The Maker’s Manual

If I had to choose between waffles and pancakes, I would definitely go with waffles! :) The sweet, crisp, golden brown treats sold in the market have always fascinated me. Moreover, I’ve always had the desire to try making them on my own. By God’s grace, I was able to purchase a Belgian Waffle Maker and produce the delicious treats at home! :)

 

The saleslady, who assisted me, gave me two important reminders: 1) Preheat and wait for the green light before pouring the batter on the pan; and 2) Read the manual. As I was going out of the store, I thought to myself: “Read the manual? Yeah, right. Hahaha. I might not have time for that anyway.”

At home, I immediately assembled the waffle maker and started preparing the ingredients. While I was waiting for the dough to rise, I suddenly remembered the manual which was in the box. At that time, I did not feel like reading the manual, but God gently rebuked me and encouraged me to scan through it. Surprisingly, after reading all of the instructions, I realized that a Product Manual is very important and that it is very similar to God’s Word – the Bible! :) 

Why Do I Say So? Because a Product Manual…

  1. Helps us Know the Company and the Product more

The company provided a detailed description of the waffle maker and appropriate photos (with labels) to help the readers understand the product and its uses more. Similarly, this reminded me of how God provided in His Word everything we need to know as we live the lives He has blessed us with.

Moreover, God reveals Himself to us whenever we read the Bible and it’s amazing because we never run out of things to learn about God. Through His Word, we are able to discover His different attributes, desires, plans and promises for us, His creations, the things He does not like and so much more! Also, through His Word, we are able to understand His purpose and love for us.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

2. Helps Guide and Protect Us

I was supposed to test the waffle maker by preheating it and leaving it on for a while without any batter in it (just out of curiosity). But for some reason, God stopped me from doing so. And I thank God that He did because minutes later, I read one of the many “Do Not” instructions in the manual:

“Never run the appliance empty.”

Right then and there, I realized that manuals help protect us from experiencing harm or unnecessary pain. In the same way, whether we like it or not, God expresses His Do’s and Don’t’s in the Bible for our own good. Sometimes, people tell me how frustrating it is to live by God’s rules and standards in the Bible. I do understand where they are coming from because, of course, sometimes, it allows us to step out of our comfort zone.

But, at the same time, I also encourage them to view those instructions as “Because-I-Love-You Guidelines” instead. Why? Because God loves us so much not to let us experience what is less than best. And He does so by giving us limitations here and there and standards to live by according to His Word and good will for us.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. – Joshua 1:8

3. Helps us Experience the Best

This instruction is one of the most crucial steps involved in the process of making waffles (as seen in the manual):

“Plug into socket. The red indication will illuminate. Allow the appliance to pre-heat: the green light comes on when the correct cooking temperature is reached.”

                I remembered this instruction, which was also given to me by the saleslady, and carefully followed it after reading the manual. By God’s grace, with the help of my lovely waffle maker, I was able to produce these sweet, crisp, golden brown waffles! :)

If I did not preheat the pan and wait for the green light to come on, I would have ended up with weird, flat waffles. The pan needed to have the right temperature first before having contact with the batter. Generally speaking, when using waffle makers, we have to wait until the maker says it’s okay to pour the batter in (via light/sound). We just have to trust that the manufacturers know what is best.

 

God allowed me to realize that likewise, we have to wait until our Maker says it’s okay before we do something; before we make a decision. We have to seek God’s “green light”, approval and opinion first (Of course, through the Bible and prayer). Why? Because just like the manufacturers, God knows what is best for us and we just have to put our trust in Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

-Isaiah 55:8-9

It has been five years since the first time I seriously read and studied God’s word and it still feels great to learn some more from it! I actually did not expect myself to continue it when I started because there were times when I would feel lazy, be busy, or even feel weak spiritually.

However, by God’s grace, He continues to give me the desire to do it — from studying one verse to eventually meditating on a chapter every day. Through this, my heart continues to be satisfied and strengthened by God and I am continuously filled with hope — Hope that is found in Him. I look forward to learning and improving more for His glory as I read the Bible.

What’s hindering you from reading the Bible? Why don’t you give it a try? :)

Encourage yourself one VERSE at a time! :) 

 

Steak Au Poivre a la Julia Child

Google’s logo last August 15, 2012 caught my attention while I was browsing through the internet that day. Julia Child would have turned 100 years old last Wednesday! It was very interesting for me because ever since I watched the movie, Julie and Julia, I was more encouraged to pursue cooking and baking. In honor of one of my culinary inspirations, I prepared Steak Au Poivre in the style of Julia Child and served it with homemade, creamy mashed potatoes and buttered asparagus.

I honestly still get intimidated by Julia Child’s recipes. They seem to require a lot of effort and expensive ingredients. Moreover, in her cookbooks and television shows, she even walks us through EVERY SINGLE detail of her recipes. Talk about hard work, determination, and passion for food! However, despite the long procedures involved in her recipes, the dishes continue to fascinate me. :)  Thus, although I’ve never cooked a steak in my life before, I was inspired to make Steak Au Poivre last night.

