The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Chapter 8: Food

Chapter 8 of The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer, which we’re discussing a chapter at a time at  The Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Club hosted by Cindy at Ordo Amoris, is about food.

Once again Edith emphasizes that in this area as in all others, we have to balance time, money, energy, and priorities, and there will be times when food has to take a back seat to other things going on. But God has created a variety of foods that are both nutritious and beautiful to look at and has given us the taste buds, sense of smell, and eyes to enjoy them. She has some interesting observations on the manna that God provided the Israelites with during their travels in the wilderness, and notes that God could have made all food like that – nutritious compact packets – but that was just temporary “traveling food,” and for all the rest of time He’s allowed a great variety to enjoy.

Food is a major aspect of hospitality, and she emphasizes that the people Jesus said to include are not just old friends or people we’re trying to impress, but also “the least of these.”

I have to admit that I am relieved that this chapter is not what I thought it was going to be. I remember learning how to make radish roses in a high school Home Ec. class and thinking it was such a waste. She is not talking about providing extravagant meals or elaborate garnishes, but enjoying simple food prepared and offered with the simple artistry of a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. Although my husband appreciates the effort behind a nice meal, I think he would much rather have something simple and peaceful than something that takes hours and wears and stresses me out.

On the other hand, Edith describes a tramp coming to her door to ask for food, and instead of reluctantly thrusting whatever was at hand out the door at him, she made him a tasty and nice-looking sandwich and soup on a tray complete with flowers. Those little touches and efforts can convey, “You matter, and I care.”

Food cannot take care of spiritual, psychological and emotional problems, but the feeling of being loved and cared for, the actual comfort of the beauty and flavour of food, the increase of blood sugar and physical well-being, help one to go on during the next hours better equipped to meet the problems (p. 124).

One of the most well-known quotes about Edith herself, though I don’t know the source, is “As many people were brought to the Lord through Mrs. Schaeffer’s cinnamon buns as through Dr. Schaeffer’s sermons!”

I confessed some years ago that I don’t really like to cook a lot of the time, but I like to eat, and they sort of go together. 🙂 I recognize that it is a ministry to my family and part of my job description, and once I get going I’m ok with it. I just usually dislike having to stop whatever else I am involved in to go make dinner, but we all have to do things like that. I’m sure my husband doesn’t feel like going to work every day, either, but thankfully he does.

In discussing the last chapters, I’ve showed pictures of things I am pleased with: this time I am going to show you some of my epic fails, because I have had more of those in cooking than anything else. Enjoy. 🙂


One day I posted just this picture with the title “This is how my day has been going.” That was supposed to be for a ladies’ function at church the same night, so I had to come up with a plan B. I did dig the rest of the cake out of the pan, put it on the platter, covered it with glaze, and we enjoyed it as a family. It did taste good even if it didn’t look so good!


These were supposed to be little Muppet-looking cupcakes, but the runny green icing made them look like baby swamp monsters.

Cake decorating has never been my forte, but I used to be able to spell.

And then there was the green gravy. One day years ago I was trying to make gravy that wasn’t turning as brown as I wanted it to. I had heard somewhere that mixing red and green make brown, so I added a few drops of red and green food coloring into the gravy. It turned green, and no amount of added red food coloring drops would change it to any other color. That time, instead of crying into my gravy, I started laughing hysterically until my husband came to see what was going on. But I couldn’t eat it. The strange greenish color was revolting. (I rarely make gravy, but these days I eat it whatever color it ends up being.)

And then there was the time I reached for the cinnamon instead of the chili powder for chili mac. That turned out….interestingly. And the time I accidentally grabbed baking soda instead of corn starch for teriyaki – that made it foam like a science fair volcano. I scooped out the foam and tried to rectify it, but it was still so salty that we were drinking fluids all evening to counterbalance the extra sodium in our systems, and my husband can’t eat my teriyaki to this day.

Thankfully I’ve had more successes than failures, and though I’m not the best cook in the world, my family likes it enough to keep coming back for more, and we appear to be relatively healthy. 🙂

Some other cooking-related posts here that you might enjoy:
Cakes Are My Culinary Waterloo.
Cooking style.
Cooking experiences.
Food flashbacks.
Encouragement for Homemakers.

16 thoughts on “The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Chapter 8: Food

  1. This is hilarious, Barbara! Thanks for making me laugh this morning by ding willing to share your failures. 🙂

  2. I had to smile over these disasters….we’ve all had them and they usually happen when we’re making something for others besides family. Seeing the cake made me think one could make a trifle with that if instant pudding and cool whip were on hand.
    Honey Bear likes simple, too. Just a pan of cornbread, a pot beans and some slaw is ambrosia to him. I like to go to a little more trouble occasionally but he’d be fine if I never cooked anything else. I’m thankful for that and also that he’ll eat leftovers. With just the two of us there are usually plenty of these in the fridge.
    Food is supposed to be for nourishment. I wish I could only eat to satisfy hunger and then get on with life. I tend to eat for pleasure, though.
    Mama Bear

  3. Oh Barbara, I laughed out loud over your comment on radish roses. I didn’t know what else was coming! I think everyone can identify with the cake that didn’t come out of the mold right, the runny icing, and the Happy Birth-ay spelling. We’ve all been there.

    I got a cake decorated for our son’s high school graduation–in the States. I knew I was in trouble when the lady asked how to spell David. She ended up spelling “Congratulations” Congralutions, and it was the laugh of the evening! :o)

    I’ve had more cakes stick or break than I could tell you about and runny icing and all the rest. Thankfully, what tastes good still gets eaten. Loved your post! Thank you for being humble enough to share what happens to everyone. We love you!

  4. Your “failures” made me giggle, but they still look tasty.

    Isn’t “birthay” French for “birthday”?

    I love the quotation about food not being a substitute for other things, but a positive pleasure and enrichment just the same. I’ve noticed before that there seem to be many references in Scripture to eating together, right down to Revelation where Jesus promises to come in and “sup with you” if we answer his knocking. I do think there’s a spiritual as well as a physical significance to food and eating.

  5. Oh, Barbara. I’d been reading your other posts in this series, but this one takes the cake 😉 Makes me wish I’d taken more photographs of my disasters. I’m amazed at how well you do in an area that you don’t like very much. But you show by example that you just apply yourself to your best ability for the benefit of your family.

    As a child, I remember thinking that sugar was the opposite of salt, so if something was too salty, just add sugar, right? Uh, no. Thankfully, no one depending on me to feed them!

  6. Hahaha! We’ve all had similar failures, I mean, learning experiences. thank you for sharing yours out loud.

    ‘Those little touches and efforts can convey, “You matter, and I care.” ‘ — the perfect way to sum up this chapter, the whole book, really.

  7. I am echoing apronstringsotherthings in the previous comment…the whole gist of this chapter is, “You matter, and I care.” If we can adopt that philosophy–in the arena of food, or in any other arena–we will be able to bless.

    And thanks for sharing your culinary disasters. I’m sure that we all feel better, because who can’t relate to fails in the kitchen? (My kids still talk about “The Bomb,” a cake I made that was a “bomb” on so many levels. It was even shaped like a bomb although it was (supposed to be) a standard two-layer cake!) 😉

  8. Too funny! I’ve done the cinnamon in ground beef which was like you said interesting. At least I hadn’t added the beef to the main dish and I rinsed and rinsed the meat for a loooong time!

  9. I can do simple food with simple artistry. As I started reading this post I thought it was going to be about elaborate meals. I like making things look pretty but sometimes tasty wins over pretty. I go for tasty every time!

  10. Pingback: Book Review: The Hidden Art of Homemaking | Stray Thoughts

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