… on Grace Before Meals (& Round Tables : )

As we enter Holy Week (just a few more days of Lent!) instead of posting a movie something, today i would like to focus on Food. what? yep. Food – MEALS (& how we eat them.) Remember the Last Supper?  when Jesus ate with the disciples? So yes, it does make sense to highlight the whole meal thing this week.

So often we eat our meals ‘on the run,’ gobbling a hard-boiled egg or piece of toast as we run out the door… & at dinner time with our families, we go our separate ways with takeaway or sit like noncommunicative zombies watching TV.

Last year i found the “Grace Before Meals” cookbook at Barnes & Noble (yes, Cookbooks are also overflowing from Va’s shelves all over the house! : ) but couldn’t resist this one because the ‘chef’ is a Catholic PRIEST – Father Leo Patalinghug.

He & some friends started the “Grace Before Meals” movement to get more families to enjoy making meals & eating them together.  Evidently he’s quite a Good Cook, having dazzled his seminarian buddies & even restaurant owners in Rome.

This small cookbook is filled with tasty menus & recipes, but also reflections & questions for family discussion by season. Good stuff to foster family fellowship (vs. munching In Front of The Tube.)

Father Leo also recounts his surprise ‘Throw Down’ with Food Network Iron Chef Bobby Flay (one of his Food Heroes!) that really put the Grace Before Meals movement on the national & international map.   Check out their website for recipes, emails, videos plus Father Leo’s cool blog.

Since i am the Chief Cook & Bottle Washer for the Savvy Saints (my parents) & brother Dwight (he gets a specially packed lunch each day), i do try to make tasty meals. We have a Big Breakfast every morning & savory supper (altho sometimes Pizza sneaks onto the Menu when Cook Is Worn Out) but we do enjoy our meals together.

It started Way Back… growing up in the Woodward Home for seven of us (five kids + parents) mealtimes were kinda special – not just the Food (my Mama was an AMAZING COOK!) but also family fellowship.

We were all Very Busy Kids (sports, cheerleading, SCA, band, choir you name it!) & Papa & Mama were Also Busy, so sometimes the only time we could all be together was around breakfast & dinner (contingent upon sport schedules – my older brother Dean is 6’7″ & was ‘into’ basketball & soccer in a Big Way!)

Papa would blast the Theme from the Movie Rocky on the upstairs speakers & we would all come running down the stairs to the table at 6:00AM for a devotional moment + prayers for the one on our right, followed by a Very Yummy breakfast (Mama’s menus included eggs benedict, hot biscuits, pancakes, french toast, baked eggs, freshly baked apple muffins. Since i am a cook now, she must have been up at 4:30a.m. to make all that!) .. then we were off to the schoolbus by 6:30 (we went to school in another city.)

Then Mama would go all out for dinner (which made us Very Popular: our friends often asked themselves over on weekends!) The seven of us could be Quite A Noisy Bunch (my older sisters were both Cheerleaders & of course i am totally quiet & shy!) so early on Papa instituted an evening “Round Table.”  He would go around our (literally) round table & ask each of us:

“Did you have a good day or a bad day?”   

“What was the best (or worst) thing?”

“Do you anything to ask, or show, or tell?”  (we had to have the ‘to be shown’ items with us under our seats)…

For a few moments everyone had to Be Quiet & listen to even the littlest ones (ok, so that would be my younger brother & i!)  to find what happened (re: prayers in the morning) & have a bit of Family Fellowship.

Looking back those are precious memories i will never forget – & i knew that if my day was bad (being a Teenager is Not Easy!) my family cared… & if it was Good, they would celebrate with me!

Sometimes after a long day the thought of cooking for your family can (moan, moan) be a chore.  But it can also be an Opportunity… for fellowship, familyship & GOOD FOOD!

grace, peace & Foodship

Virginia : )

p.s. on cookbooks, i have too many favorites to even begin, but there’s a special Mennonite one i toted all over the world (had to replace after Africa because the torn pages were falling out) –  “More with Less.”   Foolproof recipes from all over the world with anecdotes from Mennonite cooks & VERY IMPORTANT – how to make so many items simply from scratch (pancake mix? crusts? buttermilk? the kind of things we buy in our grocery stores but are Hard To Find overseas) … how to be good stewards of food resources, plus- Really Good Recipes!  check it out..   (the Simply in Season & Extending the Table Mennonite Cookbooks are also great!)

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