Friends! The past few weeks we’ve been looking around with mission-minded eyes from our back yards to our front yards, perhaps plopping down turquoise picnic tables in them.
This week we’re going to mosey on inside, and try a few recipes in the kitchen, making some unsuspecting guests at our table very, very happy.
Even if you’re challenged in the cooking department like me, you’ll be so inspired to try what author Shauna Niequist suggests in her super fun book, Bread and Wine—A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (with recipes).
Shauna’s honest, no-nonsense style and wit make this book a page-turner. Divided into three parts, most chapters, which are lovely vignettes, include a recipe.
All her chocolate recipes call for my favorite ingredient: dark chocolate. The one I most desperately wish to try ASAP is her three-ingredient “Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse”. I know… She dubs it “cheater mousse”. LOL.
Sensing some of her readers may be cooking impaired, Shauna offers entertaining tips, a list for what to stock your pantry with, and menu ideas. It’s the best! Plus, for those of you who need to eat gluten free, she either shows you how to make the dish GF, or it already is GF.
You’ll become acquainted with Shauna and her husband, Aaron, their two boys, Henry and Mac and many of their unique friends. Her Supper Club sounds like a blast.
Her extended family makes cameos as well and you’ll get a feel for how real they are. In reality, I’m sure it’s tough to escape from under the microscope of her Dad’s mega church, Willow Creek. (www.willowcreek.org )
Also an accomplished author, Shauna’s Dad, Bill Hybels, clearly loves his family. Getting a peek into their family is so sweet. Their devotion to one another is beautiful.
I love how Shauna calls her Mother, Lynne, “a global soul: a poet, an activist, a woman of creativity and conviction and vision, a woman I aspire to be like in a million ways.” Lynne is also a fantastic author.
Just as author Kristin Schell showed us easy ways to be hospitable via a turquoise table, Shauna does the very same at her dining room table. She proclaims, “Fuss not!”, blissfully chucking perfectionism out the window.
This is how she puts her foot down: “You can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving…” I need to make that quote into a sign and hang it in our kitchen!
My Mother was a long-suffering perfectionist. When John and I would go home to Lexington for dinner, she’d spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen. We’d serve our plates and she insisted we “go on and eat.” We complied, but by the time she fixed her plate and came in to eat, we were all nearly done. There we sat.
One petite example: Jelly was never served in a jelly jar, it was presented in a crystal bowl, silver spoon at the ready. To this day, I still laugh when I whip out the ketchup and barbecue sauce bottles, salad dressing bottles, etc. and set them on the counter for everyone to self-serve. (Mother would be horrified. Shauna would say, “Yes! You can do this!”)
Above and beyond striving for simplicity, Shauna and I could be buddies on many levels. In addition to being a mom of boys, I adore her love for bread. I’d go one step further and confess my love for bread and butter. (Any of you Whole 30 advocates out there are cringing.)
Shauna explains her title beautifully: “…I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine…The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.” To me, that makes communion that much more special.
Another of many favorite quotes in the book is: “Many of the most sacred moments in my life, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place around the table.
Something extraordinary happens when we…
Open our homes,
Look into one another’s faces, and
Listen to one another’s stories around the table.”
We also learn early on Shauna bravely put herself in a culinary boot camp. I applaud her effort. Her experience filters throughout the book in an encouraging if-I-can-do-this-you-can-do-this way.
One statement from the Intro’ seems to be a goal of the book. We readers get to see it in action in each of the meals Shauna serves. I see it in three parts:
“What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to
(1) Rest and
(2) Connect and
(3) Be fed at my table.” (I added the numbers.)
Dash to your local bookstore. Find this book and flip thru’ it. My guess is you’ll see enough recipes you’ll want to try, especially when you learn the stories behind them…even better! Bread and Wine would make a great gift as well.
‘Til next time!