We are guest-posting at the lovely Ann Voskamp’s blog today. A story from one of my oldest and dearest friends, Shawn, who had every right to be bitter after losing two beloved husbands, both named Ron, in the span of five years. One day Shawn emailed me about an image God had given to her that was profoundly beautiful and comforting. I’ve turned to it time and again in my own dark hours, and shared it with many others as well. It is always soothing to the soul.
I hope it might bless you as well today. Simply click on Ann’s picture above or the link below to read more.
Rachel and I have some exciting news! Our publisher Zondervan is generously offering a fabulous “two-fer” deal. If you somehow missed out on our first book We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook–the inspiration for this blog–or have been wanting to share a copy with a friend, you can get both We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and our new book Nourished right now for the price of one!
All of the details and purchase links to all major retailers can be found here on Zondervan’s website. Once you order Nourished, simply follow the steps on the BookShout FAQ page to get your free ebook. Your copy of Nourished will ship (or show up on your ereader) on January 6.
Word of mouth is and always will be the best form of marketing, so we would be so grateful if you would share this offer with your friends.
While we’re on the subject, if you’ve read We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and haven’t already posted a review on Amazon, BN.com, or Goodreads, now would be a great time to add a review too!
With humor, honesty and faith Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph determine to tackle the stuff that is stressing them out, once and for all. From interviews with friends and lots of research they came up with The Ten Most Common Stressors That Mess with a Woman’s Mind: daily challenges that routinely steal her sense of peace and joy. Together Becky and Rachel cook up a plan to live a less depleted and more nourished life. Opposites in many ways mom and daughter share their successes and failures as they make peace with their imperfect bodies, create living spaces they love, get wiser in their relationships, tame jam-packed schedules, settle into God’s love, and more. In short, they stumble and journey together toward a life that better nourishes them – body, mind, soul and spirit.
Published by Zondervan, January 2015.
Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph come from a long line of laughter. The female side of their family tree is dotted with funny storytellers, prolific authors, hospitable home cooks, and champion chatters. In We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, Becky—a butter and bacon loving mama—and Rachel—a vegan bean eating daughter—share stories of their crazy, wonderful, and sometimes challenging lives as Rachel becomes a mother herself. Becky is messy; Rachel craves order. Becky forgets what month it is; Rachel is an organizational genius. (At least before baby arrives.) Sprinkled throughout are the lip-smacking, nourishing recipes they love to make and share. From food for a family reunion of thirty, to lunch for a party of one in a high chair, to a hot meal for a sick friend, the authors demonstrate grace, acceptance, and love to others through the bonding gifts of humor, attentive listening, and cooking … whether diners prefer beef or lentils in their stew.
Published by Zondervan, August 2013.
Although it is raining today, just a few days ago this was the view from my backyard porch swing in Denver Colorado.
And yes, that probably is a yellow flower blooming from big toe — because that is just how happy I am to finally see Spring come to the Rockies.
With the coming of warm weather, I get to dust off the ol’ grill and make some of my favorite summer recipes. This easy recipe for steak marinade works just as well for chicken breasts. The longer you let the beef or chicken bathe in the bag, the happier it gets, but for the steak even four hours will do the trick.
Years ago when I had more energy, lots of kids and a big need for income, I was a caterer and this recipe for marinated chicken or steak was my number one, never fail, go-to main dish. People loved it and requested it again and again!
I am not sure why but it really does bring out the most tender flavor in grilled meat. It is not overly sweet either, as some teriyaki marinated meats tend to be — but just the right the balance. The pineapple juice adds a touch of flavor, but it is a fresh and light background note. Doesn’t cloyingly ring of pineapple.
Nothing says, “Summer is on its way!” like the smell of food on the grill, and a gathering of friends on the porch. This would be absolutely perfect to make for Mother’s Day, which is coming up soon. And by the way, if you are looking for a pretty perfect Mother’s Day Gift — something to entertain and inspire and cheer your mom (or your wife or your daughter or grandmother, or your daughter is now a mom herself), may we recommend a copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook?
For any of you who may live near Alexandria, Indiana (or know someone who does), Rachel and I will be speaking and doing a food demonstration at the Annual Spring Tea, this Saturday May 13, 2014, at 11:00 at Gaither Family Resources. (Click on the link “Gaither Family Resources” and scroll down to the Spring Tea information box for ticket prices and the number to call to make reservations.) We would love to see you, hug your neck and possibly sign a book for you or your mother in person! Ya’ll come!
