Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beauty of Nourishing at the Table

During the month of May, we have eaten many, many meals on our screened in porch. And, I've noticed a theme in many of my pictures capturing a beautiful table set to feed those who gather around.

It is striking me that I love to nourish beautifully and see food and the serving of it as artistic and creative.

We, as women, have such a big responsibility in our ministry of food. Yet, I also see it as such a gift. I love to see people enjoy something I've made. I love to see them smiling around the table chatting with friends or loved ones nearby, I love crafting a set of beautiful new memories gathered around the table.

Not only do we have a big responsibility in food, we have a lot of power really. We decide what to fix, how to fix it, when to fix it, where to serve it, how to serve it, where to buy our ingredients and what changes we will make to recipes. We decide what time to serve, what dishes we will eat off of and so much more. All of that can really set the tone for our meal don't you think?

I remember going to a friends house one time for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. A bunch of us girlfriends gathered around and she plopped a big bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough with a bunch of spoons poking out and a gallon of milk down among us. I have always loved that, I love that she did it, she served with confidence and I think there was even conversation about food being part of her ministry.

Something about it was so fun, maybe because there are so many voices telling us not to eat raw cookie dough and she gave us full permission to eat something we all loved. But of course, a big part of it was the beautiful way she served it. With love. Without judgement. With generosity.

Actually, I got kind of a laugh when I went back through my photos looking for meal captures and this is only from the month of May! Obviously, this has been on my mind even subconsciously this month!

No meal is too ordinary to just take two minutes to make special. Something I'd like to work on in the meal department is more meaningful conversation. We have done dinner questions, things you learned at school and more, but my little people don't always enjoy or engage in the more meaningful conversation opportunities and that will come as they grow, I hope!

While we're on the subject of food, I have a confession to make. I am very intimidated by the farmers market. I don't like feeling on the spot and buying directly from a human being does just that. The prices are frequently not posted and it creates a {for me} hard position of having to ask and then walking away if I don't feel like that suits what I am looking for. It is crowded and feels high pressure to me in certain ways.

But, I love the idea of the farmers market and would love to try and make it work more often. When my sweet friend suggested breakfast out for my birthday, I asked if she would go with me to the farmers market and help me get over the initial hump of my discomfort there. She is used to going so we went there first and I was uncomfortable, but I did get a few things I needed and was glad to go with a friend.

This past Saturday we went back and I took my children with me. I was hoping they would fall in love with it and that would be a help to me! I think they were pretty neutral about it, but Rachel especially enjoyed it.

I went with a mental list of what I was hoping to find for the coming week and I was so pleased that I found everything on my list. There are so many interesting things I'd love to try - so I might need to just make it a goal to try one new thing a week or a month?

One of the things I love about going is the beauty of the food displayed. No grocery store can compare to just natural food in natural display! I love that. And, knowing that those dear ones selling their produce or goods have toiled throughout the week to make this possible is very humbling.

It is God's handiwork and creativity on display, and man's God-given creativity also in seeing what people create from the food God provides: bread, pasta, tortillas and more {goodness, I must have bread items on the brain!}

This last week I was trying to be mindful of prices, I think in most cases what I got at the farmers market was actually very comparable to the going rate at our local grocery store. But some of my discomfort is with the large variance in price even between vendors or feeling more expensive than the grocery store.

When we got home, I spent the next hour slicing up my veggies for the week. I found it extremely calming, therapeutic and peaceful. The colors and smells were just a delight to me and I rejoice in God's creation.

Do you shop at the farmers market? How do you make it work for you? How do you see nourishing the mouths and souls at your table with beauty and loveliness?


Mary Ann said...

I do shop at the farmers market. We've been going for several years so we've built relationships with some of the vendors. That has helped a lot with the overwhelming feeling! Our market is still pretty small but I had to get over the feeling of wanting to purchase from everyone. I just can't!

The prices at our market are comparable to grocery store prices. A lot of bloggers will talk about markets being cheap produce. In general, I have not found that to be true. At the peak of the season, some items may be less expensive because of being so plentiful! (Example is when cherry tomatoes are in season: they may be $3 a basket for the first couple of weeks then drop to $1.50 or $1 when they can't keep up with them.)

I pick and choose what I buy. Right now, it is early in the growing season so the selection is small. (Ours is a growers market.) Greens, beets, carrots, radishes and the like are plentiful. I buy a few things these days. But I'll purchase more when there is a larger selection.

Our favorite meat farmer is there so we buy some from them and I've become familiar with a couple of the produce vendors so make most of our purchases from them. One is "pesticide free" and from mostly heirloom seeds so I feel confident purchasing from them and sometimes paying a little more than I would from a grocery store. It just depends!

