If it hadn’t been for my service on “The Food Panel,” a volunteer gig with our local newspaper, I might never have heard about, or understood the importance of an immersion blender.
I wouldn’t call myself a foodie. I just wanted to write. When I saw the ad for volunteers in 2009, I submitted my essay and was accepted. Ten of us were asked to serve for one year. We all had our headshots taken for inclusion at the top of our future columns, and agreed to attend monthly meetings on all-things food related. Whether it was a new restaurant, a new kitchen gadget, a profile of a chef preparing ready-made dishes inside the new grocery store, or where to find the best marinara sauce/fresh cookies/Pad Thai in town, our panel covered it in 600 words or less.
Though I’d never been one to sit for hours studying new kitchen equipment on QVC, or even to watch episodes of culinary fetes on The Food Network, my ears perked up the minute the food panelist next to me mentioned the gadget I was pretty sure I knew how to spell.
“Oh, you need an immersion blender,” she said, following a discussion of our favorite soups. Wanting to share my hearty Squash Soup recipe with them, I mentioned how the least favorite part of the process was transferring all of the vegetables and some of the broth to my food processor. What a mess! “My kitchen counter has to be scrubbed down afterwards,” I said. I discovered the immersion blender eliminates all of the mess, as it stays submerged in the tender vegetable medley where it performs the puree–practically splatter-proof. Others chimed in: where to buy one, how much they cost, and how indispensable they are for the kitchen chef. I went out the next day and bought one. It’s kind of changed my life.
The recent rainy day forecast and lowering temperatures seemed the perfect time to assemble the ingredients for my soup. I turned to my recipe book–yes, I still use one with a dog-eared tab marked “Soups.”
There are several remarkable things about my Squash Soup recipe:
- It was given to me in 2003, hand-written by a chef at The Palace Café’ on Canal Street in New Orleans. (See recipe photo.) After just a few tastes of the delectable soup, I asked our waiter if the chef would be willing to part with his recipe, a request I’m not shy about making. “I’ll go ask,” he said. When he reappeared with the small legal pad piece of paper and handed it to me, he added, “He told me to tell you, he uses whatever he has on hand.” Despite the missing quantities of some of the ingredients, I have figured it out, and have learned how to remove the sneaky seeds from roasted squash. The chef’s handwriting has been preserved since that day. I cherish it for the memories it evokes, not the least of which were the sixteen years we lived near New Orleans.
- Secondly, it taught me to trust the words, “Use what you have.” This goes for casseroles, desserts and salads, too. And it’s a metaphor for our lives.
- Finally, it’s the blending of the individual vegetables and their nutritional value that give the soup such status with me. Combined with the broth, the cream and seasoning (I add at the end) the soup makes a meatless dinner rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Considered comfort food, it may have the ability to “cure what ails you.”
I believe there’s a lesson in a great recipe, far beyond the fresh ingredients and the fancy blender. The take-away for me is how God uses our circumstances, the messes we make, our painful life lessons as well as our victories. He helps us blend them all together to bring about good changes in us. In a letter to the Romans in chapter 8, Paul lays it out. “So now the case is closed.” He goes on to write about how there is no condemnation to those who are in life-union with Christ. That you and I are fully accepted by God. The TPT (The Passion Translation) of Roman’s 8:28 reads like this: “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together for good, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”
Our growth in Christ is a combination of things, and setbacks are His opportunity to supernaturally impose His sovereign will. We need not dread His conviction. In my experience, it is seasoned with loving persuasion. You take the trials, temptations, failures and longings, mix them in with your progress, your ever-increasing closeness to Him, your victory over that stronghold that used to trip you up. It’s a maturation process. It’s a recipe for life.
And like my soup, it’s even better the next day.