Let me start by saying that I am not a cook. I can cook and I do manage to make some decent meals, thanks to cookbooks and other people’s recipes. For the past several years, we have had groups of people meeting at our house regularly, so I’m always on the lookout for new things to serve. I break a cardinal rule though and serve things that I’ve never actually made (or even tried) before I feed them to others. Fortunately, this has never really been a problem.
The weekly meal started in Olympia as a group of people who all went to church together gathered weekly to share life with one another outside of Sunday worship. In the beginning, many of us didn’t even know each other at all — we just happened to live geographically close to one another. Food has a way of bringing people together. Think about it….put a group of strangers in a room together. The extroverts will be able to do okay, but it can still be awkward. If you are an introverted kind of person, it can be downright painful. Put that same group of strangers in a room together and add food or beverages and it instantly becomes a party.
When we began hosting these weekly gatherings, I used the meal as a way to protect myself…to give myself something to do and focus on because I am terrible at small talk. As we all began to get to know one another more intimately, I began to really enjoy serving others, feeding them food they really enjoyed in a welcoming atmosphere. This wasn’t a church “small group” per se, as we regularly invited friends and neighbors who didn’t necessarily go to our church — or to church at all. And when we had new people join us, the meal was a much better ice breaker than any kind of cheesy ice-breaker game or question (although those do have value in certain situations).
You see, I believe that meals are a way to remind us of our daily need for God both on physical and spiritual level. Jesus calls us to remember him and his sacrifice through a meal that Christians call communion. Not only that, one of the first things Jesus does after being resurrected from the dead is to break bread with the disciples that he meets on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30). The next morning, when he appeared to the rest of the disciples, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” (Luke 24-41b). After he ate (they gave him broiled fish….), he went on to speak the most important truths of the Bible to them (read Luke 24:44-49 and you’ll see what I mean). When we eat together, we commune around these truths. The word itself is both a noun and a verb. The noun refers to a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities — a synonym being community. The verb refers to sharing one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with someone — a synonym being to communicate or converse. So the meal, to me, is a time that we nourish our bodies with food, but we also use that time to share our thoughts and feelings with other people, which leads to building a community. And, in our fast food nation, I think this is somewhat lost on people.
In addition to eating, I think it’s
important essential to celebrate God’s goodness and grace. I desire to extravagantly bless others as a way to display God’s glory. When I serve people, I want to serve them in the best way that I possibly can. This might be by preparing an extravagant meal, opening the best bottle of wine or just knowing somebody’s favorite thing and serving that. When you consider Jesus’ first miracle (John 2:1-11), it is significant that when Jesus turned the water into wine, it was the best wine. When the disciples gave Jesus a piece of broiled fish back in Luke 24, it was probably the most extravagant thing they had.
Which brings me to the Maple Bacon Breakfast cupcakes. We have brunch with a group of people on a monthly-ish basis. Bacon is always a staple and it’s usually a topic of conversation — that is, how much everyone loves it. So, when I saw Maple Bacon Breakfast Cupcakes on Pinterest recently, I knew that was my next brunch item. I pinned it to my recipe board and when I went to make my shopping list, was dismayed to realize it was only a picture and there was no recipe. So, I searched for a recipe that sounded do-able. This morning, I got up early (not my favorite) and realized that we did not have any butter and had to change my plan. I decided to use pancake batter for the “cupcake” portion, but was not sure it would rise, so it actually turned into a science project (also not my favorite).
Did I mention I’m not a cook?
For a second, I almost scrapped the entire project. But, I was honestly driven out of my desire to provide something for this group that they would love. To be extravagant. To bless them. So, I winged it. And, they turned out fantastic. Here’s the recipe:
Start by cooking up some bacon. I wanted to use applewood smoked bacon, but we couldn’t find it. I would definitely use thick sliced, premium bacon. I think I did about 12 pieces.
2 cups pancake batter (it doesn’t matter what…I used some that I had bought in Mexico last month and never used. I actually put it in a carry on bag to bring home and it wasn’t until the TSA Agent started looking at the seals that I thought maybe it was a bad idea….”Hi Dad? I know I’m 41 years old, but I got arrested for having pancake batter in my carry-on. And, I’m in Mexico. I think they think it’s cocaine. … Hello?…”)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Sift the dry ingredients together. I think sifting is important when using the batter, because it made them light and fluffy.
Then add the following to the dry ingredients:
1 cup milk
Bacon grease from the bacon you just fried. This was an afterthought and I have no idea how much I used…maybe 2 tablespoons?
2 tablespoons maple syrup. This was also an afterthought as I wanted the cupcake portion to have a sweet and savory quality. I think it was the perfect amount, but I would make sure to use pure maple syrup for best results. Grade B might even be better, but it’s hard to find sometimes.
Minced bacon. I don’t know how much I used — maybe 1/2 cup? It doesn’t matter. It’s bacon. More is better.
Mix all of these ingredients together enough to blend them but not too much. Pour into cupcake papers and bake. I experimented with the time….I have a convection oven that converts for me automatically. I put the first batch in at 350 for 18 minutes. This converted to 325 for 16 minutes. I watched them closely and ended up taking them out at about 13 minutes. I think all ovens are different, so just keep an eye on them and use a toothpick to determine if they are done.
I ended up making 2 batches, which made 24 standard size cupcakes and an additional 12 mini cupcakes.
Maple Frosting – this is not my own recipe…I just found it online
1 stick of butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (again, I used Grade A, but Grade B might be better as it’s a little darker and has a richer flavor).
I topped them with a piece of bacon and voila!
Peace to you. And, be extravagant!