Juicy, Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Flank Steak
1 flank steak
Grill Seasoning, about a teaspoon (or enough to season both sides of the steak)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice (or drain the juice from a can of pineapple rings)
1 T. olive oil
2 T. Worcestershire Sauce
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed with side of knife
Oil for grill pan, if cooking indoors
Season both sides of a flank steak with Grill Seasoning (or salt, pepper and garlic powder). Add the rest of the ingredients to a large, Ziploc bag and carefully squeeze the contents to mix. Place the flank steak in the bag of marinade, seal the bag then squeeze and turn the bag to coat both sides of the steak. Put in fridge to marinate, turning once or twice in the process and marinate anywhere from four to 10 hours.
Fire up the outdoor grill or use a grill pan over high heat (put a little olive oil in the pan if cooking indoors). Place steak on the grill and sear one side until golden brown with nice dark grill marks. Turn over and grill the other side. Then cover the grill pan or close the grill and let it cook for another minute or two. Remove and put on a plate, cover the meat with foil and let it sit so that juices distribute throughout the meat. While the meat is sitting, lightly grill small slices of pineapple (fresh or canned), and bring the leftover marinade to a boil. Spoon some of the marinade over the steak and decorate with pineapple to show it off! When you are ready to serve, remove pineapple slices, cut the steak in thin slices across the grain, giving each person a pineapple half and a drizzle of sauce.
The nice thing about serving a big piece of steak like this is that you serve the outer slices to those who prefer their meat more done, and for those who prefer their meat more on the rare side, serve them slices from the middle of the steak.
Depending on the size of the steak, it will usually feed anywhere from 4 to six people. Delicious with rice or mashed potatoes or pasta; a green salad or steamed/roasted green veggie is tasty and beautiful.
We have had several friends ask if they could get an autographed copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook as a Christmas gift. Why, we would love to….thank you for asking!
And since you asked so nicely, we’ll even gift wrap it if you like.
Autographed, wrapped copies of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook make the perfect Christmas gift for teachers, family members, girlfriends, or cooks. Funny, uplifting and warm-hearted memoir with recipes at the end of each chapter.
To order a signed copy, simply send us payment via paypal. Each book is $12 + $4 each for taxes and shipping & handling. (If ordering more than three copies to one address, send us an email and we’ll work out a lower shipping rate for you.)
Go to www.paypal.com >> Send money >> Send money online>>Buy something>>Fill in amount ($16 for one book, $32 for two)>>Send to laughcrycook (at) yahoo (dot) com (write in email format). Make sure the from email is an account you check regularly. You will be prompted to log in or create a free account if you haven’t done so already.
Once you send payment, we’ll send you a confirmation email within 12 hours to coordinate personalization, gift wrapping, and shipping instructions. If you don’t hear from us, check your spam folder or send us an email at laughcrycook (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Thank you so much to those who have asked us to sign a copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook for their friends and family (or themselves). That is the highest compliment and greatest gift to us!
By 3:00 P.M. I was still in my PJs. My hair was uncombed. I looked homeless. I’d been up since early morning on the phone and computer, in Mom Mode, trying to help out in a family crisis. Then I’d switch to my Author/Blogger Role as I prepared for … (wooden spoon drum roll here) … today’s BIG RELEASE of … (insert cymbal sounds of two saucepan lids clapping together) … Our NEW BOOK: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.
I found myself tipping back and forth between joy and worry. I was feeling fragile and disoriented. I could be easily blown, like a feather, toward tears or laughter, depending on the hour. Or minute.
What did I do to help calm and steady my emotions? I put on an apron and whipped up the first recipe from our book, a rich Puttanesca sauce that my daughter Rachel (a vegan) and I tossed together one day, working like a pair of well-olive-oiled machines. Puttanesca is an Italian sauce flavored with rich briny goodies like capers, pepperoncini, olives, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. Instead of adding meat, I topped it, as Rachel does, with roasted chickpeas.
The dish, as always, was divine, a feast of taste sensations; however, the kitchen where I prepared the deep red vegan marinara looked as though I’d just butchered a hog. (I’m a good, fast cook; but not a neat one. The neat one would be my daughter who is probably reading this now, her eye twitching just a little at the thought of the image I just described.) The act of preparing a meal, tasting and tweaking … centered and calmed me, as it often does.
I looked over the day, half spent, and realized I’d laughed, I’d cried, I’d cooked.
