When Food Becomes an Offering [& a sweet giveaway!]

Sep 5, 2013

Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort. —Norman Kolpas

She stood at my front door. Holding a buffet. 

Marinated tri-tip steak. Creamy mashed potatoes. Baked cinnamon squash. Rolls, still warm. And—thank you dear God in heaven—blueberry cobbler. Blueberry, gorgeous cobbler.

Give me thirty. Then take me home, Jesus. 

It’d been two weeks since I’d eaten a real meal, the unfortunate fallout after a major mouth surgery. Breakfast was popsicles or applesauce. Lunch and dinner, Ensure and more Ensure. By the end, I’d lost nearly 25 pounds and looked ill. Physically and emotionally, I was. 

And then Becky & Greg Johnson showed up. In the middle of my famine, they brought a miracle of manna. And that night, the first night I could eat solid food, I ate a feast that filled my emptiness.

It’s been almost three years since that offering of food, and I’ve yet to find it’s equal. Yes, Becky is an amazing cook. That’s true. But the warmth that fills me even now as I write has little to do with a display of cooking expertise.

It’s because of the nourishment of a friend during a long and lonely drought.

Becky used food to show love, plain and simple. Pulling together a few ordinary ingredients, she ended my hunger—stomach and soul—with her offering. And I won’t soon forget it.

I’ve long been a foodie. For me, cooking is art, and I enjoy creating something and serving it up my for my family. My speciality? Made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies. But for years I discounted my edible offerings, thinking it to be a mundane task more than a rare gift. Becky and her daughter, Rachel Randolph, remind me otherwise:

Like tears—cooking, serving and eating together is a language without words that hearts understand. (We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, pg. 203)

A way to connect, to empathize, to be with. Beyond the relational, food can also be a means to the spiritual:

Food is perhaps the most commonly used metaphor when God wants to tell us something meaningful and eternal. From forbidden fruit, to manna, to loaves and fishes, to bread and wine . . . we could follow the thread of God’s Unfolding Story by going from food to food, drink to drink, meal to meal in passage after passage.

The food we make and the people we share it with are far more than tri-tip, mashed potatoes and blueberry cobbler. It’s not about complicated recipes and obscure ingredients. It’s understanding that our need for physical nourishment is a means to relational and spiritual nourishment, as well. 

I believe this, heart and soul. Because I’ve seen it happen too many times to ignore.

In fact, I believe it enough to do something I’ve never done before. EVER.

Today I’m giving away a copy of Becky and Rachel’s new book, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. Filled with both vegan and meat-lovin’ recipes, the book will warm your heart with stories and your family with easy-to-prepare food.

WLWCWC

But I’ve given books away before. That’s not the surprise.

This time the book comes with a batch of my famous chocolate-chip-cookie deliciousness.

(you might want to read that again)

Cookies. A whole box of ’em. AND a book. Shipped right to your front door. That’s even better than blueberry gorgeous cobbler.

Why am I doing this?

Because food tastes best when it’s shared. I make the cookies. Becky and Rachel whip up a book. You savor every bite of both.

And we all end up full.

To be entered to win a copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook as well as the cookie BONUS, make sure you do both of the following:

  1. Leave your favorite “fast and easy” recipe in the comments below. Five ingredients or less. And tell us why you love it. (Don’t forget to come back later to collect new recipe ideas!) 
  2. Share a link to this post on FB or twitter. If you need help, you can tweet something like this => “Food tastes best when it’s shared.” Get a FREE book AND cookies on @MicheleCushatt’s blog! 

NOTE: For tasty (and FREE) online recipes, be sure to check out the We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook blog. Delish!

44 Comments

  1. Crystal

    Great post–the meal that came to my door after similar circumstances was an entire roast beef dinner. I’ll never forget opening the door to my friends Steve and Sue, and having her say “I don’t know what I was thinking. I threw in two roasts instead of one.” That was probably 15 years ago, and the warmth is still there.

    I’m wondering if your chocolate chip cookies are as tasty as mine.

    My favorite fast and easy recipe? This chocolate sauce–it takes ten minutes to make, keeps for months in a squeeze bottle in the fridge, and shows up in the form of a chocolate heart on my morning lattes, a daily reminder from my husband.