I was staring at my raw steaks while my pan was heating up when I told God: “Lord, I honestly don’t know how to cook these. I’m not like Julia Child or other well-experienced chefs. Would you please give me wisdom? I know that YOU know HOW to cook steaks. Thank You! :)”

After I prayed, God somehow encouraged me to feel and poke the seasoned, raw meat with my fingers before cooking them. I then carefully placed the meat on the hot pan and let it cook for a few minutes. Later, I flipped the meat and cooked the other side for a few more minutes. And lastly, when both sides were done, I wrapped it in foil and let it rest for a while. (Resting the steak in foil would help keep the juices inside the meat, making it more tender.)

I felt nervous after cooking the steaks because I didn’t have a meat thermometer, and I couldn’t tell if they were medium rare, medium well, or well done. Nonetheless, I opened the wrapped foil and by God’s grace, the steaks looked amazingly juicy, tender, and were wonderfully cooked. I immediately prepared the dish with mashed potatoes, buttered asparagus, and sprinkled bits of basil on top.

 

My very supportive and encouraging family enjoyed the Steak Au Poivre with me. One of my brothers, after tasting the steak, even said: “Wow, Nic. I’m speechless, astonished, and amazed…” Hahaha. I actually laughed at him when he said that because I knew that it was a line from a song (Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman). I continued the lyrics and said to him: “…I am silenced by His wondrous grace.” :) Indeed, it was only by God’s grace that I was able to make Julia Child’s Steak Au Poivre

As I was cleaning some of the equipment I used, I could still remember the delicious combination of the tender steak, creamy mashed potatoes, and the fresh, crisp asparagus. And although I am not an expert, I always enjoy rearranging the food, taking photos of it, and making the dish look more presentable. :)

Before going to bed last night, I read more about Julia Child and got encouraged by what she quoted before:

You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made,’ [Chef Bugnard] said.

‘Even after you eat it, it stays with you – always.”
―Julia Child, My Life in France

After reading that, I learned that Julia Child saw the beauty in the dishes that she made, even if other people didn’t exactly agree or find pleasure with how or what she cooks. I was amazed by her ability to use even the simplest ingredients to make extraordinary French dishes. God then spoke to my heart and I realized how I was even more amazed by Him and the beautiful things He createsIt says in: 

Psalm 139:14

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Isaiah 49:15

“…I will not forget you.”

If Julia Child can excellently make French food and inspire millions of people in the world, how much more can God, the creator of the universe, make beautiful things out of us? It was also such an encouragement to be reminded by God, that in spite of the “ugly” things we may have done in the past, our failures and wrongdoings, He still sees us for who we really are — chosen and unconditionally loved by Him.

Certainly, God does not look at us and think: “Wow, what a disappointment.” But instead, He takes pleasure in what He created and He sees the good and beauty in us; He sees Jesus in us. :)

Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

 

What a treat, indeed! Thank You, Lord, for making beautiful things. :)

Relax with Milk & Oreo Stuffed Cookies

One of the best midnight snacks I’ve had recently was freshly baked, Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies with a cold glass of milk. Mmm… DELICIOUS! :) Yes, yes. I know that I’ve already posted two different entries in this blog about chocolate chip cookies. But, what can I say? Cookies are delightful treats! :)

Last Tuesday morning, when work unexpectedly got suspended, I had an idea of treating the family with some baked goodies. Before going home, I passed by the supermarket to get more ingredients. I wanted to experiment with a new treat/recipe. However, since I didn’t have access to the internet at that time, I decided to use the only recipe that I knew by heart: Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I was about to pay for the ingredients already when I suddenly thought of baking Oreo stuffed Chocolate Chip cookies. Early this year, I was able to see different photos of that particular type of cookie in the internet and it intrigued me. I immediately ran to the cookie section at the supermarket and got myself a pack of Oreo cookies. I eagerly paid for my groceries and went home as soon as possible.

                Making the cookies that day was a relaxing moment for me. Although it was raining hard, I somehow still enjoyed preparing and baking them. I’ve baked chocolate chip cookies a lot of times already; however, I still get nervous every time I would put them in the oven.

The tricky part about baking cookies is that you really have to keep your eye on them while they’re baking. Otherwise, if you let them bake a few seconds/minutes longer than they should, you’d end up with harder and darker cookies. (I prefer the soft, chewy, light colored ones. :P)

It was sort of a struggle to stuff the sticky cookie dough with Oreo cookies. However, after chilling the dough for a while, I was finally able to nicely shape the cookies. I sat in front of the oven while they were baking and carefully watched over them as they slightly puffed up. When the time was right, I got them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

After about 2 hours of preparing and baking the cookies, it was time to taste them! :) I couldn’t believe it. They were actually really good!

