Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Read The Instructions

Opened the box. Spotted the big round object in another box. Plunked the lightweight object on the kitchen counter removed it from its cradle, yanked the lettuce from the fridge and threw it in the gadget. Oops! Duh. The whole point of it all I had forgotten. Quickly, after I doused the lettuce with water, in the spinner it went. I cranked the handle and watched the salad spinner go! My salad would never need to be rolled in a kitchen towel again. It would be perfectly washed and spun each and every time. Look out Rachel Ray! I was empowered with my new kitchen gadget.

But the result was anything but pleasing to the palate. Allow me to explain. I go to Boca Greenmarket each Saturday in the spring where I find extremely fresh produce often still with dirt and sand attached to the roots (how awesome is that, right?). The week of my salad spinner debut I had bought dandelion greens. I saw that gritty dirt on the roots and got excited. My salad spinner will take care of that!

Seconds after my green bag hit the granite, I got busy. I was a woman on a mission. I couldn't wait to see how fast the salad spinner would dry this green.  A Pavlovian response began to form in me (no not really) as I imagined the whir and flick of dirty water hitting the side of the Lucite bowl. The sound of spinning would be music to my eyes.

I soaked the greens in a bucket of water in the sink, rinsed them once more. Should I cut them first? I shrugged as I tossed them in whole. No time to waste. Into the salad spinner. Round and round my greens carousel. Whir. Whir Whir. Then silence. Sigh. Smile. I was sold before seeing the results. Bone dry, I threw them at once into the olive oiled saute pan. A slight sizzle erupted after a few seconds but no splatters! Success...or so I thought. A kitchen adventure gone awry I would soon discover.

Crunch. Grit between my molars. The dandelion greens had retained sand even though spun.  I washed it! I wasted my money. What a piece of junk. I can't even return it. I threw the box away. What if I had served that grit to company? I never had a problem before. So much for breaking from good old fashioned rinsing and towel drying....The Blame Game - blaming the good Amazon.com reviews, all those raving salad spinning aficionados, those who told me, "once you use one you'll wonder what you did without it!". Yeah right. I shoved the spinner to the back of my pantry next to the canned chickpeas and corn. I figured it wouldn't accumulate dust there - at least until I was able to list it on EBay.

The very next day as I was feeding my Cooking Channel addiction, I decided to fire up my DVR and resume an episode of Fresh Food Fast, a new show with Emeril Lagasse (creator of my husbands favorite appetizer recipe Hearts of Palm - I may just name my first child after him).  Well, wouldn't you know it - that blessed man pulled out a salad spinner for a recipe which included escarole! OMG. That man filled the big round Lucite base with water. He placed the escarole in it and swirled it around in the bowl, rinsed, filled it up and swirled it around again then proudly showed his audience how much dirt was still in the bottom of the bowl even after the second rinsing. He commented on the importance of "getting the grit out" because you don't want your guests eating sand. Where were you yesterday, Emeril!

Yes, on he raved about everyone needing a salad spinner. I sat in stunned silence as Emeril left the spinner to attend to his sausage. His directions and demonstration was perfect! I understood. I immediately felt stupid as I had the directions but left them in the box. I figured anyone could spin salad successfully! I was grateful for seeing this escarole spinning demonstration and am happy to report that I have now been spinning salad greens (and more) for months and never once encountered a spec of sand in it since I spent time with Emeril.

How simple. But how often do we mess up because we manage without instructions? Everything has instructions. Maybe the directions will not be conveniently "in the box" but once we search we will find the solution to just about anything. But like me, I thought I knew everything about what I was doing and as it turned out I knew nothing about a potential problem - grit. I had focused on those thrice-washed heads of organic lettuce that I wash anyways. That lettuce was always pristine to begin with, so I never gave grit a second thought.

And so as always God takes me to His Word. I liken the grit in my story to foxes in the vineyard. In Song of Solomon 2:15-17 we read, "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Beloved. My lover is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills."

"But it was just a little fox! But it was just a little grit!" No, beloved, a little fox is still in the wrong place and a little grit will ruin the whole meal. But reading the directions provides the solution and gets the reader back on track to success whether that success is merely serving a gritless green or protecting a marriage from deception. In this passage the direction could be stated in one word - flee! See it? "Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills."

The Bible is the instruction manual for life. It literally addresses everything in life for which we need direction. It is the best, most well laid out set of directions available in any language, for anyone of any age. But how often even after having been presented the directions, do we disregard reading the Bible?

Thankfully it is never too late to turn to God's Word, even if you have made mistakes (who doesn't make many mistakes even in a day?). For God's Word provides all we need to live successfully and to thrive like a green leaf in any season.

Thanks for navigating through life with me today in my latest kitchen adventure. I gotta go get a thank you card written for Emeril Lagasse. I might invite him to dinner. Of course I will serve him dandelion green salad (minus the grit of course!) No doubt we will watch the spinner together. The salad spinner will be music to our eyes and our ears. When it stops we may very well sing its praises and exclaim, "Bam! That's what I'm talkin' about!"
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