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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Way To God's Heart Can Be Through His Children's Stomachs--by Traci Hilton

Wait til you read this story. I LOVE how God uses us uniquely. Don't ever discount your gifts and assume they cannot be used for His Glory.

Traci surprised me with an added bonus at the bottom. Read and find out what that is ... even if it is missing something ;o).

The Way to God's Heart Can Be Through His Children's Stomachs

I bet that when you were growing up your teacher never said, “Dream big and work hard and someday you just might get to be the school kitchen lady!”

And yet that is the dream job of one of the most talented ladies I know, my Mom.

Vicky Rothery is the kitchen lady extraordinaire of Alice Ott Middle School. Do you find yourself doubting that kitchen lady could be God’s plan for her talents? Then imagine yourself at the helm of an institution that feeds 600 haywire Junior Highers  breakfast, lunch, and dinner all while adhering to rigorous federal standards. From food ordering to surprise health inspections, to organizing volunteer rotations, the Kitchen Lady does it all. And she does it for Junior High kids.

Junior Highers can be crazy. They attempt everything from coming to school with no shirts under their coats to sneaking food out of the kitchen unseen. Junior Highers are trouble and they are hurting. Every single one of them. Even the happy ones with good stable homes are hurting, because, as we can all remember, that is what hormones do to your brain.

From the first day Vicky (how weird to call my mom that! But it’s weirder to keep writing “my mom.” She’s Vicky to everyone else) hit the kitchen as a dishwasher, she made it her job to see every single shy, scared, hurting kid that passed her way, smile. Now that she’s in charge of the whole kit-and-caboodle loving the kids is one of the most important kitchen rules.

Since school menu’s are prepared by bureaucrats and nutrition information is published at the beginning of the year there is a national Zero Creativity Policy for school food. So if all you ever tasted was the school menu you might never know that Vicky is a great cook.

She’s fond of saying “if you can read you can cook,” meaning you can follow the recipe, but anyone who faces their stove day in and day out knows that cooking is more than just food math. Some people have a real talent for creating spectacular food.

My sister-in-law, was over for her first holiday meal at my parents house. After tasting everything, she put her fork down and said, “this isn’t just food—it’s magic!” It took almost forty years of faithfully preparing family meals to be able to turn food into magic. (That being the case,  I have a feeling my talents aren’t at their peak yet.)

Since Vicky isn’t allowed to display her culinary talent in her professional kitchen she has found other ways to use the gift God has given her. And that brings us back to the point of the blog. We all have talents. If we faithfully develop those talents throughout our lives someday they will be a blessing to others. 

As you’ve just read, Vicky’s love of the kitchen led her to a job where she could bless Junior High students with her affirmations and smiles.

Her love of creating amazing food led her to the $35 caramel apple pie.

Vicky’s pies are the best. She makes them for pot-lucks. She makes them for functions. She sends them to friends when they are sick. So word has gotten around about her pies. She made a passel of pies for a fundraiser at her church just this year. Vicky’s famous caramel apple pie went for $35.

One pie.


She made 10 pies for the event. Talk about blessing others!

She also feeds the kids and volunteers in her church’s Vacation Bible School every year. Her school kitchen work has refined her natural knack for planning affordable, healthy, and delicious meals for things like that. Icing on the cake? She comes in under budget.

That knack for planning led to this last story of blessing others with her talent. Every year her church, Mt. Scott Church of God, hosts a retreat for Pastor’s wives. Vicky has volunteered to cater it for the last two years.

After a weekend of deliciousness, one of the women attending the event stopped her and said that she had been looking forward to Vicky’s meals all year! When was the last time you looked forward to retreat food? The ladies who came to be blessed took a love offering for her to show their appreciation for the love and care she put into feeding them.

I recently spoke about talents at a women’s group (wish my mom had catered it!) and I asked the ladies to answer these two questions: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? And in your daily life now, what task gives you the most satisfaction?

God given talent is found where your dreams and abilities meet.

The $35 Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

8 apples doesn't matter what kind peeled and cut up. I have a peeler so it works really fast.

