The Secret Ingredient (Angel in the Kitchen)


To quote the Pillsbury Doughboy, “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven”! That’s the idea behind the recipe for Amish Friendship Bread, a sweet, stirred quick-bread with a cake-like texture and a mild cinnamon flavor. The reason it’s called friendship bread is because the recipe calls for a cup of sourdough starter (a mixture of yeast, flour, sugar and milk) which is shared among friends in much the same way as a chain letter — only with tastier results. Here’s how it works:

Someone first adds a package of dry yeast (dissolved in a little warm water) to one cup each of flour, sugar, and milk. The yeast mixture begins to ferment, but for the yeast to remain active, the mixture must be “fed” every 5 days by adding another cup each of flour, sugar, and milk. On the tenth day, the starter is ready for use, but there’s FIVE cups of the stuff! Solution: use one cup of starter to bake a loaf of delicious bread, give away three cups of starter to friends (who then begin their own 10-day cycle), and save the last cup of starter to begin the next cycle. So, every tenth day, a person either has to bake 4 loaves of friendship bread, or connect with 3 new friends, who don’t already have starter. Obviously, the process can continue forever, and eventually the starter spreads through entire communities. A sweet idea!

No one’s absolutely sure who started this tradition. Elizabeth Coblentz, a member of the Old Order Amish and the author of The Amish Cook, writes that true Amish friendship bread is “just sourdough bread that is passed around to the sick and needy.” That’s still pretty sweet. Tuesday we shared God’s recipe for Keeping Your Priorities Straight. It boiled down to Love the LORD … with all your heart, soul, and mind (which is the first and greatest commandment) and then love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-38) Clearly the secret ingredient in God’s favorite recipe is LOVE. And as we mentioned in a previous post, love makes everything in life taste better.

Love is the “starter” for God’s special brand of “friendship bread.” He commands us to share it until it’s spread throughout our world. In the verse above, specifically the second half of Keeping our Priorities Straight, God
commands us to love others to the same degree we love ourselves. That’s some pretty intense affection, folks. It reminds us of what we traditionally refer to as The Golden Rule–which is a distillation of Matthew 7:12. “Always do for other people everything you want them to do for you. That is [the meaning of] Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets.” (GW translation.)

In other words, if you want people to be kind to you, show you respect, and be sensitive to your needs, then you must also do these same things for others — be they black, white, red, or polka-dotted; male, female, young, old, rich, poor, or what have you. We are never closer to God or more like Him than when we love others: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16 NLT)

It’s not always easy. We can all be a little unloveable at times. So we need to try to understand what other people are going through. We need to try to see things from their perspective. And when we honestly disagree with someone, we need to do so lovingly and without disrespecting the person. “Speak the truth in love….” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT) Your homework for today is to read 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter”; then go out and share some starter — LOVE!


“Short-Sighted” in the Kitchen!


By now most of our dear readers surely must realize we’re a few bucks shy of being certifiably eccentric. (Given our present financial state, please refer to us as simply daffy.) True, we give our kitchen appliances names, and then write about the adventures of these “angels.” We call them angels because, like God’s celestial messengers, these kitchen tools and appliances generally have a life-changing lesson to impart — if we look for it.

Early in this series, we introduced Luke and Nuke, the identical microwave ovens residing in our home. (Yes, having microwave twins now allows us to fix TWO bags of popcorn simultaneously. …Uh, hang on, we didn’t actually have microwave twins — we bought them. At Lowes. Really. After all, you can have a headache but you can’t have a microwave — not even if you’re listed in The Guinness Book of World Records. Ahem, moving on….)

I’m LUKE! He’s Nuke. Can’t you see the difference between us?!
I’m NUKE! He’s Luke. Can’t you see the difference between us?!

Luke and Nuke have their own little rooms, so to speak. They reside in two compartments located among the kitchen cabinets — well above the countertop — because one of us is a stickler for keeping the counters free of clutter! (Note: I’m pleased to say, “That would be me!”  —Wilma) And it is from their “perches” that Luke and Nuke survey the scene below, quietly watching and awaiting our every quick-cooking need.

