The Preacher believes that no one (including his wife) should mess with the ingredients in a recipe. Doing so means he may find “foreign objects” in his dinner or dessert. Corn, nuts or beans, for starters. Foreign objects irritate his baloopa gland. When they go in, they “baloopa” back up again.
He’s never recovered from the teriyaki incident. “This is really great steak,” he said, after his third helping of beef strips.
“Have more,” said I. He did.
I made the mistake of confessing later as he relaxed in the living room.
“Did you enjoy dinner?” I asked.
“Yeah, that was really great steak,” he said.
I squirmed. Mumbled. “Ummm, not steak exactly. Beef heart.”
He lunged from his chair and bolted out of the room. I heard the baloopa gland working all the way up the stairs to the great white throne.
The Preacher hasn’t trusted my cooking since—even when I use a recipe. If I substitute anything for one of the ingredients, he acts as though I’ve broken the eleventh commandment: Thou shall not make substitutions. The fat and sugar in recipes, and every dot and tittle therof, they shall be holy to you.
“Hon, every cook makes substitutions,” I insist.
“Not me,” he protests. And forth and back we go.
To most women, a recipe is a little like a blank canvas. It supplies the general shape of something, but feel free to be creative. Substituting works—usually.
For a funeral lunch a while ago, I prepared to bake a loaf of Raspberry Pecan Tea bread.
Like Martha What’s-her-name, I lined up my collection of ingredients on the kitchen counter. Reading the recipe, I planned my strategy. Too much sugar—substitute Splenda for half. And far too much margarine—an entire half cup.
I’ve counted fat grams for years. A half cup of butter has 112 grams of fat. At around twenty-five grams of fat per day for optimal health, that’s well over four days’ fat allowance.
Out went a quarter cup of butter, and in went a quarter cup of applesauce. Instead of eggs, I used egg replacer. Rather than cow milk I poured in soy milk. And having no pecans, I used walnuts.
My loaf fell flatter than Saturday morning hair. “That’s what you get for being rebellious,” the Preacher smirked. (Not that he would have eaten it anyway—too many foreign objects.)
Our grandbeans loved my low-everything Raspberry Walnut flatcake anyway. Their grandfather hasn’t yet passed down his baloopa gland. He’s passing on other things, though. Cuddles and Bible stories. Shared music concerts and visits to the nursing home during his volunteer chaplaincy hours.
My prayer is that somewhere along the way they’re going to catch something else: the Preacher’s own recipe for a beautiful life: make a quiet habit of gently serving others in Jesus’ name.
Now that’s a recipe not even I’d dare mess with.