As a little girl I occasionally enjoyed cinnamon toast, made just right and especially for me by my grandmother. She was a phenomenal cook and I’ve always wanted to emulate her knack for whipping up kitchen feasts. My goodness, my grandmother’s treats threw parties in my mouth. There were lots of things that she made in her kitchen that held the prize of “favorite” on my palate, but there was something special about her cinnamon toast that I’ve never been able to imitate with my own. All over each slice of bread, delectable shapes of buttery, candy-like, bite size, cinnamon sugar flakes would sparkle that I could carefully pinch off and then place on my tongue. They wouldn’t dissolve instantly, but would instead melt like a thin piece of gourmet toffee. Is your mouth watering right now like mine is? Yum.
It’s funny how this childhood memory has landed itself right on my own cookie sheets as I’ve worked so hard to make that same concoction of cinnamon treat for my own children. Since my firstborn was a tee-niny thing, I’ve worked to form those candy bits on her cinnamon toast and it just hasn’t happened. “Maybe I’ll use more butter next time” I say. Or, “Maybe it just needs a big mound of cinnamon sugar instead of that little sprinkle I used.” My daughter’s old enough now to give her advice on the whole thing. We have fun and we laugh at ourselves as we try to figure out just exactly how to make my Grandma’s cinnamon toast.
I laugh more when I think of the most obvious solution to all of this experimenting. Wouldn’t this all be a lot easier if I had just gone into the kitchen and watched Grandma make her cinnamon toast? The guessing game would be over. I would know exactly how she whipped up that kind of magic and be enjoying it with my children today. Here’s the thing, though. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen when she was cooking. My grandmother had a galley kitchen and she just didn’t want us all in her way. She didn’t really need any help and she liked her space. That was just her way. Oh, how I wish now, as a lover of cooking myself, that I could have stood by her side as she created. What an honor that would have been … and what an impressive repertoire of recipes I would have to add to my own favorites! Looking back, I think that maybe with a little sad eyed pleading I could have been granted special access to her kitchen for training. More so, I think that if my grandmother had only realized that I really wanted to imitate her in this way, to be her student, and to join her life through this shared love of ours, she would have been more open to sharing her kitchen and expertise with me.
I wonder sometimes if we in our local churches have our own spaces, our own ministries, where we’ve come to feel quite at home. I wonder if there are people watching us stir up incredible dishes with our gifts and talents and they stand in the doorway wishing they could come inside. Like my grandmother, it’s not with malice that we guard our galleys, but with good intentions. We’ve been at this for years, we have our own take on the recipes, and quite frankly we don’t see much room for more feet along the galley floor. I wonder, at times, if we offer our family sweet samples from our kitchens, but have strict rules about who belongs in there. Does that make sense? Just imagine the aroma that could warm the entire home if we would open our kitchen doors to all who want to join us!