Friday, November 06, 2009

Pantry Talk: The Holiday kitchen as ministry (Part 2... kind of)

My further ponderings are once again about the kitchen as ministry. For hundreds of years, the knowledge that women were in the kitchen preparing delicious meals and treats during Advent brought smiles on the faces of family and friends. (In some homes, it was Dad or Grandfather who did the baking.) It has only been in the most recent generations that cooking "from scratch" has become a lost art in many homes.

I used to apologize about giving baked goods as presents until I realized people anticipated them each year. I have written about my own favorite childhood gift as my family would look forward to the homemade candy Bonnie's mother-in-law made each year. I've long forgotten most gifts received but I can close my eyes and almost taste that candy.

We may not reach the crowds like Billy Graham or minister to the poorest of the poor as Mother Theresa . However, there is something about the aromas coming from the kitchen that instantly bring comfort to others. We minister to our own family and friends when we offer delicious food, our best offerings of the Season.

There is a reason we love to look through magazines this time of year. So often the pictures are of beautifully set tables, or platters of decorated cookies and cakes, or scenes of loving family and happy friends enjoying food and drink. Perhaps not always reality... but images of what we would like our Holidays to look like.

This is the time of year to put on the apron and look through the spattered index cards for our favorite recipes, those which Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas would not be complete if they were not on the table. How important it is to have traditions, those things "we always do" because we are "insert family name".

We all have certain menus or recipes which remind us of a grandparent, parent, friend, and other family members. It is not too soon to make the phone call or e-mail to ask (beg?) favorite traditional recipes from those who have prepared them for us year after year.

While this post is not a what... as in what items to stock up on in the pantry... I hope you will see the why. As you collect the butter, and sugar, and flour, and vanilla... or put together the breakfast casserole the night before... as you baste the turkey and stir the gravy... you are doing something much more important than "just cooking". You are creating fragrant and delicious memories for the years to come.

In a former neighborhood, one of the Dads made a pecan pie each year for friends. It has been nearly nine years since we lived at that address but my family talks about those pies every Christmas.

By placing the candy in a pretty container and cookies on a decorative plate, with a card reminding the receiver this gift is given with love, you are not only baking but offering a remembrance of Holidays past. You... the cook and baker... will not always understand the uniqueness of your gift... but most of your recipients are grateful for that which is homemade.

Never underestimate the delightful gifts of baked goods, home canned jars filled with fruit jams and jellies or pickles and salsa from summer's garden. Perhaps placed in a pretty basket with a favorite book or little New Testament to share the One whose Birthday we celebrate. He who is more than a memory. :)


Linda Hibner said...


I just recently noted your blog in a post on my Graceful Lives and asked my readers to visit your lovely internet home, Coffee Tea Books and Me. My timing could not have been better with your writing two pantry posts within two days of each other. Today's entry is lovely! Though I have a 10 hour work day ahead of me, I plan on taking enough time to bake a pie for my daughter and grandchildren who are visiting from out of town. You are so right about what we remember about holidays and especially about home. Thank you for letting the Lord use you to bless others. Sniff the air about 2:00 p.m. today and see if you can smell the apples and cinnamon in the air blowing in your direction all the way from Texas. That, my sweet friend, will be my pie being baked in YOUR honor!

Senkyoushi said...

I always give baked goods to the church people as gifts for Christmas. I thought I wouldn't do it this year, but now I will. Thanks for the encouragement!

It's so hard to have traditions when you live in another country. Baking has become one. My daughter loves to make all kinds of Christmas goodies and they are all from scratch!

Debby said...

Perhaps this is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We are not pressured in to giving "things", we express our love through ccoking and baking special, once a year foods.

You are so right! I can't remember many gifts given to me from childhood, but I certainly remember what my Mommy cooked each year!

THANK you so much for this post, in particular.

matty said...

So true, Brenda! My grandmother Holder always made a sweet potato roll for special family occasions. No one else has ever made it. I watched her do it, one time, and want to try it. I think I will now. Have a wonderful day!

Connie said...

Beautiful post and so true. A remember my step-mother's southern fried chicken, it was the best. She would never share her recipe so it went to the grave with her. We miss her and we miss her chicken too.

carla said...

Vice nice post.

Brenda Leyland said...

Brenda, In this world where it's so easy to just pick up just about anything you want at the grocery store or deli, there is something wonderful about coming back to 'doing it yourself.'

I so agree with your idea of our labour of love in the kitchen being a ministry.

You and I are in a similar wave length, for I was anticipating doing more 'from the kitchen' gifts this year to people.

Happy recipe and idea searching ... that's so much fun to do, isn't it?

scrappy quilter said...

Another wonderful post.

jules said...

My DH and I make cranberry sauce every year at Thanksgiving for folks to have with their dinner, and we make oatmeal bread and lemon-pecan cake at Christmas as gifts for our friends and family. Everyone really looks forward to receiving them each year, and it brings joy to us to be able to share that with them.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know I made your salmon patties. They were a hit with my family, and very easy and cheap. Thanks for sharing.


Stickhorsecowgirls said...

How funny! I just posted about holidays/family/ traditions! One thing I noted in passing is that my ministry to my family through food is, also, ministry to ME! I gain so much in preparing food for others. Something innate, isn't it? C

sally Clarkson said...

What a great post. I think I will go cook now! Love the way you put words together. PS I didn't see your lovely blonde comment until this morning. You are very gracious to this aging woman!

window into our life of love, joy, and adventures! said...

Another wonderful post to read! Thank you so much for sharing!

Trudy said...

What a nice 0post. I remember to this day my grandmother bringing banana pudding everytime she visited And my Aunt Jane--every Christmas would make many different candies and bring a pretty plate of them to my husband and I, then my children as they came along. I looked forward to her Christmas visit SO much! Even now, my neighbor drops in with a loaf of homemade bread once a month. I love homemade! I'm going to make time to do something like this for someone else!

I'm so glad I dropped in today---it gives me a lot to think about!

Dreams and Decor said...

Hi, Brenda: Just found your blog from Tales from an OC Cottage's blog. I am really enjoying your pantry tips! A couple of years ago, I read on's website about stocking up early on chocolate chips & other baking ingredients needed for Christmas baking & I've been doing it ever since. It really makes it nice not to have to do any last-minute grocery shopping when the stores all start getting crowded for the holidays! I'm getting lots of other good tips from you as well! Thanks so much! Patti in Texas

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Great post Brenda! I think most people appreciate receiving homebaked things since sadly it's so out of the ordinary these days. I love receiving homemade things. Every year my neighbor drops by with a homemade bread that's sort of like a fruitcake but not all the citrines in it. Anyway, it's delicious and I look forward to that.