The day my advanced reader copy of Shauna Niequist's newest book Bread and Wine came, I was like a child on Christmas morning! Heart beating fast and giddy! I loved Cold Tangerines and I loved Bittersweet and couldn't wait for this newest book. I devoured it quickly and it did not disappoint. I'm a wanna-be foodie and a wanna-be writer so the two absolutely go hand in hand for me. Beautiful words plus beautiful food make me happy every time.
first thing I did was to make the risotto she writes about. I've only
ever tried to make risotto once before and it was only ok... I usually
prefer to eat it in a restaurant with skilled chefs making it. Shauna's
recipe and instruction were easy to follow, included lots of variations
and suggestions and was unbelievably delicious. With my older son at
school and my younger son napping, it left an afternoon with just my 5
year old daughter and me. She poured in the rice, helped press the
garlic, and then wondered how long I was going to keep stirring! I made
the butternut variation because, well, I love butternut squash. After we finished cooking it together, Avery and I sat down and enjoyed a bowl. She loved it too!
love watching my daughter eat. Almost two years ago, after several very
sickly and scary months, she was diagnosed with Celiac disease (an
autoimmune disorder triggered by eating gluten). To see her love and
enjoy eating again is such a gift. That moment of enjoying a big bowl of
fancy yet comforting risotto together was a happy and significant
moment! Before her diagnosis, I cooked, but was a pretty simple cook. I
liked convenience and packages and drive thru windows. I liked
casseroles and lots of pasta-- hey, it was easy and the kids would eat
it. While it took a lot of reading and practice and work on my part,
I've discovered, through gluten free cooking mostly, a deep love for
cooking and feeding people. Perhaps that is part of why I relate to this
book so much. It's certainly nice that Shauna's husband eats gluten
free and there are many recipes and variations to recipes that I can
make for my family, too!
Shauna's stories throughout Bread and Wine
are as rich as the
recipes. Even a non-cooker will love the read, although beware you
non-cooks out there, Shauna will make it so beautiful that you'll want
to cook! Or at the very least, open your home to host those you love
with take out, knowing the community is what really matters. She writes
about a dinner with an old friend: "The meal itself wasn't spectacular
by any means, but it didn't need to be. It was simple and it was good
and it gave us something to gather around. It filled our bellies and let
us laugh and let us connect and settle into our chairs and let the kids
play under that table. It did what it was supposed to do: it fed us, in
all sorts of big and small ways." It is stories like this that make
Shauna and her writing both inspiring and relate-able.
I've taken many a dinner to many a new
mama and have had my fair share brought to me. Early days with a newborn
are exhilarating, and exhausting and for me require a great deal of
healing (3 c-sections here). I remember when I had my first baby, and my friend
Holly brought me the most delicious wild rice and ground meat casserole
dish. I remember scarfing down left overs late at night night with my pain killers and loving it's comfort to my
aching body. I remember Emily
bringing me a killer homemade lasagna and how happy it made me that
someone would take time to make something from scratch for me. I remember Angela having my family over to her house and
setting me up on her couch with newborn Eli and grilling huge hamburgers
with bleu cheese and bacon for us. Marsha brought enchiladas so rich
and good that I didn't even share with my family. Heather brought creamy
taco soup. Laura brought a huge bowl of chicken and pasta salad that I
ate for lunch every day for a week. Dawn brought sweet potatoes stuffed
with chicken, sour cream and cheese- that was the first time I
discovered a savory sweet potato and how much better it was than the
canned, sweetened mushy kind we ate at Thanksgiving. Claire brought pot
roast and mashed potatoes. Rustic. Warm. Good. See, the food mattered. The
people who prepared it mattered. And many years later I still remember
and feel thankful that they loved me and my babies enough to feed me.
And while the cooking is brilliant, the heart beat of the book is this: "I
pray that we will live with intention, hope, and love in this wild
season and every season, and that the God who loves you will bring new
life to your worn-out heart this year and every year, that you will
live, truly and deeply, in the present, instead of waiting, waiting,
waiting for perfect."
Cooking like I like to do now is rather new to me, but I've always loved to eat
and try new foods. And, I've always loved to read cook books. But even more recently I am not
embarrassed by that. It's not very girly to love to eat like I do. I
love crusty french bread. I love olive oil and balsamic vinegar and
garlic. I love butternut squash and avocados. I love basil and cilantro.
I love cheese. I love enchiladas and fresh salads loaded with fruit and nuts. I love mashed potatoes. I
love pulled pork and chicken wings (see, not that girly). Shauna's
chapter entitled "Hungry" gave me so much validation for the way I enjoy
good food. Then she went on in the chapters entitled "Feasting and
Fasting" as well as "Scrambled eggs and doing hard things" to give such a beautiful balance to portions, exercise, healthy
boundaries, and seasons. Gone are the days where I write down
everything I eat. Gone are the days when I watch the calories burn one
by one on the treadmill. Gone are days of not caring for my self or what junk I ate. Here to stay is a celebration of beautiful
food, that nourishes my body and my soul. Here to stay is community
around a table with loved ones and dreaming of going on to experiencing the
whole world through its stories and flavors.
writes from a deep well of experiences from running the Chicago marathon
to early morning breakfast with her toddler to traveling all over the
world to a terrifying hospital stay with her 10 day old baby to braving
the dreaded swim suit. I laughed out loud at the retelling of the
unannounced stop over a friend made while Shauna was home writing,
wearing pajamas with dirty dishes in the sink. Then I cried real tears
when Shauna wrote about the day baby Mac was born healthy and strong. As much as I love delicious food, the beautiful words in this book are even better.
favorite lines of the whole book are this: "...it's in these moments
that I feel a deep sense of God's presence and happiness. I feel honored
to create a place around my table, a place for laughing and crying, for
being seen and heard, for telling stories and creating memories. I do
sometimes feel a sense of God's presence when I write, or when I listen,
or when I read the Bible. I often feel that sacred flickering when I
hold my baby, or when I kiss Henry's eyelashes when he's sleeping. I
feel it when I look across the lake or when I see the ocean. But more
than anything I feel it at the table. Body of Christ, broken for you.
Blood of Christ, shed for you. 'Every time you eat the bread and drink
the wine,' Jesus says, 'remember me'."
My life group meets a few times per month and we always make sure we have a meal. One, because we all really like food, and two, because we've caught glimpses of this "bread and wine" thing... this every time you eat the bread and drink the wine, think of Me... We know that Jesus knew what He was saying when He made meal time the reminder. Eating is something we must do to stay alive. Eating is what we do three times per day. There is significance and beauty, power and presence, in remembering Him, every time. Body of Christ, broken... for me...
Head on over here, and order your copy of Bread and Wine.
Available April 9! Make some of the recipes included, savor the
stories, cry and laugh, and whatever you do, be sure to gather those you
love around your table.