>> Thursday, April 17, 2014
Once upon a time, I was given a book called Bittersweet. This book, read in a dark season of life four years ago became to me, a lifeline. I read each short story, one at a time, savoring and craving the words on each page and tucking them into my heart. I knew I was reading the book for a purpose, I just wasn't quite sure what it was.
Fast forward 3 years, when busyness had taken over. Life was more about getting things done, moving through the ebbs and flows of working full-time, being a wife, being a part of a church plant. But I kept going back to the book, it was a stirring, and eventually an idea was born. I struggled to explain the idea first to my husband, then over lots of late coffee nights with my friend Laura. They were extremely supportive, as they both knew for one of the first times, I felt truly passionate about something. So we tested it out a bit. First there was trials, then there were errors (lots and lots of errors), and then there were tweaks to the idea, until finally the end result is something that makes my heart amazingly happy.
On the first Wednesday night of every month, my house, my heart and most importantly, my table, is devoted to "my cooking group people". I love these girls, I love this night, and I LOVE being around the table.
The idea is simple really, "Do Life Together". There are eight of us, each coming from such different phases and walks in life, it would seem impossible for an outsider to look into the group and think it would actually work out and that we'd all find common ground, but it's amazing. We truly do just that. There are some of us married with kids, some married without kids, single, newly married, full-time out of the home workers, full-time in the home workers, 20's, 30's and 40's, and lots of cultures... all represented around my little dining room table.
You wouldn't think you'd find a single girl in her 20's drawn to lingering conversations with a stay at home mom.... but they are listening for every nugget of wisdom to draw on, tucking it away for when the time is right. There are so many laughs shared, so many matters of the heart poured out and wiped away with the swipe of a tissue, all of us thankful that there was someone to lean on and reach out to. Each girl brings something so unique to the gathering, that when they are missing, the group doesn't quite feel complete, because what makes it that way is the whole of us.
Hours easily slip by like minutes, making all of us linger around the table for just one more story, one more glass of wine, one more bite of that warm cookie, until finally we reluctantly get up, knowing it will be a whole month before we're together again. The difference in this group, however, is that we're not just getting together to eat! We're getting together with the intentionality of doing life together. We know that some of the most intimate moments of life happen around the table.
The table has a way of bringing people together. You can show how much you love someone by calling them in, cooking a good meal, and posing one simple question. When you're sitting around a meal, tasting the flavors together, moments of silence don't matter, and it easily and quickly breaks down the walls and barriers that get put up with those we love the most. That's why I love my group. Because I always know, whatever's going on, I can count on those girls! They can make me laugh till I'm crying, let me cry because I'm sad and don't just tell me "it's going to be okay", they lift me up and encourage me, and most importantly they see glimpses of my heart! All because we take the time to just sit around the table!
I know that seasons come and go... and life ultimately always creates change. My dear friend Laura, my partner in crime and encourager, and the one who helped me support this from the beginning, just moved away, leaving a gaping hole. Her presence will always be felt around the table. Maybe she'll get the opportunity to start her own new "cooking group". I know inevitably, there will be other changes to our group - someone will have a child, we'll lose family members, someone may move away or have a change in life where it makes it impossible to attend. I know that. But, for this season, for this part of my life.... I know that God has me right where He intended. It was no accident that this book was given to me four years ago, and it was no accident that it took me that long to figure out what the idea in my head really meant. Because Wednesday night is coming.... and I know who will be around my table!
A Note on the Burgers:
I have to say that I'm not usually a fan of fruit and celery in my burgers. In fact, I'm never a fan! But we made this at our last get together, and the burger was amazing. The mixture of fruit, onions and celery all sautéed made the burgers so moist, where as turkey can often times feel very dried out.
We used an electric indoor countertop grill to cook them, and they turned out perfectly. The special sauce, although it sounds weird, is a must with the burgers. And no, it doesn't taste like McDonald's special sauce! Even if you don't like mayo - give it a try! We had ours with a warm whole wheat bun, and they were a big hit!
Mar-A-Lago Turkey Burgers (Shauna Niequist) Makes 12 Burgers
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
4 Pounds ground turkey breast
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons tobasco
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
2 dashes tobasco - to taste
1) In a large saute pan, sauté the green onions, celery, and apples in olive oil until tender. Allow to cool.
2) While the mixture is cooling to room temperature, make the sauce. Combine the chutney, mayo, ketchup and Tobasco sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
3) Place the ground turkey in a large bowl. Add the onion, celery, and apple mixture and the remaining burger ingredients and mix together. Shape the mixture into 12 burgers.
4) Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill on medium-high. Grill on each side for 7 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.