Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gourmet Spirituality

This past weekend, speaking in Texas, I spent some time talking about the "Gourmet Initiative" that's going on at my house. Simply put, I'm cooking one new recipe for Rebekah each week (she gets to pick it our of a cook book). The idea is to push myself out of my cooking comfort zone.

The spiritual lessons, it turns out, are huge. It's one reason I'm using the idea of "Gourmet Living", and applying the same principles to life across the board.

I've always been a decent cook, and I've never been afraid to tinker with my recipes from meal to meal. As a result, and over the years, a lot of the distinctions between my menu items started to blur, and a kind of "generic Derek" style emerged (Yes, I noticed that generic Derek kind of rhymes!).

Consequently, I've been a stickler for following directions since I made the "one brand-new recipe from the cookbooks each week" commitment for 2010. Essentially, I want to learn new "fundamentals", to make the specific sauces that are called for, practice various techniques, take the time to use the exact herbs and spices rather than just the ones I like - that kind of thing.

Rebekah's favorite dish in the world is lasagna. So recently I tried a recipe for lasagna from scratch. I even did stuff like crush and chop fresh sweet basil leaves rather than using the dried basil from my spice rack. The entire process, from heading out to the store for ingredients to serving, took four hours. But the result was awesome!

It turns out that fresh ingredients really do make a huge difference; that using an exact amount of oregano and a precise measurement of thyme is better than my "mixed Italian spices" standby; that the correct balance of mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese yields amazing results; that sautéing the mushrooms first will pay dividends when the dish is served....

That's "Gourmet Spirituality" in a nutshell. Faith is something I've developed over the years. I'm "pretty good" at doing this Christian thing and God has been a key element of my daily life for decades. But I seem to have been doing most of it "on the fly", using generic ingredients, happy to have enough skill to make it work but never coming close to being a threat in terms of greatness.

So I'm learning to be open to growth. Learning to build my relationship with God on fresh experiences rather than borrowed, pre-packaged, flash-frozen or canned ingredients. Learning that there is so much more to being a Follower of The Way than "Okay," "Good enough", "Adequate" and "This'll do."

The promise of following Jesus is the ending of half-measures.

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