DOWN HOME: Berry good time was had by all_62804

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Posted: 6/25/04

Berry good time was had by all

Sometimes, my wife outdoes herself.

I know we're playing to type here, but I can report that Joanna's the world's best cook who's not specifically paid to spin a saucepan.

(I, on the other hand, can't cook worth beans. Come to think of it, I can't cook beans. But why should I be a culinary conquistador? That would be redundant at our house. Now, before you filet, marinade, skewer and grill me for being a male chauvinist, just ask her about cleaning up the kitchen. I'm a world-class cleaner-upper. A guy's got to pay for his supper somehow.)

Back to Jo. … That woman can cook.


I tend to think desserts are her specialty. She makes a–you won't believe this–buttermilk pie that probably would have been banned by the Pilgrims. According to their rigid theology, anything that sweet just had to be sinful.

And a couple of times she's made this chocolate-cinnamon torte–nine exquisitely thin layers, held together by a chocolate cream sauce and topped with shaved chocolate. Unimaginably delicious. Let's put it this way: If Esau had traded his birthright to Jacob for a slice of Jo's chocolate-cinnamon torte, everybody up to and including wise Solomon would've thought Esau got the better deal.

Jo can cook other charming concoctions, too. Most historians think the Texians and Mexicans fought over the rights to this vast promised land in 1836. What they don't realize is the stakes were much higher–the recipe to her shredded-beef burritos.

Folks who pay attention to this column know we're going to have an “empty nest” in a little more than a year. I'll miss having progeny in the pagoda for a million reasons. But one thing I'll be glad about: Without kids around, she'll get back to experimenting with main courses, like she did B.C.–before children. I already drool in anticipation.

The other night, however, Jo outdid herself. And like brilliance in all the arts–music, literature, painting, architecture and cooking–the key to her brilliance was simplicity.

She went to the produce market and came home with some of the most beautiful Texas blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and apples this side of Eden. She mixed them and served them as a salad.

Fruit like that is the reason God invented farming. It's why God sends spring rain and commands summer harvest. You can spend who-knows-how-much on flambeaus and broulees. You can travel to New York and Paris. But you can't beat a bowl of fresh berries on a summer evening.

Later, as I recalled that berry delicious salad, I thought about divine simplicity. How often do we make life harder by trying to make it complicated? God wants us to appreciate it day by day. Look for the simple things.

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