I recently shared that I’m experiencing a shift in this season of life. Honestly it doesn’t all feel like rainbows and ice cream sundaes. However, the feeling of slowing, of not hurrying, of taking my sweet time feels good. Feels very good.
One of the ways in which I’ve noticed that I’m slowing is when I cook. Instead of seeing how fast I can get a good meal (or adequate as the case may be) on the table, I’ve begun to take my time. I breathe more deeply. I move slower. And thus I enjoy it more.
Actually I’ve always liked cooking but I’ve not always been as deliberate in my preparations. Trying new recipes is fun for me but I used to look for dishes that had few ingredients and could be put together quickly. These days, however, I find that a long list of ingredients and many steps no longer deters me.
Maybe it’s a sign of growing older.
But I have an idea that it’s more about embracing delayed gratification.
A few months after having lost Andrew,I realized that an aspect of maturity had settled within my heart and mind. Morning after morning the realization dawned again that he was no longer here with us. Yet I knew I must learn patience “in the wait” – the kind of patience that produces hopeful expectation for what is to come.
It’s called delayed gratification.
I believe in the life of the faithful that to gracefully accept the necessity of delayed gratification is a mark of maturity. It says, “I may not see now what I hope for but one day what I hope for is what I’ll see.”
I must wait to see my son again. I have the faithful assurance that I will see him again when I enter Heaven myself. But I don’t know when. That’s hard. Very hard. Tears spring to my eyes and my throat begins to burn even as I write the words. I don’t know when I’ll see Andrew again. The pleasure of his company has been delayed. But there will be a day when every promise is fulfilled.
What does this have to do with slowing down in the kitchen?
It has everything to do with patience and an unhurried approach to living and loving.
Andrew used to tell me that he loved my cooking and my secret ingredient is “love.” My sweet boy.
Preparing a meal can very well be an act of love when there exists:
- thankfulness for the availability and abundance of food
- appreciation for the creative process of cooking
- mindfulness in the deliberate, unhurried action of one thing at a time
- thoughtful service to family, friends and neighbors from your table
On a recent Sunday I prepared the fried okra pictured above, I had three women of my heart in mind:
- Mother ~ June Clark
- Mamaw Williams ~ Mamie Jane
- Mamaw Clark-McCurdy ~ Josie May
Often when I cook or bake I see them in their own kitchens preparing meals. Okra is a southern staple and I couldn’t come from any deeper roots in the south (Mississippi & Louisiana) than the home places of these three women. Each one in her own way learned patience and to gracefully accept delayed gratification.
As I rinsed, and cut the okra pods, I breathed deeply. No rushing about. No hurrying necessary.
I dredged the thin slices in the cornmeal and deliberately took note of the tiny seeds within the “spoke.” Have you ever really looked at a slice of okra? It’s marvelous perfection.
I checked the heat of the oil in my heavy cast iron skillet. When I thought it was right, I placed one cornmeal dusted round into the oil. I waited. Not quite hot enough.
When the lone okra began to sizzle I added the rest. A few minutes later I took my slotted spatula and carefully placed the okra on a paper towel lined platter to drain. I added a sprinkle of sea salt and popped a morsel in my mouth.
Hot, crispy and unlike anything else you’ve ever tasted. The Women would be satisfied with these. My kitchen becomes theirs. The cast iron skillet, the cornmeal that always has a place in my pantry…these are their tools. I am their daughter.
I share this simple okra recipe with you.
And it’s my pleasure…my simple pleasure to do so.
Ponder and share with me ~ What is your simple pleasure in the kitchen?
- Rinse pods but do not dry.
- Trim ends and cut into 1/4 inch rounds.
- Dredge okra in cornmeal and pan fry in canola oil (preferably in your large cast iron skillet).
- Okra is ready when it’s golden brown.
- Place on paper towel to drain.
- Salt to taste.
Gracefully accept the necessity of delayed gratification. It is a mark of maturity. (click to tweet)