I hadn’t planned on giving up cooking for Lent. Writing either. But for all practical purposes, I did. I had an insanely busy season. Recovery is slower than expected. It seems like just yesterday, I was writing and reworking my Ash Wednesday/Lent piece for print in a million different publications. The season flew buy, filled with work, personal commitments and the very, very long, self-perpetuating To Do list. I didn’t make it into the kitchen very often.
Now, I hate to complain about being busy, especially around the Easter season. First of all, we all are – especially the clergy. I’m probably no busier than the millions of other ministers who lead their congregations in the remembrance of this holy season.
The real reason, though, that I’m slow to grumble is that I am aware of what a special and holy time this is. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ that drew us into a new relationship with God is enough reason to celebrate! To be caught up in the moment. To be solemn at the thought of painful death, and to be joyful at the reality of resurrection! I not only want to lead our church through this meaning-filled season, I want to celebrate it myself, with all my heart and soul.
So it feels like a dirty little secret that during those celebrations, I am quietly counting down the minutes until I can lie on the couch, pull on warm socks and watch cop shows.
Since the Day of Resurrection, I have cooked one full meal and assembled (technically, my husband assembled) two dishes for a church pot luck. Our dinner was Sausage Egg Casserole, Mexican Road Runner Bread and Pecan Pie Muffins. One of the first family meals I had made in a while. It was great to put food in the oven again, and lovely to sit down at the table with my husband and children. Sadly, a water leak in our house ended any chance of leftovers.
The potluck was a wonderful experience. We had our assignments from the church office. “A-G, please bring a vegetable/side dish, H-N, please bring salad or rolls, O-Z, please bring a dessert.” Between Todd’s name and mine, we had a pretty good range of possibilities. Because I was feeling devious – and because I happily cheat on such occasions – I considered bringing asparagus casserole as “A”ppointed Clergy, or “B”eloved Pastor. Finally, however, we settled on Vegetable Dip with tortilla chips (salad-ish) and Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball with graham crackers (dessert). These were unmarked in my cookbook, though it turns out I have written about cheese ball here. I don’t think anyone was actually keeping tabs on the fare we brought. The point was to show up with something edible in hand. In the end we had more than enough and everyone had a good meal and a good time.
Sometimes the most important thing is to just show up. In my years of ministry, I have learned that however much I may want it, my heart might not always be 100% present. I believe that that has to be okay. I hope God appreciates it when we come forward to offer what we can. Possibly it means even more when we turn up feeling dragged down or just a little unwilling.
I don’t mean that it is okay to just go through the motions. I mean that we give what we’ve got. We celebrate with as much heart as we have at the moment and ask God to bless and increase it. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” “Lord, I am here. Please enliven the part of me that isn’t.”
There is probably nothing we do without being just a little divided, a little incomplete. What is important is that we do. We make and keep commitments. We put in our appearance. We give the heart we have, and pray to God to provide the rest.
Mexican Road Runner Bread
1cup green lnion, chopped (optional)
1 pkg. Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix
1 6 oz. container of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cans Grands! Golden Corn Biscuits (can use any Grands biscuits)
Preheat oven to 350o. Spray pizza pan with oil. Trim onion ends. Clean onions, then chop to make one cup, using white and green parts. Mix cheese and taco seasoning mix in a bowl. Cut corn biscuits into quarters. Roll in the cheese mixture, pressing cheese mixture into the biscuit. Place on layer in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the onions evenly across the top. Sprinkle any remaining cheese mixture on top of layers. Bake in preheated oven at 350o for about 30 minutes or until center is done. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8. – Diane Taylor
Pecan Pie Muffins
1 c. ch. Pecans ½ c. plain flour
1 c. packed brown sugar 2 large eggs
½ c. butter, melted
Combine pecans, sugar and flour. Make a well in the center of mixture. Beat eggs until foamy. Stir together eggs and butter. Add to dry ingredients. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans and coat with cooking spray. Spoon batter into cups 2/3 full. – Marguerite Bass Martin
2 cans shoe-peg corn, drained 2 cans Rotel
1 can diced tomatoes 2 cans field peas with snaps
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped 5 green onions, chopped
1 16 oz. zesty Italian dressing
Mix and enjoy – Bret and Emily Henderson