Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cooking as Therapy

When I was just a lass I encountered a book with just such a title. It fascinated me, probably because I was getting married in a few months and was painfully aware of my complete and utter lack of cooking skills (case in point: at my bridal shower, my uncle gave The Viking a gift of a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter so he wouldn't starve), so I picked it up and read through it. I got a few good recipes out of it which I have since forgotten, but the title stayed with me.

I seem to be indulging in some therapeutic cooking lately. Actually, I've been turning to food to alleviate stress, but the term, "therapeutic cooking," sounds so much more legitimate and respectable, no?

The question of what to do for Man-Cub's schooling in just a few short weeks is tearing ceaselessly around my mind like a rabid squirrel on meth. I cannot. stop. gnawing. It's the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of when I go to sleep. It's there in the shower, elsewhere in the bathroom, in the car, while I'm folding laundry, when I'm cooking dinner (which is NOT therapeutic cooking but obligatory cooking and there is a big difference).

I don't think I'm violating Philippians 4:6. I'm not anxious, really. I do trust that God has a perfect plan for Man-Cub. I am perfectly fine with him going to the public school if that is where God wants him, honestly.

I think I'm just making my requests known to God by prayer and supplication. With thanksgiving! I realize I am blessed to have any options open to me. I realize I am blessed merely to have any child, especially this child, this child for whom I fought so hard and suffered so much, to educate. I'm blessed to have a school provided by my government in the first place. I'm blessed to live in a town, district, state and country where my child does not have to pass through a war zone, drug-infested neighborhood or gang territory to get to that school. I'm blessed that I have the freedom to choose to home school if I want to, that I have the intelligence, education and ability to do so.

I am thankful for all those things and so I am thankful for this dilemma.

But I know there is something required of me. I can't just stand here, wringing my hands and praying for God do something. I have time constraints and budget limits and have to make some kind of decision. And soon.

It has always been a desire of mine and The Viking's to be good stewards of what God has given us. And in spite of all we've learned and all God has given us, it has been a challenge. We live frugally and do everything we can think of to use our money wisely, but we still seem to run up a smallish amount of credit card debt every few years or so. And, the older the children get and the tighter the economy gets, things get more and more out of whack.

We are running a credit card balance right now. And we hate it. We don't think it's an example of good stewardship. I can't help but wonder if that isn't the reason God answered, "No," to the question of private school this year. What business do we have asking God for more money for private school when we have unpaid debts? I feel strongly now that we should concentrate on getting the debt paid off before we take on any other financial commitments.

Once private school fell through, I felt peace about it all. I decided I would continue to look for a job so we could pay off our debt and then see about putting my income toward school once the debt was gone. It seemed to be a wise and practical thing to do.

Then the idea of homeschooling popped up. Now, I know there are costs involved (I've been pricing curricula lately), but it's a lot more affordable than private school. It costs a fraction of what private school does. BUT...if I'm home schooling, I can't be working outside of the house and we won't be able to knock our debt out as quickly as we'd like.

So, do I put Man-Cub back in public school and continue to look for a job with the purpose of putting all of my income into paying off our debt and then saving up for school once the debt is paid? Or do I commit to spending my days educating Man-Cub at home, knowing the debt will be paid off, though it will take a lot longer to do so?

Of course, I could put Man-Cub back in school and not find a job and be frustrated all year thinking I could have just been home schooling him anyway. Or, I could, perhaps, find a job the schedule of which I can work around to home school...

And I have to have this decision made sometime in the next three weeks.

This is why I think I've been turning to therapeutic cooking.

Last night, I saw the remains of a quart of blueberries sitting on the counter. The thought occurred to me that if I didn't use them soon, they would go bad. Apparently, sprinkling handfuls of them on my yogurt in the morning hasn't been using them up enough.

The first thing that popped into my head was lemon-blueberry scones. I made them once before and they were wonderful! Dinner was already in the oven so I said to the kids, thinking I'd be hailed the best mom ever, "How do lemon-blueberry scones sound?" They both jumped up for a split-second and then pouted, "Yay--wait! Can't you just make lemon scones and leave the blueberry out?"

"But...I have to use up the blueberries, that's the whole point!"

"No! We want lemon! With lemon GLAZE!"

So I did it. I had one lemon left to juice and zest so I mixed 'em up, glazed 'em good and boy! were they yummy!

I felt like Amelia Bedelia, especially since I just adapted my own (which is actually my sister, Lobelia's) recipe and I can almost never do that.

Then, today, I still had those pesky blueberries sitting on the counter so I decided to make blueberry pancakes for lunch. If I had been able to find my camera, I would have taken pictures to share.

Light, fluffy, golden, with plump bursts of sweet, soft blueberry goodness scattered throughout...they were the best I've ever had! They would be perfect with ice cream! Or maybe left to get stale, then broken up with custard poured over top and baked like a blueberry bread/pancake pudding, or even broken up with cream poured over top!

When I cook like that I feel like I'm accomplishing something, like I'm doing something good for my family, even if it's only fleeting. I feel like I'm taking a problem, a mess, a bunch of ingredients that are worthless on their own, and turning them into something wonderful, like solving a puzzle.

And when a few areas of my life seem to be unsolvable puzzles or untidyable (is that a word?) messes, whipping up something good to eat does me and my sould a world of good. Kind of like making the bed or folding the laundry.

I know that my dilemma will be answered, one way or another, in just a few short weeks. At least this uncertainty can't go on forever. And I am confident that God is in control. I just don't want to screw up my end of it, you know?

And all this therapeutic cooking cannot be good for my waistline!

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