OREO INSIDE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES + COLD MILK = THE BEST!

Of course, it was all by God’s grace that I was able to make them. Thank You, Lord! :)

I really appreciate being able to try out new treats every now and then. But what I appreciate more is being encouraged by God through them. Interestingly, while I was munching on my cookie treats, God spoke to my heart. :)

He made me remember the times when I sat down in front of the oven and carefully observed the cookies. Syempre! I didn’t want to over bake the cookies. I wanted them to become the best that they could be. :)

In the same way, God reminded me that He also carefully watches over me. He watches over us every single day. It was such a comfort to know that, because it allows us to relax more and not worry about what we’re going through or even about the future.

 

It was actually a very timely reminder that day too. The Philippines was experiencing struggles because of the bad weather and it would have been so easy for the Filipinos to just complain and rant all day long about the terrible situation. But, I was blessed to see the Filipinos still have peace and hopeful hearts despite the heavy rain and flood. Moreover, it was nice to witness a lot of people really exert effort in helping out each other, especially those who were affected by the flood.

It says in Psalm 121:3, 5-8

He who watches over you will not sleep;

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

                Indeed, making those cookies that day was a relaxing moment for me… not only because of the sound of the rain and the fact that I was baking, but also, because I was reminded of the comfort and security that we have in God, knowing that He will continue to watch over us. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)

Shrimp Scampi with Guacamole

A few days ago, my younger brother was confined and advised to stay at the hospital for the weekend. I knew that it was a perfect opportunity for me to treat the family with something special. I decided to prepare Shrimp Scampi with Guacamole on toasted slices of Baguettes. I originally wanted to make another shrimp dish; but, I remembered how chefs would always say that shrimps and avocados make a good combination. Interestingly, God taught me two important lessons when I made this dish.

  1. God gives us everything we need in His perfect time for His good purposes in our lives.

I went to the grocery to buy my main ingredients: Shrimps and Avocados. However, to my dismay, all of the avocados were still green and unripe. I wanted to go to another supermarket but since it would be a hassle, I decided to stay instead. In the meantime, I went to the seafood section to get shrimps and started talking to God. “Lord, I don’t know how, but I know that if You really want me to make guacamole, You will provide the avocados. Thank You.” :)

After getting the shrimps, I decided to pass by the avocados again. Would you believe it? Hidden underneath the vegetables beside the green avocados were 3 packs of purple, ripe, Hass Avocados! I couldn’t believe my eyes! “Wow, Lord! Those ripe avocados weren’t here a while ago. Thank You so much!” I immediately grabbed the avocados and paid for my groceries.

The wonderful thing about the hidden, ripe avocados that God gave me was that they were Hass/Haas avocados (the best type to be used for the guacamole recipe that I had). It was really encouraging to be reminded by God that He will continue to provide for our needs and give us what is best for us according to His will.

It says in Philippians 4:9

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

 

2.       How God sees us, rather than how we/others view ourselves, is the only thing that matters.

After making the guacamole, I prepared the other ingredients for the shrimp scampi. I noticed that some of the chefs recommend removing the heads of the shrimps before cooking so that they would look more presentable.

Before I cooked the shrimps, I was torn between removing their heads and keeping them intact. “Is the head of a shrimp really that undesirable?” I asked myself. I then remembered instances before when people would use the term “Shrimp” to describe a person who has a great body, but has an ugly face.

I thought about it more and decided NOT to remove the heads, because I remembered my mom who always used the heads of the shrimps to enhance the flavor of the dish. I knew that there was something in the shrimp’s head that was useful, despite its “ugliness”.

True enough, while I was cooking the shrimps with butter and garlic, I saw some of its juices flow out of their heads. “Thank You, Lord, that I didn’t throw the heads away.” I whispered to God as I took a sip of the delicious sauce of the shrimp scampi.

After taking photos and preparing the dish, I suddenly remembered an interesting trivia about shrimps that I read a few weeks ago. Did you know that a shrimp’s heart is located in its head?* “Hahaha! What a funny trivia, Lord!” I told God. But, amusingly, He used that fact to speak to my heart.

God purposely placed the heart of a shrimp in its head. And it’s amazing because although the head of a shrimp is perceived by others to be useless, not presentable, and undesirable; it actually contains the very thing that gives the animal the ability to live: its heart. Moreover, the head contains certain elements that produce more ‘shrimp flavor’.

In the same way, I am reminded me that God created me for a special purpose and He made me the way I am according to His good will. Moreover, He encouraged me to focus on what’s more valuable to Him (my heart and how I see myself and others through His eyes) than on the opinions and expectations of the people around me.

It says in 1 Samuel 16:7

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Avocados and shrimps definitely make a good combination, most especially, when God uses both ingredients to encourage our hearts. :)

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

*trivia taken from www.weirdfacts.com