    Chocolate Sauce…
    Combine 1 1/2 cps water, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup good quality cocoa powder, a dash of salt and a pinch of five spice powder in a saucepan. On low heat, whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Let it cool, then pour into squeeze bottles and store in the fridge. OR serve it warm over ice cream.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Should we do a bake off? 😉

      Sue sounds like my kind of woman. Bless her.

      BTW, I think it’s providence that the first comment on this post was a chocolate sauce recipe. Well done, Crystal.

      Reply
      • Crystal

        Why yes, Michele, I think we should!

        Reply
    • Rachel Randolph

      So simple…why haven’t I done this?!! I don’t like buying the store-bought corn-syrup filled kind, but I just haven’t thought to make my own. Life changing. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Lisa Evola

    This is the most awesome recipe! I get many, many request for it….
    Chicken salad:
    1 rotisserie chicken – cut up into small pieces (the meat that is!)
    Kraft real mayonnaise -however much you like, wet or dry it matters not!
    feta cheese – again I just throw it in…how much? depends on how much I have!
    Sweet onion or green onion – chopped small
    dill – this is a must…..can never have too much dill….well really that might not be entirely accurate.
    sea salt – I like the kind that you grind, and I grind it a bit chunky….but I like chunky!

    Mix it all together! That’s it! I like mine to be very mayonnaisy and with lots of feta… but that is my taste….add ingredients to your taste. If I have radishes and celery I dice those up and add them too. This recipe is very versatile as you can add whatever you have in the fridge (with in reason of course….maybe not the hersheys chocolate syrup :o) I just put it into a container in the fridge and eat a bowl….whenever! (wouldn’t keep it more than 3 days tho….chances are it won’t be there anyway – my teens LOVE it….and that’s saying something!)

    Reply
    • Michele

      This sounds heavenly. And I adore chicken salad. Thanks, Lisa!

      Reply
  3. Sue Ferguson

    Great post!! Tomorrow night we are celebrating Life Around the Table at our women’s ministry event called Chicks and Chocolate – so the timing of this was great!!

    Favorite family easy recipe (mine would involve sugar!) – Round Steak with Gravy – cut up round steak into serving size pieces – place in crock pot – sprinkle with 1/2 to whole packet of onion soup mix, cover with a can of cream of mushroom soup. Cook on low all day, or high 4-6 hours. Serve over mashed potatoes. It’s good comfort food and the house smells great when you return from a day at work or errands!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Wish I lived closer, Sue … I’d be there! Thanks for sharing the crock pot recipe. Perfect.

      Reply
      • Tangie

        I’ll eat some chocolate at the event for you, Michele!! 😉 All these recipes sound yummy!!!

        Reply
  4. Tracy L

    I love to cook and often bake for others when they are ill or grieving. Chicken & Noodles is an easy one. Simply boil bone-in chicken breasts (2-3) for about 35 minutes. Then take the breasts out and rinse in cold water. Throw Amish noodles into your pot of broth (may need to xfr broth and wipe out pot first) and cook according to directions. Throw in 2-3 diced celery stalks. Once chicken has cooled, pull it off the bone and break into pieces and throw into your pot of noodles. After noodles are cooked, simmer for around 20 minutes or more to thicken your sauce.

    I usually cut and boil potatoes while the noodles are cooking then mash these with a little chicken broth and milk and there is dinner. Yum!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Should I leave you my address so you can drop them off in time for dinner? Yes, please????

      Reply
  5. Jackie

    Great post Michele! We love food too. For our wedding we had everyone send in a recipe and we made a book that we gave out at the wedding. It was great! This recipe is from the book:

    Taco soup

    1 1b. ground beef
    2 cans diced tomatoes
    1 can beef broth
    1 can corn
    1 package taco seasoning (or cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper)

    Brown the beef and add the seasonings. Dump everything else in and heat. Serve with grated cheese, diced avocado and warm tortillas or crusty bread… whatever you have! As a Mom I love this recipe. It is easy to have on hand and everyone seems to like it.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Just in time for winter. Yay, Jackie!

