Anyone Can Cook Ratatouille

One of the most encouraging mottos I have ever heard in my whole life is this: “Anyone can cook.” This line came from one of the characters (Chef Gusteau) in Ratatouille, a Disney Pixar animated movie. After watching the movie for the first time (a few years ago), I was able to appreciate culinary more. Moreover, even without the luxury of being trained by professional chefs, because of the movie (and many other things), I was encouraged to constantly improve on my skills in the kitchen.

Last weekend, I tried making my first Ratatouille. :) As seen in the movie, it basically is a vegetable dish that combines cooked zucchinis, eggplants, squash, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, fresh herbs, and spices. One of the most popular recipes of Ratatouille was made by Thomas Keller, who was also one of the consultants for the movie.

I started making the dish by roasting green bell peppers in the oven at 450 degrees. After cooking and removing the peppers from the oven, I had to readjust the temperature to 275 degrees as it was stated in Mr. Keller’s recipe. To ensure the correct temperature, I used my oven thermometer to check the degrees.

After a few minutes, I used the pair of tongs again to get the oven thermometer out and placed it on the table. However, I guess, because I was trying to work double time, I accidentally grabbed the oven thermometer with my left hand without any mitten on.

“AAAAAGGGGHHHH!” I screamed in pain as I dropped the oven thermometer on the floor. I immediately rushed to the freezer and held on to an ice cube. All I could say was “Huhuhu. Ouuuch.” It was really terrible. I had a difficult time preparing the ingredients because my fingers were aching and sore.

As tears rolled down my cheeks, I told God: “Lord, of all the times to have burnt fingertips, why now? :( Haha. I was supposed to make Ratatouille tonight. But with my sore fingers, how can I thinly slice the vegetables and do the rest of the preparation?”

I sat in front of the electric fan and I tried to cool myself down. I was already giving up on the idea of making Ratatouille that night when God suddenly spoke to me: “Nic, you know that I am still in control even when it’s painful and difficult, right? And you know that you can still do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13). So, why are you still so disturbed and worried?”

“Oo nga noh, Lord.” I replied. “Sorry for not focusing on you and for not being grateful still. You are in control and by Your grace, I know that I can do the Ratatouille even with burnt fingertips.”

I continued preparing the ingredients even if it was really painful. I constantly placed my three fingers on the ice to soothe the pain while I was slicing, chopping, mixing, and baking. Eventually, my mom put an ointment on them for faster recovery.

While I was preparing and baking the Ratatouille, I started to think about my situation and thanked God for the following:

  1. That I had the privilege of baking again.
  2. That he provided for the ingredients and other resources needed.
  3. That I only have three burnt fingers and was still able to work in the kitchen.
  4. That my mom is a dermatologist, so it was really convenient for me to have a treatment instantly.
  5. That Philippians 4:13 continues to encourage me and remind me that I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST.
  6. And that God is God, because whatever happens and whatever the result may be, it was comforting to know that He is always in control.

 

After one and a half hours, I finally topped the dish with my leftover mozzarella cheese from the pizza I made two weeks ago (http://encouragingtreats.com/god-stuck/); placed it back in the oven for five minutes; and served it with fresh, toasted slices of baguettes.

I kept on thanking God while I was enjoying my share of Ratatouille because He allowed me to finish it even with burnt fingertips. I suddenly remembered Chef Gusteau’s motto: “Anyone can cook.” and it became so real to me. “Wow! This is so cool, Lord! By Your grace, I COOKED RATATOUILLE! ANYONE CAN COOK RATATOUILLE!” :D

But, what made that moment even more special was when God whispered in my heart, “Yes, Nic. You can because of Christ who gives you strength. (Philippians 4:13)” :) (It was interesting how He made the Bible verse and chef Gusteau’s motto to be so similar.)

I smiled and suddenly noticed my three burnt fingers again. At that moment, I realized that God does sometimes allow us to go through different kinds of pain and struggle.  However, it is still comforting to know that He will always give us what we need (in my case, 7 more fingers to use), for us to fulfill His purposes in the lives He has blessed us with.

