March 28, 2014

Bread, wine, and dinner at home

by Shauna Niequist

This is everything I look for in a book.  It's uplifting.  It's encouraging.  It's real.  There were moments of tears. I needed to read this book, at this time and in this place. There's so much I could talk about here, beginning with the fact that I read it in two days and then I was in the kitchen, hard at work.  Bread and Wine is a memoir of life-lessons and advice, based around recipes.  In my opinion, all recipes are based around life-lessons.  In fact, the best recipe sharing comes from not daily anecdotes, but from the story behind the recipe.  Especially those from our childhoods.  I need to share more like that.  Shauna's recipes are simple, classic, and straight-forward.  She's had me craving macaroni and cheese for a week…
I'm so glad I bought Bread and Wine and I plan on gifting it to others.

How I knew this book was for me:

Tell me you eat toast.  Tell me you love cheap candy or fake cheese. ...I know there are people who see food primarily as calories, nutrients, complex bundles of energy for the whirring machines of our bodies.  I know them, but they're not my people.  They're in the same category of people who wear sensible shoes and read manuals.  Good people, but entirely foreign to me. (page 16)

I firmly believe that food is a love language.  My response to helping people is to bake them cookies.  I would rather cook you dinner than buy you dinner because that's how I show that I care.  It's not a chore to me, and I do wake up each day thinking about what's for dinner.

A quote in Bread and Wine from Winnie the Pooh:
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. 
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing, " he said.  (page 19)


The best thing that has happened to us in the last 4 years is that I've learned how to cook.  Seriously.  Before we got married, I wasn't good at it.  I've always loved to bake.  Much to my mother's dismay, I held no interest in cutting up raw meat or eating vegetables regularly.  Things have changed for the better.  Since I really started compiling recipes a few years ago, dinner at home is the standard around here.  As long as we're not traveling, we rarely go out. When we do, it's usually for sushi, which is something I don't want to bother with at home.

These are some of the recipes that are regulars in my meal-planning.  I must say that they are all relatively healthy; no casseroles, no heavy sauces, just basic kitchen ingredients.

(I would go on and on about how I believe the key to a better, more balanced diet is cooking dinner at home, not eating out. But you've probably already heard that and I'm not certified to tell you such information anyway.)

I've shared my personal favorite dinner recipes a while back, but here's a collection of my favorites from my Pinterest boards.  
They all come highly recommended by us!

Crockpot Meatballs.  Perfect for a weekend and they freeze really well.

Thai Chicken Broccoli Slaw.  So easy and delicious.

Lettuce Wraps.  I have no words for how good these were.  We ate the whole pan in 20 minutes.

Crockpot Balsamic Chicken. Super tasty and smells amazing.

Cilantro Quinoa.  The best way to make quinoa.

Pesto Salad.  I love the barley.  

Gnocchi with Corn and Zucchini.  Very rich-tasting.  Incredibly easy because it's made with packaged gnocchi.

The Best Spanish Rice.  An easy side dish we make for company.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken.  Make a batch over the weekend.  Use it throughout the week.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos.  We eat these at least once a week.  Don't skip the cilantro and lime!

I spend more time than I'm willing to admit looking for new recipes on Pinterest.  This is just a sampling of what I've made more than once.

Someday I'll start posting more of my own recipes again…someday…I'm just looking to be inspired, I suppose.


  1. I'm so with you. Cooking is my love language. I can almost 100 % guarantee that's why my marriage with J is so much better now than it was in years past--because I've been allotted the time to actually prepare his meals for him (not in a 1950s wife way, but sort of I guess--I like it). My heart goes into food. It just does. We had friends visit last week and the husband kept insisting he order us pizza for dinner "because you're working so hard in the kitchen--too much work! Save it for dinner tomorrow, relax, hang out with us." No. I grew up in a house where we all hung out in the kitchen while my mom cooked meals. All of our important conversations, every tear, every laugh, was in the kitchen. I love the way you share your life AND food on this blog--you do it so well, friend. You just do. Because when I first started reading your blog I had no interest in recipes and yet I came back every day. Also--thank you SO much for sharing your go-to recipes. Now that J allows himself to eat carbs (praise jesus), I'll definitely be adding these to our rotation! <3 <3

  2. I don't love cooking just for the sake of cooking (my grandpa does, and I've always found that strange), but I love cooking as a skill and as a service and as meeting a need. And, honestly, I really, really enjoy the food I make, which is a pretty good motivation to eat at home, anyways!

  3. Im glad you liked it! It was definitely one of those books that made me want to write and cook all over again. I've made the white bean soup, the simple mouse, the maple tenderloin, risotto and steak au poivre (with out the sauce, but seriously, never occured to me that I can make steak on the skillet when kev isnt home to man the grill). They are all awesome!

  4. I loved the quotes you put in this post so much I went and ordered the book at Barnes & Noble!
    I used to not cook because I never needed to, but since moving to Kansas and getting married, cooking is something I love to do!
    Thanks for the book recommendation!

  5. I looooove cooking. And baking. It's definitely a love language and how I like to show people I care...I think the hardest part of marriage so far, though, was learning that my cooking was NOT Isaiah's love language. He enjoys it and appreciates it, but there are other things he'd rather I do than just cook for him.

    So...I make up for that by baking his coworkers stuff all the time. Cupcakes for all their birthdays, etc.

  6. I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. I'm pretty good at following a recipe to make something good. I'm NOT good at creating/inventing or altering things too much. (Aka I'm not adventurous in the kitchen. My biggest cooking fear is making something new that I mess up or isn't good. Wasting food makes me feel incredibly guilty. Many nights I come home, and I'm furious that I have to make dinner because I'm tired. If I don't make dinner, I can't eat, which makes me even angrier. lol I much prefer cooking in the summer when I don't have to work! :)

  7. I'm very happy that I cook at home. I couldn't at first... but gaining that confidence has made the kitchen my happy place!

  8. I'm intrigued by this book.

    I enjoy cooking when I make the time. It's just not always possible.

  9. I followed you over from Joey's blog! So excited to see someone else read and loved this book. I gave it to a few friends at Christmas. Food is so much more than just food to me and I loved all the stories in this book!! :)


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