Sabbath Fixin’s

Every Saturday night my kids and grandkids gather together around our table for our Sabbath Feast. We figure we’ve been doing this now for at least a decade or more. No one can remember the month or the year when we first sat down together with the intent of kicking off the Sabbath, but we all remember there were just six of us. Back then it was easy to polish up the silver for six adults, get out the heirloom crystal and china, and light the candles. I may have even ironed a tablecloth for the occasion. Now, however, with twenty-one of us, thirteen being age eleven and under, there is no talk of shining up the silver unless it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. (Not to mention that I don’t have enough place settings anyway!) Nevertheless, it is still our Sabbath Feast, and it is a high point of the week for all of us.

My strategy has changed with the numbers, and of course I’m thinking about kid-friendly food. Saturday I usually mosey on over to the grocery store and see what I can find in the way of a large piece of meat.  This is the simplest approach because if you have a hunk of meat in the menu, the sides just arrange themselves pretty effortlessly around it. Today I had to settle for three small roasts rather than one large one, but that just means they’ll cook quicker.

We are feeling very much like fall, and it is Reformation Day, so before dinner the children are going to the Fall Carnival in costumes for games and candy. We will have quite an assortment of guests at our table: a cowgirl, a couple of mice, a football player, and I believe Cleopatra and Gilgamesh are going to make an appearance. (Please don’t ask me to explain how these characters relate to the Reformation…)

So my plan is to cook up the roasts, slice them up, and serve them with some baguettes, a hunk of good cheese, a fruit platter of red grapes and mandarin oranges, and a big salad. I may throw some potatoes in the oven to roast as well. (No one will complain about that!)

We set the table as pretty as we can with toddlers in mind, and we still use cloth napkins and place cards, wine glasses and candles. It’s just not fussy. If I try something fussy, I turn out to be the fussy one, so it works better for me (and everyone else!) if I stay clear of complicated menus unless I’m getting lots of help.

So that’s what’s cookin’ at my house today. I’d love to hear what you’re fixin’! And Happy Sabbath to you all!

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27 thoughts on “Sabbath Fixin’s

  1. My joy this sabbath is simply having my children around me and watching my exhausted husband sleep in. Not very illustrious, and our supper will probably be a smorgasborg of leftovers from meals our loving friends have brought over the past several days. But I’ve been bed-ridden for a week now with a severe neck and shoulder injury, and this on the heels of 2 weeks of H1N1 in our family. My husband has been simply heroic, and my girls have been so busy catching up with school and trying to adjust to mommy not being about to pick them up.

    This will be the 5th week in a row I won’t be able to worship at church, which I feel very deeply. But despite all of that, I am just so happy to recieve a gentle kiss from my kids, to read strories in between medicated naps (of my own), to hear their laughter and listen to them sing me songs. I get to have them all home. And I am so thankful for my husband’s cheerful, tireless work, it is a joy to watch him rest too. So this sabbath, plainness is incredibly beautiful. We’ll be rejoicing and resting in the Lord by rejoicing and resting in being together.

  2. By a fine coincidence, we had Rachel’s “Chicken Soup for Hungry People”. I made a double batch last night when we had our pastor’s family over. Yesterday evening was made even more memorable by the power going out a few minutes after they arrived. My husband completed the meal on the grill and we ate by candlelight. Tonight my parent’s joined us along with homemade appleasuce, yeast rolls, and a salad that I forgot to put on the table. I would have to agree that keeping things simple and pretty makes these evenings more enjoyable for everyone and encourages us to do them regularly. I can’t imagine pulling out all the stops every week and I think my family and guests would tire of them pretty quickly. Happy Sabbath!

  3. Nancy,
    I love to hear about what others are doing. We started having a Sabbath Feast about three years ago after reading one of your books that suggested it. We now do it every week. Tonight we had meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and bread. This is the only night of the week we have dessert. Tonight we had Chocolate Turtle Cake with vanilla ice cream. Grandma and Grumpy (my Dad) always come. After dinner we read a chapter from one of the Narnia books.
    A Sabbath Feast is just one of the many ways that you and Mr. Wilson have influenced our family over the years. It was 10 years ago that I first heard Mr. Wilson speak at a ACCS conference. I have learned so much about the Bible and how to live an obedient life from your family. Thank you for sharing your life and wisdomwith us.

  4. So thankful for daughter-in-law Janine for making Sabbath eve dinner so special. Her table always so pretty, food delicious, always a wonderful homemade desert. But it is the fellowship of family that makes it extra special.

