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The Table, As it Were...

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The Table, As it Were...

Kim Wilkinson

“Food is the daily sacrament of unnecessary goodness, ordained for a continual remembrance that the world will always be more delicious than useful.”
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb

We don’t have a kitchen table.

We have the makings of one. Some beautiful pieces of maple, carefully cut, planed, and stored in the shop to dry (for, uhhhh, two years. And counting.) We have chairs, sitting on the porch and biding their time until we tuck them under said table. We have Edison bulbs and driftwood, waiting to be assembled into a hanging light fixture so folksy it would make all of Pinterest swoon. It’s going to be quite something one day.

We joke about how, if we ever get around to actually making this table, we’ll probably never eat at it.

A surprising statement, perhaps, when we spend so much time preaching the sanctity of the table, advocating its sacred role in family, community, and life.

We came to this place by accident. Of necessity, in the absence of a real table, we made do with what we had.

Our table? It’s a couch. A well-worn and well-loved piece of furniture, with the kind of cushions that threaten to swallow you whole. It’s where we start the day, porridge bowls in hand, wordlessly navigating the space between sleeping and waking. It’s where we end our days, breaking bread and sharing some simply and hastily prepared arrangement of vegetables alongside our stories from the day. It’s where we linger anytime friends come to visit, our hearts and lives shared over squares of chocolate and sips of port. Should the long-awaited maple table ever grace our kitchen, we’ll likely continue to break our bread on the couch. We’ve learned, through all these years and with all who have shared this home, that what makes the table is not the structure, but the people. It’s not where we eat, but what happens while we do. (cue the cheesy Hallmark movie music.)

We’ve added another table, these weeks of late. This one, no less unconventional than the one that bookends our days. We come to this table at noon. We come in overalls, cheeks still rosy from the bracing chill of the sub-zero December air; work boots, jackets, gloves, dropped at the door or hung to dry above the baseboard heaters. We come to this table just beginning to feel the pangs of the day. Hunger, cold, weariness.

This table is a set of rolling chairs, repurposed pieces whose sharp lines and utilitarian upholstery look more suited to a futuristic, Jetsons-style living room than the minimalist, driftwood-adorned one they currently occupy. This table is our oversized cutting board, an off-cut from a friend’s kitchen island, laid on the floor and laden with yesterday’s sourdough, this morning’s eggs, this year’s pigs turned into last week’s back bacon, last season’s pickles, and this season’s tomato jam. Kristin Kimball, in her memoir The Dirty Life, wrote of joining the ranks of farmers that “ate like princes every day,” and at this table it is hard not to share the feeling. From this table, with our wool sock-clad feet propped on the sill of the big window overlooking the farm, we marvel that the abundance we enjoy came from that snow-blanketed plot of earth, just steps outside the window. We reflect on the rare and privileged experience of eating meat that we knew, that we cared for just weeks ago. At this table, we are humbled.

We leave this table sated, but we also leave it lightened.

“To be sure, food keeps us alive, but that is only its smallest and most temporary work. Its eternal purpose is to furnish our sensibilities against the day when we shall sit down at the heavenly banquet and see how gracious the Lord is. Nourishment is necessary only for a while; what we shall need forever is taste.” 
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb

 

On the table //

 

Did this make you hungry? Cool. (us too)

Here’s what was on our table this time around.

Sourdough // If you’ve spent much time around here, you’ve probably heard us proclaim our love for sourdough. Here’s how we make ours.

Tomato Jam // This one was a little number Vanessa and Alpha whipped up from Preserving by the Pint, Marissa McLellan’s second reliably outstanding cookbook. The recipe is over here. Consider yourselves warned, it’s outrageous. We’re putting it on ev.ry.thing.

Back Bacon // Home-curing and smoking meat may seem a little daunting at first. This was our first foray into the world of curing salts, multi-day brines, and MacGyvered oven-smokers. So far no-one has botulism, so we’re calling it a win. We followed Michael Ruhlman’s instructions over here. It’s a great, approachable starting point. We can say from experience that, should you find yourselves without proper smoking chips (and on an island, far away from a store) using the small branches you pruned from the cherry tree four years ago probably won’t result in smoke. It will, however, still taste great.

Bread and Butter Pickles and Onions // These are an older vintage of pickles from our stash. We’ve since misplaced the original recipe and source, but this one here looks great and we have yet to be disappointed by any of Todd and Diane’s recipes, so give it a whirl.

Egg à la Becky // Bonus points if you go and get yourself some backyard chickens (hi Laurel!), but any good free-range eggs will do. Labelling on eggs can be a little misleading and comforting modifiers don’t always mean what they sound like, so if you have the chance to buy eggs directly from someone who’s raising chickens, we wholeheartedly recommend that. But if not, don’t sweat it. Do the best you can.