There is a time to cook and a time to eat out

Friday, March 15, 2019


You be the judge. Do I say “Yes, I can cook.” Or do I say, “No, I cannot cook?”

In speaking at a function this week, I said, “I can’t cook. I am the one who made gravy out of plaster of paris.”

And I did do that. It was an accident. I thought I had the coffee can with flour in it from our camping trailer. Instead I got the coffee can with the craft plaster leftover from Vacation Bible School. In my defense, we had just moved to Colstrip and everything came out of packing boxes. An easy mistake.

We have had dinners at our home, and they were lovely. Except for that time at Thanksgiving. My Uncle Bert even came out of retirement to do the turkey because he thought, “Lois might wreck it!” The rest of the relatives brought their favorite dishes (possibly from apprehension also). All I had to do at that dinner was cook the potatoes.

We call them spuds. I got busy with all the fun stuff, setting the table with a flair and deciding which apron to wear. My mom said she’d make the gravy. When she hollered, “Lois Marie?” I knew I messed up something. I had. I forgot the spuds! Everybody peeled ferociously. The kettle was set on high boil and the dinner was saved. They said, with a smile, “See, she can’t cook.”

But I can. He-Who and I hosted several garden parties from our house in the hayfield when we first moved to Livingston. I have cooked many buffet breakfasts for our boys and their families. They all love them with eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, fruit salad and biscuits and gravy.

The last two years Mom and I have hosted over 25 soup suppers at my house, inviting folks from our church out the ranch so we can get better acquainted. We are still doing it. They liked it. I repeat: “They liked it!” So do I say, “Yes I can cook.” Or do I say “No, I can’t cook?”

There was the dinner party where I sprayed the pudding for the cream pie on the ceiling and the cranberries for a special salad leaked out the sides of my grinder. They rolled everywhere. I was wading in them!

And you could ask Joe Colvin, a great chef in our area, about the turkey I cooked for the Community Thanksgiving dinner. It started out a regular turkey but ended up the size of a penguin. A very brown pigeon, he will tell you. I cooked it extra long so it would be done. A friend and I made a cauliflower souffle for Super Bowl Sunday once. We thought it was great but the guys all said they were full of chips and dips.

So the question is, in the midst of the speech do I have to say, “But you should see my breakfasts! blah blah blah?” I think not. Who wants to hear that? You be the judge.

At the same event, I said I can’t do math: “So what is 40 days less three days?” Later someone said “And you are a bookkeeper?” Yes, I am. I did books for a credit union, and the deposits and banking for the Coal Bowl. I was a bookkeeper at Muggli Machinery and a clerk at CCSC. I like to do books. I don’t like story problems and I can’t add in my head!

I believe we all have things we can do well and some not so well. And it depends on the day, right? It just shows we are human. I do not want to tell a lie. I say, “I can’t cook but God loves me anyway!” (So did He-Who.)

Too bad Solomon in the Bible did not include, with a time to dance and a time to laugh and a time to cry, the words “and a time to cook and a time to eat out.”

Let’s read those verses in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 this week. I’ll be in the kitchen practicing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lois Olmstead is an inspirational conference speaker and author who lives in the Shields Valley. Email her at or visit