  5. With cooler weather finally hitting us in TX, we opted for a full crockpot of chili with saltine crackers or tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and homemade pico de gallo. We pulled out the board games for our annual “game night”, and the tables were decorated both with autumn leaves, candles, squashes and with chocolate candy. I threw together a snack mix with pretzel fish, spice drops, and honey roasted peanuts for game time. My new daughter-in-law brought her *failed fudge* and some pretzels, and a merry time was had by all dipping into the caramel and chocolate gooey stuff! After several rounds of board games, the newlyweds started a rousing game of fruit basket, or something like that, with all of the children and Daddie and Mommie settled in front of the fire to watch the merriment. Another blessed Sabbath Feast!

  6. Our family is just in the baby steps of implementing this “Sabbath Feast” concept. Some weeks it happens, other weeks, like this one, it doesn’t. My son is living in Moscow, attending NSA, and has been greatly blessed by the Sabbath Feasts he has been invited to and has shared that joy with us. Now we begin to share it with others. Thanks to the Wilsons (of various varieties) and many others who have generously opened their homes to the students and shared this wonderful event with them. Their families around the nation (and world, I think) are the richer for it.

  7. Here in Northwest Ohio we are having a beautiful and very colorful Autumn. Surprisingly, we have not had snow yet. The kids gathered a bunch of leaves, ironed them between waxed paper, and have been using them for many crafts. With the leftovers, my daughter (5 yoa)spread them around the table for our Sabbath Feast. Everyone thought they were beautiful, including the older girls, which made her feel very special. After dinner, her little brother made the table look as if someone had jumped in the leaf pile by crushing most of the leaves to tiny bits.

  8. We too learned practically all we know about Sabbath Feasting from you and your husband. Can’t thank you enough. We still haven’t got it down pat each week they way we would like but we’re getting there.
    We moved our annual ( out door) Reformation Celebration to avoid rain and so we had our Sabbath Feast on All Saint’s Day with Bratwurst, beans, mac n’ cheese, mulled cider and German Beer!

  9. Megan, you were missed at church yesterday, but you are being heavily prayed for.

    Our feast this week: Triple creme brie from France, Petit Basque from France, garlic and herb goat cheese, Italian dry salami, baguettes, olives, hot peppers, green olive tapenade over a ball of cream cheese, apples, pears and kiwi, assortment of crackers and a red wine.

    We love these types of meals, they are easy and celebratory. Our girls are also becoming cheese connoisseurs and it teaches Athan to broaden his little two year old palate. He loves this stuff, especially the meat. We so enjoy listening to our girls critique the different cheeses we’ve have over the years and what types of pairings they liked best. One of Morgan’s favorite is smoked Gouda with apples, but her all time favorite cheese is a double creme brie from France that I buy from Costco. These little conversations, the joy and laughter are what ultimately make our Sabbath Feast a delight. And praises be to our God, for He rejoices over us and teaches us how to rejoice over our children.

  10. The Sabbath meal has become a much loved and special time in our home…as a pastor’s family we too begin our Sabbath on a Saturday evening…this week’s menu was a roasting chicken, homemade garlic mashed potatoes, veggies and bread…I think it was one of the prettiest tables we’ve set…my oldest daughter and I stopped along the side of the road and picked some pretty autumn wild flowers and lovely red leaves to use as our center pieces.

  11. joe and i dove in and made a German Reformation Feast for our church this weekened…sauerbraten, bratwurst, saurkraut, roasted potatoes, brussels and figs, pumpkin soup, german rye bread, apple sauce, etc! and all the ladies arrived with a german dessert to add to the jolly spread! it was such a joy – one big family, one long table, one huge sabbath feast!

  12. Mrs. Wilson, I realize I’m not someone from whom you’d normally expect to hear, but I was encouraged by your Sabbath dinner post, and I thought I’d share what I call “Gringa Posole,” my take on this beloved Mexican chicken stew that my friend Epifania first made for me. It can be cooked with pork, but we prefer chicken.

    Using a well-seasoned cast-iron five-quart pot, prepare a chicken stock or, if in a pinch, use canned broth to cook one pound of chicken, white meat, uncut. Add a tablespoon of fresh oregano, two cloves of garlic, a half-cup of chili powder, 2/3 cup of La Victoria Taco Sauce (NOT salsa), and two teaspoons of the Mexican spice epazote. Simmer together ’til chicken is cooked through, then shred cooked chicken meat and return to pot. Add three small-sized cans of hominy, white or yellow, or, if you have room, one gallon-sized can. The “juice” from the hominy adds a lot of richness. Stir well, bring to a boil, cover, adding more oregano, salt, garlic, and epazote to taste. About a half hour before serving, add one cup of masa flour, stir (then stir some more), ’til flour is absorbed and stew is thickened. Top with fresh cilantro, serve with small bowls of radishes, shredded cabbage, sliced, uncooked carrots, and tortilla chips. (You can get kids to eat hominy by telling them it’s “Popcorn Soup.”) Anyway, I hope this is something your readers will enjoy.
    Blessings to you,
    Keely Emerine Mix

