She works with willing hands.

Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis

Well folks, October 2016 has officially been one of the hardest months of my life. As I recently shared with you, I was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with myelitis and spent several days in the hospital at the beginning of this month. At the peak of the myelitis, I could not feel my body from my clavicles down (with the exception of my left arm and hand, which, for unknown reasons, never got very numb). Since that time, I have experienced dramatic physical improvement in certain areas of my body, while other areas remain numb and/or tingly. Specifically, my right hand remains profoundly numb. However, all of my motor functioning remains intact, and I can again feel my feet, legs, pelvis, and abdomen.

On Thursday, October 20th, I visited a specialist at Penn Neurology, and he assigned to me the diagnosis that I so desperately feared – Multiple Sclerosis, or MS. The type of MS that I have is called relapsing remitting, meaning that exacerbations of the disease, or relapses, come and go. If you are curious, you can read more about the disease here.

Even before I was diagnosed on the 20th, I started taking Vitamin D and fish oil, and I reluctantly began modifying my diet, largely cutting out sugar, dairy, gluten, and a host of other potentially inflammatory foods. I am currently following a modified paleo diet, and I am learning as I go. In fact, Saturday night I prepared my first paleo meal from scratch, start to finish. Because I delight in food and all things related to the table, changing my way of eating and cooking is a huge lifestyle change in and of itself. I hope to share my new recipes and techniques with you in the coming months. For now, however, I am learning…slowly but surely.

But beyond the diet changes, physical symptoms, doctor visits, future MRIs, and the MS drug that I will now inject myself with three times a week, the events of this month have left me emotionally shaken, and mentally overwhelmed. And in some ways, I am grieving.

I am grieving the life that I thought I had.

I have no medical history of which to speak. I have always been healthy, and with the exception of overscheduling my way into periods of physical exhaustion, I have taken care of my body. I teach exercise classes and I eat whole foods. I wasn’t supposed to end up with a chronic disease, for which there is no known cure.

But here I am. MS is my new reality, and I don’t understand why.

However, during this awful October, I have experienced God’s love in powerful and tangible ways – ways that I’ve never experienced before – ways that I will share with you in the days and weeks to come. I desire to share my experiences with you because even in the midst of my suffering, I know that God is good. He is sovereign over all things, including my MS diagnosis, and I trust Him. I may not understand His plans for me, but He is my strength, and my hope is in Him.

isaiah-40

Photography by Lindsey Calabretta Clark.

Trader Joe’s Highs and Lows

As a foodie, I heart Trader Joe’s, and it’s been a while since I’ve done a TJ’s Highs and Lows! Here’s what I’m digging (and not so much) right now.

My high:

mango candle

Okay, it’s not a food item, but you should immediately go buy as many of these mango tangerine candles as possible. At $3.99, they smell every bit as fantastic as far more expensive candles. I have an unlit one in my powder room, and the space smells amazing. Go buy one. Or twelve.

My low:

jalapeno olives

Okay, these TJ’s jalapeno stuffed olives aren’t awful. They’d be just fine in a pinch. However, they aren’t nearly as tasty as Mezzetta’s jalapeno stuffed olives (which I love and devour). (Is it strange that my current late night snack obsession is jalapeno stuffed olives?)

Honorable mention:

yuck

No, Trader Joe’s. Just no. This is a low if I ever did see one.

 

When Life Gives You Lemons…

After a long hiatus this summer, I’m happy to say…I’m baaaaaaack. I continued writing this summer, but just in other places and ways. I hope to share all of that with you when the time is right. But in the meantime, let’s talk about one of my favorite things – Supper Club!

This was me last night, fully embracing August’s Supper Club theme, “When Life Gives You Lemons.”

lemons

Lemon drop in hand, checking out my girl Erin’s fab greenhouse, my calm appearance belies the fact that I have a raging summer head cold. But when life gives you a summer cold, what do you do? You make a dish containing lemons and go to Supper Club. It is one Friday night of the month not to be missed.

I’ve written about Supper Club in the past. We are a group of nine friends – wives, moms, and children of God – who share a passion for community and food. One Friday each month, we gather at one of our homes to share dishes that are meaningful to us, while we talk, laugh, and discuss life – both the sweet and the sour parts. There is always a theme, chosen by the host, and each of us brings at least one dish to share.

