Thursday, May 6, 2010

We Can Build Zion From Our Kitchen Counters!



At our stake conference last Sunday, we got to hear Sister Julie Beck of the General Relief Society Presidency of the LDS Church speak. She said that a righteous woman is like a "lioness at the gate." She is fierce about what she doesn't and does let into her home. She categorizes her desires into "essential," "necessary," and "nice to do." Sister Beck stated that a righteous woman will see mealtimes as an opportunity to gather her family around and share the gospel and bond. She didn't come right out and say it, but she was basically saying that mealtimes together are essential to a loving, eternal family, not just nice to do.

I feel so happy that she brought that up. I have seen the power of mealtime in my own family. We used to live in a very small apartment with five children and my husband commuted an hour and a half each way to work. Having a tasty homemade dinner when he came home really helped ease his stress and mine too during this hard time. My mother used to always have a hot homemade dinner for us every night, even when she started working full-time as a kindergarten teacher. Perhaps this is part of the reason why we all turned out so well. All five of us went to BYU, graduated, got married, and have happy families of our own. Mealtime is part of a mother's secret weapon to teach and train her children. It is a time to please your family with great-tasting food and delicious, nourishing mind food as well. I have done a lot of stealthy gospel teaching and homeschooling at dinnertime, it's just a natural time to teach.

I read this terrific book recently that I saw in the Chinaberry catalog, The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner. In this book, an LDS mother of seven shares her great secrets on how to overcome obstacles to having family dinner. Her name is Liz Edmunds and she is now a grandma. She says anyone can learn to be a great cook. Her book is sprinkled with references to Mormon culture, such as the pictures of her wall with plaques of LDS sayings and a Family Home Evening chart. She has even hit it big with a show on BYUTV, which you can watch on Thursday nights. See byutv.org. This book is a great inspiration! She has yummy recipes that must be the best, coming from a woman who has the great heritage of Utah/Relief Society cooking (think, dinner rolls with roast beef, comfort food with lots of fat!). With her years of cooking pleasing food for a large family she is now an author, Internet celebrity, and consultant for the restaurant Sur La Table. After reading her book I felt so inspired I whipped up some pizza for my family dinner, a first for me. I usually avoid homemade pizza dough and just use pita bread. But I am wanting to avoid commercial bread as it is so full of preservatives, probably petroleum-based.

If you go to my website treeoflifemothering.com and click under "The Library" and "Home Cooking" or "Home Dining" you can get a free pdf file I wrote with more ideas from her book, including the list of the "theme nights" she uses to plan her menus and some of her questions that spark conversations at dinner for family bonding. I also share some ideas for gospel teaching at dinnertime, with quotes from Elder Bednar, Truman Madsen and Elder Holland.

Dinnertime is the time for power nurturing! Sisters, as my girlfriend Jonell Francis says, "We can build Zion from our kitchen counters!" (You can order the talk from my LDS natural moms conference that contains this quote from my web site under "Recordings." She tells her story of healing from fibromyalgia by changing her diet.) As my girlfriend Tara says on her blog, quoting Jacques DeLangre (I have no idea who that is, anybody know?), happyinthekitchen-withtara.blogspot.com, "When a woman stays at home and cooks with good judgment and understanding, peace and happiness result. She thus controls the family's health and destiny, also her husband's mood, disposition and feeling, and assures the futures of her children."

This is one of the great powers we have as women and homemakers! When we assume this honor, we and our families are liberated from illness, overbearing stress, and tension. Our life won't be perfect, but we will have the nourishment, both physical and mental, to cope with our trials. This is part of the true women's liberation. Sisters in Zion, unite, and have homemade family dinners together! (Tara is going to give some classes on how to prepare super-nourishing family meals by soaking grains and using lacto-fermented condiments. I am so thrilled, go to her website to learn more!)

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