Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Savory to the Taste (07/26/12)
TITLE: Great Neighbor
By Patsy Hallum
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“OW!” The drawer and a cast iron dutch oven hit my toes. “God, help me! I bind the pain in Jesus' name.” I lifted the drawer off and hopped to a chair. I tugged my house shoe and sock off to discover that two toes were cut, and my entire foot was swelling. First stop the bleeding, my practical mind commanded me.
It had been a long time since I had opened that drawer. It contained some heavy cookware that I didn't need since my beloved husband died. I really hadn’t felt like cooking anything; I kept my “warm up” pots in another cabinet.
Thank God, I finally found a person that needed someone to cook for them. Grace was blind, while she loved “Ruff” the seeing-eye dog that helped her get around, she was often lonely for human companionship. She was good about putting braille labels on things, but sometimes the grocery clerks would mix up the cans in the sacks. Like, instead of putting all the green beans in one sack, they would put chili in with them. So, she would label it green beans. Imagine the taste of Chicken Pot Pie with chili in it. Her taste buds got shocked often enough that she decided to get someone to cook for her. Grace chose me for the job. She lived two doors down in our senior living complex. I took her some of my chicken spaghetti one day, she loved it, and, asked if I would consider cooking her meals when I cooked mine. We sat down and figured out the dishes we both liked and I agreed to take her shopping with me. She would pay three-quarters of the grocery bill and I would cook the meals. This arrangement sounded wonderful to me; I loved to cook. It was fun for me to try new recipes-- to prepare two or three recipes for potatoes and decide which one I liked best. Now, I wouldn't have to be so frugal in purchasing my food; Grace had more money and her tastes were more expensive. She wanted me to fix steak, t-bone or rib eye, every week!
“I'm in Heaven, I'm in Heaven, and my stomach is so very very glad,” I sang as I made an ice pack to put on my foot. The shock of the pain was lessening some and the ice would stop the swelling. I decided to look through three of my cookbooks while I elevated and froze my foot. I wanted to find a new way to prepare baked chicken. I was tired of the rub I had used the last few times. My taste changed every month or two. The aromas made by the spices combined with the texture of the food as I slowly chewed it, sent my taste buds into spasms of ecstasy, or, leaps of yu-uck! It was pretty expensive, preparing something else when I couldn't eat the results.
“Ahhh, here's one that sounds great; do I have all these spices?” I spoke aloud to myself. “Yep, I believe I do. Well foot, let's get started.” I limped to my kitchen.
Three hours later, I pulled a perfectly browned, scrumptious smelling, roasted chicken out of the oven. Little potatoes and carrots around it added color contrasts. A meal in one pot. Some people would add a salad to it, not I. Salad took up room in my stomach which could be filled with potatoes and carrots. I took some homemade rolls from the freezer, and popped them in the oven.
“Grace,” I hollered at her door, “Dinner's ready!” Ruff barked, he knew I had a treat for him too. It didn't take them long to scurry over to the table in my apartment. I pulled the rolls out of the oven just as they arrived. I served Grace's plate, meat at six o'clock, potatoes at nine...etc.
Grace prayed, “Dear Lord, thank you for great neighbors that are wonderful cooks, good friends and helpers. Bless this food and the hands that prepared it. Amen.”
She grabbed her fork, eager to taste the bounty.
Watching her enjoy my cooking was a balm for my soul. Thank you Lord, for your favor.
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