Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cooking Up Life's Truths


Now that I’ve finished my six-week culinary course, I am apparently certified to cook. 

I’m not sure what that means exactly but I just know that I’ll be receiving a certificate that I have completed the basic skills of cooking. 

And because I think it sounds rather official and quite important, I'm going to be dropping that little tidbit into casual conversation just as often as I can.

For our last class my cooking cohorts and I designed the menu {with a little guidance from the chefs} to give us an opportunity to make dishes we didn’t cover during the course. 

We made pork tenderloin stuffed with rosemary and Gorgonzola cheese, mashed sweet potatoes with amaretto caramelized onions, a fig and goat cheese salad with toasted coconut and citrus vinaigrette and an apple tart for dessert. {Just writing that makes me feel very chef-ish.}



My cooking colleagues chatted about the dishes they've already tried at home and their varying degrees of success. I admitted that I haven’t attempted to make even one dish from the almost 50 recipes we made in class. 

When they asked why I was taking cooking classes when I wasn't actually doing any cooking, I hastily added that I certainly did plan to cook. 

Very soon. 

I announced that I was amassing all the knowledge I possibly could from all of the classes before actually embarking on the adventure of cooking in my own kitchen.

My fellow student, Dave in his droll British manner said, “It’ll be a big moment for you then?”

I certainly hope so. 

It got me thinking about some of my other big moments during my class that blended life and cooking. And I’m letting them simmer and bubble over into my heart.



I flattened my fears. When the chefs asked me to roll the first mound of dough through the pasta-making-machine, I couldn’t believe I had to go first. I much prefer to hang back and get an idea of what’s required before giving it a try. 

But instead I found myself the reluctant pasta trendsetter. I hand-cranked the dough through the pasta-roller, time after time, making it thinner and thinner without creating holes. 

I thought about courage as I made sure the pasta dough was thin enough to cut into noodle shapes. Although I'm not equating cooking with true heroic actions, I needed a little courage to cook.

I'd rather watch cooking shows on TV and keep a lid on my self-conscious tendencies, but I'm glad I did the brave thing that made me nervous and uncomfortable. 

When I feel stretched too thin to handle discouraging circumstances or life’s uncertainties, God urges me to hold tight to his promises despite the doubts that threaten to poke holes in my faith. 

And that’s when God reminds me that he’s shaping me. To trust him for what's in the future that I can’t quite see yet. 



I folded up my expectations. When the chef asked me to fold chocolate into batter for our molten chocolate cakes, I thought that finally this was my time to shine. 

I’ve baked hundreds of times and thought I had the batter-folding skill perfected. But instead the chef corrected my technique, telling me to spoon the batter differently from how I’ve always done it. 

When I get too comfortable in my life and want to coast, God nudges me to look at my life and future a little differently. He wants to take me deeper than my limited viewpoint can offer and see my life from his perspective. 

So I’m shelving my expectations and instead I’m waiting with anticipation for what only God can orchestrate.



I shredded my insecurities. A pastry chef who hadn’t instructed any of our other classes helped us make the apple tart during our last session. Since she was unaware of my inferior knife skills, she asked me to slice the apples and arrange them in the tart pan. 

As usual, I worked slowly and carefully and halfway through she looked at me and said, “Why aren’t you done yet?” 

Then she smiled. 

I’m beginning to think chefs have a unique way of motivating their students. {And it includes a dash of mockery and a dollop of belittlement.} 

I ask the same question of God sometimes. Why isn't the refining season done yet? But God isn’t finished smoothing my rough edges and removing what can hinder and obstruct my relationships, friendships and my faith. Refining has a purpose.

These difficult days ask me to persevere because it can produce the sterling qualities I want in my character.

And that's eventually what leads to exquisite, delightful, divine hope. 



I’m a little sad that my cooking classes are over. Because I think I actually had some fun cooking. Just like the chef told me during my first class. (You can read about it here.)

