After a very long wait to get here, I am now 15 weeks pregnant with our first child. What no one told me about morning sickness and food cravings and food aversion was that it wouldn’t just be certain foods that would make my stomach churn. For me, it’s pretty much everything. I used to have a very healthy appetite. I loved food and cooking. Now, there is absolutely nothing that tastes good. I wish I were exaggerating, but it’s true. Really, there are only just a few things that don’t taste bad. I no longer get hungry, just queasy and gross-feeling from low blood sugar. No one warned me about this.
Sometimes this happens in our spiritual lives, too. It may not be a specific event or life change that brings it about, but our spiritual tastes and needs change. The prayers and scriptures and songs that used to make us feel so fulfilled and close to God just don’t do it anymore. We feel empty and lonely and disappointed. No one warned us this could happen.
But it does, and sometimes we have to get creative about how to deal with it. Sometimes it is just for a season, sometimes the change is a permanent change of taste. Like Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a season for everything, and sometimes the season you’re used to is over. God plans on interacting with you in a different way now. I used to be able to meet God through cooking. I’m not a remarkable cook, but I enjoy it. That time was an opportunity for me to be at peace with God, while I chopped onions and sautéed zucchini. It was how I cared for my husband and how I helped my friends realize their God-given abilities. Food was how I loved.
So now I get to learn a new way to love. Now God gets to talk to me in a new way. I don’t know what that will be, and I pray that the old way will just be gone for a season. Continue reading
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about “healthified” recipes. You know the kind of recipe I’m talking about: things like pancakes made with coconut flour or replacing the oil with applesauce in banana bread. What I’ve realized, though, is that these things tend to enable us to continue in our unhealthy habits instead of leading us toward healthy habits. We all love banana bread (if you don’t, we can’t be friends), but let’s be real. I don’t care how many ingredients you substitute, there is no way you can turn it into a health food. You just can’t.
Now, that doesn’t mean that there is no value to making healthier exchanges to our foods. I’m all for that. But here’s the deal– we cannot lie to ourselves and let ourselves believe that something that is meant to be a treat is actually a healthy food. We have many ways of deceiving ourselves into believing that things that hurt us are actually ‘not that bad’ or actually good for us. We love doing this sort of thing! Why? Because we get what we want and are freed of the consequences. What could possibly be better than that?!
Sadly, if our recipes were the only aspects of our lives about which we lied to ourselves, we would actually be pretty decent shape. But the real problem is the way we accept and encourage our own sin.
Thanks to the military, my husband’s schedule is never a sure thing. Aside from long nights and phone calls at 4 am to confirm the paperwork he signed or to call him in to evacuate planes, there’s the constant change in shifts. After nearly a year on the midnight shift (similar to the traditional third shift), he spent about six weeks on days (the traditional first shift) and was recently moved to swing shift (basically second shift) for a few weeks. Once those weeks end, he will be some sporadic days of work and appointments, then some leave and then off to deployment in the desert for four months. Life married to the Air Force, even in our ‘easy’ corner of the world, stateside with minimal danger and longer station assignments, is hardly predictable or consistent.
All that is to say that the last few weeks while he has been on swing shift have been challenging. Our time together is minimal because I’m usually in bed by the time he gets home and he is still asleep when I get up in the morning. We usually have about half an hour together before I go to work. And then he is gone when I get home. It should be no surprise that I highly value the time spent around a dinner table and this schedule makes this impossible. It has put quite the damper on my cooking spirit! When I was single, I still cooked for myself quite a bit, but now that I’ve got someone that I get to cook for, lacking that is such a bummer!
So tonight I insisted on cooking (a bit) and putting together some of my favorite flavors to make:
Barbeque Chicken with Cornmeal Mush
(fancy people call it polenta)
1 c yellow cornmeal*
3 c beef or chicken broth (water also works)
2 c cooked, shredded chicken**
1/4 c barbeque sauce (recipe below, or your favorite bottled sauce)
Toppings of your choice, such as:
sliced raw onions
cole slaw/raw cabbage
- Bring the broth or water to a boil in a shallow saucepan. Once at a boil, whisk in the cornmeal bit by bit, whisking rapidly until smooth. Stir quickly and regularly to avoid clumps. Allow to cook over medium-high heat for at least 10 minutes, up to 30 minutes, depending how thick you’d like it. Add a dollop of butter or margarine, if you like it a bit creamier.
- Toss the chicken with the barbeque sauce (below) and spoon over the cornmeal mush. Allow each person to top with pickles, peppers, cole slaw, etc as they prefer their own barbeque. The cornmeal mush is like the cornbread!
Kansas City-style Barbeque Sauce (adapted from Food Network)
Yields 1 quart
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c ketchup
3 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 c molasses
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs corn starch (+ 3 Tbs water, whisked into a cornstarch slurry)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp liquid smoke
- Bring the oil to temperature in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Before it bubbles, add the onions and garlic, cook until transparent.
- Add all remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch slurry and liquid smoke. Add a cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the liquid smoke, then slowly incorporate the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. Allow to cook for a few more minutes, longer if you like it thicker (it will thicken as it cools, as well).
- Strain, if desired.
*polenta works, too, but it is effectively the exact same thing, just a little more finely ground and about three or four times more expensive
**I use shredded chicken quarters that I boiled to make chicken stock a few days ago (quarters are pretty much the cheapest cut of chicken and have lots of dark meat flavor!)