      Reply
  6. Kendra

    Recipe for Oven Pancakes:
    Place into the cold oven a glass pie plate with 2.5 T butter for each serving. Multiply the recipe by number of pie plates.
    Set oven to 425. While it heats,
    Mix 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. with a fork.
    Add 2 eggs, mix with fork.
    Rinse the fork, use a spatula to fold in a splash of vanilla.
    When the oven is preheated, use the spatula to divide the batter into the pie plates.
    Return the pie plates to the 425 oven. Set the timer to 15 minutes.
    (Now you have 15 minutes to do all the things you have left to do before breakfast)
    When the timer goes off, slide each oven pancake onto a plate, cut it up and add pancake toppings.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. milk

      Reply
    • Michele

      What a fabulous idea, Kendra. Never heard of oven pancakes before!

      Reply
  7. Usha

    It all started when my back yard compost (which wasn’t composted properly we found out ) produced a crop of Japanese eggplants by “accident”..we were surprised, but found this recipe on the internet and now are obsessed with it.

    Garlic Roasted Eggplant

    Ingredients
    4-6 Japanese eggplants
    Sea salt
    ⅛ cup olive oil
    1 heaping Tablespoon crushed garlic
    juice from 1 lemon
    Instructions
    Trim the ends from the eggplants and slice in half the long way. Carefully score the flesh with short diagonal cuts then generously sprinkle with sea salt. Allow the eggplant to sit for 20 minutes, until some liquid is drawn out.
    Use a paper towel to wipe the moisture from the eggplants. Line the eggplant on a baking sheet, flesh side up.
    In a small cup combine the remaining ingredients.
    Generously coat the tops of the eggplant with the garlic mixture.
    Roast for 30-40 minutes. Let it get really mushy and creamy on the inside while the skins crisp slightly.
    Nutrition Information
    Calories: 196 Fat: 8 Carbohydrates: 31 Sodium: 114 Fiber: 19 Protein: 5

    Reply
    • Rachel Randolph

      Oh, I’m trying this soon! Love new ways to cook eggplant. – Rachel

      Reply
      • Michele

        I knew you’d love this, Rach. Thought of you the moment I saw it. Way to go, Usha!

        Reply
  8. Bethany Turner

    Mmmm. You are making me hungry.

    This recipe is actually 6 ingredients, but it is worth the extra ingredient. No Bake Peanut Butter Pie from All Recipes.com
    1 Package of Cream Cheese (8oz)
    1 1/2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
    1 Cup of Peanut Butter
    1 Cup of Milk
    1 Package of Whipped Topping (16 oz)
    2 (9in) Prepared Graham Cracker Crust or I generally use a Chocolate Crust

    Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Mix in peanut butter and milk. Beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
    Spoon into the crusts; cover and freeze until firm.

    Reply
        • Michele

          I say you make it, bring it on over, and I’ll provide two forks and coffee. Yes?

          Reply
  9. Rachel Randolph

    Thank you so much Michele for this post…we adore you! And thank you for letting us put that famous Chocolate Chip Cook recipe in the book!

    One of my favorite “recipes” I go back to over and over again is this simple Trail Mix Parfait. I love it for breakfast, dessert, or an anytime snack. In fact, I just had one yesterday with walnuts, raisins, hemp seeds, chocolate, and coconut yogurt — divine!

    Trail Mix Parfaits

    Serves 1

    1/2 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, mixed nuts–I like unsalted walnuts or pecans best)
    2 tablespoons dried fruit (like raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries, or bananas)
    1 tablespoon seeds (like hemp, sunflower, chias, or sesame)
    2 tablespoons chocolate chips (I like the dairy-free, soy-free ones by Enjoy Life)
    2 tablespoons diced bananas or yogurt (like So Delicious Coconut Yogurt)

    Directions

    In a glass bowl or glass, layer nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and chocolate chips. Warm in microwave for 30 seconds or until chocolate just starts to melt. Don’t let chocolate burn. Top with bananas and/or yogurt. Enjoy.
    Source: http://welaughwecrywecook.com/2013/04/29/trail-mix-parfaits/

    Reply
    • Michele

      I’m a huge granola/nuts and yogurt person. However, I’ve not added semi-melted chocolate chips before. A travesty. I plan to remedy this ASAP.

