Please join me in welcoming author Hillary Manton Lodge to Inspired by Life…and Fiction today! Hillary is a friend of mine and a wonderful writer. Have you read her contemporary romances? If not, get thyself to a book store! They feature not just a love story but also all sorts of delectable recipes. Love and baking? Yes, please. 🙂
Thanks for visiting us here, Hillary! -Becky
A few months ago I had the opportunity to write a column which invited readers to respond by email. The email counted as an entry to win a copy of my latest novel, Reservations for Two, so I received more than a few responses.
I’ve done a lot of book promotions over the years, and this was one of my favorites. Some readers simply emailed asking to be entered for the drawing, but others wrote thoughtful responses to the column I’d written about my own history as a foodie.
But a couple letters stood out in particular and got me thinking. One reader wrote about her recent widowhood, and how she’d taken to throwing dinner parties for friends – both new widow friends and old.
Another reader wrote about how she’d cooked with her mother and for her family, but within a short period of time, her mother passed and her nest emptied, and with it her pleasure in cooking.
Both stories got me thinking about seasons – seasons of cooking, seasons of hospitality. Now, I’m sure there are people out there who would say that hostessing is always the answer, that you should always be in the kitchen.
But I’m not that person – and that’s coming from someone who writes food fiction, and enjoys cooking and hostessing. It’s a romantic idea that cookery and hospitality are always achievable, but it’s often not practical.
Life comes at us in seasons. Just like there are seasons for grieving and seasons for joy, there are seasons for hospitality and seasons for takeout. Deadline season? Yeah. Takeout.
Here’s my rule of thumb – host if it brings you joy. Cook if it doesn’t cause despair. And if it’s not a season to host in your home, consider inviting loved ones to dinner, lunch, or dessert at a favorite neighborhood restaurant. Enjoy the summer weather and bring finger foods to a park. And if you have a significant other, what setting does he feel most comfortable in? Make that a factor.
And if cooking feels overwhelming, streamline. Mix in takeout or healthy frozen options alongside simple home-prepared meals. Consider slow-cooking a large cut of meat (or several pieces of chicken) that can be prepared several different ways, and/or frozen in portions.
All that to say – each of these seasons will shift. What feels overwhelming now might seem like a grand idea another time, and vice versa. There’s wisdom, I think, in taking a moment to be quiet, listen to your heart, and ask how the Lord would have us spend that season.
What about you? What sort of season do you feel you’re in? How do you feel you’re called to respond?
Hillary is the author of Reservations for Two, A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, and Simply Sara. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate Magazine.
Over the years, Hillary’s novels have enjoyed critical success from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romantic Times. In 2010, Plain Jayne was nominated as a Carol Award finalist, and Simply Sara enjoyed a place as an ECPA Bestselling book. In 2015, A Table by the Window was shortlisted in the INSPY Awards.
In her free time, Hillary enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, attending indie concerts, and finding new walking trails. She and her husband make their home in Portland, Oregon, with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shiloh.