Reality shows have taken our culture by storm. Probably all of us have whiled away an hour or two watching a real life person cook a meal, decorate a room, compete in a talent contest, raise a family, or plan a wedding. The other day, I even watched a young woman have a baby. (It was tastefully filmed, of course!)
In the first chapter of The Chocolate Diaries, Karen Scalf Linamen compares life to a popular reality show. Here’s what she says . . .
“Unfortunately, when I watch the Food Network, the programs that seem to best represent my life are part of a series called Chopped. In every episode up-and-coming chefs compete for ten thousand dollars by whipping up extravagant dishes in thirty minutes or less. The timer starts as each chef is given a basket containing three or four ingredients that must be included in the dish.
I’m not talking about flour, sugar, and eggs. These chefs have to create dishes using zany combinations such as . . .
- Oranges, grapefruit, and bacon!
- Or apples, shrimp, and peanut butter.
- My favorite episode is the one where the chefs are asked to create an appetizer with chocolate and sardines. A tasty chocolate-and-fish appetizer. You should see the looks on their faces.
And then the timer starts.
Now that’s real life.
After all, you and I are given a limited amount of time on earth. (Sure, it’s longer than thirty minutes, although we’re never sure how much longer. Thirty years? Sixty? Ninety?) Then we’re given a variety of zany ingredients with which to make something of our lives. Inevitably, some of the ingredients are things we don’t want and may not even know how to handle.
Just yesterday a woman was telling me about her pending divorce. Through tears she said, ‘It’s not what I thought I’d have to deal with in my life.’ I’ve had that same feeling. My guess is that you have, too.
As we stare into the kitchens of our lives, we see all sorts of ingredients we didn’t ask for . . . We can even become convinced the we’ve been given such bitter ingredients that nothing can ever make our lives sweet again.
After all, it’s hard to imagine even a skillful chef making something palatable out of a childhood hurt, a mistake from long ago, baggage from a difficult marriage, or lingering disappointment. But this philosophy suggest that the ingredients are more important than the life they produce. Don’t believe it!”
Back to me: I love reading stories of how God brought various fellow travelers through the tough times in their lives and met some amazing people through Karen’s book. Their personal testimonies bolstered my strength and renewed my hope. Some of the anecdotes Karen shares made me laugh out loud—which is an effective joy-inducer. I learned from the many practical suggestions about how to handle day-to-day stresses or make life fun no matter what our circumstances may be. And I especially loved the Chocolatherapy generously sprinkled throughout the pages, including yummy recipes like Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches (featuring heavy cream) and Microwave S’mores.
If you know someone who needs encouragement, this little book would make a great gift! I’d feature it in a basket with some special kinds of chocolate or with the ingredients of one of the recipes. You can grab a copy at this link. ***Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a copy for me to review. I already have plans to pass it on to a friend.
Giveaway: This is a September Giveaway Post. At the end of September, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. If you leave a comment on this post, I’ll enter you in the giveaway. If you rate my review, I’ll enter you twice!
Rate my review: I reviewed this story for the Blogging for Books Program. If you rate my review, it opens the way for me to choose another book and enters you in two giveaways. Rating is a two-step process. 1. Rate my review here.
2. Check your email account for a message from Blogging for Books and click their link to verify your email. 3. Let me know that you’ve verified your email, and I’ll enter you again in the giveaway or simply say, Thanks! 4. Also, if you rate my review, you’ll be entered in a giveaway by WaterBrook Multnomah. They’ll choose one person who rates my review to receive a copy of the book for themselves.
Before you go, check out my favorite recipe from the book . . .
Three-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug
1 large coffee mug
4 tbs. flour (not self-rising)
4 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. cocoa
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3 tbs. milk (my sub strong coffee)
3 tbs. oil
2 tbs. choco chips
1 tbs. chopped pecans
Small splash of vanilla
Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in milk and oil and mix well. Add chips, nuts, and vanilla, and mix again. Put mug in microwave and cook for 2 minutes. (Depending on strength of microwave, cook a little less or a little longer.)