My little country house is on the grounds of a church campground which means that three times a year, our time there coincides with planned events. It means there are more friends, family and guests to prepare for, but also more times to be quiet with music and words under the big open air tabernacle.
This weekend was one of those times. While the summer week has been a tradition for almost 200 years, the fall weekend was my mother's idea and she has guided its program for 15 years. She gives much thought to how the musicians and speakers will balance each other for the services under the big open tabernacle and assigns everything from altar flowers to sausage biscuits.
My assignment is usually Saturday lunch for the ministers. In a primitive cottage with no hot water and sawdust floors, meals need to be easily prepared and served. This year, a few cool days called for a huge pot of vegetable soup, some biscuits, saucers of butter and a couple of pies. No one cared that I used frozen, not fresh, vegetables in the soup pot (a big pot roast cut into bite-sized pieces gave them flavor), that I used fat canned biscuits which were baked in my electric skillet ('how did you get them so crisp and brown on both sides?') or that the lemon and chocolate silk pies were thawed just before serving! A centerpiece of pots of chrysanthemums and fall figurines, an assortment of antique dishes which have collected in the cabinets and big soup bowls added to the ambiance, and laughter filled the chairs around the big table for much longer than usual.
On Sunday morning, as I drank my coffee and watched the sun coming through the trees. I thought about the times when those Saturday menus have been complicated and 'from scratch.' I don't know that the food has been any better or that the meal has been any more satisfying.
In the quiet morning, I understood two things: Complicated process is not always best. Successful shortcuts are learned through practice.
Two things which work in a simple place;
two things which work in the studio.