This post was going to be just a few words sharing my oh so secret brownie recipe…but I decided to center it around why I made brownies today.
Courtney, Caleb and I delivered a meal to a family today. It is always such a blessing to minister in this way…and it feels great to be on the receiving end as well.
As I was making the meal this afternoon, I was thinking about what I have learned over the years from meals I have received and those that I have made. I thought it might be fun to share a few tips that I have gleaned along the way…sometimes the hard way. I would love to hear your tips as well…just love it.
Note: If you were able to see the administrator (that’s me) page of this blog, you would see lots and lots of drafts for posts that have not been published…including one that I have been working on all week that is giving me troubles…so when you see the pictures along with the tips please know that this was one of the rare days where my idea lined up with life…this doesn’t happen often…I have a lot of ideas and life has a way of saying…yeah right!
A meal is a gift…a gift of love…a gift of time…a gift of comfort and concern.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE
You do not have to duplicate the pages of Gourmet magazine to bring a wonderful meal.
Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa says when entertaining to make two things and buy the rest…I think the same goes for bringing a meal.
Choose food that are tried and true. This isn’t the time to experiment…trust me!
- IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HOMEMADE
A Take and Bake Pizza in the name of Jesus is perfectly fine. Most times people need a meal because their minds are consumed on other things…imagine the joy of a husband not having to run one more errand to get pizza for Friday night when his wife is ailing and the kids are hungry.
Enter my top-secret brownie recipe:
A girlfriend and I discovered that we have the same recipe…and it just made us giggle. At Fred Meyer’s this mix cost 99 cents everyday! I nabbed the last two boxes this morning…God blessed me I tell ya!
The brownies come out great everytime and tastes homemade but with a lot less sweat. I have never received a complaint. The trick as I have learned is to insert the toothpick one inch from the edge of pan…not the middle of the pan…insuring chewy goodness every single time.
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF…KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Recently I had offered to bring a meal and have our two families enjoy the dinner together. It happened to be an unexpectedly busy week and I didn’t have a lot of creativity or energy. Years and years ago, I would have killed myself making this meal, been exhausted, unpleasant to be around and spoiled the purpose.
That day, I bought two roasted chickens, carved them and divided white and dark meat in two pans, made easy and yummy baked cheese grits, steamed some vegetables and bought some nice bread and you guessed it, baked a pan of brownies. The dinner was fine and we all had a great time visiting and eating because they wanted to see us not Martha and the Stewarts.
- HAVE A FEW GO TO MEALS OR ITEMS
Unless there are dietary factors, my go to dessert as you may have guessed is brownies. Sometimes I bring along ice cream as well…vanilla is always great and my favorite but you can be creative ( perhaps coffee or strawberry) and make a run of the mill goody…special. I will show you later what I brought today. I have two or three main dishes that I think travel well and most people will like. When I discover something new, I try to remember to make a note to remember it for meal making ventures.
- HAVE YOUR SUPPLIES READY AND ON HAND
My supplies of choice are containers that do not need to be returned such as tin pans and inexpensive reusable refrigerator dishes that can be found at a dollar store. Tin foil and a sharpie pen to label food easily. Costco flat boxes with cut out handles…a life saver. It makes life much easier if dishes do not need to be returned.
- ALWAYS PLAN IN EXTRA TIME
I always factor in an extra hour of prep time. The rice doesn’t finish cooking when you thought it would. You get an unexpected phone call that hinders your progress. Packing up the meal can just take a little more time than you think. Plan in a little time to be able to do kitchen clean up is a great idea as well. It’s no fun coming home to a kitchen that looks like it is the Betty Crocker Test Kitchen.
I believe meals are anointed…that may not be scriptural but Jesus does say that even if we give a cup of water in His Name, we have done it unto Him. When someone prepares you a meal, doesn’t it taste like the best food ever? It could be a grilled cheese sandwich but it seems legendary. If you have opened your heart to provide for another, pondered over the food to make and prayed over the endeavor and as you cook…you can be sure that God will bless it.
- DON’T FORGET YOUR FAMILY
I learned this the hard way…enter your children…home from school…the smell of chocolate is intoxicating…the shock that those delicacies are not for them is heartbreaking.
- MAKE A LIST
It seems like a no-brainer but make a list of what you are taking and put it where you can see it…that way you don’t forget the ice cream in the freezer or the butter or the you name it I have forgotten it. I usually gather items on my dining room table with the list front and center.
Soup’s almost done…
Tonight’s menu (“only one item made from “scratch”):
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (homemade)
Cornbread with butter and honey ( an add water mix)
Fruit Salad (only cutting grapes and apples and opening a can required)
Strawberries (made in California)
Whipped Cream from a can
All that is left to do is pack it up and go:
If you noticed on my list, there was a question mark next to strawberries…I had to pick some up on the way there as my selection earlier was less than stellar…but if it didn’t work…brownies and whipped cream would have been just fine…I am sure of it!
Pretty easy…don’t you think? I wanted to write this post not to say…look at me but to say…look how easy. It can be even easier than this. It doesn’t even have to be a full meal…it could be baking an extra banana bread or a double batch of cookies and sharing with a neighbor in need.
When we arrived at our destination, we learned that while our friends were gone some friends had come and cleaned their home…that is a gift as well.
I will never forget a few years ago, we had a sudden family crisis. I remember coming home with Courtney. Carl had stayed behind with a napping Caleb and while we were gone some dear friends of ours had driven probably 45 minutes one way to bring us a lasagna dinner…it was impossible for me to be home to greet and hug them but I felt hugged and loved…it meant so much…and that is one of many times others have taken the time to bless in the midst of their own busy lives. I am sure you have your stories as well.
Let’s be apart of each other’s stories…just think of what you have…what you can give…who you see in need…how can you bless…then just do it…in Jesus’ Name.