Sunday, October 2, 2011

Home Ec.

Tomorrow I begin working in El Callejon on a daily basis.  We have two one-week outreaches coming in back-to-back.  I’ve been a participant, of course, so it will be good to see how it all works from the staff-side.  I’m excited, and honestly, a little anxious, to begin to learn the rhythms of ministry and daily challenges of Social Work in El Callejon.  There’s so much to take in!!

In the meantime, I’ve been learning other rhythms and facing other challenges.  This morning’s was blanching. 
Yesterday I enthusiastically bought lots of lovely fruits and vegetables on my shopping excursion in downtown Jarabacoa.  While the grocery stores here are somewhat limited, the vegetable market is great.  I was able to stand and list out the things I wanted, and one of the vendors went and got each item.  Cilantro, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, red peppers, carrots… Lovely stuff, all.

However, once I got it home and started squeezing it into my little fridge, it suddenly occurred to me that I won’t really be home for meals for the next two weeks.  (An added blessing to working for SI is that when there are teams, staff is invited to eat meals free of charge.  This will help stretch my food-budget, and, the meals on Base are amazing!!)
What to do?  When I lived in the U.S., my favorite convenience items were those vegetable packs that steamed in the microwave.  When Giant brand was on sale for $1.00 each, I’d buy at least ten.  Five minutes in the microwave, and delicious healthy veggies were ready to go!

Now I am making meals from scratch, washing dishes by hand, and reheating food on the stove.   Look at me, pioneer girl!  I have to admit to feeling quite smug about this new way of doing Home Ec. 
I decided to really go for it.  I would blanch the broccoli and freeze it for later.  I would also chop up all the onions and peppers and freeze them.  I had an hour before church started.  Oh, yeah, this was going to be great!
I put the pot on to boil, grabbed some clean dish cloths and started chopping.    Hmm… how many minutes does blanching take?  I thought back to those days in my mom’s kitchen.  Let’s see. 

Large pots of boiling water, and chopping, chopping, chopping up vegetables for their plunge.  Beans, peas, corn on the cob… The worst were carrots, which required washing, peeling and then chopping.  I don’t know if it had something to do with being left-handed, but I just couldn’t get the peeler to work right!

Googling the word ‘Blanching’ wasn’t possible as my home Internet is still not working.  With tears streaming down my face (seven small onions in a row was a bit much!) and time ticking away, I decided what was the worst that could happen? 
So, for better or for worse, I dropped the florets into the water and let them boil away for 3-4 minutes.  Then, I took them out and spread them on clean dish towels to cool. 

All of this work yielded two half-full gallon-sized ziplocks.  I squished them into my tiny icebox, now completely filled by one container of leftovers, two muffins, and the chopped onions and peppers (I didn’t blanch them, so we’ll see how they do later!)
As I wiped tears off of my nose, and cleaned my cutting board and knives, Pioneer Girl felt a little less smug.  After scrubbing away, I went to church with my hands still onion-y. 

But, at some point in the future, I will pull out one of those zip-locks.  The broccoli may taste freezer-burned, but that will be okay.  Because, today I looked ahead to my new life here, but I also looked back and remembered.
It’s been almost 30 years since I’ve blanched anything.  But, the rhythm of the chopping, the towels, the feel of the steam as I spooned out the broccoli, those are memories I had forgotten, but which came flooding back this morning.  And that was a sweet and unexpected blessing.

Thank you, Father, for the gift of memory.  Thank you for the reminder that even though much here is new, I am still connected to the places, the people, I have left behind.  Thank you that You are the One who was with me back when I was a child, who is with me now, and who will continue to guide me in whatever challenges I will face.  May all my life, even the Home Ec stuff, be for Your glory!

1 comment:

  1. I loved the story. Just as an FYI you don't have to blanch peppers and onions. It only takes a couple of minutes to blanch other stuff. If you freeze them on a cookie sheet first so they freeze separately it is much easier to use later on. Do that with peppers and onions too.
    Still in my prayers