Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Friendship Based on Love of Food

My grandmother canned various fruits and vegetables from her vast garden, and she taught my mom how to can. My mom didn’t have any daughters to pass on the art of canning, and, even though I’m a pretty good cook, my mom did not teach me how to can. (Don’t worry; Mom; I’m not mad.)

Frankly, I never thought twice about learning how to can until I went to Haiti in August and began planning a garden project at the orphanage my church is rebuilding in Leogane. Canning, as my vision states, is something we need to teach Haitians how to do because most of the country is without electricity and, hence, refrigeration. Canning is a necessity in third-world nations so they can eat healthy foods more often.

So when I received an offer to learn how to make pepper jelly from a friend at church, Earlene Boyd of Walnut Creek, Calif., I jumped at the chance. The benefit to me was twofold: 1) I wanted to learn more about canning; and 2) I wanted to learn how to make pepper jelly (think spicy jalapenos) so I can serve it over cream cheese as an appetizer for a dinner I’m catering in a couple of weeks.

Earlene had given my wife, Susan, and me a jar of pepper jelly awhile back, and we fell in love with the stuff. You pour it over cream cheese and dip your favorite cracker into the concoction, and viola, instant yummy appetizer at a fairly low cost.

As we worked, we chatted, which is how it should be while working together in the kitchen. I asked Earlene if her mom taught her how to can, and she said no, she just wanted to learn how to can and simply followed the directions. Ugh. I hate following directions.

I see Earlene at church just about every week. She and her husband, Duane, sit right behind Susan and me. She knows I like to cook, so we often end up talking about food, even during church.

What I learned from Earlene was that we both have a passion to use food as gifts for friends. Earlene gives away treats at church all the time. We have gotten into her inner circle, praise the Lord, which means regular goodies. A few weeks ago, we were guests at her home for her annual “pumpkin” dinner, in which pumpkin was the featured guest.

I told Earlene of my desire to set aside one day in the next few weeks and do nothing but make candy and baked goods for friends, and that set off a 30-minute conversation about food gifts. We agreed that it was a wonderful way to love on someone. My list started off with chocolate and peanut brittle, two of my childhood favorites my mom used to make (and, no, she didn’t teach me how to make those either.) I’m even thinking of presentation of the packages and how to make it … pretty. I might even buy bows.

So out of my morning with Earlene, I gathered up a few treasures. I learned how to can, how to make pepper jelly and our friendship blossomed a little.

How do I pay her back? She heard a few Hispanic ladies from church and me are getting together to make tamales. She asked if she could come. “Of course,” I told her. We’re both already thinking about how to invite others into the fold.

Food is a gift from God, and we should share it with others as often as possible. Celebrate the Christmas season by inviting friends over for a meal or by setting aside a day to make treats for cherished friends or maybe even people you don’t even know. Like a neighbor you’ve been dying to get to know better.

If nothing else, bring me some goodies, and I’ll be your friend!

Note: For the rest of December, I’m going to share some of my food secrets that I learn, such as my candy-making escapades.

No comments:

Post a Comment