I thank God because of His reminder for us to still find joy in Him even in difficulties. Making Ratatouille definitely is one of his encouraging treats for me. And I pray that my heart will continue to rest, do my best, and at the same time, find joy in Him who is able to work in and through me in whatever situation.

 

Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Psalm 46:1 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)

 

 

 

Hooray for “Two Days”! :) [Day 2]

Every time I would eat at McDonald’s, I would hear it’s latest theme song: “Hooray for Today!” That song encourages people to appreciate even the simplest things in life; those that we take for granted most of the time. Because I was encouraged by the song, I decided to thank God more by sharing in this blog two moments that I had at McDonald’s recently and how God used them to speak to me.

(You can read about Day 1 here: http://encouragingtreats.com/hooray-today-part-1/ )

taken from comfortfoodstuff.blogspot.com

Last July 13, 2012, I was having lunch at McDonald’s and I decided to order one regular fries, one crispy chicken sandwich, and a regular Coke float. I was so excited to eat and enjoy the lunch break! :) However, when I got my food and drink, I noticed that the cashier lady gave me MEDIUM fries instead of what I originally ordered: REGULAR FRIES.

receipt :)

I don’t know why but for a few seconds, I was tempted not to say anything. I thought to myself: “Maybe a few pieces of fries won’t hurt McDonald’s. And maybe it’s God’s way of blessing me. :)” However, God immediately rebuked my thoughts and spoke to my heart. “Nic, you know what you should do. Go and tell the lady that she gave you the wrong order.” He said.

taken from Google Images

 

Without any more hesitation, I told the lady and she replied: “Oo nga noh. Kay sir (customer beside me) pala yung medium fries. Sorry about that ma’am and thank you.” She then took the medium fries and replaced it with the regular one. I realized that if I didn’t obey God, the cashier lady or the guy beside me would have eventually noticed that I got away with a different order (since he was also there when I gave my orders). That would have been really complicated. Also, if I didn’t tell the lady, then I would have stolen and lied; I would have sinned against God.

with my regular fries :)

I praise God for His gracious rebuke. :)

I walked away with a smile on my face not because I made the right decision, but because of God’s grace and His presence. :)

As I took a bite of my sandwich and ate the fries, God reminded me that having integrity in the smallest things is important, since it will eventually affect how I deal with the bigger things and issues in life. But more importantly, I realized that when we practice integrity, God is pleased and honored more.

Luke 16:10
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.

He encouraged me to practice integrity not only in McDonald’s but also in the way I make decisions especially at home, work, church, ministry, and my relationships with others and with Him.

McDonald's

 

Moreover, I’m learning that practicing integrity may mean that…

1. I would choose to use the computers, internet, etc. in the office not for my personal use, but for the purpose of excellently fulfilling my responsibilities at work and adding more value to the company.

2. I would choose not to gossip or talk negatively about other people no matter what. (Ephesians 4:29)

3. I would choose to follow the traffic rules when driving and even when walking across streets. (Romans 13:1)

taken from Google Images

4. I would try my best to guard my mind and let it dwell only on thoughts that would glorify God. (2 Corinthians 10:5). As a result, this would help me to guard my heart more (from bitterness, envy, lust, pride, etc.).

5. I would constantly seek to know God more and spend time with Him through prayer and His word. Even if I try to practice integrity in my life, I know that I would not be able to do it without God’s grace, wisdom, and guidance. (Psalm 105:4)

…and many more.

Generated by Wordle

As I look at these examples, I am humbled even more because I know that I have a lot to improve on when it comes to practicing integrity. But, by God’s grace, I will choose integrity. By God’ grace, I will choose Jesus, because He is so much more important than my comfort, my pride, and other desires in my life.

Thank You, Lord, for another “McDo moment”. :) Thank You for encouraging me again.