Our suppers are not about perfection or showing off for each other. Kitchens are often messy, toys decorate living rooms, and sometimes we help each other salvage recipes that went a little south. We aren’t all awesome cooks, and it doesn’t matter, because that’s not the point. The point is to open our doors, push together our tables, pull up the mismatched chairs, and thank God for our relationships, and for the messy imperfection of life lived in community. The point is to live life together, through both the sour and the sweet.

Don’t let your desire to be perfect prevent you from throwing open your door. Just do it! Love the people around you, in their own imperfection. Love them right where they are. (This is Jenn, looking beautiful. I love her so much.)

jenn

Last night, we started off with a quartet of hummuses prepared by Karen. They were beet & lemon, spicy carrot, garlic, and herb with sweet potato.

hummus

They were light, fresh, and delicious.

Then there was this:

lemon basil butter

Maggie prepared this lemon & basil butter, and if no one was looking I would have eaten the entire roll myself. It was INSANELY yummy.

Lindsey made citrus sangria.

citrus sangria

citrus

How pretty is that?

Before we gathered at the table, Maggie set out these amazing little lemon sorbets as palate cleansers:

palate cleanser

They were such a gorgeous little treat.

That’s us.

assembled

We laughed until our bellies were full,

e&j

and then finished the meal with lemon cheesecake, and one of Amy’s famous bundt cakes. (This was her gluten-free lemon poppy seed version.)

Amy's bundt

Our night came to a close around the fire pit, where we spoke about joys and struggles, and sought advice from each other. We comforted each other, and reminded each other that we’re not alone in this life.

fire pit

As women in our mid-thirties, we’re beginning to comprehend that all of us, without exception, will taste the sourness of life’s troubles. Collectively, we have faced health problems, miscarriages, marital conflicts, familial estrangements, career transitions, financial hardships, and parenting challenges. We understand that life is hard, and trials are many.

But life is made much sweeter in community, and through our shared hope in Christ. We point each other to Him, and to the promise of the Gospel, which has the power to change the sourness in life into the sweetness of a relationship of reliance upon God.

Without question, life will hand all of us lemons, but what will we do with them? Will we close our doors tight, and avoid the imperfection of relationships? Will we fail to love each other? Will we refuse to be known? Or will we throw open our doors, and our hearts, to each other, and to Jesus – who has the power to turn lemons into something much sweeter than lemonade?

fire

Many of the photos in this post were taken by a woman that I love like a sister, Lindsey Calabretta Clark. As a camerawoman she never gets much face time, so here she is, in all of her sweetness (making me laugh, like she always does):

LCC

Fresh Corn Salsa

Last Sunday night, Jersey Boy, the littles, and I headed to Lindsey‘s house for an impromptu summer dinner. She invited us over because she had some extra steaks lying around, plus some sugared strawberries, and a chilled bottle of Prosecco (which was in desperate need of being drunk). Faced with such a paltry menu, it was hard to say yes to her invitation, but we didn’t want to seem ungracious, so we piled into the SUV and headed straight over to the Clark Ranch:

clark ranch

Completed right after the Great Depression, Lindsey’s home is granny chic in all the best ways. With a huge backyard filled with raised garden beds, herb patches, tidy compost areas, zip lines, trampolines, playhouses, several patios, and a sweet outdoor fireplace, the Clark Ranch is the perfect property for Lindsey and her hubs to slowly renovate to meet their large family’s needs. We love spending time there.

This was waiting for me when I arrived:

prosecco

Not a terrible way to greet someone.

I contributed to the meal by making my fresh corn salsa. I had the equivalent of three-and-a-half ears of boiled corn left over from the day before. Not one to let good food go to waste, I grabbed the corn, plus this stuff:

corn salsa ingredients

I used one-third of the red onion, and the limes were small, so I used two of them. You could also make this recipe with one large lime. The green herb is cilantro, and those are jarred jalapeños. Add the peppers to taste, depending on your heat tolerance.

I also used extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper.

sea salt pepper

Begin by cutting the corn off the cobs.

coc

Separate the kernels, and throw the corn into a bowl.

Now pop open your can of black beans, and pour the beans into a strainer.

cob

Rinse off the slimy yuck in which the beans are canned. Then throw the beans into the bowl, too. Take a sip of your beverage.

beans in bowl

Next dice your jalapeños, nice and small. The number of peppers you use in the salsa is purely dependent on how much you enjoy their tangy heat. I like to add more, rather than less.

Dice your red onion. I used one-third of a large red onion. Again, the amount of onion you add is really a matter of preference. Salsa making is far from an exact science.

