Don’t Spoil Your (Spiritual) Appetite

Photo by Free-Photos on Pixabay

When you were young, did your parents ever admonish you not to eat sweets too close to dinner time because it would “spoil your appetite”?

Mine certainly did. However, delaying dessert until after dinner is difficult to do.

The look of a beautifully frosted cake or the smell of freshly baked cookies can be notoriously tempting. And of course, one cookie or piece of cake invariably leads to another…

Before you know it, you’ve stuffed yourself with sugary foods and are too full to eat dinner. You miss out on all the good protein and vegetables in the main meal.

I guess Mom and Dad knew best: we should fill ourselves with more nourishing things first, and leave the dessert until afterward as a treat, not the main course.

The same lesson holds for us spiritually, doesn’t it?

We should concentrate on things of substance in our lives first.

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Which Body Part Are You?

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pixabay

Don’t you just love cookies shaped like little people, such as gingerbread men and women?

I always start munching on gingerbread people at the head. According to a survey conducted by the folks at Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m not alone. Almost two thirds of people surveyed start at the top when eating a gingerbread figure. A fifth of people begin with the legs, while the remainder go for the arms first. (To make some gingerbread cookies yourself, see below for a classic recipe.)

We seem to have a penchant for foods shaped like bodies, or at least named after various body parts.

There are chicken fingers, kidney beans, artichoke hearts, navel oranges, black-eyed peas, heads of lettuce, ladyfingers and elbow macaroni.

The Italians have given us pasta shapes like orecchiette (little ears), linguini (little tongues), and capellini (angel’s hair). In France, cotton candy is called, “Dad’s beard.”

Our bodies are precious to us and are wondrously made, so it’s no wonder we pay tribute to them by naming foods after our various body parts.

But did you know that if you’re a believer, you don’t just have your own body, you’re a part of another body, too?

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“Magic” Still Happens

Vintage poster of magician from 1899
Wikimedia Commons CC BY-2.0

Have you ever tried a recipe you secretly doubted would work out?

They’re often the ones with the word “magic” in the recipe title, and they seem to promise the impossible.

The “Magic Chocolate Pudding Cake” below is a good example. The recipe instructs you to press a firm batter into a baking pan, and then pour flavoured boiling water on top of it. It claims this will magically transform into cake and sauce during the baking process.

You may be a bit dubious about this, however. The batter seems too solid and unyielding, impenetrable to the liquid atop it. You don’t see how this “magical” transformation will ever happen.

As you put the baking pan in the oven, you may think, “This will never work out. This will be another culinary disaster my family will tease me about for years to come, like the time I tried to cook a Thanksgiving turkey but forgot to turn the oven on.”

But lo and behold, the recipe does succeed after all! The two differing natures of the mixture are indeed transformed into something new and delicious, and your family thinks you’re a genius in the kitchen.

Unlikely transformations can still happen in our lives, too.

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The Recipe For Your Life

Photo by silviarita on Pixabay

Don’t you love cookie recipes that give you a lot of leeway in creating your own variations?

The instructions will give you the ingredients for a basic cookie, but then list options for different flavours or additions to create your own version.

Perhaps you want to add pecans instead of chocolate chips. Or maybe you’d rather substitute mint flavouring in place of vanilla.

These build-your-own cookie recipes sure are versatile. You get to pick and choose exactly what you want to put in the dough.

Don’t you wish life was like this?

Do you ever wish you could have chosen the “recipe” for your life story? That you could have picked out beforehand which “ingredients” would be part of your life?

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Making Butter Yourself

Photo by rodeopix on Pixabay

Some things are better when they don’t come too easily, aren’t they?

Like making butter yourself. When I was a child, I had the chance to do just that.

On a visit to my grandparents’ farm, my grandmother handed me a closed jar with rich cream inside it from their dairy cows. She instructed me to shake the jar vigorously.

I did so, but didn’t see much happening. I wanted to give up, but Grandma told me to keep agitating the jar. I obeyed, and soon started to see clumps forming inside the jar.

Grandma knew it wasn’t ready yet, however, and instructed me to keep going. My little arms were getting tired, but eventually Grandma told me I could stop. The cream had finally transformed into the right consistency.

I had made butter! (Well, technically, I suppose most of the credit should go to the cows.)

