The Family Table--Life celebrated and shared

photo (54) Homemade, oatmeal, honey wheat bread. Concocted from many years of experimenting.......simple comfort at the table!

Tonight, candles lit, music softly playing, the four of us sat down to dinner with a sigh and comfort for the familiar celebration each day. Nightly, we look forward to sharing in community, personally round a 60 year old family table that has born memories, birthdays, devotions, sadnesses shared, and love given generously. Feasting is what my boys called it last year when they wistfully anticipated home for the holidays.

What do you boys miss the most, I asked, curious to know just what home meant to them. It's the sitting around the family table, laughing, talking, arguing, defending, sharing life around real food and with people who understand you.

Both boys said that few of their friends ever had the family table like this. Few of my friends like to talk and share deeply from thoughts and convictions, both boys shared. That is what we can't wait for--the life of our Clarkson community of family.


One of the reasons I think our children are so articulate and highly convicted is that every night, since they were little, our habit was to pray for dinner, serve mostly real food, and then talk and talk and tell about our days, thoughts, happenings in the world. Thousands of hours of discussion and engaging their minds. Clay would often ask them what they had learned or what they liked about the books we were reading and that was all that was needed for long, long talking and talking fests.

Of course, when they were little there were lots of glasses of the proverbial spilled milk and fussing--and some even into their teen years. But mostly, shared life tied the invisible strings of love and shared life binding one heart to another and built a foundation of Clarkson community--just a shared meal and time--the secret to much of our closeness. Intentionally planned but well enjoyed now by all.

Oh, no! I hear snow is expected again this Saturday, so this is an easy and hearty meal that we might just have this coming snowy night!

When other parts of my life seem a little off, I make bread and then I feel like I have done something to add to our day!  Loaves of bread hot from the oven, sitting until they're completely cooled and ready to be sliced and wrapped up--or until someone comes and starts nibbling, which happens much sooner than the cooling does!

One of my family's favorite meals is when I make homemade chicken soup on our bread days. I learned some of the techniques I use while living in Europe. Since it's a chilly, bundle up and snuggle down sort of season, this makes the perfect dinner!

Often, I will boil a whole frozen bag or two of chicken breasts as I can then freeze them in small containers and I have an instant meal. I also do this with hamburger, turkey, and brown rice!

So here's a recipe I love for these sort of days.


Homemade Chicken Soup

2-4 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast

2 cups diced/cooked red or idaho potatoes

3 cps frozen peas and carrots (or one bag frozen peas and carrots)

1 tsp garlic

1 medium chopped onion

1 Tbs French herbs ... thyme, parsley, rosemary combined or to taste. I like a lot!

2 Tbs. olive oil or butter

1/2 cup wine (cooking wine is fine)

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

a few twists pepper

4-5 cups water

3 cps frozen peas and carrots

2 Tbs butter

1 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon (without MSG!)

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

Boil the veggies, potatoes and chicken in the water until cooked through, (simmer for 20-30 minutes.).

While the veggies and chicken are cooking, saute garlic, onion and herbs in olive oil or butter in another pan.

Add 1/3 cup of flour to the chicken bouillon,  and stir until all the lumps are gone.  Stir constantly over medium heat until all the lumps have disappeared. Add milk until combined and thickened and then add the wine. Slowly add milk mixture to soup mixture, stirring as it thickens.

Enjoy! Sometimes to make it prettier, I put a dollap of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives or herbs on top.

We like to serve this with croutons, toast and applesauce!

And of course it is a simple recipe, and you may add brown rice, noodles instead of potatoes, if you prefer, and other veggies, even omit the milk and just put the bouillon right into the soup mixture ... whatever you have on hand, and whatever sounds good!

Hope you enjoy! And take the time to feast.