Recent circumstances forced me into the role of Commander of Kitchen Operations (CooKO). I’ve gained new perspective on the skills Shawn possesses in preparing and serving food. The way she makes kitchen magic happen while retaining her cool and displaying her smile is astounding, and I’m one lucky guy.
Shawn was knocked out of action by a nasty bug, and in our time as a couple she’s never been so sick. I monitored her temperature, recording times and levels on a clipboard, and maintained her supply of juices and water. One morning she perked up slightly and asked for soup.
Any idiot can heat a can of chicken noodle soup. Open the can, dump the contents into a pot, add one can of water and switch on the stove. Pay attention to the burner location indicator lights by the knobs or the soup may take a really long time to heat. Kudos to the nice folks at Campbell’s who now use pop-top lids thereby removing my frustration with that infernal electric can opener.
After a few spoons of hot soup and a couple of crackers Shawn downed some ginger ale and returned to dreamland.
I explored the fridge and freezer for edible already-prepared substances and tried to get ahead of the game by guessing what she might like at her next awakening. We had several fresh eggs from my daughter’s chickens, and eggs are cook-able right in their shells. Great design, God! Boiled to perfection and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and coupled with a side of lightly buttered toast, eggs should be a great nibble-meal for my recovering patient.
Nope. She asked for more chicken noodle soup and orange sherbet. I dashed to the store. Next meal I suggested boiled eggs, and she asked for tomato soup sprinkled with basal. After that the request was for a small bowl of cereal. I ate the eggs.
Shawn called from the couch one morning to tell me the chicken in the fridge needed to be cooked before it spoiled. I happily sketched a design for a spit on which to roast the bird but some moron at the store had cut it into parts. It was no longer spit-able. And I only had segments of the chicken anyway. The label told me, “chicken breasts with ribs.” Really? Who falls for stuff like that? How much meat is on a chicken rib, and how many ribs would I need to make a decent sandwich?
I decided the ribs must be the little nasty parts that did not look like any chicken I ever ate. I whacked those pieces with a sharp knife. Note, when placing uncooked chicken parts in the trash ensure the trash is removed from the kitchen promptly. Do not allow the discards to compost overnight. In this household trash removal is the husband’s responsibility, but in my zeal to perform satisfactorily as Commander of Kitchen Operations I forgot. I remembered the trash the next morning, let me tell you.
The chicken went into the crock pot with an entire bottle of zesty Italian dressing. I found a herd of fresh green beans in the vegetable drawer, snapped and strung them, then called Mom to get her recipe for beans. After four hours I served Shawn chicken, rice, and green beans. She raved over the meal. My eyes watered. Zesty means sour and a whole bottle was a bit much.
Life experiences teach lessons if we pay attention. Certainly the past days have increased my thankfulness for my wife and the culinary investment she makes in me. One daughter commented recently, “Mom has Ninja skills in the kitchen!” Cleaning up dishes, mopping up spills, keeping the trash can emptied, sharpening her knives, peeling and cutting as required–I see many tangible ways to help and show my appreciation.
My big lesson came as I prepared potatoes and green beans. Slice them or dice them and raw vegetables remain hard and crunchy. The cook must apply the right amount of heat for the correct interval of time to soften the veggies and render them palatable. Cook the veggies too long or crank the heat too high and the resulting concoction is not edible. With the correct preparation, though, the meal can be scrumptious.
As adverse circumstances stir the pot of my life I’ve hardened my determination not to be hurt or fleeced or left holding the bag again. As a follower of Jesus my cement-encased heart reduces my effectiveness and limits how God might use me. So He ups the heat. Not to punish me, but to change my outlook. The Master Chef knows I won’t be much use until I’m soft enough to shape. And yes the process is painful, especially when I resist the heat.
The Old Testament character Job is the poster child for adverse circumstances in the cauldron of life. In the middle of incredible physical pain and emotional loss and with no idea how his story would end, Job made this boast:
But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10 NASB
Job had confidence in his Chef.
I learned much in the kitchen this week.