Have you ever watched the movie Ratatouille? It’s a fun kids’ movie about a rat who cooks fancy French cuisine. I love how the film shows how important food is in our cultural identities, our families, building new relationships, and feeding old ones. At the movie’s climax, the heartless food critic tastes a dish that takes him back to his childhood. In the briefest of flashbacks, he pictures his mother, her kitchen, and the food she cooked to lift his spirits. The simple dish brought him joy and memories of togetherness.
I had a Ratatouille flashback of my own this week. Most of my team was gathered together out at a remote ministry site, and in the evenings we shared our meals together. I was in my happy place, in the kitchen cooking for over 20 people, covered in flour, and listening to conversations and stories centered around the dining table as we all waited for the meal to be prepared.
A friend helping me in the kitchen commented about the pie crusts, fresh out of the oven and waiting for quiche filling. The buttery smell wafting through the kitchen took me back to my preteen years at GA camp.
When I was a girl, Oklahoma had a wonderful Girls in Action camp, called Nunny Cha-Ha, where I went every summer to spend time growing with the Lord and learning all about missions. Lots of shenanigans were carried out there, and lots of fun memories made, but it was on one of those splintery wooden tabernacle benches that I first understood the Lord’s call to missions on my life.
One summer at camp, I was in a cooking class elective. I probably chose it just so I could ‘go behind the curtain’ to the secret world of the industrial-sized kitchen. I was old enough to have some angst about gender roles: “Are they teaching us to cook and bake just because we’re girls? That doesn’t seem fair! What does that have to do with missions?”
A staffer—whose name I can’t remember, and who probably knows nothing of the impact she had on me—taught us awkward girls a lesson that has stuck with me. She explained how food is an important part of culture, and that sharing your cultural food with someone can build friendships. Good food can create opportunities to share about your faith in Jesus. She told us how she would bake with her international friends, and how sharing food can be a real, physical way to show God’s love to someone.
We made simple cherry pies that day, with just a few ingredients and cans of pie filling. Of course I loved eating my tiny pie, but even sweeter and longer-lived was the realization that I enjoyed baking to share with others. That was when my love of time in the kitchen began.
I saved that raggedy piece of paper with a pie crust recipe for years, until I re-wrote it on a recipe card that has traveled all around the world with me. I have the recipe memorized now, and the recipe card is so stained and crumpled and oil-soaked that it’s barely legible.
The aroma of buttery pie crust brought all those memories back, along with some fresh understandings of how the Lord had stewarded my life and experiences. As I stood in that kitchen, covered in flour, in the middle of the African bush, cooking quiches to feed a couple dozen people, I shared my story with a friend.
The Lord used a simple pie crust at a girls’ mission camp to reveal my love for baking. He showed me he could use all my gifts and talents on the mission field, even the simple, humble ones. Today that pie crust has been to many a church social and potluck. It’s been served to local and international friends wherever I’ve lived in the States. It’s been the humble base for birthday pies and apple dumplings. It’s been delivered to new neighbors to start relationships. It held a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie in Bulgaria. A group of Sudanese refugee ladies and a Kenyan woman living in Uganda use it to make apple pies. They sell the pies to help support their families and feed hungry guests at our co-op coffee shop. And just this week in the middle of the bush it fed hungry families after a long day of ministry.
That crust wasn’t just a base for quiche or pie; it’s been a base for conversations, for friendships, for memories, for service, and for love.
It’s one well-traveled pie crust, and a testament to the Lord’s sovereignty. He can take small things like a pie, or an awkward tween at GA camp, and use them all over the world for his glory.
Mix 2 cups of flour with 1 tsp of salt.
Cut in ¾ cup shortening, margarine, or butter.
Mix in 3-5 TBS of cold water.
Roll out or shape the pie crust into the bottom of an 8 or 9” pie pan.
Pre-bake crust for 5-10 minutes at 400 F.
Add filling (chicken pot pie, quiche, fruit pie, etc.) and use the other half of the dough to make the top crust.
Bake at 350 F until done.
Makes one 8-9” pie with top and bottom crusts.