Friday, April 1, 2016

A lesson in no baking

It was a routine Friday morning when I had the sudden urge to bake. Or rather, no bake. You know the ones - the classic cookie made of oats, cocoa, peanut butter and a generous helping of sugar? These fudgey little morsels are a favorite in my family but my last attempt at no-baking them was a miss. This time I opted for a new recipe that I was hoping would be a sure hit. The one thousand reviewers on AllRecipes couldn't be wrong so I figured this batch would turn out right.
To the cupboard I went to pull out quick oats, peanut butter, sugar, cocoa, milk, vanilla, butter and a pinch of salt. It didn't take but a moment to realize my recipe was off to a troubling start. I was short on oats and out of my normal bleached white sugar. Eyeballing the amount of oats left in the canister I determined I could still squeeze out a small batch of cookies  if I used the organic sugar and cut the recipe in half. 
To the stove top I went. Sugar, butter, cocoa and milk were added to the pot where I immediately let the sugar sit too long on the bottom of the hot pan. After a little scrapping and a few "oops-e-daisy"s I freed the sugar and brought my mixture to a boil. A minute later I pulled the pot from the heat, dumped in my oats, vanilla and peanut butter and gave it a swirl with my spatula. 
And then another bump in the no-bake road. A miscalculation of the oat canister left my "dough" too runny to be formed into tablespoon shaped cookies. I lifted the spatula above the bowl and watched the goopey mixture slip and slide right off. 
Determined to salvage the bowl of ingredients I threw in more peanut butter. Oats weren't available so the peanut butter would have to do. Or not. I quickly learned that heated peanut butter won't thicken cookies. 
So AllRecipes plan A hadn't panned out. Plan B had failed. In a moment of no-baking genius a plan C was devised: no-bake bars. I poured the bowls contents into a loaf pan, smoothed the top of the chocolatey goodness and gazed at my creation, holding out hope for my last-ditch effort to create a tantalizing, sweet treat.
A few hours later, with butter knife and dessert plate in hand, my taste-tester extraordinaire (read: Mom) sliced into the no-bake oat bars. With one bite she was in love. The look on her face said it all. The cookies turned bars were a resounding success.
From my near no-bake disaster I learned a lesson that extends far outside the walls of the kitchen: Don't assume you always know what you truly need. I thought I needed more oats. Then I thought I needed more peanut butter. I thought I would need wax paper, so I laid out a sheet for my hot cookies that never made it to the counter. In the end the bowl of chocolate, sugar and oats had a different ending than I had anticipated and, in fact, a much better one. 
Isn't that often the way God bakes up our lives, too? So often I think I know just what I need for success and happiness. And then I open up my "cupboard" and find that I'm short on all of the ingredients I was so sure would create the perfect consistency, taste and texture for the very best life. Yet here I am, in the kitchen of life, without the ingredients I thought I needed and God is saying, "let's do some baking." But how? I don't have what I need. 
Oh, but I do... because God has a different recipe in mind and it is going to be far better then the one I pulled up. While I'm busy reading reviews for cookies God already has bars in mind.
Today if you find yourself in life's kitchen short on the basics - the oats or the sugar - or your mixture isn't forming quite right, don't throw out the whole bowl just yet. Let God change your recipe. In the end you'll have a beautiful treat to share and a glorious testimony to tell. 

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