Story of my life. And Rachel’s life. And perhaps, your life, too.
Now those stories can be yours for the reading, laughing along with, and sharing with others. Our food memoir (with lots of yummy recipes) can be purchased today on the most popular online bookstores including, Amazon, BN.com, and Christianbook.com in paperback, e-reader (Kindle, Nook) and audio form. (Rachel and I were honored do the voicing of the audio version.)
Please visit our Book Page to read more reviews, endorsements and samples of the book.
Here’s a few comments from others to whet your appetite:
“Amusing, endearing, and spiced with a close mother-daughter bond…. ” –Publisher’s Weekly
“We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook made me want to cook, made me want to call my mom, and made me want to gather the people I love into my home and around my table….” –Shauna Niequist, Author of Bread & Wine
“A poignant memoir. Each story is beautifully rendered, exposing one layer at a time until I felt as if Rachel and her mother Becky were in the kitchen with me as I sautéed and stirred. Written with honesty, humility, and spot-on prose.” –Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author of Into the Free
“….As engaging as a novel. A delicious book.” –Dianna Booher, Author of Creating Personal Presence
“Someone once said, ‘She who bakes bread without love nourishes only half the man.’ I have eaten at Becky’s table many times with her husband Greg, and I can tell you firsthand that when she serves something from her kitchen, it nourishes the whole of you.” –Ken Gire, Author of Moments with the Savior, Windows of the Soul, Relentless
“Unique. Special. Surprising. Entertaining. Humorous and heartwarming. You will be rolling on the floor laughing one minute and wiping a tear the next…” –Carol Kent, Speaker and author of Between a Rock and a Grace Place
“Food is increasingly dividing us. How we need B`ecky and her daughter Rachel, a vegan and a butter-loving mama to show us how to not only break bread together, but to make bread—and soups and all kinds of creative meals— together.” –Leslie Leyland Fields, Author/editor of The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting
“From the moment I received We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, it was constantly in one hand while the other tended to kid-tastrophies…” –Heather Riggleman, Speaker to MOPS moms and author of Mama Needs a Time Out
“A delicious, well-marinated read!…. I love this book!” –Sue Buchanan, Author of The Bigger the Hair the Closer to God
“…If they were kitchen utensils Rachel would be a bento box and Becky a salad spinner. Not just funny, these women are real…” –Lucille Zimmerman, Licensed Professional Counselor and author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World
There is nothing like word of mouth, or “word of internet” to get out good news. We would SO appreciate if you would tweet, facebook, pinterest, blog or send smoke signals sharing today’s post with others. We could not have done this without the love and support of our readers and friends.
Shauna Niequist, Nigella Lawson, and Me: Some personal thoughts on food, curves & the book, Bread & WinePosted: March 28, 2013
(Becky, the Mama.)
In a departure from our regular food-with-recipes-post, today I’m writing about my favorite chapter from a delightful new book, Bread & Wine, by Shuana Niequist. She describes the collection of essays as a “love letter to life around the table, with recipes.”
The whole book is fabulous, but Shauna wrote a particularly vulnerable chapter that immediately resonated with me, and one I imagine will touch many other readers.
Last week I penned this paragraph: “All my favorite people are people who have resigned from the race for signifance. Who have made peace with their regrets and their flaws, who gave up on perfection and embraced their humanity, who treat children and elderly with focused attention and patience, who leave a trail of laughter behind them and sincere, warm-hearted welcomes and hugs as you greet them. Who invite you put your feet up and relax and breathe free. The sort who offer benevolent acceptance, without pretense or competition.”
Then I read Niequist’s chapter titled, “hungry,” from Bread & Wine, and hastened to add a couple more lines to my thoughts above. “My favorite people are unashamedly hungry. They embrace, rather than stuff or deny, their God-given appetites.”
Shauna brilliantly describes a classic struggle for so many of us who are rounder than we want to be, or than our culture wants us to be. As a youth she began to associate natural hunger with shame, as thin people around her always seemed to “demur about food and hunger.”
Then she met Sarah, a friend who simply… ate what she wanted when she was hungry, without a trace of angst. “Sarah loved to eat and believed it was her right and a pleasure. She didn’t overeat or undereat, cry or hide food. She just ate, for sustenance and enjoyment, both, and I was fascinated.” Still it took Shauna many more years to speak the words, “I’m hungry,” without shame.
