Written by: Janet Kibler
Edited by: Amber Crafton
Preparing food for family and friends is meditative for me. I love to experience the textures of the fruits and vegetables as I wash them, the velvety soft skin of a peach or the earthiness of a potato. The vibrant colors cause me to marvel at the creativity of God. I enjoy the fresh scent of cilantro and sneaking a taste of crisp sharp-sweet red pepper or tangy, soft kiwi when no one is looking. Nothing, I am convinced, can make me happier than a perfectly ripe slice of cantaloupe.
Imperfections are no disqualification. Overripe strawberries can be blended into a breakfast smoothie. That awkwardly shaped potato that won’t make it as an oven fry can be diced into a stew or mashed with turnip. Even the peels can be used to simmer a savory veggie broth. Much like life, nothing is useless, provided you have the eyes to see it’s potential.
What I love most about the process of preparing food and bringing loved ones together around the table is the connection it creates with what we put into our bodies and with those we invite to partake with us. When we are gathered together over a meal prepared with love, I believe something of that spirit can’t help but be infused into every forkful. You can see it in the faces around you and hear it in their laughter.
I encourage you in your busy lives to leave margin for enjoying meals together with family and friends. Jesus very much enjoyed fellowship over meals with his disciples and he used those pauses from his thriving ministry to invest in those closest to him. They provided time to explain the deeper meaning of his parables and to field their questions. Not only that, but by accepting the hospitality of those reviled by the religious elite of his day, he modeled a simple strategy for loving people deeply. Many a soul has entered the Kingdom of Heaven over dinner.
We can create a strong family culture by working together to prepare and enjoy a meal. Not only can children learn practical life skills, but that time is also a precious opportunity to share about each other’s day and discover together the deeper lessons hidden in the little happenings.
These times can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. Recipes don’t need to be complicated to be healthy. For a busy working couple or a family with many extracurricular activities, consider a service such as Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, or Blue Apron. The ingredients are bundled by meal and can be prepared in about 30 minutes. Our family has a weekly prep day (usually Sunday afternoon). The kids have their own set of knives and aprons, and we work together to prepare produce, storing everything in glass containers for the week ahead.
Connecting with people is more about conversation than a five-star meal. A friend of mine holds monthly “Soup Sundays” where she prepares a slow-cooker meal the night before. Family and friends brings rolls and sides. It is a lovely way to reach out with just the simple act of throwing ingredients in a crockpot. We have recently begun a tradition of potluck birthday celebrations that are prepared along a theme chosen by the birthday boy or girl. Everyone brings a dish to share, so prep and clean-up are a breeze. Some of the themes have included “German Smorgasbord,” “My Big Fat Greek Birthday,” and “Enchiladas Two Ways.” Before one of my dearest mom friends moved out of state, we would frequently take turns hosting a “Mom’s Sanity Dinner.” Both of our husbands often worked evenings, and, as many of you know, the days can be long and lonely with small children. The rule was that we had to pull together dinner using only what we had on hand. It would start with a phone conference as we each rooted through our kitchens in search of ingredients for a cohesive meal, each of us bringing a dish. It was always a blessing to have another adult to talk to while the kids played together in the next room!
There are many ways to use the gift of food to enjoy the people in your life. I would love to hear some of your ideas for creating connection, so please share in the comments. And don’t forget to try these two recipes for putting those potato peels to good use!