Bread & Wine

Y’all. I got to be an advanced reader for Shauna Niquist’s new book, Bread & Wine. This is my first time to be an advanced reader! I can’t tell you how honored and excited I feel about it all. Shauna’s books have been speaking to me for a long while. One of my facebook quotes that still speaks deeply to who I am is from Shauna’s first book, Cold Tangerines (my blog post, here from wow, 2008):

” . . . Because feeding the people I love is a hands-on way of loving them. When you nourish and sustain someone, essentially, you’re saying that you want them to thrive, to be happy and healthy and able to live well.”

I first met Shauna at a women’s conference (I cringe just typing it) back in 2008 and she recited Needle and Thread (read it if you haven’t already) and brought me the tears. And folks, I am not a cryer. I bought Cold Tangerines right then, brought it home and read the same short story to my husband and we both sobbed together (it was a good cry, not a sad one). I went on to gift the book to many and devoured it several more times myself (ha, pun intended).

Her second book, Bittersweet (my post from 2011 here) met me right where I was at that particular moment in life. I had not come to terms with my postpartum depression and so much of what she wrote about hit the bullseye of what I was feeling. I still find myself reflecting, similarly that “In some moments, it seemed to me that the stalls of that {farmer’s} market were more sacred and nourishing than any church I’d ever been to, like life itself was there, reaching out to me, with dirty fingers like carrots.”

Obviously, we have similar views on food and faith.

bread&wine_cover_artSo when I read about her newest book, Bread & Wine, I was thrilled. So much of what had stuck with me from her previous books had been food related. A whole book about community around the table. Yes.

Food is one of those things that defines who I am. I have so many memories of cooking struffoli with my grandma and lasagna with my mother and cake after cake after cake. Growing up, dinner around the family table was very important, especially on Sunday. It was a time to relax, enjoy each other’s company, chat about the trivial and the important. I cooked for my roommates and the random stray guys that just ‘happened’ to show up around dinner time all through college. We are always hosting dinner parties. Book club? Just an excuse to feed you and try new hors d’oeuvre recipes. My family is defined by our willingness and fervor to feed the people around us. If you show up at one of our houses, we will feed you. And it will be delicious.

While reading her stories about community around the table, many of the chapters resonated with me. Oddly enough, what I keep returning to, what I’ve found myself describing to friends, is Shauna’s chapter on running. I am likely one of the least athletic people you have met. It may not look that way, my mom has blessed me with ‘good genes’ as many like to say. I generally am pretty slim. But Lord help us all if you catch me trying to dance. My body and I are at odds with each other – as Shauna says, “I’ve always had the sense that something fundamental between my body and soul was disconnected, like a very important wire got cut at some point…” That is why I read, I sew, I knit, I cook, I sing, I draw, I paint, I design, I code. I am not an athlete and I have repeated that mantra to myself from a very young age. But, now, as a 30 year old, I have quietly been getting up at 5:45am and running. This has been happening for months now, and I am slow to mention it, slow to call myself a runner, even when my doctor, after listening to my lungs, asked if I was a runner. But, again, Shauna… “Each week I was surprised at what my body could do, this body I’d long suspected, squared off against, blamed. In the same way that giving birth had connected my to my body in a new and meaningful way, the training gave me a new respect for my body, for what it could do, for how strong and powerful it was.” I am experiencing that in some small way with my running accomplishments. “I tend to believe the worse about myself – I could never do this, I’m not that kind of person, I’ll always be like this, or I’ll never be able to get over that… And then I remember that people can change. Thank I can change. That the same old refrains can get rewritten, and that all it takes sometimes if paying attention to your tears, and ignoring that voice that tries to hypnotize us with next year, next year, next year.” Such an encouragement to me.

But really, on to the food! I meal planned around the recipes in the book for a couple of weeks and had very good success!

Goat cheese biscuits – divine. One of many reasons I could never go paleo. Breakfast quinoa – a surprise hit, very nourishing and sustaining. Maple balsamic pork tenderloin, (please forgive me Shauna), maybe not our favorite version of pork tenderloin, but still very good.

Bread & Wine

Mar-a-Lago burgers – delish. I had to sub a cranberry chutney instead of mango and it was still delicious (and cranberry with turkey, yep). The goat cheese scrambled eggs were not quite my favorite (I think I may have left them too runny, the texture made me gag) but all was redeemed with the bacon-wrapped dates! I have made them before but stuffed with parmesan. The honey goat cheese (thanks HEB) was a delicious change. Oh and the mushroom risotto. Everyone should know how to make a basic risotto. This one was perfect. We made delicious risotto cakes from the leftovers for dinner and several lunches (half the recipe if you are cooking for a family of 4 or smaller!).

Bread & Wine

And y’all, don’t fear the ingredient list of the mango chicken curry, it all came together beautifully. And tasted beautiful as well. Even my picky three year old loved it!

Mango Chicken Curry

This book should release tomorrow (or at least, that’s what Amazon says). Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. Even if you have never cooked a meal in your life, this book may inspire you to cook your first. And Shauna’s stories speak to your soul. Something about her rhythm, the words she chooses, the phrases she weaves… I relate so deeply.

 

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7 Comments Bread & Wine

  1. elliek April 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Fabulous review! And I know you cringe when you say you went to a women’s conference, but I have such good memories of our time together!

  2. Cynthia April 8, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I’ll come eat any time you are cooking :). Your blog posts on food make me HUNGRY!!

  3. sniequist April 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

    What a beautiful post–thank you! XO

  4. Jenny Smith April 10, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Wow, there is sooo much I don’t know about food! What a lovely post. You and this book seem like you were fated for each other.

  5. Sheri April 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    The posts that you share just a bit of your heart are always my favorites!!! I am loving this book right now – and I have also balled through the marathon chapter (and the next chapter after that). Sometimes it feels as though we put chains on ourselves and create our own boundaries on who we are and what we are capable of doing. God is showing me this year (“Freedom” is my word for the year) that there is more to me than I think, more to Him than I can dream of. Chain by chain, God is showing me what it means to live freely.

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