When he came to cook, he would cook in the bunkhouse. I loved to have lunch there. I loved the smell and the sounds. I loved the beat up long table that was covered with a plain white oil cloth, and the two benches were everyone sat together. I loved the 50 pound burlap bags that were filled with onions, potatoes, and beans. When Jesus cooked, I doubt if there was ever a lunch that came from that large cast iron stove that was not accompanied by beans and his incredibly light biscuits.
When I make biscuits, I generally follow James Beard's recipe for cream biscuits that he claimed came to him through a family cook (Beard on Bread, 1973). I doubt if the recipe Jesus followed was ever written down. I am certain that one key ingredient was bleached flour. Dedicated Southern cooks still demand the ultra-soft White Lily Flour, but that flour was not available in West Texas. However, Gold Medal All Purpose Bleached Flour certainly was, and in great abundance. Another ubiquitous ingredient was Crisco shortening, an ingredient I simply cannot use, regardless of how light the biscuits turn out. However, this was the time when Crisco was practically hailed as a health food, and no West Texas kitchen would be without it.
So, as I am running and pondering biscuits, my thoughts turn to beans. I would be an adult before I knew there was any other variety of legume other than the pinto. Yes, there was the black-eyed pea bean eaten every New Year's Day (for several days before Jan. 1, the adults in my life would great one another with "Hello! Got your black-eyed peas cooked?), but I don't remember their being served much the rest of the year. The humble pinto ruled.
As you can imagine, by the time I finished the run I was quite hungry. I decided to make a small pot of beans. I thought about pintos, but then I remembered I had sauteed chard in the refrigerator and I knew I had some dried white beans on hand. I gave them a quick soak and they are now in the crock pot. Since it is New Year's Eve, it is appropriate to have some beans cooking. That is a long tradition that crosses many generations, cultures and lands. White beans and chard will make a fine dinner.
Today as I think of Jesus, it is with gratitude. I wish I knew more of his story. How a man who knew his way around a Bobcat also knew his way around a stove. A man who generously shared his smile and his biscuits with a young girl. As much as I loved his biscuits, I think his welcome meant even more.
A lesson that I think Jesus - yes, That Jesus - knew well.