Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Secret Ingredient

In my mom’s kitchen, there is a stool. This stool has been a fixture since my youth. It was a place for “time out” when I had exhausted my mother’s patience. It was the stool where I sat and talked for hours on the phone with my husband during our dating years. It was also the spot I sat and learned to cook.

I would sit there as my mother prepared meals for family gatherings. I watched her hands measure, mix and serve. I loved this spot for several reasons … one, I could visit with my mom; two, I got to sample everything she was cooking and three, I could learn how to cook as well as she always had for our family.

After I was married, I assumed all those things would automatically follow me to my kitchen. I wanted those same things in the kitchen I would share with my husband and someday children. I remember the day I unpacked all my kitchen wares. Each utensil and canister had a specific place. I chose the place according to what I had seen in my mother’s kitchen. I unpacked countless recipe books and hand scribbled recipes from my youth. I recall thinking how great it would be to have my husband and his friends enjoy a meal I fixed with my own two hands.

Surprise, I found I could NOT cook! I made a disaster of recipe after recipe. I tried so hard and got myself so upset, I made silly mistakes … like the time I mixed up the measurement of sugar and salt in a pumpkin pie. Yes, I did! I put a cup of salt into a pie! I wanted desperately to make “biscuits and gravy” for my young husband. I wanted it to taste just like my mom’s and his mom’s gravy. I had the recipe and all the perfect equipment. Why wasn’t I achieving my goal?
This entire frustration came to a boiling point when I was about 7 months pregnant with our first son. We had been married 8 months and I still did not know how to make gravy. My husband was craving it and our moms lived about twelve hours away. So, there wasn’t a simple fix of driving to our parents for a quick satisfying meal. I called my mom … she said yes I was putting in all the right ingredients. I stewed and fretted … and then my husband did something that I nearly beat him over! He called his mother and gave the phone to me … he told me to listen to her and do it her way. Oh yes, he did! My mother-in-law is a great cook ... one to take advice from and I love her ... but in that moment, I wanted to be the great cook. I didn't want another woman telling me what I was doing wrong. We can laugh about this now but as a very pregnant woman … this was not funny and not a happy moment. I listened and did it … still it didn’t work.
I ended up calling my mom and telling her I was a complete failure. I couldn’t cook my husband’s favorite meal and I had boiled my frustrations over a phone call to his mother. There was a moment of silence … then, my mom’s soft laugh.
“Aine Marie, did you remember the love?”
“What are you talking about Mom?” I was not in the mood for any hidden meanings.
“It won’t taste the same without the love.”

Stop and think about that for a minute … It’s not the same without the Love. I ended the call and spent a lot of time thinking about her words. I had used up so much energy trying to perfect my cooking skills. I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to impress everyone with my abilities. I wanted … I wanted … in all my wanting I forgot about the wants, desires, needs or pleasure of my husband.
This situation reminds me of my walk with God. And, it reminds me of the scriptures in 1st Corinthians 13 “The Excellence of Love.” We can do all sorts of things trying to find a perfect recipe for salvation and pleasing our Father. But, if we forget to do it with love … it just doesn’t come out right.
Today, when I make a meal for my family, the most important ingredient ... the secret ingredient is love. I put my love for each person into the meal.
How about you … do you remember the love in your daily walk with God?
1st Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”


  1. Hi Aine,
    I just wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and signing on as a follower. I've just started out and get very excited when someone signs up. Could you tell me how you found it? I've signed up for yours also. You are a beautiful girl and your right - love is the secret ingredient!
    Deborah Malone

  2. Aine,
    You know my DH tells me the same thing - I need to add love to my cooking. Who knew? He was right after all. Maybe if I view cooking less as a chore and more of a love offering, my attitude towards cooking (bordering on deep dislike) would change. Thanks for sharing your mama's wisdom.