When I Cooked for My Church Family

“The food is good, Miss Judy,” said the 4-year-old, and the 6-year-old agreed, “The food is good, Miss Judy.”

Our church family meets on Sunday nights, beginning with dinner together at 5. Different people, or gospel communities or couples prepare dinner for us all—usually 50-60 people. Sometimes we get pizza or subs.

My life is full, I travel often and cooking is not my great strength. But I was always feeling I should sign up to do dinner. So January 8 was my day to serve our church family.

I decided to make Javanese Dinner, a large group meal introduced to our ministry staff decades ago by Vonette Bright. I remember preparing it more than 30 years ago. (My apologies to my Indonesian friends—I don’t know why it is called Javanese.)

I went to work. The recipe called for stewed chickens, but I preferred crockpots. I used my two and two borrowed from neighbors to slow cook 6 chickens. Getting two into the larger pots was a challenge, but I managed--and my house smelled wonderful.

I surely don’t remember that it was so much work to debone and shred all that meat. It took me several hours.

The dish calls for a buffet approach, piling up your food on your plate.

First came the rice. I had never tried to make rice for 50 people before—and I was not successful. It just wouldn’t cook enough and stayed very wet. I passed it off as Asian rice, which is usually not as dry as what we mostly serve in the U.S.

Then came the chicken. It was good, but needed more seasoning. Next time (if that ever comes) I will add more salt and pepper and a few other spices.

Then the toppings, which I chopped as needed: cheese, green onions, celery, carrots, pineapple, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, flaked coconut, pumpkin seeds—you can add what you want.

You top it off with the juice from cooking the chicken. Again, more seasoning was needed.

I was mostly pleased, except of course for the rice and the lack of seasonings. But all those wonderful people at church loved it! They went back for seconds. They kept telling me how good it was. I think they were truly surprised that I could cook at all, especially for 50 people.

But the best was to hear those girls tell me they loved it.

And the rest of the best is being a part of a church that’s a family and eats together and encourages the others, even my meager efforts.

And the kids know my name.

What about you? What helps your church feel like a family?

C2017 Judy Douglass