Food on Fridays: Returning Thanks

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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 join the book club on Mondays at TheHighCalling.org and post your responses to the essays in The Spirit of Food; 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.


  1. Pulled Turkey Barbecue
  2. Chicken Enchilada Soup
  3. Sea Salt Hot Chocolate
  4. Lemon Pie
  5. Seafood Burritos
  6. Honey Wheat Bread
  7. Pork Pozole Soup (Andreas Kitchen)
  8. Quick Energy Snacks by Hazel
  9. Janis @ Open My Ears Lord, Friendship & Tres Leches
  10. Frugal Follies – Pepper Steak
  11. Bread Pudding Redux @ Wide Open Spaces
  12. Filled PB Mini Cups with Molten Chocolate
  13. Stretching one chicken breast to feed 10!!!
  14. Sausage Gravy
  15. Fudge Brownies (SF & GF)
  1. My Ultimate Sandwich
  2. spicy pasta with sweet potatoes
  3. Country White Bread & breadmaking tips.
  4. One Pot BLT Pasta
  5. Homemade Cracker Jacks
  6. Pioneer Cookery Around Oklahoma-book review
  7. GF Favorites: Breakfast and Lunch @ Anktangle
  8. Chicken Enchiladas from scratch
  9. Prairie Story: Baked Spaghetti
  10. Slow Cooker Carnitas
  11. Garlic and Lemon Roasted Asparagus
  12. Jerk Chicken ~ For Such a Time as This
  13. Spicy Fried Rice
  14. Give Us Grateful Hearts for Common Graces
  15. Tuna Chip Casserole @ Talking Dollars and Cents
  16. This linky list is now closed.

Food on Fridays with Ann

On Mondays I’m participating in the Book Club at TheHighCalling.org (THC), reading The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields. I’ve been reading ahead so that I can post a response here, on Fridays.If you would like to join the conversation this coming Monday but don’t own the book yet, I invite you to read two of the essays online. You can publish a post about one or both of the essays and join us in the comments at TheHighCalling.org on Monday.

:::

I reached into the crisper drawer and pulled out button mushrooms, baby spinach, red pepper, carrots, broccoli, and a small storage container of leftover roasted chicken. Chopping, dicing, and slicing with my chef’s knife, I tossed all but the broccoli, which the kids prefer steamed, into a big skillet and sauteed it in olive oil.I had some rice going in a pot on the back of the stove—I would’ve used my rice cooker, but I didn’t allow enough time. In fact, it was late enough that I resorted to white rice instead of brown, since white only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.While I stood at the stove watching pots and pans, my eldest daughter tossed some light mayonnaise with a cabbage-carrot mix for coleslaw. Though the meal was made from scratch, it came together relatively fast.The Belgian Wonder was running late and suggested we start without him, so we set the table, sat down, lit candles, held hands, and prayed.We gave thanks for our food.We prayed simply…sincerely…but I kept thinking about these lines from the essay by Kelton Cobb:

The kitchen table, heaped with food, is our trough. Most of us, if we pray at all, become God-fearing enough at that trough just long enough to manage a cursory, “Thank you, God, for this day and for this food. Amen.” Then we piled the foodstuff onto our plates, gobble it down, excuse ourselves, and resume our schedules refueled. Fast prayers for fast food. We don’t linger long enough truly to acknowledge God’s generosity in our bounty. (Fields 145-146)

Sitting at the trough to pile foodstuff onto our plates. Is that what American meals have become? Is that what our dinner amounts to, a perfunctory prayer and basic refueling before heading off to resume our schedules?Eating fast. Praying fast. Surely these are signs of a family that is in high-speed mode.Compare fast prayers (“Thank you for this food, Amen”) with the prayer that Cobb’s grandfather would offer at the beginning of a meal:

“Our most gracious and loving Father, we praise and thank thee for the gift of thy son Jesus and for life eternal through him. We thank thee for guidance and for strength and for blessing us with this food…” (Fields 146)