1.5cups sugar

1/4cup corn starch

Cinnamon to taste

About 12 caramels cut up, (just old fashioned Kraft or brocks)

Roll out pie crust dough. Put into pie pan then sprinkle sugar on the bottom, just a light coating. This helps protect the crust from the juices so the crust is really flaky.

Toss apples with dry ingredients and caramels.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture.

Put a couple of table spoons of flour on top of apples and several teaspoons of real butter.

Top the pie with a crust, sprinkle with sugar. Cut decorative air vents on top crust.

and bake the same as any pie.

*Note: As with all famous secret recipes, this seems to be missing a few key parts. I assume she uses the pie crust recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. And “bake the same as any pie?” I’m guessing that means the apple pie recipe from the same book.


Traci Tyne Hilton is an award winning playwright from Portland, Oregon, and author of the Christian fiction series, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries, available in paperback at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and at all ebook retailers..

Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest.

She has written grant proposals, blogs, essays on etymology, Bible studies, Sunday School curriculum, novels, short stories, history essays, and plays. She hopes to do many more of the above, God willing and the creek don't rise.

More of Traci's work can be found at http://tracihilton.com


  1. Traci, What a wonderful story. I agree, cooking is a God-given talent. Not all of us (including me) can make luscious dishes in the kitchen. Yes, God can use all kinds of talents.

  2. My sister had such a talent in the kitchen. I still remember her gently pushing me aside so she could rescue my lumpy gravy. Starting over, I might understand, but she fixed my mess and we ate smooth, delicious gravy. She also worked in the school kitchen for years. I admire people who use the talents God has given them.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to try that recipe. It sounds wonderful.

  4. What a Tribute to Vicky. your Mom and my cousin. She is a wonderful cook. The carmel apple pie is delicious/yummmm.

  5. Oh yum, the pie sounds delicious and what a minstry to give love and smiles to Junior High youngsters.

  6. What a great story. :) Yummy. The pie sounds awesome. I'll have to try it this winter. :) Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

  7. Traci, thank you for this uplifting post. I just ended my work week at a nationally known chain restaurant. Six years ago I took the job part time for a few reasons... moved to full time just before the economy tanked. While I'm still striving for publication of my fiction, I'm slaving away at a very physically demanding & often thankless job... yet like your mom, it's the little graces that can really brighten my day: unexpected compliments from customers or thank yous while they're telling me that they're having a rough day or an unexpected laugh from an unsmiling customer. It also provides me with unexpected opportunities to pray for complete strangers when they open up about an illness or hurting loved one.

    It's sad when some look down on those of us who have less than society-approved-glamarous/prestigious jobs. It takes all of us to help make the world spin round.

    Everyone's Story http://elainestock.blogspot.com

  8. I'm so glad all of you enjoyed the story! @June--I'm hoping my talent develops as I age--I don't expect to be able to do what my mom can, but I'm working on it!

    @Mildred--Your sister sounds lovely. What precious memories to have or working together to prepare food! There is nothing so basic as loving your family with a meal.

    @Gail--it is delicious! : ) She kept making them to give away, I only got my first piece this fall! I love to hear the stories of her kids from school. I remember being that age and the friendship of the support staff--janitors, teachers aids, lunch ladies, all had an important impact on us!

    @Becky--I'm glad you got to enjoy the pie with us! And I think all you all are fantastic!

    @Carrie and Sheri--I hope you enjoy it! Nothing like warm caramel apples on a cold wintery day--oh, unless it is warm caramel apple pie! : )

    @ Elaine--your work is demanding! I think about times when I have been upset by what I perceived as bad service or bad food at a restaurant and it is then that I realize how important the roles of people in food service are. The reasons for eating in a restaurant are as varied as the people themselves--anything from your home has had a fire, to you've worked so hard you just don't have the energy to cook, to an important family celebration. What at first glance appears to be a splurge usually has something heftier behind it and everyone of the people in the restaurant need the light of God to shine on them. Bless you for serving others in the job God has given you!

  9. Traci, Thanks so much for guesting on LBOC. Your mom sounds like such a light for Christ. You've inspired me to write about those special people around me who make a point to show they care through the little "hellos" and "how are yous." My next post will be about "The Button Lady."

  10. Wonderful! I can't wait to hear all about her.