When I was growing up, I was surrounded by people, including my grandmother and father, who were outstanding cooks and bakers. My papa could make a deep-dish pizza that you would not believe. This from scratch. Now, my sister Barb got that baking gene, but I did not. My sister Mary is a very good cook too, and I can only pass at cooking. When I complained to my mom about not being gifted like my two sisters, (as I danced around the kitchen one night) she informed me not everyone is gifted the same and that I needed to “Know Thy gifts little lady, know Thy gifts.”
Still, I always envied these gifts that were not given to me naturally and so when I married my first husband I saw my opportunity to change my culinary future for the better. My first mother-in-law was a woman who could turn two cups of flour, some sugar, eggs and milk into mouth-watering biscuits, breads, tortillas and various cookies and sweets. Ah ha, I would just hang out and learn to do this magic too.
For a few years I was shy about asking for help but when I did, mother-in-law agreed to tutor me. I spend hours, days really, in the kitchen with mother-in-law learning how to bake/cook. My first attempt was aimed at making homemade tortillas because my then 1-1/2 year old kiddo loved them. Hard work paid off and I learned to make wonderfully light and tasty tortillas at the elbow of my patient tutor. Although they tasted good, I could never figure out why hers were always round and symmetrical and mine mostly looked like Michigan or Illinois. In fact, today my son claims he learned US geography at my dinner table. Hmmm.
Tortillas were good now, but what about the bread? More kitchen time, trial and error and hard work. Each day when my son napped, I tried to bake bread. I measured, mixed, kneaded, waited for rising and carefully handled the dough as I put it in the oven to bake. Each day at the ding of the oven timer I took out concoctions that resembled bricks, stones or some other elements used in the construction of buildings.
Not to be dissuaded, I threw each batch of my failed efforts into the large trash can that stood outside our garage, cleaned up and put my kitchen at the ready for the next day’s baking adventure. As this went on for a few weeks, I admit, I became discouraged, maybe a little. Then the crushing blow came.
One March afternoon, the town we lived in experienced extremely and unseasonal high winds. When my son’s father returned from work he came in very perplexed. “Why is it that in 50 mph winds, our trash can is the only one that has not ended up at the end of the cul-de-sac?” Ah, yes, well what could I say?
That night after a dinner of burritos made with delicious albeit visually disturbing tortillas, I sat down and wept. I would never be a good baker and could never bring to the table the beautiful breads that others in my family presented. Then from somewhere in my little heart, I heard my mama’s words, “Know thy gifts little lady. We are not all gifted alike.” Her words have served me beyond all measure as I have grown older.
Today when I am tempted to envy the gifts of others or to try to be something/someone that I am not, I remember those words of my mom’s. And I also remember God’s words to me that night, “Be grateful for who you are my child. I have gifted you with other things, and you need to concentrate on those. And oh yes, there is a buy one, get one free sale on bread down to the Country Market.”
Copyright March 2012
Lakewood, CO 80401