I stand in a kitchen that I have stood in a million times. The light is streaming through the bay window, unique, hand-painted plates are sprinkled across the wall, and fresh flowers sit on the counter. But this time is a little different. This time I am picking the brain of my partner in crime, Britney Christie, on food, family, and entertaining.
As she prepares lunch for our staff today, with her 40’s big bang playlist in the background, I ponder on this whole concept of gathering that I think most of us, as women, desire to have in our homes. We all desire our home to resemble the idea of a hearth; a place people can gather, feel warmth, spend time with good friends, and eat good food. We dream about the long tables lit with candles and topped with a gorgeous food spread and laughter ringing about.
Britney has worked hard to create this aura in her home and continues to bring that light into The Rev/BFR workplace. Each Friday, we gather around our long fold-out tables (classy we know) with paper plates, warm, home-cooked food, and finish with a traditional cup of Kenyan tea, of course. You work with what ya got, and as Britney says, let the company bring the warmth, laughter and good times around any table—long, round, wood, or plastic.
Britney has 2 kids, Lynlee, 6, and Everhett, 4, so she is no stranger to the crazy chaos that comes with having kiddos in the mix while trying to create a meal everyone loves without losing your sanity. So I was sure to write down some of her tips and tricks of managing the crazy while also creating the beauty of gathering.
Follow us as I tag along on for the cooking process to learn easy ways to make great food, tips along the way and how to effortlessly create the “long table gather”.
This Friday Britney whipped up a “Pesto Pasta.” Britney told me one of the great things about this dish is it can effortlessly feed many and refrigerates well so leftovers still taste just as delicious! Good tip to know!
As Britney was chopping, cutting and stirring I took the time to ask a few questions on the subject:
Brit, it was your idea to start team lunches at work, (brilliant by the way) so why did you do this especially when work is so busy? I ask as she lets out a quick laugh while standing over the stove pouring in the pasta saying things like ‘Lacey you want this pasta to be al diente…. .... I quickly google al diente and nod my head as she responds-
“Weeks are very busy!! Since there isn't a lot of down time, I really wanted us to be able to slow down, even for 45 minutes, and be together as a work family. Gathering around food has been engrained in me since I was little. I am thankful to my mom for that- she does that so well and is something I try to carry on through my family at home and at work. I also feel if we can all come together like this to eat, pray and talk- it will grow us together, making us more unified and stronger. I also feel it is another way to honor our staff because they work so hard and they sacrifice in different ways and food is a way I can serve, honor and love our people.
What kind of recipes can people expect to see for these lunches?
Good, real food. My main hope is we can share together, try different foods, expand our pallets whether through Nepalese, Kenyan, Butanes, family recipes handed down or whatever it might be. I want to bring in different traditions, cultures but still keeping it easy.
So Brit if a busy mom, new wife, or woman that's new to kitchen wants that Instagram worthy gathering evening- what advice do you give her? (this was an undercover question because I really wanted to know for myself)
"First I would say — OH GOSH! There is a CHICKEN OUTSIDE! WILL YOU HERD THAT CHICKEN back over the fence?"
You can imagine my face at this point— If we weren’t best friends this would have been an odd thing to hear in the middle of an interview but since Britney has like 5 chickens, with names like ‘The Dowager’ that frequently escape her yard— this is a normal request.
“So to that mom or woman I would say- Take the pressure off yourself. The older I get, the more I learn and find that rather than wanting my house to look a perfect way or my meal to be plated just right I want people feel comfortable and loved in my home. I mean I have kids running around so things can’t be perfect and that has to be ok. For me, it has become more important to entertain people that deeply care for me and love me rather than how perfect the settings are. With that in mind- it has changed how I prepare my dinners or even who I choose to have.”
I constantly go back to the story about Mary and Martha in the Bible. Martha was hustling and bustling around and that is my bent— the doer. But lately I find myself striving to be more like Mary, which is why I try to prepare meals that are simpler, the focus isn't me hustling in kitchen but being mentally focused when the company gets in and to enjoy that time with them”
What other practical tips would you give to that same girl who is hosting people at her house and wants it to feel inviting and not lose her mind? (still on the hunt for her gathering guru wisdom and secret tangible tips..)
When I start the cooking process, I try to incorporate things I love. I will turn on soothing music, pour a glass of wine or in today's case- coffee. It is important to make it enjoyable so it doesn't feel like a chore. I also love to have fresh flowers somewhere in the kitchen- it just feels good.
Ask yourself “What is your purpose with this meal?” There are those times for a beautiful meal with matching plate settings and all that and then there are times to just come over, use paper plates, let kids run through the house, talk life and just be. There is time and place for both things.
The food, while important and good, isn't the focal point. It’s about togetherness. The difference between sharing food and just sharing coffee is there is something intimate when you share a meal with someone. In the bible it talks about Jesus sharing meals with people and how the Pharisees were outraged by whom he chose to eat with— there is a level of intimacy there… and I think about that and remind myself that when my mind gets too caught up in the appearance of things that the main thing is sharing the love of Christ and truly connecting with those across the table.
2-3 cans of Diced tomatoes
1 10oz jar of basil pesto
2.5 lbs of farfalle.....bowtie pasta (or your favorite shape)
2 cans of artichoke hearts (quartered)
1-2lb of chicken tenderloins or 1lb or ground turkey or beef
1/2 white sweet onion
sea salt + pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of rosemary
1 tablespoon of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I love to pair this with a white wine like a Riesling.
Written by: Lacey Stluka
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