Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)
- TITLE: Bitter, Sweet Feather Bed
By Myrna Noyes
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For years she’d had a bad heart and was never able to do heavy housework like mopping floors and such, but most of the time that had not unduly bothered her. Her husband and four children pitched in to do the work she couldn’t, and she was very grateful for their help. Also, a woman came once a week and stayed all day to do the laundry.
However, Sarah was an excellent cook and seamstress, and felt she contributed much to the comfort and care of her family in these two areas. People said she could bake pies and cakes that would “melt in your mouth,” and she beautifully made all the family’s clothes. Using her dressmaking skills to sew for the townsfolk also enabled her to earn money to proudly send her eldest son Fred to college.
She derived much enjoyment and satisfaction from cooking, as well. The pastor of their church was a particular admirer of her culinary talents. He lived at some distance from the town and traveled there by train every weekend for the Saturday evening and two Sunday services. Most of the time he would stay at Sarah and Wilson’s home and take his meals there. After the Saturday night service when Sarah would shake his hand and say “Good-bye,” he would invariably reply, “Don’t say ‘Good-bye,’ Sister Smith. I’m going home with you.” Sarah felt so pleased and honored when the minister would say this and viewed it as a real compliment to her hospitality. She took great pains to fix extra-special, appetizing meals whenever he stayed with them. Baked pies and cakes, fried chicken, and an abundance of other tasteful foods graced their table on these occasions.
At times, though, her heart gave her more troubling physical problems, and the doctor ordered her to bed rest. This was one of those spells, and she chaffed vainly at her forced inactivity. She moved her head side to side restlessly on the pillow and picked carelessly at a loose thread on her coverlet. She closed her eyes and groaned quietly as she thought of her inability to minister to the needs of her family and to participate in the beloved household routines. As her family had the many other daily home tasks to do as well as tending to the large vegetable garden out back, Sarah had always done all the meal preparation herself, and now she worried that they would not eat properly. How would the bread get baked, who would cook the roast for dinner, who would get the vegetables ready?
Being a deeply religious woman who read her Bible faithfully every night before going to bed, an involuntary prayer escaped her lips, as she beseeched heaven with the plea, “What can I do, Father? What can I do?”
Slowly an inspiration formed, and a hint of a sparkle came into her eyes. Yes, she could manage that! Wasting no time, she called out to Edith to come to her bedside, while ideas jostled each other in her mind.
“Edith, pull up a chair and listen to me, please,” she urged. “I have a plan! I am going to teach you how to cook!”
Edith looked a bit skeptical, but Sarah continued, “ I will tell you what utensils, pans, and ingredients you need, and when you have gathered them, come back and set them here on my vanity table. I will then give you step-by-step instructions on how to bake some bread and how to fix today’s dinner.”
As Edith left with her list of items to get from the kitchen, Sarah settled back on her pillow, smiling contentedly. She wasn’t useless after all! Then, lifting her eyes to the sky outside her window, she simply breathed, “Thank you!”
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