Elizabeth feeds her family at her “sheltering table”–one that transforms, nourishes, and protects–all because of love and a little chocolate. Don’t forget to buy the special rectangular marshmallows! Elizabeth and I will see you in the chocolate aisle (there is a chocolate aisle, right?) –Sue
The table in the kitchen of our 100-year-old farmhouse is square and solid oak and looks like it could provide shelter in a strong storm.
Which, in fact, it did–in its life before it came to live in our house.
The table is part of the furniture dowry my husband brought to our marriage. My father-in-law was a part-time auctioneer, and he and my mother-in-law were discriminating antique collectors. In addition to the table, my husband contributed a gorgeous dresser and mirror set and a marble-topped side table and numerous cane-seat chairs to our newlywed household. What would become our kitchen table came home from one auction with my in-laws and took up residence in the finished basement of my husband’s childhood home. During thunderstorms and tornado warnings, while my father-in-law was fast asleep, my husband and his mom would huddle beneath the table, surrounded by the significant comfort of its four massive carved oak legs.
My would-be husband and his parents eventually moved to a farmhouse in the country, and the table went with them but was put into storage until it became part of my husband’s and my first home. When we saw the house where we hoped to raise our family (and to which we hoped grandchildren might one day be brought), one of the chief selling points of a kitchen that had precious little else to recommend it was a space perfect for the table. There we unloaded it straight off the moving van, and there it sits today.
And still it provides shelter and comfort in storms. When the storms are meteorological in nature, we head to the basement, with its solid stone walls and bomb shelter-esque security. But more often, those storms are emotional or spiritual or physical…the daily battles of life in a house of hormones where three-quarters of the inhabitants are of the female variety. And two of those females are an age that ends in “-teen.” And the other female is a mom who cannot under any circumstances be described as “even-keeled.”
I rely on the transforming power of our table. More times than I can count, I’ve seen four grumpy, hungry, stressed, weary people who are not all that crazy about each other at the moment take their seats around this family heirloom, pick up their forks, and eat a meal together. And within a few minutes, we are nourished and strengthened–not only in body, but in mind and soul.
Usually, we even like each other by the time dessert is served.
And in this house, at this table, there is always dessert.
I know the food police say dessert should be reserved for special occasions, but the older I get, the more I realize the inherent “specialness” of family mealtimes. So after we’ve eaten our lean protein and a representative from The Acceptable Vegetable Triumvirate (green beans OR cauliflower OR broccoli…kale need not apply), we sit at the sheltering table and savor something sweet. Dessert, yes (these Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores, maybe?). But also–more so–the comforting solidity of our table and the sheltering safety of being with people whose love can be counted on when life turns stormy.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’” Psalm 91:1-2, NIV
- 2 large chocolate-chip cookies per person (any kind you like: store-bought; baked from refrigerated dough; homemade)
- 1 large "s'more" marshmallow per person (these are the special rectangular-shaped version specifically designed for s'mores, and yes, they are better than normal marshmallows) OR 2 large round marshmallows, per person
- Preheat your oven's broiler. Position an oven rack so it's in the second position from the top. Put a piece of foil or parchment paper on a cookie sheet and coat it with nonstick cooking spray.
- Put your marshmallow(s) on the coated foil or parchment paper. Have your cookies ready, with one upside down on a plate and the other hovering off to the side. When your broiler is heated, slide the cookie sheet with the marshmallow(s) onto the top rack and broil for a few to several seconds, until your marshmallow(s) is/are nicely golden.
- DO NOT walk away and do anything else while they're toasting, or you will end up with charcoal and possibly some sort of announcement from your smoke detector.
- Carefully remove the cookie sheet from the oven and set it on the stovetop or a cooling rack. Give a spatula a quick spritz of nonstick cooking spray and use it to slide the marshmallow(s) onto the waiting upside-down chocolate chip cookie.
- Top with the second cookie, pressing down slightly to marry said cookie with its marshmallowy counterpart.
- Eat immediately.
- Serves 1 to 100, depending on how many cookies and marshmallows you have and how much time you've got and how many people are crammed into your kitchen.
Elizabeth Spencer is a great sinner redeemed by a great Savior. She has been married for 22 years to an exceedingly patient husband and is mom to two teenage daughters who make her look really good as a mother. She blogs at guiltychocoholicmama and, if pressed to demonstrate a hidden talent, can stand on her head.
Please share Elizabeth’s table story and recipe if you’ve been blessed to buy a new table or some chocolate today.
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MomentsofHope TheArtofHomeMakingMondays SoulSurvival TeaandWord LiveRandomlySimple TestimonyTuesdays CoffeeandConversation,PurposefulFaith JenniferDukes HolleyGerth KristinHillTaylor, SittingAmongFriends, WiseWoman , ChasingCommunity TuneinThursday, livefreethursday FaithFilledFriday Grace&Truth FreshMarketFriday DancewithJesus Faith&FriendsFaithonFire