  13. I love hearing the details of everyone’s meals. My husband grilled sirloin and I sliced up a cabbage and poured one cup of heavy cream over it, covered it and baked it for an hour–sounds strange but tastes wonderful. We also had boiled carrots with butter and pepper. I sliced up the body of a whole-wheat spider loaf (gift for halloween) broiled the slices with olive oil and asiago cheese. The kids gave the menu a thumbs up. We do special drinks for the meal but lately they have asked for soda and have downed it so quickly that they’re too full to eat much. The special drink list needs some tweaking I guess. Thanks for the continued inspiration. Sometimes I don’t plan well and our meals can be pretty boring.

  14. Keeley,
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. It sounds like something my family would love. And please feel welcome to chime in any time on Femina.

  15. Hi Nancy! I chuckled reading your post remembering past Sabbath Feasts around your table before table had to be extended outside the dining room and more high chairs added! Since we have 20 something plus around our table (unless we are blessed to have Nate and Heather with their little people)we have had to learn flexibility and simplicity…sometimes the china and crystal but more often not. We never forget the ringing of the bells and liturgy but will often have a casual meal outside (you can do that all year in California) or buffet depending on numbers and circumstances. The important thing is in the remembering the reason for our feasting and the many blessings bestowed on us! Miss you!

  16. I would love to read more about this idea. Other than the posts on this blog, could you point me in the right direction? Also, if you haven’t already, would you think about putting together a book on this subject?

  17. Our family gets in touch during the week, usually by email and works on the Sabbath menu together, each picking a dish to make. As the host, I try to fix the main dish and have my daughters bring the veggies, bread and dessert.

    We also have the cloth napkins, inexpensive china that goes in dishwasher and let the little one’s drink from the “big” glasses.

    Setting the table ahead of time also helps.

    Enjoy the day!

  18. Oh, yes Mrs. Garaway! That was exactly what I was curious about. We added a ‘Sabbath bell’ to our meal a few weeks ago at the urging of our eight year old son. I’d love to know how and why your family uses yours.
    Mrs. Wilson your book, ‘Building Her House’ coupled with a few comments you made last year when you and you husband spoke at our school set me on the path to a Sabbath meal…I’d love to hear more from you and others on the details and unique ways this is celebrated!

  19. Hi Julie,
    The children ring the bells to welcome all to the Sabbath Feast. Bells have been used throughout the centuries to call people to worship and the sound expressed the triumphal joy of the Church.The bells ringing was signal to come and gather at God’s house, the calling to join other believers in songs of praise to God and the joy of being around others who loved God. The bells cried out to come rest from your work and troubles, a call to be at peace. It is interesting that when pagans used to hear the peal of bells it was often said, “It is the voice of the Christian God speaking!”

    I grew up with the sound of the church bells ringing and bells in the home rung for different occasions and so the “ringing of the bells” is a fun tradition with symbolism. The grandkids love to ring loudly and shout out, “Time for the Sabbath Feast.” We have outgrown my bell collection and so for the First Sunday in Advent I have gotten each of them a special brass bell to ring weekly and Lord willing, for generations to come.

    Grace and peace to you.

  20. Diane,
    Thanks for reminding me of your bells! We really need to get that one going up here.

  21. Nancy,

    I am intrigued by what I’ve read about having a Sabbath Feast. My daughters are grown and live too far away to come to dinner, so I am thinking that I can invite families from our Bible study. I’m also thinking I’ll aim for once a month to get started since I work full-time and don’t think I can do it every week right now. I haven’t seen any suggestions about what is to happen besides the dinner/fellowship. Do you guide the conversation in a certain direction? Is there a devotional time? Singing? I would appreciate any comments on what people do at their Sabbath Feast.


  22. Nancy,
    Your ideas for Sabbath feasting sound great. We do not structure ours too much (beyond the questions and toasting at the beginning of the meal). We aim to celebrate together, but we don’t have a set devotional time, etc. But that is a great idea if you want to go that direction. It is a bit like Christmas….just do what you want. If you want games, singing, skits, or readings, then go for it! We have so many little people at the table now that we keep it pretty loose. But I can imagine that things will shift and change as they all grow up together. May God richly bless your efforts in this!

  23. Thanks, Nancy! I must have missed something…what are the questions at the beginning of the meal? And what is the toast generally to? I assume the toast has to do with thankfulness to God for His blessings.

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