Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Tea

"You would watch him reading the phone book!"  That is what my family has said about my affection for Chef Jacques Pepin.  I'm afraid it is true as I was watching him cook fish and I don't even like fish very much (with the exception of breaded and fried catfish!).

However, this past week I was watching his new PBS series called Essential Pepin and had a Eureka moment which led to today's ponderings.  I was remembering the discovery long ago that the food I enjoyed in fancy restaurants was no different than what was sold at my neighborhood grocery store... mixed with techniques which could be learned.

What followed was the addition of cookbooks and cooking lessons and many (many) delightful Saturday afternoons perusing my favorite gourmet store in Saugatuck, Michigan.  This was all B.C. (before Christopher) when there were but three of us... a Mom, a Dad, and a delightful little girl.

When Stephanie and I experienced the amazingly wonderful cooking class-gourmet dinner at Colonial Williamsburg, the chef had begun his cooking career at one of the favorite restaurants in Michigan which inspired my love of cooking (what a small world!).

So, what does all of this have to do with my week's ponderings?  Well, when I was stretched out on the living room sofa with a fluffy kitty and a cup of coffee (for it was the early morning hours)... I was thinking how life is a lot like that.  We are all given basic gifts and it is what we add to them, how we use them that creates something lovely... or not.

Jacques was making the most delicious looking dinner with a monk fish... a fish who in the water has a face only a mother could love.  I mean, this is one ugly fish.  But when prepared properly, it is delicious (I have cooked it long ago with a recipe called "poor man's lobster").

Sometimes my circumstances remind me of that fish.  Sometimes they are not very pretty.  But it is what I do with those circumstances that creates a life that is lovely or one that looks a lot like that fish... just ugly.

It is my choice to take what I have with Thanks.  To accept unexpected gifts with love as if from Him.  When I can't do what I want... I thank Him for what I can do.  When the money doesn't stretch to cover all desires... I thank Him that I have what I need.

I am His creation and the work of His hands.  Jesus is that Master Chef... only He can use the ingredients set before Him to create a person worthy of presenting to the Father.  It is when I stomp my feet and whimper and wail and snivel and have a fit that I tie even the eternal God's hands and he cannot create within me something of Beauty.

He wants to create within me:  Love... Joy... Peace... Patience... Kindness... Goodness... Faithfulness... Gentleness... and Self Control (Galations 5:22-23).

While I cannot always choose my circumstances,  I can choose how I react to those circumstances... and I can make a mess or a masterpiece.  I think I'll take my lessons from Jacques and turn the ugly fish into a gourmet delight.


Maria (viola33) said...

What a lovely post. Your description of the fish and the recipe made me smile. I love cooking something yammy from plain basic ingredients. I like to remind myself how our grandmothers made delicious meal out of basic products and with only basic kitchen utencils. Why should we need more nowadays?

Rebecca said...

Yep! The first sentence of your last paragraph pretty well says it all...

Mrs.Rabe said...

I love your ponderings and how you are able to share them with us, so that we can say "Amen" with you!

I am going to be pondering this post today!


Vee said...

OH I remember Jacques on Saturday mornings cooking along with his daughter. He was teaching her and she was asking the pertinent questions. She would say, "Mama" or "Papa" in the most darling of French ways. ☺

Thank you for this post. I hope that I am enough "here" to absorb it all.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Brenda!

Elizabeth in NC

matty said...

Amen! Please don't think I am being trite, but it makes me think of Pollyanna -- make the best of where you are! Isn't all of life about attitude??

Have a wonderful, loving day!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

All so true, Brenda! You always inspire me.

Anonymous said...

I look forward each week to your "Sunday Afternoon Tea" ponderings! Today's is exactly the reminder I need - thank you!
Cyndi in MN

Thoughts for the day said...

Wonderful words to think about. It is all about perspective.

In God's Grace, Michelle said...

Amen, Brenda.

Your post brought this to mind:
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." Phil. 4:8-9 (MSG)
Loved it!
In His Grace,

Lori said...

Brilliant..thank you Brenda!

Fixing My Thoughts said...

Perfect analogy! And love your last post with Victoria kitty. So cute.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! Thank you for this thoughtful posting.

Heather said...

I would actually watch Jacques read the phone book, LOL. I also enjoy watching his new show. It's very relaxing!