Thursday, June 20, 2013

Come to the table.

"This is what I want you do to: I want you to tell someone you love them, and dinner's at six. I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter. I want you to light a burner on the stove, to chop and stir and season with love and abandon. Begin with an onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and go from there, any one of a million different places, any one of a million different meals."  --Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine 

I've never considered myself to be at home in the kitchen. I'm a rule-follower, I'm afraid of failure, I don't like messes, I have a million other things to do, a million other places I'd rather be. It's never made my heart sing.

Lately, I'm finding myself surprised by my time in the kitchen. I'm embracing the mess and taking my time and breathing deep and slowing down. I'm realizing the Other Things can wait. I'm finding that it's a great place to connect with my kids, that they love to help. I'm discovering that I am capable of creating things to nourish not just bodies, but hearts as well.

I'm learning that when I fill others up, it fills me up too. I'm seeing that the kitchen can be a good place to start, a good place to love, a good place to be.

Lately, I'm beginning to see the sacred value of the table. I'm starting to view it as a sacred place, to understand that the simple act of inviting others in to share a meal creates a safe, sacred space in an uncertain, harried world.

I took Shauna's advice today and invited some friends over. I didn't spend days planning or hours shopping or minutes fretting. I called, I invited, I used what I already had on hand, and we shared a simple meal on a regular old week day night around an ordinary table.

Pizza casserole, green salad {+goat cheese, pecans, Craisins}, homemade bread maker bread, fresh fruit, fresh squeezed lemonade.

From someone who is just beginning to embrace the kitchen, I can tell you none of these things were hard. Simple ingredients turned extraordinary because of the nine people, big and little, gathered around the table.

I love how Shauna writes, near the beginning of her book, that when she first started entertaining she served frozen California Pizza Kitchen pizzas to nearly all her dinner guests. Her advice: start where you are.

Let's not get hung up on the fancy or the perfect or the just so. Let's do as Shauna suggest and simply come to the table.

Here's an easy peasey sort of a meal. A staple in the early years of our marriage which is now making a comeback because the kids love it. It's also one of my favorites to bring to a new mom (throw in a salad and some garlic bread) or to stick in the freezer for busier times ahead.

Pizza Casserole

12 oz. spaghetti
2 eggs
1/4 C Parmesan cheese + extra for top
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or other ground meat)
1/2 chopped onion
2 jars pizza sauce
1 C mozzarella cheese
pepperoni + other favorite pizza toppings

Boil noodles; brown beef with onion, salt & pepper. Mix cooked noodles with egg and Parmesan. Layer in a 9x13 pan (or two 8x8's): noodles, meat, sauce, mozzarella cheese, noodles, meat, sauce, pepperoni + pizza toppings, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan.

Put foil on top to keep cheese from getting brown. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Take foil off for last few minutes.

"I want you to stop running from thing to thing to thing, and to sit down at the table, to offer the people you love something humble and nourishing, like soup and bread, like a story, like a hand holding another hand while you pray. We live in a world that values us for how fast we can go, for how much we accomplish, for how much life we can pack into one day. But I'm coming to believe it's in the in-between spaces that our lives change, and that the real beauty lies there."       --Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine


  1. Summer is the best time for impromptu dinner parties! I find that one way to determine how close you are to somebody is to look at how much you feel that you have to clean your house before they come over. My best friends know that I'm completely opposite as a neat-freak and so I don't have to worry about cleaning before they come over.

  2. Love this. Love the people around this table :)

  3. Blessed by your table. Thank you for filling us up!

  4. Inspiring! Thanks, Katie! (Why do we let our not-so-good habits control us?)


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