Today my favorite place was my husband’s recliner. I could have sat there all afternoon and thought about cooking many things while Googling all the wonderful possibilities and never leaving my comfort zone.
All that did was make me hungry.
So I thought about sneaking out the door to tank up at McDonald’s. I really did. I’ve done it before. Snuck off, I mean. To McDonald’s, I confess.
Today I just thought about it…from the comfort of my husband’s recliner.
Closer to three o’clock I began hearing the children look in the cabinets, the pantry, and the refrigerator for food. It was snacktime. And I thought about sneaking off again. A soft taco with extra sour cream from Taco Bell rang sweet prose to my stomach. I could easily sneak away and get that one taco and be back before my son left for work. I’d be back in time. It had been so long since I had McDonald’s or Taco Bell. In sync with the rest of the nation, we are watching our pennies as well as our waistlines.
“Whose is this?” came a voice from the inner recesses of the refrigerator.
“What is it?”
“Hmmmm, some kind of chicken…oh, wait…Who went to Buffalo Wild Wings?”
Evidently my oldest daugther had “snuck” to Buffalo Wild Wings on her way home from college to work. Ah, well, that made my excuses for sneaking away all the more excuseable; but it was now 3:20 PM. Husband was getting off in ten minutes. My timeframe for “sneaking away” was over.
So I waved good-bye to my FaceBook friends, gave up my comfortable harbor and snuck into my domestic domain. It was duty that beckoned me there. I was not an enthusiastic cook. I was not motivated or inspired. I began dicing up leftover backyard smoked meats in a mechanical way: pork steak, beef, and chicken.
The constant slice and dice motions escorted me out of the lethargy brought on by computer buzz. The age-old work of my hands brought me back to reality. As I chopped, the stick of butter melted and delivered a gardeny scent of peppers and onions to my nose. I knew that scent would greet those who enter my domain. I knew what it meant to my family to come into a home incensed with cooking smells of butter, onion, meat. The idea pleased me very much. It lifted me to a higher calling. I tossed the meat into that favorite pot. The melting butter shrouded meat.
In that skillet I found my inspiration. The thought and remembrance of those smells and flavors gave me my motivation. A little of this. A bit of that. The good stuff tainted the browning pot of meat. I didn’t measure. I just anointed.
And that bath of pillowy stew gave me more satisfaction than one cold, limp taco from Taco Bell ever could.
A cloud of white rice nestled in a heavenly offering that was christened, blessed, and anointed by a mother’s hands.
For it is the work of our hands that anoints our families, blesses them, nourishes them, heals them, and, in so doing, anoints us, blesses us, nourishes us, and heals us.
Without the work of our hands we become a victim of acedia (a crippling indifference and suffering neglect warned about by the desert fathers of old) which author Kathleen Norris writes of in Acedia and Me. The work of our hands is the one thing that saves us from ourselves while saving others.
In depriving myself, I nourished my family. By depriving ourselves of little, we can richly sustain a multitude on the hillside. Supper is ready and it is the best pot of Jumbo Jambalaya I ever made.
* To see step by step pictures, go to http://cajuncottage.blogspot.com and look under the “cooking” category.
Jumbo Jambalaya Recipe:
This jambalaya dish is a toss between a Louisiana-Acadian backwood’s stock and a touch of Texas ranch-style skillet cooking. A Creole style would call for a tomato base. My family prefers the Cajun swamp mixture which demands a base of brown gravy.
Leftover meat (or cooked sausage, pork, chicken, or beef)
1 stick of butter
1 diced onion
1 diced bellpepper
2 cups beef brother
1/2 cup water
Pot of rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 teaspoons browning seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
seasoning to taste
Cut up any leftover meat in your refrigerator. Melt one stick of butter in skillet and saute onions and peppers in the melted butter. Add cut-up meat and cook on medium heat until well heated. Add approximately 2 cup of beef broth and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer while cooking a pot of rice. Better to cook more rice than you think you’ll need.
To the meat mixture:
Add 2 teaspoons of browning seasoning.
Add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
Add seasoning to taste.
Stir and continue to simmer.
When rice is cooked, add one can of cream of mushroom to meat gravy mixture. Stir and heat thoroughly. Add an extra 1/4 cup of water. Add more beef broth if you need to increase your servings.
Begin to gradually stir in the rice. Better to add rice slowly and make sure you have enough gravy to keep it moist for there is nothing worse than a “dry” jambalaya. Add more broth to moisten, more rice to thicken. If you find the jambalaya too bland, season with extra seasoning to your taste. Be sure to keep a little “juice” around the edges of the mixture as you stir because the rice will absorb it as it sets. You want it to maintain a soupy consistency.
Copyright 2010 Cay Gibson