HOORAY FOR THOSE TWO DAYS! :) :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)

Thank God I Got Stuck :)

For the longest time, I’ve been craving for juicy steaks, Chili’s chips and salsa, and Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza. However, because I couldn’t find anyone in my family who was available for a random food trip, I just decided to make one of those dishes at home. I chose to bake a mozzarella stuffed crust pizza because it was cheaper than steaks and it was also more interesting to make than chips and salsa.

Interestingly, last Friday night, I was supposed to attend a concert in CCF Makati; however, because of the strong wind and heavy rain, I decided to go home instead. Usually, my siblings and I would have different plans every Friday night, but because of the bad weather, God allowed us to be complete that night. 

Mom was so happy that she asked us all (via text) what food we wanted to eat that night. She wanted to treat us and have food delivered to our house. I immediately replied: “Mom, I was actually planning on making homemade stuffed crust pizza this Saturday, but can we still have stuffed crust pizza delivered tonight too? Haha.” She agreed and even told me that she was hoping I would make an Italian dish soon. Cool!

My siblings and I had an interesting Friday night with mom at home (Dad was out of town). We were able to eat sausage stuffed crust pizza, catch up; laugh with each other; and even talk about random things like Italian food, sinkholes, Gabo’s dream to have McDonald’s in his future house (Haha), and the crazy weather. It was a good night. :)

The next day, the weather was still pretty bad and eventually, most of my plans for ministry that day got cancelled because of the rain. But, for a change, it was actually really nice to stay in on a rainy and windy Saturday. I loved it!

After spending time with God, my family, and even Copper (our dog), I decided to finally make the homemade mozzarella stuffed crust pizza. However, in the middle of my preparation, dad told us that since we were all present at home, He wanted us to have a family devotion (Bible study).

After hearing that, I sort of panicked because I couldn’t just stop the process of making the pizza at that moment. The pizza dough was still rising and after it has fully risen, it must be prepared for baking immediately.

“How could I possibly knead the pizza, prepare the sauce, closely watch it while it bakes, and be present in our family devotion all at the same time?” I thought to myself. “Lord, what should I do?”

By the grace of God, even though it was getting late already (around 7:30 pm), dad gave me 30 more minutes to finish making the pizza. As soon as I finished eating dinner, I immediately worked double time to bake the mozzarella stuffed crust pizza. After 15 minutes of baking it, dad already called us in to have the devotion. Even if I wasn’t 100% sure that it was thoroughly cooked, by faith, I decided to bring it out of the oven so I could join my family in our meeting. 

We were able to read a few verses in the Bible as a family and dad encouraged us all to carefully study them. At first, I was getting distracted because I wanted to check on the pizza that was just resting on our kitchen table. However, God somehow whispered to me: “Nic, relax. :) Don’t worry about the pizza and just enjoy this time that you have with your family and with Me.”

By His grace, I shifted my focus from the pizza to God’s word and I’m glad I did. Our family shared with each other the different lessons we learned from His word and we committed to become accountable to each other and to God.

After closing in prayer, I went to the kitchen to check out the pizza. By God’s grace, after letting it bake for a few more minutes, I was able to make my very first mozzarella stuffed crust pizza! :D Woohoo!

While I was taking photos of the pizza, I was thanking God for another privilege of being able to bake a new treat. Here are some of the things that I really enjoyed doing while making the pizza:

  1. Kneading the dough – I just love the consistency of fresh dough;
  2. Stretching the dough – I did this with the help of a rolling pin and by throwing it in the air and catching with my hands; and of course,
  3. Seeing the mozzarella cheese stretch out from the pizza crust – THE BEST! Mozzarella cheese really is one the best types of cheese in the world!