Part of the reason it took the author so long to make peace with true hunger is that she thought someday the competing issues of hunger and body image would simply…go away. That one day she’d win the battle and weight would no longer be an issue. “What I know now after all these years,” she writes, “is that there are some things you don’t get over, some things you just make friends with at a certain point, because they’ve been following you around like a stray dog for years.”
Shauna looks back over her life and realizes the fullness and beauty of it – she’s danced with her husband, kissed her babies cheeks, laughed with friends until she cried. Not being a size 6 never prevented her from these life-giving moments. The extra pounds never stopped her from all God’s good gifts, but the shame attached to it too often stole some measure of joy. “And so these days my heart and mind are focused less on the pounds and more on what it means to live without shame,” she writes.
Shauna confesses to read cookbooks, authored by the curvaceous home chef Nigella Lawson, like novels, before bedtime. “She’s not at all daunted or afraid of her appetite,” Niequist notes with admiration.
I’m a huge fan of Nigella as well – her cooking show, her books and her new role as judge on the show, The Taste. I’m loving that there are more real women with real bodies in the spotlight these days, like Nigella, like Shauna. Women with a little flesh on their backsides, a little wiggle in their walk, who echo back to the days when the bodies God actually gave us were the bodies men wanted. And in truth, if women turn off the TV and close the magazines, and spend some time talking to actual men, they will find as I have, that most men are still drawn to women with natural curves, in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Women like Nigella who unashamedly enjoy cooking and eating, who are comfortable with their curves, have a sense of a humor, flirt with subtlety (the slightly raised eyebrow, a slow sly smile) convey, “Yes, I’m a woman who enjoys and delights in all the sensual appetites, thank you very much. Now would you be so kind as to pass the cream?” Simply irresistible.
I tell my young unmarried friends, “A man who demands you be model thin, is a man who has no clue how to really love a woman. You do not want him. Trust me. These kinds of men are no fun to live with, make love to, or grow old with.”
Of course there is balance in everything. At age 53, I’ve assented that I’ll have to prioritize exercise to keep my brain functioning, my energy up, and my body healthy, if not svelte.
When I cook at home, I make food that is nourishing, colorful, and delicious – using lots of fruits and vegetables. I’m mostly vegetarian now and love it. I do not deny myself meat or a fabulous treat when I really want it. (Tonight I took myself out to a “working dinner,” alone, and indulged in a creamy butternut bisque, a dish of fried avocado with crème frieche and pico de gallo. Ordered a rich banana brulee for dessert. Savored every bite with a goblet of fabulous red wine.)
Do I long to drop a size or two? Yes, I’d like that very much. Perhaps it will happen.
Perhaps it will not.
At my age, I know what I’m willing to do, and also what I’m not willing to do anymore. I am finished stepping on scales. (Clothes tell the tale well enough.) I will not count calories. No diets. I do try to adhere to Michael Pollan’s simple advice, most days: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” In fact, I stare in wonder at the colorful fruits and vegetables in a dizzying array of sizes and shapes at a Farmer’s Market, the way some gaze at an artist’s painting. Can’t wait to get them home and into a dish of my own creation. I will walk to the park with my grandson and I enjoy the elliptical as long as I can read while I work-out. I might venture into a Zumba class someday. I’ll not be taking a spin class, hot yoga, or power lifting.
I love food. I also try hard to love my own flawed but womanly body, my sweet life and the people in it. My family and my friends seem to love me back, just as I am. My husband treats me as though I am the most beautiful woman in the world, though I am only 5 ft. 2, and decidedly not-thin. People say that when I walk into a room, they can’t help notice Greg’s loving gaze in my direction. It is true, my man only has eyes for me. To me, this feels like a fresh miracle, day after day, year after year.
Most days, thankfully, that is gloriously, enough. (Though I will still sometimes sink into depression if I see an unflattering photo of myself. I’m working on that.)
In the last paragraphs of the chapter, Shauna writes, “I think about the sizzle of oil in a pan and the smell of rosemary released with a knife cut. And it could be that’s the way God made me the moment I was born, and it could be that’s the way God made me along the way as I’ve given up years of secrecy, denial, and embarrassment. It doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is that one of the ways we grow up is by declaring what we love.”
And one thing she loves with passion is cooking, serving and enjoying good food. Shauna’s book is indeed a love story to food, to the table, to friends and family gathered around it. And to the God who created it all. It is also about coming to love herself, her body, just as she is, and relaxing into the peace this brings.
Bread & Wine is a welcome treat of a book to savor, like good chocolate, fine wine and dear friends. With a message every woman I know needs to hear.