Cake Mix Religion

Photo by Roadside Pictures on Flickr CC BY-NC-2.0

Is there such a thing as something being too easy?

The original developers of cake mixes seemed to believe so.

When cake mixes first debuted in the 1930s, all the baker had to do was add water and then bake. It was as easy as pie, so to speak.

But they soon realized they had to tweak the recipe. First off, the powdered eggs in the original mixes didn’t taste that great.

Later, psychologists thought that bakers wanted to feel more involved in the cake-baking process. Home bakers found the mixes a bit too easy, as though they weren’t putting in enough effort. There was a sense that baking a cake from a mix didn’t really count.

So the cake mix companies changed their recipes to require home bakers to add fresh eggs in addition to the liquid. Putting the eggs back in the hands of the bakers proved to be the winning formula.

I sometimes wonder if we apply the same logic to our faith.

Does trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins seem like it’s only part of the recipe?

Are we sometimes tempted to add in some effort on our own part to make it “complete”?

Does faith alone seem too easy?

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The God of Ice Cream

I truly think that God is in favour of ice cream.

Don’t believe me? Let me try to convince you.

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.

But sometimes we may find this hard to believe.

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The Recipe For Manna

Image by Moira Nazzari from Pixabay

Don’t you love recipes that are so simple that you can easily memorize them?

The ingredients list isn’t too long, and the items are probably measured in even cups or teaspoons, not fractions.

You’ve made the dish so often that the instructions are now fixed in your head. You don’t have to go rifling through your recipe box or searching your online files to find the recipe.

Even years later, you can still bring the recipe to mind and whip up the dish reliably.

You’ll never forget it.

There are things that God will never forget, either.

I heard a pastor say that “God has not forgotten the recipe for manna.”

God still remembers how to cook up whatever you need and get it to you!

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You Can’t Go Wrong With These Ingredients!

Woman peering anxiously into oven. Image by press 👍 and ⭐ from Pixabay

When you’re trying out a new recipe for the first time, do you ever get apprehensive that it won’t work out?

I certainly do. That’s why I usually stick with one of my mother’s tried-and-true dessert recipes.

I worry that if I bake a dessert I’ve never attempted before, I’m bound to mess it up. I fear that I’ll disappoint the people I serve it to, and tongues will wag.

As I walk by, people will whisper, “There’s that woman who serves fallen soufflés!”

Or, “Isn’t she the one who bakes cookies that are as hard as hockey pucks?”

In the worst-case scenario of my imagination, my baking debacle will be so embarrassing that I’d have to leave town.

With some recipes, however, you really can’t go wrong, even if you’ve never tried them before.

Brownies, for instance.

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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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