I have a long history with the Omega Institute so it wasn’t a surprise as I sat in the cafe last night listening to the thunder rumble in from the distance that memories began rolling in, too. Darrell and I have met people from all over the world here. Some of them have eased themselves in and out of our lives in short order but there have been others, like Natalie, who are in it with us for the long haul and, as a result, have helped us deepen our understanding of what the word family really means.
It was a hot summer afternoon when Natalie first walked into class and made her way to the last remaining seat in our circle. Who could’ve predicted that in this chance meeting roots of friendship would begin to develop or that years later she would become a second daughter to me?
While we’ve since spent many hours together, it wasn’t until last summer that she told me she was crossing the Canadian border to come for a visit with her family! I couldn’t have been more excited!
…until I thought about food.
Growing up with Sicilian grandparents, I learned the importance of feeding people. The unspoken rule of thumb was, “Don’t ever let anyone leave the table hungry. At all costs, stuff them.”
So what was the big deal about Natalie coming? Well, she’s dairy free. Refined sugar free. Gluten free (ouch!)
Food prep for that kind of a diet was way out of my comfort zone. How was I going to have her rolling away from the table as I’d been trained to do?
Luckily at our house, people generally enter through the back door and somehow seep into the woodwork. They quickly become part of the fabric of the farmette and so it wasn’t surprising that within a day or two of her arrival, Natalie had taken over the kitchen.
She eyed me as she slid a gluten free cookbook out of her bag and began leafing through the pages. “Can I make some cookies for you, Darrell?” she asked.
Darrell’s ears perked like a dog who had just been asked if he wanted to go for a walk.
She knew his weakness.
Before long, I was engrossed in watching her whip up the cookies she had promised. She moved on to another bowl, this time whipping up egg whites and folding them into coconut flour and cashew butter. She was making bread!
She poured the batter into the pan without kneading. ”Right,” I thought, “no gluten, no kneading.” I was curious at best; skeptical at worst.
I didn’t have to wait long for the end result. Within an hour, a delicious loaf of bread came out of the oven. We ate it with dinner that night but it tasted equally good toasted up the next morning (and slathered with cashew butter!)
Sharing our home with Natalie and her kids brought us a renewed sense of fun and adventure.
It was a bonus having her all to myself for a little while long after everyone else had wandered off to bed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about gluten free lately. Natalie is a great model for me as she demonstrates how to take care of herself by not only letting people know what her needs are but also by enthusiastically sharing her passion.
I’m reminded about the value of keeping an open mind and not getting too attached to what I think I know. Bread can take many shapes and forms just like our thinking can. Remembering that leaves me grateful for people, like Natalie, who take on the task of gently kneading me and giving me just the stretch I need.
Days after they left I found a package waiting for me on the front step. Natalie had sent us a copy of the cookbook as a gift!
Smiling, I opened it up and started leafing through the gorgeous photos hoping that somewhere inside of her that Natalie knew that the real gift to us…was her.
I’ve made gluten free bread many times since Natalie’s visit and will post pictures and the recipe as soon as I’m back at home!
Who’s helping to knead your life, or giving you just the right stretch, these days?
Leave a comment and let us know!
I hope we find ourselves around the bread bowl together in the near future (who knows, maybe we’ll be making something gluten free!)
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it! …and don’t forget to check back Monday night for the recipe and pictures!