My Communal Table


Stock has been simmering on the stove all night, the bread machine has just finished baking, and I am listening to my six year old tell me his idea of going to culinary school with his big brother, who starts his studies in Chicago soon. Inhaling this moment around me, I realize how full circle my life has become.

Growing up, my three siblings and I were expected to show up for dinner. It wasn’t just about the food but, more importantly; it was the time for the family to share their day. Our meals were delicious and full of variety. Mom said she didn’t want to be bored cooking. I think she wanted us to get the excitement of food. My grandparent’s home were no different.

My paternal grandparents always had fun big parties with some sort of theme to them, either at their home or our family run restaurant. Gramma Jean was an early riser and always had her meals for the day prepared by the time the neighbors were just getting up. From her I learned how good unusual foods were. Scalloped oysters and imported cheeses come to mind. She always had a touch of sparkle about her, whether it was on her clothing, the food that she prepared, or the look in her eye when any of her grandchildren walked into the room.

My maternal grandfather was a veterinarian and loved to garden, my gramma was a dietitian so her meals were always simple and fresh. Every summer they helped my mother plant a big vegetable garden. At harvest time my grampa carried a saltshaker in his back pocket for when a sun ripened tomato beckoned! I vividly remember chatting with my grandma, Leona, on the patio shucking peas we had just picked. The fresh peas were sweet like candy.

When I left home at eighteen, I had no idea what I was about. I did have a serious case of wanderlust, though. The answers had to be out there somewhere. Eventually I became a hair designer and makeup artist. At 21, I gave birth to beautiful baby boy that I gave up for adoption, leaving me deeply saddened and further from the place of self knowledge. I traveled the world doing international relief work. Physically I packed on the pounds, stuffing all my emotions. I would have great dinner parties, but never took the time to cook a decent meal for myself alone.

At 39 years old, I made the best decision of my life; I had my son, Gabriel. At 40, I was reunited with the son that I gave up. Andrew has blended so completely into our family, it seems at times as if he was never gone.

At 44, I started My Communal Table to journal my journey back to self, one dish at a time. As I am about to turn 45, my oldest son is actually going to live in the same town as Gabriel and me for the first time in any of our lives while he goes to culinary school. Full circle indeed.


10 Comments so far
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Great going. As grandpa used to say “It tastes like more”. More, More!

Comment by Jonathan Schuler

What an exciting website. The info, the photos, your point-of-view. This is fabulous, Elizabeth.
May you prosper.

Comment by wendy

Elizabeth-you have outdone yourself! Follow your dreams and passion! It is so very evident you are making your mark! LOVE the Blog, recipes and your thoughts; you’ve captured the simply joys of life and the sheer enjoyment of preparing a meal for your family and friends! xo

Comment by Michelle Boardman

Wow! Thanks Michelle. It means a lot from a prespective that I respect a great deal.

Comment by behindthechair

Hey, Elizabeth. Thanks for letting me know about the alerts. Hopefully I’ve done it correctly to get them now. Tell Gabe he’s right, photos are much improved by his happy face! Loved the observation about the meat sandwich on the vegan mayo jar…

Comment by Carol Myers

Beautiful! So glad to discover your blog! Watch for mine later this summer or fall…

Comment by lizthechef

How exciting. I will be watching out for it.

Comment by behindthechair

Hi Elizabeth,

I’ve tried to find an email to send this to you privately, but no such luck. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your gentle zen-like approach to cooking and life and that if you are after some more ideas and recipes for meatless meals, I have a blogfull to plunder over at

Happy cooking,

Comment by Fi

Thanks, I am busy working on many upgrades to my site as we speak and it is so obvious, but when I first put up the site, I forgot to add the personal email section. It will be fixed. So excited for all the changes. Thanks you even saying zen-like. Working towards it. Meatless more and more, Elizabeth
P.S. Love your site, Fi. I will see evidence of my plunder soon…

Comment by behindthechair

This blog is better than ever. Looking at these beautiful dishes, i missed having you as my neighbor so long ago, showing up at my door with a beautiful plate of food, saying “I like to share my food. Here’s my new experiment.” And the food was always sublime, my dear friend. Now, seeing this blog, it is so right that you are following this passion, so woven throughout your family, and just going full-tilt boogie.
PS: I really want to try some of the pork with cherries. Looks divine.

Comment by Christine

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