Before letting my family taste the pizza, I decided to cherish the moment that I had with it first. I started to play with the mozzarella cheese that was oozing out from the crust. I then thought about how cool it was that hours before that moment, the thick strings of cheese were just tightly wrapped around the edges of the pizza dough. They were immovablestuck; and had no choice but to remain inside. However, after being baked, the flexible, melted, mozzarella cheese actually became the highlight of the dish: Mozzarella Stuffed Crust Pizza. :)

God used that moment to encourage me and remind me of His goodness. God made me realize that just like the cheese, I got stuck too! (Of course, I got stuck at home because of the bad weather. :) ) Moreover, most of my plans and activities got cancelled and it could have been a reason for me to get frustrated with the surprising turn of events.

But, I thank God for the rain and for the moments when I was stuck at home. I praise Him because it was His way of allowing our family to spend more time together; and for me to get to know Him more through the Bible.

Because of this experience, I was reminded that God still is at work even in the midst of unwanted circumstances in life. Definitely, God still is good even if we get stuck in situations that we do not like. I’m also learning that, sometimes, God allows us to get stuck so we could practice being still before Him and enjoy His presence more.

John 16:33 says:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

*Other posts that include homemade dough:

1. Pasta (Dough Not Give Up) – http://encouragingtreats.com/homemade-pasta-dough/

2. Pretzels (Pretzels & Passions) – http://encouragingtreats.com/pretzels-passions/

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)

 

Hooray for “Two Days”! :) [Day 1]

At the start of the year, McDonald’s launched its commercial with the theme song: Hooray for Today! When I heard the song inside a branch of McDonald’s, I immediately loved it! The melody was catchy; the vibe was positive; and of course, one of the lines reminded me of my blog: “Hooray for treats that make me smile…” :)

God impressed in my heart to share two interesting moments that I had at McDonald’s (near our office) recently. He used those times to encourage me and hopefully, by His grace, I may be able to encourage you today too! :)

 

DAY 1

It was the 30th day of May 2012 and I was scheduled for my first interview and exams at a certain company. After taking the exams in the morning, I decided to have lunch at McDonald’s, which was a minute away from the office. I got there at around 11:30 am, but since my interview was at 2:30 pm, I stayed more and enjoyed the free Wi-Fi services. I was thanking God for another opportunity to be interviewed and even for the extended time that I had with Him.

For some reason, the only reply that I got from Him was: “You’re welcome, Nic. But, for your information, it’s almost 2 pm. I think you should go to the office now and wait for your interview.”

“What? Eh, Lord, one minute away lang naman yung office. Maybe I can leave at 2:15 instead?” I replied.

“I know, I know. But, go anyway. It’s already 2 pm.” God insisted.

And so, I went out of McDonald’s and walked towards the office, even if I didn’t know why God wanted me to leave so early. Guess what? The minute I stepped inside the office, heavy rain poured down, while the roar of thunder and flashes of lightning suddenly filled the sky. (Yes, the minute I got in!)

I found myself getting teary-eyed as my jaw dropped because I felt comforted by what God just did. You see, I didn’t have an umbrella that day. And even if I did have one, my shoes would most probably get soaked in the puddles.

I’m learning that sometimes, God wants us to obey and trust in Him, first, before we can fully experience His blessing  (even if things don’t make perfect sense). If I did not obey, I would have been soaked by the heavy rain and would obviously not be prepared for my afternoon interview.

A week after that day, by God’s grace, I got the job at that company! He used that McDonald’s moment to remind me of the importance of having a heart that is fully surrendered to Him; to have a heart that is willing to trust and obey Him in spite of the uncertainties in life.

The day I got the job! :)

I know that obeying God is easier said than done, however, God continues to assure me that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). Also, obeying Him may probably require more sacrifices and effort; but, obeying Him (which also includes knowing Him more through prayer and Bible meditation) definitely is worth it! God is glorified even more! And, being the generous God that He is, He chooses not to withhold his blessings for us when we obey. :)

Thank You, Lord!

My quiet time for that day:

PSALM 40

v.4-8 “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord…

I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”

HOORAY FOR TODAY!

I’ll be posting about Day 2 soon. :P

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)