Throw the jalapeños and red onion into the bowl.

in bowl

Next chop two tablespoons of fresh cilantro. (I prefer to chop mine finely. I don’t love big chunks of cilantro.)

Juice your limes, and pour their juice in with the other ingredients. Then add three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Give it all a nice toss to combine, and dig in.

salsa with chip

This is so tasty that tortilla chips are optional. Eating it with a spoon, or as a side dish, are perfectly acceptable options. Make some this weekend and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

3 and 1/2 ears of cooked corn on the cob

1 can black beans

jarred jalapeños (to taste)

1/3 large red onion

2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

juice of 2 small (or 1 large) lime(s)

3 tbsp. evoo

sea salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

Strawberry Cobbler

My clan spent Memorial Day morning mucking around in a strawberry patch at a sweet little local farm. It rained the night before, and it felt earthy and real for us to get a little mud stained while harvesting our sweet strawberries.

A strawberry patch

In the warm weather months, I’m always keen to expose my littles to the realities of where our food comes from, and we regularly visit a rotation of local family-owned farms where hard work is a way of life. I want my kids to understand that many hands and sweaty brows go into delivering our food to the grocery store, and that strawberries don’t come from a plastic container. So we go picking. We get our hands dirty, and we appreciate our food a little more when we eat it.

strawberry patch

littles in strawberry patch

This is a simple cobbler recipe, and it’s perfect for using up a bounty of berries before they go bad. You can add vanilla extract or cinnamon to it to zhush it up if you wish, but I like this version’s pure simplicity. Making cobbler is less labor intensive than crafting a whole strawberry pie. There is no crust to fuss with; just throw it all together and pop it in the oven. It’s my kind of baking.

You’ll need three cups of fresh strawberries.

washed strawberries

My helpers cut up the berries.

helpers cutting

Pour your cut berries into a bowl.

pour berries

Grab your sugar canister. (Licking one finger and sticking it into the sugar bowl is sort of a tradition in our house. My sugar canister may or may not contain the germs of two little boys and one little girl. Accept a spoonful of sugar from me at your own risk.)

sugar fingers

Measure one-half cup of sugar, pour it in with the berries, and stir to coat them well.

stir strawberries

Set aside the strawberries.

Now you need one cup of all purpose flour.

cup flour

Pour the flour into a new mixing bowl. Measure two teaspoons of baking powder, one-half teaspoon of salt, and one-half cup of sugar, and mix them in with the flour.

Next measure one cup of whole milk,

whole milk

and grab one stick of butter.

stick butter

(That’s our dear old pup Lexis. At almost thirteen-years-old, she was our first baby.)

Melt the butter,

melted butter

and stir the milk and melted butter in with the dry ingredients.

My two youngest confirmed that the ingredients were well combined.

v taste

Grease a medium-sized baking dish (I used butter), and pour in the batter.

pour batter

Spoon the strawberries on top of the batter,

spoon strawberries

and pop it into a 375 degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden.

final cobbler

Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream. What a perfect start to summer.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 stick butter

 

Lindsey’s Basic Turkey and Cheese Deli Rolls

Today I’m showing you the last of a threesome of some of the tastiest finger foods that have ever passed my lips.  Last week I shared Lindsey’s Spicy Turkey Deli Rolls and her Horseradish Roast Beef Deli Rolls.  Today I’ll show you how to make her Basic Turkey and Cheese Deli Rolls.  They are straightforward and delicious, and they’re a good place to start if spice and heat aren’t at the top of your gastronomic preference list.

Deli rolls are a family affair for Lindsey.  She and her (four!) daughters buy their one pound balls of dough from their local and thoroughly old-school Conshocken Italian Bakery (also known for their killer tomato pies).

italian bakery

Yes, there is a lot of estrogen in Lindsey’s house.

Lindsey’s beautiful mama, Dolores, was the genesis of this whole deli roll genre.  When Lindsey and her siblings were youngins, Dolores would bake up piles of ham & cheese and sausage & spinach rolls to nosh on at soccer tournaments and between practices.  (They make an awesome game day mini meal.)

So thank you, Dolores, for not only spawning one of the coolest chicks I know, but for inventing deli rolls.  Your daughter and your deli rolls make my heart and tummy happy.  You rock.

