Wednesday, April 25, 2012

coloring inside - and out - of the lines

Last night, I went on another "adventure" in the kitchen. I wanted to make a quick bread for Erik to have in the morning for breakfast (and me to eat the sweet goodness of it...). I have a great mix-and-match quick bread recipe from Food Network, which I had most of the ingredients for. I could have made carrot bread, but every time I've made it, Erik hasn't loved it. I wanted him to love it, so I decided to switch it up. I used all the kitchen knowledge I've acquired through Food Network magazine and programming and I branched out in my interpretation of the recipe. Instead of carrots or zucchini or something that the recipe called for, I used up the leftover strawberries in my fridge. I thought... Strawberry bread. Why not?

I couldn't find the nutmeg, so I substituted Chinese five spice, something I've heard chefs on the Food Network use a lot. I don't really know what's in there, but it seemed like something sweeter rather than savory. I also substituted a vanilla yogurt Erik usually has for breakfast in place of the plain yogurt and vanilla extract; in my head, that worked as a substitution. Lastly, I used lime juice and zest in place of all the citrus juice/zest the recipe called for. I considered it a strawberry lime quick bread.

I was so excited to see if my substitutions worked. This time, though, I did something different then every other time I've made this recipe. I was patient. I followed the final directions to a "t." I cooked the bread for the full 55 minutes. I cooled it in the pan for 30 minutes (something I rarely do!). I then put the frosting on it and waited 15 minutes before I finally dug in (again, I never do that!). And yes, that was over an hour and a half of waiting after putting it in the oven! Ack!

It was worth it though. Letting everything cool as they specified set the frosting in place, let it sink in a little, and gave the bread a much more "put together" taste. I could actually cut it and have the frosting stay on top. Previously, I would be so anxious, I would put the frosting on hot bread and eat it right away. It was always a mess as it melted everywhere. This time I did it right and it was worth it.

So that made me think... sometimes, it's appropriate to think outside the box. Be creative. Take liberties. Explore. Figure out if you really can make strawberry bread instead of the normal zucchini bread.

Other times, it's much better to stay inside the lines. I had to let the bread cool and then let the frosting set on the bread. Otherwise, it wouldn't have turned out right. Those rules needed to be followed.

Somehow, my little brain, translates that to a life lesson. Take, for example, dating. I thought I initially was going to marry the first man I dated. I didn't. I had to allow myself to think outside my "box" and be okay with getting to know a few different guys before meeting Erik. On the other hand, I was determined to do it right, stay inside the lines, and obey God when it comes to purity before marriage. Both Erik and I knew our marriage would be much messier if we crossed that line before we said "I do."

And how about job selection? I grew up wanting to be a teacher, but in high school, the Lord pushed me outside of my box and told me to study writing, something I never considered until that point. Now, I find that my writing job is a perfect fit for me!

It's often hard to find that balance between where to explore in life and where to just obey the rules... perhaps the line is, don't be afraid to color outside the lines of your own box or someone else's box for you. We don't always know what is perfect for us, so it's good to be creative and use our God-given imagination.

On the other hand, God does know what's best for each of us, and it's vital that we don't color outside the lines of the box God has provided - the foundation of the Bible. Following the Bible's principles of living will keep your strawberry lime bread coming out perfect every time.


(If I hadn't been so excited to eat the bread, I might have remembered to take a picture of it to post! Oh well!)

Here's a link to the quick bread recipe in case you ever want to try it!

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