Book Review: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

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Do you ever read something, and have it remind you of a good meal? I stumbled upon Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine, and it has me thinking of macaroni and cheese. Sure, there are two foods in the title, but macaroni is thick and creamy, worth lingering over. Her work is by turns sad and sweet, by turns rich and stark.

Niequist is a religious writer, but she makes it a part of her life, not the goal of the book. She seems more interested in showing how food and life have come together for her than in forwarding a particular experience of spirituality, which I find really refreshing and lovely. It also opens me up to all the lovely parts of her religious experience: she’s gotten to marry friends of hers, and share food while discussing the Bible, and pray over those she loves. I don’t know much about her specific beliefs, but I do love that I learn about the foods and the travels and the friends that matter so much to her.

She has some serious thoughts about hospitality, which seem relevant as I’m embarking on my badly-defined quest to know how hospitality fits into modern life. She sees her home as a place that hosts others: even when she and her husband disagree on how warm to keep the place, even when things are awkward or unplanned or not what anyone expected. There’s something so authentic about the way she discusses both her own need to make a lot of experiences good for her guests and her own longing to release some of her unnecessary worries.

I’d recommend it as a winter time read; it has made me feel comforted and warm while I sit in a cold house and nurse a frigid cup of old coffee. It makes me think about how it’s worth it to make a new pot of hot water, to enjoy each bite of a piece of toast, and to write about the way people have made my life so rich and lovely. It’s a good way to feel about a book.

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Product Review: Rifle Paper Company Recipe Box

Note: I have not written reviews before, but I’m reviewing this recipe box which was provided to me for free. I think recipe boxes are a key part of the project of this blog – passing stories of food between family and friends – so I hope that this review is informative, but I wasn’t paid to say any of these things, just given the box to write about honestly.

I’ve always thought that old-fashioned drawings of plants and flowers have a beautiful look to them; I’m not usually a visual person, but I’m a sucker for the history behind all the knowledge we have regarding botany. It’s literally how we know what nourishes us and what could kill us.

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This box makes me feel nourished too; I think that the nice thing about a pretty recipe box is that honestly, cooking is rarely pretty – it’s covered in flour and tomato splatter and it probably just dropped a chunk of squash on the floor. This recipe box guards the beautiful parts of cooking against all the mess – it keeps your recipes safe and secure. The box is made of metal, so if it does get splashed, it’ll clean easily.

I love using a recipe stand while in the thick of cooking, which helps keep the mess at bay, but this box will also keep you organized before you cook. The beautiful dividers and practical cards would make you feel capable of feeding your family on even the most overwhelming day. I especially like that there’s a line for the “title” of the recipe, as well as for who gave it to you. These cards were clearly made for me and my need to bug others for recipes. It also strikes me as a great bridal shower gift, where each person fills out a card, or a gift you could make for a wedding itself if you have enough family recipes to pass along. IMG_4645

Right now, Rifle Paper Company has this box on sale at https://riflepaperco.com/shop/recipe-boxes-cards/herb-garden-kitchen-recipe-box/, which is pretty wonderful, but knowing the quality of this one (and knowing that sales don’t last forever), I’d recommend that you check out their other products. They seem to really carefully curate what they sell, and the materials are well-sourced.

Reviewing this box has inspired me to get into the nitty gritty of writing out recipes – something I said I’d start doing weeks ago. It’s so easy to just grab a link and pin it on Pinterest, and then try to scroll through websites with messy fingers while cooking. I want the slow flipping through the cards to find the recipe I need; cooking is not digital, and I’m going to make a bit of my cooking process more physical too. It’s time I added a few recipes to the stack of wedding recipes I have pretty much worked through.