Finding Comfort Around the Kitchen Table

Bread and Wine By: Shauna Niequist

What happened at the Boston Marathon today was horrifying. In fact, the past few days have been tough. Last week we learned a young family friend has cancer. Friday we found out an amazing person and her husband experienced a horrifying, unexpected situation. Today we watched as bombs went off at the finish line of one of our country’s most prominent marathons. These past few days have been filled with pain, confusion and a need for comfort. Not only for me,  but for many people in my life, the running community and this nation. These are situations that impact so many people. So many good people. This is a time to remember what’s important in your life and to hold your loved ones close.

I recently read Shauna Niequist‘s new book, “Bread & Wine.” Shauna is a powerful writer whose words have had a big impact on many people in my life. Her writing is honest, relatable and exactly what I needed over the past few days. This isn’t the first time I reached for one of Shauna’s books for a little direction, and it won’t be the last. In “Bread and Wine,” Shauna encourages readers to start cooking and invite loved ones over to gather around the kitchen table. Whether you are serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a three-course meal, the moments around the table aren’t necessarily about the food. While a great meal won’t hurt, the moments are about being surrounded by loved ones sharing stories, exchanging laughs, wiping away tears, making memories. At the table, we are fed and nourished at every level.

The book is filled with short stories of cooking and entertaining encouragement. Today as I watched the events unfold in Boston and I thought about these past few days, I had a need to be at the kitchen table surrounded by love. With short notice, traveling family members and the last bouts of a flu, I started considering other ways to find comfort. Then I remembered a line from Shauna’s newest book: “What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re at home. If you create space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”

It didn’t have to be perfect. I looked past my excuses, called my brother and made plans to make enchiladas. Dressed in our pajamas and with the Minnesota Wild game on, we sat around the Ottoman (ok, so it’s not the kitchen table) and talked about recent events, our family and who would make the NHL playoffs. We shared stories, discussed evil and even laughed. Turns out, once again, Shauna was right. It didn’t have to be a perfect dinner party, it just had to include a meal and someone to talk to. We often talk about comfort food, but maybe it has more to do with those we share the meal with. Don’t get me wrong, a big plate of mac n’ cheese or gooey enchiladas can turn around a moment, but friends and family can turn around a day, week, month or bad season.

Below is the enchiladas recipe we enjoyed tonight. It’s from Shauna’s book and turned out delicious. In “Bread & Wine,” she mentions Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Napa Valley‘s rule of three when it comes to cooking. The first  time make it according to the recipe. The second time, rewrite the recipe according to your own tastes. The third time, make it from memory. This enchilada recipe is the perfect place to try that. There are so many variations you could experiment with. But remember, it’s not always about the dish but instead who you share it with.

Annette’s Enchiladas (Serves: 6)

Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream 
  • 1 28-ounce can green enchilada sauce
  • 2 4-ounce cans green chiles, diced
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 12 small corn tortillas
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Cilantro (Optional)

Instructions:

  1. Mix green sauce with chiles and sour cream. 
  2. Smooth 1 spoonful of the sauce mixture around the bottom of a 9 by 13 greased pan.
  3. Simmer the chicken broth in a skillet, and before placing each tortillas in the 9 by 13 pan, use tongs to pass the tortilla through the broth for just a few seconds. If you leave the tortillas in the broth for too long, they’ll fall apart, so just dip each one in for a few seconds to soften it before putting it in the enchilada pan.
  4. Layer 4 tortillas over the first layer of sauce.
  5. After tortillas, add half the chicken, then one-third of the sauce, then one-third of the cheese.
  6. Repeat so there are 2 full layers.
  7. Finish with a layer of 4 more tortillas, the remaining third of the sauce, and the remaining third of the cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees until warmed through and the cheese is melted, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  9. Let sit at least 15 minutes before cutting. Top with chopped cilantro, if desired.

I received a free advance copy of “Bread & Wine.” This did not impact my thoughts on the book or the content of this post. I truly love and find value in all of Shauna’s writing. I hope you enjoy it too! 

To purchase “Bread & Wine,” click here.

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One thought on “Finding Comfort Around the Kitchen Table

  1. shauna April 16, 2013 at 4:18 pm Reply

    What a beautiful post–thank you! XO

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