April 12, 2013

dinner, love, and open hands: part one of my bread & wine review

it's been the kind of spring that's turned me thoughtful. i've been spending a lot of time in prayer and in writing and in craving long talks with my girlfriends. since we aren't making a nursery for baby girl yet, i think this is my soul's way of nesting. we're getting good and comfortable and centered on the things that really matter.

it's also been a season of opening my eyes to the many blessing we've been given. do you ever feel that you compare up? i just find myself doing this all the time, and i make the excuse that it's easy to do in our town. everyone seems to have more than me. it's a heart-problem, and it's something i'm committed to working on. well, i've felt very convicted over the last few weeks that one way to combat my comparison issue is to live life with my hands more open.

to be more generous with my time, money, talents, possessions.
to open up my door and invite people into my un-perfect life.
to stop waiting for a new rug or a great centerpiece or enough matching chairs to have people over for dinner.

so we're doing just that. we're cooking good, simple food for friends and family.

it was in the midst of all this thoughtfulness that i was given the opportunity to read and review shauna niequist's new book, bread & wine. my friend sarah introduced me to shauna a couple of years ago when she wrote cold tangerines. reading her writing is like having coffee with a really insightful and eloquent friend, and she immediately became one of my favorite authors. shauna is basically who i aspire to be in a few years, plus, she's a westmont alum, which already makes her awesome.
shauna lists striped shirts as one of her favorite things. sound like anyone you know?
bread & wine is shauna's "love letter to life around the table" and reading it in this season of life has been perfect. it's not a cookbook, but it's filled with (delicious) recipes and life lessons learned through food and cooking and sharing life. it's great.

before the book arrived, i had really big dreams of hosting a large dinner party and cooking from the book. i would make centerpieces and be oh-so-blog-photo-worthy. but life got so busy and my belly made me so tired. after tearing through bread & wine in one weekend, i realized that shauna did not set out in this book to make me a domestic goddess. life around the table happens in small moments and big, in bad times and good. i scaled back my dreams and settled on the crux of the matter: opening my heart and my home whenever i could. we had two families over for dinner one night. from bread & wine, i cooked brannon's spicy cesar salad (pregnancy friendly, y'all!), farmer's market potato salad, and maple balsamic pork loin. shauna's recipes are simple, require no fancy equipment, and everything i made could be prepared and prepped ahead of time. it made the day really, really easy. our dinner was nothing too fancy, just real life. we didn't really have enough chairs. i didn't really clean. believe me, there was no centerpiece. there was a lot of chaos, one broken glass, toddlers begging the adults for bites of ice cream, good food, and even better laughter.

you know, all the best parts of life together.


would you like your own copy of bread & wine? i'm giving one away! to enter to win, leave a comment telling me your favorite meal to cook. good luck! i'll draw the winner next friday. 


  1. Becca,
    I LOVE cookbooks. I, too, try really hard to let go of the "my house whole has to perfect." Who am I, Ina Garten?

    My favorite meal is homemade pizza. It's warm, inviting, everyone loves it, I can make it carb & gluten-free for those who need it, and I feel like it's very laid back. Fancy because it's from scratch, but it's so familiar and from the heart it relaxes people.

    Love - Chrissy

  2. Ooh this book is calling my name!

    My favorite meal to make is my mom's lasagna. She always made it when we had a crowd coming over, and it's one of the first things I made when I finally got my own kitchen.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. my favourite meal to make is my mom's cesear salad - so easy and the taste never fails to impress, haven't met anyone that didn't love it :)

  5. Hmm, my favorite meal...that's tough. I love, love, love to cook, but my favorite meal may be the one made for me by my husband. He's a great cook, but he also spends a lot of time thinking through recipes and preparing ahead of time. Let's just say he's really into the "mise en place" method of preparation! By the time it gets to the plate it's infused with lots of love (and flavor!)

  6. So I've read exactly two blogs today (you and simplemom.net) and you're both talking about Shauna's newest book and doing a give-away. I'm feeling determined to win:) And even if I don't win, I it's going on my to-read list. Shauna and I are actually the same year from Westmont, and while I didn't get to know her in college, like you, I felt like I did know her after Cold Tangerines (which I'll add was such a good book!). Ok, for the recipe...for a while now I've been trying to find one really great recipe in each food category: dessert, main dish, soup, salad, appetizer, etc. Once I find "the one," I make it often and something I found online or in a cookbook starts to become a little bit more my own, making it easy to make something awesome for dinner guests. Probably my favorite of all of my favorites is a butternut squash soup recipe originally from Williams Sonoma, that I tweak a bit. It's always a hit. Hmmm...I'm wondering if this could spark a cool MOPS topic-- sharing favorite recipes!

  7. Great post, Becca! Tonight I'm having my in-laws over for dinner and I always experience a lot of anxiety- "will my mother-in-law think my house is too messy?" My favorite go-to recipe is always changing, but currently I love to make broccoli cheese quiche because of it's simplicity. I agree with Julie that we need to have a recipe exchange with MOPS.

  8. Becca, I love when you write, "i've been spending a lot of time in prayer and in writing and in craving long talks with my girlfriends. since we aren't making a nursery for baby girl yet, i think this is my soul's way of nesting." How beautiful! And, I wish I'd come to your dinner party with the salads. I want to try both but haven't yet. Like you, I really loved Shauna's book and can't wait to try more of the recipes.

  9. I've been hearing a lot about this book! I go through phases when I love to cook and hate to cook, I think it depends on how flexible I am in letting myself be inspired (which isn't easy when it can feel like a chore to make meals every night). Anyway, I think my favorite meal to cook is toss up between a coconut curry noodle soup and breakfast for dinner. Totally different, but cozy and warm nonetheless.

  10. My favorite meal to cook is one that doesn't take a long time and the least amount of dishes to clean up after, however, I think that this book might be just the right inspiration to make it more fun and enjoyable!


comments make my day. xo.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...