Lindsey used her mom’s simple rolls as a launching pad to create a myriad of deli roll varieties, including her Spicy Turkey and Horseradish Roast Beef varieties.  Lindsey also makes a killer Cheesesteak with Sriracha Ketchup & Caramelized Onion Deli Roll (say that three times fast), and a Sauteed Garlicky Kale & Sausage Deli Roll.  My mouth waters…

Maybe one day soon I can twist Lindsey’s arm to show us a few more versions.

For today’s basic turkey and cheese version, roll out your dough ball, like so:

rolled out

Now slap on a layer of sliced havarti.  We used Boar’s Head brand.

havarti

Then add a layer of sliced sharp provolone.  We used Boar’s Head Picante Provolone.

Next you’re going to schmear on two types of mustard.

cheese on roll

Meet mustard #1:

mustard 1

Meet mustard #2:

mustard 2

Next add a layer of simple, thick sliced, roasted turkey breast.  We used Gourmet Lite Turkey Breast by Dietz & Watson.

turkey rolls

Roll it all up, rubbing some water on the area of the roll that will be sealed.  (Refer to the Spicy Turkey Deli Roll post for detailed rolling pictures.)

Fold up the dough to seal your roll, pushing with your fingertips to make sure it adheres well.

Give it a good roll on your work surface, making sure that everything is tucked nicely in place.  Now lightly coat the entire outer surface of the roll with water.  You want the dough to be tacky.

Next grab this:

granulated onion

Sprinkle your roll with the granulated onion, making sure it is evenly coated.

sprinkle roll

Grab your mezzaluna, or another cutting implement, and slice your rolls about one to one-and-a-half inches thick.

slice turkey

Place the cut rolls on a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper, and pop those babies into a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Let them cool for a few  minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

all rolls

That is a cooling rack full of goodness.  Make some for your mama this weekend!

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. dough

flour (for rolling surface)

sliced havarti cheese

sliced sharp provolone cheese

simple roasted turkey breast (thick sliced)

course ground mustard

dijon mustard

granulated onion

Lindsey’s Horseradish Roast Beef Deli Rolls

Earlier this week I shared Lindsey’s Spicy Turkey Deli Rolls.  Today I’ll show you how to make her Horseradish Roast Beef Deli Rolls.  These are little horseradish-y flavor bombs, and when paired with a simple side salad, they make a seriously easy and seriously craveable meal.

You will use the same process outlined in the earlier deli roll post.  Start by flouring your rolling surface, and then roll out your one pound dough ball, like so:

roll out

Lindsey’s pup, Fenske, is named after a building on the campus of her alma mater.  Can you guess where she went to college?

After you get your dough into a nice rectangular shape, slap on a layer of sliced provolone cheese.  We used Boar’s Head Picante Provolone.  It’s good and sharp.  Then throw down a layer of thick-sliced roast beef.  This variety came from Costco.

And yes, that last piece is a slice of turkey.  Deli rolls are more of an art form than a science.  Feel free to be creative and substitute when necessary.  I know this will drive some of you type A’s far from your comfort zone, but embrace it.  There’s beauty and surprising delight in the chaos of imperfection, even (or perhaps especially?) when making deli rolls.

Now plop on a thick mess of horseradish.  We used two different kinds.

horseradish

Meet horseradish #1:

horseradish1

Meet horseradish #2:

horseradish2

Grab your spatula and schmear your horseradish.  Lindsey was excited about this part.

schmear horseradish

schmear2

Our kids did some rolling and schmearing of their own.

help

Now roll it all up, rubbing some water on the area of the roll that will be sealed.

roll and v

Fold up the dough to seal your roll, pushing with your fingertips to make sure it adheres well.

Give it a good roll on your work surface, making sure that everything is tucked nicely in place.  Now lightly coat the entire outer surface of the roll with water.  You want the dough to be tacky.

Next grab your toasted sesame seeds, and sprinkle them on, making sure your roll is evenly coated.  Give it another good roll on your work surface to make sure the seeds stick well.

sprinkle sesame

Grab your mezzaluna, or another cutting implement, and slice your rolls about one to one-and-a-half inches thick, the same way we did when we made Lindsey’s Spicy Turkey Deli Rolls.

