‘Round the Table

table2Oven dinging, glasses clinging, and guests arriving are just a few sounds which make my heart flutter. I thought I’d share a book I have thoroughly enjoyed that has encouraged me to connect with others around the dinner table: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

My hubs gave me this book along with a bottle of wine and some new wine glasses for Christmas this year. It has truly been a book I’ve carried around the house from room to room perusing through the pages filled with relatable stories and recipes. Niequist writes with a… move those clothes over and sit on the couch for a while sense of transparency. The book extends an invitation for us to open our hearts to people by breaking bread with them at our dinner tables. Niequist writes: “Bread is the food of the poor and wine the drink of the privileged, and every time we see those two together, we are reminded of what we share instead of what divides us.” Breaking down barriers between people can be as simple or as complicated as we make it. There’s something rare about the time we spend with others ‘round the table after bellies are full and glasses are refilled – a moment in time that is both irreplaceable and intimate.

Rarely do I use the cookbooks that are given to me; however, this one hasn’t left my counter top. It is acquiring stains and smells that will seep deep into the essence of the book leaving a story behind worth sharing. For instance, my friend Anj Wiley and I attempted Niequist’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee for the first time over Christmas. I am, by nature, a burner of everything, so I recruited her for moral support and backup in case my pot started to scorch again. We read and reread the directions before starting, added all the right ingredients, and began the process of stirring. And stirring. And stirring some more. Patiently waiting for the “definite turn… when the soft yellow blooms into amber,” as described by Niequist, brought on this conversation:

Me: “Have we ‘bloomed’ yet?!”
Anj: “I got yo’ ‘bloom’ right here!”
Me: “What does ‘bloom’ have to do with cooking anyway?”

Sure enough… luscious caramel-colored streaks began forming (aka blooming) and we were beside ourselves. I couldn’t believe it. It was working. A sense of accomplishment and confidence washed over me so much so that I’ve actually made it several times since then.

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Cooking has taken on a more adventurous outlook these days because of a day spent in the kitchen with a dear friend and a new book. So far, I’ve found success with the White Chicken Chili, Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs, and Breakfast Cookies. These meals are dear to me because of the intent to share with others in order to break down barriers ‘round the table. Each recipe in the book has a short snippet of real life attached with loads of truths smothered in between. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”

“I want to dare to exist and, more than that, to live audaciously, in all my imperfect, lumpy, scarred glory, because the alternative is letting shame win.”

“When the table is full, heavy with platters, wine glasses scattered, napkins twisted and crumpled, forks askew, dessert plates scattered with crumbs and icing, candles burning down low – it’s in those moments that I feel a deep sense of God’s presence…”

Take time to invite the neighbors in, even when the clothes are on the couch and the pots are boiling over. Break barriers and cultivate community by sitting, sipping, and savoring moments ‘round the table.

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