Category Archives: cooking

Reading 2013: Bread & Wine


At this point in my life, it is rare that life should bring me to tears, though sometimes books and movies get me closer to that point (well, along with too little sleep). But a book about food? There were no heaving sobs, but Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist kept simultaneously me laughing out loud and wondering if my watery eyes would turn to flowing tears.

Bread & Wine is profound, moving, deeply spiritual, and deeply human. It’s about hoping and healing, feasting and fasting, learning to love and to accept love, learning when to hold others close and when to let go, and learning to weave together the rhythms life. Most of all, it’s about learning to gather together and embrace community and hospitality, particularly for those of us who are the people of the bread and wine.

This unique book recipe blends part spiritual memoir and part cookbook (although Neiquist insists it is not, maybe a “collection of recipes,” then?) to create a flavor all its own.

Niequist’s book will undoubtedly be on my list of favorite reads for 2013. Although I haven’t yet tried any of the recipes, the spiritual lessons are simmering away on my heart and mind. (And hopefully, I’ll make Shauna’s recipe for blueberry crisp before we eat all the blueberries the kids and I just picked!)

Shauna’s husband discovered that he had a gluten allergy, and many of Shauna’s friends have had to live with food restrictions. Her book is geared in such a way that most of the recipes are friendly or easy to adapt to diets with special limitations, particularly gluten free. (Which is good, since my gluten intake since return to the States has hit me hard with some side effects this week.)

Going into this book, I didn’t realize who the author’s father was, and I hadn’t read anything by Niequist prior to this book. Realizing who she was might have changed my perception of the book, though she certainly doesn’t she bask in the limelight of her father’s religious fame.

This is a book that offers real life and transparency without idolizing transparency or basking in brokenness. Particularly, Shauna deals with his struggles with fertility and body-image.

Evangelicals who hold to the belief that Scripture teaches total from alcohol may be a bit uncomfortable with Niequists frequent mention of enjoying alcoholic beverages (after all, the title is Bread & Wine), but I think even many who take such a position would readily take value in the overall message of the book.




From Our Kitchen: Pot Roast over Cheesy Ranch Grits

I spent nearly a decade of my life deprived of the culinary sensation commonly knowns as grits, technically known as boiled enriched white hominy. (But who even calls it that?) Upon my arrival to college during my seventeenth year of existence, I was finally introduced to what I assume were instant grits. They actually weren’t too bad, and I usually got them when they were served. Yet, that exposure wasn’t sufficient to warrant further, self-initiated consumption or preparation; it would not be until over ten years later that I would actually consider making them myself: enter a recent lunch at High Cotton, one of Greenville, South Carolina’s lovely establishments dishing out exceptional southern cuisine. (more…)

In the Kitchen: Mini-Meatloaves and Cheesy Potatoes

Several weeks ago, I was wondering what to make for my brother-in-law’s birthday meal (his response for a special request was “anything’s fine”). I had recently pinned a recipe for creamy cheesey potatoes and mini-meatloaves on my Pinterest boards, and decided they’d probably make a good combo. They did. In the words of my two-year-old, I should call this “Yummy, yummy, yummy meat and potatoes.” A hearty eater herself, there was not much left when we finished the meal, though her favorite was definitely the mini-meatloaf. She ate two. I ate one. :)


Pizza Rolls

Here’s an easy variation on the crescent roll recipe that I posted earlier this month: pizza rolls! I split the dough, making half into pizza rolls and half into crescent rolls, giving me 8 crescent rolls and 8 pizza rolls.

I simply added 2 eggs to the recipe (did the mixing and 1st rise in the breadmaker), and then used some “pizza” ingredients to fill them, let them rise another hour and baked like the crescent roll recipe.

In our case, the pizza ingredients included a small swipe of sauce, a slab of fresh mozzarella, some sprinkles of Parmesan, a dash of seasoning, and one pepperoni cut into quarters per roll. We ate them for lunch.

The extra eggs made them (and the crescent rolls) very light and fluffy. I’m thinking about adding another egg just to experiment, but at 4 eggs the dough already overflowed out of the breadmaker. :) At our current baking rate, we’re going to need a chicken to keep up with eggs. Actually, Hana Kate is since she’s the primary lover of baking in our house.

Baked Pancakes

Here’s a fun variation to the normal pancake flipping–bake them! It’s great if you want to cut down on preparation time or want to serve them all fresh out of the oven. It makes a great Sunday morning breakfast. (Or just any time…like this morning! :) )

Just mix up batter for 8-10 pancakes (using a mix or homemade batter), pour into a casserole dish (pictured with a 2 quart dish), and bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

And, oila, you have “pancake casserole!”

The time and temperature may vary a bit, but this is what I experimented with, and what worked for me. We love berries in our pancakes, and we like them thick with grains–so that’s what I did here, too.