The Table | Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

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.

breadandwineshaunaniequist
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.

Ingredients
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

Instructions
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.

Author: Alicia Sturdy

Fan of cities, the beach, wild curls and Ina Garten. Photographer and owner of Hither & Hold.

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  • Alicia! I love Shauna! And I love reading your beautiful posts and looking at your beautiful photos. I miss you, dear friend. Our family eats dinner together every single night at the table. I’ve realized recently that this isn’t totally normal. But I can’t imagine any other way. It feels like the one thing that roots us all back together at the end of the day. Life would feel so chaotic without that one sacred time of the day to be together. So. That is how we are nourished at the table 🙂

  • Alicia, I adore Shauna’s books! They have actually served to nourish my soul in some of the roughest seasons I’ve experienced over the last few years. Your writing above actually reminds me of Shauna’s – I had to do a couple double-takes back to the top to be sure that it was actually written by you. 🙂 And your brownie recipe – YUM! Might have to make that my Sunday afternoon splurge. Thanks for sharing! On to your questions . . . I have experienced some of the most healing, joy-filled moments around various tables with friends & family. I am most definitely nourished – body, mind, & soul – by the experience of “breaking bread” with people I love. Sharing good food in good company is easily my favorite way to experience community. My favorite recipe would be 7 minute rich & creamy polenta (http://www.food.com/recipe/7-minute-rich-and-creamy-polenta-54029). That, paired with a homemade red sauce (usually sausage, tomatoes, kale, fresh rosemary & thyme, onions, & whatever else is hanging out in the fridge or produce bowl in the kitchen cooked down on the stove) & a good red wine is to die for. My favorite group of people would definitely consist of my housemates (my best friend & her husband) and some other dear friends from my church. When I’m sitting there, I see rosy cheeks, eyes alight with pleasure at the scents and tastes and conversation, heads thrown back in laughter, backs sinking lower into chairs as bellies bulge and friends realize how much they’ve overeaten. The smell of the food & wine is nothing less than intoxicating; and the taste – heavenly. That may be a bit longer than you bargained for, but there you are. Can you tell I want the book? 🙂

  • My absolute favorite table is ours and it always has room for more…this week it will or has hosted a young widow, my niece and nephew, a friends kids and a teenager who just needs a place to connect…it’s a beautiful place.

  • Alicia! Great post! I definitely think that the people I’m with make turn a meal into table fellowship. I’m all about good food and enjoying what you’re eating but the friends and family we gather with is what makes it meaningful for me. I love sitting around a table and sharing story and food together.

  • Yo A Sturdy! Your blog is magnificent! So clean yet cozy and pretty. Those brownies look pretty awesome too 🙂
    Can't wait to win the free book, lol!

  • Alicia- your site looks lovely! love all the photos and i’m definitely all about dining together with family or friends…..all to often we just ‘go go go’ and don’t stop to sit and enjoy meals together. that’s one thing that i will strive to continue to do with my growing family! hope you’re doing well! 🙂

  • hey girl, this is so cool you are doing this! i just got cool tangerines and i love it. plus i’m going to a book signing next week to meet shauna niequist 🙂 for me i love being around the table with my little family. cj and i used to eat way too often in front of the tv, but now having nola we see the importance of eating at the table together.

  • Hey from Chicago!! For me it is about the people as well. I love being creative with my cooking, but it is really about the conversations that will happen over the food!!

  • Love you, your blog, and all your beautiful photos and pretty paper projects. I’m thinking I need to find a reason to employ your services!
    For me, lately, it’s been all about giving–about inviting the people who have gathered around me during a difficult time in my life to come enjoy what is sometimes the only thing I can offer them in thanks for their friendship: tasty food, nice wine, and a few hours of authentically appreciated company. It’s about giving thanks to these people and giving myself permission feel just a little bit glamorous by offering a little reprieve from the monotony that life often turns into.

    Okay, now I want to go cook for someone! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Hi friend! Loved your post and Shauna’s wise words. For me, when I come to the table, I am nourished by community. Whether it’s with just Eric or with a group of friends, I love that “the table” becomes the equalizer – we can talk at equal levels about life, love, faith, etc. There are always delicious smells and eats but it’s the vision of a warm room with the sounds of laughter that really make coming to the table special for me.

  • The table I remember the most is the table of my spiritual mom, Missy. She and her husband were hunters so I had my first steak of deer meat and potatoes around her table. I remember the black peppercorn and sweet sauce she made along with it. I was surprised how much I loved it. I remember feeling like I was family even thought they were white and I’m black. To me, that’s the beauty of the table of believers.
    I love your blog and this book sounds amazing.

    ~Osheta