At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ Luke 14:17
I thought I had started supper on time. I wasn’t very late in the afternoon. Plenty of time, I thought, for the Baked Macaroni and Cheese and the Bacon Wraps I was making for dinner. I was wrong. For reasons I still don’t understand, it took me way longer to prepare this meal than I had expected. Not because the recipes are difficult. Just . . . because. When we finally sat down around the table, it was a half hour past the kid’s bedtime.
One of the lessons I am learning from my cookbook project is that preparing meals this way – that is, actually putting ingredients together and cooking them – just takes time. Now if I were good at it, and if I had some practice and experience under my belt, maybe I could go faster. But the fact remains that cooking “long hand,” preparing dishes from something close to raw ingredients will just take longer than opening a box and microwaving. Though I still don’t want to eat them, I now see the allure of frozen pizzas.
Cooking meals from scratch is generally acknowledged to be better for us on a number of levels; nutritional, spiritual and familial to name a few. So why do we choose the cardboard over the cutting board? We’re not afraid of the labor. Cost differences are usually favorable or at least negligible. Time is the commodity on which we hope to save.
Time seems so fleeting. There never seems to be enough. We feel like we have too little time to do all the things we want to do, so we cook less. “Less time in the kitchen” is a phrase that is supposed to mean something good and is often used to advertise appliances or food products.
Prepared foods are one of the many things that help maintain the illusion that we really can do it all. Our kids can play every sport. We can work 60 hours a week. We can volunteer for every church or school project that comes up. We want to imagine ourselves invincible, omnipotent. But we’re not either of these things. We can’t do it all. We do have to choose and we need to choose well.
Our choices must be made carefully because, whether we realize it or not, they become our life’s priorities. I know how stressed parents feel, trying to get their kids connected with all the best opportunities from the myriad that are available. But I have wanted to ask them if the opportunity to kick a ball or play an instrument is really more beneficial than looking you in the eye across the dinner table. Can an activity, however valuable, draw them closer to their life’s meaning than learning about the presence of God from a mother or father who is willing to simply sit still with them?
Opportunity is not always our friend. With many wonderful possibilities presented to us, we can forget that the best choice may be to simply say “no.” Let some chances go and cherish what the time brings you. Spend some of it in the kitchen, at the table with those you care about most.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
16 oz. package macaroni (4 cups dry) Hard to find so I use elbows
2-3 lbs Velveeta cheese cut in cubes 2-3 cans evaporated milk
1 ½ sticks butter (use some to butter pan) 4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook macaroni as directed and drain. Add butter, next add eggs, then add milk to be very soupy mixture. Place in 9x12 pan. Put and mix in cheese (use some cheese on top, not mixed into mixture) and salt and pepper. Bake at 350 until top gets crispy. – Adele Johnson
Package of sliced bacon two cans of Prestige long green beans
½ stick of butter (melted) ½ cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap a strip of bacon around six beans. Line in a baking dish until bottom is covered. Mix melted butter, brown sugar, and garlic powder. Stir and pour mixture over beans and bacon. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. (Bake to desired crispness of bacon.) – Jan Kinsaul