It was hard work making that fresh butter, but the taste of it was heavenly on fresh bread. It was vastly superior to the blocks of chilled butter you buy in the supermarket. Not only did it taste wonderful, I appreciated the butter more because I’d put in the work myself to make it.

Sometimes God lets us go through the effort of doing things for ourselves, doesn’t He?

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The Essential Ingredient

Perhaps this pizza slice is slightly overcooked?
Photo by Kevin Payravi, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA-3.0

Have you ever cooked a dish which turned out to be plainly inedible, or even downright dangerous to consume?

It can happen to the best of us, as these examples prove:

A grandmother with failing eyesight accidentally grabbed a bottle of ammonia instead of vinegar when making potato salad for her family. They started gagging at the mere smell of it, which fortunately prevented anyone from eating it!

An 18-year-old living on his own for the first time wanted to make fried rice. He poured some oil into a very hot pan, then dumped in a bunch of uncooked rice. Needless to say, the burned mess had to be thrown out.

Another young person forgot to add water when cooking packaged ramen noodles. I guess cooking isn’t for everyone!

Did you know that a cooking fail even happened in the Bible?

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The God of More Than Enough

Photo by Jenny Porter on Pixabay

In recipes, a teaspoonful of an ingredient doesn’t always mean a level teaspoon.

It can be “heaping,” meaning generous enough to form a heap on top, or “scant,” which means barely coming up to the rim of the spoon.

Likewise, a recipe might call for you to press down the brown sugar in a measuring cup so that it’s “packed.” Or it might instruct you to use only a “pinch” of a spice.

But the measures God uses are always generous. The blessings and grace He bestows on us are never meagre or paltry, but plentiful and abundant.

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A Gardener’s Worst Enemy

Garlic Mustard
Photo by Simone VomFeld on Pixabay

Gardeners may not realize it, but they’re a bit like soldiers in wartime. Their enemies aren’t people, of course, but an even more insidious foe:

Weeds.

Weeds infiltrate our gardens like enemy invaders: dandelions, nettles, thistles, couch grass and garlic mustard, to name a few. They may seem innocent enough when there are only a few of them, but make no mistake: their ultimate aim is to take over and occupy your territory.

One vanguard weed may sneak in and settle, and you think nothing of it. If you’re not vigilant, though, that lone plant will soon multiply into an overwhelming host.

Or you pull up a dandelion and think that’s the end of it, but unless you’ve been very thorough, part of the taproot remains deep in the soil. The weed will come up again long after you thought you’ve eradicated it.

The seeds of weeds may stay in the soil of your garden and remain viable for years. They lie in wait like sleeper agents, waiting patiently for the right opportunity to spring up and attack.

The mission of weeds is simple but deadly: to compete with other plants for light, water and nutrients and crowd them out so they die. They’re dastardly adversaries, often needing less sunlight and water than other plants to survive.

And the worst part of it is that they’re very hard to kill.

Weeds are sort of like sin, aren’t they?

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Have “Large Pot” Faith!

I’ll bet many of you grew up watching the televised cooking shows of Julia Child, “The French Chef.” If not, you’re probably familiar with her name.

Credited with popularizing French cuisine for an American audience, this six-foot, two-inch dynamo was always a hoot to watch. You not only learned a great deal about cooking from Julia, but you were also entertained with zingers like these:

“A party without a cake is just a meeting.”

“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”

“Cooking is like love—it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

“I just hate health food!”

But the Julia Child quotation that has stayed with me is this:

“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.”

Why does this phrase resonate with me? Because with faith, as with cooking, the size of our “container” can be a limiting factor.

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Chocolate: Everybody’s Friend

Photo by Jean Beaufort, PublicDomainPictures.net

One of the wonderful things about chocolate (and there are many), is how well it pairs with other foods.

Chocolate seems to go well with just about everything. It marries happily with fruits like strawberries, raspberries, pears, cherries and bananas. It perfectly complements the flavours of nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts.

Chocolate cheerfully coexists with citrus, coconut, ginger, caramel, coffee, dairy or mint. It has even been known to blend with the flavours of chili and meat in some Mexican dishes.

Some adventurous people claim that chocolate goes well with broccoli (well, perhaps…if you held the broccoli).

You’ve got to hand it to a food that is uncompromising about its own flavour yet harmonizes with such a wide variety of other substances.

Did you know that the Bible implies that we should be a bit like chocolate? Not in so many words, of course, but the concept is still there.

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