      Reply
  10. Michele

    Alright, y’all have done such a great job with these recipes, I’m adding mine to the list:

    Blue Cheese Flank Steak

    Put 2-3 lbs Flank Steak in a large crock pot.
    Season as desired (I use Montreal Steak seasoning, sprinkled over the top)
    Layer 1 onion, thinly sliced, on top.
    In a separate bowl, mix 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 to 1 1/2 cup beef broth (I like a lot of gravy), 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar.
    Pour liquid over meat and onions.
    Cook on low for 10-12 hours, high for 5-7 hours.
    15 minutes before serving, mix in blue cheese crumbles, to taste (I use 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

    Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

    Okay, so that’s 6 ingredients. But it’s so easy, and it’s total comfort food goodness.

    Reply
  11. Kimberly C.

    Tortilla Soup Kimberly Chase
    *one of Brandon’s favorite soups!

    4 chicken breast halves, cooked & shredded
    30ish oz. chicken broth
    30ish oz chopped Rotel tomatoes
    1 C salsa (mild, medium, or hot, whichever you prefer)
    1 bunch chopped cilantro (you can do less, but we’re crazy about cilantro)
    1+ T ground cumin (we are generous with the cumin)

    Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cover. Cook on low 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. *This can be done quicker on the stove top in a soup pot, if desired. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Makes 6 servings.

    Reply
  12. Ashleigh

    I love seeing all these recipes! I’ll have to try some of them. I don’t really have anything exciting to contribute but this is my favorite dinner right now!

    (Gluten free and Vegetarian)
    -Gluten free spaghetti (I usually go for the Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta)
    -Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (Or your favorite sauce – but if you haven’t tried butternut squash pasta sauce you probably should)
    -Zucchini and Yellow Squash sautéed
    -Roasted Red Pepper Flakes on top… (If you like a little spice)

    I usually don’t have much time to cook so I make a big batch of this on Sunday and keep it for a couple lunches or dinners throughout the week… If I’m feeling extra creative sometimes I add grilled chicken or jalepeno chicken sausage, but I’m taking a little meat break. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Kristen Derbyshire

    Love this!!! My mouth is watering thinking of your choc chip cookies AND I really need a new easy cook book! I have 2 recipes. I’ll start with this one – it has 6 “ingredients” but one is water! I don’t think that counts right?! But of I need a 5 ingredient one to qualify let me know and I can type that out too 🙂

    Crockpot Beef Stroganoff. The best EVER!!
    1-2 lbs cubed stew meat (depends how much meat you like)
    2 cans golden mushroom soup (note GOLDEN it’s usually found high up on the soup aisle)
    1 largish white diced onion
    3+tbs Worcester sauce (I like it a lot so I do 3-4)
    1/2 cup water
    1 8oz block of cream cheese

    Mix the soup, onion & Worcester sauce together in the crock pot, add the meat and cook on low for 8 hours. Cut up the cream cheese into small cubes (making 12 of them or so) and put them in on high for 30 mins stirring at the 10-15 min mark. Serve over egg noodle is the best. VIOLA! It’s amazing!! Perfect for Fall/Winter cooking

    Reply
    • Michele

      You had me at cream cheese …

      Reply
  14. Jean Hess

    SO much in this post became an unexpected feast for my soul. I feel full: blessed, encouraged, and hope filled. Thank you Michelle for this beautiful gift.

    My quick and easy recipe is for Cranberry Chicken. Every time I make this compliments flow freely.
    Recipe: 4 boneless Chicken breasts, 1 pack of Onion Mix, 8oz Catalina dressing, 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce.

    You can keep the chicken breasts whole, but I like to cut the into bite size pieces. Mix the Catalina, onion mix and whole berry cranberries in a bowl. Add chicken. Mix well. Grease a glass baking dish. pour in mixture. Place in 350 degree oven and bake uncovered for an hour and fifteen minutes.

    Voila! Serve over rice or anything else of your choice.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Jean, this sounds FABULOUS!

      Reply
  15. Karen Jordan

    Michele, I love this chicken salad recipe that my father-in-law’s widow gave me years ago. It’s delicious on bread or crackers. And SO easy to make! Hope you enjoy it. Btw, I hope I win the book and cookies! Yum!!! Blessings!
    Meemee’s Chicken Salad
    3 chicken breasts (cooked and finely chopped)
    3 tops of 1-2 green onions
    1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (finely chopped)
    mayo (as desired)
    salt (as desired)

    Reply
  16. Robbie Iobst

    Wonderful recipes! I am not much of a cook, but I love to eat. I will add to this list the world’s best brownies. I got the recipe from my friend Loretta.

