“All you need is love,” boomed from the record player, and Janie was singing too, as loudly as she could. “All you need is love, love. Love is all you need. Love is all you need.”
“Turn that music down Janie,” yelled Rita, her mother. “I can't concentrate on my sewing.” The decibels decreased, a little.
Rita sighed. Five days into the school holidays and she wondered if she could cope. Fourteen-year-old Janie was a Beatle-maniac and Beatles music blared out relentlessly every day.
Holidays boredom had set in and Janie was looking for something to do. She thumbed through her mother's recipe books, looking for something to make. It had to be easy, and definitely sweet.
“Not one of those boring cakes Mum makes. I want to make something different,” she thought. She flipped over the pages and found a no-bake recipe for chocolate cigars. Perfect.
“I'll help you get the ingredients together, then I'll get out of the kitchen and leave you to it,” said Rita, glad that Janie was doing something constructive. “What do you need?”
“Marie biscuits, condensed milk, cocoa and coconut,” read Janie. “Do we have all those?”
Rita checked the pantry. “Surprisingly, we do.” She put them on the bench. “Now call me if you need some help.”
But as she headed back to her sewing machine. Janie calling was out to her, over the top of “I wanna hold your h-a-a-a-and”.
“Can't hear you Janie. You're going to have to turn the music off.” With a click there was blissful silence.
“Hey Mum, this is the wrong sort of milk. This is sweetened condensed milk and the recipe just says condensed milk. I'll look in the pantry for some unsweetened condensed milk.”
“Janie, I think it means sweetened condensed milk. Just use the one I gave you.”
But Janie was rummaging around in the pantry. She called back, “It's okay. I've found some unsweetened condensed milk. It's called evaporated milk, but condensed and evaporated mean the same so I'll use this,”
Rita thought she had better come into the kitchen to sort this out. “Janie, I'm sure it means the sweetened milk. It needs the sweetness and the stickiness of that type of milk. Trust me in this and your chocolate cigars will turn out brilliantly.”
“Mum, I'm going to do exactly what the recipe says, and it doesn't say sweetened condensed milk. I'll use the evaporated milk. I know what I'm doing!”
“Okay, your call,” said her mother and left her to it.
Janie crushed the biscuits, measured the coconut and cocoa carefully and added them. She opened the tin of evaporated milk, poured it in and mixed everything together. Now to make the mixture into cigar shapes and roll them in coconut. Easy. Janie knew she was doing well.
She tried to shape some of the mixture into a cigar, but it collapsed into bits. It wouldn't hold together. She kept trying, but each time it just ended up a mess. She tasted the mixture. It was edible, but not the delicious,sweet treat she had expected.
“Mum!” she yelled. “It's not working and it doesn't even taste good. This recipe is rubbish!”
Rita took a deep breath. Going into the kitchen she suppressed her “Told you so” response.
She chose her words carefully.
“It's okay Janie. We can make this into something. I'll think of a way to make it into a dessert. Do you know what the problem was?”
“Yes,” muttered Janie, “You were right about the milk. I should have taken your advice.”
“We cooks have to learn from our mistakes,” said her mother. “You wouldn't believe how many cooking disasters I've had. You can try again tomorrow. It's a good thing we still have a can of sweetened condensed milk left.”
Jamie's scowl slid off her face. “Sorry Mum! I'll listen to your advice next time. But only if I ask for it!”
I think there's a bit of Janie in us all. How often do we think we know better than wiser and more experienced people? And how often do we think we know better than God and what he tells us to do? It takes humility to take notice of others' wisdom and it takes faith and submission to follow God's way.
This is based on a true story of the 1960s. Names have been changed to hide my identity!
'Evaporated Milk' is runny and unsweetened. 'Condensed Milk' is always sweetened condensed milk and is much thicker.
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