My friend Jessica told me about the release of this book titled, Bread & Wine by an author who's name rung a bell from way back when. Her name was Shauna Niequist. I remembered hearing about her from one of Rob Bell's sermons way back in 2007. So I did what any person would do..."a google search." I then checked out her second book Bittersweet from the library, and felt the salve to this weary postpartum mama soul.
I later emailed Shauna to see if I could get an advanced reader's copy of the book. It began my "be bold and ask for what you want" stage of life. I would receive an email confirming my name on the advanced reader's copy list. It came.
What I found from Bread & Wine, and Shauna.
I found a kindred spirit who happens to live outside of Chicago, wife to a musician and a mama to two boys, an extroverted foodie gatherer of the table. I found a lady I'm certain is gifted with the pen and writes out of her heart on these pages of Bread & Wine. I found a woman who isn't perfect, but an encourager at heart to keep at it, which I mean, keep at the cooking, the eating, the gathering, the joining of this life together.
What I can tell you is if you come to Redeeming the Table reading my humble words, then Bread & Wine will fit right at home in your heart. It's as if Shauna and I had a couple coffee & dessert chats, and she wrote my heart; but, did a better job than I could have done. At every turn I found myself saying aloud, "I've done that," or "I'm the same way."
Connecting through the Preparing of Food
There was one recipe, Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burgers, which intrigued me. It wasn't just the burgers, but the story she told about making them. It was summer and she couldn't get into a writing groove, wasn't sleeping and not reading nearly as much. What she did would be my response as well...cook in the kitchen.
There is a monotony in chopping, slicing and dicing.
But, last Thursday, when I probably should have been focusing on cleaning the house with our 7:00 class arriving, and it was 4:30 (I also needed to have all three girls asleep by then), I made these turkey burgers. I began by making my own homemade mango chutney, then proceeded to pare the Granny Smith apples and chop them up. Next was the green onions and celery. As I stood there with attention on the blade cutting through the celery stalks, I listened to my girls play and I prayed.
There is a mindfulness, which comes from routinized mise en place cutting. It brings out the real, tangible, aesthetically invigorating smells & tastes of life. Could it be Mary the Mother of God stood in the kitchen preparing a meal when the Angel Gabriel came before her? And could it be that God meets us in these ordinary places as He speaks life sacred into us?
I find my home in the kitchen.
Sometimes it's filled with a weary rush, racing the clock to get the meal done. But, when the baby is sleeping, and the older two are happily playing together, I can take my board, chef knife and food and feel like I'm contributing something real to the abyss. It's in the remedial, where the abyss of anxiety lessens, and I see the gift of grace. God whispering,
"Smell the dry sour of the Granny Smith apple. Feel the water within the cut of the celery. Listen to the chopped food dancing on the sizzling coconut oil."
Later that night, I served up turkey burgers that didn't taste like turkey burgers. I didn't follow the recipe's directions of letting them chill, but it didn't cut into the taste. We didn't have a side of vegetables, because I didn't have time. All we ate was turkey burgers topped with Mango Chutney Mayo, and I didn't feel one ounce of guilt about it.
Homemade Mango Chutney (printable recipe)
Okay, so I had to make my own mango chutney, because that's just who I am. I knew I had frozen cubed mango in my freezer from Trader Joe's. I picked up some red bell peppers and figured everything else was at home. What I like about making my own is I get to decide what sugars I want in it and how spicy. I used real maple syrup to sweeten.
2 cups cubed mango, frozen or fresh
1 cup white vinegar
1 onion, diced
2 Tb finely minced fresh ginger
1 diced red bell pepper
1 1/2 Tb curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper chili flakes
1/4 cup dried cherries, or golden raisins
In a medium pot over medium heat, combine mango, vinegar, onions, ginger, red peppers, curry powder, salt, and maple syrup. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to bubble, while stirring occasionally. You will want the mangoes to break down a bit, but not all of them. Turn the heat down to low, or a simmer.
Keep it on low, checking in on it with stirring. Add the dried cherries and chili flakes. It probably takes about 20 minutes to cook it on the stove, but could take 30 minutes. Really though, it's very forgiving and it's all about giving it time to soak up the spices and break down the mangoes. What you don't want is to turn the heat on too high and cause it to burn. Baby it to a degree and let come together.
If you want more heat, then add more chili flakes. Use it with the turkey burgers, on top roasted chicken, or scrambled eggs.
Turkey Burgers (printable recipe)
Shauna recommends having at least three or four hours to prep these burgers, as it takes two hours to sit in the fridge before grilling. However, I found that I didn't refrigerate mine and they turned out well. Granted, they weren't as formed, but dinner needed to be made and served. That said, take your time and relax in the making of these burgers.
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
Coconut oil or Olive oil
4 pounds ground turkey breast
1 Tb salt
1 Tb black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
(I left out) 2 dashes Tabasco
Saute the green onions, celery, and apples in oil over medium-low heat until tender. Allow it to cool (or do what I did and not follow the directions).
While the mixture is cooling, make the special sauce. Mix chutney, mayonnaise, ketchup, and Tabasco (if you like). Adjust for heat and then refrigerate until serving time.
Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sauteed items and the remaining ingredients. Shape into 12 burgers (what I found was the recipe made much more than 12 burgers, so I just made some now and then formed them into patties and made the rest later). Refrigerate for two hours (or just get a hot well oiled cast iron pan and make it right then, because you decide to make them in dinner's eleventh hour).
Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill set to medium-high heat. Grill each side for 7 minutes until meat is thoroughly cooked. Ensure there is no pink left. I served these by themselves with the special sauce on top.
Disclaimer: I wasn't paid to promote Shauna Niequist's Bread & Wine. These are my opinions and I think you & your table would be more full in the reading of this book. So get on it and order it. It was made available last week on Amazon.