Burnt Ends… From the Heart to Table

IMG_9981A shofar blowing in surround sound summons me from sleep at 5:15 this morning. Immediately, I raised my head from the pillow turning towards an open window, surprised. Nothing. Lowered my head and there it was again… the clear, blowing sound of a shofar but now I realized the rich, deep tone is emulating from my son’s, (the man/child) iPad and he obviously had turned on his speaker. Certainly, he got my attention as well a few “battle-worthy” commands to keep the noise to a minimum as we both laughed.

Fifteen minutes later birds are serenading me with the joy of daybreak and hunger; it dawns on me, along with the smell of the dew I am now officially awake. Morning has broken… My mind, trapped these past few days contemplating “burnt ends” returned to the pounding and tug at my heart for the lesson of  these delicious tidbits. What are “burnt ends?” Flavorful pieces of charred meat… considered a delicacy in barbecue. Hmmm…

This past Sunday, abandoning warnings to avoid strenuous activity on an injured knee (something I have recently done to a PCL), I pulled the lawnmower from the garage and mowed my entire lawn. A light rain fell earlier and now an ominous overcast suggesting more raindrops were imminent kept me mumbling to God for dry skies through a divine intervention. Local meteorologists were forecasting significant rainstorms at least over the next three to four days… this only added to my frustration of not being able to plant my vegetable garden.

I am pushing and tugging on the mower, as the backyard grass had grown wild. “Much too thick for your mower,” said my neighbor. Perhaps. I like tall grass, but only as an accent or ornamental grass. Challenging, it was indeed an allegory of life’s hard places, but rarely is the trek insurmountable.

Burnt ends… we all have the scars from life’s often, fiery battles IMG_9986and these little flavorful pieces of meat are the bookends. Between each one is the metamorphosis from a tough existence to something now more succulent, forgiving, delightful and desirable. We want to gorge ourselves on this tender, moist meat, suck the goodness from our fingers and feeling a little barbaric… lick the plate. Are we humanly capable, am I… able to perpetually withstand the indelible charring to create delicious burnt ends? Seasoned with the wet rub of life’s teardrops, seared by an intense heat from what we seemingly cannot control or do we simply recoil to an emotional coup d’état of fear, doubt and delusion?

One of my favorite playwrights is Eugene O’Neill and from “Long Days Journey into Night,” he gave us:

“None of us can help the things life has done to us. They’re done before you realize it, and once they’re done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you’ve lost your true self forever.”

Finding my “true self forever” is becoming an experience I embrace. (Yes, the peerless optimist… jostling against torrid affairs with tough places somewhat wary of this “burnt end” journey and its endless vicissitudes.) Thinking after the ashes, comes the beauty... (I’m smiling.)

Our recipes, the dishes we serve others, particularly those whom we love, become amazing in a forgiving kitchen (inside or outside). Charring and the creation of burnt ends demands a controlled intensity for how we treat all that is before us for a desired outcome. Not necessarily so, with how life treats us. Still, we can and if we are willing, find a way to take delight in burnt ends.

In my TINYKITCHEN, I ponder how life really does imitate art. Cooking is art these days and serving burnt ends are now blasé as they render GREATTASTE we have come to appreciate from any kitchen, particularly one complete with love, a forgiving and kind BIGHEART.

© This article and photographs are the property of J. Faye Guider Productions. Feel free to ask me for permission to use my material or make requests, including for recipes, in the comments section. Thank you.


Not much left of a juicy, flavorful porterhouse. It was good... Yes, a good thing.
Not much left of a juicy, flavorful porterhouse. It was good… Yes, a good thing.