe side dishes, salads and real rice.
Most people balanced the colors and the textures of food. Not everything looked the same. It took me a long time to learn how to cook so that my family would enjoy it. I loved cooking though, especially baking. I learned to make cakes, pies, homemade jars of fruit and even the dreaded vegetables. I learned to cook meat so that it did not have the consistancy of shoe leather. I learned to cook so that I enjoyed eating and so did those around me.

Then, I went through a time in my life where I was working three jobs, had six children at home and no help.  Guess what those kids grew up eating??  Yep,  macaroni and cheese from a box.  I especially remember a time when we had no money.  There was nothing in the cupboard except for the mac and cheese that I had managed to stock up on when it was on sale.  (We called it our year's supply).  We ate that in various ways for nearly three months until one of the kids told their friend whose mom was my visiting teacher.  When she found out, she promply brought some different types of food to the house.  It did not help that I had found that Mac and Cheese on sale for ten boxes for a dollar.  It certainly stretched the food budget when times were tight.  My kids used to like it with tuna in it, sometimes tomato sauce, and sometimes plain.  We would have vegetables with it and fruit if we had it.  Sometimes, just simple bread and butter or home made biscuits. 

So, knowing what I usually write about, you might be wondering just what food has to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I think that the gospel can be a lot like the food that we have in our lives.  We have the choice to see it, make it, taste it and experience it in different ways.  To some people, it can be like my 'growing up' staple of Mac and Cheese.  It is there, it is nurishing, it is ok.  It is something they know and that they grew up with.  They haven't found their own way of believing yet.  They don't know how nurishing the gospel really can be.
To others, the gospel is more like a fine multi-course dinner.  It has different shapes and textures and so many different parts to enjoy and cherish.  (Think chocolate!)  Really, the things we understand as children change as we grow up.  There may be times in our lives when our souls experience a famine and need to go back to the simple nurishment of childhood in order to increase our spirituality and to strengthen our faith again.  There may be times in our lives when others will bring us the nurishment that we need (like my visiting teachers did so long ago).   

Pride can keep us from experiencing the best that the Lord has to give us.  It can keep us from asking for help and guidance.  It can keep us from getting answers to our questions.  It can keep us from feeling the spirit in our lives.  It can keep us from learning and growing. It can be the Mac and cheese that we need to let go of. 
I think the Book of Mormon says it best:
"Saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more" (2 Nephi 28:30).   
Like my cooking experiences throughout my life, we each have to grow and learn line upon line.  The Lord gives us the guidance.  He will strengthen your testimony and nurish your spirit if you will lend an ear to His counsel and teachings.  If you will listen and follow His "recipes", you can and will progress into His presence.   It is up to you.

So, what are you serving tonight?

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