Yesterday, as I realized we probably couldn't afford to go to the store this week for much of anything except maybe milk, I started thinking about what we had in the house that I could make stretch for the week's dinners. It was getting late in the afternoon and I hadn't even really thought about dinner for the night, let alone for the rest of the week. I started to panic a little. I wasn't sure I had inherited my mom's talent for making delicious meals out of random things, though I knew I had done it once or twice before. And as usual when there seems to be a shortage of food, my belly churns at the thought of there being "all these people" to feed and not enough to go around.
Around 4:00 my hubby called to tell me he was on his way home and he asked me if he needed to stop at the store for any last-minute ingredients for dinner. I told him I had just been standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what we were having for dinner. "Just come home," I said "we really can't afford for you to stop and pick anything up..especially when I don't know what I would need." As I waited for him to arrive, I pulled out my big huge manila folder of recipes, hoping to find something that would demand very few ingredients, but ones I already had. As I sorted through recipes, some of which I've had since high school, my mind was reeling at the thought of eating peanut butter and jelly for dinner. My kids might not complain so much but I knew it wouldn't sit well with my hubby.
Like I said, some of the recipes I've had since high school, and many of them I never even used. I started to wonder why I kept them but as I came upon one for cream of chicken soup, I started forming a plan in my head. Glad I held onto this particular one for all these years, I began taking a mental inventory of things I had in my pantry and 'fridge. I had planned on doctoring up the recipe a little bit, making it thicker and turning it into a sort of stoup that could be ladled over baking powder biscuits which were also from a recipe I had kept since high school. I knew that I had only 1 medium-sized chicken breast in my freezer. I prayed that it would be enough.
The parable of the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish came into my mind as I pulled the chicken breast out of the freezer, realizing it was a lot smaller than I had remembered. I certainly was not going to be preparing food for 5,000 but a family of 5 surely would need more than 1 chicken breast between them! My hopes were faltering as I began to defrost the chicken in the microwave. I kept praying that somehow, it would stretch and that whatever the end result was, somehow it would taste at least decent. I definitely did not want to make something and have it turn out disgusting when I knew we were all going to be hungry and I would be using ingredients from a meager supply.
As I got to work, I felt peaceful and though I had no clue what I was doing or what the end meal would actually be, I decided it didn't matter at that point. I was going to do my best and even though I was just throwing random things together, I trusted my capabilities and my God. I chopped 2 small potatoes - old ones but the only ones in the house, 2 stalks of celery, some baby carrots and the last bit of onion I had. I made a rue from some butter and flour and found 2 cans of chicken broth in the pantry that I poured into the rue along with some milk. I also added a bunch of seasonings which I can't even remember now. I chopped and added and stirred and simmered and about 45 minutes later, I was pleased to see the entire thing coming together to create a delicious comfort food to be ladled on the biscuits I had just pulled from the oven. Not only was it so yummy, but there was A LOT! I made so much that my husband and I each had two bowls of it and there was enough left over after everyone had eaten that hubby had some to take to work for lunch today. (The kids sort of just picked at it but they ate some, which is the norm. around here.) Definitely plenty to go around.....and more.
"They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up the twelve wicker baskets full of fragments....." Mark 6:42-43 NAB