On meeting God at The Table

 

Where do you go to meet with God. Thoughts from the Table. Liturgy of Life Reading group, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

 

On slow mornings I sip my tea, sit at the breakfast table and listen to the dreams of a four year old. As we finish our toast  I pull out a book of Bible stories, we read and then say our morning prayers.  Today we came to a story about Moses going up Mt. Sinai to meet with God.

God’s presence descends on the mountain, consumed with smoke and crashing thunder. The people are trembling with fear.  Moses and 70 elders ascend to worship and offer a sacrifice.  Then something even more amazing happens.  They see God,

“and they saw the God of Israel.  There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.”

And then these guys, surrounded by all this greatness, seeing God with their own eyes, the earth around them quaking, they sit down and share a meal.

 

“. . . they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (Exodus 24)

 

Not far back we were reading about Abraham and three visitors who come as angels representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   Abraham recognizes them as the Lord and before they say a word he has his wife baking bread and his servant slaughtering a calf.  They sit down and eat.

 

Is it possible that something as ordinary as eating could be crucial to our spirituality?

 

Food is central to so many stories of the Bible. Sin comes into the world when Eve eats the apple, God’s first gift after the fall is the flesh of animals for food, worship for centuries is primarily through the slaughtering and offering of animals which are then eaten, dietary restrictions are a central part of the practice of Judaism, God declares His grace for His people through the Passover feast, He demonstrates his faithfulness by feeding them with manna, Christ’s first miracle is turning water into wine, and His final time with the disciples before his crucifixion is a feast called The Last Supper.  In His death and resurrection we see the redemption of eating as we partake of His body and blood in the Eucharistic feast.

 

Yet food in our culture has been reduced to fuel, something to quiet our grumbling bellies and get us through our next task.  Its’ preferred form is a to-go box or better yet liquefied into a smoothie or squeeze pouch.  We understand it by its’ most basic nutritional elements, carbs, protein and fat, devoid of any value in its wholeness.  The traditions around preparation and consumption of food have nearly vanished from our society.

 

I don’t have any genius revelations here, only the observation, that if our Christian traditions or history mean anything to us then we may want to revisit food and I don’t just mean taking another glance at the doughnut table during coffee hour.  As Christians we believe that all of the world exists as a communication of God and that in offering what we receive back to God we are drawn deeper into Him.

In the preparation and consumption of our meals we partake of God and His gifts to us.  Of course this is still true if we are microwaving a frozen pizza.  It’s not that any one food or style of eating is necessarily holier than the other. But our pace of life and even our willingness to eat food in isolation or that isn’t carefully prepared, nutritious or even tasty, is affecting our physical health and is perhaps limiting our experience of God’s grace.

What does it look like to submit our food choices and our eating habits to God’s authority? How would we cook or eat differently if Christ was physically dining with us? (Because of course He is. He dwells in you and in me).

In a world that is overheating, with red faced politicians spewing hateful messages, with bombed cities and homeless refugees, with our own mind boggling schedules it may feel insignificant to spend an hour drinking a cup of tea or preparing a loaf of bread. But in the swirling haze, in the trembling and quaking, in our deepest fears, sitting down at the table and eating together may be the very place to begin to meet with our God.

 

 

This post was inspired by my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.by Barbara Kingsolver as part of the Liturgy of Life Reading Group series. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Liturgy of Life, Top Picks for Food Documentaries Inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Seven Quick Takes: My Favorite Food Documentaries Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable Miracle

Movies have been a rare indulgence for us around here, that was until this week, when we realized we could use my dad’s Netflix account for free.  Suddenly the world of cinema was at our fingertips and we didn’t waste any time.  Actually that’s because we were both sick as dogs and too tired to get out of bed, so we made the best of it and had a movie marathon (I love that I have a husband who actually likes watching food documentaries with me), our selections were inspired by the latest Liturgy of Life reading group book, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.  And because I was too sick to write anything more meaningful I thought I’d give a quick run down of our favorites.

1. Food Inc.

Top 7 food documentaries inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Start here, Food Inc. is well made and gives a thoughtful overview of what has gone wrong in the American food system.

 

2. Supersize Me

Top 7 food documentaries inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

A classic which started the contemporary conversations about the dangers of fast food. Well made, entertaining and educational.

 

3. Farmageddon

Top 7 food documentaries inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I’ll be the first to say this isn’t the best production, but the stories told are worth the watch. You will be shocked to see the extent that governmental agencies are going to in order to suppress the production of local foods.

