Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cooking my way through Bread and Wine

I loved the book Bread and Wine -- short essays/stories on love, family, hope and community - and how it all often happens around the table.  I grew up in a family that usually had home cooked meals and ate our meals at tables (for the most part...that became less consistent when we were in high school and had ballgames and play practices, etc.) We still enjoy sitting around the table whenever we are all home for a holiday or visit -- and usually, our request is for a cookout (What can I say? Southerners through and through.....)

This book challenged me to think about how I want mealtimes to look in our family (both now and with munchkins one day....) Dave and I cook most of our meals, but we don't always sit down at the table...part of this stemmed from necessity as we did not have a dining table for the first 4 months we lived in DC and it's been covered in boxes for the last month. Although we do usually sit down for dinner, it is often at the couch -- and I want to change that. Goal for the new apartment -- more meals at the dining room table.

And, hopefully, our dinner table can be the type of place that feels safe for our family - a place to unwind, laugh, vent after a long day at work; a place to hear stories of kindergarten, tests, soccer practice, art projects; a place to say evening prayers and discuss the Sunday sermon; a place to set out candles and grocery store flowers for our anniversary dinners and date nights after kids have gone to bed; a place for Saturday morning pancakes and pajamas; a place to decorate Christmas cookies and eat as many toppings as we can while decorating; and a place to blow out birthday candles and make wishes as each year goes by.

A childhood birthday

29th birthday -- if you compare the two birthday photos, apparently 
my mom's cake decorating skills improved as I aged :)

Saturday Morning Pancakes (my husband's family 
has a tradition of Saturday Pancakes)

Sweet Nephew decorating Cookies 

I also hope that it's a place that feels safe to others...that it's a place for church visitors to come eat Sunday lunch; a place for girls in dress up clothes to gather for tea parties; a place where family and friends stay up way too late catching up when they come to town; a place for teenagers to laugh and eat pizza and drink way too much soda; a place for those who can't go home for the holidays to come spend it at our house; a place for our kids to bring friends home from college; a place for wedding showers and baby showers and all type of celebrations; a place for girls nights and bottles of wine; a place where people feel free to cry, laugh and share.

Thanksgiving one year with family and friends - 
I've always been known to invite others over...and 
sometimes my last minute additions stressed my mom
out but it always worked out!

Our meager thanksgiving set up this year in DC

The Christmas table being set at my parents one year

It probably won't always be the same table. It certainly won't always be the same home.  And, as it happens now, sometimes these communal meals might take place in the living room or on the patio or curled up in pajamas with trays in bed (anyone else grow up with the occasional birthday breakfast in bed?) - but hopefully, the feeling created is the same. This is a busy, rushed, sometimes harsh world we live in, but for this short (or long) time each day, we sit down and this table and refuel - both physically and emotionally. (And you are welcome to come refuel with us!)

A NON TABLE meal: during the fall months, we spend a lot 
of meals in the living room, around the TV with tailgate snacks!

Another great aspect of Bread and Wine was that it included 20+ recipes that related to the stories she was telling. I have decided to make it my goal this fall/winter to cook through every recipe. (Something tells me my husband and our friends won't have a problem being my taste testers) These recipes vary from casseroles to soups to main dishes to desserts. Some recipes are healthy and some recipes are oh so deliciously not healthy.

And, while I am cooking my way through these delicious recipes, I plan to blog about these delicious foods, how to make them and whether we enjoyed the final results! I'm already two recipes into this challenge (both were amazing) and I can't wait to share!

(In case you were wondering (and you know you were...jk), my 
dream table would look something like this -- modern, hairpin legs, 
Eames-like simple right? Yep, but super pricey!) And 
no worries, I would hang artwork on the walls!


  1. What a fun goal! I'm reading another of her books--Bittersweet (I know, I'm behind on life) and I just love her!

    1. Not late at all, I had heard of Shauna but had not read any of her books until her Bread and Wine book became so popular! I highly suggest it -- maybe good honeymoon reading??

  2. The Breakfast cookies are my FAVORITE! They will rock your world. Can't wait to see what you cook!