Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Garlic and Caramel

In cooking heat is a good thing and a bad thing.  The perfect amount of heat is, well, perfect.  But too much heat can turn good things bitter.  Garlic is a great example.  Let garlic cook just a few seconds too long and that sweet flavor the heat extracts turns to a nasty bitterness.  Even sugar can become bitter when scorched, as when making caramel.

The week before my husband and I were married, we had to take a holiday dish to a Sunday School social.  I decided to take a dish that required me to make a caramel sauce.  I was fairly new to cooking then, but I surely should have know better than to do what I did.

The sugar had been bubbling in the cast iron skillet for a few minutes and had turned a lovely golden brown.  I had removed it from the heat and added the butter and vanilla as the recipe required.  Curious as to how it tasted, I dipped my right index finger into the surface of the caramel.  I don't know scientifically, but experientially I'd say the temperature of that hot caramel was about 4000°!

Of course, I incurred a nasty burn on the end of my finger.  I think of this burn each time I look at my wedding pictures.  You see, as my new husband and I stopped to light our unity candle, the hot wax ran down my candle and onto that very fresh burn on the end of my finger.  I knew the eyes of everyone in the room were on us and I also knew that any reflection on my face of the pain on my finger would be misinterpreted.  It was one of my greatest moments of self-control.   So yes, I know heat can be a good thing, and a bad thing.

There is all sorts of heat in our lives.  Sometimes the heat comes from evil sources.  There is sin in this world and there is an enemy who seeks to "devour" and "destroy" us.  Then there are those who live evil lives and the consequences of their choices sometimes affect us as well.  This is a form of heat in our lives.

The natural course of sin in the world causes decay and aging.  This causes heat to us as our days go by.

Sometimes the heat is allowed by a kind and loving God who knows that if it were not for the moments of heat, our sweetest flavors would not be revealed -- like the garlic or the sugar.  He allows that heat to deepen us, to enrich us, to cause us to turn more toward Him than we ever would at room temperature.

Often we would like to remove ourselves from the pan as soon as the heat is turned on.  I suppose the garlic would like to do the same.  I love to watch it dance around in the pan, skating on the surface of olive oil.  I fancy in my brain that it is trying to find a cool spot upon which to rest.  I'm sure the sugar too would love to jump back into the container instead of melting into a brown goey liquid that becomes caramel.

But if that happened, our shrimp and grits wouldn't have that wonderful, sweet garlic  flavor.  And there would be no addictive chocolate caramel cookies that my daughter Emmie makes.  The heat is necessary, for our food and for us.

We much accept the role of the Cook and His heat in our lives. We must trust the Cook that He knows when to either turn off the heat or to scoop us out of the pan.  We must trust that He knows just how much heat we need to sweeten us, but not so much as to allow us to become bitter.  We are His ingredients and He has no intention of ruining His dish.  To the contrary, it is His intention to perfect us.

"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery 
among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; 
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:"
Colossians 1:27,28

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