Saturday, October 1, 2011

Worth the Effort?

The first decision was whether to remove the thin brown skin from the chunks of milky white coconut. Most websites said I should remove the skin. However, one or two said it provided good roughage and trace elements,and could be grated with the white meat. After the recent spate of deaths from contaminated cantaloupes, I was already feeling a little worried about eating the coconut we had broken open, scalped of its white center, and gathered in a bowl. I decided to cut off the thin brown skin. First I tried a paring knife. It worked, and I should be able to finish paring all the chunks by the time my grandchildren enter college. By the way,  as of yet, I have no grandchildren. So then I tried a potato peeler. All I succeeded in peeling was a thin layer of my thumb.

I decided to trust the internet sites that said the brown skin could be eaten.

Next, I set up the food processor and rummaged through the cute little attached drawer at its base. Ah, here was a disc that said "grater". I had never used anything but the chopper in my food processor. In truth, I rarely use my food processor. And if we must be totally honest, I rarely go beyond the basics with any food. I leave the processing to people who know their way around a kitchen. I pulled the instructions out of the handy little drawer. I followed the steps carefully, and when it was all assembled, put a few chunks of coconut into the food chute. I turned it on and a button from the top popped off, a spring went rolling on the floor, and a small plastic tab fell onto the counter. This little dime sized plastic tab that was supposed to hold the top on had broken. My $200 food processor was useless. Not to be deterred, I saved the pieces and put them aside for Asherel to look at later. Then I got a roll of duct tape. I put the coconut in the processor, and duct taped the top closed. I pressed "pulse on". Bits of coconut chunks got wedged in the inadequately secured food tube. I got out the food chopper blade of the Processor, emptied the coconut bits to a bowl, put on the new blade, and returned the coconut bits with their brown lining to the Processor. In five seconds, the coconut was chopped into tiny bits. I tasted it, willing to fall on the sword for my family should this coconut be tainted like the killer Cantaloupes I had read about. It was good, though a little chewier than store bought coconut. When I didn't drop dead, I decided to proceed.

"What are you making?" asked Asherel, walking in the kitchen. The counter and floor were covered with bits of coconut. A pile of dismanted food processor parts was tangled in the sink. I presumed she meant besides a mess, so I answered, "I don't know. Maybe macaroons."
I returned to the computer and looked up "fresh coconut recipes". I finally found one for chocolate macaroons with only 4 ingredients. The instructions included the word easy, which is a critical component in all the recipes I follow. I followed the instructions step by step.
Oh... 3 cups of coconut? My 4 cup measure was currently unavailable, filled with chicken gravy. I held the bowl of coconut up.
Yeh, I think that is about 3 cups. I dumped the coconuts in the mixing bowl.
Oh, why doesn't it say how much chocolate to use? The amount of chocolate was apparently up to the cook's discretion. I poured in a half bag.

I spooned the mixture, teaspoon by teaspoon, onto the pan, and then set the oven timer for 20 minutes, as prescribed.
Twenty minutes later, I took the baking pans out of the oven. The macaroons had spread out to a thin, flat layer across the pan. There were 12 bumps of coconut every few inches across the vast chocolate plain.
"Smells good!" said Arvo. He looked at it.
"I don't think it worked," I said.
Asherel, lured by the smell of chocolate came into the kitchen. She grabbed a spoon and scooped up some of the spreading chocolate with the coconut mound.
Armed with a clever idea now, I waited for my family to leave, and then I began scooping globs of the cooling mixture and forming them into balls. Then I stuck the balls in the refrigerator. I only got about 20 macaroons for approximately 4 hours of labor, counting the coconut cleaving from the previous day. However, I ate one. Delicious!

Sometimes, one's effort expended exceeds the results to such a degree, that one has to wonder, why bother?  I know there were times during childbirth I felt that way, and there were certainly times during child rearing I felt that way. There have been  vacations I have planned that were disastrous in the end. There have been camping trips that took hours to prepare for, pack, set up camping sites, gather food,and cooking stove, and pots and pans, ...and when we arrived at the campground, all it did for three days was rain. And we sat in the soggy tents on soggy sleeping bags, playing cards, while the rain formed rivers of mud around our tent. Was it worth the effort, given the results?

I know I am not alone in this. Poor Paul of the Bible was overwhelmed by his efforts to transform the Galatians into Christ followers. They showed initial zeal and enthusiasm, but as soon as he left them, they returned to their old ways, and were seduced by false prophets. All his effort seemed to go to waste. Unlike his other letters of the New Testament, he doesn't greet them with his typical words of delight and encouragement. He is ticked off! He leaps right into berating them, asking them how they could so quickly abandon the wonderful truth of Grace, and return to the fruitless methods of legalism to work their way towards God. In the end, we never learn if the Galatians heeded Paul's warning. The church of Galatia is not mentioned in Revelations. Had it disintegrated ? In the end, was it worth Paul's effort if only to lose them?
In verse 4 of the book of Galatians, Paul speaks of a present evil age. He is reminding all of us that there is a present darkness, but then assures us that victory will come in the end. We must finish the job. We must persevere, until the victory is secured. He reminds the Galatians in the closing of the letter that there is a new creation, a new world. The old world will vanish. Don't give up.
His letter is a reminder that we can fall away, we can lose the victory if we stop short of the finish line. In the end, it is worth the effort. It is worth the struggle.

"Can I have another macaroon?" called Asherel.
"No, I am putting them in a glass trophy case next to Anders' international gold medals," I answered.

Galatians 4: 3-4, 8-11,14-16
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable force]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly how I feel about many many cooking attempts!!! Though my complete inability to follow directions might be part of the problem...