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Posted May 12, 2014

Book: Table of Plenty: Stories, Reflections, Recipes
Author: Susan Muto
Franciscan Media. Cincinnati, OH. 2014. Pp. 135

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Susan Muto invites you to experience meals as a sacred time. Her love for cooking permeates this book, as she shares her memories of growing up in an Italian family with a mother who also loved to cook. Muto's stories make you feel as if you are right there in the kitchen with her mother as they go about preparing meals, each of which becomes an opportunity to experience the goodness of God through the food we eat and the company we share. Muto also includes recipes that are simple to prepare, using ingredients that are readily available.

Whether you are a novice cook or highly experienced or just enjoy good food, this book will bring you to a new understanding of the gift we share when we take the time to eat well.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Food for Thought

God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. (Genesis 1:29).

Plow a furrow, plant a seed, pick an eggplant. How and when did that happen! The fluidity and efficiency of the food chain evokes awe. Start with a seed so tiny it's hard to see. Put it in potting soil. Watch the leaves sprout. Transplant them and voila! A bunch of basil or a plume of parsley. What happens with the help of sun and water seems magical to the naked eye. One day brown dirt, the next a row of green beans.

Might we draw an analogy here to the way grace works? Our hearts feel patched, our spirits like desert dust. Then the rain of grace washes over us and we behold the sun of God's mercy. Like the seed that must go underground and die so that new life may come forth, so we, too, die to our ego-self and rise to the true Christ-self we are.

On days when I feel a bit let down (everyone does once in a while), I turn to my kitchen as if it were a therapy room and tell myself how much better I'll feel when I cook a hot meal and forget my troubles. Like picks up the moment I decide to reproduce the best of my ability my mother's recipe for Eggplant Parmagiana.

In my refrigerator I have three medium-sized eggplants, which I proceed to peel, slice one-quarter-inch thick, salt generously, and let stand for fifty minutes or so. I rinse the slices in cold water, squeeze them gently to remove the excess, and dust both sides with a dry rub consisting of one cup of flour, a tablespoon of cornstarch, and a seasoning of black pepper, oregano, and paprika. I then beat together a batter of one tablespoon, one-quarter cup of cream, five eggs, salt and pepper, freshly chopped basil and parsley (two-tablespoons each), one teaspoon of chives, and two tablespoons of cream sherry. . . .

Table of Contents:

1. Heavenly eats

2. Let's eat

3. Clean your plate

4. Feeding body and soul

5. Complements and main courses

6. Final touches

7. Onward to always-memorable meals

8. Afterword

9. Recipes

10. Notes

11. Recommended reading