I think with time you'll become more comfortable with shopping this way. Allow yourself the freedom to look without buying and not feel like you have to buy from every vendor.

noricoleman.typepad.com said...

Once again you are such an inspiration! I have been so inspired by your posts. I have always struggled with the cooking area because my family is very routine and do not like so called creative dishes. Each week day for supper is assigned to a certain meal. example Monday = spaghetti and meatballs, Tues = pork chops with side dish and veggie etc. I have however been able to get my girls involved with meal prep and table setting. I try to have lovely placemats and cloth napkins. I recently purchased one of those galvanized trays like yours(copycat I know). I have tried to use that to keep a candle and some paper flags to match the season( copy cat again). We have a very small farmers market in our town which is laid back, I find the farmers and artisans to be very friendly and most of the time they can't wait to talk or help explain their wares. They may be a bit pricier but that is because they are not corporate and they probably aren't even making that much for the time ad energy they put into their products. I find that the food is so much tastier and fresher because it is local and not shipped from far away. I am very fortunate and a bit spoiled as well because my husband has been blessed with a green thumb and grows a tremendous garden. Once again thanks for a wonderful post with such great pics and encouragement!! I hope you don't mind me being a copy cat. lol

Anonymous said...

Oh I am totally intimidated by farmer's markets! I even tremble at yard sales (feeling guilty if I don't buy something)!
Your post on meals reminded me of a sweet friend who has a ministry dealing with that subject. Her name is Sharon Fleming, and she is on Facebook under "Around the Table Book". She posts daily conversation starters, and encourages young and old. Check her out 😉. I love the beauty you create.
P.s. your kids are growing so fast!
In His Grip Always, Lynnebee

Kimberlee Powell said...

I love Farmers Markets. The prices definitely vary from one vendor to another. I try to have my menu for the week somewhat planned out before I go. I like to know how many salads I am making that week as well as if I need any side vegetables. I might even jot down a basic menu plan to take w/ me so that when I am looking at all there is to offer, I will be able to say "Roasted carrots would go great with what I am planning for Tuesday." If there is a bunch of vendors, I might even jot down some of the the prices of items that are being offered at certain booths, and go back to the better priced items.

Angie said...

I love the beauty at the farmer's markets. It is a delight to all of my senses! And I enjoy engaging in conversations with the growers, crafters, or harversters. Most of ours in NJ are roadside, so you are not comparing one vendor to another. In CA, there is a Sunday market that lines the street of the city we are hoping to call home. I find that I mostly buy novel items, but not my staple ingredients. I'm also concerned about paying more than the grocery store rate.

Elise said...

You are so great at capturing loveliness! I occasionally go to the farmers' market, but find some of the food to be higher than I would pay at the store. I hate that I have to bargain shop like that, as I love the idea of helping support someone else, AND knowing where it came from. I think it's fun to go, well, as fun as it can be with five kiddos in tow! :)

Ginger said...

Monica, I go to the same fm that you do, and I have always felt the SAME way! When I go, I hurry and get what I want to leave. I, too, don't like to ask prices, and there is often a variance. I thought I was the only one who felt like this.

Abby Jo @ forgottenwayfarms.com said...

Hello, I visit your site from time to time and I always enjoy it. ( I don't get a lot of online time ) I love your farmers market pictures, so much fun :) we eat outside a lot and I love making meals creative. Thanks for sharing!

- Abby Jo @ Forgotten Way Farms.com

*carrie* said...

Those flowers are gorgeous! Glad you're easing into things. Our farmer's market is tiny, and that's the reason I find it intimidating. There are so few vendors, and they face each other in kind of a rectangle, so that you feel watched the whole time. Not sure why that's such a big deal?! We now grow most of what I used to buy there, so I go maybe once or twice a summer just to check it out.

Intentional Living Homestead said...

I love the beauty of farmers markets...for lots of reasons but one very important thing to me is helping support local farmers and keeping our community working together. I don't mind if the prices are higher...it's community and it makes me feel good to support our local communities and families.

I don't mind asking about pricing because they get that question all day long...and that's okay or they would put their prices on paper/stickers.


LS said...

I would buy LOTS of things from the Farmer's Market if I could, but the prices in our town are even higher than most of the already-high groceries at the grocery store. I think they are fun to see though. Being that I'm from a small place, we only have about 10 vendors at our Famer's Markets and they sell vegetables, homemade bread, buffalo meat, local beef, jam, and flowers. Occasionally there is a fudge stand, and it is delicious!

I love your blog because you inspire me to make the table more beautiful. I'm a practical, "look for shortcuts" kind of person that often serves things on paper plates to cut down on my dishes and I would like to grow in the area of making the table more pretty when we eat.