“Is anyone joining us tonight?” she asks as she counts the plates for dinner. The fact that she doesn’t know this answer points to the varying numbers that gather around our little faux wood dining set.
“Just us tonight,” I say, and flip another tortilla in the cast iron pan. There’s a stack of 15 tortillas on the plate and I’ve rolled out the last one.
We won’t eat 16 tacos. It’s another meal of which I’ve made too much.
Tonight it’s tortillas for a crowd. On other nights it’s too much stew. Too much pizza dough. Too many cookies (but I mean, is that really possible?). My husband will spot the pot of chili and bowl of rice steaming at our table and laugh, “Feeding an army tonight, are we?”
I joke that I’m preparing for our son’s teenage years.
“I don’t know how to cut some of these recipes in half,” I defend.
But sometimes it’s simply because I want to have the plenty. I make the extra on the off hand someone can stop in. For the nights we text friends and say “We’ll have extra tonight. Want to come for dinner?” and someone actually shows up at our door with an empty stomach. I make the extra for the girls in my discipleship group who don’t have time for homemade meals, and I can pass them a bowl of steaming chicken gnocchi soup after we’ve discussed Romans. I make the extra for my husband to have the next day so that when he’s working at his desk, he’s reminded there’s a home and a wife and family who adore him. We have plenty so that we can freely give.
We say again and again that meals will be what bring us together. At the onset of this family, we carved out space for family dinners. They aren’t private, just prioritized. We invite, bring friends and strangers to the table, and at a moment’s notice we’re prepared to serve plenty. We break bread knowing that nothing levels the playing field for a crowd more than hunger. You can even sit across the table from an enemy and discover that you’re both dipping your bread in the same bowl. To hunger is to be human. We come into this world needing to eat.
Here around this table and over plates, we learn what it means to listen. I am an arm’s reach away from my children. Here, I give thanks for the 8 year old’s stories and questions, her corny jokes and the way she scoops up leftover meat onto her fork. I am one foot nudge away from the man who sits at the head, tired and hardworking, listening to all our stories of the day.
Here I marvel at the miracles of flour and oil, red onion, garlic, salt, tomato and lime, roasted meat and salsa from last summer’s crop.
Here where we eat, we hear stories, share prayers, ask hard questions, fill up the wine glass and give space for this gathering of us.
I find it no surprise that one of the last things that Jesus did with his disciples was to share a meal. Dirty feet kicked up, the sounds of conversation and friendship bouncing around the table, bread and sauces with the man who knew that within a few hours they would scatter. He knew this feast would ring in their hearts like a bell for the rest of their lives, that when he took the bread and the cup, the bread of life himself was getting ready to be broken.
He knew that it would all make sense soon. That in his hands where he multiplied five loaves and two fishes, he was about to provide one great feast for all. Jesus, with his eyes set on Calvary, sat with the men who would doubt him, deny him, and betray him, and he invites them in one last time to share a meal with him. The story of redemption that started in a garden and an invitation to feast ends with a feast before they head to the garden.
And isn’t he more than enough? For our broken relationships, our tired bodies, our questions and doubts, our stories and hard questions? When everywhere we turn, it seems the world is offering us the fruit and water of Tantalus. We are thirsty and hungry, and just as we reach for them, the provisions move out of our grasp.As D.T. Niles said, we are all “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread” as followers of Christ.
So this is why I make meals for an army. This is why a stack of fresh tortillas doesn’t seem absurd. Why one or two or 10 extra plates doesn’t scare us, but instead makes us check to make sure we have all of the spare chairs pulled out as well. This is why I can’t split recipes in half. This is where our home becomes more than just furniture and art, photos and jackets, bed frames and blankets.
It’s where we tell people how we found bread. And then we invite them to feast.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher fine sea salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup vegetable oil or chipotle-infused olive oil
- 1 cup warm water
- Mix together the dry ingredients.
- Using a dough hook, add in the oil.
- Slowly add the warm water while the dough is mixing.
- Let these mix until all of the flour has pulled away from the sides of the bowl and it's formed a glossy sheen on the outside of the dough ball.
- Using a mezzaluna (if you have one. A regular old knife will work too.) cut the the dough into half, then each half into halves, and then this same thing again until you have 16 small, equal-sized cuts of dough.
- Roll each cut into a ball and flatten slightly with your palms.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let them cool (30 minutes or so).
- Roll out your tortilla. It should make a 6-8" sized tortilla. *Only add extra flour if necessary*
- Heat a cast iron pan. *DO NOT ADD OIL* Heat it dry. You'll want to find the happy temperature for your tortillas.
- Place your rolled out tortilla in the pan and when the air bubbles rise on the surface (60-90 seconds), flip it for another 10-30 seconds. Keep an eye on the color! You don't want it to get too brown. It should have that nice nutty brown color like you see in the store-bought tortillas.
- Serve warm with any variety of toppings! Our favorites are-
- -seasoned blended black beans that I saute in some canola oil with salt, pepper, garlic, and onion;
- -any meat, seasoned well;
- -chopped red onions, tomatoes, a drop of lime essential oil, fresh cilantro, fresh garlic, and salt;
- -fresh red bell peppers;
- -a generous helping of cheddar cheese;
- -finely chopped baby spinach!
- Enjoy, and invite some friends!