Place the cut rolls on a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper, and pop those babies into a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Let them cool for a few  minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

roast beef rolls

I’m making these flavor bombs for company this weekend, and my mouth is watering just thinking about ’em.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. dough

flour (for rolling surface)

sliced sharp provolone cheese

thick sliced roast beef

prepared horseradish

cream style horseradish

toasted sesame seeds

Lindsey’s Spicy Turkey Deli Rolls

I’m not blowing wind up your skirt when I tell you that these are one of my favorite finger foods of all time.

deli rolls

These tasty little rolls come straight from the creative mind of my favorite cooking buddy, Lindsey Calabretta Clark, and they are so.darn.good.  Lindsey makes a ton of deli roll varieties, and I’ll share the spicy turkey version with you today.  In the days to come, I will show you two more versions of Lindsey’s deli rolls.  We baked up a whole bunch of ’em while we chilled at her house last week.

I swear Lindsey should open a food truck and sell only these (and maybe some craveable side salads).  They’re so good, I’m convinced she’d make a bajillion dollars, but then she’d probably have mo’ problems…and no one wants that.  So maybe she should just stick with making them at home in her kitchen and sharing them with me.

Start with roughly one pound of fresh dough.  Lindsey gets hers from the Conshohocken Italian Bakery.

Flour your rolling surface…

flour surface

and roll out your dough like so:

roll dough

Notice the hat.

nuts

Sometimes you just gotta own it.

Lindsey

Lindsey has four daughters, aged four to ten.  Her life is anything but placid, but she’s full of joy.  She’s my kind of people, and I proudly call her friend.

This is what your dough should like look after it’s rolled out.

rolled out

Grab some sliced havarti cheese (this is Boar’s Head brand), and do this:

havarti

Next grab some simple, thick sliced, roasted turkey breast.  We used Gourmet Lite Turkey Breast by Dietz & Watson.

sliced turkey

Lindsey’s sweet pup, Fenske, likes the deli rolls as much as me.

Now grab this.

hoagie spread

This stuff is equal parts tangy and spicy…and oh so good.

Schmear it on in a fairly thick layer, and then start to roll.

spread and roll

And roll.

and roll

Next rub some water on the area of the roll that will be sealed.

roll and water

Fold up the dough to seal your roll, pushing with your fingertips to make sure it adheres well.  You want a nicely sealed roll.

seal

Give it a good roll on your work surface, making sure that everything is tucked nicely in place.  Now lightly coat the entire outer surface of the roll with water.  You want the dough to be tacky.

good roll

Next grab these.  We’ll use the toasted sesame seeds to season the outside of the spicy turkey deli rolls.

outside seasonings

Sprinkle your roll with the sesame seeds, making sure it’s evenly coated.  Give it another good roll on your work surface to make sure the seeds stick well.

sprinkle sesame

Grab a cutting implement.  This antique mezzaluna is perfect for the job.  Slice your rolls about one to one-and-a-half inches thick.

mezzaluna

Place the cut rolls on a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper,

cut rolls

and pop those babies into a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Let them cool for a few  minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

deli rolls

Nom nom nom nom.

And yes – they’re as good as they look.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. dough

flour (for rolling surface)

sliced havarti cheese

simple roasted turkey breast (thick sliced)

hot hoagie spread

toasted sesame seeds

No Crust Coconut Pie

This pie.  I grew up eating it.  It’s one of those recipes that my mom carted out only at holiday time, so it was a special pie, reserved only for occasions to be celebrated.

But I’m breaking that tradition.  I’m making this pie whenever I feel like it.  And I have three good reasons to support this departure from convention:

1. This pie is absurdly easy to make.

2. It is redonkulously yummy.

3. My kids love it.  For proof, see Exhibit A:

e loves pie

(No he did not pose for that.  Yes that is the face he actually made while eating the pie.)

So make this pie whenever you feel like it.  Make it on a Tuesday, or make it for a potluck.  Give one to your neighbor.  They’ll love you for it.

Speaking of neighbors, as I gathered my ingredients for this recipe I realized I was out of eggs.  Grrr…

Undaunted, I dashed to my neighbors’ house.

And I’m just going to stop for a moment to brag about my neighborhood.  No it’s not perfect, and no the houses aren’t all brand spankin’ new.  There’s a lot of dog barking and our yards are mostly small…but the people…well, they’re awesome.  And when we bought this house we gained some of the best next door neighbors imaginable.  And I mean that sincerely.

