Preheat oven to 350.
Okay, that I can do, I won’t forget that again. Jen turned the knob to 350.
Next, cook the spaghetti. Spaghetti Pie wasn’t fancy, but Jen figured it was a step up from plain old spaghetti, plus it had always been a big hit when her mom made it. It didn’t seem all that hard, so how could she mess it up?
“You doing okay?” Dave called from the next room.
“Yep! I have it under control.” I hope so, she prayed. Dave’s mom, Millicent, had been too polite to say anything last time Jen tried to cook for her. ‘Tried’, because she had failed miserably. That time, she’d been much more ambitious. She’d been so busy cooking so many dishes, she’d forgotten to turn the oven on, so the Beef Wellington was still raw at dinnertime. Then she’d forgotten to set the timer while they ate the side dishes, so it had burned and set off the smoke alarm. Jen’s cheeks flushed at the memory.
Spaghetti Pie and a nice green salad were much more her speed. As the noodles were cooking, Jen browned the beef. She mixed the cottage cheese and egg, added the spices, and remembered to drain the noodles before they overcooked. Hey, I’m doing good. Jen smiled as she surveyed her progress.
Putting the spaghetti noodles in the bottom of her heavy blue dutch oven, she tossed the noodles with some olive oil. She added the cottage cheese mixture, then remembered the spaghetti sauce. She looked around, checking all the shelves, but didn’t see any. Oh no! That’s one of the main ingredients, Jen chided herself. How can I be so stupid?
Jen sat, weighing her options. Jen, Jen, Jen. How could you forget something so basic? Her shoulders sagged. Now what? If Dan or I run up to the store, dinner won’t be ready in time. I can’t ask Millicent to bring it, plus that wouldn’t keep dinner on schedule either.
Okay, God, Jen prayed. I know this is silly and petty, but please send me some spaghetti sauce – I really wanted this to go well. Jen laughed at herself, not really believing God would bring spaghetti sauce to her door.
Dan walked in, stopping mid-stride as he noticed Jen’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, Dave, I’m hopeless!” Jen cried. “I’m such an idiot. I had everything nearly ready, then realized I somehow forgot the spaghetti sauce. Your mother is never going to come for dinner again!”
“First,” Dave said, “you are not an idiot. I don’t ever want to hear you say that again. Second,” he continued, “you didn’t forget the spaghetti sauce.”
“What? What do you mean? How…”
“I saw a grocery bag in the back of your car, so I brought it in, but accidentally left it in the mudroom. I’m pretty sure it was the spaghetti sauce.”
“Oh, Dave, you’re a lifesaver!” Jen jumped up and ran to the mudroom. “Spaghetti sauce!” she called gleefully. “Thank you, God!”
“Uh, don’t you mean Dave?”
“Oh, of course, that too! But I actually prayed for God to bring me spaghetti sauce – I can’t believe he actually answered such a silly little prayer.”
“Nothing is too small or big for the Lord,” Dave reminded her.
“You’re right,” Jen agreed. “But right now, I’ve gotta get this in the oven, fast!” Jen quickly added the beef to the spaghetti sauce, topped it with a layer of cheese, and slid the dinner into the oven. “It should be ready right on time!” Jen marveled.
Dave set the table while Jen tossed the salad. She poured the iced tea and was just folding the last napkin when the doorbell rang.
Dave greeted his mom, escorting her to the kitchen. “Good evening!” Jen said brightly. She pulled out a chair. “I’ve just poured the tea. Would you like some lemon?”
“That would be lovely, thank you,” Millicent answered.
Jen arranged the lemon slices on a plate. “Here you are!” she said. In her enthusiasm, her arm brushed the iced tea glass. Jen watched in horror as tea splashed all over the table and Millicent.
“I’m so sorry!” Jen cried, grabbing a towel. She blinked back tears. “I’m such a…”
“Jen,” Millicent interrupted, “it’s okay.” She smiled. “I know you may not believe me, but what matters to me is not what you cook or even how you serve it, but the fact that you have opened your home and your heart to me.”
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