May 19, 2014

Dateline Moscow

The most popular cookies at my Moscow church are baked by my father, who uses a recipe he created when our missionary family lived in Indonesia. We don’t often get the cookies in Moscow. But every time I return from visiting my dad in Texas, the first question I hear is “Did you bring any cookies?”

It so happens that my dad also writes a weekly column for his local Hico News Review. With his permission, here is one of his recent columns.

Over the past 25 years several people have requested the recipe for my coconut cookies. They have made a batch or two, but every time the cookies turn out differently. Why? Because even though they follow the directions, they ignore the details.

Here is the basic recipe I use: 1 cup margarine; ½ cup brown sugar; 1 cup white sugar; 1 teaspoon salt; 1+ teaspoon vanilla; 2 eggs; 2 cups flour; 3 chocolate bars; 4 handfuls of nuts; 4 cups coconut; and TLC. Spoon the batter onto cookie sheets and bake them at 345°F until done. The recipe makes about four dozen cookies.

The details: The margarine has to be the whipped variety to make the cookies less heavy. Dark versus light brown sugar gives the cookies a better flavor. When adding the teaspoon of imitation vanilla, hold the spoon over the mixing bowl and let the liquid flow into the mix, increasing the impact of the vanilla on the dough. The flour has to be unbleached.

Three chocolate bars adds flavor, but chocolate-almond bars are usually milder. The bars have to be chopped into irregular-sized pieces, making each cookie unique, with different amounts of chocolate and/or nuts.

Using walnuts instead of pecans usually adds more flavor during baking. The nuts should be irregular in size, meaning you can break them into pieces with your hands or a knife. Chopping the nuts seems to take away some of the taste.

Finally, the coconut should be unsweetened and unsulfured. I prefer to use 1 cup of rice-sized coconut and 3 cups of coconut flakes in each batch.

When you do not pay attention to the details of each ingredient, you end up with a different cookie.

When Jesus walked this earth, He lived an example of how to be a Christian. Many people today go through all the motions of following Jesus’ example, but they miss some of the details. The result is that non-Christians say, “If this is an example of what it means to be a Christian, I want nothing to do with it.”

Here are a few examples: Many individuals have told me that it makes no difference which day you go to church. But they do not go to church on the day that Jesus attended synagogue (Luke 4:16).

Some people say they are good Christians if they do good works; it’s even better if the good works are recorded in the local paper. But Jesus always healed and performed miracles to glorify God, not Himself (Luke 4:16; John 12:28).

Other people say they are following Jesus as long as they pray once a day. But the Bible tells us that Jesus prayed more than that, sometimes the whole night (Luke 6:12).

Going through the motions of being a Christian might be better than nothing, but it is not really following Jesus. Following the recipe and substituting your own ideas for some of the details will still produce cookies, but they will never produce consistent results or match the original.

By the way, our church has fellowship lunch after the worship service every Sabbath in our dining area. You are welcome to stop in and sample the cookies.

Robert Mc Chesney is a retired professor who served nearly 20 years as a missionary in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Indonesia. He is head elder at the Hico, Texas, Seventh-day Adventist Church. His son, Andrew, is happy that his cookie ministry extends to Russia.