So I ran straight over to their house and asked for two eggs.  They needed a stick of butter so I grabbed one from my fridge to bring to them.  We work on a barter system around here.  It feels old fashioned and cooperative, and I am glad in it.

barter

Eggs retrieved and stick of butter deposited next door, I gathered my other ingredients.  Here they are:

coconut pie ingredients

Start by grabbing your blender.  My blender went kaput so I use my small food processor, and although it reaches max capacity to accommodate this recipe, it handles the job just fine.  Now grab a stick of softened butter, and then cheese for the camera.

cheese for camera

Put the whole stick into your blender or food processor.

stick in

Now grab the sugar.  My sugar canister needed a refill.

sugar canister

Measure one cup of sugar and add it to the blender.

sugar in

That’s a glass of my lifeblood (aka My Perfect Sweet Tea) in the background.

Now crack both eggs.

crack eggs

Make sure you have a strange smile on your face.

My helper wanted to join me for the next part, so we tied on her sweet little apron.

suited up

Then we grabbed the stool.

grab stool

For the next part of the recipe, you’re going to make self-rising flour.  Yes, you can buy self-rising flour from the market, but it’s simple to make, so I usually just prepare my own.

Grab a little bowl and measure one-quarter cup of flour.

grab bowl

Now find your salt and measure one-eighth of a teaspoon.

measure salt

Pour the salt in with the flour.

Then add slightly less than one-half teaspoon baking powder (do you like the precision of that measurement?), and stir to combine.

stir to combine

Now pour your self-rising flour into the blender.

pour in

Next measure one cup of milk.

one cup milk

And pour in it with everything else.

little fingers

Oh my gosh.  Look at those little fingers.

Now blend, making sure that everything is well mixed (no big lumps)!

blend

Pour it into a bowl, and taste a little to make sure it came out okay.

taste a little

Measure one cup of sweetened flaked coconut, pour it in the bowl, and stir.

coconut

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie dish, and sprinkle the top with the flaked coconut.

sprinkle

Pop the pie into a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes.

The little ones goofed off while it baked.

goofed off

And then voila!

voila

It’s perfect with a cup of strong coffee.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

coconut pie

Make this pie tomorrow.  It will be Tuesday, and that’s a good enough reason for me.

All of the photography in this post was done by my wildly talented photojournalistic friend Lindsey Clark.  Her ability to make any situation or setting look beautiful always amazes me.  She has an eye like no other.

INGREDIENTS

1 stick softened salted butter

1 cup sugar

2 whole eggs

1/4 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

 

Supper Club

grandmas table

Last Friday evening was Supper Club!  Spearheaded by my gal Jaime, a small group of us church girls recently started gathering monthly to eat, talk, drink, share, pray, laugh – and EAT.  Based loosely on Shauna Niequist’s cooking club from her fab book Bread & Wine, we take turns hosting, and select a theme for each gathering.

We’re a mismatched group of eclectic women – all so very different in backgrounds and interests – but with common threads that unite us.  We all love the Lord, and we’re all doing our best in this messy business of motherhood.  Oh, and we all adore food, and everything that life around the table represents.

As Shauna Niequist so aptly writes, “Something extraordinary happens when we slow down, open our homes, look into one another’s faces, and listen to one another’s stories around the table.”  I couldn’t agree more.  The time spent with these women nourishes my soul, much like their dishes nourish my belly.

This month’s theme was “dinner at grandma’s table.”  Lindsey was our gracious host, and we shared stories of our grandmothers’ recipes while seated ’round the table Lindsey inherited from her granny who passed away exactly seven years ago (almost to the date of our supper).

Like all well loved items, grandma’s table shows her age.  But much like grandma herself, she’s not self-conscious about her frailty or imperfections.  She’s lived a good long life, and she’s full of beauty and tales of meals spent with family and friends.  She even surprised us by losing her center support legs near the onset of our meal.  But it was nothing that a few resourceful mamas couldn’t rectify with a of couple of screws and some belly laughs.

table legs

table legs 2

With a few Italians in our group, our meal was deliciously heavy on pasta and red sauce, and Lindsey fried up some ridiculously thin and superbly yummy chicken cutlets.  Serenaded by the rich and scratchy sounds of grandma’s old vinyl records, we filled our bellies and laughed like we haven’t in months.

I made my grandma’s No Crust Coconut Pie, which reminds me of holidays spent ’round the table.  I’ll post the recipe soon, and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

As the meal concluded with a traditional Italian shot of Sambuca (to aid digestion, of course), we scurried to clear grandma’s table and clean the dishes (many hands making light work) before heading to our own homes filled with husbands (one each) and small children asleep in warm beds.

Until next month, Supper Club…my belly, and my soul will be waiting…

Photography by Lindsey Calabretta Clark.