What’s Cookin’ this Christmas?

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Pillsbury once had an ad slogan declaring, “Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven!” And we all know that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Expressing love through food is an American tradition.

Recently we wrote that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Just as our physical hearts pump the blood that sustains our bodies, our kitchens sustain our families, both nutritionally and emotionally, with a steady flow of home-cooked meals. Even if you take your meals away from home, somebody’s kitchen is keeping you alive, whether it’s at a restaurant, college cafeteria, or the factory kitchen that prepares those frozen dinners we all eat in a pinch. So, if you love food, ya gotta love the kitchen, too. It’s where our meals are cooked, and the place where we most often enjoy them. It’s also a great starting point for expressing love.

While she was still with us, we’d often visit Tom’s Gran-ma—especially around holidays. How does that old Christmastime song go? “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go….”  You know the rest. Except for the part about the horse and sleigh, the song pretty much described the long trip to her house: three hours of tree-lined interstate and the occasional billboard hawking fireworks or pecan pies.

Gran-ma’s home was small. The rooms were distinguished by old furnishings and outdated decor. Whenever we visited we always ended up in her kitchen; it’s where she overfed us, and where we sat for hours, stuffed, happy, and chatting across the table. Gran-ma’s table was set with mix-matched dishes, paper napkins, and oddly-placed silverware, all atop a tablecloth that really didn’t go with anything. Her meals were simple fare, the Southern food Tom had grown up with,  but … Ooh! How delicious!  Being a Northerner, Wilma was thrilled by the awesome taste and crispiness of her fried pork chops. “It’s just her usual hearty fare,” Tom would say nonchalantly. “She breads the chops with crushed, seasoned, cornflakes.” Her “usual fare,” the meal she had prepared with no fuss and no pretension, tasted absolutely gourmet. It was simply divine! When Wilma asked her where she got the recipe, Gran-ma simply shrugged and said she couldn’t rightly remember: “I was just using what I had in the cupboard.” Now, obviously there was a little something extra in that cupboard. Can you guess what it was?

What Gran-ma lacked in decor, what she never even knew about “style”; she made up for, with something far more precious: her love.

There’s a simple truth here. Please don’t miss it.  “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf and hatred.” (Proverbs 15:17 NKJV)  Sounds cryptic? Here’s another translation:  “A vegetarian meal served with love is better than a big, thick steak with a plateful of animosity.” (ISV)

The secret ingredient in any good recipe is LOVE.  When served with love, even the simplest, humblest meal turns into a banquet. What’s for dinner? Same thing we served last night and every day before: LOVE. Whatever you’re cooking up today, prepare it lovingly and it will be a culinary masterpiece!

Remember those twin pops you ate when you were a kid? You’d break one down the middle to get two single pops, one for you and one for a friend. Didn’t they taste so much better when shared? Food and love go together like biscuits ‘n’ gravy! (Okay, we need to stop making everybody hungry!)

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.”  (Cesar Chavez)

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