How do we slow down enough to offer reverent prayer like this before a meal—without the “Thee’s” and “Thou’s,” perhaps—that expresses dependence on God and acknowledges that life is a gift from our gracious and loving Father? Would a slower prayer lead to a slower meal, where food is more than fuel?We could talk about the origin and quality of the food being key to experiencing it as more than fuel, which is what Wendell Berry suggests in his essay.But what of the prayer? Might not “slow prayer” actually slow down our meals? If we slow down those moments just before our meal and turn to God with eyes that have seen and ears that have heard, might the food refresh?What if returning thanks were more like like Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts? If giving thanks at mealtime were merely be an extension of the thanks we practice as habit throughout the day, throughout life, would it be richer and more joyful?Maybe giving thanks slowly doesn’t necessitate a reverent statement of faith like Cobb’s grandfather. Maybe it can be as simple as listing the day’s beauty and the gifts we were given; maybe it’s voicing the poetry we see and smell in the meal before us; maybe it’s remembering the laughter we’ve shared over a carrot flying across the kitchen floor and the way the mayonnaise plopped out of the squeeze-container like a burp.Maybe we sit together and slow down enough to say thanks to Jesus for all of the things specific to us, to our day, to our moments:

  • sticky rice forming snowballs on the serving spoon
  • flying carrots
  • burping mayonnaise
  • blobs of olive oil sliding across the skillet like floating islands
  • blue-and-white cloth napkins finished with a wavy edge and spread across our laps

I think of this as the candle flames dance and we pass the rice and broccoli. I watched two of the kids pick out the chicken from the blend, avoiding the spinach and mushrooms.

  • green shaft of the amaryllis rising from its bulb
  • pink poinsettia lingering on a side table, cream-tinged leaves dropping, curling

With each moment, each gift from God (and as Ann V. would point out, isn’t all of this one wild and precious life we’re given a gift from God?) that we notice, celebrate, recall and express, we are returning thanks, blessing the Lord who has blessed us.

  • hand-me-down maple table, legs painted white, top sanded smooth, scratched and chipped from a thousand days, a thousand meals, a thousand moments

The table, my old maple table, seems like the perfect place to practice slowing down and returning thanks._______________

Source:
Fields, Leslie Leyland (ed.). The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010.
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  • Comments

    1. I love that blessing that Cobb’s grandfather gave. I’m trying to slow down, Ann. Trying to find the beautiful in each day…each moment. Some days are better than others. :) It’s all good.

    2. Your stir fry sounds yummy to me and I would serve the rice separate as you have done and my plate would have the stir fry including the spinach on top of the rice, steamed broccoli along side. Your discription of your kitchen and your childrens reactions to the meal is wonderful, (even if they pick.) I love your table too, painted legs and all. Yes, we pray too fast, eat too fast in our trough, and I agree we should enjoy our meal and our surroundings as well. Laughter is welcome and I laught too!

    3. Another beautiful, meaningful post, Ann! We do rush through so much these days – thank you for the wonderful reminder to slow down, especially to give thanks.

    4. Ann, this is so beautiful and so right. I find myself getting all teared up. Yes, this is what He calls us to – this slowing to see Him in our every day moments.
      Thank you so much for this.

    5. Ann, I’m so sorry I forgot to put in just the post address, and not the blog address. If you want to delete it, I’ll do it over.

      Here’s the link to the post: http://carlahoag.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/country-white-bread/

    6. Love this! The younger the child praying, the longer the prayer. I love that about preschoolers. They know how to slow down and talk to their Jesus!

    7. Giving thanks for all He’s given us that day with a request to care for others truly “grace” a table. But often as the tribe gathers around the trough, they just want to hurry through the prayer to get to the food. When we do offer up a longer prayer, too often the harumphs are heard. The hurry up and get to just blessing the food is the attitude. And my bad habit of serving from the kitchen counter, lately, does not encourage long prayers. Time for a change! Even if I am bone-tired when I get home from work.
      Blessings,
      Janis

    8. Thanks for dropping by today, Ann!
      Always a pleasure to stop in here. ღ

      Blessings, e-Mom @ Susannah’s {Kitchen}

    9. I can always slow down right here, with you, Ann. Your description of your table is lovely, and reminds me once again of why I love my own table, engraved as it with memory after memory.

    10. I really liked that description of your table. Poetry, yes. :) (Poetry slows us down too, and we kind of make our prayers like poems, what with the thanks for icicles dripping, sleigh riding on the red sled, Scottish toasting oat bread, girls smiling… all the little picture things we say.)

      (Hey, thanks for the poetry link too, btw :)

      • annkroeker says:

        Thanks to your comment, all I can think about is Scottish toasting oat bread. See what poetry can do? You’ve held out to me a specific food item and awakened a hankering! Powerful stuff, that poetry.

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