They say cooking is an art, but baking is a science.
Part of what makes baking scientific is that it often calls for exact timing.
When you cook a roast or a turkey in the oven, the estimated cooking time can vary. The meat will be in the oven for several hours, and the recipe might give you as much as a half-hour window to start checking for doneness.
But when you’re baking cookies, the recipe will sometimes only give you a two-minute span to remove them from the oven. You have to be on your toes so you don’t miss this window, but at least you have a greater degree of certainty as to when the baking process will be over.
We humans crave certainty, don’t we? And that’s especially true when we’re going through difficult things in our personal lives.
Wouldn’t you love it if God told us exactly when our time of suffering would end?
Baked Alaska is one of those desserts that seems like it will end in disaster.
This dessert involves covering a core of ice cream and cake with meringue and baking it at 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Really.
Who puts ice cream in a hot oven anyway?
Surely it will result in a melted mess, and you’ll be spending the next hour resentfully scrubbing out your oven.
But Baked Alaska will surprise and amaze you.
When you take this dessert out of the oven after a few minutes, you find that the meringue has cooked and slightly browned, but the ice cream underneath it is still cold and has retained its firm shape. The ice cream inside the “igloo” has remained untouched by the intense heat.
It seems miraculous, because you’d think that ice cream would melt when it came anywhere near temperatures that high. It’s not actually a miracle, however, but rather a clever application of physics. The dessert was invented in the 1800s by American physicist Benjamin Thompson, who was investigating the insulating properties of whipped egg whites.
If you want a genuine example of miraculous protection from a hot oven, you need to go the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.
Don’t you love it when someone anticipates your needs?
You feel good when someone makes provision for something you’ll require before the need even arises. Or when they start setting in motion something for you before you even ask.
It makes you feel sort of special, doesn’t it?
As a teen, I’d occasionally stop by a small fish-and-chip joint on my way home from school. This little restaurant had an open kitchen, and the owner/cook could see the street through the front window.
Carlo, the owner, would see me get off the bus and wait at the lights. He knew what I liked to eat, so he’d start deep-frying my halibut before I even crossed the street and entered his restaurant.
He anticipated what I’d want and started cooking it before I even placed my order.
When it comes to chocolate, I would say an unequivocal no.
What about when it comes to having assistance in the kitchen? Surely you can’t go wrong having an abundance of help when you’re cooking?
You would think not, wouldn’t you?
But there’s a limit to how many “sous-chefs” you should have.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “too many cooks spoil the broth.” This idiom can be literally true. One person might decide the soup needs more salt, so liberally adds more. The next helper might think the soup is too salty, so dilutes it to compensate.
Some might figure the soup needs more onion; others think it’s too spicy. Each tries to correct the perceived mistakes of the others until you end up with an inedible mess.
Sometimes we need to be judicious about who we listen to.
There are some key examples in Scripture which teach us that too many “cooks” or advisors can confuse and divide us.
In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were told that God would be bringing them into the Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
Well, milk is a dairy product, right? And honey is a sweetener. If you’ve got a dairy product and a sweetener, you’re halfway to ice cream right there. (To get all the way, see the recipe for homemade strawberry ice cream below.)
Too bad the ancient Israelites hadn’t invented freezers, or they could have enjoyed ice cream on the shores of the Mediterranean. Nothing tops eating refreshing ice cream on a sunny day at the beach, does it?
I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek with this, of course, but I do believe there’s a lesson that we need to learn from God’s promise to the Israelites about a land flowing with milk and honey.
It shows us that God delights in giving His children good things.
If you’re married, do you have a “date night” with your spouse?
Some people set aside time each week when they get together with their spouse, just the two of them, and do something special.
Life is so busy these days that we sometimes have to actually schedule time to spend with our spouse. We have to juggle work, raising children, community involvements, caring for aging parents, hobbies, and so on.
There are so many demands on our time that we often have difficulty making sure we’re giving enough attention to the person most important to us.
And besides, we know that our spouse is aware of our love for them. So we let things slide and don’t make the relationship a priority.
In this way, however, the bond between you starts to suffer. Without regular conversations and one-on-one time, a distance can start to grow in the relationship.
It’s the same with our relationship with God: we’re so busy with family and work commitments that we sometimes fail to fit Him in to our schedules.