Christian cookbook aims for home entertaining with a higher purpose

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In the spirit of hospitality, Benita Long has managed to quote everyone from Jesus to Yoko Ono to Led Zeppelin.

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Several people had a hand in creating the finished book: recipe writer Ann Mitchell (from left), photographer Sammy Anderson, designer Susan Wilson and author Benita Long.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Several people had a hand in creating the finished book: recipe writer Ann Mitchell (from left), photographer Sammy Anderson, designer Susan Wilson and author Benita Long.

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.”

FIND THE BOOK

Share the Bounty: Finding God’s Grace Through the Spirit of Hospitality is available at Design Images and Gifts in Surrey Center, Sacred Heart Cultural Center, Anderson Photography Images in North Augusta and in local bookstores.

FROM THE BOOK

What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?

– George Eliot

EASY BRUNSWICK STEW

Serves 20

4 large bone-in chicken breasts (about 4 pounds)

2 pounds pulled pork barbecue meat

1½ cups chopped white onion sautéed in 2 tablespoons butter

3 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes in puree

6 ears of fresh corn, cut from cob (about 3 cups frozen or canned)

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen butter peas or butter beans, partially cooked

1 cup chili sauce (Heinz preferred)

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, place the chicken breasts and cover with 6 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the meat is very tender. Remove the breasts from the pan, debone and chop the chicken into small pieces. Pour the broth into a 1½- to 2-gallon stock pot and add the chicken, pork, onions, tomatoes, corn, peas, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Simmer about 45 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: This stew is better when it’s made a day ahead to allow the flavors to blend. It also freezes beautifully.


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