What makes someone amazing? What does it take for you to assign that adjective to someone? Slow down and think about it.

How do you think someone becomes amazing? This is worth thinking about, too.

I don’t use superlatives frequently so when I hear myself use one, I usually take notice.

It’s possible, if you’ve heard me speak about my family or seen certain Facebook posts, that you know I frequently exclaim that my sister-in-law, Debbie, is an amazing cook. While with her and the rest of my family for Christmas, I thought more about this.

One day, when looking in their large walk-in pantry, I noticed her shelf of cookbooks. I’ve seen them many times through the years, but this year I paid more attention. I counted them and then saw others where I knew to look. She has 87 cookbooks! You read that right.

  • She doesn’t just have them; she uses them. Even when her children were young, she made new entries, vegetables, salads, and deserts. She’s fearless.
  • Debbie is curious and always wanting to learn.

There’s no way I could have counted Debbie’s recipe cards. She stores those used commonly on holidays in a special book. She has a box near her stove for those she uses regularly. She has separate boxes for different categories to make it easier for her to find them. She has a huge box that’s also full of memories. If I experience them when I see it, I can only imagine how Debbie feels when opening it and finding a recipe. She’s had it forever and I know it reminds her of her mom and a special older woman who mentored Debbie in some ways. Many of the recipes are theirs and even written in their handwriting.

  • Becoming an amazing cook takes a while. Having a rich heritage helps.

I’ve always appreciated that Debbie cooks for the individuals coming to dinner. She doesn’t just cook food; she cooks experiences.

  • Debbie’s cookbooks and recipes are marked with names of people who did or did not like them. When her children were young, that helped her choose to make something everyone but one child liked if that was the child having dinner with friends. She honors me when I visit by remembering what I especially enjoy eating with them.
  • Debbie often keeps a list of meals she prepares for different occasions so she doesn’t worry about repeating things. For example, at this year’s fifth-annual Christmas pin exchange party, she knew she was serving all new food.

I couldn’t count the spices. Debbie stores them in several places depending on what she tends to use them for.

  • Debbie has learned what different spices add to different creations. She’s worked to discover how to enhance recipes, with a little bit more of this and a little bit less of that, especially so they please her family.

Debbie can be an amazing cook because my brother, Dave, is an excellent support. For their entire marriage, he has willingly cleaned up. He does the dishes (and when you cook good food, there are many dishes!), loads and unloads the dishwasher, and cleans off the countertops. Debbie wouldn’t enjoy dirtying numerous pots, pans, dishes, and utensils if she was also the one who always had to clean up everything.

  • Also, from a young age, their children were involved. Not always willingly, of course, but mostly. It was the expectation set in their home. Shared responsibilities. Shared benefits. This past Christmas, it was very rare to have only one person in the kitchen. Many of us were involved – willingly.
  • Debbie being able to be an amazing cook is a team effort in many ways.

Dave and Deb’s teamwork is only possible because Dave lets Debbie cook in ways that work for her and she lets Dave clean up the way that works for him.

  • I’m not naïve. I’m sure they have had their share of conversations about meals and the kitchen. But, they’ve established a give-and-take rhythm and respect for each other that’s impressive.

Debbie can also be an amazing cook precisely because she has a huge walk-in pantry. She can have lots of ingredients on hand which makes it easier. And, their kitchen has the largest island I’ve ever seen. If you open what looks like a drawer, it’s actually a covering for several electrical outlets. Brilliant! She can plug in her crockpots, waffle iron, mixer, and more while they’re on the island.

  • Guess what? When Dave, Deb, and their children were getting ready to move to the Atlanta area, Dave was alone to choose their home. He, of course, consulted with Debbie and she saw pictures. But, when he saw the pantry and the island, he knew. Then he noticed there were two ovens and warming racks. That was additionally convincing. He also knew they’d consistently use their breakfast nook and formal dining room. Both have come in very handy as they faithfully serve God with their gift of hospitality.
  • Dave knew his wife, how they entertained in their other homes, and how they’d like to use this one. Being in agreement and paying attention matters. So does choosing to honor your spouse when making decisions.

I suppose many things can make someone “amazing.” Does my list about Debbie and her cooking inspire you in some aspect of your life? Or, maybe it gives you knew ideas for becoming a better cook. That’s good, too.

I know of people who would just love to wake up one day and be “amazing.” That’s not going to happen. It takes so much more, but it’s more than possible. Debbie offers us some proof.