Yesterday, I sent a note to a friend. She and her family have taken up my offer to visit CasaRock for good food, great conversation, and a night’s rest as they journey through Texas. I’m overjoyed. (That invitation is open to YOU too).
While the note could have been about any number of things, like whether or not she enjoys the sound of mourning doves at dawn or if anyone has an aversion to crazy-eyed rescue pups who love to sniff and snuggle, it was about food. I always ask about allergies and intolerances when filling the fridge. But goodness. Any more, the list of questions is so LONG. Who eats meat, bread, fruit, veggies? Does anything need to be prepared in any certain way or with any certain type of something in order to be suitable for consumption? Is a grocery store OK, or does everything need to be purchased at the farmer’s market? Is coffee on the good or bad list? What about wine? Is there a special water that’s needed? Do we need supplements for breakfast?
May I be honest? I worry a little about us – those of us who live in the United States, that is. I wonder if, in our efforts to find the silver bullet in what goes on our plate, we have made that plate an idol. I travel the world to write stories of hope, and I’ve never written one that includes the latest best-selling, hot-off-the-presses, “this is the one!” diet program.
I want us all to be healthy, for sure. I love trying new ways of eating, know which foods do a legitimate number on my body (sad face for milk), and it makes my day brighter when I can find something that brightens the day of someone who is really hungry for a good meal.
But more than that, I want us to be kind and gracious. And so, even now as I pray over the table that will be filled with wayfaring visitors-become-family (and grilled meat, veggies, whole grain bread, wine, and cookies and ice cream for dessert), I pray that we remember the divine health that comes in making folks feel at home.
It wouldn’t be #kitchentherapy without a couple of recipes, so I’ve got some biscuits and cookies for you (with apologies to anyone who is swearing off sugar or fruit or grains or using an oven to bake things). But right now, I’m praying for all of us here in the United States – that we’ll lay down our silver bullets – whatever they may be – and open our tables. I’m sharing something written during my “Jesus and coffee” time. It will be in the next “For You, Love” devotional (yes, Courtney and I are busy working on it now). It’s called Pull Up the Chair.
We’re in this together. We really are. We truly are.
Perhaps Onesimus was taken from you for a little while so that you could have him back for good, but not as a slave. Onesimus is much more than a slave. To me he is a dear friend, but to you he is even more, both as a person and as a follower of the Lord. If you consider me a friend because of Christ, then welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me. Philemon 1:15-18
Do you remember the moment you received the invitation, love? Do you remember what it felt like – your name hand-written on the envelope, the precious words inside that said, “there is a place saved just for you here…” Do you remember the moment you walked through the door and saw the bounty, or the moment you received the embrace, or the moment you heard the words, “sit here, friend?” I remember every small detail each time I see you pour out grace like coffee to refresh weary souls awakening after the darkest of nights.
You know how to pull up the chair, love. I know you do.
So I’m asking you now to do it once more.
Write this on the envelope: “You had no name to me – but now you do.” Write this on the invitation: “I never saw you as blood – but now I do.”
Prepare the feast for the one who you have ignored or blamed or forgotten, for the one with the different face or voice or life. Write the menu for the one who delights in a world unlike yours. Set the table for the one who has never seen the gleam of fine china or felt the cool comfort of a spoon in their hands.
Pour the wine. Be brave. Share your cup. Let them drink from it.
Pull up a chair, love. Pull up two. And I will join you as you join hands and say, “there is a place saved just for you here.”
(prayer) God of the invitation, would You steady my hand as I write names on the envelopes of those who have been in my periphery – the ones who I see but don’t know, the ones I’ve not focused on, the ones who I’ve chosen to walk around rather than embrace? Would You introduce me to the forgotten and ignored, the shunned and rejected? And would You fill the kitchen with the fragrance of hope? I need community, sweet Lord. You have created me for it. Please let me not be afraid to enter into it fully. Please fill every chair at the table.
CHARLIE’S BIRTHDAY COOKIESGLUTEN-FREE OATMEAL CRANBERRY COOKIES(makes 5 dozen small)1-1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix1 t. baking soda1/2 t. salt1 t. ground cinnamon1/2 t. ground allspice2-1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)1 cup butter, softened at room temperature1 cup packed light brown sugar2 large eggs2 t. vanilla (you know what I’m going to say – make it Mexican)1 T. honey1-1/2 cups dried cranberries, chopped roughlyOptional:1 cup chopped pecans1 cup white chocolate chips, chopped roughlyPreheat oven to 350. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a small bowl, stir in oats and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and honey, and continue to mix until well-incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Stir in cranberries, and add your optional ingredients (I made one batch of cranberry pecan and one batch of cranberry white chocolate). Drop by tablespoonfuls on parchment lined baking sheets, and bake for around 10 minutes or until the cookies look dry and golden brown. Move to cooling rack for a few moments and then savor.
TRISHA YEARWOOD’S ANGEL BISCUITSMakes 4 dozen beautiful gems5 cups AP flour1-1/2 t. baking powder1 t. baking soda1 t. kosher or sea salt5 T. sugar1/4 cup lukewarm water2 packages active dry yeast1 cup butter, cut into small cubes2 cups buttermilk1/4 cup butter, melted (for brushing the tops of those biscuits)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water with the yeast and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; stir until the yeast is dissolved. Let stand until bubbles appear, 2 to 3 minutes.
USING YOUR HANDS, mix the 1 cup cold butter into the flour, breaking the butter into small pebbles, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. It will take time, so don’t give up. It’s worth it!
Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk and the yeast mixture. Gently fold the flour into the wet ingredients. Keep mixing until a ball starts to form, then gently knead, 12 to 15 times, to create a smooth dough. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and press out to 1- to 1 1/2-inches thick. Fold the dough in half, press again to 1- to 1 1/2-inches thick, and then fold again. Cut the dough using a 2- to 3-inch round biscuit cutter, depending personal preference (2 inches makes a perfect biscuit, trust me). Brush the bottom of a cast-iron skillet or baking pan with some of the melted butter. Place the biscuits in the skillet; brush the tops with melted butter.
Bake until golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, depending on size. Brush again with melted butter and serve immediately (as if you could wait).