 

4. Food Chains

foodchains

A look at the way our food system exploits farm workers.  A great reminder that every piece of food we buy from the grocery store was picked by a human hand and that human most likely earned only a penny for every pound they picked.

 

5. Food Matters

Top 7 food documentaries inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Not the most riveting in format, it is a series of interviews which provide a straightforward explanation of how food is both harming our health and can be used to heal and takes a look at why food as medicine has been entirely overlooked by our medical system.

 

6.  More than Honey

Top 7 food documentaries inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

A fascinating look at the honey industry, the way modern beekeeping is leading to a loss of our countries’ bees and what the future holds.

 

7.  Cooked

Top 7 food documentaries inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

 

A Netflix four part documentary narrated by Michael Pollen and based on his recent book. He looks at four different elements of cooking across culture and history with an attempt to regain some of the lost value found in cooking at home.

 

Still on my watch list are: Hungry for Change, Plant Pure Nation, Sugar Coated, Fed Up, The Kid’s Menu, Cowspiracy and GMO OMG

 

Hope you enjoy and let me know your favorite.

 

This post was inspired by my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.by Barbara Kingsolver as part of the Liturgy of Life Reading Group series. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Why I cook for my husband. Liturgy of Life. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Why I cook for my husband

I’m a modern woman and I have the credentials to prove it.  When I crossed the stage in my cap and gown they tacked MD to the end of my name I gained quick entrance into the professional world. My parents’ dreams were fulfilled, I stood tall on the weary shoulders of the women who went before me, paving the way into workplaces that only a generation ago were inaccessible to those of us with a double X chromosome.  I am not be intimidated by men in suits, and in fact when I’m holding a syringe over them those men are often intimidated by me.  I would not need a man to support me, my earning potential far exceeds that of my clergy husband unless he decides to pursue a career in televangelism. For a spell I was even the breadwinner of our family and my husband stayed home with our daughter. Our decision was met with applause all around. We were just that progressive.

The raised eyebrows didn’t come until we decided to change roles. I, aching for time with my little girl, and he itching to re-enter life outside our home. After many concerned phone calls the message was clear, my progress as a contemporary woman had actually limited my options in the eyes of many. Returning to the ancient vocation of  homemaker could only be seen as a step back into the dark ages.

It turns out that the change was good for us, all of us. He was able to more fully live into his skills and abilities, my daughter and I loved being together and I was able to pursue interests that I had never had time for before (hence this blog).  Joining the rank of housewife I could now dedicate myself primarily to caring for the people dearest to me, which for the most part, meant cooking for my family.

Why I cook for my husband. Liturgy of Life. Thoughts on Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I spend several hours in the kitchen everyday though I don’t exactly love to cook.   What I do love is sitting down to a nourishing table, knowing where my food came from and what is in it, having some idea of how it is acting in my body and most of all, eating something that tastes really good.

Cooking is a never-ending quest to me. I relish in learning how to take basic ingredients and turn them into all sorts of variety. Milk becomes butter, cheese, yogurt or ice cream. Tomatoes become marinara, salsa, juice or salad.  It turns out that all of the mystery foods that I imagined could only be created in factories, i.e., cream of mushroom soup, mayonnaise, fruit snacks, are relatively easy to make, tastier, less expensive and probably healthier when I make them at home and it’s a constant puzzle to get each one figured out.

Sometimes when I throw together a quick dinner with leftover sourdough pizza topped with olives, sauteed onions and mushrooms next to a pile of salad greens along with marinated beets, fermented sauerkraut, homemade feta and a handful of strawberries, topped in balsamic and oil with a squeeze of lemon that came from  my neighbor’s tree I feel like I might loose my mind in deliciousness and every hour of work that went into having that meal in the fridge feels so worth it.

This year have I committed myself to preparing lunch and breakfast.  In the past I  felt like those meals were meant to be eaten on the go, no reason to dirty a plate, let alone a pan.  But the reality is three times a day we are hungry and we are going to eat.  If I don’t cook for my family, someone else will and that someone doesn’t care near as much about them as I do.  They won’t make sure that they get a serving of greens with each meal, they won’t add turmeric and ginger and garlic and oregano, all of which add flavor and medicinal value, they will be glad to feed my family with the lowest quality, lowest price ingredients tolerable and pocket our money without a second thought.  So nowadays I cook and I love on the people I cook for in a way that no one else can.