    1 box Pillsbury Family Size Fudge Brownies
    Make as directed – since I live in Denver I use high altitude instructions.
    1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
    Add 2/3 of bag of chips into brownie batter and stir.
    Pour batter into 9 by 13 pan.
    Sprinkle the rest of the chips onto top of brownies.
    Cook for 28 minutes and Voila!! Your children will rise up and call you blessed! 🙂

    Reply
  17. Sarah Beckman

    I have a go to meal! That I deliver often when times are tough in someone’s life for whatever reason. Mine is Chicken Noodle soup and Grilled ham and cheese. So that’s 5 ingredients here goes:

    Sourdough Bread, sliced
    Sliced Ham (Boar’s Head thinly sliced amazing!)
    (butter for bread)
    1 cup monterrey jack cheese shredded
    1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
    1/3 cup mayo
    2-3 T mustard.
    mix the mayo, mustard cheese together. Spread on bread. Top with ham. Close sandwich, butter bread and wrap individual sandwiches in wax paper for delivery to your favorite friend! All they have to do is put it in a pan. You will have many new friends with this recipe.

    Reply
  18. Tammy

    Michele I loved your post and of course love Becky’s new book! I am so glad you are in my life.

    I think it’s important to remember hospitality is not about impressing people but rather giving them comfort and care. It is giving others a message about their value.
    What a relief!

    Here is one of my new fav recipes. I made it for my cooking classes here in the Springs and everyone went wild over them. You can see the pictures at http://tammymaltby.com/bacon-avocado-toasts-with-creamy-gorgonzola/

    Enjoy!

    Bacon Avocado Toasts with Creamy Gorgonzola and Lime

    INGREDIENTS:

    4 slices rustic white or wheat bread
    4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    8 slices crispy cooked bacon
    2 ripe medium avocados, halved and pitted
    1 lime, cut into quarters
    Sliced cucumber
    Creamy Italian Gorgonzola
    Coarse salt to taste
    Fresh lime
    For each toast: Paint each piece of bread with olive oil. Toast. Place cucumber on toasted bread .
    Lay an avocado half on top and smash it with the back of a spoon to spread it around the toast. Add cheese. Criss-cross two slices of bacon on a slice of grilled bread.
    Squeeze lime juice over the top and season with coarse salt to taste.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Tammy, darling, you’re my cooking HERO.

      (now come on over here and make me some ‘o that)

      Reply
  19. Terri Randolph

    My favorite quick and easy recipe is a dessert or snack. I call it Cherry’s Delight.
    1 serving:
    8 dark pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
    2 tbsps. lowfat yogurt
    Sweet Leaf Liquid Stevia choose flavor cinnamon or lemon.
    Add’l. if desired:
    Mini Chocolate chips
    Chopped nuts
    coconut

    Place cherries in dessert dish(if frozen let set 15 min. or microwave 25 seconds.)
    Mix stevia of choice with yogurt and place on top. If desired use any/all of the add’l. ingredients.

    Serve as a snack or dessert.

    Reply
    • Michele

      This will provide a dessert fix without so many calories. Thanks!

      Reply
  20. Catherine Cambra Hopkins

    Any combination of butter, wine and seafood is comforting to me. You can use this recipe for scallops or shrimp scampi…and I’ve made it for friends who’ve come home from the hospital or when I have a bad day. 🙂

    10 large scallops (or jumbo shrimp)
    6 tablespoons butter
    1 large lemon, peeled, 4 segments chopped and remainder juiced
    2 tablespoons capers, drained
    2 tablespoons white wine

    Melt three Tbs of butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add scallops or shrimp and cook till golden. Transfer to a plate. Brown the remaining butter. Add remaining ingredients and season. Spoon over the scallops. (I also boil a pot of linguine to go with this dish).

    Reply
    • Crystal

      oh yum! I’m having this tomorrow night.

      Reply
    • Michele

      Oh, yum! We needed a seafood recipe here. And more butter.

      Reply
  21. rachel

    Trisha Yearwood’s biscuits — easy, delicious and quick!

    Reply
  22. Michele

    And the winner of “We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook” and a batch of my chocolate chippers is … (drumroll) …. TRACY L! Congrats, Tracy. Shoot me an email with your mailing address and ship both these yummy gifts right off to you. 🙂

    Reply

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