At this very moment last year I was scrambling to upload pictures on image hosting sites, embed links into codes, and live chatting with GoDaddy Help Center nearly every night. I kept saying words like widget and favicon like I knew what I was talking about. The techy components of creating 44 & Oxford were killing me; my pout face was in high gear, and I quit no less than a dozen times. All I really wanted was a pretty place to write; I didn't realize I was signing my life away to HTML codes and Java Script gadgets. (For the record, I still don't know what I'm talking about.)
All glory to God, each glitch was worked through, I found my pretty place to write, and 44 & Oxford is celebrating its 1st birthday this month! I said in my manifesto that it is my goal to encourage, amuse, and challenge readers. I hope I have succeeded. I am grateful for the dear people who have read, commented, and contacted me. How I wish I could have you all over for dinner and drinks to celebrate. Or brunch. I love brunch.
But instead we'll celebrate world-wide-web style with a good recipe and a birthday giveaway. But you know I can't get to the recipe without a story. Every good recipe has a story.
For years people kept talking to me about this book, Bread & Wine. I had three different friends, from three different circles, contact me to say they kept thinking of me while reading this book. When it finally ended up in my hands, Christmas 2014, I understood why. I was reading my life, thoughts I had never put into words but connected with so deeply.
he author, Shauna Niequist, loves food and loves writing. Wait. I love food and writing. She believes the best moments of life happen around a table. Wait. I believe the best moments of life happen around a table. She feels God's presence when she opens her table, taking time to slow down and be with others. You can imagine how I feel about that.
This book affirmed passions I'd considered secondary. I'm not a chef, and I'm certainly not a Pinterest worthy party thrower; I haven't dedicated my life to the art of entertaining, and you will never see my tablescape on the front of a magazine. How ridiculous to be passionate about having friends over for dinner, yet I've always been keenly aware of how the junk of life filters out and the goodness of God fills my soul when good food, good wine, and good people gather at our table. I guess I didn't know other people felt the same.
Am I being overly dramatic when I say this book redirected my life, challenging me to grab onto my love for food and just run with it? To embrace my love of fancy dinners, casuals brunches, pizzas in the family room, too many cooks in the kitchen, crowded dining room tables, second bottles of wine, and guests that stay too long?
Days after I finished Bread & Wine, I declared my intent to cook through all 29 recipes in 2015. I got started right away and made this berry crisp, the first recipe in the book, for our New Year's Day breakfast. Since then, I have made it for reunions, a slumber party, a retirement brunch, casual Tuesday morning pancake dates, beach vacations, and just last weekend I brought it to a new mama.
I could eat this every day.
Berry crisp is often considered dessert, and I would never say no to warm berries with vanilla ice cream oozing down and around every nook and cranny. But if you replace that ice cream with a scoop of plain Greek yogurt, you can feel virtuous about eating this for breakfast, every day.
Don't let the almond flour intimidate you; it adds such great flour that all-purpose flour lacks. The olive oil instead of butter is genius, and the maple syrup gives the perfect subtle sweetness. Fresh or frozen berries work equally well, so swap in any berries (or apples) and eat this twelve months a year.
The Best Berry Crisp from Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
4 cups berries of your choice
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raw, unsalted pecans, halved of chopped
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat over to 350° F.
Mix the ingredients for the crisp topping.
Pour the berries in an 8x8 pan (or something similar in volume), and layer the crisp topping over it.
Bake 35-40 minutes, maybe a bit longer if you're using frozen berries.
Serves 4-6 (Less if I'm eating it.)
What a lovely coincidence that Shauna's new book, Present Over Perfect was released just yesterday, perfect timing for 44 & Oxford's first giveaway! She probably timed it that way.
Starting next Monday, August 15-Thursday, August 18, you can enter to win the following prize package:
Hardback copy of Present Over Perfect
Present Over Perfect Devotional Journal Download
eBook copies of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread & Wine, Savor
More details about how to enter will be rolled out Monday!