Notes From My Kitchen Table

I love to eat. I love food in all it’s colorful, flavorful, textural glory. I love real food, carefully prepared, enjoyed with family and friends. But I also enjoy french fries, eaten directly from the fast food bag, in the company of no one. Food is just good.

I, like many of the women in my family, communicate our love best through our meals. Nothing says “I see you, I love you, and here – let me care for you,” more than a meal that has been thought up, prepared, and placed on the table for loved ones. I love creating meals that are healthful  -yes- but also satisfy a deeper hunger for my friends and family.

I recently started reading On Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, and this girl just gets it.

What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table….Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us….Both the church and modern life, together and separately, have wandered away from the table. The church has preferred to live in the mind and the heart and the soul, and almost not at all in fingers and mouths and senses.

On Bread & Wine

There is something about feeding your people about literally supporting the life of the ones you love. Could there be anything more profound? Could there be a more intimate way to connect on a basic human level with almost anyone?

Life is so busy, and as Niequist points out, we are living in a virtual world that separates us while failing to sustain us.

I’ve enjoyed growing a garden this year, especially my herbs. I love walking outside as I begin dinner prep to grab fresh chives, lemony thyme, or my personal favorite – parsley. I love how herbs elevate any dish and bring out the truth of each flavor.

I think dinner around the table does for us as people what herbs do to a dish – it brings out the best in us and allows us to shine bright. It brings out an element of truth that we will never be able to find in the drive through or the box of instant noodles (although goodness knows both are staples at my house because, hashtag real life).

We were made to live in connection. We crave encounters with our fellow humanity like we crave sustenance. Like I crave pizza, or you crave ice cream.

There is no better or more authentic place to find that connection, than around the dinner table.

I long to be the type of person who doesn’t need a menu to invite people over. My desire is that I can grow to be the type of host who is completely at ease with the last minute dinner invitation. I want to invite you all over to talk and you end up saying for a meal. I want to feed you. I want to care less about presentation and more about conversation. I want you to be fed. But not just because you ate well. I want you to be full of the kind of life giving that only happens when you come in contact with others who pour out their preverbal cup for you. The cup of kindness. The cup of love. The cup of compassion.

This summer has been special to me. We’ve hosted less dinner parties than we have in the past but have focused more on the the casual invite. There is nothing that I love more than hearing my husband walk in to the kitchen while I’m starting dinner to ask, “So-and-so just stopped by. Can we invite them to stay for dinner?”

Of course they can stay. You are always, always welcome.

 

Here are a few recipes I’ve made (and loved) lately. Try them out. Share them with someone you like.

Caprese Salad

This is one of my all time favorite ways to enjoy fresh summer produce. I keep it simple. Garden fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella sliced thick, basil, and a generous drizzle of EVOO with cracked pepper and sea salt on top.

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I made Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes recently and they were so good I had to make another batch less than two days later. I live for funfetti. LIVE FOR IT.

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An Ice Cream SocialIMG_6053

We have all been a little nervous about our oldest starting kindergarten. I take that back. I have been nervous about my oldest starting kindergarten. Mostly because he is going to school in THE SAME SCHOOL I ATTENDED, and many of the parents of this year’s kindergarten class ALSO went to this school. It feels bizarre and scary and a lot like high school is about to start all over again. BARF.

Anyhoo. I’ve met a few of the families who have kids going into kindergarten and I wanted to host an ice cream social as a way for the kids to all meet each other so they would have a friendly face in the building as they start the year. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was to come away from the evening with many of my fears diminished.

Many of the moms said they felt the same way. They shared concerns about “being back.” We talked about how weird it is. We were honest about our own nerves and insecurities. We ate bowls of ice cream with hot fudge and sprinkles.

And yes, the kids did get to meet each other and they ran around for hours playing and having a ball, but I think it was the parents who were the real winners that night. We needed a moment together to be real, to connect, and to say “hey, me too.”

 

french fried green beans

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This recipe was a big hit, and a great way to do something different with my green bean bounty from our garden.

Just a pretty picture of pretty summer eats…

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Greek No-Lettuce Salad

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One night, I had a bunch of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes but no lettuce. The solution? Make a Greek salad sans the lettuce! For this dish, I just whipped up a Greet vinaigrette and tossed it with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, feta, and fresh thyme. It was refreshing and simple!

The Perfect After-School Snack

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I wanted to make a special snack for Theo’s first day of school. My kids loooove homemade, stove-popped popcorn. I knew that was the ticket. So I popped up a batch of popcorn, drizzled on loads of melted butter, and shook it with a little powdered cheddar BECAUSE I’M A COOL MOM.

And then we all sat around the table, munching away, hearing about Theo’s first day. It’s funny how your kids will tell you more when they are slightly distracted ;-).

Never made popcorn on the stove before? It’s so easy! Simply follow these instructions.

Sushi SaturdayIMG_6272

I’ve really enjoyed making my own sushi. It’s so fun, and waaay more affordable! (At least for the amount I like to eat, wink.) We recently invited a few of our most favorite people over for a sushi dinner party, with one catch: I planned out a sushi menu and prepped all the ingredients, and then we all rolled the sushi together! It was such a fun, interactive meal. I demonstrated on the first roll and then everyone took turns. While we waited, we watched, told stories, laughed, and sipped wine. It was one of the most fun dinners I’ve ever had.

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Food is our common ground, a universal experience.

James Beard

 

One thought on “Notes From My Kitchen Table

  1. SO GOOD TO SEE YOUR BLOG AGAIN AND YOUR RECIPE’S EXCEPT I’M STILL NOT READY TO EAT SUSHI .NEVER HAVE TRIED IT AND YES I TURN MY NOSE UP EVERY TIME I HEAR ABOUT IT.BUT A BROWNIE OR A CUP CAKE AND I WILL BE RIGHT THERE. HAVE A GREAT WEEK.

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