Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
It’s been a hard week. Wheat harvest, 11 ball games, five out-of-town-trips-not counting the ones to the fields near Durham and Lehigh-and one funeral.

Then there was the speeding ticket. Mine, of course. The two times Keith has been pulled over in the last year or so, he got off with a warning-both times. But not me, no siree Bob. I get ticketed. The state trooper, however, was very pleasant.

But there’s more. I’ve also been dealing with one backed up basement drainage pipe that’s been flooding a storage area, a vacuum cleaner that quit working, two over tired teenagers, and one stressed out farmer husband.

So do you know what I did? I started to paint the outside of our house. One morning it was sort of on the cool side, so I got out the bucket of paint I had picked up at Hillsboro Hardware and started in on the front porch trim.

It wasn’t long before Meghan, fresh out of bed, stepped out on the porch still clad in her pajamas to ask what I was doing. Before long she had found a brush and began painting the railing that frames the porch.

“I hope no one comes over,” my daughter said. Her hair was still tousled from a night’s sleep.

“Don’t worry about it,” I replied, not wanting Meg to go in to change. I have found that my kids have a strange way of mysteriously disappearing when there is work to be done. Better to keep her there and busy.

We painted past noon, knowing that Alex and Keith were out in the field and would be eating a carryout lunch that day from Main Street Cafe in Durham. There was no need to stop to make a meal. We continued until the heat from the sun and a need for food drove us inside-about 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

It was rather therapeutic to paint that morning. We got enough painted to know what the color would look like and how many coats we would have to put on the rest of the house.

But now, I have one more half-finished project waiting for completion. One more iron in the fire.

In the next couple of weeks the farming will slow a bit and ball games will come to an end, so there will be more time to be able to spend on projects around the house. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

But then again, maybe we’ll all be so tired that we won’t be able to move. That’s what happened on Sunday. After spending a week going full throttle, Sunday came and everyone crashed. I spent most of the day napping, as did Keith.

It made me wonder if this is how life should be spent, stumbling along half dead with fatigue. Surely not. But then I reckon in there are many places in the world where people go to bed weary from the overwhelming circumstances they must face every day in order to survive.

Famine, poverty, war. I’m not directly facing any of those things. Oppression, imprisonment, degradation. Those aren’t a part of my everyday experience. Disease, defilement, despair. Nope.

The fatigue I face, the stress I carry is mostly of my own making. While I’m juggling trips to ball fields and wheat fields, I must be conscious of those in the world who must decide which of their children will eat today because of a lack of provision.

While I’m complaining about a backed up drain in the basement getting some of my stuff wet, I need to be mindful of those who live without the simple basics like shelter and clean water.

And while I’m whining about a speeding ticket, I should be thanking God that I don’t live in a place where a meeting with a law enforcement officer might mean unlawful detainment, torture or possibly even death.

Some say we are lucky to be living in the United States. Some say we are blessed. Some say we need to make changes to a country that seems at times to be invested in policing the world and chasing the almighty dollar.

I say, although there is always room for improvement, let’s not take things for granted.

In your lifetime, I hope you get the opportunity to travel to a developing country. It’s usually not the destination folks choose when selecting a vacation spot, but after seeing how desperate life is for some of God’s people, one gets a different perspective.

It will soften your heart, and make you keenly aware of how good life is in Hillsboro, Kan., U.S.A. Happy Independence Day.

* * *

Fourth of July always means homemade ice cream, doesn’t it? Here are a couple of homemade toppings for you to enjoy.

Hot Fudge Sauce

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

3/4 cup sugar

3 tbs. butter, no substitutes

1/2 cup heavy cream

Pinch salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cocoa and sugar together in a small saucepan. Stir in butter (cut it into slices before adding) and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla. Makes one cup and may be refrigerated and reheated. Will keep about three weeks.

Marshmallow Hot Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup butter, no substitutes

2 cups sugar

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate

16 large marshmallows

In the top of a double boiler, over medium heat, combine butter, sugar, milk and chocolate. Melt completely and stir well to blend ingredients. Add marshmallows. Heat and stir until melted and well incorporated. Serve warm. May be stored in refrigerator and reheated for up to three weeks. Makes about four cups.

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