As I have told you in a couple earlier blogs, my sister and I both learned to cook at an early age.
I still have the cookbook that we used to make cookies, cakes and other delicious items for our family.
Each page of recipes has some kind of memory attached to it. For instance, if I turn to the peanut butter cookie page, there is still sugar and a few other reminders still imprinted on the page. It even smells good when you open it up.
My mother had a bottom drawer in her kitchen full of clippings and scraps of paper with some kind of recipe on it. There were also a couple cookbooks.
Bev and I used that cookbook faithfully until we left home after high school. Shortly after I got married, I confiscated that book for my own use.
It wasn't until a couple years ago, my sister and I were talking about cookbooks and she mentioned that Mom didn't know what happened to that book. I laughed and said that it had been in my possession for over 30 years.
Cookbooks are a part of our history too. If you read the older ones, they talk about grocery budgets, the best cuts of meat for your money and all sorts of informative minutia, that most other history books have long forgotten.
Back in the day, when women were able to stay home and take pride in their cooking and housekeeping skills, a cookbook or two was always in evidence. They consulted them for meal planning, nutrition and economical ways to live cheaply but feed your family well.
For a few years, I purchased as many of the older cookbooks that I could find. I gave them away as part of the wedding gifts to young brides who had little or no cooking skills.
There are only so many weddings and birthday gifts that you can distribute extra cookbooks in a lifetime and so I took them to church and left them out where anyone could pick one up for their own use.
My sister Bev collects them too. Our Aunt Lois has kept her well-supplied with new books in her garage sale and flea market travels.
When we talk about finding common ground, food is one of the great equalizers. If you have ever gone to a gathering, it never fails that some new casserole or dessert is the hit of the party. Recipes are exchanged with goodwill and humor.
The pleasure of having a great recipe to try out is priceless. Sometimes, it encourages your own creativity to add a different spice or two.
At one place where I worked over 20 years ago, they had a yearly birthday party and everyone sat at a table for the month of their birth. All of the cakes were beautiful, but at our table, we didn't see a cake, there was only a flower pot as a centerpiece.
Imagine our surprise when the hostess of the table stood up and jerked out the flower arrangement and began to dig into the flower pot. The ingredients of dirt that day was pure ambrosia!
It is a never fail recipe for a birthday cake, that has become somewhat of a tradition in our own family. The "Dirt" Cake recipe consists of Oreo Cookies, melted butter and ice cream. You simply crush the cookies into crumbs and poor the melted butter over them. You can use a real flower pot lined with saran wrap or if you don't feel like getting fancy, just alternate layers of cookies and ice cream until you fill your container. Place it in the freezer for a few hours and you have a rich dessert that people will rave about.
Over the years, I have seen several variations of this recipe that included gummy worms and pudding. But to me, it is the taste of the melted butter mixed with crushed cookies and ice cream that is incomparable.
The best part is that you can be flexible with your ice cream choices or even your cookie preferences. There has even been a time or two that I put some crushed candy bars in mine.
Maybe, we should take more time to exchange a recipe or two instead of slinging arrows at each other. Could you imagine three major world leaders discussing their favorite childhood meal that their mothers made them?
When our words get heated and angry, we could challenge each other to a cook-off of our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes.
Of course, this silly and wishful thinking. But just imagine how many great conversations have started with a simple recipe.
In this chaotic world where everything is upside down, we need the peace and quiet of our center place in the home. It shouldn't be the TV, but sadly it usually is.
There will come a time when all the electronic gadgets that supposedly make our lives easier will cease their humming chatter. When our lives are stripped bare of distractions, we will be forced to take stock of what is truly necessary and important for our daily living.
Years ago, my husband David taught me about the resentment prayer. It is meant to help us get over a personal bump in our lives with another individual. The task that seems so simple is surprisingly difficult in the beginning. You must pray for that person to have all of the good things that you would want in your own life.
Those first days are really hard, saying the words with gritted teeth, but as time progresses, you will be amazed at how your own heart has changed and softened toward that individual.
We may never solve the world's problems with a cookie recipe or a great new version of the "casserole". Those dilemmas are beyond our reach and power. But in a small positive way, we can, share one good thing with another individual, who will in turn introduce it to another and another.
OUR COMMON GROUND MUST BE THE SIMPLE THINGS IN LIFE.
Choosing to attend a potluck dinner where the food choices are endless can create a calm and peaceful atmosphere. The icing on the cake is enjoying the company of the person sitting next to you at the dinner table. Yesterday, you may have had heated words online but today, you can talk about how great Mrs. So and So's version of the green bean casserole is the best that you have ever tasted!