We recently called upon them to cook two frozen mini-pizzas. The instructions on the box stated: “place pizza on top of carton, then place carton into microwave.” We did this — twice — and 90 seconds later Luke and Nuke beeped us that it was snack time!

The next day, Wilma wiped out the insides of both microwaves using an all-purpose cleaner. She wiped down the walls and door, as well as the top and bottom (the rotating glass tray), to ensure there were no spatters of cheese and sauce clinging to the insides of our kitchen pals! This isn’t an easy task for Wilma, because she has to stretch in order to reach Luke and Nuke. Like we mentioned, our twin microwaves each have their perch, and Wilma is … hmm … How can we describe her state? Ah yes, she’s “vertically challenged”! (Note: In other words, she’s short!  —Tom)

Wilma thought she’d thoroughly cleaned out Luke and Nuke, but when she reached up and felt around on their glass trays (Note: On her tippy toes, even!  —Tom), she soon realized there was something still sticking to the glass. So she wiped the surface again, only harder this time. And yet, she could still feel something gritty! Something that felt “fuzzy” like rough cardboard. Wilma was understandably perplexed, so she fetched a stool in order to climb up and get a better look inside the mysterious workings of Luke and Nuke.

This is not our kitchen, btw.

Once she got on the stool, and gained a higher point of view, she discovered that some of the paper from the pizza cartons had stuck to the glass trays! Apparently the paper packaging of the average frozen food carton has a tendency to stick when microwaved. Too bad the pizza company didn’t list that little fact in their cooking instructions. But that’s not our point here. What’s important — according to Luke and Nuke — is that initially Wilma couldn’t see the problem from her “short-sighted” point of view. Furthermore, she was unable to address the problem until she gained a better, higher view of things. (And address it she did, with a soft scouring pad and even more determination.)

In life, just as in the kitchen, we often face problems which leave us perplexed and not knowing how to proceed. But that’s usually because we approach life from a shortsighted viewpoint. We continue to view our circumstances from a natural, even worldly, perspective; so we’re unable
to see the higher working of things! Then we attempt to fix things in our own strength — we get on our tippy-toes! However, when dealing with a truly “sticky” situation, this approach never quite works. We need a step up in order to gain a better, more spiritual look at life.

If you’re facing a challenge today, we encourage you, first, to get a “higher” perspective of what’s going on. Seek God through prayer and Bible study, and ask Him to help you see people and the problems of life the way He sees them. Learn to adopt a divine perspective of life. Second, don’t try to solve all your problems in your own strength, “stretching yourself on tippy-toes” until you pull an emotional muscle! Grab a “spiritual stool” and take a step up! The Psalmist writes, in “A Song of Ascents” [ascent as in climbing]:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. –Psalm 121:1-4 ESV

Ask God for His love and acceptance. Ask Him for His help and guidance. Ask Him for a helping hand and a spiritual boost up! Whatever you’re facing, you are Not alone! Your problems did not catch God off guard or take Him by surprise. Trust Him, He’s got this! So ask yourself, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God — soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” (Psalm 42:11 MSG) In other words, stop focusing on the problem and focus instead on the problem-solver: the storm-stopper, the miracle-working God of the Impossible!

Sometimes our circumstances seem harsh, but the Bible states, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God….” (Romans 8:28 GOD’S WORD) Understanding this simple truth is another “step up” to gaining a heavenly perspective. It’s also extremely helpful to remember that people are not problems!  But like all of us, people only have problems!

View that aggravating neighbor or irritable coworker from God’s divine perspective: through the eyes of His love. Love covers a multitude of sins! (1 Peter 4:8) Then count your blessings — NOT your troubles — with a genuine spirit of gratitude. Concentrate on the Most-High God, and not on all the things that get you down in the dumps! Get a higher, spiritually-minded perspective of life … from a perch well above the kitchen counters — er, above the trials and tribulations that clutter our wonderful, sometimes crazy, world!

“…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 ESV)