In the spirit of hospitality, Benita Long has managed to quote everyone from Jesus to Yoko Ono to Led Zeppelin.
In Share the Bounty: Finding God’s Grace Through the Spirit of Hospitality, Long also finds room for Albert Einstein, Dr. Seuss and Ghandi, whose words share pages with the writers of the Gospels and Proverbs.
The lifelong resident of Augusta worked with a local team – including recipe writer Ann Mitchell, stylist and designer Susan Wilson and photographer Sammy Anderson – to produce her cookbook follow-up to Come to the Table, her first on Christian hospitality in 2008.
Share the Bounty, Long said, is more than a cookbook: It’s a unique assembly of scripture, prayers, poetry and photography amid a collection of favorite Southern recipes for every occasion.
“It’s the most beautiful coffee table book, full of recipes, inspirational quotes and beautiful pictures,” Wilson said.
Each member of the team said they were hard pressed to pick a favorite recipe.
There are instructions for strawberry rhubarb bread, Baked lamb stew, casseroles and quiches, baked crayfish dip, a chocolate coffee pie, meal plans for luncheons and dishes just for kids.
Photos accompany every item. The team scouted locations in Georgia and both Carolinas to find the perfect setup for every shot.
A recipe for ham croissant casserole to serve to overnight guests, for example, not only includes a photo of the dish, but chickens and their coop. Verses from Samuel Longfellow – “Word of God and inward light, Wake my spirit, clear my sight” – adorn the page.
The result is “home entertaining with a higher purpose,” Long said. “Christians have been talking about this for 2,000 years.”
There’s a reason.
Hospitality matters. It’s a powerful instrument of grace, Long said. It’s a means by which comfort is offered to the hurting and the joyous occasions in life are shared.
“People have really responded to it,” Anderson said. “It’s so much more than a Christian cookbook. We’re bringing excitement, landscape, food, everything to the table. It’s not just that there’s a meal, this finished product. There’s a purpose that resonates with people.”