Given my ambitious culinary efforts, I could hardly be surprised when I sustained my first injury. Wounds, after all, occasionally come with cooking. And since this is my first, I almost consider it a kind of inauguration; an initiation into the ranks of the cooking veteran. I sustained this war wound on Thursday while making squash chips.
Squash chips are essentially an attempt at potato chips, only with squash. I also tried the sweet potato option. This recipe is just one more campaign in my long struggle to unite my children with vegetables. I had hoped they might be fooled just long enough to try and then like them. Sadly, this effort shared the fate of many of its predecessors.
The squash and sweet potato needed to be sliced very thin. I tried with the peeler, but the chips were too small. So I got out the grater/slicer. I have one of the nice Pampered Chef numbers in which you can change out the blades. I put in the slicing blade and it wasn’t in my hand for five seconds before the worst happened. You can guess. But some antibiotic cream, some cussing and several band-aids later, I was back in the game.
While the injury came – like they all do – as a surprise, upon reflection it was very predictable. This kind of damage was bound to happen sooner or later. Anyone who does any cooking can expect to eventually get burned, cut, pinched, bruised or at the very least stained. It is part of the process. In fact, it is part of most processes. Any activity or hobby one might do – especially if one does it ardently and repeatedly – will come with its dangers. We are likely to know this going in, although it rarely fails to catch us by surprise. And yet, we decide to take the risk. The same, of course, is true of life.
Last night, though my daughter ate her dinner well, things went off course at bedtime. She had one of the longest and most exhausting tantrums she has had in a long time. We spent what seemed hours putting on pajamas, picking up her room and getting ready for bed. Sometimes progress stopped completely while she wailed. Inside I wailed too. In times like this, I am desperate to respond in the right way, to help her recover and grow up into health, but I have no idea if I am doing that or not. It is depleting and crushing.
As devastating as these events can be, however, I do accept them as a more or less normal part of parenting. While there are particular complications in dealing with an autistic child, my experience is far from unique. There is no parent alive who hasn’t felt the confusion and the guilt of being pushed well past the end of the rope. In fact, there is no one alive and of adult years who hasn’t at some point been put through life’s grater.
But this is life. This is the game we play. God has set us on this path with no promises to shield us from the shrapnel; no guarantees that we won’t get hit, screamed at, stolen from, hurt. The only promise we are given is love, divine presence and the strength to endure what we probably never imagined we could. As an added bonus, we are even furnished with grace to grow stronger from what we have been through. Hurting means we’re living. And for me, bleeding – just a bit – means I’m cooking. I’ve decided that I can go on with that.
Slice tender squash very thin. Dip slices into seasoned flour. Fry a few slices at a time till brown. Eat and enjoy. (May do the same with raw sweet potato.) - Ralph Bass