3 Hidden Faith Lessons from My Cookbooks

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I can’t remember when I first started reading cookbooks for fun.

I do recall, probably around age 10, sitting at the kitchen counter looking through my mom’s stack of cookbooks trying to decide what to make for dinner. A few of the cookbooks were from local Christian schools and churches. Some were classic, like the red and white Betty Crocker cookbook. Other recipes were clipped from magazines or quickly jotted down by family and friends and placed in a binder.

Now I’m in my own house, with my own collection of cookbooks and family recipes. In the age of Pinterest and Google, cookbooks are hardly practical. They take up space and don’t include a search engine. Yet there is something calming to me about flipping through cookbooks. The recipes tell stories of people and places, of faith and community, right next to the list of ingredients. In fact, if my cookbooks could talk, I wonder if they might share important truths (besides that adding MORE sugar and butter improve any dessert), such as:

  • It’s a Big World. One of my favorite cookbooks, Extending the Table by Joetta Handrich Schlabach, transports me to everyday life in other parts of the world. The easy to follow recipes take me to India, Ethiopia, and Spain. I learn about spices I never knew existed while being amazed at the diversity (and flavor!) of the world God created.
  • Food is Compassion. “This recipe can be doubled and shared.” “This meal can be prepared ahead and frozen.” “Perfect meal for a busy family.” These simple lines tell the stories of moms cooking for their families. They share of inviting others over for dinner or bringing a meal to someone going through a hard time. These words are proof that food can be a tangible act of compassion, a way to be Jesus to those around us. Shauna Niequist, in her book Bittersweet, writes “I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them.” These words from Shauna get at the deeper purpose in preparing and sharing in meals.
  • Recipes are Reminders. A few years ago, I went to my Grandma’s house to learn how to make a pie crust. The pie crust that her Grandma taught her how to make. She showed me the steps but also wrote a very detailed recipe. I’m so glad she wrote the steps down so I can pass along the recipe to others and reference it myself. This hand-written recipe also serves as a reminder of the generational love of family, which is a gift from God in my life.

My cookbooks teach me about loving others. The recipes tell me I can explore the world without leaving my kitchen. Certain meals and recipes remind me of the value of tradition and family. I’m grateful for these lessons and can’t wait to find other crumbs of wisdom among the ingredients!

Do you have a favorite cookbook? Do you have any stories of faith and food coming together in your life? I’d love to hear them!

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Food is such a precious gift from the Lord, Our Provider. Its also refreshment for our souls through family meals together!  So enjoy your writings, Staci!

Admin

Thanks for sharing! I completely agree that food and family times are wonderful gifts.

I'm looking forward to checking out the cookbook Extending the Table- thanks for the recommendation! 

 

Admin

Let me know what you think of the cookbook! 

There is something personal about a cookbook that you just can't get on a computer or smartphone screen.  I love those little notes added to the recipes in church or school cookbooks.  My mom was a stay-at-home mom until I was in high school, and didn't have much spending money, but one year for Christmas she typed out about 50 of her treasured recipes on cards and put them in a little file box for my "hope chest."  That was on a manual typewriter, rolling each card in individually.  Forty years later, I use those cards regularly, complete with the grease splatters and smudges.  If my house was on fire, that box is one thing I'd grab. 

Admin

Hi Cindy! I completely agree. I love the cookbooks that are "worn-in" with grease marks and smudges. Cookbooks are not meant to be kept clean =) Thanks for reaching out!

I agree completely, Staci! I will probably never get rid of my favorite cookbooks and favorite printed recipes. There are several that I am particularly attached to for many different reasons. These include the ones that have been passed down to me through the generations and the ones that I at some point yanked from a magazine and fell in love with. I am so glad you wrote this post about faith and food. For me, just like for Shauna, the two are very closed related. Feeding people (family, friends, neighbors, people at church) is one of the ways that I love them and show them hospitality. I love food and I find a lot of joy in sharing it with someone else. One of my favorite books on food and connecting with people around the table is Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. Great recipes and great stories to go along with them. A very dear friend gave me this book as a gift and I thought it was just the perfect gift. Thank you, Staci. Keep up the beautiful writing!

Admin

Thanks, Carol! I appreciate your post and have been a witness to your gifts of loving people through delicious food! =) Thanks for living this out so well! 

Staci:

 

What a wonderful article!  I just found it today!  I have many, many memories of my mom cutting out newspaper recipes and trying them out on us.  We had to suffer through the good and the bad.  One memory of my mom that stays with me is making gravy.  She wanted so much to teach us to make gravy!  She would never let us make it but we had to "watch" her make it to learn.  To this day, I cannot make the same gravy my mom did which was fabulous.  I finally gave up and bought it in a jar!  Ha! Ha!

Admin

Haha thanks for sharing, Jill! It is really crazy how these memories stick around. I've never attempted to make gravy but I bet your mom's recipe was amazing!!