Chicken served on an Iowa farm table is pretty common: fried, grilled, casserole, soup, salad, etc. Mediterranean? That doesn’t seem common at all. It isn’t. But I’ll return to that after a little background information.
Over the past few months, I have been helping my mom downsize her home. She has lived in that house for 25 years and had hosted family dinners, sleepovers for 9 grandchildren, visiting relatives from out-of-town, bridge clubs, a grandson’s entire baseball team in town for a tournament (two years in a row), countless Spite & Malice card games … you get the idea.
At the center of all this activity is the kitchen table. For most people a “kitchen table” is a small(er) table for everyday use and the “dining table” is the big table used primarily for gatherings of more than, say, 6 people. Not so for my mom, or most farm wives for that matter. Her kitchen table is as big as her dining table. It never has less than one extra leaf in it and, most often, two. The third leaf is readily available for last-minute expansion.
This table serves. It serves 12 people as easily as it serves 2. It serves as her desk, sewing station, list-keeper, devotion venue, and quick-cup-of-coffee-for-a-visit spot. If I think about the number of dishes that were washed after being used on this table, my head spins. But then I think about the number of prayers that have been said around this table, and my mind finds peace.
When she decided to move into a smaller place, I knew right away she’d want to keep this table. I get that. I can honestly say I shed a few tears when I replaced my first table. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t expensive. It wasn’t the table per se. It was the memories that were built, the relationships formed and the time that was spent around that table.
Before she moved, I thought we needed to pay tribute to that table in that house. My mom and I asked my sisters-in-law to come to dinner. The four of us have a shared life. We’ve been together for over 30 years and very seldom do the four of us take time to sit down together. So I set Mom’s table with her wedding china, Candlewick glasses, anniversary wine glasses, tablecloth and napkins and made a meal to honor the laughter, tears, prayers and stories we’ve shared.
For this meal, I wanted to make something out of the ordinary … something to show them, in my own way, how special they are to me. So what did I do? I used them as guinea pigs. I tried a new recipe.
Luckily, it worked out. Amazingly, it was fabulous!
This one-pan, stove-top chicken dish is too good not to share. Sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and capers provide the sweet and savory Mediterranean flavors in less than 30 minutes.
For this special meal, I served the chicken with roasted asparagus, Onion Pie (you heard me), a fruit salad, and stuffed cucumber “cups”. For dessert, we had an “Almond Joy” parfait, one of my mom’s favorite combinations.
Change is never easy. It is much easier, though, when you share it, and a good meal, with those you love most … around a table.