Make This Summer About Food by Jen Lawrence

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.

They broke bread in their homes and ate together

with glad and sincere hearts.

– Acts 2:46

In scripture, food is viewed not only as sustenance, but as a way to connect with others. Many of Jesus’s miracles involved acts of hospitality such as transforming water into wine at a wedding and feeding the crowd of 5000. With the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, summer is a wonderful time to use food to fortify our relationships.

Shop at a local farmer’s market to enjoy all of God’s bounty. Stock up on fresh peaches and corn and dinner plate-sized butter tarts. The beauty about entertaining in the summer is that it’s best to keep things simple. Don’t worry about polishing up the silver or even cleaning the house. Just invite people over for a casual meal of burgers, potato chips, and fresh berries.

If you want to really take advantage of summer eating, a picnic is always a treasure. As a kid, I first fell in love with the idea of picnics when I read the book, Best Friends for Frances, about a badger with marvelous style. She describes the contents of picnic hamper:

Hard-boiled eggs and whole fresh tomatoes. Carrot and celery sticks. There are some cream cheese-and-chives sandwiches, I think and cream cheese-and-jelly sandwiches too, and salami-and-egg and pepper-and-egg sandwiches. Cole slaw and potato chips, of course. Ice-cold root beer packed in ice, and watermelon and strawberries and cream for dessert. And there are things I forget, like black and green olives and pickles and Popsicles and probably some pretzels and things like that. And there are salt and pepper shakers and napkins and a checked tablecloth, which is the way girls do it.

I think it was probably the idea of tiny salt and pepper shakers that simply made me swoon. No wonder Herman Melville described picnics as “that faint semblance of Eden.”

While I love the idea of packing bone china, silver, and crystal in a wicker basket, the reality is, plastic plates in an insulated cooler on wheels takes a far more practical approach. I love to fill my baskets with tiny sandwiches, pasta salad, fresh fruit, and a big thermos full of iced tea. Remember to throw in a blanket to sit on (I am fond of red plaid washable wool throws).

Personally, I think that a picnic without chocolate chip cookies is simply uncivilized, so I wanted to share my family recipe for Possibly the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever.

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs (we use egg substitute)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Blend in eggs (or egg substitute.)

Gradually add flour mix, beating until smooth.

Beat in vanilla extract.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet, 3 inches apart.

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Makes four dozen (meaning three dozen for the picnic and a dozen for the chef!)