As many of you are keenly aware, last weekend was Easter. Most likely you gathered around your grandmas, parents, or even your own table to share a meal together. We live thousands of miles away from our family tables where those meals are happening, and we can picture everything so clearly in our minds, it almost does feel like I can smell my Aunt Mary’s fresh baked bread wafting through the kitchen.
We are, however, fortunate enough to be a part of someone else’s family table here in Connecticut. A table where everyone squeezes in, and babies flank the corners with yogurt covered faces and the tiny cut up green beans mixed with cherrios and juice. Where a princess placemat serves as a placecard for the tiniest guests, and the yellow chair is a hot commodity. Where board games come out along side the last bites of dessert, and guests turned friends are endured to one other over glasses of wine, cups of coffee and the last pours of a local brew.
Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bread and Wine, is truly a love letter to life around a table such as this. Her voice through the pages is so genuine, her stories so vivid and her choice of recipes give fresh vision & guidance to life’s basic needs: nourishment for body, and nourishment for soul.
“The table reminds us that we’re human, that God gave us a sense of hunger – and that’s a good thing. It’s like an internal timer that sends us back to this meeting place, this place where we can connect and be nourished, not only by the food, but by the conversations that we have there.”
So even more so on that sunny cold Saturday, Andrew and I were hungry. For that family dinner, however perfect the appetizers laid out to however messy the table abandoned by the kids to return to their playtime. And we’re blessed enough to say we are nourished.
So before you open another tab to pre-order this lovely book on Amazon, know that I’m giving away a copy of Bread & Wine. Giveaway is open from 8am to 8pm (EST), Friday, April 5th. You will receive the book the day it’s released, Tuesday, April 9th (either hardcopy or Kindle version – your choice). Simply tell me this, when you come to the table, how are you nourished? A favorite recipe? A favorite group of people? What do you taste, smell, or see?
Nigella’s Flourless Chocolate Brownies
from Shauna Niequist’s Bread & Wine
These brownies were the perfect addition to our Easter dinner around the table, and trust me even after scraping the dish clean – we dove in for seconds long after dessert was over. Try sticking them in the fridge for round two – divine.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups almond meal or ground almonds
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter over low heat in a saucepan, stirring until glossy and smooth.
Take the pan off the burner, mix in the vanilla, sugar, and almond extract, and let it cool for just a few minutes.
Stir the eggs into the saucepan, then add the ground almonds and chopped walnuts and stir again. The batter will be a little grainy at this point because of the almonds, but don’t worry a bit.
Pour batter into an 8 by 8 pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top has set but the brownies are still a little wiggly. Let cool completely, then cut into 16 small squares.
*let me tell you we cut these into 8 SQUARES. Still good? Better. 🙂
*I didn’t have almond extract so I doubled the vanilla
*I didn’t have enough chocolate chips, so I subbed 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 cup chocolate chips
*we did one with and without walnuts, both were delicious in their own ways with their own personality!
Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.