This isn’t meant as a criticism of you if cooking isn’t your thing or if life just really does not allow you to cook as much as you would like, none of us have mastered this, we are all a work in progress. This also isn’t meant to insult those families where men have chosen to stay at home or are the primary chef in the family, you guys are awesome and I love the example you are setting.  What this is meant to be is an affirmation of all those millions of women who spend their days in front of fires and stoves stirring pots and flattening tortillas. It is a plea to recognize that an empowered woman does not have to wear high-heels or a pant suit, we can don our dusty aprons and still demand to be taken seriously.

I cook for my husband because I am a modern woman and I love to feed my family.

 

This post was inspired by my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.by Barbara Kingsolver as part of the Liturgy of Life Reading Group series. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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A Tribute to Sourdough in Seven Easy Recipies

While most of the country is enjoying the bounty that the end of summer brings our farmers markets are bare and our fields empty.  I’ve been watching you harvest pears with a watery mouth and pangs of jealous.  September in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is our least productive time.

But our time will come.

In fact while the rest of the country prepares for winter we are planting.  In another few months when the north has long digested it’s last ripe peach we will be hauling in vine ripened tomatoes.  But for the moment we are hungry and stepping outdoors still feels like entering a giant oven.

The solution, of course, is to stay inside and bake in a real oven, with the air on.

A tribute to Sourdough in 7 recipes from Liturgy of Life

Last year ago a friend introduced me to baking with sourdough.  Prior to her instructions sourdough sounded like a code word for an ancient mystery food that I was sure would be impossible to use.   I heard rumors that it was alive, and even worse, needed to be fed?  I was intimidated.

At that time I didn’t know that until the 1950’s nearly all bread in America was baked with sourdough.  The invention of commercially produced yeast caught on for it’s ability to raise bread quickly and more consistently than household starters but millions of loaves had been and are still being baked without it.

Sourdough for all practical purposes is a pot of water and flour that has become inhabited by natural bacteria and yeast.  When it is mixed in with new flour and water the sourdough starts to eat and begins turning that flour into an edible treasure.

Sourdough has several advantages over conventional yeast breads.  First and most important is the flavor.  Fermentation (fancy work for a specific type of digestion) of the sugars in flour by the cultures in the sourdough create new and unique flavors which will vary from starter to starer. This process also reduces both the sugar level and gluten level in wheat products. While bread leavened with sourdough still does not qualify for your low carb or gluten free diet it is notably easier to digest for people with sensitivities.  Sourdough also helps to break down phytic acid ( a naturally occurring substance in wheat known to make digestion difficult) and helps to release micro-nutritients making them more available for us to digest. Plus sourdough stays fresh longer and the flavor actually improves as it sits on the counter for a few days.

Sourdough has its particularities and the process of baking  does take longer but it isn’t any harder than any other type of bread baking.  My starter only needs to be fed once every three weeks, so I simply bake every three weeks and make three loaves of bread and stick them in the freezer.  At that time I can also feed my starter extra if I want to do any other baking. So here are some ideas to get you inspired.

 

Top 7 favorite sour dough recipes:

  1.  Make your own sourdough starter: It is not as hard as it might sound, or buy one here.
  2. Basic Sourdough Bread: This isn’t actually the recipe I use. Mine is a hand me down photo copy, but honestly this one is simpler and I might try it next time.
  3. Pancakes: These are the best. First of all these are the only pancakes I’ve been able to consistently cook without them burning or sticking. They are light and fluffy and don’t leave you feeling over stuffed like conventional pancakes. It is worth having a sourdough starter just for these. I use butter instead of Olive Oil as this recipe calls for and I don’t add water, but I suppose it depends on how thick your sourdough starter is.  I usually make extra and stick some in the freezer.
  4. Biscuits: This first recipe is for a long ferment, which means you have to plan ahead but you get more of the benefits of sourdough.  This recipe doesn’t include a ferment time, they are fast, easy and delicious.
  5. Pizza Dough:  Easy and consistently good. I also make these ahead, bake them for 5 minutes or so and then freeze to use when we want to make a quick pizza.
  6. Crackers: Easy and always a treat.
  7. Pasta: Making your own pasta sounds like a gourmet food, but seriously it is only three ingredients. A pasta maker is great if you have one but you can also roll and cut rustic noodles by hand. I dry them and then store them in the back of my fridge.

 

Let me know what you think and send me a picture of your latest sourdough creation!

 

This post was inspired by my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.by Barbara Kingsolver as part of the Liturgy of Life Reading Group series. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

 

For more blogs featuring lists of 7’s check out this link up.

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