40 Cloves of Garlic: A Chicken Recipe & A Poem

40 cloves of garlic in the garden

Is it just me, or does a recipe calling for 40 cloves of garlic just sing of wandering in the Sinai? When my mother shared this recipe with me last summer,

40 Cloves of GArlic Chicken Barefoot COntessaChicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Recipe by Ina Garten, host of Barefoot Contessa (click here)

I could hardly wait for chilly evenings to return to serve this comfort food, a soothing remembrance that others have wandered before us, 40 years’ worth! When feeling a bit aimless and confused, I try to take hold of the hope that God moves us through such a state toward a promised end.

He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
Deuteronomy 2:7 NIV

“People of Israel, I brought you up out of Egypt. I led you in the desert for 40 years. I gave you the land of the Amorites.
Amos 2:10 NIV

What does garlic have to do with wandering for 40 years? Planted in a single verse in the book of Numbers, the alliums allude to the Israelites’ trauma, displaying that truth that when it comes to the hardship of waiting and trusting, wailing and complaining come with the territory:

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.
Numbers 11:4-6 NIV

We have celebrated this flavorful trio last spring, and with chicken and 40 cloves of garlic simmering on the stovetop…a little poem starts to simmer, too! Let’s move our A-B-C’s along in delighting in the plants of the Bible, adding G is for Garlic…

See the nearly complete A-to-Z Primer for Plants from God’s Word for more on knowing and growing God’s garden goodness.

Move cursor over the stanzas to reveal links to Bible verses

G is for garlic drop cap sketch

is for garlic
O, let us gush!!
In praise and thanksgiving
for the savory rush

of flavor that garlic
so generously provides
to soups, sauces, and spreads;
main dishes and sides.

No chef dares begin—
no kitchen prep complete—
without cloves peeled and ready
to sauté in skillet’s heat.

Yet before such tastiness
is served at the table
the garden has hosted
these seasoning staples.

Easy to grow are the garlics—
onions and leeks, too.
The Alliaceae family bulbs
need not much to-do.

Bright sunshine, good drainage;
don’t let weeds get started.
Bulbs steadily increase;
keep evenly watered.

These simple practices
date back to old Egypt
when Allium cultivation
was purposefully developed.

Nile waters flooded,
and trenches dug by foot
created vegetable gardens,
with predictable output.

Four hundred years Israelites ate
leeks, onions, and garlic;
cucumbers, melons, fish:
a life almost bucolic…

except for the slavery!
Harsh, bitter, imposed labor
demanded their strength;
their fortitude wavered,

and the Israelites cried out!
And God delivered.
A free promise awaited
across sea and river.

Why do we complain
when we know God leads
to a life full of promise?
Freedom He has decreed,

and established by His power,
His sacrifice, His grace.
Trust and faith in this—
and wailing is displaced.

Alas, not quite so easy:
A gratification delayed
reveals sin’s grip, <sigh>.
We are easily dismayed.

Fretting over discomfort,
“good ol’ days” forget despair.
Nevermind those past times
were going nowhere.

And neither will we advance
with hearts fixed in the past.
Waiting becomes wandering
without faith steadfast.

All of this in a meal,
in a family and genus
of common garden plants???
O God, wean us

from the ways of complaining—
no crying over onions!
Your taste-and-see goodness at hand
when we stop running,

and trust your ways.
Like Israel, let us hear:
from wandering to promise,
the Lord our God drawing near.

cloves of garlic in morning light

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV

Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:22 The Message


bitter herbs with GOd's Word for Gardeners Bible

For more devotions on leeks, onions, and garlic, see “No Crying Over Onions!” part of the Cultivating series, Garden Work section, in God’s Word for Gardener’s Bible, page 177

Garden in Delight gate logoFor more information on growing this trio from the Allium family, see our Plant Guide:


Enjoy the inspiring recipe for this blog at www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chicken-with-forty-cloves-of-garlic-recipe-1944216

Photo Credits: ©2017 Shelley S. Cramm (chicken recipe photo from the Food Network webpage above)

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2 Responses to 40 Cloves of Garlic: A Chicken Recipe & A Poem

  1. Charlotte October 27, 2017 at 9:34 am #

    Always appreciate your poems about the various plants. This one about garlic is especially personal to me as I love garlic! Thanks for the reminder of this recipe, too..haven’t made it in awhile and its sooo good!

  2. Shelley Cramm October 27, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks, Mom!!! 🙂

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