I learned how to make fettuccine noodles come to life from a disk of dough. 

I learned how to take fresh tomatoes, garlic and some seasonings and in 20 minutes have a flavorful sauce for pasta. 

I learned how to grill chicken, dredge fish and sear steak. 

I learned how to whip vanilla beans, sugar and eggs into delicious homemade ice cream.

But mostly I realized I could skim off my natural tendencies of feeling awkward and self-conscious and keep my emotions from ruining the experiences right in front of me. 

Now that I’ve completed the basic skills course, I’m eligible to register for the intermediate course. But the chefs told us that it’s already full, so I’ll have to wait for the next session.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to buy a chef’s knife and chop some onions while I wait. 
Chef Craig and I celebrate my cooking course completion with some fun with rolling pins.

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place with Coffee for your Heart. Will you join me there for more encouragement?



15 comments:

  1. This was so fun to read! I loved hearing about your class and how God taught you things through it! I am feeling hungry now!! Thank you for sharing your journey - Stopping by from Holley's place

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susie,
      We made so many good things in class I'm excited to try them! Thank you for reading and stopping by!

      Delete
  2. I love that you went out of your comfort zone to try something new. Way to be brave! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Asheritah,
      I so need courage for cooking -- thanks so much for your comment! :)

      Delete
  3. Valerie, I'm sorry too that your class is over :( I enjoyed reading all the mouth watering details. I don't know which item from the last class I wanted to eat more...the coconut and citrus vinaigrette sounded wonderful. I liked this whole post. I like to try to pick out my favorite thoughts and tell people what they meant to me. But I had several favorites in this post. Here's one, "But mostly I realized I could skim off my natural tendencies of feeling awkward and self-conscious and keep my emotions from ruining the experiences right in front of me." I know this is such a catch phrase in our times i guess all of times, 'awkward'. I feel like we hear it 24/7 and I say it too regularly. "That was awkward." And then we agree it should be avoided. You know honestly a lot about life is awkward. Meeting new people, doing new things, all this new is at first awkward. I want to be better at being okay with awkward because new skills, new people, and new humor can be gained. I look forward to seeing a post about your first dish. And if its less than perfect, be brave and share it with us!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Summer,
      I so love you cheering on my cooking efforts and I'm glad you enjoyed the cooking posts! :) I have to force myself to step out of my comfort zone but when I do, I'm always glad I stretched myself -- it's just hard to do it at the outset! I want to get better at that too. So grateful for you!

      Delete
  4. The picture of the meal you created is gorgeous -- I wish I could taste it!! What a great way to end the course. I loved reading about every single class, and learning how you conquered every obstacle. It made me feel adventurous just reading your stories. I can't wait to see what you do next!
    Christy
    Christy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christy,
      Thank you for enjoying the posts and photos! As always, I love your encouragement and maybe I can try out my cooking skills for you soon! :)

      Delete
  5. Did you tell them you took the course so you could write about it? I know we all enjoyed it! Good job on your certification! Proud of you for stepping out and growing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah,
      I really did take the course to learn how to cook! But I'm so glad you enjoyed reading them -- so grateful for your sweet encouraging words! :)

      Delete
  6. The picture at the end cracks me up! He seemed like a hoot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the chefs certainly made it entertaining -- they made cooking fun!

      Delete
  7. Beautifully written as usual! It reminds me a lot of your post about when you went to compete at Peach Classic at your first skating competition. You are a great role model for trying new things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy, so happy to hear from you and yes it does remind me of our days at Peach Classic!

      Delete
  8. How awesome you take those classes Valerie and the food looks and sounds absolutely scrumptious. I will be your guinea pig any time if you want to test that out again or any other recipes. Loved reading this.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading -- I love to hear your comments! To leave a comment, you can choose an ID in the "comment as" box or just choose anonymous. Choose your ID first, write your comment in the box and hit publish. Your comment will be visible just as soon as I can post it!