Eightish years ago we lived in our first parsonage. Our girl was just a round, brown-eyed baby. There was a sweet simplicity to my life. It was the New Year and I was full of lots of hope and resolve. I knew how to make a few things: variations on casseroles, chicken in the crockpot and bake and break cookies. I decided that year that I wanted to learn how to roast a chicken, how to bake a pie with flaky, scratch-made crust, how to make cookies that didn’t come in a plastic tube. I still cook and cook and cook. That year began something in me and I’ve covered all kinds of ground. Truth? After dozens and dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes, my husband still loves the bake and break kind the best.
Over the last year I’ve taken such a journey with food. I’ve cut away and added in and examined my heart and confronted my stubborn will. There is a truth I can’t shake: convenience is killing enjoyment. I’ve found myself so angry at how long it takes to make a meal full of fresh ingredients over and over again. But. I’ve also found that the best meals are the ones I’ve worked hard at making. They leave me full and nourished instead of empty or weighed down.
I’m not a chef. I don’t write recipes or experiment much. I’m a cook, one who loves a good recipe and will go down following it. I try new things often and have at least one grand failure every week. This time and love in the kitchen is a huge part of my life. It seems wasteful to let all of that energy go wandering away when the dishes are done and I get to put my feet up. So. Here are three recipes I’ve loved over the past month.
Zuppa Toscana. This is a paleo-version of the hearty classic soup. I love soup, stews, stoups. All of them. I’m alone in my family on this allegiance but I don’t care. This one was so wonderful and I’m pretty sure my children had no clue they were eating turnips. I used ground pork instead of sausage and added some spice and flavor to kick it up some.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Butterscotch Cake. I made this because my children had eaten through all of the cereal and frozen waffles and we had nothing for breakfast. Plus, my mama had sent home some butterscotch chips and I only had white wheat flour in the house. I substituted coconut oil for the canola oil and pure maple syrup for the sugar. This was so, so good. It was. Just good. I don’t have fancy words for it. Although I eat a predominantly paleo diet my family doesn’t and I’m sure they’ve prayed many a time that I’d give up on paleo-ified treats. I’m learning to just let treats be treats.
Sauteed Fennel and Carrots. I am obnoxiously obsessed with fennel right now. This obnoxious: I tried to evangelize my cashier at Trader Joe’s today on the subject of fennel. It’s great made with carrots but it’s also delicious as a stand alone. I like to leave it in the pan long enough to let it get brown and crispy on the edges.
On a sort of unrelated note, I would love to invite each of you to take part in my December class for the Influence Network. I know it’s such a busy month. And that’s why I think we would all do well to gather together around the Word and speak truth over perfection-chasing and expectations. This month’s class is about perfectionism. We’ll be looking at five verses that have been changing me in so many good ways as I slowly learn to rest instead of strive. You don’t have to be a member of the network! Sign up right here if you’d like.