Eight years ago I began to write a food blog in addition to my “church” blog. It only took about a year and a half for me to quit doing both. Time and life go in the way. I am working on a book about food and faith and preaching. This seemed like a good way to get back into thinking about how cooking and preaching are so similar AND how these arts impact my life of faith and service. Once a week I will be adding to this blog lifting up cooking, food, preaching and faith as deeply related to I am and I think to who we are.

I often find my center in cooking.  The french word “chez” means “at the home of” or “with or among.”  “Chez Cindy” is what I often use when I have a gourmet meal in my home and I title the menu that way.

For me, cooking means being at home or with friends or family.   I love how when I step into the kitchen, I feel the chaos of my life fall away and a calm and centeredness fill me.  Chopping, mixing, sautéing, grilling, baking all help me focus on what is in front of me and not get lost in all the craziness of my life.

Often my “job” my “ministry” does not result in results that are easily measured.  Cooking, however, immediately connects me with the food I prepare and with the people who eat it.  If I have paid attention, what I create provides satisfaction for…

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Simple Supper

As I have said, on numerous occasions, I have a need to cook.  Cooking relaxes me, it centers me, it makes me calm.  I badly sprained my foot on Saturday.  My husband was having his fifth root canal.  I knew we would need to eat tonight, but also knew I would need to do something simple and easy to eat.

I went with an old stand by: Pasta Puttanesca.  I often will serve it with grilled salmon or chicken, but the original recipes just calls for the sauce and the pasta.  It is vegetarian, but not vegan as it has anchovies.  I have to say, if you are not vegan, don’t cut the anchovies, they add a “umami” flavor.  Truly, unless you use too many, you will not know they are in the sauce.

Anyway, back to the pasta puttanesca.  It is a recipe, probably from the mid-twentieth century, but the “myth” around it is far more interesting.  “Puttanesca” comes from the word “whore” in Italian.  The myth is that prostitutes could cook this quickly and leave it on the stove to eat between customers.  A similar word “puttanata” means “of no worth.”  Probably closer to the truth, was a meal thrown quickly together of ingredients that were of “no worth.”  Regardless, it is simple, quick and oh so good!

The ingredients:

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Almost all pantry ingredients.  The parsley grows on my front porch; olive oil is always available, kalamata olive, capers, anchovies from the refrigerator and the garlic, onion and fire roasted tomatoes and penne pasta out of the pantry.  Easy!  I put water on to boil for the pasta, heated up the skillet and added olive oil.  Diced the onion, popped it into the hot olive oil.  Finely diced two garlic cloves, rinsed two tablespoons of capers, diced up two anchovies and 1/3 cup of kalamata olives.  

Once the onions were cooked, I added the garlic, cooked it a couple of minutes and added the olives, the can of fire roasted tomatoes, the capers and the anchovies. Added some fresh ground black pepper. At the same time I added the penne to the boiling water and cooked for 11 minutes.

Then I added my secret ingredient:

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I added about 1/8 teaspoon of hot smoked Spanish paprika.  Traditionally, it calls for red pepper flakes.  I am not overly found of red pepper flakes.  Hot smoked paprika….on the other hand….I love!  I use it for all kinds of recipes.  It adds heat, a little smoke and a lovely flavor.

While the pasta was cooking and the sauce was working, I diced up some fresh parsley, tossed a salad with fresh spinach, mesclun mix with a apple/honey cider vinegar with olive oil.  Once the pasta was cooked and drained, I tossed the pasta with sauce, parsley, topped with parmesan cheese and served it with the tossed green salad.

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It was simple, it was tasty and allowed me to cook and enjoy a very simple supper with my husband.

Communal Cooking

Last week, I took an unexpected trip to Goshen to help our my daughter who had been hospitalized.  http://revcindylee.wordpress.com  After making arrangements for things at church, I threw things in a suitcase and boarded a plane and finally made it to Goshen.

The first thing on my agenda after visiting my daughter in the hospital was to take care of everything at the house.  There is nothing worse than being sick and having three small boys at home and a husband who was doing everything he could to juggle everything.  She also has wonderful in-laws that were pitching in to make sure the boys were cared for in her absence.

Sometimes, you just need your mom.  She asked and I went.  Didn’t think twice.  Friday I cleaned house, she returned home and the boys were thrilled.  Now it was time to think about cooking.  A household of five needs food and even though the boys are 6, 4 and 3 they eat a lot!

First thing Friday morning we started with coffee, Grandma’s special coffee.

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Coffee is made with 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of sweetened ground chocolate, a bit of hot coffee to blend it and then filled with hot milk, usually two cups are necessary for a long day.  Following coffee, we cleaned house and then in the afternoon we prepared supper.  They decided that spaghetti and meatballs was on the menu.

Middle son Cai is gluten intolerant, so we we made gluten free meatballs and then cooked the gluten free pasta.  It was wonderful!  The younger two helped with the meatball mixture….but didn’t want to get their hands dirty!

On Saturday, we went to the Goshen Farmer’s Market.  We ate at Rachel’s Bread for breakfast.

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The market is marvelous.  i picked up lovely asparagus, lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes.  So beautiful, so tasty and ready to make wonderful food.  That evening, my middle grandson, Cai, cooked together.

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We took some of the lovely vegetables from the market and stir fried them and served them with brown rice.  Cai loved it!  With my help, he had his first lesson in using a knife to cut vegetables.  He is only 4, but did a great job with some assistance.  The most fun was firing up the stove and adding the vegetables one by one.

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I believe some of the best cooking is communal.  Sharing the tasks of preparation, cooking, and serving creates a space for love and grace.  We smelled the vegetables as we were chopping and then cooking them, smelled the combinations as they sizzled together.  When it was all done we added a sauce and watched it thicken.

Finally of course, one sits down a the table.  We said grace, then passed around the rice and stir fried vegetables.  The family ate, laughed and enjoyed each other.  I watched Cai dig into what he had created and ate and ate and ate.  The food was fresh, crisp, and tasted good.

I am reminded at moments like these that life is good.  I was grateful for the time to be able to take care of my daughter, her family and to create meals with my grandsons and to freeze some for the future.  Sharing that time, that food with family, was wonderful.  Cooking with my grandson, was priceless.    

 

Centering and Cooking

I often find my center in cooking.  The french word “chez” means “at the home of” or “with or among.”  “Chez Cindy” is what I often use when I have a gourmet meal in my home and I title the menu that way.

For me, cooking means being at home or with friends or family.   I love how when I step into the kitchen, I feel the chaos of my life fall away and a calm and centeredness fill me.  Chopping, mixing, sautéing, grilling, baking all help me focus on what is in front of me and not get lost in all the craziness of my life.

Often my “job” my “ministry” does not result in results that are easily measured.  Cooking, however, immediately connects me with the food I prepare and with the people who eat it.  If I have paid attention, what I create provides satisfaction for both body and soul

My hope for this space is to connect body and soul, spirit and mind.  I have come to believe that food feeds me spiritually, physically and mentally.  I am not a chef, but I am one who truly enjoys the interplay of food, faith and fun.  I hope and pray that this space will invite you to do the same.