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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bread and Wine

This is a picture of my grandmother, affectionately called "Big Mamaw" or Mamaw Skinner, with my three kiddos and a couple of their cousins.  Some of my favorite and most vivid memories of my childhood are the Sunday afternoons after church services spent at Mamaw Skinner's house.  All of the family, and I do mean all including our family and every single one of my mom's brothers and sisters and their families, would have Sunday lunch at Mamaw's house.

There would be all manner of food spread on her table.  And there was always her Goulash, which was a mixture of spaghetti noodles, hamburger, onions and bell pepper and ketchup and I think sugar.  I say "think", because all the grandchildren and great grandchildren  have tried to cook Mamaw's Goulash.  I've even had her on the phone with me talking me through how to re-create this dish...and never quite tastes like Mamaw's.  We love her Goulash.  Even now when she knows anyone is coming for a visit, guess what is inevitably going to be served?  You got it...her Goulash!

After those Sunday lunches at Mamaw's were over, she would simply cover the dishes and lay a clean sheet over the table to cover the food.  The rest of the afternoon was spent with kids playing outside and adults talking and some maybe napping inside.  When everyone got hungry again, Mamaw would remove the sheet from the table and leftovers would be consumed before returning to evening church services down the road.

With the rise of obesity in America and so many diet fads being portrayed as the only way to live, food has been reduced to just another thing to fear, worry and fret over.  And that's a shame, because the table and food offers so much more.

I bet you have your own stories and special memories and I would venture to say that many of them have taken place around a table covered with food much like my grandmother's on those beloved Sunday afternoons of my childhood.

Shauna Niequist shares stories much like the one I've shared in her book Bread & Wine:  A Love Letter to Life Around The Table with Recipes.

Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.
She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac.
Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.
Shauna Niequist's previous books are Cold Tangerines, and Bittersweet.

You can connect with Shauna through her website at as well as through Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook.

Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. A funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir, Bread & Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two. 

In Bread & Wine, Shauna shares stories and recipes.  And to be honest the stories are what make the recipes so appealing; recipes like Watermelon Feta Salad, Blueberry Crisp, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Annette's Enchiladas, Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, Mango Chicken Curry, Sullivan Street Bread, Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee, and Nigella's Flourless Chocolate Brownies.  The book's uniqueness is the combination of story, recipes, cooking tips and spiritual application.  I've never seen anything quite like it!

Hear Shauna herself give a glimpse into her book and the reason she wrote such a unique offering in these two video clips:

I'm excited about having this collection in my kitchen.  It has challenged me to embrace hospitality with my own little family and others that may grace our home and share fellowship over a meal.  Because after all is said and done, it isn't really about the house being immaculate or the dishes all's about the people and what happens between them around the table of fellowship and the Greater work of God.

*Thank you Julie Busteed with Handlebar Publishing for sending the complimentary copy of Bread & Wine for the purpose of this review.



Laura N. said...

Beautiful review! I loved this book.