building community with good food #foodiefriday

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” – Luke 19:1-10

lasagne al forno
lasagne al forno

This week, the fine tradition of “Foodie-Friday” at Maul-Hall continued with a significant leap forward. I upped the ante and tried out the weekly new-recipe-challenge on our Koinonia dinner group from church. That’s right, I took a huge risk and I experimented on our friends!

First, a disclaimer. There is a lot of chatter on social media regarding people who post photographs of pretty-much every meal they eat, regardless of quality, and even if it was cooked by Ronald McDonald or Burger King; this is not that post.

At the same time, I also hear rumblings of complaint that people sometimes use facebook, instagram, twitter, or their blog to brag; this entirely IS that post!

That’s right, I’m bragging. I’ll own that criticism, thank you very much!

LASAGNE AL FORNO: I had considered skipping this week’s foodie post, but making this meal was such a great experience I thought I’d share. This is the first time I have ever attempted to make lasagna, and I marked the occasion by making everything (with the exception of the Barilla pasta) from scratch.

making a béchamel sauce
making a béchamel sauce

“From scratch” included making a béchamel sauce before I even got started. It  also meant creating a meat sauce that involved sautéing onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and pancetta; that called for finely chopping a few ounces of chicken livers and adding them with the meat; that had me add beef broth to my ground beef; that required white wine that needed to evaporate before moving to the next stage; that called for heavy cream as well as tomato puree; and that included mixing in two eggs after the sauce had cooled and before layering the mixture around the pasta before baking.

By the time I layered the various cheeses, pasta, meat sauce, béchamel sauce (with extra heavy cream), and then more of the same, I’d been prepping a good three hours. Absolutely every other side dish complemented the lasagna – Lasagne al Forno – to perfection, and the dinner party went off without a hitch.

WFPC Koinonia Dinner Group
WFPC Koinonia Dinner Group

SO WHAT? All of this food talk begs the question, “What’s the point?” Other than the simple pleasure of eating really good food, why go to all this trouble?

The answer is community; or, relationships.

I know people who, once their children leave home, don’t bother cooking a “real” dinner any more. Why? Because – they say – “Why bother for just the two of us?”

Well, I’d counter that my relationship with Rebekah, and the atmosphere of home that we want to cultivate, and enjoy together, is more than worth the effort. If we’re going to sit down and eat a meal together, we understand that making it special is also an investment in one another.

second lasagna, just in case...
second lasagna, just in case…

Additionally, when we bring a group of friends to our home, for the expressed purpose of knowing each other better, and of investing in one another’s lives, such an event is always a celebration; and when we sit around a table, enjoying a meal together, the time-honored tradition of the dinner table fosters communication.

In other words, this conversation picks up on the two key words from yesterday’s post. And those words – “relationships,” and “intention” – are foundational to living out the Gospel of Love.


(picture gallery documenting process…)



Live Like You Mean It Our home photography

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

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