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Review Post (and a Giveaway!): Grace Before Meals and Spicing Up Married Life

I recently was the grateful recipient of two intriguing cookbooks*. The author, Father Leo Patalinghug is a Catholic priest and a chef who is passionate about families sharing food. You can read more about his Grace Before Meals Food Movement on his website.

The thing that makes Father Leo’s cookbooks so unique, attractive and so darn user-friendly is that he has the whole meal packaged up for you. Now I’m the first to admit that sometimes the amount of work involved in just getting everyone to the table is enough for one night and I don’t worry about cooking special dishes or coming up with entertaining conversation starters. But sometimes, I really do want to plan a special Family Table Night. And that’s where Father Leo comes in. Each recipe in both of his cookbooks comes with a few pages of thoughtful reflection on a specific topic, questions to spark some conversation, and a few scriptures (helfpul if your family is of a Christian persuasion, easy to pass over if you’re not).

Grace Before Meals, Father Leo’s first book, focuses on family meals and family life. The recipes are mostly arranged according to the calendar, and so the recipes and the discussion focus on a particular holiday. Most of these are secular holidays–New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving–though a few are Christian or Catholic holidays. But even these are easily adapted to other family life celebrations, if that is your desire. Sprinkled among the holidays are recipes to celebrate various events in a family’s life together–moving out, rites of passage, etc.

Father Leo has followed up the success of Grace Before Meals with Spicing Up Married Life, a book to focus on drawing married couples together. This cookbook is arranged topically and covers all stages of a romantic relationship, from meeting and dating to growing old together. So no matter where you are on that continuum, you will find your past, present, and future in this book. For each topic, Father Leo provides a few pages of thoughtful reflection on the topic, a related Bible scripture, suggestions for praying together, and conversation-sparking questions. After the discussion pages comes an entire menu’s worth of easy and delicious recipes: a main course, side dish, and dessert. And there are even journaling pages for recording your thoughts.

And now for an embarrassing confession. Father Leo is a priest, right? I can make a confession? My expectations of the recipes were not very high. I’ve had some less-than-tasty experiences with cookbooks trying to incorporate content with the recipes. However, I’m happy to report that though I expected little, the recipes delivered much. My family has enjoyed everything I’ve set before them from these books, and the Sweetie Pie and I were delighted with the Coconut Curry Pork Adobo. As the primary cook in the family, I appreciated that the recipes use reasonable ingredients and are easy to pull together. I’m only disappointed that there aren’t more recipes that I’m able to adapt to my restricted diet and enjoy with my family.

I’m willing to guess that these cookbooks would delight most families, Catholic or not. Even though some of the content is religious in nature, the topics themselves are universal to the human race–love, kindness, family. And if you don’t like the suggested discussion, use the recipes and meals provided as a starting point to build your own. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

The Grace Before Meals Giveaway (is over)

Thank you for sharing so many special comments about your dinnertime and congratulation to Julie Drigot for winning a copy of Spicing Up Married Life. We hope it is a blessing to your family and marriage!

* Review posts are my opinions on items that were sent to me free of charge. The items were given to me, but the thoughts and opinions are my own. I only provide reviews of items that I find to be truly worthy of recommendation.

  • Wow, what a great book! I have to admit many times I wish I had the energy to pull resources and put together more of a dining “experience” for my family, but honestly, with all these babies and children and the late working husband, just getting the food cooked and on the table all hot (and still hot when all the little hands are washed) is a challenge. Would love to follow have all the thinking done for me ;-)

    Christa Haggard December 8, 2012 AT 8:08 pm
  • We have a shared family meal every night and I am glad my family thinks that is normal. However with five little people around the table at the same time, my husband and I tend to stay up late after they are in bed to have any kind of uninterrupted conversation. I am glad that we still take the time to connect even though it leaves us sleep deprived!

    Kim December 7, 2012 AT 2:53 pm
  • Sharing a meal makes us sit and talk. It’s good to take time to enjoy each other and reconnect after hectic days.

    Katie December 6, 2012 AT 10:36 pm
  • Even though my husband and I carpool to and from work, we still get a lot of talking done at the dinner table. We’re newlyweds so it’s just the two of us and we have started lighting candles just because we can. My grandma is now on oxygen (and can’t have any fire in her house) and gave us what seems to be a lifetime supply of her old candles. It’s really something we enjoy.

    Kate December 6, 2012 AT 6:59 pm
  • Having a special dinner with just my husband would help us connect while the children are in bed.

    Melody Carpenter December 6, 2012 AT 5:07 pm

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