Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)
TITLE: Caring and Preparing
By Chrissi Dunn
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Margaret flapped a dishcloth under the smoke alarm frantically, while reaching to open the kitchen window with her other oven-gloved hand. She breathed a sigh of relief as the high pitched sound suddenly stopped. Opening the door of the fan oven, the heat hit her already red, flustered face.
Perfect! The marinade around her famous ten pound ham had browned. Only another few minutes to go.
As she jammed the scored, fatty surface with cloves, she couldn’t help but become irritated by the sounds of laughter escaping from the lounge. She glanced through the glass door, to see the smiling faces of her guests, as Ben Dorman recounted tales of his work in an Indian orphanage.
“What about that young boy, Ahmed, who used to look after his ill father?” Marilyn asked, more seriously. “Last time you took the midweek, you told us he was finding it hard to cope with his death.”
Marilyn seemed engrossed by what the missionary had to recall, as she sat on Margaret’s red rug by the fire. She was so consumed by the conversation that she failed to see her sister’s perplexed and perspiring face scowling from behind the glass!
Fuming, Margaret returned the ham to the oven, and began to mash the carrots and parsnips. Why couldn’t Marilyn be a little more practical like her? Didn’t she see that this man needed a decent meal, which wasn’t going to magically appear from nowhere?
Marilyn always had some excuse not to help in the kitchen. She was conveniently comforting bereaved Mrs. Greene, in the church hall while the other ladies were serving the tea. She was jotting down prayer requests from old Mrs. Jenkins, who had been doting for years, while they washed the dishes.
As the gravy began to bubble over, Margaret removed it from the hob, and threw down her oven gloves on the granite work surface. 'That’s it!' She seethed, as her temper also reached boiling point. She needed help, and she wasn’t going to let Marilyn away with doing nothing again! The least she could do was set the table. Surely she couldn’t make a mess of that!
“I could really use an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, Marilyn.” She smiled at the other guests as she entered the lounge.
“You look like you’ve been busy, Margaret.” Ben commented. “I hope you haven’t gone to too much trouble.”
“Oh, it’s just a little something.” Margaret waved her hand, dismissively. However, she knew that he would rave about the tender joint of meat as soon as it melted on his taste buds.
“Ben’s been telling us about the new extension to the orphanage.” Marilyn explained, eager to return to the same topic.
“Yes. It’s been a busy six months.” Ben remarked. “Stay for a while to hear a little. Lunch can wait, can’t it? We’re undergoing a real spiritual battle so we could do with all your prayers.”
Margaret sighed, but sat down out of courtesy, beside the young man. He seemed keen that she would stay for some reason. As he recounted various stages of planning towards the extension, Margaret checked her watch, hoping that the ham would not burn. Thankfully she had turned it down to a lower heat.
“You will remember to pray?” Ben turned to face her, his eyes glinting with tears.
“Of course.” Margaret answered guiltily, unable to meet his gaze. If only she hadn’t been so focused on her cooking, she could have taken in what he had said. Perhaps she could ask her sister later about his work. It was so like Marilyn to remember every little detail.
Lord, forgive me! she prayed inwardly. She was glad that Marilyn had taken time to listen to Ben’s stories. Why couldn’t she have a more teachable spirit like her sister?
“Tell Margaret all about the Indian food, Ben.” said Marilyn, excitedly. “You know how she loves to cook.”
“Well, as I explained yesterday, it mainly consists of vegetables, in the poor areas I work in.” Ben answered. “So, I figured I should become a vegetarian. Surprisingly, I haven’t looked back since. Couldn’t tempt me with roast beef or pork at all now!” he laughed.
Margaret giggled nervously, her face blazing now in embarrassment. She quietly excused herself, skulking into the kitchen. She shook her head as she punched in the number of ‘Harry‘s Takeaway’ into the telephone. Perhaps she would just listen next time!
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