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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Click (04/18/13)

TITLE: Made with Love
By Alicia Renkema


There is nothing like a whiff of one's favorite dishes coming from the kitchen with all of the warm tones that are created when things are clicking into place, before that first guest arrives.

I hadn't had my mother's Swedish meatballs in over ten years. I had only attempted the recipe once or twice since then, but she was the real pro at this dish.

Her grandparents were born in Southern Sweden. It had become a tradition in their family to have these mouthwatering Swedish meatballs every Christmas Eve along with mashed potatoes and the traditional white meatball gravy. When we had this meal while growing up, we always had Birds Eye Green Beans with Spatzel -- a type of noodle or dumpling with a yummy Bavarian style sauce. When this meal was served in our home on Christmas Eve, it made me truly feel like the celebration was ready to begin.

I was trying to replicate this marvelous meal after not having made it in such a long time because some good friends of ours were coming over for a birthday dinner. When I gave Ryan his choice of what to have, this was the last thing I thought he would choose. I had just been given a really delicious-sounding mashed potato recipe from another friend which included one stick of real butter and a whole block of cream cheese. My meatballs needed some marvelous-tasting-mashed potatoes, so I was game.

Between making the meatballs from scratch, the gravy (which was never really my thing), supervising my two helpers with the mashed potatoes, and learning a brand new recipe called "ginger-glazed carrots"; I had my hands full. This was going to be a challenge but I wanted to make this all come together.

My hope was that the evening would capture a wonderful memory for them with perfect precision so it would click into place, like  tumblers in a safe when one has found the right combination. We don't see these friends often. I wanted this meal to evoke a similar rich bonding of tapestry and fellowship when they remembered it later, as my past memories of this meal had always done for me.

My son and I wanted to make an extra effort to show the love we have for this couple, so we added all of the special touches to the foods to enhance their flavors. Thankfully we had begun the process a few days ahead.

The meatballs had their nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. The glazed carrots called for honey, just a hint of orange juice, parsley flakes, as well as the repeating flavors of nutmeg and ginger.
What a wonderful marriage of flavors was lingering in the air; they blended together perfectly "when the emergency happened." The gravy started to look like oatmeal. I was doomed! Everything had come to a grinding halt, my preparations were no longer clicking, they were falling apart.

 Frantic, I sent an SOS e-mail message to my friend whose mashed potato recipe we were using, who is also an expert cook. She told me that if I didn't have any beef stock or cubes to add to it (which I didn't) that I could just use water with a little bit of salt. Amazed I stood in disbelief, it was like water turning into wine. The thick-as-mud-porridge — goop, was restored like magic to a heavenly looking gravy. Voila, I had done it! Everyone loved the meal. It was even better in a lot of ways than the meatball memories of my youth because I had found some new recipes and revived others.

Food made with love, a festive touch of flowers or candles added to the table, lend themselves to prepare one for a special occasion. Yet, the best adornments of all are found in the warmth of laughter along with the prayer shared together as friends.This is what makes true fellowship, when no one wants to leave because you've weathered through tough times together knowing there is a cohesion there that will always exist as well as your love for one another. Proverbs 17:17 "A friend always loves, and a brother is born to share trouble," ( From God's Word Translation).

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This article has been read 680 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Judith Gayle Smith04/25/13
A yummy entry! Clever, original and may I have the recipe please?
Tracy Nunes 04/26/13
This made me hungry for good food and great fellowship. You did a wonderful job setting this stage and making me want to enter it.
Beth LaBuff 04/27/13
You have the perfect description of what is it like to bring all the dishes of a meal together, to make it "click". I was right there in your kitchen cheering you on, then concerned over the gravy (and very excited over that new tip of water and salt to fix a doomed gravy---and you restored the "click"). :) I could smell the meatballs and was drooling over those mashed potatoes. (I've used sour cream, but not cream cheese… which does sound so very good.) Nutmeg is my favorite spice. You captured my attention AND my taste buds with this delightful entry. I love your verse from Proverbs which fits your story perfectly.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/27/13
This is a charming story and one I'm sure your family will cherish for many years. It's nice when things fall in place like that. For me personally, if I were judging, I'd think your weakest topic might be the topic. Even though you used those words, had you taken those lines out, it wouldn't really change the story. I did think, you were stronger in the other criteria. The beginning was interesting and the ending had just a touch of suspense before the relief. The message was a great one too. All in all you did a good job.
lynn gipson 04/28/13
This is the kind of article you might read in Redbook or any one of those women's magazines! Perfectly written piece that made my mouth water and my heart warm.
Thank you so much for sharing this one. The potatoes sound heavenly and RICH. Glad it all clicked for you!
Christina Banks 04/28/13
Gravy and I are not friends in the kitchen, so I can completely relate to your tale. Your descriptions got my mouth watering. Nice job!
Virgil Youngblood 04/28/13
Definitely an enjoyable read. I'm ready to eat. In the first sentence of the last paragraph, "...lend themselves to prepare one" seems awkward to me, but I understand what you are saying. A slight revision might be worth considering. Cherished memories are always a delight to read.
Cinda Carter04/29/13
It was a beautiful setting and how it all came together was a blessing in disguise. My mouth began to water half way though the story. Very well told and you explained it in such away that you could just picture the whole setting and the fellowship.
Cheryl Harrison04/29/13
Now I am hungry. I loved your ending. Blessings.
Richard Hicks04/29/13
You did a great job on this piece. You worked hard on this and it shows. Very well crafted, and it clicked very well :) Now I am going to eat my supper! LOL.
Brenda Rice 04/29/13
Your entry is well written, informative and interesting, not to mention how yummy the food sounds.
Ellen Carr 04/30/13
What a mouth-watering story! The food sounds delicious and you have captured well the connection between food memories and other good memories. I'm not sure why you used inverted commas in this sentence (I think they would be better omitted): What a wonderful marriage of flavors was lingering in the air; they blended together perfectly "when the emergency happened." Well done.
Loren T. Lowery05/01/13
You should be a columnist for a food magazine. Even though it's morning here while reading this, my mouth is watering and I can almost smell the food. Great job and I loved the way you were able to tie in the Bible verse - the perfect final ingredient : )
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/02/13
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level two! Happy Dance!!