Food on Fridays: The Spirit of Food (THC Book Club Discussion-Week One)

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Here at the Food on Fridays carnival, any post remotely related to food is welcome—though we love to try new dishes, your post doesn’t have to be a recipe.If you want, you could simply describe Christmas leftovers and New Year’s Eve snack plans OR join the book club at TheHighCalling.org; because, you see, we’re pretty relaxed over here. Posts like that are as welcome as menus and recipes.When your Food on Fridays contribution is ready, just grab the broccoli button (the big one above or smaller option at the bottom) to paste at the top of your post. It ties us together visually.Then link your post using Linky Tools.


  1. Soy Chicken and Rice Bake
  2. Bierocks (Sausage & Beef Stuffed Pastry)
  3. The Food of Memory
  4. Raspberry Danish
  5. Homemade Sesame Milk- Penniless Parenting
  6. Penne Gorgonzola w/ Chicken
  7. Frugal Follies – Orange-Oatmeal Bread (link up!)
  8. Game Day CHili @ For Such a Time as This
  9. Egg Nog French Toast
  10. Crockpot Yogurt at Virginia’s Life Such As It Is
  11. Irish Blessing for a New Year
  12. Black Beans and Rice with Vegan Sausage
  1. A Slob Comes Clean – Sausage Strudel Bites – EASY
  2. Best of 2010
  3. cranberry almond bars
  4. Ham Primavera
  5. Aubree Cherie (Scalloped Sweet Potato Dessert)
  6. Honey Oatmeal Bread
  7. Easy Calzones
  8. Top 10 Recipes for 2010
  9. Quick Tuna Pot Pie @ Talking Dollars and Cents
  10. This linky list is now closed.

Food on Fridays with Ann

For the next few weeks, the Book Club at TheHighCalling.org (THC) will be dipping into The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields.

The THC Book Club operates something like a blog carnival, where we read, think, and write in response to what we’ve read, then publish our posts and link up on Mondays over at TheHighCalling.org. Join the conversation not only by visiting participants’ blog posts and publishing your own, but also by commenting at the main site.Because The Spirit of Food is all about food, I decided to publish my own book club posts on Fridays, to share with my Food on Fridays friends. If you find yourself inspired to pick up the book, feel free to jump in at any time and join the conversation.Our Book Club facilitator, Contributing Editor Laura Boggess, asked participants to read the first five essays in preparation for this Monday’s discussion (a recipe from the writer follows each essay):

  1. “Wild Fruit,” by Patty Kirk (recipe: Apricot, Chokecherry, and Plum Jams)
  2. “Late October Tomatoes,” by Brian Volck (recipe: Spicy Tomato Soup)
  3. “The Communion of Saints,” by Jeanne Murray Walker (recipe: Scalloped Potatoes for the Church Potluck)
  4. “The Land That Is Us,” by TheHighCalling.org editor Ann Voskamp (recipe: Tangy Glazed Pork Roast)
  5. “For a Sweet New Year,” by Margaret Hathaway (recipe: Sweet Raisin Challah)

:::

Though I grew up on a modest farm of forty acres, my dad was not really a farmer. A full-time journalist, he leased out the tillable acres and kept a small herd of Black Angus cattle on the rest. Because Dad was not fully a farmer, I never thought of myself as a farmer’s daughter, even though Dad looked the part when he changed out of his suit and tie and donned his John Deere cap, Carhartt coat and manure-speckled boots.Because I wasn’t fully a farmer’s daughter, I got by being rather lazy when it came to chores. I enjoyed the property, though, playing around the persimmon tree in the back yard, tiptoeing around ripe fruit that thumped to the ground and burst open, oozing pulp onto the ground. We planted a garden most years, and I developed a taste for warm sliced tomatoes eaten plain alongside sweet corn-on-the-cob slathered with butter and coated with salt.I grew hungry for this and more while reading the essays in this section. I craved homemade jam after reading “Wild Fruit” and longed to slice a fresh tomato after reading “Late October Tomatoes.” Oh, how I miss fresh tomatoes this time of year. Reading this book in the dead of winter may prove to be a form of torture, awakening a craving for inaccessible food.When I read “For a Sweet New Year,” I found some relief in the thought that I can bake bread year round. In fact, I resolved to bake bread as soon as possible. I bought more wheat berries some time ago to grind into flour with the little hand grinder we borrowed from a friend. The wheat berries are sitting in a container just waiting to be transformed. I may not be able to pick blackberries in January, or make elderberry jam, but I can bake bread right here and now, even in January; even in my suburban home. Yes, tomorrow I’ll bake bread.Where I lingered longest, though, was with Ann Voskamp’s essay…and not just because she’s a friend. It’s because her prose, like poetry, whispers truth and unsettles the soul. I began to ache a little at the thought that by settling in suburbia, we may have settled for less.Though my dad sold off the cattle several years ago, he still leases the fields to a full-time farmer. Persimmons still fall from the tree in the back yard in summer. And my husband and I wonder sometimes if we should sell our suburban home and move out to the farm. The question Ann poses is one that has haunted us over the years: “How much do I love land?”I don’t know that I love that particular land; it’s just that I could probably have access to it. Dad’s not quite ready to turn the farm over to someone else; yet, if we wanted it, we could probably arrange to tend it. Should we?How much do I love land?The barn and out buildings could use some sprucing up. The fences need work. Are we up to the job?As we wonder, dragging our feet, I’ve been gardening in our back yard plot, where I grow tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers and zucchini.Is that enough?Reading the essays and revisiting the question of land inspired me to snatch up a seed catalog that arrived in the mail. Flipping through, I stopped at photos of apple trees and blackberry bushes. We don’t have the space in our back yard for an orchard. I sighed and looked out at the dormant yard. Unseasonably warm temperatures are melting away the snow to reveal leaves we’d heaped into the garden area. The leaves are contained by bent wire held by green metal fence posts leaning unsteady. I shake my head. We can’t even keep a small back yard garden trim and tidy. How could we repair and rebuild a barn and out buildings and mend fences surrounding 40 acres? How could we manage an entire farm? Perhaps this suburban back yard is all I can handle.Ann ends her piece with the question, “Who will stay and dwell in the land?”I look at the wobbly wire and slanted posts. Not everyone can handle the land.Not everyone will grow acres of grain. Some will buy just a few pounds of wheat berries at a time and bake bread. Not everyone will tend orchards. Some will pay to pick berries and freeze just enough for their families.Not all are called to stay and dwell in the land.But I marked the seed catalog and pulled out a gardening book. We will try to grow kale this year. And chard. Peas and spinach. Basil, tomatoes, peppers, squash. Tomatoes. Corn.For now, we will love this land, right here in this neighborhood cul-de-sac.Come spring, we will straighten fence posts and pull the wire taut.

