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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)

TITLE: Recipe for JOY
By Edy T Johnson


Recipe for JOY

Mary must have loved to cook. She might even have run rings around my Grandma. The amount of work she accomplished for Jerry's Home Style Cafe in Hannaford, North Dakota, popped my eyes, for sure.

My first paying job, I usually worked there afternoons plus Friday and Saturday evenings. But, one Saturday I was scheduled to work a split-shift day. I arrived at six in the morning to give Mary a hand. I discovered here's where all that food we served originated.

Energy personified, Mary didn't sit down once, and she didn't stand in one spot for very long, either. It seemed she must have had a checklist inside her head as she moved seamlessly from one job to the next. A big beef roast, ham, pork roast went into the big black oven. But, before that, she had the bread dough mixed and rising. A tub of hot grease to turn that dough into bismarcks and doughnuts and other pastry simmered on the stove top while she whipped up a dozen or more pies. She wasn't using mixes, either. Everything came together from "scratch," pie, cake, brownies, mashed potatoes, potato salad, soup, gravy, you name it. Nothing particularly gourmet, this was simply good rib-sticking food, enjoyed by the locals and the truckers and other visitors passing through town.

Now, I knew how to work as well as anyone. Besides peeling potatoes to help Mary, I covered the front, taking orders, pouring coffee, making customers feel welcome, serving some of Mary's baking. I also dished up the plates of hot beef sandwiches, a complete ham and potato salad dinner, or whatever the "special of the day" might be. In the afternoons I made the cold sandwiches, the milk shakes, cleaned and filled the salt and pepper shakers and sugar dispensers. And around the edges, since WE were the only dishwashers, I washed dishes. But, I never could have taken over Mary's job. I just didn't have it in me. The work she did had to have been her gift from God to humanity...at least that portion of humanity that passed through the doors of Jerry's Cafe, once upon a time, when I was a teenager.

Now retired from a nursing career, I recently brought some deli food to a member of our church. This eighty-year-old nurse hasn't left the bedside of her youngest daughter in months. The daughter has been fighting a long battle with cancer, and her mother would rather wear out this way than give the task to anyone else. But, I learned from another that this nurse-friend mom doesn't like to cook.

"Jenny, I hope it's okay that I'm bringing you something that's not home made. I don't like to cook, and I just discovered from Marilyn that you don't like to cook, either."

Jenny's face beamed, "What is it about nurses that we don't like to cook?" She chuckled and she listed the names of several nurses from church. "None of them like to cook, either."

That got me to thinking of Mary. And, I also thought about God's gifts. Everyone of us has her own special gift from God to use for the benefit of all the rest. And, by God's grace, it is the gift we enjoy doing the most.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/11/07
I've always kinda envied (in a Christian way, of course) people who can cook! Good job here!
Jen Davis01/17/07
Great concluding paragraph and so very true.
Jennifer Wetter01/18/07
What an inspiring story.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/18/07
Great job Edy, and I too marvel at the people who can throw together a meal in no time flat - it is indeed a talent; a talent that we both admit not having. It was a Recipe for Joy and a joy to read. Thanks friend.