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  • Comments

    1. I so enjoyed reading this post Ann. It’s beautifully written and very evocative! I’m going to try to get hold of a copy of The Spirit of Food so I can read along with the group too. Thank you for hosting and I wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

      • Oh, I hope that you join us! It’s a neat way to think about food with great writers exploring the topic from many angles. I forgot to mention in my post that after each essay is a recipe from the author. Maybe I’ll add that now.

        Thanks for your comment!

    2. Ann — I love this post, love how you are wrestling over the land issue. Ann V’s question is one I have asked myself since beginning my journey with Wendell Berry. By then, I had my little piece of land here, the little piece of land I own. I have decided to ask myself, what will I do with this land? Other land may come later – my parents are aging themselves. But for now, this little piece of land has much to give if I will tend to it.

      I somehow missed that this was the new book club book until just a day ago. I guess I have had too many other things on my mind. I am ordering it today. Somehow I’ll catch up!

      Love to you!

      By the way, since you still have that grinder — could I come over sometime and use it to grind some wheat berries I have?

      • annkroeker says:

        By all means–come by on New Year’s Day if you want and we’ll take turns grinding! You can borrow my book to read the essays, too. They’re short. :)

    3. Beautiful, Ann. I think you give voice to much of what so many of us backyard suburban gardeners feel! Thank you so much for sharing our book club selection with your Food on Fridays friends. I do hope some will visit the discussion over at the High Calling and maybe even join us in traveling through this lovely book! Happy New Year, friend. May the feast begin.

      • annkroeker says:

        It’s a good way to start the year, eh? Thanks for stopping by with sweet words of encouragement–see you on Monday at THC!

    4. Dear Ann, I’m so happy to be invited to your blog!

      It’s true that I’m a part of The Spirit of Food (chapter 9). I’m such a fan of the other writers in the collection. Ann Voskamp’s writing sent me into a swoon– her style is so lovely and rare.

      I’m a little uneducated about badges and linky-thingies, so tell me how to be a part of The Spirit of Food Book Club, and pretend I don’t know what I’m doing :)

      • annkroeker says:

        I’m so glad to make your acquaintance, Denise, and I’m glad I could explain things via e-mail. See you at TheHighCalling.org on Monday?

    5. I’m savoring your beautiful reflection today, Ann, and my mind kept turning to Acts 17:26, where we’re reminded that God determined “the EXACT places where we should live.”

      Happy fence-straightening to you, dear Ann. You bring glory to God — right where you are. So grateful for you.

      • annkroeker says:

        Thank you for that reminder. For now, I shall live where I am…until otherwise notified.

        You’re a sweet friend and encouraging coworker, Jennifer! Thank you for your comment. :)

    6. Ann! Thanks so much for stopping by my place. I’ve lurked here a time or two–so happy to meet (or whatever it is we do here in blog world). Am reading and loving this as well, having wrapped it up and given it to myself for Christmas. Much to think about, to digest, to write about. Soon. Very soon. And seriously? You’re actually friends with Ann Voskamp? Her writing–swoon-worthy, indeed. Nice to meet you. Blessings.

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